The South Asia Channel

Blast rips through crowded Pakistani market, kills 11

New Post: John Podesta and Caroline Wadhams, "Politics and economics, not troops, will decide Afghanistan's future" (FP).

Event notice: Please join the New America Foundation's National Security Studies Program for a discussion about the future of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo TOMORROW, January 11, 2013 from 10:00 to 11:30AM (NAF).

Market blast

A deadly blast targeting a paramilitary checkpoint tore through a crowded area of Quetta, the provincial capital of restive Balochistan Province, killing at least 11 people and injuring almost 30 others on Thursday (ET, BBC, Dawn, The News). A U.S. drone strike in the Heso Khel area of Mir Ali, North Waziristan on Thursday targeted a suspected militant compound and killed at least four people inside (ET, AP).

Indian officials said Wednesday that Pakistani soldiers had beheaded one of two Indian soldiers killed on Tuesday during a clash over the Line of Control that divides the disputed territory of Kashmir (BBC, WSJ, CNN, Tel). But Indian newspaper The Hindu reported Wednesday that recent clashes were sparked by the Indian Army's construction of a new observation post, which is prohibited under the two nations' ten-year-old ceasefire agreement (The Hindu). The decision to build that new post was reportedly made because a 70-year-old grandmother strayed across the LoC in September in an attempt to join her family on the Pakistani side of the border.

A costly failure

The success of Afghanistan's amnesty program for militants who agree to lay down their arms is reportedly short-lived for many, who say they cannot find jobs and are not receiving any help from the authorities, but also cannot return to their villages for safety reasons (NYT). Interviews by Azam Ahmed for the Times with more than a dozen former insurgents revealed that most of them are regretful of joining the peace process and are considering a return to militancy.

Official sarcasm

Pakistan's energy crisis creates crippling power outages for residents and businesses (but rarely for officials) on a daily basis (ET). But when recently asked by industrialists if anything can be done about it, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly offered them power plants so they can try generating their own electricity.