Sunday, January 4, 2009

Joe Biden to visit Pakistan to defuse tension

United States vice-president-elect Joseph Biden will arrive in Pakistan on a two-day visit this week to defuse the tension between Pakistan and India after the Mumbai terror attacks, a private TV channel reported on Sunday.The channel quoted diplomatic sources as saying that a high-level congressional delegation would also accompany Biden. The delegation would meet President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to discuss the war on terror in Pakistan, Pak-India relations and a $15 billion aid package for Islamabad. The sources said the US delegation is likely to arrive in Pakistan on January 9.

Police killed in Pakistan blast

Five police and two civilians have been killed in a suspected suicide attack in north-west Pakistan, police say.Local government officials said the attack happened outside a college in the town of Dera Ismail Khan where paramilitary troops had been stationed.At least 25 others were wounded in the blast, in which police were targeted as they investigated a minor explosion.Dera Ismail Khan is close to Pakistan's restive tribal areas and has in the past seen sectarian violence.It has witnessed strife between Pakistan's majority Sunnis and minority Shias.Hundreds of people have been killed in a wave of suicide and other attacks over the past 18 months.

Protests over power, gas outages

The Frontier Post

People belonging to all strata of society, from ordinary citizens to businessmen and industrialists, have suffered immensely from scheduled and unscheduled electricity load shedding for the last few months. People were expecting improvement in functioning of the government and they had hoped that the elected government would arrange to provide essential commodities and utilities at reasonable prices. But their hopes have been dashed to the ground, as they suffer power outages from 16 to 20 hours a day. Having lost hope and patience, they have come on the roads. Protests were held against unprecedented power and gas load shedding across the country on Saturday as the crisis assumed an alarming proportion. In all major cities of all provinces, people staged protest demonstrations. In the Punjab, traders, labourers and civil society members among the public at large marched across a number of cities in protest against the continuing power and gas outages, with some demonstrations turning violent on Saturday. A shutdown was witnessed in Faisalabad on the appeal of the Anjuman-e-Tajiran and dozens of other traders' associations. A group of industrial workers tried to damage a Millat Road bank but went away after the bank guard fired warning shots. However, an angry mob stormed the FESCO office in Gulistan Colony and set ablaze the office record. In Lahore at Macleod Road, traders staged a demonstration against rulers, WAPDA and SNGPL over the long outages. They burnt tyres at Laxmi Chowk and blocked the traffic for more than an hour. They chanted slogans against Lesco, SNGPL and the Petroleum Ministry over the power shutdown, shortage of CNG, Sui gas and petrol. The protesters kept the Ferozpur Road blocked for about two hours, much to the inconvenience of commuters. Then the demonstrators headed to the WAPDA office and pelted it with stones. Before they could enter the office, the staff present there escaped, leaving the office and the main gates locked. In September, apart from power outages, unexplained additions in the electricity bills had stirred up public indignation and there were mass protests over outages and over-billing in various cities of the country. The Ministry of Water and Power had promised that it would launch various units that would add 2200 megawatts of electricity to the national grid in the current year, which will ease the situation. It however appears that nothing has been done so far, and the plan of importing generation units on barges from Turkey also remains on paper, as the load shedding has increased from 12 to 20 hours. During the previous demonstrations, the government had smelled a rat and held the view that that there was a conspiracy behind the sudden spiral of anti-WAPDA protests that became particularly violent in the Punjab. Even now there is a perception that Faisalabad being the stronghold of the PML-N, its leaders might have sparked the demonstrations. Instead of subscribing to conspiracy theories, the government should have investigated the matter as to why there were additions in the bills, which could not be explained. Later the government had promised to adjust overcharging in the next month's bills, which has not been done and the people are running from pillar to post to get their bills amended. People expect from the government that it will reduce prices of oil and electricity especially when the price of oil has declined in the international market from $147 to $37 per barrel. But Advisor to Prime Minister Shaukat Tarin said on Saturday that the government had already lowered petrol prices by Rs 30 per litre, and the government would pass on the reduction in oil prices to consumers "at an appropriate time", which is unfair. It should immediately reduce the price of petroleum products commensurate with reduction in oil price in the international market.

