Daily brief: U.S. denies intentionally targeting Pakistani soldiers
Wonk Watch: Andrew Bast, "Pakistan’s Nuclear Calculus" (Washington Quarterly) Rumor has it Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey "publicly and categorically" denied Wednesday that a U.S. air attack on Pakistani border positions that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers this weekend was deliberate, while the Times reports that President Barack Obama has overruled ...
Wonk Watch: Andrew Bast, "Pakistan's Nuclear Calculus" (Washington Quarterly)
Wonk Watch: Andrew Bast, "Pakistan’s Nuclear Calculus" (Washington Quarterly)
Rumor has it
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey "publicly and categorically" denied Wednesday that a U.S. air attack on Pakistani border positions that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers this weekend was deliberate, while the Times reports that President Barack Obama has overruled State Department requests — for now — that he apologize to Pakistan for the incident (Reuters, AFP, NYT, ET). Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar warned against another such incident Wednesday, as Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani indicated the country’s ambassador to Germany might attend next week’s Bonn Conference on Afghanistan, and Pakistani and American forces resumed some low-level cooperation (Reuters, ET, Dawn, CSM, Reuters, AP). Pakistan on Wednesday released video of the destroyed border posts after the attack, while a Pakistani Senate committee will release recommendations for Pakistan’s relationship with the United States on Friday (NYT, Tel, TIME, ET). And the Tribune notes that American forces are preparing to leave the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan (ET).
Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday gave 13 key figures, including army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and President Asif Ali Zardari, 15 days to submit their evidence for the court’s investigation of the "Memogate" scandal (ET, Dawn). The court also ordered former ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani not to leave Pakistan during the three-week investigation, though Haqqani said Thursday that he had "no intention" of leaving the country (AP, Dawn). And a lawsuit before the Lahore High Court seeking to block the appointment of Sherry Rehman as the new ambassador to the United States was withdrawn Wednesday (Dawn).
The commission investigating the death of journalist Saleem Shahzad will reportedly release the results of its inquiry later this month (ET). In Peshawar, a bomb targeted a local official Thursday, though there were no reports of casualties (Reuters). Meanwhile, three "Taliban" militants have been reported killed in a clash with fighters from the group Lashkar-i-Islam in Khyber (Dawn).
Four stories close out the Pakistan news: The Telegraph reports that up to four million flood victims in Pakistan could go hungry this winter (Tel). A diesel shortage has forced Pakistan Railways to shut down 11 trains, meaning the state-owned company currently has 131 suspended trains in total (ET). And the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) said Wednesday that the country’s federal and local governments owe Rs326 billion ($3.67 billion) for electricity, as the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) cut off power to Pakistan Railways’ railway stations in the Islamabad area (Dawn, ET, Dawn).
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved an amendment to a defense appropriations bill calling for President Obama to develop a plan for an "accelerated" American withdrawal from Afghanistan (Reuters, LAT). The White House has threatened to veto the bill because it contains controversial provisions related to military authority over detained terrorism suspects. The European Union will withdraw half of its staff from its new multi-million dollar embassy compound in Kabul after security experts deemed parts of the complex insufficiently secure or unlivable during Afghanistan’s winter (Tel).
The second stage of the transition of security control in Afghanistan began Thursday with the transfer of all but two districts of Parwan province (AP). And the AP reports on a small group of Marine Special Operations Forces working to train local anti-Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan, forces emblematic of the shift of international forces in the country from combat to instruction (AP).
Three Afghan policemen were killed Wednesday when their truck hit a roadside bomb (AP). Seven Pakistanis working in the central Afghan province of Logar were kidnapped by unknown assailants Thursday (AFP). And two Pakistanis have reportedly been killed by NATO forces near the border with Balochistan, with relatives telling reporters that the men were visiting family in Afghanistan (ET).
And finally, gunmen recently attacked a family of five in Kunduz with acid, an assault reportedly prompted by the father of the family’s refusal to allow a local militiamen to marry his daughter (LAT, Reuters, BBC).
"K" is for Kandahar
The popular American children’s show Sesame Street will launch an Afghan version Thursday night, though with children encouraged to "exercise" instead of singing and dancing (Guardian, Tel). Known as Baghch-e-Simsim, the program, funded by the U.S. State Department, is a joint production of the non-profit Sesame Workshop and the Afghan company Moby Media.
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