The South Asia Channel

120 dead in Pakistan bomb blasts on Thursday

120 dead in Pakistan bomb blasts on Thursday

Event notice: Please join the New America Foundation’s National Security Studies Program for a discussion about ecological cooperation in South Asia on MONDAY, January 14, 2013 from 12:15 to 1:45PM (NAF).

Deadliest day

Two apparently coordinated bomb blasts at a snooker hall in a predominantly Hazara neighborhood in Quetta, Balochistan on Thursday night killed at least 86 people, bringing the total death toll from terrorist attacks across the country on Thursday to at least 120 (NYT, AP, AP, LAT, BBC, AJE). Earlier that morning, a bomb killed 12 people at a crowded market in Quetta, and another explosion at a religious seminary in the northwestern Swat Valley killed at least 22 people.

Pakistan said Thursday that Indian troops had fired across the Line of Control separating the disputed territory of Kashmir, and killed a Pakistani soldier in the third incident of cross-border violence since Sunday (Reuters, AP, BBC, NYT, AJE). And the United States has started off the new year with a flurry of drone strikes in Pakistan; a strike on Thursday marked the seventh such attack in just 10 days (Post).

Not seeing eye to eye

As Presidents Obama and Karzai prepare to meet to discuss future cooperation in Afghanistan, Afghan officials say Karzai is expecting to have at least 15,000 U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan after the 2014 NATO withdrawal deadline, a significantly higher figure than the 3,000-9,000 range that the White House is reportedly considering (NYT, CNN, WSJ). Bonus read: Peter Bergen, "Abandon Afghanistan? A dumb idea" (CNN).

After an elaborate military ceremony for Karzai on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave a speech in which he said the United States and Afghanistan have reached the "last chapter" in the struggle to create a stable, sovereign Afghanistan, and called the nations’ partnership the "key" to reaching the "final mission" (Reuters, AP, AJE).

– Jennifer Rowland