At least seven people killed by gun violence in Quetta on Monday

Bonus reads: "Malala’s Forgotten Sisters," Adriana Carranca (FP); "Pakistan’s Malala Problem: Teen Activist’s Global Celebrity Not Matched at Home," Omar Waraich (TIME); "Malala’s Pakistan by the Numbers," Nina Strochilic (DB). Sectarian violence At least seven people, including four members of the minority Hazara community, died in Quetta on Monday in two separate gun attacks (Dawn).  ...

BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Bonus reads: "Malala's Forgotten Sisters," Adriana Carranca (FP); "Pakistan's Malala Problem: Teen Activist's Global Celebrity Not Matched at Home," Omar Waraich (TIME); "Malala's Pakistan by the Numbers," Nina Strochilic (DB).

Sectarian violence

Bonus reads: "Malala’s Forgotten Sisters," Adriana Carranca (FP); "Pakistan’s Malala Problem: Teen Activist’s Global Celebrity Not Matched at Home," Omar Waraich (TIME); "Malala’s Pakistan by the Numbers," Nina Strochilic (DB).

Sectarian violence

At least seven people, including four members of the minority Hazara community, died in Quetta on Monday in two separate gun attacks (Dawn).  According to police, unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed Raza Hussain, an electronics shop owner, and his colleagues as they headed home from work.  Later on Monday, gunmen opened fire at a cold drink shop, killing three people and seriously wounding two others.  A shutter-down strike was being observed in Quetta on Tuesday to protest the killings, and the Hazara Democratic Party and other Shia organizations have called for three days of mourning (Dawn, ET, Pajhwok). 

Two days after Reuters reported that the Pakistani Taliban was setting up training camps and sending fighters to Syria, Abdul Rashid Abbasi, the group’s spokesman, said that they have set up a command and control center to start operations in the war-torn country, and that he expects at least 120 fighters to join those already in country by the end of the week (AJE).  In a separate story, the Associated Press cited Pakistani intelligence officials who said that members from the sectarian terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are also heading to Syria (AP).  The report also quotes a Taliban fighter, identified only as Hamza, who said he was heading to Syria because monitoring by Pakistani authorities has made it harder to carry out domestic operations. 

The Election Commission of Pakistan announced on Tuesday that the country’s presidential election will occur on August 6, 2013 (Dawn, ET).  Current president Asif Ali Zardari, whose term ends on September 8, has said he will not resign before the end of his term and that he will not seek reelection.  All nomination forms for the election must be submitted by July 24 and the approved candidates will be announced on July 29.

Deadly year

Two people were killed and three were wounded in Nangarhar province on Tuesday when an explosives-laden bicycle blew up near the Behsud Bridge (AP, Pajhwok).  Hazrat Ussain Mashriqiwal, a police spokesman, said that one intelligence operative and a Public Order Police official were killed in the blast, though it is unclear if they were the intended targets.  According to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a foreign soldier was killed in a direct fire attack elsewhere in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, but did not reveal the soldier’s nationality (Pajhwok).  

The attacks came a day after General Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, told a joint NATO-ISAF press conference that 2013 would be a deadly year in Afghanistan (Pajhwok).  He acknowledged that militants have conducted a number of suicide and group attacks in an attempt to disrupt the security situation in the country, but also said the Afghan National Army and other security forces were capable of neutralizing these threats.

Ismail Qasimyar, a spokesman for the Afghanistan High Peace Council, issued a new demand on Monday for restarting the stalled reconciliation talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban: lay down your arms and stop killing innocent people (Telegraph).  Afghans are skeptic that the Taliban is serious about entering into peace talks and the new pre-condition reflects that concern.  While many Afghan observers believe time is running out to find a political settlement with the militant group before coalition forces leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014, Qasimyar said he believed significant progress could be made in the next six months, if significant pressure was placed on interested parties, like Pakistan. 

Have it your way, Pakistan

On Tuesday, the Express Tribune reported that after much anticipation, the American fast food chain Burger King (BK) is finally coming to Pakistan – albeit in 2014 (ET). However, the Tribune notes that there isn’t a ready supply of burger-flippers in the country and that foreign trainers may need to be brought in.  The first BK will reportedly open in Karachi, with additional locations to be determined.

 — Bailey Cahall  

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