Pakistan seizes explosives-packed van: security official

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — Pakistani security forces battling to clear militants from the area along a key NATO supply route into Afghanistan on Sunday seized a van packed with 1,000 kilos of explosives, an official said.Seven suspected Taliban militants were also arrested in the operation in the northwestern town of Jamrud, the gateway to the famed Khyber Pass linking Pakistan and Afghanistan, the senior security official told AFP."The van was packed from floor to ceiling with explosives weighing around 1,000 kilogrammes," or 2,200 pounds, the official said, adding that detonators were attached to the explosives."The van could have been used during Muharram and caused many deaths if this huge amount of explosives had been detonated," he said, referring to the Muslim mourning period currently being observed in Pakistan.
Security forces launched the operation in the rugged Khyber tribal area near Jamrud last week, following a series of attacks on truck depots in and around the city of Peshawar that saw hundreds of NATO vehicles and containers torched.The anti-militant offensive forced the closure of the highway from Peshawar to the border town of Torkham, blocking NATO supply trucks from reaching Afghanistan.But the road has been open for a few hours a day since Friday during daylight breaks in the curfew that has been imposed on Jamrud until the military operation is complete.The security official said the seven men arrested were members of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the country's umbrella Taliban group led by militant warlord Baitullah Mehsud.Mehsud was accused by the previous Pakistani government and US officials of plotting the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in a gun and suicide attack in Rawalpindi in December 2007
Brazilian writer’s novel translated into Pashto
ISLAMABAD: The internationally acclaimed novel titled ‘Alchemist’ has been translated into Pashto language.Authored by internationally Brazilian renowned novelist Paulo Coelho, the ‘Alchemist’ has been translated into 67 languages. Prominent Pashto poet and journalist Rashid Khattak translated the novel from English into Pashto.Earlier, Rashid translated Afghan writer Saaduddin Shapon’s novel titled ‘Yaraan-e-Ghaar’ in Urdu. The ‘Alchemist’ has been translated in Pashto for the first time with title of ‘Kimya Gar’ and it got popularity in a short span of time in Pakhtun community.According to renowned Pashto poet and writer Mushtaqurahman, the novel of Brazilian author has been translated accurately. Lauding the work of Rashid Khattak, he said that a reader could get guidance through the novel.A young journalist, Tariq Aziz said that reader could enjoy the reading in Pashto. He lauded the work of Rashid and said that it would promote the culture of the novel writing. He said it is essential for the young to understand the literature of other regions.Another journalist, Riyaz Khan also lauded the work of the translator and termed it a good addition to the Pashto literature.
President, PM urge nation to follow Bhutto’s philosophy

Monday, January 05, 2009
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, in their separate messages on the 80th birth anniversary of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto falling today (January 5), have urged the nation to follow Bhutto’s philosophy who brought power to the people and fought for the rights of the dispossessed.

In his message, President Asif Ali, who is also the PPP co-chairman, said, “Shaheed Bhutto was a colossus who towered over national politics for more than four decades.”He said, “By undoing an iniquitous status quo and snatching power from the elite and transferring it into the hands of the masses Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has become a legend in Pakistan around whose name the country’s politics still revolved.”

At a time when dictatorship had brought disintegration and defeat to the nation in 1971, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto picked up the pieces of a truncated Pakistan to build it anew, raised the morale of a defeated and demoralized people, recovered 5,000 square miles of territory and brought back tens of thousands of prisoners of war, he said.

“It is a measure of his greatness that today the politics of the country revolves around his name.”The president said, “Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto helped the people shape their own destiny,” adding that he shall live forever in the pages of history.

The PPP co-chairman said, “As the nation pays tribute to one of its greatest sons, let us join hands to defeat militancy and extremism and move forward in the spirit of federalism, democracy, and egalitarianism which he lit through his example of courage in the defence of principles and ideals.”

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, in his message on the 81st birth anniversary of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, said January 5 would always be remembered as a day of great historical significance as a courageous and towering personality like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was born. The prime minister said ZA Bhutto set the guiding principles for political, social and economic spheres, foreign relations, non-violence and religious tolerance. “And these same principles were adopted as manifesto by Benazir Bhutto Shaheed who laid down her life in the struggle to turn Pakistan into a democratic, progressive and welfare state,” he noted.

He said Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had left lasting and indelible imprint on the pages of the world history, which will not only guide the students of politics of coming generations but will also be a lesson adding to social consciousness.

The emergence of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will be remembered as an important turning point in the political history of South East Asia, he said, adding the PPP was the only party which gave socially deprived people consciousness and taught them how to get their snatched rights.

