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The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: Afghan parliament opening delayed to Feb. 22

Five months without a parliament After yesterday’s news that Afghan President Hamid Karzai, "heightening a constitutional crisis," has delayed the opening of Afghanistan’s parliament by a month to February 22 — in order to accommodate requests of an appointed special court for more time to investigate fraud — more than 200 members of parliament condemned ...

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Five months without a parliament

After yesterday’s news that Afghan President Hamid Karzai, "heightening a constitutional crisis," has delayed the opening of Afghanistan’s parliament by a month to February 22 — in order to accommodate requests of an appointed special court for more time to investigate fraud — more than 200 members of parliament condemned the special court as unconstitutional, chose a temporary speaker, and said they would hold an unofficial opening for the original inauguration day of January 23 (Reuters, NYT, Pajhwok, WSJ). The Post notes, "The situation is a reversal of circumstances from the last presidential election, in 2009, when Karzai fought against allegations of voting fraud that threatened to unseat him and were highlighted by American officials. This time, Afghan officials have trumpeted the fraud allegations while U.S. officials have argued the results should stand" (Post).

Pakistan’s Express Tribune reports that the Organization of the Islamic Conference is likely to invite the Taliban’s leadership as observers to a summit in March in Saudi Arabia, and has already invited the Afghan government’s High Peace Council, tasked with looking for political solutions to the conflict in Afghanistan, suggesting that reconciliation will be on the agenda (ET). One source said that the Taliban movement is seeking to distance itself from al-Qaeda. And a Taliban spokesman, along with the Pakistani intelligence agency the ISI and Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani, denied reports that Taliban leader Mullah Omar was recently treated in Karachi for a heart attack (AP, AFP, Post).

Karachi roiling

Despite increased powers for Pakistani Rangers in Karachi and following a crackdown earlier this week, at least six more people were killed in the southern port city, and a provincial level conference All Parties Conference will be held on January 27 to discuss the deteriorating security situation there (ET, Dawn). Yesterday, the minister of state for shipping and ports Nabeel Gabol resigned from his post, and sources say he resigned because he felt powerless to make decisions in his ministry and in protest of the recent Ranger operations in an area of Karachi (ET, The News, Dawn, Geo, Daily Times). Gabol, who said his home was raided by Pakistani police following his resignation, was also unpopular with his constituency in Lyari. 

Local Taliban fighters have reportedly killed three NATO supply truck drivers who were kidnapped three weeks ago in Khyber agency in northwest Pakistan (The News).

The Pearl Project has released the results of its investigation into the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, finding that American authorities used a technique called "vein matching" to show that the hand of the unseen man who killed Pearl on video is that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks who confessed to the murder (Post, WSJ, AP, CNN, Bloomberg). The report also finds that at least 14 of the 27 people involved in kidnapping Pearl are believed to remain free, and the four who were convicted could be released if their appeals are heard because of flawed evidence used at their trials. Read the full report here (Center for Public Integrity).

Going for gold

Two female Pakistani skiers have bagged gold and silver medals in the giant slalom event at the inaugural South Asia Winter Games in India (APP). They are the first women to win at a skiing event in this competition.

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