U.S. to deny $800 million in aid to Pakistan; Prime Minister Gilani says there is “trust deficit” between Pakistan and U.S.; ISAF in talks with Pakistan about reopening NATO supply routes; India adopts tougher stance on Siachen; Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri gives speech on Qur’an burning in Afghanistan; Gilani denies Pakistani authorities knew of bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan; Commission investigating Bannu jailbreak implicates government officials,police and jail staff; Pakistan successfully tests short range ballistic missile; Red Cross suspends most of its work in Pakistan.
- On Wednesday, a U.S. House of Representatives panel moved to cut the foreign aid budget by about 9 percent, denying the $800 million that the Obama administration “requested for training and equipping Pakistan’s military in counterinsurgency tactics.”
- Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told CNN that there is a “trust deficit” between Pakistan and the U.S., which is why Pakistan is attempting to negotiate “new terms of engagement and cooperation” with the U.S. In response to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks that Pakistan needs to do more to combat terrorism, Gilani said that Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate were “already working” with the CIA and the U.S., and he questioned what more the U.S. wants.
- International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Deputy Commander and British Army Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw stated that the ISAF is in talks with Pakistan about reopening the NATO supply routes. The deputy commander said that even though ISAF was managing without the routes, it would be “extremely helpful” for ISAF and also financially beneficial for Pakistan if they were reopened.
- British Home Secretary Theresa May and Prime Minister Gilani said on Thursday that Pakistan and the UK had a strong relationship and were working together to counter extremism and terrorism. Gilani said that the two countries were also cooperating on how to eliminate the threat of improvised explosive devices.
- During his third visit to the Siachen Glacier on May 3 to review the search and rescue operation at the avalanche site, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani told reporters that India had adopted a tougher stance on Siachen than in 1989. According to Kayani, India was now talking about redefining border lines and re-determining positions on the glacier.
- The Indian army said that it shot and killed four suspected militants on Thursday who allegedly crossed over into Indian-controlled Kashmir from Pakistani territory to attack Indian government forces and targets.
- On Wednesday, the Mumbai police released photographs of five suspected terrorists who belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and had entered Mumbai, India. Three of the individuals in the photographs, are reportedly in Lahore, however, where two run businesses and one works as a security guard at an electronics market. Indian intelligence agencies warned the Mumbai police that five LeT operatives had snuck into the city and were planning terrorist attacks. Mumbai police responded by sending out an alert on Sunday along with photographs of the five terrorists. The president of the shopping mall’s association in Lahore criticized the Indian government for branding the three men as terrorists and asked the government to apologize immediately.
- Al Qaeda’s media arm, as Sahab, posted an audio statement by al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri to jihadist websites on Wednesday, titled, “Burning of the Qur’an in Kabul.” Zawahiri addressed the February incident in which U.S. soldiers at Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase burned copies of the Qur’an, calling it another crime of the “Crusaders.” Zawahiri said that U.S. officials “pretend to be sorry,” but their apologies are a “silly farce,” and he urged Muslims everywhere to support the “mujahideen” and “fight the enemies of Allah.”
- At least 11 people were killed and several were injured in multiple attacks in Kurram agency on Sunday, a day after the local authorities alleged that “95% of the region had been cleared of militants.” In one incident, gunmen opened fire on a van in Lower Kurram agency, killing nine people. Another incident involved armed men attacking the house of a pro-government tribal elder in the Turbat area of Central Kurram, in which two people were killed.
- On Thursday, a bomb blast targeted a police vehicle on routine patrol on the outskirts of Quetta, killing one policeman and injuring three others.
- Three army personnel were injured on Thursday, when a bomb blast targeted an army convoy in the Safan area of Badaber, Peshawar district.
- A blast occurred at the office of the deputy commissioner of Panjgur district in western Balochistan on Tuesday after unidentified assailants planted explosives on a motorcycle and parked it in the building’s parking lot. No casualties were reported, and an investigator claimed that “the blast appeared to be a warning rather than an attempt to kill government officials.”
Osama bin Laden
- In an interview with the Guardian, Prime Minister Gilani denied that Pakistan’s military or intelligence agencies had known about Osama bin Laden’s location in Pakistan. Gilani said that there was “no complicity,” and that bin Laden’s ability to live undetected in Pakistan for so long was a worldwide “intelligence failure.”
- Officials from the Abbottabad Commission told the Express Tribune that the commission is far from completing its report on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The officials said that the Pakistani government’s statement last week saying that the commission was close to finishing the report was a tactic to pressure the commission. According to one official, the commission members are still not in agreement about the content of the report, and if the commission is forced to finish the report by this month, then it will be hasty and incomplete. The official added that the commission members want the report to be made public.
- A commission investigating the Bannu jailbreak released a report on Wednesday, in which it found five government officials and 150 members of police and jail staff guilty of negligence and recommended action against them. The commission also called for improving the security and provision of weapons for the guards in jails, and training jail staff in how to respond to such incidents in the future. The report also suggested installing cellular signal jammers in jails to stop the use of cell phones and other devices by prisoners.
- Pakistan’s Senate discussed the possible disqualification of Prime Minister Gilani and a proposal for revising petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) prices during the senate session on Thursday. The Minister for Law and Justice Farooq Hamid Naek said that the matter of Gilani’s disqualification could not be taken up until the Speaker of the House had made a decision on it.
- On Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court gave another four-week extension to the judicial commission investigating the “memogate” case, so that it could finish its proceedings and complete its report.
- At the conclusion of the annual field training exercise of the Army Strategic Force Command on Thursday, forces conducted a training launch of “Short Range Ballistic Missile Hatf III (Ghaznavi), which can carry nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 290 kilometers.”
Military Election-rigging Case
- Former Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg submitted a written statement to an Islamabad court on Wednesday, disclosing that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate is not under the complete command of the army chief. Beg’s statement was submitted in connection with a petition filed by former Air Chief Asghar Khan about “alleged rigging” in the 1990 parliamentary election. General Beg claimed that he was innocent and had no knowledge about money the ISI allegedly distributed among politicians to rig the elections.
- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Thursday that it was suspending most of its work in Pakistan until it had completed a risk assessment of its operations within the country. The announcement came in response to the murder of a staff doctor, Khalil Dale, whose beheaded body was found on April 29. The ICRC stopped its operations in two of Pakistan’s largest cities, Peshawar and Karachi, and is now working in only one of Pakistan’s four provinces. Paul Castella, the head of the ICRC delegation in Pakistan, said that the organization would make an announcement in the next few weeks regarding its future presence in Pakistan.
- President Asif Ali Zardari called an emergency meeting on Thursday night to address the ongoing energy crisis in Pakistan. Officials from the Ministry of Water and Power, the Ministry of Petroleum and the Finance Ministry were called on to attend. Several violent protests against load-shedding have occurred in various cities across Pakistan, including multiple cities in Punjab province.
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