Afghan police forces accused of firing on civilians, killing 10
Bonus read: Peter Bergen and Bailey Cahall, "Terror threat from Gitmo prisoners is exaggerated" (CNN). Chaos in Kandahar Afghan police forces stand accused of killing 10 protesters and wounding 14 others after opening fire on a demonstration in Kandahar Province’s Maiwand District (NYT, AP, Pajhwok). Officials claim Taliban insurgents had joined the gathering and shot at the police, ...
Bonus read: Peter Bergen and Bailey Cahall, "Terror threat from Gitmo prisoners is exaggerated" (CNN).
Chaos in Kandahar
Afghan police forces stand accused of killing 10 protesters and wounding 14 others after opening fire on a demonstration in Kandahar Province’s Maiwand District (NYT, AP, Pajhwok). Officials claim Taliban insurgents had joined the gathering and shot at the police, prompting the return fire that killed 10 people, but demonstrators disputed that statement, saying the casualties were all protesters. There was also disagreement amongst officials over whether the protest was a pro-government one in response to the recent border clashes with Pakistan, or an anti-government one in response to night raids.
This incident came as the U.S.-led coalition announced it had opened an investigation into allegations of misconduct by NATO troops during an April 28 encounter with insurgents in Zabul Province. No other details on the possible misconduct were made public.
President Hamid Karzai announced Thursday that the United States will be allowed to keep nine bases in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends in December 2014 (AP). Karzai conditioned his announcement on a U.S. commitment to support Afghanistan’s security, strengthen its armed forces, and work toward long-term political development.
The militant threats plaguing Pakistan’s secular parties continued on Thursday with the kidnapping of Ali Haider Gilani, the son of former prime minister and Pakistan People’s Party leader Yousef Raza Gilani, as he headed to an election rally in Multan (BBC, Reuters, ET). The gunmen remain unidentified and no one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but the elder Gilani blamed his political enemies.
Gilani has been campaigning for his three sons in Multan, where the family is banking on their extensive patronage networks to garner the votes needed to secure seats in parliament (NYT). Particularly in rural areas, Pakistani voters see their representatives as bosses who can provide protection through handouts, influencing the police, and leaning on corrupt local officials.
Many are hailing Pakistan’s upcoming parliamentary elections, the first time one elected government will be replaced by another, as a momentous achievement, but Pakistan’s minority groups are not celebrating (AP). Facing increasing intolerance from religious radicals over the past five years, many of the country’s Christians, Hindus, Shiite Muslims, and others believe it will only get worse after Saturday. Several Islamic extremists are candidates themselves, and the mainstream secular parties have campaigned with radicals to garner their votes.
With Pakistan’s national election rapidly approaching, many analysts are saying the results are too close to call (Dawn). In a recent Herald poll, 25.7 percent of respondents said they intended to vote for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and 25.0 percent say they will vote for Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI). The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) comes in third, likely a result of voter fatigue with the current ruling party, with 17.7 percent of respondents saying they will vote for them.
It’s getting hot in here
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s current prime minister released the official summer dress code for federal government employees, as the use of air conditioners in government offices will be banned beginning May 15 (Dawn). Discontinuing the use of air conditioners is part of the government’s austerity drive but with temperatures in Pakistan often reaching triple digits in the summer, it looks like it’s going to be a humid start for the next civilian government.
— Jennifer Rowland and Bailey Cahall
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