Daily brief: Joint commission to investigate Rabbani assassination

Give and take Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed Tuesday, following meetings in Turkey, to jointly investigate the assassination of former Afghan president and head of the country’s High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani (NYT, WSJ, BBC). However, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that Afghanistan will not engage in peace talks with the Taliban until they have ...

MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images
MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images
MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images

Give and take

Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed Tuesday, following meetings in Turkey, to jointly investigate the assassination of former Afghan president and head of the country's High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani (NYT, WSJ, BBC). However, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that Afghanistan will not engage in peace talks with the Taliban until they have an "address" for the group, and will speak only with Pakistan about a deal to bring security to Afghanistan in the meantime (Reuters, Tel). The announcements came before the opening Wednesday of multilateral talks in Istanbul about the future of Afghanistan (AJE, Dawn, ET, BBC, AFP). 

In an interview with the AP, Maulana Sami ul-Haq, the head of the hardline Darul Uloom Haqqania religious school in Pakistan -- where many Afghan Taliban leadership, including the group's head Mullah Omar and leaders of the Haqqani Network, were educated -- offered to help the United States negotiate with the Taliban in order to allow the former a "respectable exit" from Afghanistan (AP). On Tuesday the United States named senior Haqqani Network figure Mali Khan, arrested in Afghanistan in September, a "designated global terrorist," part of its efforts to tighten sanctions against the group (Post, WSJ, AFP, AP). The Tribune reports that Pakistan has agreed to tighten border controls and restrict the movement of Haqqani forces, in lieu of engaging in a full-scale military operation in the insurgent group's North Waziristan stronghold (ET). And in an interview insurgent commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar lashed out at Pakistan for cooperating with the United States in Afghanistan (ET).

Give and take

Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed Tuesday, following meetings in Turkey, to jointly investigate the assassination of former Afghan president and head of the country’s High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani (NYT, WSJ, BBC). However, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that Afghanistan will not engage in peace talks with the Taliban until they have an "address" for the group, and will speak only with Pakistan about a deal to bring security to Afghanistan in the meantime (Reuters, Tel). The announcements came before the opening Wednesday of multilateral talks in Istanbul about the future of Afghanistan (AJE, Dawn, ET, BBC, AFP). 

In an interview with the AP, Maulana Sami ul-Haq, the head of the hardline Darul Uloom Haqqania religious school in Pakistan — where many Afghan Taliban leadership, including the group’s head Mullah Omar and leaders of the Haqqani Network, were educated — offered to help the United States negotiate with the Taliban in order to allow the former a "respectable exit" from Afghanistan (AP). On Tuesday the United States named senior Haqqani Network figure Mali Khan, arrested in Afghanistan in September, a "designated global terrorist," part of its efforts to tighten sanctions against the group (Post, WSJ, AFP, AP). The Tribune reports that Pakistan has agreed to tighten border controls and restrict the movement of Haqqani forces, in lieu of engaging in a full-scale military operation in the insurgent group’s North Waziristan stronghold (ET). And in an interview insurgent commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar lashed out at Pakistan for cooperating with the United States in Afghanistan (ET).

The newly-elected president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, announced Tuesday that he will try to close the American military base at the Manas airport near the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, a key support hub for American forces in Afghanistan, when the American lease on the base runs out in 2014 (NYT, AP). And the Telegraph reports that India will try to build a railroad connecting central Afghanistan, home to significant mineral deposits, to the Iranian seaport of Chabahar (Tel). 

And finally, an assessment conducted by NATO and Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry has concluded that Afghanistan is unlikely to meet a self-imposed March deadline for replacing private military companies operating in the country with Afghan security forces (NYT).

Most Favored Nation

Pakistan’s cabinet on Wednesday voted to grant India "Most Favored Nation" status, normalizing trade between the two rivals and potentially easing the way to a restoration of full diplomatic relations (AP, BBC). The office of Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced Tuesday that Pakistani would seek electricity imports from India, and will bring up a possible energy deal during meetings with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this month in the Maldives (ET, Dawn). Protests continue across Pakistan against the dissolution of the country’s power company Pepco, as workers with the country’s Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) threatened to cut off power to the country for a day (ET). And in other news, the government of Balochistan asserted its authority Tuesday to deny a license to the Tethyan Copper Company to exploit the Reko Diq copper mine if the company does not "extend cooperation to the provincial government" (ET).

At least 13 people have been injured after a bomb targeting influential tribal leader Malik Taj exploded in a popular market in Peshawar (AFP, ET, Dawn). Suspected militants destroyed a school outside of Peshawar Monday, while authorities found three headless bodies in the Bannu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (Dawn). Two members of Pakistan’s security forces have been killed in an attack on a police checkpoint in Mohmand agency (Dawn). And Reuters reports on Pakistan’s painstaking construction of a highway through the restive tribal agency of South Waziristan, in an effort to reduce militancy there (Reuters).

Two stories round out the news: The Balochistan High Court will seek the extradition to Pakistan of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, as well as former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, in the death of Baloch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti (ET). And former Pakistani cricket captain Salman Butt and star bowler Mohammad Asif were convicted in a London court Tuesday of accepting bribes to fix a match between Pakistan and England last year (NYT, BBC, AP).

On neutral ground

One of the most hallowed grounds in Pakistani cricket will welcome the team after nearly a decade of absence Thursday for a match against Sri Lanka — only it is in the Persian Gulf emirate of Sharjah, not South Asia (Dawn). Sharjah Stadium has played host to a number of India-Pakistan cricket matches, and has also hosted Afghanistan’s cricket team.

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