The South Asia Channel
Senate committee cuts aid to Pakistan over doctor’s conviction
Wonk watch: Brian Fishman, "Russian Roulette: Corruption, Revenue, and the Post-Soviet Precedent for State Failure in Afghanistan" (NAF). Outrage: The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to cut aid to Pakistan by $33 million in fiscal year 2013, in a signal of their anger over the 33-year jail term recently handed to Dr. Shakil Afridi, who ...
Wonk watch: Brian Fishman, "Russian Roulette: Corruption, Revenue, and the Post-Soviet Precedent for State Failure in Afghanistan" (NAF).
Outrage: The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to cut aid to Pakistan by $33 million in fiscal year 2013, in a signal of their anger over the 33-year jail term recently handed to Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA hunt down Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad (AP, Dawn, ET, NYT, DT). Lawyers and human rights activists in Pakistan are seeking to appeal Dr. Afridi’s sentence (ET, The News).
A Pakistani official told Reuters on Thursday that Pakistan cannot be expected to reopen NATO ground supply routes to Afghanistan if the United States does not agree to a deal on the supply routes that is politically acceptable to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which is facing an upcoming election in 2013 (Reuters).
Pakistan’s parliament speaker Fehmida Mirza said Thursday that she would not seek the disqualification of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, stating in a five-page decision that his conviction for contempt of court does not justify his dismissal (CNN, AP, ET, Dawn, DT). Both Mirza and Gilani are members of the PPP, making Mirza’s decision unsurprising to many in Pakistan.
Unidentified gunmen boarded and opened fire on a bus carrying around 50 passengers from Karachi to Attock, Punjab Province on Friday, killing seven people and wounding three others (AFP, ET). And a delegation of Indian officials visiting Islamabad for two days of talks gave Pakistan new evidence on Thursday of hardline Pakistani cleric Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks (Dawn, DT).
Talks about troops
French president Francois Hollande made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Friday, where he told President Hamid Karzai that France’s 2,000 combat troops will be pulled out of Afghanistan by the end of this year, leaving 1,300 French non-combat troops who will continue training Afghan security forces (AP, CNN, NYT). Hollande also visited French troops in Kapisa Province, telling them, "you have carried out your mission."
Three explosions across Afghanistan killed three people and wounded at least nine others on Friday: a police vehicle hit a roadside mine in Uruzgan Province, killing one policeman; a bus hit a roadside bomb in Helmand Province, killing two civilians; and a suicide bomber in Kandahar Province wounded one policeman and two civilians (AP).
Afghanistan and Pakistan are mobilizing Muslim women and religious leaders to lead the fight against polio by educating the population on the religious acceptability of vaccinations (Reuters). Polio is only present in three countries today: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, all of which struggle with insecurity, making the widespread application of vaccines difficult.
The "unsung hero" of the Pashto music industry, Rahim Khan, says he aims to modernize Pashto music by incorporating jazz and rock and roll into traditional melodies (ET). A lawyer by training, Khan says he tries not to be inspired by any other singers in particular, but enjoys listening to Junaid Jamshed and Michael Jackson.
— Jennifer Rowland