Lahore Bombing Kills More than 70; Jaitley defends President’s Rule in Uttarkhand; Top Afghan Election Official Resigns

Pakistan Bombing in Lahore kills more than 70, mostly women and children On Sunday, a suicide bombing killed more than 70 people at a neighborhood park in Lahore, where many Christians were celebrating Easter (Reuters, CNN, WSJ, Post, BBC, Fox, ET, Dawn). At least 29 children were among those killed, and the bomber detonated his ...

Pakistani security officials collect evidence at the cordoned-off site of the March 27 suicide bombing, in Lahore on March 28, 2016.
The toll from a suicide blast in Pakistan's Lahore rose to 69, officials said on March 28, as authorities hunted for the "savage inhumans" behind the attack in a park packed with Christian families celebrating Easter Sunday. More than 200 people were injured, many of them children, when explosives packed with ball bearings ripped through crowds near a children's play area in the park in Lahore, leaving dozens dead or bloodied. / AFP / ARIF ALI        (Photo credit should read ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani security officials collect evidence at the cordoned-off site of the March 27 suicide bombing, in Lahore on March 28, 2016. The toll from a suicide blast in Pakistan's Lahore rose to 69, officials said on March 28, as authorities hunted for the "savage inhumans" behind the attack in a park packed with Christian families celebrating Easter Sunday. More than 200 people were injured, many of them children, when explosives packed with ball bearings ripped through crowds near a children's play area in the park in Lahore, leaving dozens dead or bloodied. / AFP / ARIF ALI (Photo credit should read ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani security officials collect evidence at the cordoned-off site of the March 27 suicide bombing, in Lahore on March 28, 2016. The toll from a suicide blast in Pakistan's Lahore rose to 69, officials said on March 28, as authorities hunted for the "savage inhumans" behind the attack in a park packed with Christian families celebrating Easter Sunday. More than 200 people were injured, many of them children, when explosives packed with ball bearings ripped through crowds near a children's play area in the park in Lahore, leaving dozens dead or bloodied. / AFP / ARIF ALI (Photo credit should read ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan

Bombing in Lahore kills more than 70, mostly women and children

On Sunday, a suicide bombing killed more than 70 people at a neighborhood park in Lahore, where many Christians were celebrating Easter (Reuters, CNN, WSJ, Post, BBC, Fox, ET, Dawn). At least 29 children were among those killed, and the bomber detonated his explosive in an area marked off for women and children. Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a Taliban faction, claimed the bombing. The group’s spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, stated: “It was our people who attacked the Christians in Lahore, celebrating Easter,” adding, “It’s our message to the government that we will carry out such attacks again until sharia [Islamic law] is imposed in the country.” The Chief Minister of Punjab, of which Lahore is the capital, Shahbaz Sharif, who is Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s brother, stated: “Those who targeted innocent citizens do not deserve to be called humans,” pledging, “We will hunt you down.” The Pakistani military has already conducted several raids in response to the bombing and is reportedly considering a larger operation across Punjab.

Pakistan

Bombing in Lahore kills more than 70, mostly women and children

On Sunday, a suicide bombing killed more than 70 people at a neighborhood park in Lahore, where many Christians were celebrating Easter (Reuters, CNN, WSJ, Post, BBC, Fox, ET, Dawn). At least 29 children were among those killed, and the bomber detonated his explosive in an area marked off for women and children. Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a Taliban faction, claimed the bombing. The group’s spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, stated: “It was our people who attacked the Christians in Lahore, celebrating Easter,” adding, “It’s our message to the government that we will carry out such attacks again until sharia [Islamic law] is imposed in the country.” The Chief Minister of Punjab, of which Lahore is the capital, Shahbaz Sharif, who is Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s brother, stated: “Those who targeted innocent citizens do not deserve to be called humans,” pledging, “We will hunt you down.” The Pakistani military has already conducted several raids in response to the bombing and is reportedly considering a larger operation across Punjab.

