Daily brief: up to 32 dead in Faisalabad car bombing

The Rack: AfPak 2020: A Symposium, World Affairs Journal. Deadly day in Punjab A spokesman for the the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has taken responsibility for a car bombing on a gas station in the eastern Pakistani city of Faisalabad that left up to 32 dead and 127 wounded, claiming the attack was in revenge for the ...

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The Rack: AfPak 2020: A Symposium, World Affairs Journal.

Deadly day in Punjab

A spokesman for the the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has taken responsibility for a car bombing on a gas station in the eastern Pakistani city of Faisalabad that left up to 32 dead and 127 wounded, claiming the attack was in revenge for the killing of a militant by Pakistani security forces in Faisalabad last year (AP, CNN, Pajhwok, Geo, ET, WSJ, Dawn). The gas station is reportedly near the offices of local police intelligence services and the military, and a building of Pakistan International Airlines was badly damaged. The New York Times reports that this is the "first major terrorist strike" inside Faisalabad (NYT).

The Rack: AfPak 2020: A Symposium, World Affairs Journal.

Deadly day in Punjab

A spokesman for the the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has taken responsibility for a car bombing on a gas station in the eastern Pakistani city of Faisalabad that left up to 32 dead and 127 wounded, claiming the attack was in revenge for the killing of a militant by Pakistani security forces in Faisalabad last year (AP, CNN, Pajhwok, Geo, ET, WSJ, Dawn). The gas station is reportedly near the offices of local police intelligence services and the military, and a building of Pakistan International Airlines was badly damaged. The New York Times reports that this is the "first major terrorist strike" inside Faisalabad (NYT).

The Lahore High Court has delayed charging Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis in late January, until March 16, two days after the court is scheduled to rule whether Davis qualifies for diplomatic immunity, as the U.S. asserts (AP, AFP, ET, CNN). Davis is likely to be charged with murder, according to his lawyers (Reuters). Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari told visiting Obama administration envoy Marc Grossman that "misperceptions and some isolated incidents" should not affect the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, as Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said there will be "no back-door solution" to the Davis case and that he "stand[s] with the people of Pakistan" on the issue (AP, ET, AFP, ET, Dawn). Gilani is also seeking the assistance of some 300 Islamic scholars, currently attended a three-day conference, in considering a nationwide strategy to address extremism in Pakistan (AFP).

And a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed five reported militants in South Waziristan, the second strike there this year (AP, AFP).

Apology accepted

During his visit to Afghanistan, U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates offered a personal apology to Afghan president Hamid Karzai over the deaths of nine Afghan boys in a NATO airstrike in Kunar last week, which Karzai accepted, a day after rejecting a similar personal apology from top U.S. and NATO commander Gen. David Petraeus (WSJ, CNN, ABC, Tolo, Times, Pajhwok, NYT, Post, FT, LAT). Gates also assessed that the U.S. is "well positioned" to begin withdrawing some troops from Afghanistan this July, though cautioned that the drawdown could be minor and no decisions have been made about the number of troops involved. Gates ruled out permanent military bases in Afghanistan, and, visiting troops and local elders in the southern province of Kandahar, said, "I do feel like the pieces are coming together," as Karzai warned Afghans of a difficult year ahead (AP, AP, AP). This is Gates’ 13th visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary.

A new Congressional Research Service report finds that the number of private security personnel working for the U.S. military in Afghanistan has more than tripled to almost 19,000 since June 2009 (AFP). Around 95 percent of security contractors employed by private firms are Afghan nationals.

McClatchy reports that the Karzai government has asked the United Nations to remove five ex-Taliban leaders from its terrorism blacklist, all of whom have been named to the government’s High Peace Council, tasked with exploring political solutions to the Afghan conflict (McClatchy). The five men, including the former deputy head of the notorious Department of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, are already "reconciled" with the Afghan government.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an attack on a female police officer in the western province of Herat (Pajhwok). She is in critical condition. Local Taliban fighters in Ghazni are seeking the release of several detainees in exchange for a Canadian tourist who was captured some two months ago (Pajhwok).

Tough ladies

The NYT visits a refugee camp in Jalozai, Pakistan, where women have been able to attend recently established community centers where they can learn to read, write, sew, and knit (NYT). Jalozai was originally established in the 1980s for refugees from Afghanistan. Today is the centennial International Women’s Day, which is being marked in Pakistan with ceremonies, vigils, walks, seminars, and workshops (Daily Times).

Sign up here to receive the daily brief in your inbox. Follow the AfPak Channel on Twitter and Facebook.

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.