Daily brief: Congress suspends $700 million in Pakistan aid
Deep freeze A joint congressional panel voted on Monday to suspend $700 million in aid to Pakistan, until Pakistan pledges to disrupt the movement of fertilizer — used to make Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs — into Afghanistan (Reuters). The chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Salim Saifullah, told reporters that, "I don’t see ...
A joint congressional panel voted on Monday to suspend $700 million in aid to Pakistan, until Pakistan pledges to disrupt the movement of fertilizer — used to make Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs — into Afghanistan (Reuters). The chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Salim Saifullah, told reporters that, "I don’t see any good" coming out of the move (Reuters). Also Monday, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Shamsul Hasan, denied reports that he had been called back to Pakistan to testify before the commission investigating the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May (Dawn). And according to the BBC Pakistan may charge millions in taxes on trucks passing through Pakistan to deliver supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan, though the border remains closed to the trucks at the moment (BBC).
The Post today profiles Bilawar Bhutto Zardari, the son of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who at 23 is too young to run for elections in Pakistan but has been thrust into a leadership position in the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as his father faces increasing political pressure (Post). In other political news, former Air Marshall and longtime politician Asghar Khan joined Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) Monday, as PTI supporters from different factions clashed in Islamabad (ET, DT, Dawn). And Pakistan’s Senate on Monday passed two important pieces of legislation protecting women’s rights, one that provides stiff sentences for perpetrators of acid attacks on women, and another that had languished for three years and provides key protections of women’s rights, the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill 2008 (ET, Dawn). Bonus read: Rabail Baig, "Progress or pretend?" (FP).
Police in Karachi raided an Islamic seminary Monday night and freed approximately 50 mostly Pashtun boys and men who were allegedly kept chained in the basement and were allegedly subjected to abuse and recruitment efforts by the Taliban (BBC, Dawn, ET, AP, AFP). Police officials say the students were drug addicts taken to the seminary for treatment, and have arrested five suspects in the case (ET).
Three stories round out the news: In Khyber, militants have killed five villagers who were reportedly working with Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps (AFP). Three activists in the Balochistan National Party (BNP) were found dead in the province Tuesday, after having gone missing nearly two months ago (ET). And Pakistani actress Veena Malik hit out Monday at the "stone age" threats leveled against her for purportedly appearing nude on the cover of an Indian magazine (though Malik says the photo was altered) and vowed to return to Pakistan (Guardian, Tel, Post).
Michèle Flournoy, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and the most senior woman to serve at the Pentagon, announced Monday that she was leaving her post in order to "rebalance" her life (NYT, Post, AP, AFP). A key adviser to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Flournoy also played a key role in planning the buildup of U.S. forces in Afghanistan; many analysts have speculated that she may eventually be appointed Defense Secretary herself.
The Guardian reports that American budget cuts may imperil plans to install a 220-ton turbine at the Kajaki Dam in Helmand province, a turbine that has sat unused since being moved 100 miles in a major operation by British forces in 2008 (Guardian). The BBC travels with a British counter-IED unit along an important road in Helmand province, where a roadside bomb killed at least 18 Afghans, including women and children, last week (BBC). And Afghan forces on Tuesday killed a suicide bomber as he approached a NATO base in the northwestern province of Badghis (AP).
Starting on January 1, 2012, Pakistani officials on the BS-20 to BS-22 pay scale will no longer have access to government-supplied cars (ET). While government agencies will retain a small pool of vehicles for official use, most civil servants will now have to pay for their own gas, insurance, and other car fees.
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