Tag Archives: Taliban

Reading Raymond Davis, Reading Rodney King

Negotiations between the US and Pakistan over the fate of Raymond Davis appear to be approaching a new phase as Pakistan’s media reports that the country’s Foreign Ministry has affirmed the American’s diplomatic status. But recognition of Raymond Davis’s diplomatic status will not be sufficient to resolving the larger issue: American recognition of Pakistan’s dignity. To understand this issue, we might look to another chapter in America’s recent history: Rodney King.

LA police beating Rodney KingWhen LA police brutally beat Rodney King following a traffic stop in 1991, the initial response from law enforcement was that the officers involved were justified in their use of force because they had reason to believe that Rodney King was not only resisting arrest, but presenting an imminent threat to their own safety. A year later, a jury in Los Angeles agreed. But that was hardly the end of the Rodney King saga.

Upon acquittal of the police officers, Los Angeles erupted in violence. Fifty-three people died, over two-thousand were injured, and the city suffered financial loss of almost $1 billion. The US military was eventually called in to restore order. To many Americans, the question should have been resolved by the official trial and acquittal of the officers. This perception ignored the underlying issue of dignity in the African-American community of Los Angeles.

The LA riots of 1992 were about more than simply one incident of police brutality – they were a manifestation of the anger and frustration of a community that felt it was being denied basic human dignity, that white police officers could attack, humiliate, and even kill African-Americans with impunity.

It was not until after the 1992 riots that the Department of Justice held investigations that resulted in the indictment of the officers for federal civil rights violations. The federal trial examined not simply the isolated incident of Rodney King’s beating, but the larger context of power and police culture in which the incident took place.

Power Asymmetry

Like the asymmetry of power between Los Angeles’s African-American community and the largely white law enforcement and criminal justice system that policed it, US-Pakistan relations are plagued with a perception that the US imposes its will upon a Pakistan that is unable to adequately represent and defend its own interests. Some of this perceived asymmetry may be based in myths created for political convenience, but much of it is very real.

The US has immense leverage in Islamabad in the forms of massive military and civilian aid, access to US visas for Pakistani nationals, and the ability to authenticate Pakistan’s importance in the greater world community.

Pakistan, however, has significantly less leverage in Washington. Despite Pakistan’s geo-strategic position in relation to Afghanistan, Pakistan offers little in the way of economic opportunity. Even the country’s strategic usefulness may be overstated. Recent statements by Gen. David Rodriguez suggest that the country’s assistance in securing Afghanistan may not be necessary.

A good example of the results of this asymmetry is public reaction to the drone program. Long known to be operated in close cooperation and with the full knowledge of Pakistan’s military, complaints of the program infringing on Pakistan’s sovereignty continue. But these complaints are based less in the US violating Pakistan’s sovereignty qua sovereignty than they are in the humiliation resulting from American unwillingness to share control of the drones with Pakistan so that the program can be operated by the country’s own military.

No Justice, No Peace

Jamaat-i-Islami protesting against the release of Raymond DavisMany Pakistanis assume that if Raymond Davis is returned to US custody, he will walk away “scot-free.” From this perspective, “diplomatic immunity” is equated with a “license to kill.” A prominent Pakistani author even compared American attitudes towards Pakistan as that of hunters to a game preserve.

While US law does provide for cases of justifiable homicide, such cases do require an investigation and court hearing. Spy novels notwithstanding, there is no such thing as a license to kill. But this has not been fully communicated to the Pakistani people. Despite Raymond Davis’s shooting taking place over three weeks ago, yesterday was the first time a representative of the US government publicly assured Pakistanis that Raymond Davis would face a full criminal investigation.

“It is customary in an incident like this for our government to conduct a criminal investigation. That is our law. And I can give you the full assurance of our government today that that will take place,” Kerry told reporters in the eastern city of Lahore. “So there is no such thing as a suggestion that something is out of law or that America thinks somehow we’re not subject to the law.”

This is a crucial part of the conversation that has been missing from the US’s public response to the crisis – an assurance that justice will be served. This assurance must be reiterated, and the promise must be kept. If justice is not forthcoming, Islamist parties will continue to exploit Pakistanis frustrations and channel their anger into deeper anti-Americanism. Without bridging this ‘dignity gap,’ the US and Pakistan will never be able to move beyond a dysfunctional transactional relationship.

