ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's Islamic hardliners on Tuesday threatened to forcefully block any attempt by their government to hand over Raymond Davis, a U.S. official arrested in the city of Lahore on Jan. 27, accused of killing of two young Pakistani men.
The threat came ahead of Sen. John Kerry's planned arrival in Islamabad amid expectations by Pakistani officials that the visit was aimed at discussing ways to resolve the dispute surrounding Davis -
Standoff Between Washington, Islamabad Over Embassy Employee Held for Murder Leads to Cancellation of Diplomatic Talks
Pakistan's Detention of U.S. Man Derails Talks
Standoff Between Washington, Islamabad Over Embassy Employee Held for Murder Leads to Cancellation of Diplomatic Talks
A Pakistani security official in the northern city of Peshawar said Taliban militants dispatched a powerfully worded message to the government, promising to seek revenge if Davis was handed over to the United States.Continue »
In the latest setback to U.S.-Pakistan relations, the Obama administration on Saturday canceled talks between foreign ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the U.S. that were scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. next week. A new date has not been announced.
The Pakistani security official, who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to journalists, said the talks were canceled as a direct consequence of the dispute over Davis.
Davis was arrested last month after killing two Pakistani men who he says were trying to attack him. A lawyer for Davis has asked that he be released under the principles of diplomatic immunity, but some Pakistani officials have disputed his diplomatic status.Continue »
Musharraf, a close ally of former U.S. President George W Bush, has lived in exile since 2008, dividing his time between the U.K. and Dubai, after he resigned to avoid a parliamentary impeachment by newly-elected politicians.
Bhutto, a westernized liberal politician, was killed in a 2007 gun and grenade attack, right after she emerged from a high profile political rally in Rawalpindi, the main suburb of Islamabad, ahead of the country's national elections.
Mohammad Ali Saif, a Pakistani barrister and a member of Musharraf's All Pakistan Muslim League (APML,) confirmed the arrest warrant to CBS News, and said that it appeared to be built on a political vendetta launched by President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's husband, and Pakistan's prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.
The move highlights a widespread nervousness over the Brotherhood eventually pushing for the introduction of Islamic provisions under a future government, following the end of President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule.
This story was filed by CBS News' Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad.
A provincial high court in Pakistan passed an order Tuesday blocking Raymond Davis, a U.S. national arrested in Lahore in the murder of two Pakistani men, from leaving the country.
He was arrested after killing the two men, who he says were trying to attack him. The U.S. government insists Davis has diplomatic immunity and therefore must be allowed to leave the country, while Pakistani officials say he's probably a security expert who works for a private contractor, making him ineligible for diplomatic protection.
Western diplomats based in Pakistan warn the Davis case could further complicate relations between the U.S. and its key ally in the fight against Islamic militancy, Pakistan.
After the ruling from the Lahore high court, a senior western diplomat based in Islamabad told CBS News on condition of anonymity the, "episode will only cause divisions between the U.S. and Pakistan at a critical time when these two countries need to work together."
Davis' case has been widely publicized on streets of Pakistan, where anti-U.S. sentiment runs high. While many in the country -- particularly the impoverished masses -- consider the U.S. to be working against their interests by supporting successive rulers tainted by corruption, the country's ruling elite have repeatedly sought to work with Washington.
Initial reports on the shooting saw American officials class the suspect, who has yet to be officially identified by the U.S. government, as a member of staff at the U.S. consulate in Lahore. A couple days later, they identified him as a "diplomat" and insisted he should have the associated legal protections.
The Pakistanis' seeming inability to identify the man or his assignment, and the American government's relative silence on the matter, has only fueled speculation that he could be a security contractor, or even a CIA agent. It is highly unusual for American diplomats to travel alone in Pakistan, and would be even more unusual for them to do so armed.
Officials who witnessed the incident have told CBS News the American suspect was travelling alone in a Toyota Corolla, and opened fire with a handgun after realizing he was being pursued by the two men. Police told CBS on the day of the shooting that the men who were killed also had handguns in their possession.
On Friday (January 28), a day after Davis was arrested in Lahore, a group of demonstrators took to the streets of Pakistan's capital city, demanding his prosecution.
