Daily Brief: U.S. delegation holds talks in Pakistan
"Extremely frank discussions" U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Islamabad yesterday with several high-level U.S. officials to deliver a blunt message to Pakistan that "for too long extremists have been able to operate here in Pakistan and from Pakistani soil" and that Pakistan must increase efforts to "squeeze" the Haqqani Network based along ...
"Extremely frank discussions"
"Extremely frank discussions"
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Islamabad yesterday with several high-level U.S. officials to deliver a blunt message to Pakistan that "for too long extremists have been able to operate here in Pakistan and from Pakistani soil" and that Pakistan must increase efforts to "squeeze" the Haqqani Network based along the Afghan-Pakistan border (AP, ET, Post, NYT, BBC, WSJ, Dawn). Sec. Clinton met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani yesterday for talks Gilani’s office described as "cordial and frank," but in a statement Gilani alluded to "disagreements between the coalition partners in the war on terror" that he argues should not get in the way of a strategic relationship (AP, ET).
Pakistani officials have claimed recently that security forces have managed to push Taliban militants out of Pakistan’s restive northwest, but that these fighters are now allowed by Afghan and NATO forces to operate in Eastern Afghanistan, where U.S. officials say troops are struggling to stamp out insurgents (Post, Reuters). A Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader now residing in Afghanistan, Maulvi Fazlullah, swore in written statements to Reuters that he would return to Pakistan to wage war until Shari’a is implemented throughout the country (ET). Pakistan Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas recently criticized Afghan and NATO troops for failing to hunt down Fazlullah, whose fighters have been responsible for multiple cross-border attacks on Pakistani security forces.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, NATO forces killed "numerous" insurgents in an airstrike in the country’s south (AP). The U.S. Army reduced the sentence of Pfc. David Lawrence, who pleaded guilty to murdering a captured Taliban suspect in Afghanistan last year, but has been diagnosed with mental illnesses (Post). The parents of Linda Norgrove, who was killed in a failed rescue attempt in Afghanistan a year ago, accepted an award on her behalf for her volunteer work in Afghanistan (BBC). And a Chinese business counselor in Kabul told Reuters that violence and instability will not deter him from encouraging Chinese companies to invest in Afghanistan (Reuters).
One step forward, two steps back?
Pakistan’s military said yesterday that paramilitary forces had killed 34 Taliban militants in clashes in the northwestern tribal agency of Khyber just hours before Sec. Clinton arrived, while police seized a large weapons cache in Kohat District (Reuters, Dawn). But early this morning, militants in the neighboring Mohmand tribal area raided the home of an anti-Taliban tribal elder, killing three of his family members (AP, AFP). And five people were killed and three injured today during a clash between two tribes in the southern province of Balochistan (ET, Dawn).
In other Pakistan news, the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) party submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly supporting South Punjab’s designation as a separate province (ET). Pakistan is reportedly the favorite to secure a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council ahead of Kyrgyzstan in today’s General Assembly election for the one available spot on the Council for countries in the Asia-Pacific region (AFP). And the government is still struggling at home to control a dengue fever epidemic that has claimed 258 lives in Punjab Province alone (Dawn).
All in the family
Sec. Clinton broke into laughter during a town hall meeting in Islamabad when an audience member compared the United States to a mother-in-law who is "just not satisfied" with Pakistan (AP). "We are trying to please you, and every time you come and visit us you have a new idea and tell us, ‘You are not doing enough and need to work harder,’" the woman said.
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