Calling Shaheed Zulfikar Bhutto the first democratic and popular leader, he said the martyred visionary gave Pakistan its first unanimous federal and democratic constitution. He said, “On this day, we vow that in the coming days we will rid Pakistan of all kinds of terrorism and parochialism and in the true sense will make the country a democratic and welfare state.”

Afghan Shiites Embrace New Acceptance

10-Day Religious Observance Highlights Rapid Emergence

KABUL, Jan. 3 -- For the past week, caravans of cars have raced triumphantly around the Afghan capital, trailing huge green and red banners. Overpasses are draped with black cloth, and loudspeakers blare hypnotic religious chants punctuated with the slow rhythm of clanking chains.

This is Muharram, the 10-day period of ritual mourning -- including emotional bouts of chest-beating and self-flagellation -- observed by Shiites throughout the world in remembrance of Imam Hussein and other Shiite martyrs who died defending their faith in the 7th century.

But in Afghanistan, a Sunni-dominated country where Shiites have been a despised and oppressed minority during many periods of history, this Muharram is being observed with new boldness and political acceptance. It is a dramatic sign of the rapid emergence of Shiism under democratic rule in the seven years since the overthrow of the ultraconservative Sunni Taliban.

"I think the current situation is the best Shiites in Afghanistan have ever had. We not only have more freedom, but our rights to worship are specified in the constitution," said Syed Hussein Alemi Balkhi, a Shiite cleric and member of parliament. Moreover, Sunnis are now coordinating with Shiites in observing Muharram. "They celebrate it a little differently than we do, but we respect each other," he said.

Shiites still make up less than 25 percent of the Afghan populace, which is nearly all Muslim. Many Shiites, especially the ethnic Hazaras, remain isolated in some of the most impoverished regions of the country, such as Daikundi and Bamian provinces. Here in the capital, many Hazaras are still relegated by tradition to such menial jobs as domestic servants or handcart pullers, who strain like animals under loads of furniture or commercial cargo.

But since the departure of the Taliban, which forcibly suppressed Shiism as un-Islamic, tens of thousands of Shiites have returned from exile in next-door Iran, many bringing professional skills and modernized civic views. Young Shiite women are generally more emancipated than Sunni women here, and female voter turnout in the 2004 national elections was highest by far in Shiite districts.

Shiites have now been elected to parliament from numerous provinces and appointed to various government posts. One of the most prominent young Shiite leaders of the post-Taliban era was former commerce minister Sayed Mustafa Kazemi, who was killed in a suicide bombing last year while visiting a factory in Baghlan province, north of Kabul.

During the current Muharram celebrations, portraits of Kazemi have appeared among the posters of Imam Hussein, his martyred relatives and Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini in the markets and mosques of West Kabul's Shiite district. So have images of the late Abdul Ali Mazari, an Islamist Afghan militia leader who fought the Soviets and the Taliban. Revered by Afghan Shiites, Mazari was also known as an exceptionally cruel and ruthless commander.

The Shiite emergence here has been openly aided by the government of Iran, which has built mosques, gymnasiums and a brand-new university in Kabul, a complex of soaring blue-tiled domes and towers. This boon is viewed as a worrisome development by some Afghans, who mistrust Iran's intentions and fear that its Shiite theocracy seeks to gain undue influence over Afghanistan and weaken its government.

Local Shiite leaders, however, say they have no intention of allowing that to happen. They say that they have more open, democratic political views than their counterparts in Iran and that they have few illusions about Iran's motives toward its poorer neighbor that is being protected by U.S. troops and rebuilt with Western aid.

"There is no doubt that people are concerned about Iran's influence here," said Balkhi, who received his religious education in Iran but brought his family home shortly after the Taliban fell. "We know Iran does not want to see Afghanistan develop socially, economically or militarily, but our officials tell us they have not seen any evidence that Iran is trying to disturb our peace and stability. What we want is to be good neighbors."

This Muharram will mark the third year in a row that Afghan officials, including senior Sunni leaders, will worship with Shiites on the climactic 10th day, called Ashura. And although many Sunnis disapprove of the Shiite chest-beating known as matam, some Sunni leaders have fasted and offered meals to the poor this week.

There are fears that Taliban insurgents may attempt to sabotage these rites with a suicide bombing or other attack, and police protection has been heavy this week around Shiite mosques in Kabul where men and boys gather to pray, chant, weep and beat their chests in a ritual fervor of grief that is expected to build to a climax by Ashura.

