Top of the Agenda: Deepening Tensions Between the United States and Pakistan
Tensions between the United States and Pakistan increased on Thursday as a U.S. Senate panel voted to further cut aid to Pakistan by $33 million (NYT). The move came after a Pakistani court sentenced Shakil Afridi, a doctor who assisted the CIA in tracking down Osama bin Laden last year, to thirty-three years in prison for committing treason. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were already strained at a NATO summit earlier this week when they failed to reach an agreement on re-opening a NATO supply route between Pakistan and Afghanistan. At the same time, CIA drone strikes in northwestern Pakistan persisted for a second day on Thursday, despite vocal opposition by Pakistani officials.
"While Afridi's sentencing may not be tied directly to Washington's alleged snub to Zardari in Chicago, there is no doubt that the harsh punishment was approved at the highest levels of government to make a point to both the U.S. and to Pakistani citizens. It's clear that the government wanted to make an example of Afridi," write Newsweek's Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai.
"America's larger strategic goals in South Asia have justified engagement with a difficult partner in Islamabad, but Pakistan would be foolish to take America's support and patience for granted. The U.S. has other options in the region. With very few friends, Pakistan does not," says this Wall Street Journal editorial.
"His sentence is likely to renew the debate on what constitutes patriotism and treason in this (joint) war against militancy. Much of the discourse is bound to focus on the hatching of a conspiracy of which Dr Afridi's fake vaccination scheme was a part. While the proponents of this view would have some justification to question a unilateral U.S. operation on Pakistani soil of which Pakistan was not informed, other aspects of the debate should be considered," says thiseditorial in Dawn, a Pakistan-based newspaper.
China Releases Detained Banker
Chinese authorities yesterday released a Standard Chartered banker, Wu Yidian Eden, who was detained in March for assisting a client that was an alleged fugitive (WSJ). Wu, a Singaporean national who manages the finances of high net-worth individuals, is required to remain in China for one year and is barred from speaking with the media.
This CFR Timeline examines the events that precipitated the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan as well as the history of the war.
Islamist and Former General Take Lead in Egypt Election
The Islamist candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, and a former air force general and official in the Mubarak regime, Ahmed Shafiq, received the most votes in Egypt's first free presidential election, according to independent vote counts completed this morning. Morsi and Shafiq are expected to face each other in a runoff next month (NYT).
IRAN: Iran and six leading world powers--China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany--failed to reach an agreement over Iran's disputed nuclear program (al-Jazeera) after two days of talks in Baghdad. Negotiations are expected to resume next month in Moscow.
The purchasing managers' index for the eurozone (WSJ)--measuring manufacturing and services--dropped to 45.9 in May, its lowest level in nearly three years, according to data service firm Markit. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi called on eurozone governments to implement new growth measures.
President Barack Obama pushed for clean energy tax credits (ABC) in a speech in the battleground state of Iowa, saying they are good for both the environment and the economy.
While presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney still lags with Latino voters, Republican strategist C. Stewart Verdery Jr. offers ways Romney can pivot on immigration policy to attract moderate Latino voters (NYT).