The South Asia Channel

Afghan witnesses to testify in U.S. soldier's murder hearing

International justice

Two victims and four victims' relatives will testify Friday from Afghanistan via videoconference and through a translator in an overnight session of the pre-trial hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians in two villages in March (AP). A forensic expert testified Thursday that the blood found on Bales clothing on the night of the attacks matches the blood of nine different victims (Reuters, LAT).

Positive progress?

The Express Tribune reported Friday that Afghan and Pakistani officials will hold talks in Islamabad next week on restarting negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, marking Salahuddin Rabbani's first visit to Pakistan since the killing of his father and predecessor as head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani (ET).

Militants in South Waziristan attacked a security checkpoint on Friday, killing one member of the Pakistani security forces, and provoking a counter-attack that resulted in the deaths of six militants (Dawn).

The father of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban last month, said his daughter wishes to express her gratitude for the outpouring of support from around the world (AFP). Malala has been able to sit up to read a book and view her many get-well cards.

The United Nations education envoy Gordon Brown arrived in Pakistan on Friday for three days of meetings with top Pakistani officials, and in a speech pledged to help Pakistan "end discrimination that should not exist against girls who go to schools" (Dawn, ET).

Security sense

Officials in Karachi have announced a ban on pillion riding (riding as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle) until the 11th day of the Islamic month of Muharram in an effort to reduce the violence that targeted killers can easily carry out as passengers on a motorcycle (ET). Muharram is a holy month in which fighting is prohibited, so the ban on pillion riding does not apply to women, children, the elderly, or journalists.

-- Jennifer Rowland

Mamoon Durrani/AFP/Getty Images