Daily brief: Pakistani intelligence denies role in journalist’s murder
Denial Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) issued a public statement yesterday denying involvement in the disappearance, torture, and murder of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, as hundreds gathered for Shahzad’s funeral in Karachi (NYT, Post, AP, BBC, DT, AFP, ABC). Journalists in Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore staged protest marches and sit-ins to condemn the attack, ...
Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) issued a public statement yesterday denying involvement in the disappearance, torture, and murder of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, as hundreds gathered for Shahzad’s funeral in Karachi (NYT, Post, AP, BBC, DT, AFP, ABC). Journalists in Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore staged protest marches and sit-ins to condemn the attack, while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Secretary William Hague called for an investigation into the killing (AP, BBC, AFP, DT, Independent, DT). CNN’s Tim Lister looks at Shahzad’s life, work, and mysterious death (CNN).
The Pakistani government’s probe into the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, announced yesterday, has already run into complications; commission head Javed Iqbal said he was not consulted about the selection and would need the approval of chief Supreme Court justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to participate, while another member of the commission, former justice Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, refused yesterday to take part in the investigation (Dawn, DT). Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif also rejected the commission yesterday (ET, Dawn).
The Times of London has new details about bin Laden’s courier and his brother, reporting that their father, a Pakistani who moved to Kuwait decades ago, brought his sons into contact with al-Qaeda after he forged connections with the group (Times). Declan Walsh reports on the crisis within Pakistan’s military following bin Laden’s death, while the AP looks at the younger al-Qaeda leaders who have gained prominence within the organization in the last few years (Guardian, AP). And Kimberly Dozier reports that Pakistan and the United States have set up a "joint intelligence team" to coordinate operations against high-level terrorists and other militants (AP).
Crossing the border
More than 24 hours of fighting between Pakistani police and hundreds of insurgents who crossed the border from Afghanistan into Upper Dir have reportedly left nearly 30 police and close to 40 militants dead (Dawn, BBC, Reuters, AP, ET, CNN, AJE). The fighters included both Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, and wore uniforms similar to those worn by Pakistani security forces (AFP, NYT).
Top Pakistani general Asif Yasin Malik said yesterday that Pakistan would soon begin a major operation in Kurram agency, as he and Pakistani politicians continue to deny reports of an impending military operation in the neighboring militant stronghold of North Waziristan (WSJ, Reuters, AFP, Dawn, DT, ET). Only four out of 18 registered witnesses showed up today to give statements about the killing of five foreigners, including three women, at a checkpoint near Quetta last month (ET). And in Baluchistan a professor of Urdu has been shot dead by gunment on motorbikes in what is being termed a "targeted killing" (AFP).
Pakistani-Canadian man Tahawwur Hussain Rana is not expected to testify in his own defense against charges that he provided support to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and closing arguments at his trial could start next Tuesday (AP, Reuters). The jury heard testimony from several FBI agents and a translator yesterday about emails prosecutors say were written between Rana, attack plotter David Coleman Headley and an alleged ISI officer named Major Iqbal allegedly checking on the progress of the Mumbai planning (AP, Hindustan Times). Praveen Swami looks at the multiple lives of Headley, the key prosecution witness in the case against Rana (The Hindu).
International forces announced today that they had captured a former "associate" of bin Laden yesterday in a raid in the northern Balkh province, describing the unnamed man as a "Pakistan-based attack planner" (CNN, AP).
The Times of London reports that international forces in Afghanistan are readying themselves for what is expected to be a violent summer, after casualties reached new highs in April and May (Times). The New York Times, meanwhile, warns against the growing threat of civil war in Afghanistan between ethnic groups, as non-Pashtun Afghans warily eye reconciliation efforts with the Taliban and face increased threats from militants themselves, especially as international troops draw down their presence in the country (NYT). India’s defense minister A.K. Antony promised to help build up Afghanistan’s security forces during a three-day visit this week from Afghan defense minister Abdul Rahim Wardak (AFP).
Three stories close out today’s news: Reuters indicates that President Barack Obama may announce withdrawals of up to 10,000 troops from Afghanistan over the next year (Reuters). Seven Polish soldiers have been acquitted of war crimes in a Warsaw court, after being accused of deliberately targeting Afghan civilians in 2007 (BBC). And the BBC has acquired video they say shows an Afghan judge in the eastern city of Jalalabad whipping a man as a punishment for drinking alcohol (BBC).
A solitary practice
Reuters today visits Kabul’s only still-operational synagogue, whose first floor has been rented out to shopkeepers by Afghanistan’s last remaining Jew, Zebulon Simentov (Reuters). Simentov lives in a room upstairs, and sometimes leads services for Jews visiting Afghanistan.
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