But many of the Shiite faithful, feeling newly empowered this week as they displayed their faith with flags hoisted high above the snow- and mud-choked capital, said nothing can deter them now.

"We feel more free and proud than ever before," said Ghulam Hazrat, 32, a laborer in shabby clothes who was preparing to enter a Shiite shrine Saturday and participate in the chest-beating ritual. "During Taliban time, the only place we could celebrate Muharram was in our basements. Now we are out on the streets for everyone to see."

Bribes Corrode Afghans’ Trust in Government

KABUL, Afghanistan — When it comes to governing this violent, fractious land, everything, it seems, has its price.

Want to be a provincial police chief? It will cost you $100,000.

Want to drive a convoy of trucks loaded with fuel across the country? Be prepared to pay $6,000 per truck, so the police will not tip off the Taliban.

Need to settle a lawsuit over the ownership of your house? About $25,000, depending on the judge.

“It is very shameful, but probably I will pay the bribe,” Mohammed Naim, a young English teacher, said as he stood in front of the Secondary Courthouse in Kabul. His brother had been arrested a week before, and the police were demanding $4,000 for his release. “Everything is possible in this country now. Everything.”

Kept afloat by billions of dollars in American and other foreign aid, the government of Afghanistan is shot through with corruption and graft. From the lowliest traffic policeman to the family of President Hamid Karzai himself, the state built on the ruins of the Taliban government seven years ago now often seems to exist for little more than the enrichment of those who run it.

A raft of investigations has concluded that people at the highest levels of the Karzai administration, including President Karzai’s own brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, are cooperating in the country’s opium trade, now the world’s largest. In the streets and government offices, hardly a public transaction seems to unfold here that does not carry with it the requirement of a bribe, a gift, or, in case you are a beggar, “harchee” — whatever you have in your pocket.

The corruption, publicly acknowledged by President Karzai, is contributing to the collapse of public confidence in his government and to the resurgence of the Taliban, whose fighters have moved to the outskirts of Kabul, the capital.

“All the politicians in this country have acquired everything — money, lots of money,” President Karzai said in a speech at a rural development conference here in November. “God knows, it is beyond the limit. The banks of the world are full of the money of our statesmen.”

The decay of the Afghan government presents President-elect Barack Obama with perhaps his most underappreciated challenge as he tries to reverse the course of the war here. Mr. Obama may be required to save the Afghan government not only from the Taliban insurgency — committing thousands of additional American soldiers to do so — but also from itself.

“This government has lost the capacity to govern because a shadow government has taken over,” said Ashraf Ghani, a former Afghan finance minister. He quit that job in 2004, he said, because the state had been taken over by drug traffickers. “The narco-mafia state is now completely consolidated,” he said.

On the streets here, tales of corruption are as easy to find as kebab stands. Everything seems to be for sale: public offices, access to government services, even a person’s freedom. The examples mentioned above — $25,000 to settle a lawsuit, $6,000 to bribe the police, $100,000 to secure a job as a provincial police chief — were offered by people who experienced them directly or witnessed the transaction.

People pay bribes for large things, and for small things, too: to get electricity for their homes, to get out of jail, even to enter the airport.

Governments in developing countries are often riddled with corruption. But Afghans say the corruption they see now has no precedent, in either its brazenness or in its scale. Transparency International, a German organization that gauges honesty in government, ranked Afghanistan 117 out of 180 countries in 2005. This year, it fell to 176.

“Every man in the government is his own king,” said Abdul Ghafar, a truck driver. Mr. Ghafar said he routinely paid bribes to the police who threatened to hinder his passage through Kabul, sometimes several in a day.

Nowhere is the scent of corruption so strong as in the Kabul neighborhood of Sherpur. Before 2001, it was a vacant patch of hillside that overlooked the stately neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan. Today it is the wealthiest enclave in the country, with gaudy, grandiose mansions that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Afghans refer to them as “poppy houses.” Sherpur itself is often jokingly referred to as “Char-pur,” which literally means “City of Loot.”

Yet what is perhaps most remarkable about Sherpur is that many of the homeowners are government officials, whose annual salaries would not otherwise enable them to live here for more than a few days.

One of the mansions — three stories, several bedrooms, sweeping balconies — is owned by Abdul Jabbar Sabit, a former attorney general who made a name for himself by declaring a “jihad” against corruption.

