- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
New Post: Michael Kugelman, "Pakistan’s protest vote" (AfPak).
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan unveiled its "State of the Human Rights in 2012" report in Islamabad on Thursday, which concludes that Pakistan is "on the verge" of becoming an undemocratic society where individuals resort to violence to be heard (The News, ET, Dawn, VOA). The Commission found that Pakistan suffered 1,577 terrorist attacks in 2012, which killed come 2,050 civilians, and at least 2,284 people died in Karachi alone due to ethnic, sectarian, and political violence. The report pointed out a few positive trends, too, such as the Election Commission of Pakistan’s registration of 84 million new voters in 2012, 43 percent of whom were women.
The Lahore High Court on Wednesday acquitted a Christian man who was sentenced to death for blasphemy six years ago (AFP). Residents of a low-income neighborhood in Lahore accused Younis Masih in 2005 of interrupting a Sufi singing group to make blasphemous remarks, and Masih’s lawyer was finally able to argue successfully this year that the case was based on hearsay, not on concrete evidence.
A report published by the British Parliament’s select committee on international development on Thursday recommends tying any increase in British aid to Pakistan to increases in tax collection amongst the country’s wealthiest individuals (Tel). The report also concluded that there is no clear link between education and preventing extremism. The UK currently funds a £300 million education program in Pakistan, and its overall aid to that country is set to rise almost £450 million per year over the next two years.
Pakistani authorities have deported three Frenchmen who were held in secret since they entered the country illegally ten months ago with the intention of joining insurgents fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan (AFP).
When you’re gone
Nathan Hodge at the Wall Street Journal published a must-read this week on the difficulties Afghan businesses are facing as the U.S. military prepares to withdraw much of its staff, and corrupt Afghan officials look to wring bribes out of the companies in return for allowing them to continue conducting business (WSJ). The managers of Aria Water Plant, which sits right outside Bagram Air Field and for the past 7 years has supplied drinking water primarily to the U.S. military, say Afghan Gen. Mohammad Asif Kohi, periodically closes the roads leading to the plant because they have refused to pay a bribe, costing the company millions of dollars when they cannot make shipments on time.
Afghanistan again accused Pakistan on Thursday of failing to play a constructive role in the efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban, and instead acting on "a delusional desire to control Afghanistan," according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Jana Mosazai (AP). Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been particularly rocky over the past several weeks, with both governments exchanging accusations related to militancy, Taliban peace talks, and cross-border firing by security forces.
A bomb strapped to a donkey exploded at a police checkpoint in Laghman Province onThursday, killing a policeman and wounding three civilians (AP).
Rain on Musharraf’s parade
Former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month to little fanfare, Taliban threats, and calls for his arrest by lawmakers. To add insult to injury, his nomination papers to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections have now been rejected, apparently because Musharraf does not meet the criteria laid out in Articles 62 and 63 of the Pakistani Constitution (ET).