From Jamaat-i-Islami led street demonstrations to Taliban threats against the Pakistani government, anti-democratic groups are using Raymond Davis as an opportunity to promise respect for Pakistani dignity. But dignity is a promise at odds with their political aims. The US needs to approach this crisis not only through through the lens of law and order, but through the lens of dignity and respect for the people of Pakistan. An opportunity exists to redefine the essence of the US-Pakistan relationship. Let’s not let that opportunity go to waste.

Law, Order, and Democracy in Pakistan

Pakistan police badgeWhere the Pakistani Taliban have won sympathy, it has come largely as a result of the group’s promise to provide some semblance of law and order in areas that lacked what was popularly considered a fair and neutral arbiter of legal disputes. The Taliban’s form of “justice” might be harsh – even medieval – but it may be seen as a better alternative than banditry and corruption. This means that the key to undermining local sympathies with the Taliban may lie in strengthening the local law enforcement infrastructure so that the state is popularly viewed as the legitimate source of local law and order.

Two stories this week emphasize conclusions reached by a new report published by the United States Institute of Peace this week on the importance of reforming Pakistan’s police and law enforcement infrastructure.

The first story relates to a new US government report that suggests  aid to Pakistan is not meeting its goals.

The report, which was released by the Inspectors General for the U.S. State Department, Defense Department and Agency for International Development (USAID), cites a number of reasons why the aid has proved ineffective. It says problems with staffing the programs, a hostile security environment and – in one case – fraud, have led to programs not being implemented.

The second story is this morning’s suicide bombing in Punjab, the latest in a series of attacks on police and security forces.

Militants have recently stepped up attacks across the country’s north western cites, mainly targeting police force, after a period of relative calm. Four police stations were attacked in Peshawar in a week. Bullet-riddled bodies of two tribal police officials and a villager were found on Thursday near Mir Ali town of North Waziristan with a note that they were American spies. The three men were kidnapped in January and their bodies showed signs of torture, officials said.

The Taliban have learned that their most effective approach to power is to undermine the state’s authority by creating chaos and then offering to step in and provide security and some form of neutral justice. As such, they operate as any other extortion racket, but with a goal of gaining a monopoly on police power and therefore superseding the authority of the state.

Meanwhile, the US is pumping billions of dollars in civilian aid into Pakistan, but is not able to achieve desired outcomes in large part due to a lack of law and order that prevents proper and timely delivery of aid resources and project implementation.

Against this backdrop, Dr. Hassan Abbas, Quaid-i-Azam Professer with the South Asia Institute, Columbia University, released his latest report, Reforming Pakistan‘s Police and Law Enforcement Infrastructure in which Dr. Abbas makes two important points related to this context:

1. Police effectiveness is inextricably linked with legitimacy of the state. At present, there is a systematic effort on part of extremist groups to target police & law enforcement because they have learned that most effective way to expand their own networks is to undermine the writ of the state.

2. US aid objectives cannot be achieved so long as law and order is not prioritized. There are serious issues of focus in US aid priorities – namely, a lack of resources and training for local civilian law enforcement.

Dr. Abbas makes very clear that civilian police are not military force multipliers, village defense forces, or lashkars (militias). Pakistan has an effective and capable military which can clear militant groups from an area. What it lacks is a well-organized, well-resourced civilian law enforcement system that can build trust and provide an ongoing sense of order among the local population.

US military aid is necessary, but not sufficient to countering the spread of extremist influence. As Dr. Abbas explained yesterday,

“Foreign donors should avoid framing everything in the context of counterterrorism, as Pakistani public opinion is likely to be more appreciative of international help in this arena if it is focused on enhancing the crime-fighting capacity of police.”

During a discussion on Pakistan’s future last week, Christine Fair pointed to a 2009 poll that showed that, when asked what people meant when they said they supported Sharia, most people answered “good governance.” Later in the program, Shuja Nawaz noted that good governance is key to countering the spread of militancy. The missing piece of the puzzle of good governance in Pakistan is effective and efficient civilian law enforcement.

If significant progress in Pakistan can be achieved by something as simple as increasing the pay of Pakistan’s civilian police, can the US afford not to do so? As the US examines outcomes from US aid investment in Pakistan, it should consider the findings of Dr. Abbas and the need for reforming Pakistan’s police and law enforcement infrastructure.

