Editor's note: The AfPak Channel is pleased to announce a new series by Shamila N. Chaudhary entitled "Pakistan Votes: A Weekly Look Inside the Historic 2013 Elections." Read the first three installments here.
NATO is investigating reports that a coalition airstrike in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar on Tuesday night killed 10 civilians, including five children and four women (Guardian, NYT, AP). Four Taliban commanders were also killed in the strike, according to local officials, who identified one militant as Qari Shah Pur, "a well-known commander from the area."
Afghan officials on Wednesday welcomed President Obama's announcement that 34,000 U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan over the next year, but many Afghans who think the United States has failed to create a better nation for them were disappointed by the news (AP).
Seven members of an anti-Taliban militia were killed on Thursday when their bus struck a roadside bomb in the Orakzai tribal agency (AP, AFP, Dawn). No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the TTP was suspected to have been behind it; the 20 militiamen in the bus were on their way to discuss strategy against the TTP when their bus hit the explosives. Later, a van carrying civilians hit a roadside bomb in the same area, killing two of them and wounding 10 (AFP).
Five suicide bombers attacked a police station in the northwestern Pakistani city of Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province on Thursday, but only three managed to detonate their explosives while the other two were shot dead by police officers (AP, Dawn). Just one policeman was wounded in the attack, for which the TTP claimed responsibility.
The Pakistani government has asked the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to declare a 30-day ceasefire as a precondition to peace talks in which the TTP said earlier this month they would be willing to take part (AFP).
According to a local official report, some 894 people have been killed by 147 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal agency of North Waziristan between 2008 and 2012, including 48 foreigners, 35 women, and 24 children (The News). The report was presented Wednesday to the Peshawar High Court, and also included an estimate of the financial losses incurred by local tribal members.
Valentine's Day in Pakistan
Valentine's Day is becoming increasingly popular among young Pakistanis, but conservative segments of society still believe today "reflects insensitivity, indignity, and ignorance of Islam," according to a billboard put up in Karachi by members of Jamaat-e-Islami (ET). A spokesman for Jamaat-e-Islami called Valentine's day an imposition of Western values on Pakistani society, and said, "Look at the West - people love their dogs but throw their parents out when they get old. We don't want to be like that."
-- Jennifer Rowland