- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has ordered the country’s Interior Ministry to investigate the arrest of 11-year-old Ramsha, a Christian girl who reportedly suffers from Down’s syndrome and was accused by her Muslim neighbors of burning pages of Islamic material (LAT, AJE). The case has sparked domestic and international furor over Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, and several other Christian families in Ramsha’s slum neighborhood outside Islamabad have fled for their lives (NYT).
The Pakistani government on Monday blocked cell phone services in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Quetta after receiving reports of attacks planned for the first day of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day holiday celebrated after the holy month of Ramadan (ET). The services had been restored by midday on Monday, though.
A roadside bomb on the outskirts of Quetta, Balochistan killed at least one civilian and wounded eight others on Tuesday, though the device appeared to be targeting a security convoy that was passing through the area at the time (AP, ET, Dawn). And the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan on Monday warned the Pakistani Army that it had set up a "suicide bombers squad" to "welcome the army" if it launches an offensive in the tribal region of North Waziristan (ET).
As the number of "insider attacks" by Afghan security forces on NATO troops spiked last week, the top commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. John Allen, called a meeting on Wednesday to find ways to stem the worrying violence (NYT). One of the recent decisions made was to order all American and NATO troops to keep their weapons loaded at all times in order to respond quickly to a surprise attack.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey was in Afghanistan this week for talks with senior NATO and Afghan officials on issues including the rising occurrence of insider attacks (AP, NYT). Late on Monday night or early Tuesday, Gen. Dempsey’s transport plane was damaged by insurgent rocket fire at Bagram Airfield, forcing him to take a different plane out of the country (AFP).
The Pakistani cricketers you haven’t heard about
The Pakistani men’s cricket team usually gets all of the limelight, but on Saturday, the women’s team left for Ireland to participate in a tri-nation series with Bangladesh and their Irish hosts (Dawn). The Pakistani women beat the Bangladeshi women by 42 runs on Monday, and will face Ireland on Wednesday.
— Jennifer Rowland