Daily brief: Pakistani police: American diplomat committed “murder”
A sticking point Pakistani police said earlier today that Raymond Davis, the detained American diplomat who says the two Pakistanis he shot and killed last month in Lahore were trying to rob him, committed "cold-blooded murder," rejecting his claims of self-defense, and a lower court in Lahore extended his detention for another two weeks (AP, ...
A sticking point
A sticking point
Pakistani police said earlier today that Raymond Davis, the detained American diplomat who says the two Pakistanis he shot and killed last month in Lahore were trying to rob him, committed "cold-blooded murder," rejecting his claims of self-defense, and a lower court in Lahore extended his detention for another two weeks (AP, AFP, ET, Post, NYT, WSJ). The U.S. maintains, and Pakistani officials reportedly agree in private, that Davis has diplomatic immunity, though Pakistani officials "appear unable or unwilling to enforce the protocol" (NYT). Sources tell the Daily Telegraph that Davis was in telephone contact with militants affiliated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in South Waziristan, and Pakistani officials have said the men who were shot were intelligence agents tailing him because they suspected him of spying (Tel, ABC).
ABC reports that national security advisor Tom Donilon told Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, that "the U.S. will kick Haqqani out of the U.S., close U.S. consulates in Pakistan, and cancel an upcoming visit" by Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari to Washington if Davis were not released by Friday, which was denied by both Amb. Haqqani and the U.S. embassy in Islamabad (ABC, Dawn). U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and CIA chief Leon Panetta have reportedly called Zardari and Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of Pakistan’s intelligence services the ISI, to warn that Davis’s continued detention "threatened the foundations of the strategic relationship between the two countries" (NYT).
Militancy and politics
For the second time this week, Baluch separatists have blown up the main gas pipelines in Baluchistan, leaving thousands without natural gas supplies in frigid weather (ET, The News). Suspected militants blew up railway tracks at four locations across Sindh, injuring two (Dawn, Geo). In the Swat Valley, which was declared under control following a major military offensive in 2009, Pakistani security forces killed 11 militants reportedly fleeing from ongoing operations in nearby Mohmand agency (AFP). The FT reports on a U.S. plan to build two lane highways across South Waziristan to the edge of North Waziristan, in a bid to promote economic development and reduce support for militants (FT).
After disbanding the federal cabinet earlier this week as part of an attempt to reduce government spending, Pakistani leaders have sworn in a new, apparently smaller group of ministers, though the final number isn’t clear (ToI, AP, The News, ET, AFP, Reuters). Constitutionally, the cabinet should be no larger than 11 percent of the parliament, which would be a maximum of 49 ministers.
The Kashmiri separatist group the JKLF called for a strike today across Indian-administered Kashmir in remembrance of its founder Mohammad Maqbool Butt, who was hanged in 1984 after being convicted of killing an Indian intelligence officer and conspiring to kill an Indian diplomat (AP, PTI). Shops, businesses, gas stations, and banks were closed.
The Journal reports that the U.S. and allies are discouraged by the Afghan parliament’s ongoing struggle to elect a speaker, having hoped that the parliament could serve as a check on Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s power and challenge government corruption (WSJ). The parliament’s seventh vote for speaker is scheduled for tomorrow.
American troops claim that Afghan police in the southern province of Kandahar are improving in performance, with the commander of the 504th Military Police Battalion commenting, "I think we’ve moved from an F to a C or C-plus" (AP). The AP notes that while Kandahar city is "safer than it was…it’s far from safe." The Afghan ministry of defense estimated the number of Taliban fighters across the country at around 35,000 (Tolo).
A 29 year old from Faisalabad has upset Pakistan’s number one snooker player in the final of the National Snooker Championship, earning a spot at the Asian Snooker Championship, to be held in India in April (ET). Mohammad Shahid will be the only representative from Pakistan there.
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