Daily brief: Pakistan army chief lashes out at critics
Pushing back Stung by over a month of unusually harsh criticism, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani struck out at the army’s detractors in a surprisingly detailed briefing yesterday following a Corps Commanders’ meeting, detailing how the military has spent some of its money in recent operations and accusing unnamed persons of "trying to ...
Stung by over a month of unusually harsh criticism, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani struck out at the army’s detractors in a surprisingly detailed briefing yesterday following a Corps Commanders’ meeting, detailing how the military has spent some of its money in recent operations and accusing unnamed persons of "trying to deliberately run down the armed forces and army in particular" (ET, Post, AP, McClatchy, Dawn). Kayani also called for U.S. military aid to be transferred to the civilian government, so as to help the economy and the "common man," condemned U.S. drone strikes, and resisted American demands to begin a military push in North Waziristan while still calling for the agency’s tribesmen to force militants from their lands (Post, WSJ, ET, DT).
Two members of the paramilitary Rangers in Karachi have been handed over to the police after a public outcry over the shooting of an unarmed teenager in a park Wednesday, whose pleas for his life and subsequent killing were captured on tape and widely broadcast (ET, Dawn, BBC, Dawn, AP, AJE, DT). Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said today that he will personally head the investigation into the killing (ET). Eleven people were gunned down in targeted killings yesterday in Karachi, while a bomb at a fuel dump in Baluchistan’s Mastung district yesterday killed two local conscripts (DT, Dawn).
And a jury in Chicago has convicted Pakistani-Canadian man Tahawwur Hussain Rana of conspiring to provide support to the group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as well as helping a plot to attack a Danish newspaper, but acquitted him on charges that he helped facilitate the 2008 Mumbai attacks (Reuters, FT, CNN, BBC, Bloomberg).
CIA chief and nominee to replace defense secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon Leon Panetta testified yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, seeking confirmation for his new job (Post, LAT, Reuters, AFP). Panetta appeared before a generally warm audience that nonetheless posed tough questions on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the future of the armed forces. Panetta supported President Barack Obama’s calls for a "significant" troop withdrawal from Afghanistan starting next month, but refused to provide an exact number, saying any removal of troops should be "conditions based" (NYT, ABC, WSJ). Panetta also called terrorism the greatest threat to Pakistani sovereignty, and said that Afghanistan’s security depends on dealing with terrorist safe havens in Pakistan (ET).
Panetta’s comments stood in contrast with those of Gates at a NATO meeting in Brussels, where he harshly criticized Europe’s military difficulties and participation in Afghanistan and Libya, saying that future politicians may question the need for the alliance (AP, Post, WSJ). He also said the drawdown in Afghanistan should be gradual, and should not set off a "rush to the exits" (NYT, Reuters, Bloomberg).
Afghan president Hamid Karzai arrived in Islamabad today to discuss reconciliation with the Taliban, while a suicide bomber in northern Afghanistan killed four police officers outside of the memorial gathering for Gen. Daoud Daoud, the former police chief for the country’s north who was killed in a bombing last month (Post, AP, BBC, AFP, NYT, AP, Reuters, BBC).
And finally today, the Times reports that insurgent attacks on schools in Afghanistan are down significantly from years previous, allowing more children — both boys and girls — to attend (NYT).
Best laid plans
Despite a deteriorating security situation, the governor of Ghazni province has elaborate plans for 2013, when the city of Ghazni will hold the title of "Islamic capital of culture" (Guardian). The governor’s plans include roads, a hotel, an airport, a sports stadium and more, the cost of which have been pegged at nearly $200 million.
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