"What was a diplomat doing with a gun on our streets?" asked Sabir Khan, a college student, standing with other protesters in Islamabad's central Aabpara neighborhood.
"Raymond Davis must be brought to justice in Pakistan. Let him prove his innocence in a Pakistani court," said Khan.Many in Pakistan have called for the government to negotiate a prisoner swap to return Davis in exchange for Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman convicted in February 2010 of two counts of attempted murder in the U.S.
"An unexpected turn of events is probably an understatement. Egypt is now witnessing a major political tsunami with consequences for its surrounding region," warns an Arab diplomat from a Middle Eastern country who served in Cairo until last August. Speaking to CBS News on condition of anonymity, the diplomat warned of "a variety of dangers" following a regime change in Egypt.
Going forward, he listed the emerging possibilities, ranging from "a significant rise of Islamic militants in Egypt who will take a harder line towards the U.S. and Israel," to "Egypt becoming a symbol of change for others to follow."
While President Mubarak for now appears to be defying the odds, Egypt is becoming increasingly locked in a state of growing paralysis that is forcing many analysts to resign themselves to a regime change.
Meanwhile, the return of Mohamed El-Baradei to lead the protests has raised the possibility of a future government led by a figure who will pursue internal reforms while retaining links to the U.S., Israel and other outside powers.
Pakistan's government officials said the earthquake emanated from a remote part of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province which borders Iran and Afghanistan. It measured approximately 7.4 on the Richter scale, the international yardstick to measure earthquakes, and was powerful enough that its tremors were felt as far as Dubai in the Middle East.
The earthquake's intensity was just below that of another earthquake measuring 7.6 that struck parts of northern Pakistan in 2005 and killed more than 70,000 people. Early reports suggest that the extent of damage to property and human casualties may have been limited, as the earthquake's epicenter was near Dalbandin, a remote and sparsely populated town in the western Baluchistan province.
Further investigation into potential links between Qadri and any Islamic militant group holds an important key to unraveling the mystery surrounding the assassination of one of Pakistan's best known politicians.
For the U.S. which has cultivated Pakistan as a close ally to support Washington's efforts for securing Afghanistan, Taseer's killing underlines not only the vulnerability of Pakistan's top leaders to the threat from militants, but also raises questions over the penetration of militants in the police and other services linked to security duties, a western ambassador in Islamabad said.Continue »
The Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), a political party mainly representing Pakistanis who migrated from India to Pakistan when the country was created in 1947, withdrew its support to the PPP, reacting to the government's decision on Saturday to raise gasoline prices.
The move marked the first major upheaval over gasoline prices since they were raised, mainly to be kept in line with global trends. Western diplomats based in Islamabad, reacting to the latest political developments, warned it was still early to tell if Zardari or his handpicked prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, were in danger of being forced out.
On Saturday, a suicide bomber wearing a burqa killed at least 45 people in an attack targeting a food distribution outlet in Pakistan's embattled tribal region, near the Afghan border.
For hours later, there was confusion over the gender of the attacker with some officials suspecting it to be the case of a man wearing the burqa, a head to toe veil, while others claimed that it was a woman.
On Sunday, a Pakistani security official in Islamabad said the attacker was finally established to be a woman, "but only after much discussion and debate." Speaking to CBS News on condition of anonymity, the official said "parts of the body have been pieced together to come to a conclusion".
The confirmation marks the first time that Islamic militants in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region are known to have sent a veiled woman to carry out a suicide attack.
Part of the confusion was caused due to recent attempts by men belonging to the Taliban or Al-Qaeda who were found to have attempted to carry out attacks while wearing a burqa - an apparent attempt to avoid closer scrutiny by the police and intelligence services, predominantly run by men across Pakistan.Continue »
China's premier Wen Jiabao concluded a high profile visit to Pakistan on Sunday, promising to lay the foundation for a "deeper" relationship to a country which is central to U.S. efforts for stabilizing Afghanistan.
Wen sought to broaden a relationship which has traditionally been driven by Beijing's role as a key supplier of military hardware to Islamabad. Pakistan's government officials said that during Wen's visit, China signed business deals between the governments and private businesses of the two countries worth at least $29 billion, with a possibility of another $6 billion worth of contracts. These contracts were the largest ever signed during a visit by a foreign leader to Pakistan, underlining the growing importance of the country to China.
