Anger and mourning after Karachi factory fire

In tragedy’s wake Karachiites are struggling to come to terms with the deaths of 258 people in a factory blaze — the worst industrial disaster in Pakistan’s history — as stories emerge claiming that the factory owners refused to unlock exits even after the fire started in an effort to contain the blaze away from ...

RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/GettyImages
RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/GettyImages
RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/GettyImages

In tragedy's wake

Karachiites are struggling to come to terms with the deaths of 258 people in a factory blaze -- the worst industrial disaster in Pakistan's history -- as stories emerge claiming that the factory owners refused to unlock exits even after the fire started in an effort to contain the blaze away from their stockpiles of jeans (NYT). A Pakistani court granted bail to the three owners of the destroyed garment factory on Friday, but asked that they turn over their passports and forbade them from leaving the country (AP, AFP).

In the second video this week of al-Qaeda-held aid worker Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped over a year ago in Pakistan, Weinstein calls on his family to get Jewish community groups in the United States to pressure the Obama administration to meet al-Qaeda's demands for his release (AP, Reuters). Weinstein did not specify what those demands are in this latest video, released late Thursday by al-Qaeda's media wing As-Sahab.

In tragedy’s wake

Karachiites are struggling to come to terms with the deaths of 258 people in a factory blaze — the worst industrial disaster in Pakistan’s history — as stories emerge claiming that the factory owners refused to unlock exits even after the fire started in an effort to contain the blaze away from their stockpiles of jeans (NYT). A Pakistani court granted bail to the three owners of the destroyed garment factory on Friday, but asked that they turn over their passports and forbade them from leaving the country (AP, AFP).

In the second video this week of al-Qaeda-held aid worker Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped over a year ago in Pakistan, Weinstein calls on his family to get Jewish community groups in the United States to pressure the Obama administration to meet al-Qaeda’s demands for his release (AP, Reuters). Weinstein did not specify what those demands are in this latest video, released late Thursday by al-Qaeda’s media wing As-Sahab.

Farmers in northwest Pakistan are livid that the Pakistani government’s efforts to block fertilizer from reaching militants have also prevented ordinary people from receiving fertilizer, claiming that the policy has reduced their crop yields by 50 percent (AP). The ban was initially instituted three years ago and applied only to specific types of fertilizer that militants could use to make bombs, but security forces have since begun blocking all fertilizer from reaching North Waziristan, according to farmers and fertilizer suppliers.

Anger spreads

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Nangarhar province near the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Friday to protest the anti-Islam film that has sparked violent riots accros the Muslim world this week (AP). Meanwhile, Afghan police said that a bus had slammed into a truck on the main highway linking the Afghan capital city of Kabul to Kandahar, killing at least 51 of the 56 passengers on the bus (AP).

Nine Afghan soldiers who fought alongside America’s only living Marine to win a Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, Sgt. Dakota Meyer, dispute the official account of Meyer’s actions during a battle in the Ganjgal Valley in Afghanistan in 2009 (McClatchy). The Afghans were never interviewed about the battle, raising questions about how the U.S. military achieves complete certainty before awarding America’s highest military honor.

Hash high

The Pakistani military’s offensives to root out militants in the country’s northwest are having the unintended consequence of driving marijuana prices through the roof, providing a boon to the region’s hashish dealers (ET). Local resident Kamal Khan, an English teacher, says "everybody is a hashish addict – police, doctors, officers – a lot of people come here."

–Jennifer Rowland

Jennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.

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