Pakistan rejects calls to curb tactical nuclear weapons

On Friday, Pakistan’s top nuclear security adviser, Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, rejected calls from the United States to curb Pakistan’s reliance on tactical nuclear weapons (VoA). Kidwai commented, “We are not apologetic about the development of the TNWs [tactical nuclear weapons] and they are here to stay.” Kidwai was speaking before a seminar at Islamabad’s Institute of Strategic Studies. Kidwai’s comments follow testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, where she commented: “So, we are really quite concerned about this, and we have made our concerns known, and we will continue to press them about what we consider to be the destabilizing aspects of their battlefield nuclear weapons program.”

Polio worker killed in Khyber district

On Saturday, gunmen killed a health official overseeing an anti-polio drive in Pakistan’s Khyber tribal area (RFE/RL). Akhtar Khan, the health official, was reportedly killed in his clinic. Police arrested one suspect, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

— David Sterman

India

Jaitley defends President’s Rule in Uttarkhand

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday defended the government’s decision to impose President’s Rule in the state of Uttarkhand, saying the state legislature was taking unconstitutional measures (Indian Express, India Today, TOI). On Sunday, President Mukherjee signed the order, according to the Article 356 of the constitution, which dismissed the government of Chief Minister Harish Rawat, a day before he was set to receive a vote of confidence from the state legislature. Congress leaders announced they will challenge the decision in the state high court.

Pakistani team arrives in India to investigate Pathankot attack

A team of Pakistani experts arrived in India on Sunday to help investigate the Pathankot airbase attack (BBC, Hindu). The team will be given access to all the witnesses to the attack, but they would not be able to interview security personnel. This is the first time that Pakistani intelligence and police officials have travelled to India to investigate a militant attack.

Seven security personnel and six attackers were killed in the January 2016 attack at the air force base in Pathankot, in the western state of Punjab. India blames Pakistan based militants from Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a banned militant organization, for the attack. Diplomatic talks between the countries were postponed after the attack. Pakistan claims to have arrested senior members of JeM.

Making taunts about weight, grounds for divorce: Delhi High Court

The New Delhi High Court on Monday upheld a 2012 order by a lower court that granted divorce to a man based on the fact that he was regularly taunted by his wife and those acts amounted to mental cruelty (BBC). “The calling of names and hurling of abuses such as ‘Hathi’ [elephant], ‘Mota Hathi’ [fat elephant] by the appellant in respect of her husband – even if he was overweight, is bound to strike at his self-respect and self-esteem,” said Justice Vipin Sanghi during the appeal hearing.

— Shuja Malik

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “Back Into Afghanistan,” by Gerald F. Hyman (Foreign Affairs).

Top Afghan election official resigns

On Saturday, Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, the head of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), resigned (RFE/RL). A spokesman for the IEC stated that Nuristani had resigned in the “national interest.” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accepted the resignation. Nuristani had repeatedly criticized government interference in the election, and his resignation has raised concerns regarding the effort to organize Parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 15.

Afghan parliament suffers rocket attack

On Monday, three rockets were fired at the new Afghan Parliament building with one falling inside the building (Pajhwok, TOLO News). The lower house was in session during the attack. The rocket strike caused no casualties. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the strike.

Chief Justice’s father kidnapped

On Monday, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, announced that the 90-year-old father of Syed Yousuf Halim, the chief justice of Afghanistan’s supreme court, had been kidnapped (Pajhwok). The spokesman stated that Syed Hassan, the father of the chief justice, had been kidnapped last week on his way home from the mosque.

— David Sterman

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Supreme Court denies petition to remove Islam as state religion

On Monday, the Supreme Court in Bangladesh rejected a 28-year-old petition which demanded the removal of Islam as the official religion of the country (WSJ, NYT).

The three-judge High Court panel questioned the legitimacy of the 15-member group that filed the petition in 1988. Government lawyers opposing the petition praised the court’s decision and said the court’s rejection means that Islam will remain Bangladesh’s official religion. Islam was declared as Bangladesh’s official religion in 1988 by a military government led by Lieutenant General Hussain Muhammad Ershad.

— Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images

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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