The South Asia Channel

Flash floods kill dozens in Pakistan's northwest

The Rack: Lev Grossman, "Drone Home" (TIME).

Deadly weather 

Flash floods following torrential downpours in Pakistan's northwest killed at least 29 people this week, most of whom died when their homes collapsed (AP, BBC, Dawn). The heavy rain is uncharacteristic for February, but the dangerous floods are commonplace in Pakistan; at least 1,800 people died in the massive floods of 2010.

The Times' Declan Walsh profiles Pakistani cleric and suspected militant leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is the founder and presumed to be the current leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed at least 160 people. (NYT). Last year, the United States announced a $10 million reward for information leading to Saeed's arrest, but he continues to live a normal life in Lahore unbothered by authorities or bounty-hunting citizens.

Meanwhile, some 30 religious parties in Pakistan have endorsed a fatwa released Wednesday by the Sunni Ittehad Council against targeted killing, sectarian attacks, and suicide bombings (AFP). 

And the Obama administration has decided to hand members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees the secret documents outlining the legal justification for overseas drone strikes that kill U.S. citizens who are high-level members of al-Qaeda (NYT, AFP, Post). The decision came just a day before the U.S. Senate confirmation hearing for John Brennan to become the director of the CIA, during which he will undoubtedly be quizzed about the build-up of a drone campaign in which he has played a major role.

Looking back

Less than a week before Gen. John Allen's 19-month tour as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan ends, he reflects in an interview with the New York Times on the challenges not just of war but of maintaining the peace between the Afghan government and the U.S. administration to which Gen. Allen reports (NYT). During his time there, Gen. Allen had to run damage control after a series of fiascos, including the surfacing of a video of Marines urinating on Taliban corpses, the accidental burning of Qurans by U.S. troops, and the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by an American soldier.

In a statement posted on the Taliban's website, the group's spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid rejected the agreement reached by the leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Britain on Tuesday to secure a peace deal with the Taliban within six months (AFP).

-- Jennifer Rowland



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