Daily brief: Pakistan raises oil prices

Oil price hike Pakistan’s government announced an increase of 9.9 percent in the price of oil, a move immediately denounced by the MQM, the PML-N, and the PML-Q, which staged a walkout from the National Assembly (AP, Dawn, ET, BBC, Reuters). A senior member of the MQM, which briefly left the ruling coalition in January ...

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Oil price hike

Pakistan's government announced an increase of 9.9 percent in the price of oil, a move immediately denounced by the MQM, the PML-N, and the PML-Q, which staged a walkout from the National Assembly (AP, Dawn, ET, BBC, Reuters). A senior member of the MQM, which briefly left the ruling coalition in January after the government tried to increase fuel prices, hinted that the party could do so again if the price hike is not withdrawn within three days. The increase, which the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority said was necessary because of instability in the Middle East and North Africa, is the largest since July 2008 and is expected to generate as much as Rs. 6 billion for the Pakistani government (Dawn, BBC). An IMF team is due in Pakistan today to assess the country's economic performance.

The U.S. has reiterated that it will not consider trading Raymond Davis, the American CIA contractor who fatally shot two Pakistanis in late January in Lahore, for Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist serving an 86 year sentence for attempted murder in a federal prison, after the Pakistani government reportedly suggested the swap (ABC, Dawn). Pakistani authorities have reportedly arrested 45 people believed to have connections with Davis (Dawn). And a public prosecutor said a bail application for Aaron Mark DeHaven, a construction contractor detained recently for having an expired visa, was denied because he "had no legal documents" (AFP).

Oil price hike

Pakistan’s government announced an increase of 9.9 percent in the price of oil, a move immediately denounced by the MQM, the PML-N, and the PML-Q, which staged a walkout from the National Assembly (AP, Dawn, ET, BBC, Reuters). A senior member of the MQM, which briefly left the ruling coalition in January after the government tried to increase fuel prices, hinted that the party could do so again if the price hike is not withdrawn within three days. The increase, which the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority said was necessary because of instability in the Middle East and North Africa, is the largest since July 2008 and is expected to generate as much as Rs. 6 billion for the Pakistani government (Dawn, BBC). An IMF team is due in Pakistan today to assess the country’s economic performance.

The U.S. has reiterated that it will not consider trading Raymond Davis, the American CIA contractor who fatally shot two Pakistanis in late January in Lahore, for Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist serving an 86 year sentence for attempted murder in a federal prison, after the Pakistani government reportedly suggested the swap (ABC, Dawn). Pakistani authorities have reportedly arrested 45 people believed to have connections with Davis (Dawn). And a public prosecutor said a bail application for Aaron Mark DeHaven, a construction contractor detained recently for having an expired visa, was denied because he "had no legal documents" (AFP).

Gunmen threw grenades and opened fire on a group of college girls having a party at a state-run school in Mardan, injuring 15 (AFP). The attack has not been claimed. The bodies of four men accused of spying for the U.S. were found by the side of the road in the Hamzani area of North Waziristan (AP). And the Express Tribune reports that the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan is having money troubles (ET).

Cross-border relations

The NYT reports that the FBI began using Duane "Dewey" Clarridge’s private spy network to help investigate the killing of 10 aid workers in Badakhshan last August, after the Pentagon had ended its relationship with the Eclipse Group, illustrating two factors: Clarridge’s "determination to persuade the government of the value of his spying operation" and "the limits of the American government’s own information sources in the chaos of a war zone" (NYT). And Marc Grossman, the new Obama administration envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, is on his first official trip, scheduled to visit London, Jeddah, Kabul, Islamabad, and Brussels (AFP). 

The U.S. is reportedly considering using sensors and radar systems like the ones used on the U.S.-Mexico border to monitor the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan (Reuters). Pakistani troops have reportedly shelled a village in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, causing some 300 families to flee (Pajhwok).

The Karzai-backed special tribunal to investigate fraud in the September 2010 parliamentary election has begun vote recounts, which are considered illegal by election officials and international advisers, in 10 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, and insisted that it has the right to overturn results or order re-votes (AP). The governor of Kabul, Zabihullah Mujaddedi, has resigned because he says the Afghan government is ignoring his reconstruction plans for the province (Pajhwok). "I no longer want to work as a figurehead," he commented.

Rebuilding the Buddhas of Bamiyan

German scientists are scheduled to present their findings tomorrow at a conference in Paris that the smaller of the two Buddhas of Bamiyan, which were destroyed by the Taliban in March of 2001, could be reconstructed with the recovered sandstone fragments, though researchers admitted that "political and practical obstacles" would need to be overcome (AP). Mass spectrometer testing has reportedly found that the small Buddha statue, at 125 feet tall, dates from between 544 and 595.

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