Daily brief: Pakistani ambassador to U.S. offers to resign

Political firestorm Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said in an interview Wednesday that he had offered to resign his position, after being recalled to Islamabad in the wake of a brewing political scandal (Post, CNN, Tel, ET, Dawn, FT, Reuters). Pakistan’s army reportedly believes Haqqani was behind a "backchannel" note passed through ...

FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images
FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images
FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images

Political firestorm

Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said in an interview Wednesday that he had offered to resign his position, after being recalled to Islamabad in the wake of a brewing political scandal (Post, CNN, Tel, ET, Dawn, FT, Reuters). Pakistan's army reportedly believes Haqqani was behind a "backchannel" note passed through Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen from the country's president Asif Ali Zardari, allegedly offering to sever ties with militants in the wake of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in return for American assistance following a possible removal of the heads of Pakistan's military and intelligence service.

Mullen's former spokesman Capt. John Kirby confirmed the note's existence Wednesday in an interview with Foreign Policy's The Cable blog, after denying its existence last week, but said that Mullen "did not find [the letter] at all credible and took no note of it" (FP, Dawn, Post). Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani held their second meeting in two days with army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Wednesday, after Haqqani was called back to Islamabad (ET). And in other political news, former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will reportedly meet with opposition politician and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif November 22, while Sharif said Thursday that his Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) party was still considering mass resignations from federal and provincial positions (ET, Dawn).

Political firestorm

Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said in an interview Wednesday that he had offered to resign his position, after being recalled to Islamabad in the wake of a brewing political scandal (Post, CNN, Tel, ET, Dawn, FT, Reuters). Pakistan’s army reportedly believes Haqqani was behind a "backchannel" note passed through Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen from the country’s president Asif Ali Zardari, allegedly offering to sever ties with militants in the wake of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in return for American assistance following a possible removal of the heads of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service.

Mullen’s former spokesman Capt. John Kirby confirmed the note’s existence Wednesday in an interview with Foreign Policy’s The Cable blog, after denying its existence last week, but said that Mullen "did not find [the letter] at all credible and took no note of it" (FP, Dawn, Post). Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani held their second meeting in two days with army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Wednesday, after Haqqani was called back to Islamabad (ET). And in other political news, former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will reportedly meet with opposition politician and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif November 22, while Sharif said Thursday that his Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) party was still considering mass resignations from federal and provincial positions (ET, Dawn).

Five suspected militants and two police officers are dead in Karachi after a shoot-out and bomb blast Wednesday, an incident that quickly led to the arrests of five more suspected militants (BBC, ET, Dawn, ET). Meanwhile, 17 alleged militants have been arrested in Punjab, while fighting between Pakistani security services and militants in Kurram and Orakzai have killed at least 31 militants and an army officer since Wednesday (ET, Dawn, The News, ET, CNN). And the Chief Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province Ameer Haider Khan Hoti offered to sit down with militants Wednesday provided the militants renounce violence, while in Khyber civilians displaced by violence there protested against ongoing military operations in the agency (Dawn, Dawn).  

Pakistani Finance Minister Dr. Hafeez Shaikh has reportedly faced criticism from within the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) over how he has dealt with the country’s power crisis, as U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter offered American help Wednesday with hydro-electric power projects (Dawn, The News). A Pakistani delegation continued its meetings this week with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Dubai, as the two sides disagreed on Pakistani economic projections (ET, DT). Balochistan’s Mining Committee has denied a license to the Tethyan Copper Company, a joint Canadian and Chilean venture, to exploit the "substantial" mineral reserves at Reko Diq (ET). And the Times looks at how Pakistani- and United Nations-funded efforts to reclaim barren agricultural land are benefiting poor Pakistani farmers (NYT).   

Balancing act

Afghan President Hamid Karzai explained in detail his plan for a long-term partnership with the United States Wednesday, as he spoke to nearly 2,000 delegates convened for a four-day Loya Jirga, or grand assembly (NYT, WSJ, Post, LAT, Guardian, Pajhwok). Karzai urged the delegates to support the partnership, which is still under negotiation, but also called for an end to NATO night raids, insisted that foreign forces stop house searches, and demanded that international forces hand over control of detention operations in the country. Suspected insurgents fired two rockets towards the Jirga meeting site Thursday, though neither landed close to their intended target (BBC, AP, AFP). Bonus reads: Scott Worden, "The law and politics behind Afghanistan’s "traditional" Loya Jirga, and Khalid Mafton, "Afghan views on the Loya Jirga" (FP, FP).  

Two stories round out the day: Writing for the Times’ At War blog, Aisha Chowdhry reports on the small but growing number of Afghan women training to be police officers (NYT). And Laura King visits Herat for the opening of the painstakingly restored citadel of Herat, whose reconstruction required three years and more than 300 craftsmen (LAT).   

Bird is the word

Customs officials in Karachi have seized 74 falcons belonging to a member of the Qatari royal family, saying that the unnamed royal only had permission to bring 40 into the country but instead brought 114 (BBC). Royalty from Persian Gulf countries regularly come to Pakistan to hunt birds with the falcons, including the endangered Houbara bustard.

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