The South Asia Channel
Daily brief: Pakistani president hospitalized in Dubai
Editor’s note: Congratulations to AfPak Channel co-editor Peter Bergen, who yesterday was awarded the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Gold Book Prize for his latest work, The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda (WINEP). Burning in my heart Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari flew to Dubai Tuesday after reportedly suffering a ...
Editor’s note: Congratulations to AfPak Channel co-editor Peter Bergen, who yesterday was awarded the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Gold Book Prize for his latest work, The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda (WINEP).
Burning in my heart
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari flew to Dubai Tuesday after reportedly suffering a minor heart attack (Reuters, Tel, Guardian, AFP, BBC, ET). The trip has fueled speculation of Zardari’s resignation or a "soft coup" by the country’s military, but Zardari’s aides continued to insist Wednesday that he will return to the country soon, after doctors observe his condition (Tel, Guardian, Dawn, AP). Zardari suffered a heart attack six years ago, and has since been on medication.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday thanked police as well as the Taliban for keeping the peace in Pakistan during celebrations of the Shi’a Muslim holy day of Ashura (Dawn, ET). Malik also acknowledged that a blast in central Karachi Monday, originally identified as a gas cylinder accident, was in fact caused by explosives. And the AP reports on the tenuous calm in Pakistan as terrorist attacks, particularly large-casualty attacks, have dropped in the past year (AP).
The magazine FHM India is suing Pakistani actress Veena Malik after the latter sued the magazine, claiming that FHM altered a picture of her to make her appear nude, with the prominent letters "ISI," a reference to Pakistan’s intelligence service, tattooed on her arm (ET). And former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani is suing Newsweek over an article the magazine published by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claiming that Haqqani and President Zardari were forewarned about the covert American raid that killed Osama bin Laden (Dawn).
And across the Line of Control in Indian-administered Kashmir, the Post reports that the irredentist insurgency long-supported by Pakistan is "fading away" but that huge numbers of Indian troops remain (Post).
The al-Qaeda-linked Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami (LeJ) claimed responsibility in a call to Radio Free Europe’s Pashto-language station Radio Mashaal for Tuesday’s deadly bombings of Shi’a Muslim sites in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, attacks that killed at least 60 people — including one American (Post, Guardian, AP). Afghan President Hamid Karzai canceled a planned trip to London in order to return to Kabul after the attack, which has sparked concern about future sectarian attacks in Afghanistan and a further deterioration of Afghan-Pakistani relations, amid reports that the Kabul suicide bomber was Pakistani (AFP, Tel, BBC, WSJ, Tel, CNN, Globe and Mail). Karzai said he would "confront Pakistan" over the attack during a visit to a Kabul hospital Wednesday (AP). Bonus read: Anand Gopal, "From bad to worse" (FP).
In Helmand province, a roadside bomb has killed 19 people, including women and children (BBC, Tel). This comes as the Journal reports that top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. John R. Allen has quietly urged that no further troop cuts be made in Afghanistan until 2014, and Afghans remain concerned about the return of militants (WSJ, LAT).
And finally, the AP notes that U.S. forces have shipped small amounts of supplies into Afghanistan through "alternate routes" after the closure of border crossings with Pakistan, though U.S. officials declined to specify the routes used (AP).
Al-Jazeera English looks at how the Taliban government and its fall changed the book market in Afghanistan, as recent years have seen a growth of new literature, fiction, and educational production (AJE). Under the Taliban books were a rare form of entertainment, though creative writing suffered due to censorship and demand for religious books.