Daily brief: U.S. issues warning on Haqqani Network
Straight talk U.S. secretary of defense Leon Panetta told reporters Wednesday that safe havens allegedly enjoyed by the Haqqani Network in Pakistan are "unacceptable" and said that Pakistan should know that the United States will, "do everything we can" to protect against attacks by the group in Afghanistan (Reuters, AFP, AP, Reuters). American officials blame ...
U.S. secretary of defense Leon Panetta told reporters Wednesday that safe havens allegedly enjoyed by the Haqqani Network in Pakistan are "unacceptable" and said that Pakistan should know that the United States will, "do everything we can" to protect against attacks by the group in Afghanistan (Reuters, AFP, AP, Reuters). American officials blame the Haqqani Network for the day-long siege of Kabul this week that killed at least 25 people, as McClatchy reports that the attackers were Pakistani, according to Afghan officials (McClatchy, NYT, CNN, LAT, Globe and Mail, Times). The officials said that the attackers were found with grenades — as well as mango juice — from Pakistan, after they were killed by Afghan and international forces.
A Pakistani foreign ministry spokeswoman warned that Panetta’s comments could hurt counterterrorism cooperation between the countries, while the U.S. ambassador to Kabul Ryan Crocker has been criticized for terming the deadly attacks "not a very big deal" in comments to reporters (Reuters, Guardian, BBC, Post). And the Telegraph reports on the Twitter battle between the International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) and Taliban’s Twitter accounts as the fighting was still going on in Kabul (Tel).
Two stories round out the day: Ahead of a hearing on contracting in Afghanistan scheduled for Thursday, congressman John Tierney (D-MA) wrote a letter to Panetta criticizing the lack of sanctions against the security firm the Watan Group, whom Tierney accused of paying bribes to officials and using prohibited weapons (AP). And a study by the U.S. geological survey has reportedly found over 1 million metric tons of rare-earth materials in Afghanistan’s Helmand province (Bloomberg).
A suicide bomber struck the funeral of a member of a pro-government tribe in Lower Dir this morning, killing at least 23 people, including members of an anti-Taliban militia (AFP, Reuters). Unidentified militants attacked a police station in Peshawar Wednesday, sparking a gun battle (ET). And Pakistani police arrested two alleged militant commanders Wednesday in the Swat Valley, while The News reports that Pakistan’s army is getting ready for a possible militant offensive in Khyber-Puktunkhwa province and the country’s tribal areas (ET, The News).
A Pakistani Supreme Court panel investigating the violence in Karachi said Wednesday that the country’s government "turns a blind eye" to criminality in Karachi (ET). The court announced Thursday that its investigation into the violence in the city had been closed, pending the announcement of the panel’s verdict (Dawn, ET). The paramilitary Rangers in Karachi on Thursday arrested Bashir Khan Qureshi, the leader of a Sindh political party Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), in relation to the recent spate of killings in the city (ET). And a spokesman for Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari announced Wednesday that the Rangers will receive a 90-day extension on their police powers (Dawn).
The commission investigating the presence of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan is continuing its inquiries in Abbottabad, where bin Laden was killed, while a Pentagon official said Wednesday that his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri is likely still in Pakistan (ET, ET). Outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen will meet with Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Spain this week, where they will reportedly discuss the possible return of American military trainers to Pakistan (Dawn).
The international aid organization Oxfam warned Wednesday that Pakistan needed emergency flood relief, while the country’s authorities are trying to stave off the advance of dengue fever before it breaks out in Karachi and elsewhere (BBC, AFP, Dawn, Dawn). Pakistani and American officials met Wednesday to discuss energy assistance to combat Pakistan’s growing power crisis (Dawn, ET). And police in Lahore claim to be making "progress" in investigations into the kidnappings of American aid expert Warren Weinstein and Shahbaz Taseer, the son of assassinated Punjab governor Salman Taseer (Dawn).
Shame is the game
In an effort to improve police performance in Islamabad, cops in the city will soon be graded on a point system, which will be posted publicly and sent to their wives (Dawn). Under this new system points will be awarded based on arrests, and according to Dawn, "Ten points are allotted for arresting people accused of murder, robbery, burglary, or car-theft; seven points for arresting a proclaimed offender, three points for court absconders, and two points for military deserters."
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