Daily brief: Mullen in Pakistan amid tensions
The unraveling On a trip to Afghanistan before heading to Islamabad today, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen said the U.S.-Pakistan relationship "cannot afford…to come apart," and said he would again raise the issue of the Pakistani intelligence service’s support for the militant Haqqani network with Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez ...
On a trip to Afghanistan before heading to Islamabad today, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen said the U.S.-Pakistan relationship "cannot afford…to come apart," and said he would again raise the issue of the Pakistani intelligence service’s support for the militant Haqqani network with Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (Reuters, AJE, The News, AP, Dawn, AFP). Mullen and Kayani reportedly have a good relationship. The Pakistani military is said to be trying to shore up ties with the Afghan government as the eventual U.S. withdrawal draws closer, "to ensure a central role in a negotiated settlement of the conflict" (Reuters).
Earlier today, suspected militants blew up a market in the Ferozkhel area of Orakzai agency in northwest Pakistan, and Pakistani security forces said 80 militants surrendered in Mohmand, where the military has been carrying out operations recently (ET, The News). The government of Sindh has extended the special powers of Pakistan’s Rangers in Karachi for another three months in light of the ongoing targeted killings in the southern city (ET, The News).
Montana’s attorney general has launched an investigation into the Central Asia Institute, Greg Mortenson’s charity, following the 60 Minutes report calling into question some of the facts of the best-selling Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools and spending by the charity (AP). The attorney general’s office oversees nonprofits operating in Montana. Bonus AfPak Channel reads: Three cups of B.S. and Cup half empty.
A spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry said earlier today that the Taliban fighter who shot and killed two people inside the Defense Ministry earlier this week was not a member of Afghanistan’s security forces, though he was wearing an Army uniform (AP). Afghan security forces are stepping up efforts to train personnel to identify possible Taliban infiltrators and disgruntled soldiers, and so far French and U.S. forces have trained 220 Afghan soldiers in counterintelligence (AP). Intelligence officers say they have recorded 20 incidents since March 2009 in which someone wearing an Afghan military uniform — whether a member of the security forces or an infiltrator — killed coalition forces. British military commanders say they are expecting a change in Taliban tactics this summer to "large-scale, spectacular" attacks (Guardian).
Greg Jaffe has today’s must-read describing how Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the "primary author of the U.S.-Afghan war plan" who first arrived in Afghanistan in 2007, is being passed over for the leadership of the U.S. and NATO command in Afghanistan after Gen. David Petraeus steps down later this year (Post). In Washington, "Rodriguez is seen as a savvy fighter but a so-so salesman;" Lt. Gen. John Allen, "who played a key role in turning the Sunni tribes against the Iraqi insurgency but has never served in Afghanistan," is believed to be the current front-runner for the top Afghanistan job.
A "safe part" of the troubled Kabul Bank has been attached to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance, according to the governor of Afghanistan’s Central Bank, Abdul Qadeer Fitrat (Pajhwok). And the mother of the Jordanian suicide bomber who targeted a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan in December 2009 said Jordanian security forces had arrested her other son, Ayman Balawi, in a sweep late last week of more than 100 members of the ultraconservative Salafi sect, which is banned in Jordan (AFP, AP).
"Vote for me: I’m rich, and I’ve done jihad!"
The Wall Street Journal profiles Aman Mojadidi, a 40-year-old, Florida-born Afghan artist who has become the "leading agent provocateur of the nascent Afghan art scene" as he campaigns against Afghan government corruption and excess (WSJ). In his "first big attempt at performance art," in 2009 Mojadidi bought an Afghan police uniform, set up a fake checkpoint outside Kabul, and gave away "reverse bribes" to drivers, along with apologies if the drivers had ever been forced to pay off an Afghan cop in the past.
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