New Release: Paul Cruickshank on the militant pipeline between the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and the West (NAF).
The Post reported Wednesday on allegations made by A.Q. Khan, considered the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program, that North Korean officials bribed senior Pakistani army officers during the late 1990s in return for nuclear technology (Post). Khan, who has not been allowed to speak to Western investigators, provided a letter to journalist Simon Henderson (available here) that Khan says proves the payment of more than $3 million in cash and jewels to the former chief of Pakistan's army Gen. Jehangir Karamat, as well as retired Lt. Gen. Zulfiqar Khan (Post, AP, Reuters, CBS). Pakistan's interior ministry took Khan to the Islamabad High Court this week, accusing him of "not cooperating" with Pakistan's government in making his security arrangements (ET).
forces supported by helicopter gunships fought unidentified militants
in Miram Shah, the capital of North Waziristan, for several hours
Wednesday after an army convoy was shelled, though authorities deny that
it was a "planned" operation (ET, DT, CNN, AFP).
The AP reports that Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, a notorious Tehrik-i-Taliban
Pakistan (TTP) commander and radio presence in Bajaur agency, is back
on the air from a base in Afghanistan, where he fled after Pakistani
forces swept through Bajaur last year (AP).
Two senior Afghan militant commanders were reportedly killed in a cross-border attack Wednesday in Upper Dir, an incursion that prompted Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to call Afghan president Hamid Karzai to express his "serious concern" about the border security situation (ET, AFP, ET, DT). Fresh political violence in Karachi overnight brought the death toll there to at least 37 people killed since Tuesday (Dawn, ET, ET, AFP, DT, Dawn, ET). In Baluchistan, four people, including a student activist, have been found shot to death (DT).
In other news, the committee investigating the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad has called 16 prominent journalists to testify (Dawn, DT, ET). And India's home minister P. Chidambaram said Wednesday that there was "no indication" of Pakistan sending a team to Mumbai to investigate the 2008 attacks in the city (Dawn, ET).
To talk, or not to talk?
In a statement released Wednesday, the Taliban denied reports that they had begun peace negotiations with the United States, saying that no talks would take place as long as foreign troops were in Afghanistan (McClatchy, Reuters, DT). They did say, however, that negotiations for the transfer of prisoners had occurred. And Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Wednesday that the group had brought down a cargo plane carrying NATO supplies that crashed near Kabul late Tuesday night (CNN).
Reuters reports that Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) has given Karzai an unspecified "6-point plan" to move beyond a looming constitutional crisis linked to last year's parliamentary elections (Reuters). The U.N. special representative to Afghanistan Staffan de Mistura said Wednesday that the transition to Afghan control over the country's security is "on track" as the departing deputy U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, offered details about the first American units to be withdrawn from the country (AFP, Reuters, ABC, Reuters). And British prime minister David Cameron announced that he would reduce the number of British troops in Afghanistan to 9,000 by the end of next year, but would keep soldiers in the country to train Afghan forces until 2023 or later (AFP, NYT, Times).
NATO is investigating reports that an airstrike in Khost province killed up to 14 people, including eight children (AJE, NYT). NATO is also looking into charges that a bombing raid in Ghazni province killed two civilians (Reuters).
More than 30 Afghan border police have been killed in the country's eastern province of Nuristan in fierce battles with militants who reportedly crossed over from Pakistan (NYT, BBC, DT). Reuters reports that as many as 1,000 people in the eastern Kunar province have been displaced by Pakistani rocket and mortar fire (Reuters). And in the southern province of Uruzgan six, Afghan police and a civilian were killed when the police vehicle drove over a landmine (AFP).
What's in a name?
Two Pakistani women who gave birth during a traffic jam -- caused by a visit to the Swat Valley by Pakistan's army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Prime Minister Gilani -- have named their children after the two men (DT). The Daily Times terms the naming a "sign of protest" against the delay that kept the women from the hospital.
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