Reuters Special Correspondent
Matthew's Feed
Jan 15, 2013

Pakistan Supreme Court orders arrest of prime minister

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister in connection with a corruption case linked to power projects, television channels reported on Tuesday, plunging the country into fresh political turmoil.

The move came as a populist cleric, who is believed to be backed by the military, demanded the resignation of the government in protests attended by thousands of followers in the heart of the capital Islamabad.

Jan 15, 2013

Pakistan cleric threatens long battle against government

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A populist cleric calling for the resignation of Pakistan’s unpopular government and thousands of his supporters camped out around the federal parliament on Tuesday, threatening to remain there until the demands were met.

Muhammad Tahirul Qadri, believed to be backed by the powerful military, recently returned home from Canada to lead a call for reforms that has made him an instant hit among Pakistanis disillusioned with the state.

Jan 13, 2013

Pakistani cleric: catalyst for change or military stooge?

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – A month ago, Muhammad Tahirul Qadri was living quietly in Canada, immersed in the affairs of his Islamic charity and seemingly far removed from the pre-election power games shaping the fate of politicians in his native Pakistan.

In the past three weeks, he has returned home to lead a call for electoral reforms that has earned him instant celebrity, sent a stab of anxiety through the ruling class and raised fears of trouble at a planned rally in Islamabad on Monday.

Dec 23, 2012

Exclusive: Pakistan’s army chief makes Afghan peace “top priority”

WANA, Pakistan/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s powerful army chief has made reconciling warring factions in Afghanistan a top priority, military officials and Western diplomats say, the newest and clearest sign yet that Islamabad means business in promoting peace with the Taliban.

General Ashfaq Kayani is backing dialogue partly due to fears that the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014 could energize a resilient insurgency straddling the shared frontier, according to commanders deployed in the region.

Dec 23, 2012

Pakistan’s army chief makes Afghan peace “top priority”

WANA, Pakistan/ISLAMABAD, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Pakistan’s
powerful army chief has made reconciling warring factions in
Afghanistan a top priority, military officials and Western
diplomats say, the newest and clearest sign yet that Islamabad
means business in promoting peace with the Taliban.

General Ashfaq Kayani is backing dialogue partly due to
fears that the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in
2014 could energise a resilient insurgency straddling the shared
frontier, according to commanders deployed in the region.

Dec 23, 2012

Special Report: Stalking the Taliban in Afghan currency markets

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Haji Khairullah Barakzai is the ultimate Afghan success story: illiterate village boy makes a fortune thanks to a lifetime of hard work, unerring street smarts and God’s favor.

But to the U.S. Treasury Department, he is one of the biggest bankers to the Taliban, the architect of an underground network that converts opium grown in the poppy fields of his native southern Afghanistan into cash.

Dec 22, 2012

Stalking the Taliban in Afghan currency markets

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Haji Khairullah
Barakzai is the ultimate Afghan success story: illiterate
village boy makes a fortune thanks to a lifetime of hard work,
unerring street smarts and God’s favour.

But to the U.S. Treasury Department, he is one of the
biggest bankers to the Taliban, the architect of an underground
network that converts opium grown in the poppy fields of his
native southern Afghanistan into cash.

Nov 29, 2012

Security forces arrest Afghan accused of funding the Taliban

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Coalition and Afghan forces have arrested a currency dealer suspected of handling millions of dollars of Taliban cash as part of a widening campaign to block insurgent finances ahead of a security handover in 2014, officials said on Thursday.

The U.S. Treasury has accused Haji Mohammed Qasim of using his network of money transfer shops to help Taliban commanders send funds to fighters in southern Helmand Province, scene of some of the heaviest fighting of the 11-year war.

Nov 15, 2012

U.S. lists Afghan insurgent as Taliban’s first heroin “Kingpin”

ISLAMABAD, Nov 15 (Reuters) – The U.S. government added a
top Taliban commander to its list of suspected drug trafficking
“Kingpins” on Thursday in the first such designation of a leader
of the Afghan insurgency.

The move underscores concerns that Taliban commanders may be
playing a growing role in heroin production, seeing the trade as
a lucrative revenue stream to fund their campaign after most
foreign troops have left Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Nov 12, 2012

Resilient Afghan governor frets about budget, not bombs

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – In four years serving as a governor in southern Afghanistan, Tooryalai Wesa has survived nine assassination attempts, most recently by a visitor who hid a pistol in the sole of his shoe.

It is a measure of the changes unfolding in his native Kandahar province — also the birthplace of the Taliban — that he seems more preoccupied with the size of his budget than the risk that his enemies might kill him.