Shi'a Muslims in Quetta agreed on Wednesday morning to end their protests and bury the bodies of 89 friends and relatives killed Saturday when a militant slammed a water tanker packed with up to 2,200 pounds of explosives into a crowded market (AP, CNN, AJE, NYT, Dawn, ET). Some Shi'a leaders disagreed with the decision to end the protests and bury the dead, saying that residents of Quetta should continue demonstrating in the streets until the military takes control of the city.
Pakistani authorities said on Tuesday that they had killed four suspects and arrested seven others, including the alleged mastermind of Saturday's bombing, during paramilitary operations on the outskirts of the southwestern provincial capital (Dawn). Continuing protests across the country caused travel delays for many people on Tuesday night in the major cities of Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, as demonstrators blocked roads leading to airports, as well as the entrance to a train station (Post).
A blast at a religious ceremony near Jacobabad, in Sindh Province, killed one person and injured seven others on Wednesday (ET, Dawn). And in other Pakistan news, Minister of Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh resigned on Tuesday amid rumors that he has been tapped to lead the caretaker government that will be instated for 90 days between the end of the current government's term and the general elections (Reuters).
Weapons of war
The United Nations said Tuesday that the number of drone strikes in Afghanistan increased significantly in 2012, with 506 missiles being launched by drones, compared to 294 in 2011 (AP, VOA). Drone strikes in Afghanistan have received little media attention among coverage of the wider conflict there.
U.S. Gen. John Allen, who recently left his post as the top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, will retire rather than take up a new post as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (LAT, NYT).
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has approved 27 new political party symbols, including a pressure cooker, stapler, toothbrush, kangaroo, and dish antenna (Dawn). Unfortunately, registered political parties in the country still outnumber the symbols available to them, though perhaps having no symbol is better than having a toothbrush as your party's logo.
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