Daily brief: Pakistan truck bomb kills up to 36

Editor’s note: today is my last day writing the AfPak Channel Daily Brief. Beginning next week, my colleague Andrew Lebovich will be writing it full time. Thanks for reading! –Katherine Tiedemann A harsh attack Yesterday, a Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber reportedly drove a pickup truck with some 1,000 pounds of explosives into a barrier outside ...

A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images
A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images
A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images

Editor's note: today is my last day writing the AfPak Channel Daily Brief. Beginning next week, my colleague Andrew Lebovich will be writing it full time. Thanks for reading! --Katherine Tiedemann

A harsh attack

Yesterday, a Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber reportedly drove a pickup truck with some 1,000 pounds of explosives into a barrier outside a district police station in the northwest Pakistani town of Hangu, killing as many as 36 and wounding 60 (DT, AJE, ET, NYT, AFP, Geo, Dawn). There have been more than 20 militant attacks, killing almost 150 people, in Pakistani since the May 2 death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Clashes between the Zakhakhel tribe and the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam continue in Khyber, and warring Sunni and Shia tribes in Kurram reportedly agreed to a ceasefire, even as four more were killed yesterday (DT, Dawn).

Editor’s note: today is my last day writing the AfPak Channel Daily Brief. Beginning next week, my colleague Andrew Lebovich will be writing it full time. Thanks for reading! –Katherine Tiedemann

A harsh attack

Yesterday, a Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber reportedly drove a pickup truck with some 1,000 pounds of explosives into a barrier outside a district police station in the northwest Pakistani town of Hangu, killing as many as 36 and wounding 60 (DT, AJE, ET, NYT, AFP, Geo, Dawn). There have been more than 20 militant attacks, killing almost 150 people, in Pakistani since the May 2 death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Clashes between the Zakhakhel tribe and the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam continue in Khyber, and warring Sunni and Shia tribes in Kurram reportedly agreed to a ceasefire, even as four more were killed yesterday (DT, Dawn).

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the most senior U.S. official to visit Pakistan since the May 2 raid in Abbottabad, is in Islamabad for meetings with Pakistani leaders, and commented to reporters, "Pakistan should understand that anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories will not make problems disappear" (BBC, Reuters, ET/Reuters, Post, AP, Dawn, AFP, NYT). Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen is also on the trip, which is apparently designed to smooth over tensions with Pakistan. Pakistani officials have reportedly made moves toward shutting down three U.S. intelligence fusion cells in Quetta and Peshawar, which have been used to coordinate operations on both sides of the border (LAT). It’s unclear whether the moves are permanent.  

On a visit to Pakistan last week, CIA deputy director Michael Morell reportedly negotiated an agreement for Pakistan to allow Agency forensics experts to examine bin Laden’s compound, which Pakistani officials said had soundproof walls, using sophisticated equipment to search for hidden compartments or buried materials (Post, Reuters, AP, CNN, Tel, AP, WSJ). Documents that have already been taken from the compound reportedly indicate that bin Laden discussed with his aides the possibility of seeking a truce with the Pakistani state in exchange for protection (NYT).

And the New York Times examines a recent misunderstanding in the China/Pakistan relationship (NYT).

Leaky government

Regional outlets continue to trickle out analysis of American diplomatic cables released by the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, with Dawn reporting on the backroom reasons for the U.S.’s lack of displeasure at the resignation of former attorney general Makhdoom Ali Khan in 2007, and the Hindu describing the Pakistani government’s house arrest agreement with Pakistani nuclear proliferator A.Q. Khan (Dawn, Hindu).

David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani-American who is currently testifying in the ongoing trial of his self-described "best friend" and accused Mumbai plotter Tahawwur Hussain Rana, said yesterday in court that he is no longer proud of his role in the 2008 attacks (AFP, AP, Bloomberg, Globe and Mail). Headley also said he had attended more than 50 sessions with Pakistan’s intelligence service in the run-up to the attacks, before which he always briefed his alleged ISI handler, Major Iqbal, who used an American cell phone to stay in touch (Hindu, Hindu, NDTV, WSJ). For more on the Rana trial, sign up for our sister brief, the Legal War on Terror (FP).

Speak softly

The NYT adds to reporting about direct exploratory peace talks between the Taliban and the U.S., with an Afghan official expressing skepticism about whether the Taliban’s designated representative, a longtime personal assistant to Mullah Omar called Tayyab Agha, is still particularly close to the Taliban leader (NYT, The News). These talks have reportedly been held without representatives from Pakistan, which is said to be involved in a parallel dialogue with the U.S. and the Afghan government. NATO said it has arrested two suspected members of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban’s leadership council, in Helmand (Pajhwok). Bonus read: Thomas Ruttig on history and prospects for reconciliation (NAF).

Eight American soldiers and two Afghan policemen were killed yesterday in a particularly deadly pair of Taliban roadside bombings in Kandahar, 12 miles from the Pakistani border, and a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan killed one NATO service member (AP, AP, Reuters, LAT, NYT). And the Afghan government is reportedly struggling to spend all the donors funds it has been allocated (AP).

Title: The Raid? The Hunt?

Kathryn Bigelow, the Oscar-winning director of the Iraq war movie The Hurt Locker, has gotten the green light to make a film about the hunt for and eventual death of Osama bin Laden (Guardian, NYT). The as-yet-untitled movie is scheduled to be released in the fourth quarter of 2012.

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