Daily brief: Kandahar deputy governor assassinated
Dangerous jobs On Saturday, a Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed Abdul Latif Ashna, the deputy governor of Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province, and wounded up to six others (AP, Pajhwok, CNN, LAT, Tel, Post, BBC). A day later in the eastern city of Jalalabad, four Afghan policemen and two children were wounded in a ...
On Saturday, a Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed Abdul Latif Ashna, the deputy governor of Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province, and wounded up to six others (AP, Pajhwok, CNN, LAT, Tel, Post, BBC). A day later in the eastern city of Jalalabad, four Afghan policemen and two children were wounded in a roadside bombing (Pajhwok). And the NYT reports that an entire family — both parents and four children — were killed in Friday’s Taliban suicide attack on Kabul’s Finest supermarket (NYT). The mother, Hamida Barmaki, was a lawyer and human rights advocate who worked to end the use of child soldiers and the sexual abuse of children in Afghanistan’s security services. On Sunday, Afghanistan signed on to a U.N.-backed plan to stop the recruitment of children and bacha bazi — Dari for "boy play" — a tradition in which young boys are dressed up as young girls, made to dance, and prostituted to the highest bidder, in Afghanistan’s security forces (NYT, WSJ).
The Dutch government won support from parliament to send a 545-person mission to Afghanistan to train police, a year after the coalition collapsed because of disagreements over the Dutch military presence in Afghanistan (FT). The Independent adds to reporting about Sangin district of Helmand province, noting that "Taliban gunmen have begun assassinating their own rank and file…as well as bringing in new commanders to oversee their fight… attacking tribal elders trying to broker a peace deal between disillusioned members of the insurgency — resentful of Taliban commanders from other tribes and districts ordering them about — and government officials eager for peace" (Independent).
The Kabul Bank, Afghanistan’s largest, faces losses of as much as $900 million, three times earlier estimates, because of fraud and mismanagement, a scandal which could cause a politically and militarily problematic run on the bank (NYT). Investigators and Afghan businessmen reportedly believe most of the money has "gone into the pockets of a small group of privileged and politically connected Afghans, preventing earlier scrutiny of the bank’s dealings." Rana Tayyab Tahir, the acting chief financial officer of the bank, and several of his colleagues have left the country because of fears of possible arrest and for their lives (Post).
On Saturday, the U.S. embassy in Islamabad demanded the release of Raymond Davis, who fatally shot two Pakistanis last week in Lahore, saying he held a diplomatic passport and has immunity from prosecution, and acted in self-defense against the two armed men (LAT, NYT, CNN, Post, WSJ, AP). Pakistani officials promptly rebuffed the request and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front organization for the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, arranged a rally of 15,000 to 20,000 people in Lahore on Sunday to protest against Davis, who ABC News reported runs Hyperion Protective Consultants LLC, a private security firm (AP, AFP, ABC, Dawn, The News). Pakistan’s Dawn has what it claims are documents related to Davis’ visa, which the newspaper assesses show that he was not on a diplomatic visa (Dawn, Dawn re-post). Davis remains in the custody of Lahore police and is being questioned (ET). Pakistan’s telecommunications authority has reportedly asked mobile phone companies to stop BlackBerry services to foreign missions, citing concerns about the security of the messages (Reuters, Reuters).
Some 40,000 people also protested in Lahore on Sunday against possible changes to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and in support of Mumtaz Qadri, the self-professed killer of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer (AFP). The Post states that the support for Qadri from Barelvis, a sect often described as "peace-promoting," is "challenging the belief long held among liberals [in Pakistan] — and hoped for by nervous U.S. officials — that the Muslim majority in this nuclear-armed nation is more moderate than militant" (Post).
Karen DeYoung reports that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal has doubled in the last several years and is now bigger than India’s, reflecting an acceleration of the production of uranium and plutonium (Post). For more on Pakistan’s nuclear program, Jeffrey Lewis on managing the danger from Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile (NAF).
Pakistan has completed preparations to bring some 150 families, around 500 people, back to Pakistan from Egypt because of ongoing political strife in the country (Dawn, Geo). For more on developments in Egypt, visit our sister site, the Middle East Channel (FP).
Several security incidents in Pakistan’s northwest were reported over the weekend: nearly 60 militants were killed in ongoing clashes with the Pakistani military in Mohmand (AFP, Daily Times, Daily Times); a pair of truck bombings in and outside the Kohat Tunnel killed up to eight (AFP, Pajhwok, Geo, AJE, BBC); three were killed by a suspected Taliban rocket attack in Khyber (Pajhwok); the deputy superintendent of police in southern Peshawar was killed in a Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan suicide bombing, and a roadside bomb hit a police vehicle on patrol a few miles away (AP, AFP, Geo); and a peace deal between rival tribes in Kurram following years of fighting that left more than 2,000 dead was brokered by 225 tribal elders, and fighting erupted a day later (ET, Dawn, ET). Bloomberg writes that a U.S. official claims the U.S.’s approximately 200 drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas since 2008 have killed around 1,300 suspected militants and 30 noncombatants (Bloomberg). For more on the reported strikes, visit the Year of the Drone (NAF).
In Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, a car bomb targeted a senior police official on Saturday, injuring 10 (AFP, ET, The News). Two more stories round out the weekend’s news: Pakistan’s central bank kept its interest rate at 14 percent (AFP); and Reuters follows up with victims of Pakistan’s floods in Sindh province (Reuters).
Fashion’s big guns
Islamabad’s four-day Fashion Week ended yesterday as the work of 32 designers splashed down runways in the Serena Hotel (AFP, ET, ET, ET). Alongside the traditional flowing shalwar kameez, designers presented denim miniskirts, off-the-shoulder tops, and Ninja turtle inspired hoodies.
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