UK, Pakistan deny report on Pakistani coup
Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani shaking hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Quetta last October
January 13th, 2012
10:33 AM ET

UK, Pakistan deny report on Pakistani coup

By CNN Wire Staff

UK and Pakistani officials on Friday denied a news report that Pakistan's prime minister contacted the British High Commission in a "panicky" phone call to express fears that a military coup was imminent in his country.

In a story published Friday citing anonymous sources, the Associated Press reported that the Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani asked High Commissioner Adam Thomson for "Britain to support his embattled government." Whether Britain took any action was unclear, AP reported.

"This is absolutely an incorrect report; the prime minister hasn't spoken to the high commissioner of UK on this subject," Gilani spokesman Akram Shaheedi told CNN Friday. "Democratic government led by the prime minister derives its strength from the people of Pakistan - not from any foreign power."

The spokesman for the High Commission also said the call never took place and that the commission asked AP to print a retraction.
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Filed under: ISI • Pakistan
Can Sherry Rehman fix Pakistan-U.S. relations?
November 23rd, 2011
12:07 PM ET

Can Sherry Rehman fix Pakistan-U.S. relations?

By CNN's Reza Sayah in Islamabad

The Pakistani government has appointed Sherry Rehman, one of its most liberal female lawmakers and staunch supporters of human rights, as the next ambassador to the United States.

The longtime member of Pakistan's ruling People's Party was a confidant of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. When militants assassinated Bhutto in 2007, Rehman was part of the convoy that was attacked, riding several cars behind her.

Rehman took a stand in 2009 against her own political party when she resigned her post as information minister after the government banned a private television channel that had been critical of government policy.

The former journalist openly expressed her liberal views in this conservative society until she received death threats in 2010. The threats came after she proposed a bill to protect minorities by amending Pakistan¹s controversial blasphemy laws. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Diplomacy • ISI • Pakistan
DEBATE PREP: Should Pakistan be engaged or contained?
November 7th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Should Pakistan be engaged or contained?

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Sadanand Dhume, Special to CNN

The raid in May on Osama bin Laden's compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad has brought intense focus on Washington's policy toward Islamabad.  Since then, the weight of informed opinion - in influential op-eds, think tank reports, and magazine articles - has coalesced around a consensus: the current policy has failed.

Ostensibly, since 2004 Pakistan has been a major non-NATO ally of the United States, a status it shares with such stalwart friends as Israel, Japan and Australia.

In 2009, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, also known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, boosted aid to Pakistan by $1.5 billion a year through 2013.  These blandishments were meant to encourage Islamabad to co-operate with Washington in fighting terrorism.

Though Pakistani authorities have at times helped round up wanted al Qaeda leaders from their soil, their overall record has been disappointing.  Of particular concern to the US:  continued Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and other militants who regularly use safe havens in Pakistan to attack US troops in Afghanistan. FULL POST

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Finally, a word about national security (a debate, actually)...
November 7th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Finally, a word about national security (a debate, actually)...

Without question, the public's attention in the race for the White House has centered on the economy and domestic issues.  It’s a sign of how things have changed since the start of these post-September 11th times.  In 2004 and 2008, a good portion of the discussion focused on keeping American safe and foreign policy. But things began to shift as the 2008 election was wrapping up and the economy was hurting.

Now there is no question the campaign talk has moved from 9/11 to 9-9-9 (and other economic plans). A fact not lost on the Republican candidates who spend little time talking about national security issues.  Debate after debate, interview after interview, domestic issues have dominated the campaign so far.  Until now.

On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics.

In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address. From Afghanistan toIraq,ChinatoSyria, cybersecurity to defense spending, the folks at Heritage Foundation and AEI will make sure you are fully prepped for the big debate.

The first in the series will publish today on Security Clearance.  For more coverage of the campaign, don't forget to read CNN's Political Ticker and our political section on CNN.com.

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Strained and tense talks between Afghans and Pakistanis
Turkish president Abdullah Gul Pakistani (C) with Hamid Karzai (L) and Ali Atif Zerdari (R)
November 1st, 2011
03:02 PM ET

Strained and tense talks between Afghans and Pakistanis

By CNN's Ivan Watson reporting from Istanbul, Turkey

With the help of Turkish mediation, Pakistani and Afghan leaders signed a series of agreements Tuesday aimed at mending relations which almost collapsed after last September's assassination of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul.

At a joint press conference where he sat flanked by his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts, Turkish president Abdullah Gul announced that both Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to open a "cooperation mechanism" between their intelligence agencies to investigate the murder, which Afghan officials initially blamed on Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence.

"There was almost an end of negotiations between us," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said, in reference to the suicide bombing that killed Rabbani. "So on that what happened today in Turkey has been a significant move. I hope the mechanism for pursuing the death of Rabbani will lead us to more fruitful and intense talks."

In public, the three presidents appeared relaxed and friendly when Gul led them down the marble stairs of an Ottoman palace to a waiting Mercedes.

But behind closed doors, the opening to some of the discussions were strained and tense, said one Turkish diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Read the whole story here

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Diplomacy • ISI • Karzai • Pakistan • Turkey
Pentagon says Pakistan safe havens place Afghanistan mission at risk
October 28th, 2011
04:21 PM ET

Pentagon says Pakistan safe havens place Afghanistan mission at risk

By Senior National Security Producer Charley Keyes

The Taliban is weakened but the ability of insurgents to hide across the border in Pakistan is the greatest threat to success in Afghanistan, according to the latest Pentagon evaluation of the war, released this week.

"The insurgency's safe havens in Pakistan, as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan government, remain the biggest risks to the process of turning security gains into a durable, stable Afghanistan," according to the "Report on Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan," a congressionally mandated evaluation of the war's progress that is provided twice a year.
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Filed under: 10 years of war • Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • ISI • Kabul • Karzai • Pakistan • Pentagon • State Department
Musharraf says it "can't be" that ISI supports Haqqani terrorists
October 27th, 2011
10:29 AM ET

Musharraf says it "can't be" that ISI supports Haqqani terrorists

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is defending his country's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency against recent accusations by American officials that the agency is working with elements of the Haqqani network, which has targeted Americans in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

Musharraf delivered his remarks Wednesday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, where just weeks earlier, U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen - since retired as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - reiterated his belief that the Pakistani spy agency was directly linked to the terrorist organization. Mullen said the ISI played a direct role in supporting Haqqani members in a recent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Musharraf said the agency is "certainly" not pro-Taliban or pro-al Qaeda.

"Why can't it be? Because Pakistan's army has suffered over 3,000 dead; because the same ISI, the much-maligned ISI, has suffered about 350 operatives dead, killed through suicide bombings. By whom? By Taliban, by al Qaeda, the same enemy," he told the audience. FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Haqqani • ISI • Pakistan • Terrorism
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