Daily brief: Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. faces uneasy homecoming

Welcome home? Embattled Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani returned to Islamabad this weekend, as he and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari face mounting questions about an alleged attempt to sideline the country’s military and intelligence services in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden (NYT, AP, DT, ET, FT, LAT, ...

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

Welcome home?

Embattled Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani returned to Islamabad this weekend, as he and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari face mounting questions about an alleged attempt to sideline the country's military and intelligence services in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden (NYT, AP, DT, ET, FT, LAT, AJE, Reuters, CNN, Dawn, AFP). Haqqani -- who continues to deny accusations by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz that he used Ijaz to pass a backchannel note to the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen -- will reportedly meet Monday with Zardari, the country's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, as well as army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and intelligence head Lt. Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha (Dawn, ET).

Ijaz said Sunday that he had met last month with Pasha in London, and that Pasha "forensically tested" Ijaz's purported evidence of Haqqani's involvement, including telephone and Blackberry messages (ET, Newsweek). Ijaz and Haqqani continue to publicly trade barbs about the accusations, as Ijaz backtracked on earlier claims that the memo was sent on Zardari's orders (Dawn, ET, Dawn, ET). Opposition political figure Nawaz Sharif demanded an inquiry into the affair at a rally in Faisalabad Sunday, the day after a petition was filed with Pakistan's Supreme Court to form a judicial commission to investigate the memo's authenticity (ET, Dawn, ET, DT).

Welcome home?

Embattled Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani returned to Islamabad this weekend, as he and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari face mounting questions about an alleged attempt to sideline the country’s military and intelligence services in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden (NYT, AP, DT, ET, FT, LAT, AJE, Reuters, CNN, Dawn, AFP). Haqqani — who continues to deny accusations by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz that he used Ijaz to pass a backchannel note to the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen — will reportedly meet Monday with Zardari, the country’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, as well as army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and intelligence head Lt. Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha (Dawn, ET).

Ijaz said Sunday that he had met last month with Pasha in London, and that Pasha "forensically tested" Ijaz’s purported evidence of Haqqani’s involvement, including telephone and Blackberry messages (ET, Newsweek). Ijaz and Haqqani continue to publicly trade barbs about the accusations, as Ijaz backtracked on earlier claims that the memo was sent on Zardari’s orders (Dawn, ET, Dawn, ET). Opposition political figure Nawaz Sharif demanded an inquiry into the affair at a rally in Faisalabad Sunday, the day after a petition was filed with Pakistan’s Supreme Court to form a judicial commission to investigate the memo’s authenticity (ET, Dawn, ET, DT).

In other political news,the Tribune reports that Sharif intends to offer former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi a "key slot" in Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) during a meeting this week (ET). And a spokesman for Pakistan’s military strongly denied accounts from the Sunday Times of a meeting between Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan with U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, a meeting said to have taken place in the presence of the country’s intelligence chief Pasha (Times, ET).

Déjà Vu

The AP and Reuters report that over the past several months, Pakistani government intermediaries have held talks with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in view of a possible peace deal (AP, Reuters, ET/Reuters). The talks have focused on South Waziristan, according to a TTP commander, and include demands that the Pakistani government withdraw its army from the agency, pay compensation for damages incurred during military operations that began in 2009, and allow TTP leaders to move freely throughout Pakistan; the AP adds that the TTP has released five Pakistani intelligence officers kidnapped in Balochistan as a "confidence-building measure" (AP). And reports surfaced this weekend that two London men who were among the most wanted men in the United Kingdom, Ibrahim Adam and Mohammed Azmir, were killed several months ago in separate U.S. drone strikes in South Waziristan (ET, Guardian, Tel, CNN, BBC, Independent). 

A Baloch militant group, the Balochistan Liberation Army, attacked a convoy of paramilitary Frontier Corps in the province Monday, killing at least 14, while unknown attackers destroyed three NATO tankers in Balochistan this weekend (AP, ET, CNN, AFP). In Karachi, a bomb in a crowded movie theater wounded 11 people Sunday, while police in the city killed the "mastermind" of a May grenade attack against the Saudi consulate in Karachi and arrested three others allegedly involved in the attack (Dawn, ET, Dawn). Police in Jhelum this weekend arrested five policemen suspected of being involved with the deaths of four intelligence agents in the city this month (ET). Seven militants are said to have been killed in ongoing operations by the Pakistani military in Orakzai (Dawn). And Interior Minister Rehman Malik said this weekend that 150 parliamentarians had received anonymous text messages threatening to kill them if they did not resign (DT, ET, Dawn).

Six stories round out the news from the weekend: The AP reports on the opening of Pakistan’s largest church in Karachi last month, which is seen as a statement from the country’s increasingly threatened Christian community (AP). Karin Brulliard looks at the persistent concern in Pakistan over the millions of Afghan refugees still living in the country (Post). Health officials in Khyber this weekend announced the 50th case of polio in the agency (ET). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Pakistan to improve access to credit for small businesses, while Pakistani army spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas told Reuters Saturday that Pakistan would like to reduce military expenditures to less than 16 percent of the country’s budget (ET, Reuters). And two former Pakistani cricket stars convicted in the United Kingdom of fixing matches will have their appeals heard in a British court this week (BBC, AFP).

Stay, with conditions

The Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, convened by Afghan President Hamid Karzai last week drew to a close Saturday, after endorsing Karzai’s strategic partnership negotiations with the United States, and backing Karzai’s calls for an end to night raids by international forces and handing the transfer of detention operations to the Afghan government (NYT, Post, CNN, AJE, BBC, CSM, AP, McClatchy, LAT, AFP). Karzai expressed approval of the 76 resolutions laid out by the jirga, which include a stipulation that any agreement with the United States will last only for 10 years. Two Afghan police officers were killed Saturday after a night raid sparked a gun battle with U.S. forces in Ghazni province (Reuters, BBC). The U.S. government publicly welcomed the Jirga’s endorsement of talks, even as the Taliban rejected a long-term U.S. presence in the country, and more than 1,000 students protested against U.S. forces staying in Afghanistan Sunday in the eastern city of Jalalabad (WSJ, AP, AFP, The News, AP, Reuters, The News).

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Friday that there was no "timeframe" for an end to American combat operations in Afghanistan, as the Telegraph reports on the quiet pushback from American military leaders against further cuts in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan before the November 2012 presidential elections (AFP, Tel).

CBS reports on the difficulties faced by the Afghan police as international forces draw down, while the Times has a must-read on American efforts to amass biometric data on every person entering and exiting Afghanistan at the Kabul airport (CBS,NYT). The Journal looks at the after effects of the friendly fire death of a U.S. Marine at a combat outpost in Helmand province (WSJ). In Uzbekistan, an explosion last week is said to have hit a rail line that delivers supplies to American troops in Afghanistan (AP). CNN delves into the escalating Twitter wars between the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and a Taliban supporter (CNN). And a U.S. Army Sergeant, David Bram, was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison Friday for his actions in connection with a group of soldiers who killed Afghan civilians for sport, the 11th conviction to come from the case (Reuters, AP). 

Stand up for your rights 

A 13-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, has been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize after she kept a diary for the BBC Urdu about her suffering following the TTP’s ban on girls’ schooling in the Swat Valley in 2009 (PTI). Yousufzai beat out 93 other children from 42 countries to be considered for the prize.

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