Pakistan rocked by 7.8 magnitude earthquake, more than 250 dead

Bonus read: "From peace to carnage," Knox Thames (AfPak). Earthquake More than 250 people died and nearly 400 were wounded in Balochistan on Tuesday when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the area (AFP, BBC, Dawn, ET, NYT, Pajhwok, Reuters, RFE/RL, VOA).  Tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi, and a 4.7 magnitude tremor ...

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

Bonus read: "From peace to carnage," Knox Thames (AfPak).

Earthquake

More than 250 people died and nearly 400 were wounded in Balochistan on Tuesday when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the area (AFP, BBC, Dawn, ET, NYT, Pajhwok, Reuters, RFE/RL, VOA).  Tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi, and a 4.7 magnitude tremor hit the Malakand district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.  Pakistani army personnel from Quetta and Khazdar were deployed to the affected areas and the former chairman of Bahria Town, Malik Riaz, said affected families would be compensated with 200,000 rupees.

Bonus read: "From peace to carnage," Knox Thames (AfPak).

Earthquake

More than 250 people died and nearly 400 were wounded in Balochistan on Tuesday when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the area (AFP, BBC, Dawn, ET, NYT, Pajhwok, Reuters, RFE/RL, VOA).  Tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi, and a 4.7 magnitude tremor hit the Malakand district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.  Pakistani army personnel from Quetta and Khazdar were deployed to the affected areas and the former chairman of Bahria Town, Malik Riaz, said affected families would be compensated with 200,000 rupees.

The earthquake also gave rise to a new small island off the coast of Gawdar, a port city along Pakistan’s southern coast (AFP, AP, VOA).  The island is about 60 to 70 feet high, 300 feet wide, and 120 feet long.  Gary Gibson, a seismologist with the University of Melbourne, told reporters: "It’s happened before in that area but it’s certainly an unusual event, very rare."  A similar island last appeared after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake in 1945.  The new island is made out of mud and is likely to be washed away by the waves in the next few days.  Bonus Read: Adventure Time on Pakistan’s New Island (ET).

Security measures

In the wake of Sunday’s bombing at the All Saints Church in Peshawar, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Home and Tribal Affairs department has told cell service providers on Wednesday to stop activating illegal Afghanistan-based subscriber identification modules and said that legal actions would be taken if they continued to do so (ET).  One unnamed official told Pakistan’s Express Tribune: "A good number of Afghan SIM cards were being used by extortionists and militants to avoid detection by police and other law enforcement agencies."

On Tuesday, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar met with British Home Secretary Theresa May to discuss policies related to counterterrorism, illegal narcotics trafficking, and illegal migration (ET).  During the meeting, May briefed Nisar on the United Kingdom’s new National Crime Agency (NCA), which is designed to fight organized crime. In discussing the agency, May stated: "Pakistani law enforcement partners will feel the benefits as the NCA’s international network drives co-operation and shares its information and expertise."

Ten new cases of polio were reported in North Waziristan on Tuesday, raising the total number of case from the area in 2013 to 25 (ET).  The first polio case in North Waziristan occurred in May of this year, and 14 cases were reported in a single day in August.  Hafiz Gulbahadur, a Taliban warlord in North Waziristan, has banned polio vaccinations in the province for the past 15 months, leading to the spike in cases.  Pakistan is one of three countries where polio remains endemic and health workers providing polio vaccinations have come under repeated attack in the past few years.

The United States and Pakistan revised their bilateral agreements on Tuesday to add $23.5 million for various reform projects (ET).  The revision includes $15.5 million for law enforcement reforms and capacity building, as well as $2 million to enforce the rule of law.  The United States and Pakistan have signed 75 prior revisions that provided $700 million to train personnel and purchase equipment.

History’s return

The Afghan Taliban released a statement on Tuesday announcing their intent to try the individuals responsible for killing 5,000 Afghans under the communist regime in the 1970s (Pajhwok).  The announcement comes in reaction to the Dutch government’s recent release of a list of Afghans who were arrested, tortured, and killed by Afghan authorities in 1978 and 1979.  The Taliban proclaimed their commitment to the issue, saying: "In our rule, we were seriously following the issue of martyrs. On the first day of conquering Kabul, we punished some notorious perpetrators of such crimes."

Maulvi Ahmad Shah, the Taliban chief for Kunduz province’s Chahar Dara district, was killed overnight by Afghan security forces, government officials confirmed on Wednesday (Pajhwok).  Col. Ghulam Mohiuddin, the district police chief, confirmed the kill and said he hoped it would improve security in the province.  The operation came two days after a National Directorate of Security official was killed in the district.

Dr. Abdul Wase, an influential tribal elder, was killed in Afghanistan’s Logar province on Tuesday, according to Abdul Hamid Hamid, the Mohammad Agha district police chief (Pajhwok).  Hamid said that Wase was killed by unidentified gunmen, and that the motivation for the attack remains unclear.  No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

During talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reaffirmed their countries’ support for Afghanistan’s reconciliation process (Pajhwok).  Additionally, the Saudi-based International Islamic Fiqh Academy floated a proposal to host Afghan peace talks at the end of an international conference of religious scholars in Kabul on Tuesday (Pajhwok).  Afghan President Hamid Karzai responded positively to the suggestion, saying, "We have long been asking Muslim states, particularly Saudi Arabia, to cooperate with our peace initiatives. It will be our good fortune if the International Islamic Fiqh Academy organises Afghan peace parleys."

Like

Facebook Ads Manager revealed on Wednesday that Pakistan now has 10 million Facebook users (ET).  Of those users, about three million are women and half are between the ages of 18 and 24.  A June 2013 report by the mobile survey company Ansr.io found that more than half of Pakistan’s Facebook users come from the richest 10% of households, and that 30 percent of the country’s online population uses Facebook.

— David Sterman and Bailey Cahall 

David Sterman is a program associate at New America and Assistant Editor of the South Asia Channel. He tweets at @DSterms Twitter: @Dsterms

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