Pakistan government loses coalition member and parliamentary majority as economy outewighs terrorism (+ Af-Pak analysis); US and Japan considered action against anti-whalers Sea Shepherd – Wikileaks; Coptic Christians protest after Egyptian bomb kills 21; Cote d'Ivoire negotiations; Brazil's first woman president takes office; and more
Top of the Agenda: Pakistan Government Struggles to Persevere
The government of Pakistan experienced a dramatic shock on Sunday when the country's ruling parliamentary majority, led by the Pakistan People's party (PPP) and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani (BBC), lost the support of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a critical member of its governing alliance in the National Assembly. Senior MQM leaders cited frustration over new increases in state-controlled gas prices and higher taxation as the basis for their withdrawal. The decision makes PPP a minority and raises the specter of a no-confidence vote (al-Jazeera) that would trigger new elections for the US-allied government. Some analysts fear the resulting political uproar could result in another intervention by the Pakistani military (Guardian). In the short term, analysts predict the episode will distract from the government's pursuit of the Taliban and hinder an effort to broaden taxes, rein in the country's balance of payments, and secure future lending agreements from the IMF (BusinessWeek).
Since 2001, the United States has provided billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan in order to strengthen its civilian government and preserve a strategic military alliance in the fight against a Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgency (WashPost) based largely in the country's vital border regions.
The Taliban needs to be convinced of a firm US commitment in Afghanistan before it will negotiate a settlement, says CFR's Stephen Biddle, and any deal will have to also involve the Pakistani, US, and Afghan governments.
This op-ed from the LA Times discusses the far-reaching damage done by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Kahn and his nuclear proliferation network.
This CFR Task Force Report assesses US objectives, strategy, and policy options in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Pakistan's stability is of great consequence to regional and international security. CFR's Crisis Guide: Pakistan examines the roots of the country's challenges, what it means for the region and the world, and some plausible futures for the country.
PACIFIC RIM: Seoul Stresses Talks Ahead of US Envoy Visit
One day before a visit from the US envoy for North Korea, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reiterated his country's support for a return to stalled Six Party Talks (BBC). In addition, three state-run North Korean papers issued a joint editorial over the weekend, stressing Pyongyang's desire to denuclearize the peninsula (Xinhua) and reunify the country.
Japan: Diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks on Monday referenced discussions between the United States and Japan regarding potential action against the prominent anti-whaling group Sea Shepherds Conservation Society (AP). The cables describe the group's controversial actions as an "irritant" in US-Japanese relations and mention revoking the US-based group's tax-exempt status.
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org