Sharif begins to build government as vote counts continue

Event notice: Drone Wars: Counterterrorism and Human Rights, with the UN Special Rapporteur for Counterterrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson. TODAY, 12:15-1:45PM (NAF).  Full steam ahead On Monday, as election results continued to come in with positive results for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif moved quickly to form a new government, and ...

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Event notice: Drone Wars: Counterterrorism and Human Rights, with the UN Special Rapporteur for Counterterrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson. TODAY, 12:15-1:45PM (NAF). 

Full steam ahead

On Monday, as election results continued to come in with positive results for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif moved quickly to form a new government, and named Ishaq Dar as his finance minister (NYT). With the country’s economy high on the party’s agenda, Dar, who served in the post twice before, is considered the most experienced man for the job.  An expert in finance, audits, and accounts, he would be a critical player in a country suffering a sharp economic decline.

As Pakistan’s other political parties ceded their defeat, Sharif also reached out to his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, inviting him to his swearing-in ceremony and renewing optimism in a thaw in relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors (BBC). Though many analysts are skeptical — thinking a potential thaw depends more on the countries’ security and intelligence apparatuses — others are "guardedly optimistic" that the time is right for greater cooperation on shared economic and security issues (NYTNYT).   

Sharif also expressed interest in maintaining good relations with the United States, though he indicated that the CIA drone program would need to be discussed and Pakistan’s concerns properly understood (Dawn). U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson called on Sharif in Raiwind to congratulate him on his victory (News).

Explosions rock Helmand

Three coalition soldiers from the central Asian nation of Georgia died on Monday when a truck bomb exploded outside the entrance of their outpost in the Musa Qala district of Helmand (Post). With 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, Georgia has the largest non-NATO contingent in the country and the deaths brought the total number of Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 22. 

Elsewhere in Helmand, six civilians were killed and nearly a dozen were injured when two bombs exploded in separate incidents.  The first explosion occurred when a motorbike bomb was detonated outside a livestock market in Safa, killing 3 and wounding at least 10 (Dawn, Pajhwok).  A second bomb exploded in the Sistani area of Marja when a vehicle struck a roadside bomb, killing 3 and wounding one. Afghan officials blamed the Taliban for the explosions but there have been no immediate claims of responsibility.  

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, has said in an interview with the New York Times that there was absolutely no American or NATO involvement in airstrikes early last month in eastern Afghanistan that killed 17 women and children (NYT). "It’s been investigated ad nauseam," he said, while the Afghan government has declared equally as adamantly that the deaths were caused by NATO airstrikes, and that a secretive Afghan paramilitary force linked to the CIA showed reckless disregard for civilian life when it called in the airstrikes during a fierce firefight with the Taliban that day.

As U.S. troops begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, many Afghans who have supported the coalition forces as translators, mechanics, cleaners, and drivers are suddenly finding themselves without jobs (LAT).  In addition to losing an income than was often greater than that of typical semiskilled Afghan jobs, many of these former employees fear retaliation from the Taliban. Though the U.S. does offer a Special Immigrant Visa program for Afghans who provided "faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government," such visas are limited to 1,500 a year. 

Caught red-handed?

Activists for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were not only accused of stuffing ballot boxes in various parts of Sindh Province, but were also allegedly filmed in the act (The Lede). The anonymous blogger who tweets satirical messages about events in Pakistan from the account ‘Majorly Profound’ wondered on Saturday, "If a candidate can’t even successfully run a small rigging, how do you expect them to run a country?"

— Jennifer Rowland and Bailey Cahall  

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