Daily Brief: Assassination plot suspect not Karzai’s bodyguard
False alarm? The office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement released Saturday that the guard arrested last week by the country’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) for his role in an alleged plot to assassinate President Karzai, was not one of the president’s personal bodyguards as the NDS originally ...
The office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement released Saturday that the guard arrested last week by the country’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) for his role in an alleged plot to assassinate President Karzai, was not one of the president’s personal bodyguards as the NDS originally said (AP, AFP, Reuters). According to the statement, the suspect was assigned to guard an outer gate of the presidential palace and never had access to the president.
The 10th anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan Friday was marked by rocket and suicide bomb attacks on three U.S.-run outposts in the largest attack in the Afghan province of Paktika since 2009 (AP). A spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said that at least 25 insurgents were killed by airstrikes and gunfire during the attacks, and one U.S. soldier was lightly injured (AFP, NYT) In Washington as in Afghanistan, the anniversary was little commemorated with U.S. President Barack Obama releasing a written statement paying tribute to the more than 1,700 U.S. troops who have died in Afghanistan saying "our citizens are safer and our nation is more secure" because of their sacrifice (AP). Troops in Afghanistan told reporters that the anniversary meant little to them in comparison to the recently observed 10th anniversary of 9/11 (CNN). President Obama is scheduled to visit injured U.S. soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD today (AP). And Kimberly Dozier reported Saturday on the Special Operations forces and CIA officers who were the first U.S. forces to enter Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, and will most likely be the last out of the country (AP). For more analysis of the 10-year war in Afghanistan see the AfPak Channel’s Roundtable (FP).
Meanwhile, an English-language, emailed, statement said to be from Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid on Friday pledged that the Taliban will continue to fight until all foreign forces have left Afghanistan, and sought to remind militants that "divine victory is with us" (Reuters). Britain’s ambassador to Afghanistan William Patey said Friday he was sure the Afghan army is already stronger than the Taliban, but may need foreign funds for training and support through 2025 (Reuters). Declan Walsh wrote Friday that after ten years of war in Afghanistan, Afghan and coalition forces seem little closer to achieving peace than they were at the start (Dawn/Guardian). And the United Nations released a 74-page report today, which found that prisoners in 47 detention facilities in 22 provinces run by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Afghan National Police (ANP) have been tortured, but that the incidents were not part of government policy (AP).
In talks with the U.S. Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman Saturday, President Karzai reportedly asked the United States to increase the pressure on Pakistan to do more against Pakistan-based militants (AFP). Joshua Partlow and Karin Brulliard wrote Saturday on the seemingly paradoxical Afghan attempt to solicit Pakistan’s help in negotiating with the Taliban while publicly accusing Pakistan of supporting militants in that country (Post). U.S. officials in Washington told Dawn of their support for Afghanistan’s intent to enlist Pakistani negotiators to pursue reconciliation with the Taliban (Dawn).
Ousted female Afghan member of parliament Semin Barakzai was reported to be in critical condition on the eighth day of a hunger strike Sunday to protest her removal from the national assembly in August as a result of the 2010 vote she says was wrought with fraud (AFP, AP, NYT, Reuters). Barakzai was one of nine parliamentarians to be unseated in a controversial agreement aimed at getting the national assembly back to work, and she has refused to eat or drink until President Karzai reopens the investigation into vote fraud.
A report released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Saturday says that 1,406 people were killed in Karachi in eight months – from January through August of this year – and blasts the leading political parties in the city for having "failed the people" as the "main directors" of the violence (ET). Five people were killed in Karachi on Friday, and some businesses were closed in the city in protest of Mumtaz Qadri’s conviction for the murder of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer (ET, ET). Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Saturday that although order has been somewhat restored in Karachi recently, the relative peace will not last, but he promised more raids like the one on the offices of the banned religious group Sunni Tehreek on Friday (ET,ET). Police reportedly arrested 36 people in the Pak Colony neighborhood of Karachi on Saturday night, while two men were killed by unidentified gunmen in the Bilal Shah Norani neighborhood (ET). And 17 people were arrested for their involvement in target killings and other crimes in Karachi today (ET).
In an apparent improvement in cooperation, U.S. and Pakistani officials said Friday that Pakistani forces had arrested five al-Qaeda suspects in Islamabad at the request of the United States, while U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in an interview with the Associated Press that ties between U.S. and Pakistani spy agencies are improving (AP). Also Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland highlighted separately the importance of working with Pakistan to protect U.S. national security and fight terrorism in the region (Dawn, ET). And Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) second-in-command Maulvi Waliur Rehman Mehsud told the Express Tribune that the TTP may be willing to negotiate with the Pakistani government if "countries [they] trust," such as Saudi Arabia, are involved (ET).
Indian Supreme Court judge Aftab Alam today stayed the death sentence of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, saying the court must hear the convicted man’s appeal (AFP). Pakistani soldiers on Sunday night killed 30 of 200 Afghan militants who had crossed the border into Upper Dir to attack Pakistani forces (Reuters). Four people were killed in separate incidents in Balochistan on Sunday, including a child in a landmine explosion (ET). And sixty masked men entered a girls’ school in Rawalpindi on Friday and beat students and teachers with metal rods, telling them to "dress modestly and wear hijabs" (ET).
In a controversial move, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari nominated retired Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Fasih Bokhari as the country’s new chief of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) (ET). Adm. Bokhari was linked to a 1992 corruption scandal during the Pakistani Navy’s purchase of French submarines and his nomination has been opposed by opposition group Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). A secret diplomatic cable obtained by the Express Tribune reveals that the United Nations told Pakistan last month that the slow response of donor countries to the flooding crisis in Pakistan was a result of fears that government figures of the devastation are exaggerated (ET). And a recently released Gallup Pakistan poll found that just 27% of Pakistanis have donated money to aid flood victims in Sindh this year (ET).
The Lahore bureau chief of the Pakistani paper The London Post, Faisal Qureshi, was found dead and mutilated in his home in Lahore on Friday (ET). And a 16-year-old suspected of involvement in a motorcycle theft ring was allegedly tortured and set on fire by police in Faisalabad Saturday after refusing to confess to the crime (ET).
Pakistan’s number one Scrabble player Waseem Khatri has been denied a visa to Poland, where the World Championship Scrabble tournament is set to begin on October 12 (ET). Khatri worries that his exclusion from the tournament will severely hamper Pakistan’s chances of winning.
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