Pakistan government completes term, reaching historic milestone

Wonk Watch: Michael Kugelman, "Pakistan’s Energy Crisis: From Conundrum to Catastrophe?" (NBR) History in the making Pakistan’s government made history on Saturday when it stepped down after completing the first full, five-year term by an elected, civilian government since the country’s inception (NYT, WSJ, CSM, Reuters, AP, CNN, BBC). Outgoing officials continue to hold talks ...

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

Wonk Watch: Michael Kugelman, "Pakistan's Energy Crisis: From Conundrum to Catastrophe?" (NBR)

History in the making

Pakistan's government made history on Saturday when it stepped down after completing the first full, five-year term by an elected, civilian government since the country's inception (NYT, WSJ, CSM, Reuters, AP, CNN, BBC). Outgoing officials continue to hold talks with the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), to decide on a caretaker administration to lead the country until elections in May.

Wonk Watch: Michael Kugelman, "Pakistan’s Energy Crisis: From Conundrum to Catastrophe?" (NBR)

History in the making

Pakistan’s government made history on Saturday when it stepped down after completing the first full, five-year term by an elected, civilian government since the country’s inception (NYT, WSJ, CSM, Reuters, AP, CNN, BBC). Outgoing officials continue to hold talks with the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), to decide on a caretaker administration to lead the country until elections in May.

The Associated Press and Reuters take a look at some of key political players and political risks to watch for during the upcoming elections (AP, Reuters). Bonus read: Shamila Chaudhary, "Pakistan Votes: A Weekly Look At The Historic 2013 Elections" (AfPak).

Suicide bombers stormed a court complex in Peshawar on Monday, taking hostages in a courtroom and sparking a firefight with security forces before one militant detonated his explosives, killing four people and injuring at least 30 others (ET, NYT, Reuters). Security forces managed to shoot and kill the second bomber before he entered the complex. And a bus transporting Pakistani soldiers in the country’s northwest slid off the road and into a ravine on Saturday, killing 24 and injuring five others (AP).

Pakistani lawmakers on Thursday passed a resolution condemning India’s execution last month of Mohammad Afzal Guru, who was convicted of involvement in a 2001 attack on India’s Parliament (AP, BBC). Indian lawmakers reacted angrily on Friday, passing their own resolution demanding that the Pakistani Parliament "desist from acts of support for extremist and terrorist elements."

Not wanted here

Several hundred Afghans marched in the capital city of Kabul on Saturday to protest the continued presence of U.S. Special Forces in Wardak Province, despite President Hamid Karzai’s demand that they be removed after reports emerged that armed men connected to the Special Forces had abused and even killed civilians (NYT, AP, WSJ, AJE). Afghanistan’s Ulema Council, a powerful group of Muslim clerics appointed by President Karzai, also issued a statement on Saturday saying, "If the Americans once again do not honor their commitments and keep on disobeying, then this will be considered as an occupation, and they may expect to see a reaction to their action." American officials have confirmed that U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have not ordered any troops in Wardak to withdraw.

Bonus read: Omar Samad, "Hamid Karzai’s risky rants" (AfPak).

The Ulema Council also mentioned the stalled handover of Bagram Prison in its statement, and on Sunday, President Karzai announced that he had agreed to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s request for a new deadline on the transfer, one week from Sunday (CNN). Meanwhile, Afghan opposition political parties say they have recently begun talks with the Taliban and another key militant group, Hezb-e-Islami, and the Taliban appear willing to engage on finding a political solution to the 11-year conflict (AP). And a U.S. helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing one American soldier (AP).

A paper written for the British Ministry of Defense’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Center (DCDC) entitled "Lessons From the Soviet Transition in Afghanistan" calls the current war in Afghanistan "unwinnable in military terms," and says both the 1979 Soviet invasion and the NATO campaign attempts to impose an "ideology foreign to the Afghan people" (Tel).

U.S.-Pakistan relations according to 12-year-olds

Any observer of Pakistan will tell you that relations between that country and the United States have deteriorated in recent years, but a pen pal exchange between American children in Colorado and Pakistani children in Lahore augurs well for future leaders of both countries (FP). Two American students write, "I also agree that the whole terrorism and the Middle East thing is a misunderstanding. It’s a shame how the actions of some people can change a person’s perspective on the group. I hope this exchange of letters will help end that. I also don’t think your religion is bad. I’m fascinated of [sic] how it began."

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

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