Daily brief: NATO chopper attacks Pakistani Army post
The Rack: A. Q. Khan, "My nuclear manifesto," and Andrew Bast, "Pakistan’s nuclear surge," both in Newsweek. Outrage forthcoming? After receiving fire from the Pakistani side of the border early this morning, two NATO helicopters reportedly flew into Pakistani airspace in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan and fired on a ...
After receiving fire from the Pakistani side of the border early this morning, two NATO helicopters reportedly flew into Pakistani airspace in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan and fired on a Pakistani Army post, injuring two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers (AP, ET/Reuters, Dawn, Post). The alliance said it is investigating, and the Pakistani Army has lodged a "strong protest" with NATO. Yesterday, a pair of suspected U.S. drone strikes was reported in Mir Ali, also in North Waziristan (CNN, AP, AFP, Dawn, Reuters). One of those killed was the son of al-Qaeda operative Abu Kashif, according to intelligence officials.
Amid ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan, Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is arriving in Shanghai later today, and declared China his country’s "best and most trusted friend" in an apparent dig at the U.S. (AFP, AP, AFP, NYT). American senator John Kerry, in Islamabad, is attempting to smooth over the many issues troubling the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, and promised that the U.S. has no designs on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, as the two countries agreed to work together on any future action against militant leaders inside Pakistan (WSJ, ET, Dawn, NYT, AP, AFP, DT, The News). Pakistan has also agreed to return the wreckage of the tail of the U.S. stealth helicopter that was damaged in the May 2 raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, some 40 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad (Guardian, ABC, Post). Chinese officials reportedly expressed interest in the tail parts in the days after the raid. And the AP adds new details about the bin Laden raid (AP).
Lest you think it’s all better
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reportedly postponed a visit to Islamabad, and officials within the Obama administration are said to be divided about the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, after years of "circular" exchanges in which "the United States repeatedly said it had irrefutable proof of ties between Pakistani military and intelligence officials and the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents, and warned that Pakistani refusal to act against them would exact a cost" (NYT, Post). The Journal has a must-read investigation into ongoing billing disputes between Pakistan and the U.S., which has refused to reimburse some 40 percent of Pakistan’s claims for compensation for military equipment and other expenses (WSJ). In one case, the U.S. reportedly paid millions to refurbish four helicopters to help Pakistan battle militants in the country, three of which Pakistan redeployed to Sudan for peacekeeping duties, for which it is compensated by the U.N.
Graeme Smith has the other must-read of the day exploring conspiracy theories in Pakistan following the death of bin Laden (Globe and Mail). And two female suicide bombers reportedly attacked a security checkpost in Quetta, Baluchistan (ET, The News).
The south Florida imam and his son who were arrested over the weekend and accused of supporting the Pakistani Taliban will plead not guilty, according to their lawyer, and Pakistani authorities reportedly questioned Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan’s grandson, also named in the case, in Pakistan’s Swat Valley yesterday (NYT, ET, Reuters). Khan and his son, Izhar Khan, also an imam in south Florida, are due back in court on May 23. For more on the legal aspects of the ‘war on terror,’ sign up for our sister newsletter (FP).
Full steam ahead
The Post reports that the Obama administration has sped up efforts to engage in direct talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and a U.S. representative was said to be at recent meetings in Qatar and Germany with Afghan and Taliban officials (Post). The Haqqani insurgent network has had "no part in the discussions," officials say. Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the U.S.’s second most senior commander in Afghanistan, said yesterday that there are "just less than a hundred" al-Qaeda fighters in the country, who act as a "cadre-type organization that helps out to bring both resources as well as technical skills to the rest of the Taliban fighting here" (Reuters).
And the AFP profiles Fareed Hidayati, a former spy for the Taliban government in Afghanistan, who now arranges contracts for U.S.-funded developers across the country (AFP).
Archaeologist Ghulam Akbar Malik has reportedly discovered a 1,200-page manuscript of the Quran dating back to the 12th century, in Jhelum, Pakistan (ET). Experts say the the work was completed by three calligraphers over the course of a year.
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