Daily brief: U.S. drone strikes resume in Pakistan

Invite: Join Anatol Lieven and Peter Bergen for a discussion of Lieven’s new book, Pakistan: A Hard Place, today in DC at 12:15pm EST. Details and RSVP here. Bonus AfPak Channel read: Huma Yusuf reviews the book.    Return of the drones Early this morning two U.S. drones reportedly struck the northwest Pakistani tribal agency ...

AFP PHOTO/BONNY SCHOONAKKER
AFP PHOTO/BONNY SCHOONAKKER
AFP PHOTO/BONNY SCHOONAKKER

Invite: Join Anatol Lieven and Peter Bergen for a discussion of Lieven's new book, Pakistan: A Hard Place, today in DC at 12:15pm EST. Details and RSVP here. Bonus AfPak Channel read: Huma Yusuf reviews the book.   

Return of the drones

Early this morning two U.S. drones reportedly struck the northwest Pakistani tribal agency of South Waziristan near the town of Angoor Adda, killing up to six suspected militants (AP, AFP, Reuters, CNN, BBC). The strikes are the first since a March 17 attack that reportedly killed civilians, and come as Pakistani and American officials sought to play down reports of a contentious meeting between CIA chief Leon Panetta and and Pakistani intelligence head Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha on Monday, though Pakistani officials said before this morning's attack that the drone campaign was "frozen for the moment" as the two countries worked on new guidelines for the strikes (ABC, Post). U.S. officials commented, however, that there were no plans to halt the drones campaign.

Invite: Join Anatol Lieven and Peter Bergen for a discussion of Lieven’s new book, Pakistan: A Hard Place, today in DC at 12:15pm EST. Details and RSVP here. Bonus AfPak Channel read: Huma Yusuf reviews the book.   

Return of the drones

Early this morning two U.S. drones reportedly struck the northwest Pakistani tribal agency of South Waziristan near the town of Angoor Adda, killing up to six suspected militants (AP, AFP, Reuters, CNN, BBC). The strikes are the first since a March 17 attack that reportedly killed civilians, and come as Pakistani and American officials sought to play down reports of a contentious meeting between CIA chief Leon Panetta and and Pakistani intelligence head Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha on Monday, though Pakistani officials said before this morning’s attack that the drone campaign was "frozen for the moment" as the two countries worked on new guidelines for the strikes (ABC, Post). U.S. officials commented, however, that there were no plans to halt the drones campaign.

American officials yesterday announced that following meetings between Panetta and Pasha, the United States was considering providing more information on the estimated 40-plus covert U.S. operatives in the country, providing greater cooperation and intelligence sharing on drone strikes, and reducing the number of U.S. Special Forces trainers in Pakistan’s tribal regions (Post, LAT, Dawn, AP, CNN). The Telegraph has a detailed timeline of the rift between the two intelligence services following the Jan. 27 shooting of two Pakistani men in Lahore by CIA contractor Raymond Davis, a breach the Guardian terms the "biggest crisis since 9/11" in U.S.-Pakistani relations (Tel, Guardian).

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, the head of U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Robert Willard warned of the increasingly global reach and ambition of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which he said was no longer intent on attacking only India (Reuters, AP). Willard also cautioned that India-Pakistan peace was unlikely in the short term due to the fragile nature of Pakistan’s government. Tawahhur Hussain Rana, a Canadian who lives in Chicago awaiting trial next month for allegedly providing support for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, will reportedly argue in court that he was acting under what he believed to be the orders of the ISI, Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency (Globe and Mail). And Reuters reports that many Pakistani militants in Pakistani-administered Kashmir are giving peace talks between India and Pakistan a chance, but see a return to fighting as almost inevitable (Reuters).

Yesterday Pakistani jets attacked targets in Mohmand agency, reportedly killing eight militants and wounding 12 (ET). And targeted killings in Karachi continued with the shooting deaths of three Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) members and one Awami National Party (ANP) member (Dawn, Daily Times). Bonus read: Karachi awash with blood (FP).

A voice of opposition

A suicide bombing in eastern Kunar province killed pro-government elder and former anti-Soviet commander Malik Zarin along with up to 10 others this morning (BBC, CNN, AP, Pajhwok). The Taliban have denied involvement in the attack. Yesterday a roadside bomb in eastern Nangarhar province killed five construction workers, and three children were reportedly killed by a Taliban grenade during a firefight with international forces in Faryab province in northern Afghanistan (AP). And an unidentified gunman fired a high-velocity bullet at the Kabul office window of the E.U. representative in Afghanistan Vygaudas Usackas, though the bullet did not break the glass (AP).

Speaking during a visit to Washington, former Afghan foreign minister and presidential candidate Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said that he supported talks with the Taliban in theory, but warned that negotiations could lead to "compromising" gains made in the past few years (AFP). He also said that the ultimate problem in Afghanistan is Afghan president Hamid Karzai, whose government he called "the main challenge the people of Afghanistan are faced with and the international community, our friends, are faced with."

The U.S. commander in charge of training Afghan security forces, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, said in London yesterday that his forces were training Afghan counter-intelligence agencies to find Taliban fighters trying to infiltrate Afghan government forces (Reuters). And Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) has reportedly arrested Mullah Jumah, a Taliban "executioner" responsible for a series of gruesome murders in Helmand province (AFP).

Play ball!

Pakistan’s baseball team trounced Afghanistan 21-1 during their South Asia Cup match in Lahore yesterday (Dawn). Also competing in the tournament are Sri Lanka and Nepal, though India and Bangladesh turned down invitations to compete.

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