Daily brief: Former Amb. Haqqani fears for his life

Wonk Watch: Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, "Pakistan Security Report 2011" (PIPS).  Life at risk Former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said in an interview with the Telegraph on Tuesday that he is being called a "traitor" by the media and fears he will be murdered if he leaves his safe residence ...

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

Wonk Watch: Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, "Pakistan Security Report 2011" (PIPS). 

Life at risk

Former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said in an interview with the Telegraph on Tuesday that he is being called a "traitor" by the media and fears he will be murdered if he leaves his safe residence at the house of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani (Tel). Haqqani denied the allegations that he asked Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to pass a memo to the American government asking for help with reining in Pakistan's military leaders. The maker of Blackberry, Research in Motion, has promised to protect customers' privacy after it was reported that the commission investigating the "Memogate" scandal would request the Blackberry conversation between Ijaz and Haqqani (AFP). And U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Tuesday that the United States would like relations with Pakistan to "get back to normal" this year (ET).

Wonk Watch: Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, "Pakistan Security Report 2011" (PIPS). 

Life at risk

Former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said in an interview with the Telegraph on Tuesday that he is being called a "traitor" by the media and fears he will be murdered if he leaves his safe residence at the house of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani (Tel). Haqqani denied the allegations that he asked Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to pass a memo to the American government asking for help with reining in Pakistan’s military leaders. The maker of Blackberry, Research in Motion, has promised to protect customers’ privacy after it was reported that the commission investigating the "Memogate" scandal would request the Blackberry conversation between Ijaz and Haqqani (AFP). And U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Tuesday that the United States would like relations with Pakistan to "get back to normal" this year (ET).

Sources within the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have reportedly said that al-Qaeda, Afghan Taliban, and TTP militants are scrambling to contain an escalating conflict between TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud and his deputy Waliur Rehman, who are "at each others throats" (Reuters). A pamphlet distributed this week announcing the formation of a five-member commission called the Shura al-Muraqba comprised of officials from four Pakistani militant groups and the Afghan Taliban, will attempt to "resolve any differences and problems between the mujahideen." Pakistani security officials said troops killed at least 10 militants in an attack on their hideouts in Kurram Agency on Wednesday, while seven more suspected militants died in a clash between two banned groups in Khyber Agency (ETDawn).

Wednesday is the one-year anniversary of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, marked by a call from Pakistan’s Sunni Ittehad Council for a rally in support of the assassin, while rights activists have organized a candlelight vigil for Taseer (ET).

A deal, "in principle"

The Guardian reports that in response to the Taliban’s decision to open an office in Qatar to facilitate peace talks with the United States, the U.S. has agreed "in principle" to release some former Taliban officials from the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, including former provincial governors Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa and Noorullah Nori (Guardian). U.S. officials and analysts lauded the Taliban’s announcement as a significant step toward finding a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan (NYT,PostBloomberg). Amid the reports of peace talks, at least 12 people were killed in three bomb blasts in Kandahar on Tuesday; one suicide motorcycle attack targeted a police check point, and two explosions later rocked a busy intersection (BBCReuters,AP). Meanwhile, construction workers in the northern Afghan province of Balkh discovered a mass grave on Tuesday near the site of a large battle that took place during the civil war of the early 1990s (Reuters).

Afghanistan’s international financial backers may be encouraged by the Afghan Central Bank’s renewed efforts to recover around $900 million lost in the 2010 collapse of Kabul Bank, the country’s largest private bank (NYT). And Kabul police chief Ayoub Salangi on Wednesday said his forces had detained two British nationals — along with their Afghan driver and translator — who were in possession of 30 AK-47 rifles and large amounts of ammunition (AFPTelReuters). Salangi said the rifles belong to one of the foreign private security companies in Kabul and had been scrubbed of their registration numbers.

Throwing punches

Afghanistan’s first female boxing team is defying security threats and training hard in the hopes of competing at the 2012 Olympics in London this summer (BBCReuters). Their success could make for a combination of firsts, as women’s boxing makes its debut as a medal sport this year and no Afghan woman has ever won an Olympic medal.

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Jennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.

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