Daily brief: term extended for Pakistani army chief

In theaters near you As expected, last night Pakistani Prime Minister Raza Yousuf Gilani extended the term of the popular chief of Pakistan’s army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, for another three years, a decision backed by the United States (LAT, McClatchy, Geo, Guardian, PTI, ET, Daily Times). Gen. Kayani, widely perceived as the most powerful ...

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

In theaters near you

As expected, last night Pakistani Prime Minister Raza Yousuf Gilani extended the term of the popular chief of Pakistan's army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, for another three years, a decision backed by the United States (LAT, McClatchy, Geo, Guardian, PTI, ET, Daily Times). Gen. Kayani, widely perceived as the most powerful man in Pakistan, has received praise for the military's actions against the Pakistani Taliban, though U.S. officials are said to be disappointed at his "failure to disown the Afghan Taliban" (NYT, AP, AFP).

A 40 minute video released yesterday shows the fugitive leader of the Taliban in Pakistan's Swat Valley, Maulana Fazlullah, looking healthy and declaring that his group, which the Pakistani Army said it has defeated, is still "active," and encouraging his followers to attack the Pakistani state (AFP). And a 17 second video has emerged of failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad shaking hands with and hugging Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (Independent, Wash Post, Sky, Hindu). When and where both videos were shot is unknown.

In theaters near you

As expected, last night Pakistani Prime Minister Raza Yousuf Gilani extended the term of the popular chief of Pakistan’s army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, for another three years, a decision backed by the United States (LAT, McClatchy, Geo, Guardian, PTI, ET, Daily Times). Gen. Kayani, widely perceived as the most powerful man in Pakistan, has received praise for the military’s actions against the Pakistani Taliban, though U.S. officials are said to be disappointed at his "failure to disown the Afghan Taliban" (NYT, AP, AFP).

A 40 minute video released yesterday shows the fugitive leader of the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, Maulana Fazlullah, looking healthy and declaring that his group, which the Pakistani Army said it has defeated, is still "active," and encouraging his followers to attack the Pakistani state (AFP). And a 17 second video has emerged of failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad shaking hands with and hugging Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (Independent, Wash Post, Sky, Hindu). When and where both videos were shot is unknown.

Three militant financiers of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Haqqani network have been added to a Treasury Department list that prohibits any financial transactions with U.S. citizens, following similar sanctions by the U.N. last week (Treasury, AP, CNN, Dawn, AJE). The actions will freeze the militants’ assets, ban travel, and trigger an arms embargo.

Praveen Swami describes "Kashmir’s bizarre new normal," writing that the Tehreek-i-Hurriyat group has issued a series of calendars with weekly schedules of self-imposed curfews, street protests, and sit-ins for Srinagar, the summer capital of the conflict-riddled valley (Hindu). Indian authorities have imposed restrictions in Srinagar and other Kashmiri towns in anticipation of separatist protests today (Hindustan Times).

A shot in the dark

The Taliban claim to have shot down a helicopter in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, killing two U.S. soldiers in the third fatal chopper crash in the south in less than two months (LAT, AP). NATO is investigating the incident, and said hostile fire cannot be ruled out, though mechanical problems are a more frequent cause of crashes. In neighboring Kandahar, local police chiefs resent the better trained Afghan National Civil Order Police, who under a U.S. plan would take the lead in the southern Afghan province (AP). And in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, a bomb at a mosque injured at least 20 people including a candidate for this September’s parliamentary elections (AP, AFP).

U.S. and Afghan authorities are setting up a joint task force to monitor the some $3.65 billion a year being flown out of Afghanistan from the Kabul airport, at least some of which is believed to come from corruption and drug trafficking (WSJ). The special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction yesterday criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for "squandering taxpayer money on facilities in Afghanistan that are too complex and costly for the Afghan government to maintain" (LAT).

Amrullah Saleh, the Karzai government’s former intelligence chief, has been giving speeches around Afghanistan saying that Hamid Karzai is "recklessly" pursuing political accommodation with the Taliban and has lost conviction in the fight against the insurgency, a view shared by Afghan minority leaders (Wash Post). Saleh also said that the Taliban’s 200-member leadership, many of whom are in Karachi, oversees a second tier of some 1,700 field commanders, who in turn supervise between 10,000 and 30,000 fighters, depending on the season. Afghanistan’s reconciliation plan reportedly calls for accountability from both militants who lay down their arms and the Afghan government (Independent).

Booze diplomacy

An unidentified person has reportedly tried to use the Afghan embassy in Islamabad’s diplomatic immunity to get 26,000 bottles of alcohol released from Pakistani police (ET). The Afghan consulate in Peshawar says it only ordered 9,000 bottles, and doesn’t know who the third party seeking the release of the remaining 17,000 bottles is; the stash remains in police custody.

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