The South Asia Channel

Pakistan charges three bin Laden widows

Detained and accused: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Thursday that the three widows of Osama bin Laden being held in Pakistan have been charged with illegally entering the country (AP, ET, CNN, Guardian, AJE, BBC). Malik said the children detained with the women have not been charged, and are currently living "comfortably" in a five-bedroom house in Islamabad. The Tehreek-e-Taliban ...

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

Detained and accused: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Thursday that the three widows of Osama bin Laden being held in Pakistan have been charged with illegally entering the country (APETCNNGuardianAJEBBC). Malik said the children detained with the women have not been charged, and are currently living "comfortably" in a five-bedroom house in Islamabad. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has threatened attacks on the government if the three widows are not released (Reuters).

A video statement by al-Qaeda’s media chief in Pakistan, Ahmed Farooq, released on jihadist websites on Friday confirms the death of Badr Mansoor in a drone strike last month (AP). Mansoor was believed to be one of al-Qaeda’s top operatives in Pakistan, and the man behind many of Pakistan’s deadliest suicide bombings. Taliban militants ambushed a military convoy in North Waziristan on Friday, killing seven soldiers (ET).

The Express Tribune reports that Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam may be announced later today as the next director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, replacing Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha (ET). The Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), an umbrella organization for Pakistan hardline religious and political parties, held a rally in Peshawar on Friday calling for the release of "missing persons" being held by the military and intelligence agencies (ET). And Pakistan’s Senate on Friday passed the landmark Human Rights 2012 bill, under which intelligence agencies would not be permitted to detain Pakistani citizens illegally (Dawn).

Reuters’ Sanjeev Miglani examines the budding relationship between Pakistan and Russia, as re-elected president Vladimir Putin has reportedly agreed to become the first Russian head of state to visit Pakistan (Reuters). The warming of economic and military ties between the two countries marks a shift from decades of animosity stemming from Pakistan’s pro-Western Cold War stance. Now, Pakistan and the United States enjoy a less amicable relationship, which a gas pipeline deal with Iran threatens to worsen (LAT). 

New deal

Afghan and U.S. military officials on Friday signed a deal promising the gradual transfer of detainees to Afghan custody over six months, a key breakthrough in the issues holding up a long-term strategic partnership agreement between the two countries (AP, NYTLAT). However, the United States still holds ultimate veto authority over the release of any prisoners while U.S. forces are still in Afghanistan.

Afghan authorities are searching for a member of the Afghan Local Police, who was on late-night guard duty Wednesday night when he allegedly let a group of Taliban militants enter a checkpoint and kill nine Afghan policemen as they slept (NYT). The Taliban claimed responsibility in a statement posted on their website for the roadside bomb that killed six British soldiers in Kandahar earlier this week (Tel).

The Times’ Matthew Rosenberg and Graham Bowley had a must-read on Thursday about the man at the center of a corruption scandal that could cost the Afghan government $900 million, former Kabul Bank chief Sherkhan Farnood, who is free and hosting lavish poker games in his Kabul mansion (NYT). President Hamid Karzai’s administration has yet to prosecute a single high-level corruption case; indeed some of Karzai’s closest advisors are participants at Farnood’s poker games.

No men allowed

Afghanistan opened its first women-only Internet café in central Kabul on Thursday, which was also International Women’s Day, providing Afghan women a safe place to surf the Web away from the eyes of their male counterparts (Reuters). The café was named after Sahar Gul, a 15-year-old Afghan girl who was tortured by her husband’s parents when she refused to become a prostitute.

 Jennifer Rowland

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