Prominent Pakistani development worker gunned down in Karachi

Targeted killing Gunmen shot and killed Parveen Rehman, director of the Orangi Pilot Program, a renowned Pakistani social program that works on development issues in Karachi’s most impoverished neighborhoods, while she was on her way home from work on Wednesday (ET, NPR, BBC, DT, AFP, Dawn). Friends, relatives, and supporters mourned her death on Thursday. ...

ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images

Targeted killing

Gunmen shot and killed Parveen Rehman, director of the Orangi Pilot Program, a renowned Pakistani social program that works on development issues in Karachi's most impoverished neighborhoods, while she was on her way home from work on Wednesday (ET, NPR, BBC, DT, AFP, Dawn). Friends, relatives, and supporters mourned her death on Thursday. Rehman had been documenting land-use in and around Karachi, which some believe may have angered local land-grabbing criminal groups. A commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Qari Bilal, was killed in a shootout with security forces in Karachi on Thursday (Dawn). A senior official said Bilal had been involved in Parveen Rehman's murder.

Gunmen kidnapped two female Czech tourists in the southwestern Pakistan province of Balochistan on Wednesday, as they traveled from Quetta to Iran (AP ). The women had been given a police escort for the journey, but the eight to ten gunmen who stopped them easily overwhelmed him. A local government official said the gunmen took their captives to Afghanistan, where they disarmed and released the Pakistani policeman.

Targeted killing

Gunmen shot and killed Parveen Rehman, director of the Orangi Pilot Program, a renowned Pakistani social program that works on development issues in Karachi’s most impoverished neighborhoods, while she was on her way home from work on Wednesday (ET, NPR, BBC, DT, AFP, Dawn). Friends, relatives, and supporters mourned her death on Thursday. Rehman had been documenting land-use in and around Karachi, which some believe may have angered local land-grabbing criminal groups. A commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Qari Bilal, was killed in a shootout with security forces in Karachi on Thursday (Dawn). A senior official said Bilal had been involved in Parveen Rehman’s murder.

Gunmen kidnapped two female Czech tourists in the southwestern Pakistan province of Balochistan on Wednesday, as they traveled from Quetta to Iran (AP ). The women had been given a police escort for the journey, but the eight to ten gunmen who stopped them easily overwhelmed him. A local government official said the gunmen took their captives to Afghanistan, where they disarmed and released the Pakistani policeman.

Indian Home Secretary RK Singh said Wednesday that the two militants who killed five soldiers in Indian-administerd Kashmir were "probably from Pakistan," a claim that Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly rejected as a "knee-jerk" reaction to the attack (Hindustan Times, NDTV, Dawn, ET). The Kashmir-based Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attack. A curfew was imposed in Kashmir in response to the attack, and thousands of Indian soldiers patrolled the streets of Srinagar on Thursday to enforce it (AP).

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf announced his three nominees for caretaker prime minister on Thursday: former Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, former director of the central bank Dr. Ishrat Hussain, and former chief justice of the Balochistan High Court Mir Hazar Khan Khoso (Dawn, ET).  The leader of the opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, already announced his nominees: Justice (retired) Nasir Aslam Zahid, Justice (retired) Shakirullah Jan and Sindhi politician Rasul Bakhsh Paleejo. The two politicians have until March 19 to haggle over which nominee will take the position of caretaker prime minister.

Deadly game

A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in the middle of a crowd watching a buzkashi game, a popular Afghan sport, in a remote village in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz on Wednesday, killing 10 and wounding many others (AP, LAT, AJE, BBC, AFP/Reuters). Among those killed were several family members of the Afghan speaker of parliament Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, and among the injured was the district police chief Abdul Qaym Ibrahimi.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. Joseph Dunford, quietly warned American forces in the country to increase security and be on high alert on Wednesday after Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a series of vitriolic anti-American remarks, which could incite attacks on international troops by militants or rogue Afghan security forces (NYT). Gen. Dunford added that President Karzai "may also issue orders that put [U.S.] forces at risk."

The U.S. soldier charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians last March, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, is expected to begin a court-ordered review of his mental health this weekend (AP). Bales has not yet entered a plea, and the Army is seeking the death penalty. Meanwhile, six Afghan civilians who will testify in the trial traveled to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Seattle last week to become familiar with the rules and proceedings.

The Afghan Attorney General’s office said Wednesday that it will appeal the recent verdicts handed down in the Kabul Bank trial, which it said were more lenient than the charges originally put forth by prosecutors (NYT). The special court convened to try the 21 defendants in the case issued sentences ranging from six months to several years, and fines of hundreds of millions of dollars. Lastly, the former director of the Afghan intelligence agency, Amrullah Saleh, said Tuesday on a Pakistani talk show that Pakistan treats Afghanistan like a "sub-nation," and claimed the Pakistani government took money in return for the release of Taliban prisoners, a move that was depicted as a "good-will" gesture intended to facilitate peace negotiations between the insurgent group and the Afghan government (RFERL).

The weird world of records

Young Pakistanis set four Guinness World Records on Wednesday at the Punjab Youth Festival (ET). Cricketer Rana Naveed hit 45 balls in one minute, smashing the previous record of 19 hits in one minute set by an English cricketer. And, of course, there was Mohammad Rashid of Karachi, who opened 40 bottles with his head in one minute, and then kicked 50 consecutive coconuts off the heads of a row of people.

— Jennifer Rowland

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

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