- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
After fleeing the Islamabad High Court on Thursday in response to an order for his arrest, former president Pervez Musharraf was escorted by police early Friday morning from his lavish compound on the outskirts of Islamabad back to the courthouse, where he was formally charged with illegally firing and imprisoning the country’s top judges when he imposed emergency rule in November 2007 (NYT, Post, ET/AFP, Reuters, Dawn). Musharraf was then taken to police headquarters in Islamabad, where he will spend two days on remand ahead of a hearing.
The Pakistani High Court on Thursday granted conditional approval for former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to run for Parliament, overturning a decision made earlier this month by election officials to bar him from running because he is still being investigated for corruption and mismanagement (NYT). Ashraf appealed that decision, and the court sided with the appeal, but also ordered the government’s anticorruption investigators to complete their inquiry into the former prime minister by Monday.
Militants fired four rockets from a mountainside at an election rally in South Waziristan on Friday, injuring two people (ET, Dawn). In nearby Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, four people, including two women, opened fire on a polio vaccination team, also injuring two (ET, Dawn). And the Pakistani Army has asked international aid organizations to for relief assistance in quake-hit Balochistan, where a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed at least 40 people and destroyed thousands of homes (BBC). The death toll is still highly disputed, with a government official putting it at 12, media reports putting it at 40, and locals putting it as high as 80 (ET).
In Pakistan, women now make up the vast majority of the students studying medicine, a dramatic shift from the days before 1991 when a quota mandated that 80 percent of the seats at medical schools go to men and 20 percent to women (AP).
The spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Aimal Faizi, said Thursday that the CIA had called for the airstrike on April 7 that killed 17 Afghan civilians, including 12 children, and that the secret militias run by the U.S. intelligence agency behave as if they are "responsible to no one" (NYT). According to Afghan investigator, the April 7 operation in Kunar Province was carried out by a group of undercover paramilitary soldiers known as the 0-4 Unit, a ‘Counterterrorist Pursuit Team’ "in full service of the CIA." One American CIA employee and three others working for the Agency were killed in the operation.
Taliban militants shot and killed 13 Afghan Local Police officers on Thursday night as they slept at a checkpoint in the southeastern province of Ghazni (AFP, Pajhwok). Five policemen and two civilians were injured in a car bombing on Friday in the southern province of Helmand, where ISAF and Afghan troops are carrying out a major operation against insurgents (Pajhwok).
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan Gherardo Pontrandolfi warned on Thursday that security is deteriorating across Afghanistan as the spring and summer fighting season gets underway (AP). He urged all warring parties to take steps to prevent civilian casualties.
No laughing matter
A group of young boys played a nasty prank at an apartment complex on Thursday night, calling residents at 3 in the morning out with an announcement over a mosque PA system: "Attention all residents! You are requested to leave your houses quickly and evacuate the building. An earthquake has hit" (ET). Of course, there had been no earthquake, and the 600 occupants of "Billy’s Paradise" were not very happy that they had been dragged out of bed for a silly prank.
– Jennifer Rowland