After he was fired earlier this year by President Karzai, a video began circulating around town showing Mr. Sabit dancing giddily around a room and slurring his words, apparently drunk. Mr. Sabit now lives in Canada, but his house is available to rent for $5,000 a month.

An even grander mansion — ornate faux Greek columns, a towering fountain — is owned by Kabul’s police chief, Mohammed Ayob Salangi. It can be had for $11,000 a month. Mr. Salangi’s salary is unknown; that of Mr. Karzai, the president, is about $600 a month.

Mr. Ghani, the former finance minister, said the plots of land on which the mansions of Sherpur stand were doled out early in the Karzai administration for prices that were a tiny fraction of what they were worth. (Mr. Ghani said he was offered a plot, too, and refused to accept it.)

“The money for these houses was illegal, I think,” said Mohammed Yosin Usmani, director general of a newly created anticorruption unit.

Often, the corruption here is blatant. On any morning, you can stand on the steps of the Secondary Courthouse in downtown Kabul and listen to the Afghans as they step outside.

One of them was Farooq Farani, who has been coming to the court for seven years, trying to resolve a property dispute. His predicament is a common one here: He fled the country in 1990, as the civil war began, and returned after the fall of the Taliban, only to find a stranger occupying his home.

Yet seven years later, the title to Mr. Farani’s house is still up for grabs. Mr. Farani said he had refused to pay the bribes demanded by the judge in the case, who in turn had refused to settle his case.

“You are approached indirectly, by intermediaries — this is how it works,” said Mr. Farani, who spent his exile in Wiesbaden, Germany. “My house is worth about $50,000, and I’ve been told that I can have the title if I pay $25,000 — half the value of the home.”

Tales like Mr. Farani’s abound here, so much so that it makes one wonder if an honest man can ever make a difference.

Amin Farhang, the minister of commerce, was voted out of Mr. Karzai’s cabinet by Parliament earlier last month for failing to bring down the price of oil in Afghanistan as the price declined in international markets. In a long talk in the sitting room of his home, Mr. Farhang recounted a two-year struggle to fire the man in charge of giving out licenses for new businesses.

The man, Mr. Farhang said, would grant a license only in exchange for a hefty bribe. But Mr. Farhang found that he was unable to fire the man, who, he said, simply bribed other members of the government to reinstate him.

“In a job like this, a man can make 10 or 12 times his salary,” Mr. Farhang said. “People do anything to hang on to them.”

Many Afghans, including Mr. Ghani, the former finance minister, place responsibility for the collapse of the state on Mr. Karzai, who, they say, has failed repeatedly to confront the powerful figures who are behind much of the corruption. In his stint as finance minister, Mr. Ghani said, two moments crystallized his disgust and finally prompted him to quit.

The first, Mr. Ghani said, was his attempt to impose order on Kabul’s chaotic system of private property rights. The Afghan government had accumulated vast amounts of land during the period of Communist rule in the 1970s and 1980s. And since 2001, the government has given much of it away — often, Mr. Ghani said, to shady developers at extremely low prices.

Much of that land has been sold and developed, rendering much of Kabul’s property in the hands of unknown owners. Many of the developers who were given free land, Mr. Ghani said, were also involved in drug trafficking.

When he proposed drawing up a set of regulations to govern private property, Mr. Ghani said, he was told by President Karzai to stop.

“ ‘Just back off,” he told me,’ ” Mr. Ghani said. “He said that politically it wasn’t feasible.”

A similar effort to impose regulations at the Ministry of Aviation, which Mr. Ghani described as rife with corruption, was met with a similar response by President Karzai, he said.

“Morally the question was, am I becoming the fig leaf to legitimate a system that was deeply corrupt? Or was I there to serve the people?” Mr. Ghani said. “I resigned.”

Mr. Ghani, who then became chancellor of Kabul University, is today contemplating a run for the presidency.

Asked about Mr. Ghani’s account on Thursday, Humayun Hamidzada, a spokesman for Mr. Karzai, said he could not immediately comment.

The corruption may be endemic here, but if there is any hope in the future, it would seem to lie in the revulsion of average Afghans like Mr. Farani, who, after seven years, is still refusing to pay.

“I won’t do it,” Mr. Farani said outside the courthouse. “It’s a matter of principle. Never.”

