- Two bombings in Quetta followed yesterday’s attack on a bus carrying Hazara residents, targeting a Frontier Corps paramilitary convoy and a JUI-F rally led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman. At least five people were killed; Rehman was unhurt. U.S. officials are reportedly preparing to transfer a Russian national held at Bagram to the U.S. for trial; thirteen foreign nationals are reported to remain at the prison facility. Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri continue to lead rallies around Pakistan. Iran and Pakistan traded mortar fire in the Balochistan border on Friday. Pres. Ghani has reportedly named Judge Abdul Rashid Rashid as the new acting Chief Justice of Afghanistan. In a command transfer ceremony in Kandahar on Thursday, the head of Regional Command-South turned over control to the new Tactical Advise and Assist Command-South.
Pakistan — Security
- Fazlur Rehman Targeted in Quetta Attack: At least two people were killed and dozens injured in a suicide attack on a JUI-F rally in Quetta on Thursday; Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the party’s leader, narrowly escaped injury. The militant group Jundullah (the Peshawar-based, not Iran-based organization by that name) reportedly claim responsibility for the attack; police officials report that they have arrested multiple suspects on Friday. A separate suicide attack earlier in the day targeted a paramilitary Frontier Corps convoy, killing at least three civilian bystanders; both attacks following an attack on a bus carrying Hazara residents, which killed eight. The Hazara community is conducting a protest strike today to mourn those killed. [ET] [Dawn] [BBC]
- Iran Border Clashes: Iranian border forces and the Balochistan Frontier Corps exchanged mortar fire near the town of Mashkail on Friday; no casualties were reported. [Dawn]
- Suspect Acquitted in Pearl Murder Case: On Friday, a Hyderabad anti-terrorism court acquitted Qari Hashim for lack of evidence in connection to the murder of WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Hashim had been arrested in 2005; the lead suspect in the murder, Omar Shaikh, received the death penalty in 2002.
- Afridi Appeal Adjourned: The FATA Tribunal hearing Dr Shakil Afridi’s appeal of his 33-year conviction on charges of aiding banned militant organizations adjourned for the sixth time on Thursday without taking action. Officials report that the tribunal has yet to receive case records from the Khyber Agency political administration, which convicted Afridi, whose sentenced was upheld by the Frontier Crimes Regulation commissioner and then appealed. Afridi’s family say they have not been allowed to contact him for two years.
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Protest Stand-Off: PML-N insiders express concern to Dawn that, despite the government’s apparent success so far in waiting out the PTI and PAT protest movements, “nobody at the top is ready for introspection” and party leadership remains overly concentrated in the Sharif brothers and close associates. Tahirul Qadri visited Abbottabad on Thursday, touting his “journey of revolution” around the country; Imran Khan will lead a rally in Gujrat today. In Supreme Court hearings on a PTI petition seeking Prime Minister Sharif’s disqualification, Judge Jawwad Khawaja indicated that the court would set down an interpretation of Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution, which require candidates for office to be “sadiq” (honest” and ameen “righteous”, without defining those terms. The government argues that Article 66 of the constitution, which sets parliamentary proceedings outside court jurisdictions, should take precedent in the case. [Dawn] [APP]
- PML-N Wins Special Election: Hassan Riaz, a PML-N candidate for the PP-162 Sheikhpura special elections on Thursday, won the seat with roughly 39,000 votes, against roughly 22,000 votes for the PPP runner-up. The PTI did not contest the seat.
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Polio Crisis: Speaking on Friday in commemoration of World Polio Day, Prime Minister Sharif said that combating the disease was of “utmost priority” to his government, and pledged continued vaccination efforts. At least 220 children have been diagnosed with polio so far this year in Pakistan, breaking a 14-year record. [Dawn] [Dawn]
Pakistan — Remainders
- Bilalwal Bhutto Downplays Need for MQM Coalition [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
- Prime Minister Sharif to Review Cabinet Ministry Performance [Dawn] [ET]
- Ex-Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah to Head Governance Reform Committee [ET]
- Federal Government Breaches Quarterly Expenditure Limits [ET]
- Punjab Lawmakers Seek Salary Increase [Dawn]
- Foreign Ministry Rebuffs DC Embassy Request to Hire Lobbyists [Dawn]
- State Bank of Pakistan Offers Concessional Loans for Flood-Affected Farmers [Dawn]
- Supreme Court Reiterates Orders to Regularize Service of Women’s Health Workers [ET]
Afghanistan — Security
- Russian Bagram Detainee to Be Transferred to U.S.: U.S. officials report that Irek Hamidullan, a Russian national who defected to join the anti-Soviet jihad and who has been held at the Bagram detention facility since 2009 after taking part in insurgent attacks, will be flown the U.S. and prosecuted in federal court. He is the first foreign national to be transferred from Bagram. As of last month, there are reported to be thirteen foreign nationals remaining at the prison facility. [NYT] [AP]
- Kandahar Transfer: On Thursday, the head of Regional Command-South, Maj. Gen. Michael Bills, formally transferred command to Brig. Gen. Douglas Gabram, who will head the new, smaller “Tactical Advise and Assist” command. The U.S. military at the same time assumed command of Kandahar airfield, from NATO.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Chief Justice Named: On Friday, Pres. Ghani reportedly appointed Judge Abdul Rashid Rashid to serve as acting Supreme Court Chief Justice; Rashid previous headed the court’s bureau on military and internal and external security. A formal announcement of Rashid’s appointment has not yet been issued. [TOLO]
Afghanistan — Remainders
- Nawzad District ‘On Verge of Collapse’ [TOLO]
- New Political Will Pushes Attorney General Into Action [TOLO]
- Five Killed in Attack on Nangahar Police [AP]
- Commentary: Did Politics Compromise Afghanistan’s Constitution? – “The country acquiesced to the formation of a government with no basis in the constitution, formed by two candidates who had no legal right to do so, and without the consent of the people who will be governed under their newly invented regime.” [Ghizaal Haress, South Asia Channel]
- Commentary: The New Gangs of Herat: How Young Afghans Turn Away from Their Community – “Starting with petty anti-social behaviour such as teasing local boys and girls at or around the school and elsewhere in the community and publicly smoking cigarettes, some of these gangs have moved into organised anti-social activities.” [S Reza Kazemi, AAN]