Daily Brief: Pakistani PM sacks Defense Minister

Crime and punishment Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani relieved Lt. Gen. Naeem Khalid Lodhi of his duties as Defense Secretary on Wednesday, following Lodhi’s statement to the Supreme Court last month in its investigation of the "Memogate" scandal that the Ministry of Defense has no control over the Army or the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate ...

TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images
TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images
TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images

Crime and punishment

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani relieved Lt. Gen. Naeem Khalid Lodhi of his duties as Defense Secretary on Wednesday, following Lodhi's statement to the Supreme Court last month in its investigation of the "Memogate" scandal that the Ministry of Defense has no control over the Army or the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) (ETAPDawnReuters). The Pakistani military's Directorate of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on its website that Prime Minister Gilani's recent statements to a Chinese newspaper that the country's military leaders had violated the constitution are false and could have "very serious ramifications" (ETDawn). And on Tuesday, the lawyer for the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani challenged the Supreme Court's legal authority to form a commission to investigate "Memogate" (AFPDawn).

Four suspected militants were killed Wednesday on the outskirts of Miran Shah in the first U.S. drone strike in Pakistan since the November 26 NATO airstrikes that hit a border check point, killing 24 Pakistani troops (APAFPReutersTelNYT). Pakistani security forces killed a further 11 suspected militants in the tribal agency of Orakzai on Wednesday (Dawn). The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the United States gave a $36,607 grant in 2009 to Pakistan's Sunni Ittehad Council, which recently organized a rally in celebration of Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated the opinionated liberal politician Salman Taseer last year (AP). A U.S. diplomat insisted that it was a one-time grant intended to support the group's organization of anti-Taliban rallies, and that no further funds will be given.

Crime and punishment

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani relieved Lt. Gen. Naeem Khalid Lodhi of his duties as Defense Secretary on Wednesday, following Lodhi’s statement to the Supreme Court last month in its investigation of the "Memogate" scandal that the Ministry of Defense has no control over the Army or the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) (ETAPDawnReuters). The Pakistani military’s Directorate of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on its website that Prime Minister Gilani’s recent statements to a Chinese newspaper that the country’s military leaders had violated the constitution are false and could have "very serious ramifications" (ETDawn). And on Tuesday, the lawyer for the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani challenged the Supreme Court’s legal authority to form a commission to investigate "Memogate" (AFPDawn).

Four suspected militants were killed Wednesday on the outskirts of Miran Shah in the first U.S. drone strike in Pakistan since the November 26 NATO airstrikes that hit a border check point, killing 24 Pakistani troops (APAFPReutersTelNYT). Pakistani security forces killed a further 11 suspected militants in the tribal agency of Orakzai on Wednesday (Dawn). The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the United States gave a $36,607 grant in 2009 to Pakistan’s Sunni Ittehad Council, which recently organized a rally in celebration of Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated the opinionated liberal politician Salman Taseer last year (AP). A U.S. diplomat insisted that it was a one-time grant intended to support the group’s organization of anti-Taliban rallies, and that no further funds will be given.

Pakistan’s civilian leadership scrambled Tuesday to formulate a response to the Supreme Court’s threat to dismiss Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani if he refuses to reopen a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, and eventually decided to call an early session of parliament on January 12 (ETDawn). The leaders hope to find a solution to the political turmoil through inclusive negotiations, as Prime Minister Gilani has so far refused to fulfill the court’s demands. A spokesman for the ISPR on Wednesday denied reports in a British tabloid, The Sun, that Pakistani authorities plan to demolish the compound in which Osama bin Laden was found and killed by the United States (ET).

Friend or foe?

U.S. troops in Afghanistan say that Afghan police forces may do more to undermine stability in the country than they do to support it, telling reporters that some Afghan police officers have given insurgents money, food, and rides in police cars (WSJ). More concerning are American suspicions that Afghan police officers have received weapons from the United States, then sold them to the Taliban. A suicide bomber believed to be just 14 or 15 years old managed to enter the Kandahar police headquarters on Wednesday, injuring one officer when he detonated his explosives (APAFP). And Canadian officials said Tuesday that 10 containers of "non-critical" military equipment returning from Afghanistan had apparently been broken into and looted, then filled with rocks and sand so that the theft would not be discovered (CBC).

Afghan and Pakistani officials exchanged barbs at a recent two-day conference on Afghanistan in Singapore, trading blame for Afghanistan’s struggle against a Taliban insurgency (WSJ). The eighth conference of the Pak-Afghan Joint Economic Commission (JEC) is scheduled to begin next week in Islamabad (ET). 

Got milk?

Camel milk is reportedly taking Peshawar by storm because of an increased awareness among residents about its medicinal qualities (ET). Many city-dwellers can now get fresh camel milk at Rs100 per kilogram from the Bedouin who walk through Peshawar with their female camels.

Sign up here to receive the Daily Brief in your inbox. Follow the AfPak Channel on Twitter and Facebook.

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

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.