After extending his trip to Pakistan for another day to discuss ways to break the deadlock between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban over reconciliation peace talks, President Hamid Karzai returned from Islamabad with few concrete assurances of help (Post). While Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he would help persuade the Taliban to move its political office from Qatar to either Saudi Arabia or Turkey, no specific statements were made concerning Taliban prisoner releases or insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan, two key items on Karzai’s agenda (ET, Pajhwok). The two countries did sign two agreements, however, boosting bilateral cooperation on a number of issues, including communications and trade, and Sharif accepted Karzai’s invitation to visit Kabul, showing a distinct thaw in the relationship between the two South Asian neighbors (Pajhwok).
Shortly after the bodies of five Afghan National Solidarity Program (NSP) aid workers and a local official who had been accompanying them were found in Herat province on Tuesday, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) – the NSP’s parent organization – suspended its operations in the area to mourn the loss of its colleagues (Pajhwok, RFE/RL). The men had been kidnapped in the Gulran district of Herat on Sunday, though no one has claimed responsibility for either the kidnappings or the killings. The U.S.-based IRC has worked in Afghanistan since 1988 and has delivered humanitarian aid and development assistance to hundreds of thousands of Afghans; the NSP is considered a flagship Afghan government initiative to expand these efforts to rural communities across the country.
At least four Afghan civilians were killed and 15 were wounded in Helmand province on Wednesday when a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb near a coalition convoy that was traveling through Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital (AP, Pajhwok, Reuters). Omar Zwak, a provincial spokesman, said there were no immediate reports of foreign casualties, but witness statements suggest at least one coalition soldier was killed; a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, however, was unable to confirm those reports. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In the Bala Baluk district of Farah province, six drivers were killed and 35 coalition fuel tankers were left burning on Tuesday night when the 40-truck convoy came under mortar fire (Pajhwok). According to Abdur Rahman Zhwandai, a provincial spokesman, told reporters that one of the vehicles caught fire in the assault and that spread the fire to the other vehicles. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack that wounded an additional 10 drivers and cleaners, as well as 15 local police officers.
Law and order
Seven people were killed and three others were injured in Karachi on Wednesday as the security situation in the city continued to deteriorate (Dawn). The deaths, occurring in a number of incidents across Karachi, came one day after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) demanded that the Pakistani army come in to restore a sense of law and order. The MQM’s call for help captured the attention of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has decided to hold a special cabinet meeting early next week to discuss the situation and the MQM’s demand (ET). Pakistan’s Supreme Court has also gotten involved, holding a hearing with Maj. Gen. Rizwan Akhtar, the Director General of the Sindh Rangers, on Wednesday to discuss the lack of security in the city (Dawn). While the court held the police and Akhtar’s rangers responsible, Akhtar said it was the militant wings of the city’s political parties that were creating the problems (ET).
The Supreme Court of Pakistan dropped contempt charges against cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on Wednesday, accepting his explanation that he never intended to insult the court’s senior judges when he released a press statement suggesting that the judiciary had been involved in vote rigging during the nation’s general election in May (Dawn, ET). Khan, the head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf – Pakistan’s third largest political party, called the court’s and election commission’s inaction regarding the rigging allegations "shameful," prompting the contempt charge (ET). Khan didn’t deny using the term in his statement but said it was meant as a synonym for "unbecoming" conduct, not in its literal sense.
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year after advocating for girls’ education, will receive the International Children’s Peace Prize on September 6 (BBC, RFE/RL). The $134,000 cash prize is presented by the Dutch children’s rights organization KidsRights "annually to a child, whose courageous or otherwise remarkable acts have made a difference in countering problems, which affect children around the world" (ICPP). While Yousafzai has been nominated for the award before, the KidsRight executive committee unanimously decided that she would be the sole nominee this year.
Angelo Anderson, a U.S. Navy corpsman who was wounded in Afghanistan in July 2010, made his debut as a ballperson at the U.S. Open this week, sprinting across the court on a titanium rod that connects his knee and hip, and throwing balls to players with an arm reinforced by a titanium plate (AP). Anderson was shot twice during a routine patrol and spent three years undergoing intense physical therapy to restore movement to his knee and arm, which were severely damaged in the attack. An active participant in the Warrior Games, competitions for injured service members, Anderson is hoping to work as a physical therapist, helping other injured service members compete in Paralympic sports.
– Bailey Cahall