Daily Brief: Pakistan al-Qaeda leader reportedly killed in drone strike
Editor’s note: Beginning tomorrow, the AfPak Daily Brief will have a slightly different layout. Please look for "Foreign Policy Magazine" as the sender. "AfPak Daily Brief" will now appear in the subject line. Thanks for reading! Liquidated leader A U.S. drone strike early Thursday morning — the second in two days — reportedly killed four ...
Editor’s note: Beginning tomorrow, the AfPak Daily Brief will have a slightly different layout. Please look for "Foreign Policy Magazine" as the sender. "AfPak Daily Brief" will now appear in the subject line. Thanks for reading!
A U.S. drone strike early Thursday morning — the second in two days — reportedly killed four suspected militants in North Waziristan’s Miran Shah, including Badr Mansoor, who was described by one Pakistani official as the "de facto leader of al-Qaeda in Pakistan" (AP, AFP, CNN, Tel). Western officials said Wednesday that fewer foreign fighters are being drawn to the Afghanistan/Pakistan region to fight alongside militants there, in part because of the threat from drone strikes, as well as the attraction of fighting instead in conflicts that have erupted from the Arab Spring (AFP). In Balochistan on Wednesday, four people were injured when unidentified men on motorcycles through a grenade at their car (ET).
Aitzaz Ahsan, the lawyer representing Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, appeared on Thursday before Pakistan’s Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry told him that his appeal of the contempt of court charges against Gilani was itself in contempt of court (ET, Dawn, The Nation). Chaudhry reiterated that all charges against Gilani would be dropped if he would write a letter to Swiss authorities requesting that a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari be reopened.
Pakistani traders are hesitant to continue doing business with Iran as tough international sanctions are making payment for Pakistani exports difficult for Iranian businesses (Reuters). Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Wednesday visited her counterpart in Russia, Sergey Lavrov, and the two pledged to support an "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" reconciliation process (ET, Dawn). Next week, Pakistan will host Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for a summit on counterterrorism (AFP).
The deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday that an estimated 1% of Afghan security forces are currently capable of operating on their own, and that the United States will begin sending military advisory teams to Afghanistan this year in an effort to put Afghan forces in the lead role (Reuters, CNN, NYT, AP). However, Lt. Gen. Scaparrotti also defended ISAF’s claim of progress in Afghanistan against an article published Monday in the Armed Forces Journal arguing that U.S. military officials are misleading the public about the successes being achieved on the ground there.
The production of Afghanistan’s best-known export, elegant hand-woven rugs, has fallen 70 percent over the past few years, facing daunting challenges including low prices, a lack of infrastructure upon which to market and sell the rugs, competition from machine-made rugs, and rampant corruption amongst officials (Reuters).
It took workers more than four hours and multiple broken pulley wires to haul a 7,000 kilogram (15,400 pound), 36-foot-long whale shark onto the main port in Karachi (ET). The enormous shark was purchased for Rs200,000 (U.S. $2,200) by local resident Qasim Niazi, as men traded stories about the rare catch, including one by an elderly fisherman who bragged that whale sharks had tried and failed to swallow him twice.
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