Daily brief: Haqqani Network expresses support for Afghan peace deal
Timing is everything In a rare telephone interview with Reuters this weekend, Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani said his group was operating from Afghanistan, not from safe havens in Pakistan, and that they would support any decision made by the Afghan Taliban leadership, or Quetta Shura, with regards to a peace deal in Afghanistan (Reuters, ...
Timing is everything
Timing is everything
In a rare telephone interview with Reuters this weekend, Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani said his group was operating from Afghanistan, not from safe havens in Pakistan, and that they would support any decision made by the Afghan Taliban leadership, or Quetta Shura, with regards to a peace deal in Afghanistan (Reuters, Tel, Tolo). The comments came after U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told a Pakistani radio station Friday that there was evidence of links between the insurgent group and Pakistan’s government, following a deadly attack in Kabul last week targeting the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in the country (Reuters, AJE, Independent).
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen reportedly pressured Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to take action against the Haqqanis this weekend, as Secretary or State Hillary Clinton is said to have delivered the same message to Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in New York (ABC, NYT, Bloomberg, ET, AFP, DT, Reuters, AFP). And the Journal reports that American officials are looking for evidence of the direct involvement of Pakistan’s intelligence services in the Kabul attack (WSJ).
A new report from the Open Society Foundations has concluded that while "night raids" against Taliban targets have become more accurate, international forces have loosened the standards for people targeted in such operations (Reuters, AP, BBC, FT). The report also argues that the increased pace of raids has helped fuel a backlash against international forces, and that Afghan communities, "often see raids as deliberately targeting or harassing civilians, in order to discourage communities from providing food and shelter to insurgents, or pressure them to supply intelligence" (Reuters, BBC).
Security concerns reportedly prompted Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic staff to secretly leave Kabul over the weekend (ET). A roadside bomb in Faryab province killed nine cattle herders Saturday, including five children (AFP). And Taliban militants destroyed four trucks and abducted their drivers in Laghman province (Pajhwok).
"I will not be cowed"
A Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) suicide bomber driving a car packed with several hundred pounds of explosives rammed into the house of senior Karachi police official Chaudhry Aslam Monday, killing six police guards as well as a mother and her child (NYT, ET, AJE, FT, AFP, CNN, AP, BBC, Reuters, Tel). Speaking to reporters after the bombing, Aslam said, "I did not know that these terrorists were such cowards that they would attack sleeping children," adding, "I will not be cowed. I will teach a lesson to generations of militants" (ET). In other Karachi news, police have arrested a key suspect in targeted killings in the city (ET). And Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters this weekend that the country may block Google and YouTube, in order to prevent "terrorists" from using them (ET).
Taliban militants and Pakistani soldiers clashed for several hours Sunday morning after a U.S. Predator drone crashed in unclear circumstances in South Waziristan (Post, AP, DT, AJE, AFP/Reuters, BBC). The crash followed comments by senior White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan that the United States has the right to take "unilateral action" if needed against al-Qaeda, anywhere in the world (AP, Bloomberg, NYT, CNN, WSJ). Elsewhere in the tribal regions, dozens of Taliban fighters armed with "sophisticated weapons" assaulted a checkpoint manned by anti-Taliban tribesmen and police in Khyber, resulting in the deaths of four tribesmen, a police officer, and at least 10 militants (AFP, AJE, Reuters). And three men were killed Sunday in Kurram when unidentified gunmen opened fire on their bus (Dawn).
The United Nations this weekend launched a nearly $365 million appeal to help victims of the flooding ravaging southern Pakistan, as the country’s government continues to face severe criticism for how it has handled the current crisis and spent past flood aid (BBC, Tel, AP, AFP, Reuters, ET, Dawn). And Dawn reports that at least 40 people have died of dengue fever in Pakistan, and as many as 6,000 people have been effected by the virus, mostly in Lahore (Dawn).
Four stories round out the day: Pakistani finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said this weekend that Pakistan would not seek a new loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the current loan comes due on September 30 (The News, Reuters, Bloomberg, Bloomberg). The Tribune reports, meanwhile, that Pakistan’s government is purportedly using the possibility of an energy deal with Iran to push the United States into granting Pakistan a civilian nuclear energy partnership (ET). Pakistan’s steel industry is facing a major financial crisis (Dawn). And Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani promised this weekend that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) would ensure the creation of a new province in southern Punjab (ET, DT).
The auction firm Christie’s has suspended the planned sale of an ancient "fasting Buddha" that Pakistan’s government has claimed was illegally taken from the country during the 1980s (Dawn). Pakistan is now investigating other items up for auction to see if they were improperly excavated.
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