The Chinese premier also used a speech to a joint session of Pakistan's upper and lower houses of parliament to commend the country for its efforts against terrorism. It was an apparent effort to negate criticism from the western world, including the U.S., which has urged Islamabad to take further steps against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
"Pakistan has given great sacrifices and made great efforts in the fight against terrorism. It is a reality and the international community should respect Pakistan's efforts," Wen said.
While the U.S. has poured billions of dollars into Pakistan to assist in combating terrorist groups, Pakistan's military and civilian leaders remain committed to retaining a close alliance with China. "Let's stand together, with a new confidence, and begin a new era of progress and prosperity, by jointly confronting all challenges," Wen said in his speech on Sunday. To the applause of Pakistan's ruling and opposition politicians, the Chinese continued that "China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and share the sorrows and joys of each other as close brothers."
Pieced together, the leaked documents for the first time show evidence of underlying tensions between Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's regime and the ruling Saudi establishment of King Abdullah.
One of the documents released by WikiLeaks to the media quotes the King saying that Pakistan can never progress as long as Zardari remains the country's president an especially disparaging remark by the Saudi monarch towards Pakistan's head of state.
The friction, according to one U.S. official who spoke to CBS News on background, "has revealed the many challenges in seeking" closer Saudi-Pakistan cooperation, notably in areas such as the flow of finances from Saudi Arabia to recipients in Pakistan who work as fronts for Islamic zealots linked to the Taliban.
"The tension in the Saudi-Pakistan relationship must be cause for concern to the U.S. Much time and effort has been spent in making this (Saudi-Pakistan) relationship work better, but the results are not very encouraging," said a Western ambassador in Islamabad who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity.
"When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body," Abdullah said of Zardari in one of the documents.
While Pakistani officials publicly condemned the claim as an attempt to undermine the traditionally close ties between the two countries, western and Arab diplomats warned that the revelations may have finally exposed genuine underlying tensions.
Both are prominent Islamic states: Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil producer and the birthplace of Islam while Pakistan has the distinction of being the world's only Muslim country armed with nuclear weapons.
Pakistan's relations with Saudi Arabia predate its birth in 1947, when the country was carved out as an independent state from British colonial India. And many Pakistanis - like Muslims in all countries - feel tied to Saudi Arabia because of the traditional Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
But the frictions between King Abdullah and president Zardari appear to be driven by political trends. Though Saudi Arabia itself is battling an al Qaeda-backed terrorist challenge the Saudi authorities have for years been uncomfortable with Pakistan's practice of handing over militants arrested on its soil to the U.S., a senior western diplomat told CBS News.Continue »
A New York Times report published on Tuesday of a man posing as a Taliban leader in secret peace talks with the Afghan government in fact turning out to be an impostor, immediately sparked warnings from Pakistan's security officials claiming that the case bore evidence of Washington's lack of understanding of the central Asian country.
As reports filtered out during the past few months citing the initiation of talks between Afghan president Hamid Karzai and the Taliban with U.S. blessings, western and Pakistani officials confirmed in background interviews that the south Asian country, known for its links with Islamic militant groups, was being kept out of the process.
The talks appeared to be aimed at seeking a negotiated settlement between Karzai's regime and the Taliban, to end the decade old conflict in Afghanistan since a U.S.-led campaign after the 9/11 attacks forced the downfall of the Taliban regime.
According to the New York Times, the impostor identified as Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, held three meetings with NATO and Afghan officials. "The fake Taliban leader even met with President Hamid Karzai, having been flown to Kabul on a NATO aircraft and ushered into the presidential palace," said the newspaper, citing unidentified officials.
Pakistani officials in public have remained quiet on the reported talks but in private have criticized the U.S. for its support to the reported discussions. "The Americans believe they can support a process without Pakistan's involvement. This is all wrong", one senior Pakistani government official told CBS News in a background interview in August this year.
