Daily brief: Pakistan’s top spy visits DC
The Rack: Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, "The dirty dozen: 12 of AfPak’s most wanted insurgents," Newsweek. It’s complicated As joint U.S.-Pakistani intelligence operations have reportedly been on hold since late January, Pakistani intelligence chief Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha is currently visiting DC in a bid to improve the relationship between the ISI ...
The Rack: Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, "The dirty dozen: 12 of AfPak's most wanted insurgents," Newsweek.
The Rack: Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, "The dirty dozen: 12 of AfPak’s most wanted insurgents," Newsweek.
As joint U.S.-Pakistani intelligence operations have reportedly been on hold since late January, Pakistani intelligence chief Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha is currently visiting DC in a bid to improve the relationship between the ISI and the CIA (Reuters, AP, Reuters, AP). The LAT reports that the Obama administration has moved away from capturing and interrogating suspected terrorists in favor of killing them, mainly with drone strikes (LAT). Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari said in an interview with the Guardian that the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan is destabilizing Pakistan, and said that when he visits Washington next month he will ask the Obama administration to share drone technology so the strikes could be carried out under a "Pakistani flag" (Guardian). The last reported drone strike took place on March 17 (NAF).
Pakistani security forces reportedly killed seven militants in the Swat Valley who were fleeing military operations in Mohmand on Sunday, and the World Bank assessed that the Taliban in Swat were able to make headway by exploiting local grievances, including weak law enforcement and justice systems (AFP, AP, Dawn). The alleged mastermind of a recent Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan attack on the Sakhi Sarwar shrine in Dera Ghazi Khan was captured in a raid in Bajaur over the weekend (ET, Geo, DT). Around 100 families have left the Tirah valley in Khyber as clashes between the Zakhakhel tribe and the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam continue (DT, Dawn). Earlier this morning in the wealthy Peshawar suburb of Hayatabad, five militants attacked a Pakistani police patrol, and a policeman and three militants were killed in the ensuing gunfight (AFP). And Dawn reports on terrorism trends in Peshawar this year (Dawn).
After the killing of leading moderate cleric Moulvi Shoukat Ahmad Shah late last week in Srinagar, separatists called for two days of strikes across Indian-administered Kashmir on Saturday, shutting down much of the valley (AFP, AP). Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for another strike today to protest the Indian government’s decision to "list residents of Jammu as members of the Dogra ethnic group," which Geelani says will divide the state along ethnic lines (Indian Express, HT, BBC). The Independent reports on training for police in Kashmir designed to "avoid causing serious harm" to demonstrators, after 114 people were killed last summer during months of protests (Independent).
As protests against the burning of a Quran in Florida last month continued in Khost over the weekend, Afghan police officials suspect current or former members of the Taliban and/or Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin of leading the violence in Mazar-i-Sharif that left three European U.N. workers and four Nepalese guards dead recently (Pajhwok, NYT, Tolo). A delegation from the Afghan parliament found religious clerics responsible for whipping up the crowds, which the imams deny, and Reuters looks at the impact of the imams on public opinion (Pajhwok, Reuters).
Turkey is reportedly considering hosting a political office for the Taliban from Afghanistan in Turkey as part of reconciliation movements, though there are no immediate plans (AP). Zardari, the Pakistani president, is headed to Turkey today, and Afghanistan is expected to be high on the agenda.
On Friday night, Taliban fighters ambushed the convoy of a district police chief in Sar-i-Pul province in northern Afghanistan, where villagers and security forces have been clashing with the militant group, and killed the police chief and wounded one of his guards (AP, Pajhwok). On Saturday in Kabul, a suicide bomber injured four Afghan National Army soldiers and three Afghan civilians (Pajhwok, Tolo). A roadside bombing in Farah province killed three Afghan tribal elders, possibly in retaliation for their support for the Afghan government, and in Uruzgan, a district-level Taliban commander was captured in an overnight raid (AFP, AP).
Combat by camera
David Cloud has the weekend’s must-read investigating a Predator drone strike in Daikundi province on February 21, 2010, that killed between 15 and 23 Afghan civilians, including women and children (LAT). Then-top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal reprimanded four senior and two junior officers in Afghanistan, and the Air Force disciplined the Predator crew in the U.S.; families of those killed received $4,800 in compensation.
Three more stories finish out the news this weekend: Afghan president Hamid Karzai placed a "significant portion" of the blame for the near-collapse of the Kabul Bank last year on Western advisers to his government, saying they should have warned his government earlier of problems there, and promised to reform the bank (Post, AP); the AP reports on the current situation in Tarok Kaloche, a village in Kandahar that was destroyed by coalition airstrikes last October (AP); and the Post describes divides within Afghan families where some support the Taliban and some support the Afghan government (Post).
More sports diplomacy headlines ahead
The Pakistani hockey team’s manager tells The News that he is hopeful that the recent match-up between India and Pakistan in the cricket world cup will have a positive impact on hockey in the region (The News). India’s hockey team is expected to travel to Pakistan toward the end of this year.
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