The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: U.S. consular employee in Pakistan shootout

Shootout in Lahore A U.S. consular employee Geo TV names as "Davis" reportedly shot and killed two men on motorcycles who apparently tried to rob him in Lahore earlier today, and another may also have died in connection with the incident (Geo, AP, AFP/ET, Reuters, BBC). A crowd reportedly gathered at the scene and set ...

DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images
DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images

Shootout in Lahore

A U.S. consular employee Geo TV names as "Davis" reportedly shot and killed two men on motorcycles who apparently tried to rob him in Lahore earlier today, and another may also have died in connection with the incident (Geo, AP, AFP/ET, Reuters, BBC). A crowd reportedly gathered at the scene and set tires on fire in protest (AFP).

Ustadh Ahmad Farooq, al-Qaeda’s purported media chief in Pakistan, said in a recent audio recording in a rare admission of pressure, "There were many areas where we once had freedom, but now they have been lost… We are the ones that are losing people, we are the ones facing shortages of resources. Our land is shrinking and drones are flying in the sky" (AP). There were 118 reported U.S. drone strikes in northwest Pakistan last year, and 9 so far in 2011, most in North Waziristan (NAF).

Sebastian Rotella has a massive profile of Sajid Mir, one of the lead plotters of the deadly 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks with ties to Pakistani security forces whose "global trail traces Lashkar[e-Taiba]’s evolution" (ProPublica). Rotella writes that Mir and those killed represent a "wrenching national-security dilemma" for the Obama administration: "whether the larger interests of the United States in maintaining good relations with Pakistan will permit Mir and other suspects to get away."

Human rights in Afghanistan

Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s apparent early pick for speaker of Afghanistan’s newly inaugurated parliament, Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf, has been accused of ties in the 1980 and 90s with Osama bin Laden and with ordering a 1993 massacre of hundreds of Hazara civilians in Kabul, among other "horrific episodes" during Afghanistan’s civil war (McClatchy). Alissa Rubin writes that Karzai, "outnumbered and outmaneuvered" by Afghan MPs who pushed for parliament to be inaugurated yesterday, "has become increasingly isolated over the past 16 months since the 2009 presidential election" and "increasingly turns to a small group of advisers and on several occasions has begun to miscalculate" (NYT).

Nick Schifrin has today’s must-read describing a graphic video of an October 2010 Taliban-ordered stoning of a couple who ran away together in northern and eastern Afghanistan, the first documented stoning in the country since the Taliban were in power (ABC). The stoning took place in Kunduz in front of a crowd of around 200 people, and the video was captured on a cell phone. Afghan authorities say the men who carried out the stoning, which was defended by a Taliban spokesman, will be brought to justice (BBC).

Some Afghan officials reportedly want to "adopt the U.S. practice of detaining suspected insurgents indefinitely without trial," and though Karzai has complained about the U.S. policy before, some of his senior officials support the move as a step toward taking charge of detentions from the U.S. and NATO (Post). American officials and some international Christian organizations are pressing for the release of two men who were arrested on charges of apostasy after converting to Christianity, which carries a death sentence for those convicted (WSJ). The chief of staff for Afghanistan’s ministry of justice asserted, "The sentence for a convert is death and there is no exception. They must be sentenced to death to serve as a lesson for others."

Hello hello baby, you called?

Britain’s ministry of defense is on the hunt for a soldier in Afghanistan who left a message for his pregnant girlfriend, Samantha, on the answering machine of a 44 year old mother of three from Gateshead (Times, CNN, BBC, Sky). The soldier said, "I love you so much, I love you with all my heart and I was going to ask you, don’t answer, obviously you can’t answer, but will you marry me?"

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