What Is the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue?

Beginning today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will meet during the third US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue in Washington, DC. But what exactly does ‘Strategic Dialogue’ mean, and what with the officials from each countries be discussing?

Yesterday, U.S. Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Frank Ruggiero briefed the press about the dialogues and answered many of these questions.

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RAND Author Recognizes Pakistan's Progress

"Democracy is the best revenge."

Last week’s Rand report on Pakistan was met with mixed – and often conflicting – reviews. Much of the American press has latched onto criticism in the report that some elements within Pakistan are hesitant to give up the view that some militant groups can be useful as proxy fighters against a potential Indian assault. But this view perpetuated by the American press is not representative of the actual state of democracy in Pakistan.

One of the authors of the Rand report, C. Christine Fair, wrote last week on the website of Foreign Policy magazine that Pakistan has, in fact, made significant progress in a number of key areas since the present government was elected in 2008 – including the challenge of fighting terrorism – and that criticism of Pakistan’s current situation should be viewed in the context of this progress.

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Rand Report And Historical Context

Rand Corporation released a new report on Pakistan yesterday that includes a mixed bag of observations and recommendations. While the report does recognize the complicated situation that is religious extremism in Pakistan, it is imperative to a successful American-Pakistan partnership that we consider policy in the proper historical context.

Steve Coll, President of the New America Foundation, spoke with Judy Woodruff on the PBS News Hour last night and his conversation provides a good starting point for discussing key elements of the report.

Mr. Coll rightly notes that Pakistan has suffered immensely from extremist violence. The New York Times reported at the beginning of this year that,

The number of Pakistani civilians killed in militant attacks rose by a third in 2009 over the previous year, according to a new research report, a toll that exceeded even the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

Those numbers don’t include the over 7,000 injuries sustained by Pakistani civilians, nor the thousands of Pakistani military and police personnel killed by religious militants.

This is important to keep in mind when discussing Pakistan’s complicity with Taliban and other religious extremist groups. The Rand report recognizes this, noting that “[s]ome of these groups pose a grave threat to the Pakistani state…”

The fact is, the Pakistani state has a self-interest in defeating the Taliban and other groups that engage in religious violence. That’s not to say that there are not elements within Pakistan’s civilian, military, and intelligence services that don’t provide either indirect or direct support for militant groups. But it does mean that claims of an ‘official policy’ of state support for these groups are far fetched at best.

In fact, the present government, has taken unprecedented steps in eliminating the threat of religious militancy. But eliminating the terrorist threat will not happen overnight, and this government has only been in power for less than two years. As Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, writes in the new book, The Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater: Militant Islam, Security & Stability

…these problems come not just from continuing official support for religious militancy, but also from an institutional culture and outlook that grew over decades. The road to reversing this course will not be easy, but clearly understanding the problem – and acting upon it – is necessary.

It’s going to take time to root out lingering ties between Pakistani officials and militants. We must also keep in mind that these residual ties to militant groups are firmly rooted in longstanding tensions between Pakistan and India – tensions that past American policies have historically complicated.

Shuja Nawaz, Director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, describes the “roller coaster relationship” between the US and Pakistan as a key reason for lingering relationships between some elements within Pakistan’s security agencies and militant groups.

Though the United States sees itself as standing for democracy and freedom, it has acted in Pakistan over the decades in a shortsighted manner, making alliances largely with the military to advance its own strategic interests. First, it strengthened the hands of the army by increasing its size and heft in the 1950s via the Baghdad Pact against the Soviets. The U.S. looked the other way as martial law was declared by President Iskander Mirza in October 1958, and then as he was overthrown by Ayub Khan later that month. The U.S. decamped from the scene after the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, when Pakistan expected the U.S. to assist it. Pakistan then turned to China as its new best friend.

Being abandoned by the US is fresh in Pakistan’s memory, even if too many Americans may have forgotten. Without the confidence that the US will be a neutral arbiter between Pakistan and India and ensure Pakistan’s security and sovereignty, the temptation to resort to the old self-defeating use of militant groups as proxy fighters will continue.

To this end, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi deserves praise for his continued work to bridge the trust gap between the two nuclear powers. But the US must do more to ease Pakistani concerns that the we are not partners for the long-term.

