Ex-president Musharraf admits approving CIA drone strikes
In an interview with CNN’s Nic Robertson this week, ex-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf admitted that his government had signed off on CIA drone strikes in the country, becoming the first Pakistani official, former or current, to acknowledge the Pakistani government’s approval of the drone campaign (CNN). Musharraf caveated that he signed off on strikes “only on a few occasions, when a target was absolutely isolated and no chance of collateral damage,” but the admission still diverges sharply from the statements of most past and present Pakistani officials, who have said they oppose the strikes as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Musharraf is facing charges for allegedly jailing 62 judges without evidence, and for his alleged role in the assassinations of former governor of Balochistan Nawab Akbar Bugti and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (Dawn). A Pakistani court extended Musharraf’s bail on Friday until April 18, when the case of the illegally detained judges will be resumed.
Former agriculture minister from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province Arbab Ayub Jan escaped a bomb attack in Peshawar on Thursday night as he was returning home from an election rally (Dawn). Jan is affiliated with the secular Awami National Party, the leader of which urged Pakistani officials to provide more security to his candidates. And Pakistani police defused a bomb near a mosque in Karachi on Friday after someone reported a suspicious package (Dawn, ET).
The inspector general for Afghan reconstruction, John Sopko, said Thursday that weaknesses in a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act added by Congress last year to prevent U.S. funds from reaching militant groups in Afghanistan are rendering the new law ineffective (AP). IG Sopko said militants are still receiving U.S. funds because some new contracts simply do not include the language from the new provision, and because some contracting firms have not been informed about updates to the U.S. military’s list of militant groups.
Taliban militants attacked an Afghan Army post in Kunar Province near the border with Pakistan on Friday, killing 13 soldiers (AP). Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, putting the death toll at 15 soldiers and saying the Taliban took control of the base and seized weapons and ammunition.
Karachi has been in the news lately for its spiraling sectarian and political violence, but Pakistan’s largest city was also home to one of the five best performing markets in the world in 2012 (Reuters). Of course, much of that was due to President Asif Ali Zardari’s announcement that individuals would be allowed to buy stocks with no questions asked about where they got the money. In a city wracked by corruption, criminal gangs, and militant groups, many experts say that move simply allowed people a get out of jail free card for money laundering.