Pakistan Soldiers Raid MQM Headquarters; India’s Ex-PM Summoned in Coal Case; Suicide Bomb Kills Seven in Helmand
Pakistan Pakistan soldiers raid MQM headquarters Pakistani Security forces on Wednesday raided the headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan’s fourth biggest political party, sparking street protests (Dawn, ET). Col. Tahir Mahmood said the troops acted on information that MQM was hiding criminals and that a large cache of weapons was recovered. The party ...
Pakistan soldiers raid MQM headquarters
Pakistani Security forces on Wednesday raided the headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan’s fourth biggest political party, sparking street protests (Dawn, ET). Col. Tahir Mahmood said the troops acted on information that MQM was hiding criminals and that a large cache of weapons was recovered. The party has long been accused of using violence and intimidation to control the port city of Karachi and its leader, Altaf Hussain, lives in self-imposed exile in London, where he is being investigated over money laundering allegations. After the early morning raid, MQM supporters gathered on the street and called for a nationwide strike. Senior MQM figure Farooq Sattar told Pakistan’s Geo News that the raid was “inappropriate and beyond understanding,” adding that the party has “always maintained its policy of zero tolerance against crime and terrorism” (BBC).
Obama nominates new ambassador to Pakistan
U.S. President Barack Obama nominated David Hale, the current ambassador to Lebanon, to become the new envoy to Pakistan on Tuesday (AP). Hale, a career diplomat and Middle East expert, would replace Richard Olson, who has held the post since 2012. Hale’s nomination still needs to be confirmed by the Senate.
Pakistan lifts moratorium on executions
Pakistan has lifted its seven-year moratorium on the death penalty in all criminal cases, three months after resuming executions in terrorism-related cases, according to an Interior Ministry official on Tuesday (RFE/RL, BBC). According to the official, the ministry has directed provincial governments to hang prisoners who had exhausted all avenues of appeal and clemency. He added that order was given on March 6, but not publicized. Twenty-four convicts have been hanged since the moratorium was lifted in December 2014 for those convicted of terrorism offenses.
Ex-PM Singh summoned in coal case
Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was summoned to appear before a New Delhi court in connection to the allocation of coal blocks during his administration, according to news reports on Wednesday (Reuters, Livemint, Indian Express). According to news reports, Singh has been summoned for a number of offenses, including criminal conspiracy and breach of trust, in a case where coal blocks — located in the eastern state of Odisha — were allocated to Hindalco, a Mumbai-based aluminium manufacturing company. Singh, responding to the summons, told reporters: “I am upset, but this is a part of life… I am sure that the truth will prevail and I will get a chance to put forward my case with facts” (Times of India). In addition to Singh, industrialist K. M. Birla, former coal secretary P. C. Parakh, and two officials of Hindalco have been summoned to appear in court on April 8. Last year, India’s Supreme Court cancelled 214 out of 218 coal block allocations, which were declared illegal and arbitrary by the court.
Lower house of Parliament passes land acquisition bill
The Lok Sabha (India’s lower house of Parliament) passed a controversial land acquisition bill on Tuesday, after the government adopted nine amendments and persuaded most of its allies to support it (Indian Express, Livemint). However, the bill will face challenges in the Rajya Sabha (the upper house) where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party doesn’t have a majority. The Congress Party and other regional parties, including the Trinamool Congress Party and Samajwadi Party, staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha to protest the bill passage. While opposition parties have united to oppose the land acquisition bill, stating that the bill will force farmers and the poor to lose their lands, the government says it will expedite pending infrastructure projects.
Solar-powered plane lands in India
The Solar Impulse, a Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft, landed in Ahmedabad City, located in the western state of Gujarat, on Tuesday during its first attempt to fly around the world (NBC, WSJ, BBC). The historic aircraft, which flies without using fossil fuels, will next fly to India’s holy city Varanasi, located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. While in India, the Solar Impulse pilots will spread the message about clean technologies. Its website said: “It will also be the opportunity to reach out to governments, NGOs, universities and schools.” Solar Impulse co-creators André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard have planned a 22,000-mile journey around the planet, which is expected to span 25 flight days over five months.
Suicide bombing kills seven
A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb near a police vehicle in Lashkar Gah city of Helmand province on Tuesday, killing seven people and injuring 23 others (CNN, TOLO). Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, the deputy provincial governor, said that the attack happened at around 6 p.m. and that several children were among the wounded. The majority of the casualties were civilians.
Advice from Afghanistan’s only woman taxi driver
Sara Bahai was motivated more by her need to support an extended family than ideals of equality when she became Afghanistan’s only female taxi driver almost fourteen years ago (AP). Bahai, 40, supports almost a dozen family members in spite of threats from unknown callers and abusive passengers. She is also a mechanic and earned a degree in teaching so she could instruct other women on driving techniques. Bahai says: “My message for Afghan women is to stand up for yourselves, set goals and achieve them, and help make Afghanistan a happy place to live.” Her advice echoes that of First Lady Rula Ghani, who said in a speech to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday, that “women should be respected both inside and outside their homes and play an active role in society as doctors, engineers, soldiers, police officers.”
— Emily Schneider and Neeli Shah
Edited by Peter Bergen
RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images
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