On Tuesday, a Pakistani intelligence official speaking to CBS News on condition of anonymity said the New York Times report confirms "what we have believed for long. You can't exclude Pakistan and have a workable plan to bring about a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan. Pakistan's long history of dealing with Afghan groups makes us the best equipped to know exactly which group to talk to and with what effect."
Pakistan's main counter-espionage intelligence agency known as the ISI or Inter-Services Intelligence has kept contacts with the main Afghan warlords, since the 1979 invasion of the central Asian country by the former Soviet Union was followed by Pakistan's emergence as the main U.S.-backed conduit to build up an armed resistance against Moscow.
Since the 9/11 attacks however, Pakistan's government says that it has abandoned all support to the Taliban after establishing close ties with the clerical regime during its rule over Afghanistan. But on Tuesday, a Western official in Islamabad who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity said: "There is still concern among Western countries over Pakistan's past contacts with Islamic zealots continuing to remain intact. I believe, Pakistan has enormous clout in Afghanistan to help in a political process. But 'can we trust Pakistan fully?' is a major unresolved question."
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Militants attacked a police compound in the heart of Pakistan's largest city on Thursday with a hail of gunfire and a massive car bomb, leveling the building and killing at least 15 people, authorities and witnesses said.
The gang of around six gunmen managed to penetrate a high-security area of Karachi that is home to the U.S Consulate, two luxury hotels and the offices of regional leaders. While no stranger to extremist violence, Karachi has not witnessed this kind of organized assault in recent years.
It was the first major attack against a government target outside the northwestern tribal regions for several months, showing the reach of Islamist militants seeking to overthrow the U.S.-allied government despite efforts to crack down on them over the last three years.
The gunmen first opened fire on the offices of the Crime Investigation Department before detonating a huge car bomb, said Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza. The building has a detention facility that was believed to be holding criminals, and possibly militants.
The CID takes the lead in hunting down terrorists in Karachi. Earlier this week, the agency arrested six members of the militant Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group. The suspects were presented before a court earlier Thursday.
The attack, which targeted a compound housing the offices and some residential quarters of police investigators, renewed fears of the Taliban continuing their campaign to destabilize Pakistan - a nuclear-armed country and a key U.S. ally in the war against terror.
"This is definitely the work of TTP [Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan]," said a Karachi based intelligence official who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity. "We had reports for some time that the TTP were positioning themselves to strike at a major target."
"The attack bears the handprints of the Taliban," said the official, who declined to give further details.
Imran Ahmed, a rescue worker said, several people were still trapped in a two to three story apartment building in the area, whose front entrance collapsed.
"We are trying to make sure that we are able to rescue these people. I can't tell how many people are stranded but there could be more than a few," Ahmed told CBS News.
Shireen Khan, a middle aged woman slightly injured limped along a sidewalk as she cursed the Taliban. "I wish, these Taliban have their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters similarly injured. Only then, they (Taliban) will know what it is like to injure other people" Khan said.
In Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, a senior western diplomat said, the choice of the target near two five-star hotels once again underlined the difficulty of ensuring security in a congested neighborhood. Karachi, a city with a population of more than 17 million has seen previous terrorist bomb attacks including those targeting locations close to the site bombed on Thursday night.
"Pakistan has a very major challenge. This country has an active presence of militants. You can't screen each and every one person going through congested cities with explosives to blow a location" the diplomat told CBS News.
Suspected militants detonated a car bomb in the heart of Pakistan's largest city on Thursday,
The blast was heard several kilometers away in this city of 14 million people. It destroyed much of the several-story police building, damaged nearby houses and left a 10-feet (three meter) wide crater in the road. The U.S. Consulate was around a mile (1.5 kilometers) from the blast and was undamaged.
"We heard different kinds of firing for several minutes and then a deafening explosion," said Ali Hussain, who was covered in dust. "The roof of our house collapsed."
TV footage showed bloodied victims leaving the scene and security officers searching through the debris of the police building.
Dr. Seemi Jamai said 10 bodies had been brought to a nearby hospital, along with 90 injured.
Pakistan is battling Islamist militants with links to al Qaeda that are trying to overthrow the U.S.-allied government. The insurgents have repeatedly bombed government, police and Western targets over the last three years, including in Karachi.