Major earthquake hits Iran, rattles Pakistan

Deadly disaster A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Iran near the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 40 in Iran and 12 in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province (ET/Reuters/AFP, Dawn, NYT). Buildings were evacuated all over Pakistan, with Karachi reporting damage and some injuries, but no further deaths.  Ex-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has been rejected ...

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

Deadly disaster

A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Iran near the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 40 in Iran and 12 in Pakistan's Balochistan Province (ET/Reuters/AFP, Dawn, NYT). Buildings were evacuated all over Pakistan, with Karachi reporting damage and some injuries, but no further deaths. 

Ex-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has been rejected from all four constituencies in which he wanted to run for a seat in parliament (ET/AFP, Dawn). The decision of one district to approve his nomination papers, Chitral, was overturned by the Peshawar High Court. The rest were rejected outright. Meanwhile, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Balochistan chapter Sardar Sanaullah Zehri was attacked while driving as part of a convoy from an election campaign in Zehri, Balochistan (ET, Dawn). He escaped but three of his family members were killed.

Deadly disaster

A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Iran near the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 40 in Iran and 12 in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province (ET/Reuters/AFP, Dawn, NYT). Buildings were evacuated all over Pakistan, with Karachi reporting damage and some injuries, but no further deaths. 

Ex-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has been rejected from all four constituencies in which he wanted to run for a seat in parliament (ET/AFP, Dawn). The decision of one district to approve his nomination papers, Chitral, was overturned by the Peshawar High Court. The rest were rejected outright. Meanwhile, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Balochistan chapter Sardar Sanaullah Zehri was attacked while driving as part of a convoy from an election campaign in Zehri, Balochistan (ET, Dawn). He escaped but three of his family members were killed.

CNN’s Nic Robertson reported Monday that the U.N. Special Rapporteur on drones, Ben Emmerson, who recently visited Pakistan to investigate the legality of the CIA drone campaign there, told him that "The consequence of drone strikes has been to radicalize an entirely new generation" (CNN). The Sabaoon School for boys in the Swat Valley is the Pakistani military’s answer to this radicalization and to the persistent presence of militant Islamist groups in the country’s northwest. The school admits boys aged 8 to 18 who have previously been recruited by the Taliban, and teaches them basic skills so that they might make a living without turning to the insurgents.

An independent report by an 11-member panel convened by the legal research and advocacy group the Constitution Project has concluded that "it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture" in the years after 9/11, and that high-level officials authorized such practices (NYT). The panel was led by two former members of Congress who also have experience in the executive branch: Republican Asa Hutchinson and Democrat James R. Jones. Their report concludes that torture "reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive."

Some success

Afghan commandos killed 22 insurgents on Monday when they raided a village in the eastern province of Nangarhar to capture Taliban commander Jamal Faroqi (AP). Faroqi was one of those killed in the raid, while ten other militants were captured. Separately, NATO said a joint Afghan-coalition Special Forces team captured a senior leader of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba in the eastern province of Ghazni, which is, like Nangarhar, a major thoroughfare for militants crossing from Pakistan into Afghanistan and back again.

At least some parts of the Afghan Army are having success as they take the lead from NATO troops, such as the 203rd Thunder Corps, which recently completed a 13-day operation to secure strategic highways leading out of Kabul, and to garner the support of villages along the way by standing up local police to protect them from insurgent attacks (AP). The Afghan National Security Forces are supposed to take the lead on all security operations across the country later this spring, and many analysts and officials in Washington have worried that they will not be up to the task, but NATO military officials say the Afghan forces have so far surpassed their expectations.

One industry on the decline in Afghanistan is the production of the Afghan burqa, which has been replaced in large numbers by Western dress and a simple headscarf (AP). And the makers of handspun burqas are also facing competition within their shrinking market from cheaper Chinese imports.

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

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