The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: blast kills moderate religious leader in Indian Kashmir

Flash point   Earlier today in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, a blast killed Moulvi Showkat Ahmad Shah, a prominent, moderate, separatist cleric, as he entered a mosque in the Maisuma area of the city (PTI, AFP, AP ). Shah, the leader of Jamiat-e-Ahli Hadith, was said to be close to JKLF chief Mohammad ...

IRSHAD KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
IRSHAD KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Flash point

 

Earlier today in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, a blast killed Moulvi Showkat Ahmad Shah, a prominent, moderate, separatist cleric, as he entered a mosque in the Maisuma area of the city (PTI, AFP, AP ). Shah, the leader of Jamiat-e-Ahli Hadith, was said to be close to JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik; police suspect a bomb was attached to a bicycle and may have been triggered by remote control. This morning's attack was the first IED blast in Srinagar since 2009 (PTI). Several hundred people are reportedly gathering for Shah's funeral in Srinagar (AJE, BBC). There have been no claims of responsibility.

Flash point

 

Earlier today in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, a blast killed Moulvi Showkat Ahmad Shah, a prominent, moderate, separatist cleric, as he entered a mosque in the Maisuma area of the city (PTI, AFP, AP ). Shah, the leader of Jamiat-e-Ahli Hadith, was said to be close to JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik; police suspect a bomb was attached to a bicycle and may have been triggered by remote control. This morning’s attack was the first IED blast in Srinagar since 2009 (PTI). Several hundred people are reportedly gathering for Shah’s funeral in Srinagar (AJE, BBC). There have been no claims of responsibility.

 

Fierce battles 

 

After coming under attack while on patrol in the Paizai area of Mohmand in northwest Pakistan, Pakistani security forces called in air support and as many as 50 alleged militants were killed in clashes yesterday, along with three or four troops (AP, AFP, Reuters, Geo). In North Waziristan, the bodies of three men accused by militants of spying for the United States were found dead (AP). A remote controlled bomb hit a vehicle of security forces in the Bara area of Khyber yesterday, and in Peshawar, a roadside bombing critically injured a local police official earlier today (DT, AP, ET). Yesterday in Quetta, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that wounded a senior police official (AP, Pajhwok).     

 

Last night, a hand grenade near the Rainbow Center in the Saddar area of Karachi killed an inspector with the Intelligence Bureau and wounded up to 19 others (Dawn, ET, The News).  

 

Cabinet shakeups abound 

 

Diplomats and Afghan officials tell the Wall Street Journal that Afghan president Hamid Karzai is likely to replace minister of defense Abdul Rahim Wardak and finance minister Omar Zakhilwal in a cabinet shakeup because he views the men as too close to the United States (WSJ). A likely candidate for the defense position is Gen. Abdul Rauf Begi, an Uzbek allied with former warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, which "Western diplomats widely view…as a way for Mr. Karzai, a Pashtun, to drive a wedge between the Uzbeks and other non-Pashtun minorities increasingly opposed to his rule."

 

As reporting continues on the possible shakeup of the Obama administration national security team — officials have suggested that top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus could shift to the CIA and current CIA chief Leon Panetta could move to the Pentagon — the Agency said Panetta has not been asked to change jobs and is happy at the CIA (WSJ, Reuters).   

 

The AP has today’s must-read investigating a secret network of roughly 20 "gray sites" in Afghanistan: temporary military-run prisons where detainees can be held for as long as nine weeks, "depending on the value of information they produce" (AP). Former detainees have alleged mistreatment in the prisons, which the U.S. denies.  

 

The Taliban shadow deputy governor of Kapisa province has reportedly been killed in a NATO airstrike, and protests against the March 20 burning of a Quran in Florida continued in Kabul yesterday (Pajhwok, Pajhwok). Eight Afghans were reportedly shot and killed by Iranian border guards as they tried to cross into Iran from Herat yesterday (Pajhwok).   

 

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Sarak?

USAID is funding a $20 million remake of Sesame Street for Pakistani children, scheduled to start filming this summer and airing this fall on PTV, the national state broadcaster of Pakistan (Guardian). Elmo will be there, with local touches; Big Bird, Count von Count, and Cookie Monster didn’t make the cut. 

 

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