The South Asia Channel

Gunmen kill police officer escorting polio workers in northwest Pakistan

Gunmen kill police officer escorting polio workers in northwest Pakistan

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Militants in the Swabi District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province gunned down a policeman escorting polio vaccination workers on Tuesday (AP, Dawn). Local officials said the health workers immediately suspended their door-to-door program. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government is reportedly launching a pilot program to de-radicalize 18 extremist religious schools throughout the country, including one in Punjab Province said to still be run by Hafiz Saaed, who is closely linked to the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (Guardian).

Pakistani law enforcement agents in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday arrested the former chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), Tauqeer Sadiq, whom the Supreme Court has accused of embezzling over 80 billion rupees (Dawn). The Court has also accused Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of illegally appointing Sadiq to head OGRA, and helping him flee the country after he embezzled money.

And the Express Tribune reports that Prime Minister Ashraf has transferred 1.2 billion rupees out of a fund created by international donors and intended for Pakistan’s flood victims, and distributed it to constituencies of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party’s senior leaders (ET).

School daze

Deep in the historically Taliban-held territory of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, the proportion of children attending school continues to rise, despite fears that the Taliban will return to power when NATO’s combat mission ends (NYT). The schools also struggle with insufficient official funding for teachers, books, running water and heat, as well as deeply entrenched cultural biases against the value of education.

Political football

On Monday, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik responded to an op-ed by Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan about being Muslim in India by requesting that India provide security to Khan, to which Indian Home Secretary RK Singh said India is "quite capable" of protecting its own people (BBC). Apparently, neither official really understood the actor’s article, in which he expressed frustration because, "I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India."

— Jennifer Rowland