The South Asia Channel

Former president returns to Pakistan despite death threats

Awkward homecoming Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan on Sunday after four years of self-imposed exile, arriving to Taliban deaths threats, calls from lawmakers for his arrest, and little public fanfare (AP, LAT, CNN, Reuters, BBC, NYT, Guardian, WSJ, Reuters). In his first address soon after landing in Karachi, Musharraf told supporters he ...

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Awkward homecoming

Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan on Sunday after four years of self-imposed exile, arriving to Taliban deaths threats, calls from lawmakers for his arrest, and little public fanfare (AP, LAT, CNN, Reuters, BBC, NYT, Guardian, WSJ, Reuters). In his first address soon after landing in Karachi, Musharraf told supporters he had returned to "save" Pakistan; he plans to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections. 

The Pakistani cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan held a massive rally in Lahore on Saturday, though the 100,000-strong crowd was much smaller than the 400 or 500 thousand that members of Khan’s political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had estimated would show up (NYT, AP, Guardian). Khan pledged to the attendees of his rally that he would never use his office to gain wealth and urged them to stand by him to "fight injustice and tyranny." But it remains unclear whether Khan will be able to turn popular support into political victory as Pakistan heads toward the May 11 elections.

Pakistan’s election commission on Sunday chose a caretaker prime minister to run the country until the election, selecting the former chief justice of the high court in Balochistan Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, who was nominated by the outgoing Pakistan People’s Party government (AP, Bloomberg).

At least 17 Pakistani Army personnel were killed in a massive suicide car bombing that targeted two fuel tankers at a military checkpoint in North Waziristan on Saturday night (The News, ET, AJE, Dawn, CNN, Reuters). Local tribesmen say four civilians driving by the checkpoint at the time of the bombing were also killed.

Nth time’s the charm?

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Saturday that American and Afghan officials had reached an agreement on the transfer of Bagram Prison to Afghan control, after months of failed deals and terse negotiations (NYT, AP, Reuters, Geo TV). Details of the transfer remain unclear, but one senior defense official told the New York Times that Afghan officials offered "private assurances" that they will not release detainees the United States considers to be dangerous, a key condition that U.S. officials have insisted upon.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday that President Hamid Karzai will travel to Qatar later this month for talks with Qatari officials about the establishment of a Taliban political office in the country, to be used for the conducting of peace talk between the Afghan government and the insurgent group (Reuters).

Senior Pakistani Foreign Ministry officials have told Reuters that they are finding it difficult to work with President Karzai on the negotiations with the Taliban, the success of which is seen by Western officials to be dependent upon Pakistan’s committed involvement (Reuters). The Pakistanis said they no longer trust Karzai because of his frequent accusations that Pakistan is the root of terrorism in the region, and his moves to block certain peace talk efforts that he doesn’t approve of.

Conflict of interests

As Afghanistan seeks international mining companies to develop its extensive mineral reserves and shore up its fragile economy, archeologists are racing to excavate an ancient Buddhist city comprising of at least six monasteries and an impressive labyrinth of workshops and mine shafts (McClatchy). The ancient structures are buried beneath the earth’s surface at Mes Aynak in eastern Afghanistan, which is also the site of the world’s second-largest copper deposit and has already been claimed for mining by a Chinese company.

— Jennifer Rowland

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