“But,” he said, “I don’t have my house, either, and I don’t know that I ever will.”
MMA split over share in looted money: ANP
PESHAWAR: The root cause behind dismemberment of MMA is the dispute over share in the corruption money plundered by its leaders during the five years rule in the province, said Arbab Muhammad Tahir, ANP spokesman in a statement here Saturday. Lashing out at former MMA leadership, he said that their real face was exposed to the masses when they themselves blasted each other for corruption and both Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) were trying to take lead in exposing the other for corruption during their previous rule. The general public have all the right to ask these leaders whether they were voted to power for the implementation of ‘Shariah’ or their involvement in the curse of corruption, he argued.

Rainy spell to continue for next 48 hours

PESHAWAR: The NWFP including the Provincial Metropolis are in grip of severe cold after rain lashed most parts of the province on Saturday. The minimum temperature was recorded in Gupis, Astore and Kalam minus 10 degree centigrade. According to the Provincial Met Office the current rainy spell would continue for the next 48 hours. Most of the link roads in Chitral, Galyat, Swat and Kaghan valley were closed due to snowfall in these areas.

Situation in NWFP, FATA manageable, says Owais F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: The NWFP Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani has said the security situation in the province and FATA is though complex, complicated and difficult yet manageable. ‘‘The problems are already in the roll back process on many counts while the writ of the state is heading forward,’’ the governor said. This he stated while addressing the participants of the 9th National Security Workshop, currently in progress under the aegis of National Defense University, Islamabad who called on him at Governor House on Saturday. The delegates were comprised of senators, members of national assembly and the provincial assemblies, nazims, diplomats, industrialists, lawyers, media representatives, besides the senior officers from civil services as well as all the three armed forces. The Governor parried a number of points, raised by the participants on this occasion. The realization amongst the respective people towards gravity of the problem and raising lashkars by themselves against militancy is itself a major success, he said. However, the Governor said, the things have developed over a period of almost past 30 years, especially in wake of the developments took place in the neighbouring country from time to time and will definitely take time and resources to make them fully settled down. Talking on a point, the Governor said, narco-mafia is indeed the real beneficiary of the continued instable situation in the neighbouring country and almost over $ 38 billion business in the international market is taking place on the basis of opium being cultivated in that country. Such a situation, the Governor said, is also one of the major cause of encouraging militancy in our country as well. "The militants are well funded, trained and well equipped which is not possible through normal charities", he pointed out. Therefore, the Governor said, there is need to see the things in wider perspective and take more macro outlook of the happenings in the entire region.

Senior US diplomat to visit Pakistan: foreign minister

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — The top US diplomat for South Asia will visit Pakistan this week amid simmering tensions between Islamabad and India in the wake of the deadly Mumbai attacks, Pakistan's foreign minister said Sunday.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a press conference broadcast live from the central city of Multan that he would meet US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher on Monday.
"Richard Boucher is visiting Pakistan. I have a meeting set with him on Monday," Qureshi said, without disclosing details about the agenda for the meeting.
"He deals with South Asian affairs and he routinely visits Pakistan."
The US embassy in Islamabad declined to comment.
Indian media reported that Boucher was also due in New Delhi, for talks likely to focus on tensions between India and Pakistan, and the ongoing investigation into the attacks on Mumbai, which left 172 people dead including the attackers.
Indian foreign ministry officials contacted by AFP were not immediately available for comment, and the US embassy in New Delhi would only say that Boucher's trip was not yet confirmed.
A number of US officials have visited both Pakistan and India, including US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her deputy John Negroponte, following the attacks in a bid to defuse tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.
India has blamed the carnage on the banned Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is fighting New Delhi's rule in divided Kashmir.
Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram has said he will travel to Washington this week with evidence showing that the attacks were "masterminded and controlled from Pakistan," the Indian Express reported.
Beyond Pakistan's relations with India, Qureshi and Boucher could also discuss suspected US missile strikes on Pakistani territory along the border with Afghanistan, a zone where Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants are active.
US officials say insurgents use Pakistan's rugged lawless tribal areas as a staging ground for attacks on foreign forces in Afghanistan.
At least eight militants were killed in two suspected US drone strikes last week in the South Waziristan tribal district, officials said.
Pakistan has repeatedly protested to the United States that the drone strikes violate its territorial sovereignty and stoke anti-US sentiment here.
President Asif Ali Zardari has promised zero tolerance for such violations, but some officials say there is a tacit understanding between the US and Pakistani militaries to allow such actio