During a panel discussion last week, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross observed that short-sighted American policies during the 1980s resulted in a trust deficit with Pakistan. Discussions of foreign policy related to Pakistan should be framed within the context of a long-term view of political engagement in the region with an eye to future dividends from continuing to support democratic reform. Otherwise, policies that attempt to maximize short-term security gains at the expense of long-term democratic reform in Pakistan will only continue the cycle of mistrust and violence, significantly threatening both Pakistani and American security in the future.

Pakistan's Constitution Must Be Amended To Remove Sectarian Clauses

The murders of over 90 Pakistani citizens last week because of their religious beliefs makes clear that Pakistan’s parliament must amend the Constitution to remove sectarian clauses that in part incite such violence.

Section 260(3) of Pakistan’s constitution defines whom the law considers a Muslim. This is exceedingly important because the constitution restricts certain government offices to Muslims. For example, Section 41(2) requires that the President be “a Muslim of not less than forty-five years of age.”

But more than simply disenfranchising some citizens, the sectarian clauses in the constitution have created second-class citizens of religious minorities, and given fodder for the hateful rhetoric of extremists that encourages such violence as was witnessed last Friday.

In fact, the massacre of the Ahmadis was not the first time that a religious minority has suffered violent attack in recent months. Last August, religious extremists attacked a community of Christians in Gojra, killing many and burning down several dozen homes.

Pakistan’s parliament and President Zardari were quick to condemn the attacks in Gojra and provide funding to compensate victims, but until the government purges the aberrant laws that extremists use to justify these attacks, future violence is all but inevitable.

Cornell doctoral student Basit Riaz Sheikh, agrees. Writing for English-language daily, Express Tribune, Sheikh notes that the sectarian tensions that increasingly flare up today are rooted in the regime of dictator Zia-ul-Haq.

Until 1977, when Bhutto’s government was toppled, Pakistan was free of any major sectarian and ethnic tensions. The ten years of Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorial regime would transform Pakistan from a tolerant society into one marred with ethnic and sectarian divisions and hate-driven politics. He fully crippled the religious freedom of minorities by imposing draconian laws in the name of the Anti-Islamic-Activity Act. Zia vanished, but we continue to pay for his sins.

The remnants of his era, in the shape of many in our media now and others, continue to insinuate hatred against minorities, the West, and all others who disagree with them. It goes beyond my imagination that we let these hate-mongers freely express their extremist sentiments on TV channels under the pretext of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom to spread hate.

To build a stronger and a united Pakistan, we need to cleanse our constitution of the provisions that continue to divide us.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has recognized the Zardari government’s progress in the area of religious freedom in Pakistan, but points out that until discriminatory legislation promulgated by previous administrations is removed, religious minorities will continue to suffer.

The Zardari government has taken some positive steps regarding religious freedom. In November 2008, the government appointed prominent minority-rights advocate Shahbaz Bhatti as Federal Minister for Minorities with cabinet rank. Mr. Bhatti has publicly promised that the Zardari government will review Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and that the government is committed to protecting the rights of minority religious communities, including by implementing a five percent quota for religious minorities in federal government employment. In March 2009, the government appointed a Christian jurist as a judge in the Lahore High Court. It is not yet clear what impact these developments will have on religious freedom, which has been severely violated by successive Pakistani governments in the past. Discriminatory legislation, promulgated in previous decades and persistently enforced, has fostered an atmosphere of religious intolerance and eroded the social and legal status of members of religious minorities, including Shi’a Muslims, Ahmadis, Hindus, and Christians.*

Article 33 of Pakistan’s constitution requires the state to “discourage parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian and provincial prejudices among the citizens.” This vital mission of the government cannot be achieved while sectarian prejudice is codified in the nation’s laws. In order to protect the rights and the safety of all citizens, Pakistan’s Parliament should immediately move to amend the constitution by removing Section 260(3) and other sectarian laws.

*Emphasis added

US Commission on International Religious Freedom Condemns Attack on Ahmadi Community

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom roundly condemned the brutal attack on members of the Ahmadi sect during the Friday prayers in Lahore. The organization released the following statement on Friday:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, reports indicate that gunmen attacked two mosques belonging to the Ahmadi community in Lahore, Pakistan, during Friday prayers.  The attackers seized worshipers and battled security forces, with scores killed. 

