Daily brief: Confusion over Pakistan-India trade deal

The Rack: Jeffrey Goldberg and Mark Ambinder, "The Ally From Hell" (The Atlantic).  Back and forth  Pakistani government officials have sought to explain away confusion over whether or not their country had in fact granted "Most Favored Nation" (MFN) status to India this week, saying that Pakistan’s cabinet had given MFN status "in principle" pending ...

NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images
NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images
NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images

The Rack: Jeffrey Goldberg and Mark Ambinder, "The Ally From Hell" (The Atlantic). 

Back and forth 

Pakistani government officials have sought to explain away confusion over whether or not their country had in fact granted "Most Favored Nation" (MFN) status to India this week, saying that Pakistan's cabinet had given MFN status "in principle" pending consultations between the two countries' commerce ministries (Dawn, ET, Reuters, ET). A foreign ministry spokeswoman added Thursday that the cabinet vote "gave the ministry of commerce the mandate to take the process of normalisation forward, which would culminate in the observance of the MFN principle in its true spirit." A senior group of Pakistani civilian and military officials, including Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, will reportedly meet soon to discuss the progress in talks with India (Dawn).  

The Rack: Jeffrey Goldberg and Mark Ambinder, "The Ally From Hell" (The Atlantic). 

Back and forth 

Pakistani government officials have sought to explain away confusion over whether or not their country had in fact granted "Most Favored Nation" (MFN) status to India this week, saying that Pakistan’s cabinet had given MFN status "in principle" pending consultations between the two countries’ commerce ministries (Dawn, ET, Reuters, ET). A foreign ministry spokeswoman added Thursday that the cabinet vote "gave the ministry of commerce the mandate to take the process of normalisation forward, which would culminate in the observance of the MFN principle in its true spirit." A senior group of Pakistani civilian and military officials, including Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, will reportedly meet soon to discuss the progress in talks with India (Dawn).  

The Journal has a must-read today reporting that the United States has tightened rules surrounding its drone program in Pakistan, purportedly giving greater say over strikes to the State Department, notifying Pakistani leaders in advance of some strikes, and keeping the CIA from striking targets while Pakistani leaders are visiting the United States (WSJ). However, the report notes that the CIA still has the authority to control targeting of both small- and large-scale attacks, quoting one senior official as saying, "It’s not like they took the car keys away from the CIA…There are just more people in the car." The BBC’s Orla Guerin digs into accusations of civilian casualties caused by the strikes (BBC). And Saeed Shah details the rise of anti-American politicians in Pakistan as speculation grows that the country may soon call for new elections (McClatchy).

A court in Balochistan issued an arrest warrant Friday for the province’s former chief minister Jam Muhammad Yousaf in the case of murdered Baloch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti (ET). And the Tribune reports that high-level terrorists held in some Pakistani jails are still able to make cellular telephone calls, despite efforts to jam calls going in and out of the facilities (ET).  

Five stories round out the Pakistan news: On Thursday, Pakistan officially recognized the National Transitional Council as the government in Libya (ET). Pakistan’s National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) approved a slight increase in electricity tariffs Thursday, while Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced the restructuring of Pakistan Railways, the country’s state-owned rail service (Dawn, Dawn). And the BBC looks at the national anguish provoked by the conviction and sentencing of three cricket stars this week in a British court for match-fixing, as well the shadowy world of cricket corruption (BBC, BBC).  

Lowered expectations

McClatchy reports Friday on the failures of programs designed to "reintegrate" Taliban fighters into Afghan society, noting that only a fraction of the funds allocated for such purposes have been used, and that in provinces like Ghazni, not a single Taliban fighter has formally renounced his arms (McClatchy). Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday that the alliance was determined to put "severe military pressure" on the insurgent Haqqani Network (ET).  

A new study by the State Department indicates that civilian aid to Afghanistan has peaked, falling from $4.1 billion in 2010 to $2.5 billion in 2011 (Reuters). And this week’s multilateral summit on Afghanistan, held in Istanbul, may have resulted in an agreement allowing Pakistani troops to train some Afghan military and police forces (The News).   

And finally, the Financial Times reports on the growing problem of Afghanistan-based militants attacking into Pakistan (FT).  

Sports success

While cricket news is causing disquiet in Pakistan, the country does have a sporting bright spot: Its field hockey team, which secured a win against the top-ranked Australian team in the finals of a tournament in Perth (ET). The team is back in Pakistan now, and will begin practices again after the Eid al-Adha holiday.

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