Daily brief: American CIA contractor in Pakistan freed
Day in court Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore in late January, has just been released by Pakistani authorities after the families of the victims agreed to accept compensation from him (BBC, Reuters, AP, AFP, ET). A lawyer for the family said they were "forcibly taken" to the ...
Day in court
Day in court
Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore in late January, has just been released by Pakistani authorities after the families of the victims agreed to accept compensation from him (BBC, Reuters, AP, AFP, ET). A lawyer for the family said they were "forcibly taken" to the jail and "made to sign papers" pardoning him (ET, Reuters). Davis has flown to London, according to some reports. Earlier today, a judge in Lahore had formally charged Davis with two counts of murder (AJE, Reuters, Dawn, ET).
Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency yesterday arrested former religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi on charges related to a scam that allegedly defrauded Hajj pilgrims who rented housing in Saudi Arabia through the government (ET, Dawn, Daily Times, Geo, AP). Police in Karachi have arrested a suspect in the murder two weeks ago of minority affairs minister and outspoken opponent of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, Shahbaz Bhatti (Dawn). And a Pakistani Christian sentenced to life in prison for violating the blasphemy laws has died under "mysterious circumstances" in a jail in Karachi, while at a Hyderabad prison, Pakistani authorities broke up a riot, sparked by a search for illegal cell phones kept by the inmates, that left seven dead (BBC, AP, AP, ET).
A suspected U.S. drone strike on a house in the North Waziristan town of Datta Khel has reportedly killed up to six alleged militants (CNN, ET, Dawn, AFP, BBC, AP). And four people were killed in Baluchistan when a bomb exploded near a security patrol (CNN).
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn yesterday filed a 10-count indictment against Canadian Ferid Imam on charges that he facilitated the travel of New York subway plotter Najibullah Zazi and his co-conspirators, Zarein Ahmedzay and Adis Medunjanin, to Pakistan’s tribal areas, where they reportedly received explosives training (CSM). Imam was also charged with terrorism offenses by Canadian authorities (CP).
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus said that the Taliban’s momentum had been stopped in several key parts of the country, and that 700 Taliban commanders and 2,200 fighters had been "reconciled" with the Afghan government, but that progress in the country is "fragile and reversible" (Post, Tel, LAT, VOA). Still, Petraeus said the progress will allow an unknown, undetermined number of U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan this summer, though he and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy spoke of the need for a long-term training partnership with Afghan security forces, and possibly joint basing of Afghan and American troops after 2014 (NYT, AP, Dawn, Pajhwok). Petraeus’s prepared statement is available here and Flournoy’s here (pdfs).
And the Guardian reports that according to American and British commanders, the Taliban have been "decimated" in Helmand province, though it is unclear when Afghan forces will be able to take over security control in the embattled area (Guardian).
Disband and dissolve
Officials at USAID have suspended a contract with the consulting firm Deloitte, which was advising Afghanistan’s Central Bank, after an investigation reportedly concluded that the firm could have warned American officials about risky practices at Kabul Bank that eventually led to a bank crisis and a government takeover (Post, WSJ). Afghanistan’s interior minister announced yesterday that seven private security firms are being disbanded as part of Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s effort to clamp down on the firms, which he claims slow down the development of Afghan security forces (AFP). Bonus read: the real story behind the ban on contractors (FP).
The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said yesterday that the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan was making life "untenable" for civilians, on a day when Afghan officials said two young brothers were killed in a coalition airstrike in Kunar province while they were watering fields (Reuters). An Afghan police officer and his father were killed in a bombing in Khost province, and Taliban forces kidnapped a commander and nine men who defected from the insurgency earlier this month (Pajhwok, Pajhwok). And the New York Times has a must-read about Afghan kiln workers in Nangarhar province living in indentured servitude to the kiln owner (NYT).
Out, out, damn book!
The British Ministry of Defense has bought and destroyed the entire first print of a book that is highly critical of Britain’s performance in southern Afghanistan, written by a friend of the most senior British officer to be killed in action since the 1982 Falklands war (Guardian). The MoD was reportedly concerned that the book contained "information that could damage national security and put at risk the lives of members of the armed forces," and the new edition will have 50 words excised.
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