“USCIRF condemns this monstrous act of violence against a peaceful religious community and extends its condolences to the families of the victims,” said USCIRF Chair Leonard Leo.  “This is just one more example of the results of ongoing intimidation, thuggish threats and violence against the Ahmadi community in Pakistan.  The Taliban-associated extremists find cover in the anti-Ahmadi laws in the Constitution, Pakistan’s egregious blasphemy law, and the government’s unwillingness to protect the religious freedoms of this community. The government of Pakistan must take responsibility for changing this situation.” 

“The United States must vigorously press Islamabad to address these religious freedom violations or more violence is sure to follow,” added Leo.  “For starters, the U.S. government must urge for the repeal of the blasphemy law.” 

USCIRF has documented systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion in Pakistan for several years. Sectarian and religiously-motivated violence is chronic, and the government has failed to protect members of religious minorities from such violence and to bring perpetrators to justice. Religiously discriminatory legislation, such as anti-Ahmadi laws and the blasphemy law, foster an atmosphere of intolerance in the country and embolden extremists.  Growing religious extremism threatens the freedoms of expression and religion or belief, as well as other human rights, for everyone in Pakistan, particularly Ahmadis, women, members of other religious minorities, and those in the majority Muslim community who hold views deemed un-Islamic by extremists.  Since 2002, USCIRF has recommended Pakistan be named a “Country of Particular Concern” by the State Department, but the U.S. State Department has not followed that recommendation. 

Ahmadis, who may number between three and four million in Pakistan, are prevented by law from engaging in the full practice of their faith and may face criminal charges for a range of religious practices, including the use of religious terminology  Pakistan’s Constitution declares members of the Ahmadi religious community to be “non-Muslims,” despite their insistence to the contrary.

True democracy in Pakistan can prevent extremism

Dr. Majjida Ahmed, a founding member of Americans for Democracy & Justice in Pakistan, has an op-ed in today’s Daily Caller that examines the relationship between cementing a strong democratic process in Pakistan, and the prevention of extremist violence.

What turns middle-class young people from Pakistan, like Faisal Shahzad, toward militant extremism? It’s important to note that Shahzad spent his youth in Pakistan during the military rule of hard-line General Zia al-Huq, who instituted a school curriculum that taught intolerance towards religions other than Islam and promoted militancy. And it isn’t just military dictatorships that have bred intolerance. According to Sherry Rehman, the former Information Minister, rampant conspiracy theories and unchecked hate speech against Americans in the Pakistan media may also be playing a part in radicalizing some of the country’s youth.

Pakistan’s military has been historically reluctant to act against militant groups like Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (“TTP”), which originally claimed responsibility for the attempt, until a civilian government came to power. Since President Asif Ali Zardari took power, the public and the government have been able to press the military into successful operations against these groups. That is why it is so critical for the United States to focus not just on aiding Pakistan’s military but on strengthening Pakistan’s democratic institutions by encouraging responsible participation by all constituents, including the media, opposition and judiciary. That is what the elected government of President Asif Ali Zardari has been trying to achieve, despite severe and irresponsible pressure against such moves by its opponents in those same groups—pressure which arguably supports extremism.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/05/11/true-democracy-in-pakistan-can-prevent-extremism/

Faisal Shahzad Is a Wake-Up Call for Pakistani-American Community

Dr Syed Mansoor Hussain, a Pakistani doctor who has practiced and taught medicine in the US, writes in English-language newspaper Daily Times today that Faisal Shahzad’s attempt to bomb Times Square is an important wake-up call for the Pakistani-American community.

kidsSince the would-be bomber in Times Square was identified, there has been much concern in the Paksitani-American community about how this would effect regular, law-abiding Pakistani-Americans who want nothing to do with religious militants. While many fear that a backlash of suspicion and discrimination will befall the community, Dr. Syed sees this as a remote possibility.

Personally I am convinced that this will not happen since the safeguards built into the US system make it extremely hard to discriminate against any group based on religion or country of origin. However, if in the future any major terrorist attack occurs in the US that can be traced back to Pakistan, things could get a little hairy for all Americans of Pakistani origin.

