Daily brief: attacks on Pakistani minorities kill dozens

Editor’s note: the daily brief will be off Monday September 6 for Labor Day. For updates, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook! Under fire At least 40 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when a blast exploded at a Shia rally for Al-Quds Day, an annual event on the last ...

BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Editor's note: the daily brief will be off Monday September 6 for Labor Day. For updates, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook!

Under fire

At least 40 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when a blast exploded at a Shia rally for Al-Quds Day, an annual event on the last Friday of Ramadan that expresses solidarity with Palestinians, in Quetta, Baluchistan (Reuters, AP, ET, Geo, Dawn, BBC, AFP). The casualty figures are expected to rise since there were some 2,500 people reportedly at the rally. Two members of Pakistan's minority Ahmadi community were also killed today when a suicide bomber attacked an Ahmadi mosque during Friday prayers in Mardan (ET, AFP, Dawn, AP). And a remote controlled roadside bomb at the Ring Road in Peshawar killed a Pakistani policeman, while a female schoolteacher was shot by masked militants in the northwestern tribal region of Bajaur (AP, ET, ET/AFP).

Qari Hussain Mehsud, a trainer of suicide bombers for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, has taken credit for the deadly attacks on a Shia procession in Lahore earlier this week, a day after the militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami also took responsibility (Reuters, Daily Times). Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Al Jazeera the TTP has lost "complete credibility" in the country, though observed, "You don't need mass support to carry out a terrorist action" (AJE).

The floods update: Pakistan's army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and chairman of the joint chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen visited Multan yesterday and flew over flood-affected areas in south Punjab, Sindh, and Baluchistan (Geo, Daily Times). Another town in Sindh is being evacuated because of ongoing flooding, and some relief efforts have been hampered because of violent outbursts by frustrated refugees (Daily Times, AFP). Pakistan's representative to the U.N. has called for an investigation into allegations that some powerful Pakistanis diverted floodwaters from their lands by allowing levees to be burst on the opposite sides of their properties (Independent, Atlantic).

Editor’s note: the daily brief will be off Monday September 6 for Labor Day. For updates, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook!

Under fire

At least 40 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when a blast exploded at a Shia rally for Al-Quds Day, an annual event on the last Friday of Ramadan that expresses solidarity with Palestinians, in Quetta, Baluchistan (Reuters, AP, ET, Geo, Dawn, BBC, AFP). The casualty figures are expected to rise since there were some 2,500 people reportedly at the rally. Two members of Pakistan’s minority Ahmadi community were also killed today when a suicide bomber attacked an Ahmadi mosque during Friday prayers in Mardan (ET, AFP, Dawn, AP). And a remote controlled roadside bomb at the Ring Road in Peshawar killed a Pakistani policeman, while a female schoolteacher was shot by masked militants in the northwestern tribal region of Bajaur (AP, ET, ET/AFP).

Qari Hussain Mehsud, a trainer of suicide bombers for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, has taken credit for the deadly attacks on a Shia procession in Lahore earlier this week, a day after the militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami also took responsibility (Reuters, Daily Times). Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Al Jazeera the TTP has lost "complete credibility" in the country, though observed, "You don’t need mass support to carry out a terrorist action" (AJE).

The floods update: Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and chairman of the joint chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen visited Multan yesterday and flew over flood-affected areas in south Punjab, Sindh, and Baluchistan (Geo, Daily Times). Another town in Sindh is being evacuated because of ongoing flooding, and some relief efforts have been hampered because of violent outbursts by frustrated refugees (Daily Times, AFP). Pakistan’s representative to the U.N. has called for an investigation into allegations that some powerful Pakistanis diverted floodwaters from their lands by allowing levees to be burst on the opposite sides of their properties (Independent, Atlantic).

The Pakistani government has been accused of politicizing relief efforts after it unveiled a plan to name new towns "Benazirabad," after Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s late wife, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007 (Tel). And some locals are concerned that the Taliban may return in the Swat Valley, where relief camps run by militant groups are "being tolerated, fanning fears that they will recruit fighters" (Times).

Flashpoint

Two people were injured yesterday in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, when Indian security forces opened fire on a crowd of rock-throwing protesters (Hindu). The hardline Hurriyat Conference has reportedly suspended protesting for today, in light of the last Friday of Ramadan, and curfews have been lifted in Anantnag in southern Kashmir (ToI).

Inside the ER in Srinagar: 345 patients have entered the hospital in Srinagar in August alone, compared with 150 during June and July combined, and some doctors say they are caught in mobs of protesters or security forces almost daily en route to work (NYT).

A run on the bank?

The second-largest shareholder of the troubled Kabul Bank said depositors have withdrawn $180 million in the past two days, warning that, "If this goes on, we won’t survive;" the third-largest shareholder, a brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, warned that withdrawals continue at this pace, the Kabul Bank would be "effectively insolvent" by early next week (NYT, LAT, WSJ). Mahmood Karzai also encouraged the U.S. to shore up the bank, though the U.S. has no plans to do so. President Karzai promised that the Afghan government would guarantee deposits, and the Afghan finance minister said, "What we are requesting of the Afghan people is not to rush because rush is not good for them, and it’s not good for the banking system" (AP). The Kabul Bank currently has some $300 million in liquid cash left (Post).

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates toured several U.S. bases in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar a day after meeting with Karzai, who has protested the way a close aide was recently arrested on corruption charges, calling it "exactly reminiscent of the Soviet presence in Afghanistan" (AP, Post). Top commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus admitted that there was some "friction" over the arrest of Mohammad Zia Salehi, whom Karzai intervened to free from custody, but said those issues have "been resolved" (FT). Gates asserted that the "fight against corruption needs to be Afghan-led," and said that while the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship will be a long one, "The American people need to know we are not still going to be fighting this fight 15 years from now" (AP, CNN).

Gen. Petraeus said the U.S.’s lack of "granular understanding of local circumstances in Afghanistan" has hampered military efforts there, before meeting with Gates in Kabul yesterday (WSJ). The two were scheduled to meet with Karzai later in the day.

On Afghanistan’s roads, the military vehicle the Husky has been built to withstand 2,000 pounds of explosives, "basically just waiting to drive over any bomb the equipment doesn’t detect, and hoping that the machine is strong enough to avert serious injury" to the driver (McClatchy).

Drawing together

Islamabad’s National Art Gallery is currently featuring an exhibit on calligraphy with the aim of "inducing the spirit of Ramadan" (Daily Times). Some 150 pieces by 70 master calligraphers and budding artists are featured in the show.

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