The South Asia Channel

Over 300 dead in Pakistan factory fires

Terrible tragedy Almost 300 people died Tuesday when a garment factory in Karachi caught fire, and panicked workers were unable to escape because all but one exit was locked and the windows barred to prevent workers from skipping out during a shift (NYT, AP, ET, Reuters, AJE, Dawn, CNN). At the same time, in Lahore, ...

ASIF HASSAN/AFP/GettyImages
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/GettyImages

Terrible tragedy

Almost 300 people died Tuesday when a garment factory in Karachi caught fire, and panicked workers were unable to escape because all but one exit was locked and the windows barred to prevent workers from skipping out during a shift (NYT, AP, ET, Reuters, AJE, Dawn, CNN). At the same time, in Lahore, a deadly blaze at a shoe factory also killed 25 people. The devastating fires are raising questions about the country’s poor treatment of factory workers.

In her first ever public interview, Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Pakistani Chrisitan accused of blasphemy, told CNN that she is "afraid of anyone who might kill us," and said she had been falsely accused of burning pages of the Quran (CNN, The News, Tel, Dawn). Rimsha and her family also told the BBC that they feared for their lives when the accusations first surfaced and their Muslim neighbors threatened to burn them alive in their home (BBC).

A group of 170 Pakistani Hindus who traveled to India on pilgrim visas said Tuesday that they would not return to Pakistan, and would seek refugee status in India instead, citing "social and religious persecution in Pakistan" (AFP, BBC).

Good cop or bad cop?

President Hamid Karzai’s nomination to be the next head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Asadullah Khalid, has a long record of fighting the Taliban, and a good relationship with the CIA and different Afghan factions, but he has also been accused of torture and drug trafficking (NYT). American officials in Kabul are reportedly split over whether his appointment will be good for Afghanistan’s security, or bad for the country’s human rights.

Moustache militants

Four years ago, Malik Ameer Muhammad Afridi was forced to flee his hometown of Bara in Khyber Agency, after "anti-moustache" militants detained him and forced him to shave his carefully manicured, 30-inch ‘stache, which they claimed was un-Islamic (ET). Afridi now lives in Peshawar, where he proudly shows off his facial hair, declaring defiantly, "I left my dear homeland, my friends and relatives and prepared to sacrifice all that but will not compromise my moustache."

— Jennifer Rowland

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