Show of support
The funeral of a Pakistani militant killed yesterday in a U.S. drone attack in North Waziristan alongside Haqqani commander Janbaz Zadran (also known as Jalil Haqqani) was attended today by around 2,000 people, reportedly including foreign militants and a local member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) (AP). One local political leader called the slain militant, Maulana Iftikhar, a "martyr" and said he participated in "jihad" in Afghanistan. A Pakistani official reportedly said today that top leaders who met separately with U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman yesterday reiterated Pakistan's willingness to participate in reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan and to take action against the Haqqani Network, once the country's "legitimate concerns" such as India's growing influence in Afghanistan are addressed (ET).
President Asif Ali Zardari has instructed Pakistan's Interior Ministry to clamp down on those behind targeted killings and ethnic violence in Balochistan, such as the two brutal attacks in recent months on the Shi'a community (ET). A parliamentary committee specially designated to confront the violence in Karachi and Balochistan will travel to Quetta next week for talks with provincial leaders, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik said yesterday that he would also travel to the provincial capital every week to assist the effort to restore law and order (ET, Dawn). In Karachi, members of the police, Frontier Corps and Rangers conducted a search operation last night, and destroyed the offices of the banned Sunni Tehreek group (ET). And major political parties in the province of Sindh have criticized a proposal from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) concerning local governance rules and the redistricting of Karachi, as an overstep into political matters that are outside the HRCP's humanitarian scope (Dawn).
In Balochistan yesterday, nine people were killed and five injured when an explosion caused part of a mine to collapse (ET, Dawn). The death toll from dengue fever continues to climb in Pakistan, reaching 225 in the province of Punjab today, while two new cases of polio have been reported in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) (ET, Dawn, ET). A lack of media attention and a belief amongst donors that Pakistan harbors terrorists may be contributing to underfunded flood relief efforts in Pakistan, which will be critically needed as winter weather hits the country (ET). Two of the 27 boys abducted last month by militants after crossing the Bajaur border into Afghanistan reportedly escaped from their Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) captors yesterday (ET,Dawn). Finally, the Interior Ministry has declared a mandatory two-day holiday per week for all public and private businesses, and the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) approved an increase in the tax power companies can impose on electricity (ET, ET).
An Afghan preacher who was detained for nearly two weeks by Afghanistan's intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), was admitted to a hospital Wednesday having been badly beaten and suffering kidney failure (NYT). NDS agents arrived at the hospital yesterday to prevent reporters from speaking to the man. Bonus read: Chris Rogers, "Time to Tackle Torture is Now" (FP).
NATO and Afghan forces Thursday night killed 13 insurgents during a raid in the northern Afghan province of Faryab (AP). And in eastern Kunar Province, local police reported that at least five artillery shells were fired across the border from Pakistan, but did not result in any casualties. The Times' C.J. Chivers reported yesterday on the difficulties facing U.S. troops as they prepare to hand security over to Afghan forces in the northern province of Paktika (NYT).
Underground rock bands make an impression at the 10th Annual Performing Arts Festival that opened in Lahore on Tuesday (ET). In addition to writing their own songs, many of which are showing a shift toward harder rock sounds, the bands have chosen to perform covers of Sufi-rock and English bands.
Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images