Daily brief: Pakistani naval officers to face court martial
By Andrew Lebovich, August 4, 2011
A day in court
Pakistan’s military will reportedly court martial three naval officers in connection with the failure to prevent an attack carried out by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on the country’s Mehran naval base in May, which resulted in the destruction of key surveillance aircraft and the deaths of 10 security personnel (ET, Reuters). The officers include the base’s former commander Commodore Raja Tahir, as well as two subordinates.
Violence continues to roil Karachi, as Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain and officials from the Awami National Party (ANP) called for Pakistan’s army to be deployed to tamp down the fighting (DT, ET, ET, Dawn, DT). Hundreds of paramilitary Rangers have spread throughout Karachi, and the government in Sindh province Wednesday authorized Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari to head negotiations with the city’s political parties (Tel, DT, ET). As part of the talks, Dawn reports that Zardari is expected to ask the MQM to rejoin Pakistan’s governing coalition (Dawn).
China toned down its criticism of Pakistan in the wake of violence in the country’s western Xinjiang province last weekend, lauding the latter’s counterterrorism efforts in a public statement released Wednesday (ET). Meanwhile, Dawn reports on the looming September discussion at the United Nations on American efforts to halt the production of fissile nuclear materials, and NBC’s Robert Windrem discusses the possibility that American forces may attempt to “snatch” Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the event of crisis in the country (Dawn, MSNBC). And U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said in a visit to Baluchistan that the province is “very significant” for the United States, as unidentified gunmen destroyed three NATO fuel trucks near the Baluch town of Dasht (Dawn, Dawn).
Four stories close out today’s Pakistan news: The Punjab home office has reportedly concluded in an intelligence report that certain religious schools in the province are promoting radicalization, and have increased their activities in the past six weeks (ET). Fighting between the army and militants continues in Kurram agency (ET). A new report from Oxfam International has concluded that 36 percent of Pakistanis are undernourished, while two-thirds of the population spends more than half of their income on food (ET, Dawn). And 16 Pakistanis held prisoner by human traffickers in Afghanistan have been repatriated (Dawn).
The Times reports that a statement released recently by the Taliban calling on the United States and foreign forces to, “seek a face-saving exit from Afghanistan in understanding with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” could indicate a shift from previous Taliban demands for a withdrawal from Afghanistan before peace negotiations could take place (NYT). Observers note that any negotiations or peace process with the Taliban are nascent, and Taliban violence continues unabated. However, former Afghan prime minister Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, who served between 1995 and 1996, told The News that Taliban officials indicated to him that the group would negotiate after a public commitment from the United States to withdraw (The News). And Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, the body tasked with promoting reconciliation with the Taliban, has appointed Algerian Abdullah Anas, the son-in-law of the legendary slain anti-Soviet militant organizer Abdullah Azzam, to represent the council officially in Europe (Pajhwok).
A Taliban car bomb on Thursday killed Payenda Khan, a junior official in Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) in the northern province of Kunduz (BBC, AFP). In eastern Afghanistan, a man wearing an Afghan National Police uniform shot and killed a NATO soldier Thursday (Reuters, AP). And Bloomberg notes the rising recruitment of women into Afghanistan’s security forces, a role for women in Afghan society that may be at risk following a potential deal with the Taliban (Bloomberg). Bonus read: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Fighting a 50 percent solution in Afghanistan” (FP).
The cat’s meow
The Post brings to light the months-long debate at the U.S. embassy in Kabul over the fate of the 25 to 30 cats that populate the embassy grounds (Post). Some staffers have been fighting a push to exterminate the cats, which reportedly have scratched or bitten at least one embassy employee.
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