note: The AfPak Channel Daily Brief will be on vacation after today,
but will resume regular coverage in the new year. Happy Holidays!
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Monday delayed its decision on whether or not to investigate the "Memogate" scandal, after Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry continued to pressure Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to give the court a statement in the case (NYT, Post). Zardari and his aides are said to be considering a reply to the court about the charges that Zardari hatched the purported plan to remove Pakistan's military and intelligence leadership in the aftermath of the May raid that killed Osama bin Laden (ET, WSJ). And Jameel Ahmed, the head of Pakistan's Communist Party, filed a petition with the court Monday seeking the removal of intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha following allegations in the press that Pasha solicited approval in unnamed Arab countries for removing Zardari from office (Dawn, ET).
BBC Urdu said Monday that a Pakistani investigation into last month's deadly NATO airstrike against Pakistani troops in Mohmand has allegedly concluded that an Afghan army unit, in collaboration with India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), sought to draw Pakistani fire in order to be able to call in an airstrike against the border checkpoint (ET, Dawn). The incident prompted Pakistan to close its border to NATO supplies going into Afghanistan, as a new Senate Foreign Relations Committee report looked into how the U.S. military has diversified its supply routes into the country (ET). And the Tribune reveals that since the May raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan has stopped asking the United States to reimburse it for anti-terrorism operations, costing the country nearly $600 million in the last six months (ET).
The Post's Karen DeYoung has a major piece Monday chronicling the escalation, internal legal debates, and secrecy that have marked the Obama administration's policy towards drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere (Post). DeYoung reports that the State Department has led a push for the administration to publicize some information about its legal justifications and targeting procedures for the strikes, especially those operated by the CIA in Pakistan; she writes that tensions reached their peak in March, after a strike in the country's tribal areas is believed to have killed more than 20 civilians, prompting ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter to reportedly complain to Washington that the program had spiraled "out of control."
Five stories wrap up the Pakistan news: Protests against gas prices have partially shut down routes between the "twin cities" of Islamabad and Rawalpindi (Dawn). At least 55 members of Quetta's Hazara community are believed to be missing after an Indonesian ship bound for Australia packed with illegal immigrants sunk in stormy waters on Saturday (ET). Pakistan's Election Commission has begun enforcing a law barring all holders of dual nationality from running for office in the country's National Assembly (Dawn). Pakistan's Human Rights Commission told the AFP Tuesday that as many as 675 Pakistani women were victims of so-called "honor killings" in the first nine months of 2011 (AFP). And Reuters looks at the increase in exorcisms performed in Pakistan's Sufi shrines (Reuters).
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday called for an immediate stop in controversial night raids, after an operation over the weekend in Paktia province that allegedly resulted in the death of a pregnant woman (AFP, LAT). The woman's husband, who was arrested in the raid, is the provincial head of counter-narcotics operations.
A "senior Afghan Taliban commander" denied that the organization was engaged in secret talks with the United States in a phone interview with Reuters Monday, as the Afghan government called for international help in pushing reconciliation negotiations with militants (Reuters, AFP). And U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is in hot water for saying in an interview Monday that, "The Taliban per se is not our enemy" in Afghanistan (ABC).
Pakistani actress Veena Malik surfaced Sunday after disappearing for two days, quashing fears for her safety and telling journalists that she was "just resting" (ET). Malik has been publicly chastised for her nude appearance on the cover of an Indian magazine, a photo she says was altered.