Protesters clash with police in Pakistani capital

Film fury Around 1,000 students protested against an anti-Islam film in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Thursday, clashing with police as they tried to breach the city’s diplomatic enclave, the heavily guarded neighborhood where many Western embassies are located (AFP, AP, ET). Police fired live rounds and tear gas in an attempt to disperse ...

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

Film fury

Around 1,000 students protested against an anti-Islam film in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Thursday, clashing with police as they tried to breach the city's diplomatic enclave, the heavily guarded neighborhood where many Western embassies are located (AFP, AP, ET). Police fired live rounds and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the demonstrators, many of whom were armed with wooden clubs. At least two people have been killed so far in demonstrations against the film in Pakistan over the past week.

A businessman in the southern Pakistani city of Hyderabad was accused Wednesday of blasphemy when he refused to join a demonstration against the film, forcing him and his family into hiding (AP). Protestors said Haji Nasrullah Khan's refusal to shut his shop in solidarity with the protest amounted to support for the contentious film, and claimed that Khan insulted the Prophet Muhammad during an argument with them.

Film fury

Around 1,000 students protested against an anti-Islam film in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Thursday, clashing with police as they tried to breach the city’s diplomatic enclave, the heavily guarded neighborhood where many Western embassies are located (AFP, AP, ET). Police fired live rounds and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the demonstrators, many of whom were armed with wooden clubs. At least two people have been killed so far in demonstrations against the film in Pakistan over the past week.

A businessman in the southern Pakistani city of Hyderabad was accused Wednesday of blasphemy when he refused to join a demonstration against the film, forcing him and his family into hiding (AP). Protestors said Haji Nasrullah Khan’s refusal to shut his shop in solidarity with the protest amounted to support for the contentious film, and claimed that Khan insulted the Prophet Muhammad during an argument with them.

The Times reports Thursday that the garment factory in Karachi where a massive fire caused almost 300 deaths last week had been given a stellar safety certification less than a month earlier (NYT). Two inspectors from Social Accountability International, a nonprofit factory monitoring group based in New York, certified in August that the factory met international standards in nine areas, including health and safety.

New tactics

U.S. military and intelligence officials said this week that Taliban commanders are now focusing more on high-profile attacks and assassinations than on conquering and securing territory (Post). The new strategy allows the insurgent group to undermine the Afghan public’s faith in their government, and maintain a façade of strength even as it concedes tactical losses of territory.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Afghans Wednesday to support peace negotiations with insurgents despite continued violent attacks, speaking at a memorial service marking the one-year anniversary of former president and head of the High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani’s assassination (AP). Rabbani was killed by a suicide bomber who was posing as a Taliban representative interested in peace talks with the government, and his death was a blow to the nation’s confidence in a political solution to the conflict.

Presidents Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai agreed during a video call on Wednesday to move forward with the terms of a U.S.-Afghan security pact despite the suspension of joint Afghan-NATO operations due to persistent "insider" attacks by Afghan security forces on international troops (Reuters, AFP).

Decadent dining

Top officials of Pakistan’s Capital Development Authority (CDA) recently took a field trip for a routine meeting, to a riverbank rest house because Chairman Farkhand Iqbal "likes peace of mind" according to a spokesman (ET). But the meal the 20 officials consumed cost enough to pay the monthly salary of four laborers, a stinging slight to the CDA staff, whose wages have been withheld for months as the CDA goes through some "tight" budgetary times.

— Jennifer Rowland

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

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