At least 16 killed and dozens wounded in Kabul suicide bombing
New Post: Andrew Wilder and Colin Cookman, "The Return of Nawaz Sharif: Assessing Pakistan’s 2013 Election" (NAF). Deadly week continues Two NATO service members, four NATO contractors, and at least 10 Afghan civilians were killed on Thursday when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into a two-vehicle convoy in the Shah Shahid district of Kabul ...
New Post: Andrew Wilder and Colin Cookman, "The Return of Nawaz Sharif: Assessing Pakistan’s 2013 Election" (NAF).
Deadly week continues
Two NATO service members, four NATO contractors, and at least 10 Afghan civilians were killed on Thursday when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into a two-vehicle convoy in the Shah Shahid district of Kabul (Dawn, NYT, Pajhwok, Post). NATO officials had no immediate comment on the nationalities of those killed, but Afghan police officials said they removed the bodies of four Americans from one of the vehicles. Unlike previous attacks that have gone unclaimed, insurgent group Hezb-i-Islami has claimed responsibility for this attack.
The violence on Thursday continued in the Sarobi district of Paktika Province where one Afghan civilian was killed and seven others were wounded in a suicide bombing at a local market (Pajhwok).
Stepping up their own "spring offensive," Afghan and foreign forces launched a joint clearing operation in the Hesarak district of Nangarhar province on Wednesday, killing 17 insurgents and wounding several others (Pajhwok). The operation is ongoing in the Daud Kala, Rashid Kala, and Jabarkhel districts, and a provincial police spokesman hinted the offensive would continue for a few days. U.S. forces also claimed on Thursday that 24 militants had been killed in 24 hours in similar actions around the country.
On the offensive, part two
Not to be outdone by the recent goodwill gestures of their Afghan counterparts, the Pakistani Taliban said in a statement Wednesday that they would stop attacks, provided the incoming government takes their offer for dialogue seriously (ET). A similar offer was made to the previous government, but was rescinded when the group did not receive a "positive" response. Prime minister-elect Nawaz Sharif has said the offer would be considered seriously, though it is unclear what "serious" steps he would take or what would be acceptable to the Taliban.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan has filed a formal complaint with the Election Commission of Pakistan, demanding that they investigate his party’s claims of vote-rigging in the elections for 25 parliamentary seats, primarily in districts of Lahore and Karachi (NYT). If the alleged electoral fraud is not addressed within three days, Khan warned that he and his supporters would stage countrywide protests.
Acting on a tip, police conducted an operation in Nowshera on Thursday to recover Ali Haider Gilani, the son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was kidnapped on May 9 while heading to a political rally in Multan. Security personnel recovered a captive and arrested four abductors, though Gilani is still missing (Dawn, ET). The police search for him is ongoing.
The Pakistani military drove the Taliban out of the northwestern Swat Valley in a successful 2009 operation, but a series of recent attacks, combined with the impending drawdown of U.S. troops just across the border, have Pakistani authorities nervous that the region once known as the Switzerland of Pakistan is poised to fall again into militant control (WSJ). Their worry is somewhat paradoxical given the longtime U.S. accusation that the insurgency continues to rage in Afghanistan in part because of Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban. But Pakistan is concerned that anti-state militants in the tribal regions will gain support from emboldened militants in neighboring Afghanistan.
Pakistani feature film Lamha (Seedlings in English) won the Best Feature Film Award at the DC South Asian Film Festival on Wednesday (Dawn). The only Pakistani film to be aired at the festival, Lamha revolves around loss, forgiveness, and redemption as a young couple struggles to reconnect after the death of their only child.
— Jennifer Rowland and Bailey Cahall
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