Pakistani-Americans do, however, face a certain choice:

They can disassociate themselves completely from Pakistan and join in the US-led chorus that Pakistan should do more to control the terrorist activity going on within its borders. This attitude has the disadvantage that however hard the Pakistani-American community tries, it cannot change the fact that its members came from Pakistan. The second possibility is to actually do more themselves.

This second option – actually doing more – is where Dr. Syed believes Pakistani-Americans have a unique opportunity to not only improve their own situation, but have an important impact on reducing the likelihood of future terrorist attacks.

In the US, Muslim parents of Pakistani origin have essentially abdicated their responsibility for the religious education of their children. This has been turned over in most places to ‘Sunday’ schools attached to area mosques and Islamic centres. Without going on a rant about who teaches what in most of these ‘schools’ and where the money comes from to run them, it is enough to say that what is being taught in these places is definitely not the ‘kinder and gentler’ version of Islam.

This has created an unusual situation for the Pakistani-American community. Many of their children are imbibing radical concepts of religion that are far removed from what they themselves learned and practice. Of course the overall ‘liberal’ attitudes surrounding them makes it difficult for these children to become too radical as they grow up, but some of them do become radicalised and will continue to do so over the foreseeable future. And these are the ones we have to worry about.

Therefore, what the Pakistani-American community, especially the Muslims among them, need to do more than anything else in this context right now is to take greater interest in the religious education their children are receiving in the ‘Islamic centres’ around them. The very parents who are entirely consumed by the quality of education available in public and private schools attended by their children are quite happy to let these Islamic centres teach whatever they might. This must change.

By all rights, Faisal Shahzad should never have been involved with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or any other terrorist organization. He came from a respectable family, had a good education, and lived a comfortable, successful life. Unfortunately, the Pakistani-American community – like all communities – is not immune from the virus of extremist ideology.

As it turns out, though, a simple action – being more actively involved in children’s religious education – can serve as an effective inoculation. What parent would allow their child unsupervised access to the Internet or movies? We well recognize the importance of monitoring and being closely involved in the messages that our children receive from mass media, and it should be no different when it comes to religious education. Taking this effort will protect our children, our community, and help pave the pathway for democracy and justice in Pakistan and the world.

Times Square Plot Underscores Urgency of Support for Pakistan's Democracy Movement

Times Square CCTVThe attempted bombing of New York’s Times Square over the past weekend underscores the urgency of our support for the democracy movement in Pakistan. Years of double-dealing by dictatorships that sympathized with jihadi ideology and used militant groups as proxy fighters resulted in an expansive network of terrorists inside the country. The democratic government, elected in 2008, has been working closely with the US to eliminate these groups.

Since turning its sights on the terrorist networks that had been let to grow under military dictatorships, Pakistan has suffered regular and devastating attacks. Over the past two years, thousands of Pakistanis have been killed by militants. The Taliban has vowed to increase attacks on both the democratic government in Pakistan as well as targets in the United States.

As police analyze evidence in the New York bombing attempt, a picture has begun to emerge of Taliban militants attempting to expand their reach to threaten Americans as well as Pakistanis.

Pakistan’s democratic government, long a key-ally in the war on terrorism, has vowed its full cooperation with the US in tracking down and bringing to justice those responsible for the attempted attack.

We will cooperate with the United States in identifying this individual and bringing him to justice,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Reuters.

Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said they were awaiting details from the US authorities about Faisal.

Meanwhile, a senior Pakistani government official said US ambassador to Islamabad Anne Patterson held talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

“There has been initial discussion when the US ambassador met our foreign minister,” said the official.

“Pakistan and the US have ongoing, robust cooperation on counter-terrorism. If required, we will extend fullest cooperation to US,” the official added.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States and has arrested hundreds of al-Qaeda operatives and handed over many of them to the United States after it signed up to the US-led war on terrorism after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

News agencies are reporting that law enforcement in Pakistan has arrested several people who may be connected to or have information about the attempted  bombing.

The Taliban, al Qaeda, and other militant groups have demonstrated that they are working to expand their reach across the globe by working in coordination with one another. In doing so, they have managed to amplify the impact of what are actually small groups of dedicated terrorists. To defeat this menace, we must support and coordinate with other pro-democracy movements and governments – especially those on the front lines of the war on terror.