Daily brief: Pakistan protests cross-border attacks
The blame game Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir summoned Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan to formally express his "strong concern" about a cross-border raid by several hundred militants that killed nearly 30 Pakistani police in Upper Dir district this week, across the Durand Line from Afghanistan’s Kunar province (Reuters, Dawn, NYT, ET). A Pakistani Taliban spokesman ...
The blame game
The blame game
Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir summoned Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan to formally express his "strong concern" about a cross-border raid by several hundred militants that killed nearly 30 Pakistani police in Upper Dir district this week, across the Durand Line from Afghanistan’s Kunar province (Reuters, Dawn, NYT, ET). A Pakistani Taliban spokesman in the Malakand district said the raid was conducted with "Afghan friends" and that the attackers had seized antiaircraft weapons from Pakistani stocks (Post). Hundreds of fighters attacked in Upper Dir again Friday, shortly after Pakistani forces announced that they had secured the area, forcing the army to bring in troop reinforcements and attack helicopters (AP, AFP).
Telling reporters that Pakistan needs "time and space" for introspection after the May 2 Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said yesterday that there would be "significant" cuts in the number of U.S. military trainers operating in the country (BBC). Mullen warned, however, that abandoning Pakistan would be dangerous for the long-term security of the United States (AFP, AP).
The AP’s Sophia Tareen yesterday looked at the long-term impact on U.S.-Pakistan relations of the testimony of David Coleman Headley in the trial of Tahawwur Hussain Rana for allegedly providing support to the 2008 Mumbai attacks (AP). And the Telegraph discusses the book recently published by journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was found murdered this week, in which he alleged that the Mumbai attacks were inspired by al-Qaeda-linked terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri, who Shahzad claimed passed the plan through a retired Pakistani army officer on to the group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) (Tel). Pakistan’s human rights commission said yesterday that Shahzad’s death could be linked to the country’s intelligence services (Dawn).
In other news, four people, including three members of Pakistan’s security forces, were injured when a bomb exploded at a checkpoint today in Khyber agency (Dawn). Paramilitary police retook a major Karachi power station from armed men, as violence broke out across the city after the Awami National Party (ANP) announced a strike against the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) (ET, Dawn). And Pakistan is set to release its budget today, amidst growing concern that the country is not doing enough to address its major fiscal problems (WSJ, Dawn).
Indian security forces claim to have killed three LeT fighters in the town of Sopore, north of the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, Srinagar (BBC, AFP). Earlier this week, Indian forces reportedly found an arms cache in Sopore.
The Guardian reports that Britain and the United States are pressuring the UN to take 18 former Taliban leaders off of its sanctions blacklist, something seen as a key step in negotiations with the group, and one that could facilitate the establishment of a Taliban negotiations office in a third country (Guardian). The report also claims that representatives of the Haqqani network, considered one of the most dangerous and intractable Taliban factions, have visited Kabul, presumably to engage in negotiations.
The top commander of international forces Gen. David Petraeus yesterday expressed his "commitment" to minimizing civilian casualties, after Afghan president Hamid Karzai this week lashed out at the U.S. for an airstrike in Helmand province that killed up to 14 people (AP). Bonus read: Erica Gaston, "Karzai’s civilian casualties ultimatum" (FP).
In an address to the Center for a New American Security, the no. 2 U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, said that the upcoming U.S. troop drawdown should not be large enough to take away from gains against the Taliban, but that U.S. troops must take greater risks and have more trust in Afghan forces (AP). Reuters reports on efforts to improve the logistics capabilities of the Afghan National Army (Reuters). And a report released today by a bipartisan legislative commission said that billions in aid and reconstruction projects could be at risk if the projects, such as the rebuilding of the Afghan National Security Forces, are not made more fiscally sustainable in the long-term (Post).
Finally today, the Times of London and the Telegraph have fresh details on an Afghan suicide bomber shot dead by security guards just steps away from the office of the country’s defense minister last month, reporting that the man, identified for the first time as Atiqullah Mangal, had lived as an illegal immigrant in the United Kingdom for six years before being deported back to Afghanistan (Times, Tel).
The Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) has inaugurated an hour-long radio program focused on Pashtun social issues, to be aired six times a week in Khyber-Puktunkhwa (DT). The program will focus on social reform issues, as well as bringing back traditional social systems for regulating conflict, such as the jirga.
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