Islamabad condemns drone attack in Waziristan

Pakistan on April 15 strongly condemned a US drone attack in North Waziristan tribal region that killed four people a day earlier, urging Washington to "stop such attacks based on mutual respect and established international norms." The US craft fired missiles on a house in Datta Khel town, bordering Afghanistan, officials said. "Such unilateral attacks are in contravention of international law and counterproductive to the stability of this country," the foreign ministry said. "The government of Pakistan has maintained its position that drone strikes are violative of its territorial integrity and sovereignty."

Pakistan court extends bail for ex-prez Musharraf

A Pakistan court on April 5 extended by six days the bail granted to former president Pervez Musharraf, who faces charges of detaining judges during his time in office. The Islamabad High Court also ordered Musharraf to post bond for Rs 500,000, or just over $5,000, and to appear for his next hearing scheduled for April 18. Musharraf has also been named as a suspect in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007, and may face charges in connection with the murder of Baluch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2007.

Pakistan: hold Musharraf accountable for abuses

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on March 23 said that Pakistan should hold former military ruler Pervez Musharraf accountable for alleged human rights abuses upon his return to the country. Musharraf is expected to return to Pakistan on Sunday to be a candidate in upcoming parliamentary elections, ending a four-year self-imposed exile. A judge on Friday granted him protective bail so that he cannot be arrested within 10 days of his return on charges related to dismissal of judges and 14 days on charges related to two murders. HRW Pakistan Director Ali Dayan Hasan said:

Terror strikes Pakistan refugee camp

A car bomb exploded at the Jalozai displaced persons camp outside Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan on March 21, killing at least 15 and leaving some 50 injured. The dead included two women and two children. The camp, Pakistan's largest,  is home to tens of thousands fleeing violence and persecution in the Taliban-dominated Federally Administered Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan. The blast took place at the gate of a FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) distribution point where camp residents had lined up to for rations. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. The outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) disassociated itself from the attack. (Dawn, BBC News, March 21)

Iran-China pipeline route via restive regions

Tehran and Islamabad will sign an agreement March 11 for Iran to build the largest refinery in Pakistan, a $4 billion facility at Gwadar in the country's southwestern Balochistan province. (See map.) The refinery, projected to handle 400,000 barrels per day, will be linked to the planned Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline, with an extension to western China envisioned. China last month took over operational control of Gwadar's port, where a major expansion is planned. China's Great United Petroleum Holdings Company (GUPC) has agreed to conduct the feasibility study for a "petrochemical city" project in Gwadar. A pipeline from Gwadar to China would reduce the time and distance for oil transport from the Persian Gulf to Chinese markets. (Asia Times, March 6)

India: parliament attack plotter executed

Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri militant who received the death penalty for participating in the 2001 attack on India's parliament, was executed on Feb. 9. Guru was hanged after India's president, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, turned down his plea for clemency. Following Guru's execution, India's government imposed a curfew in the India-controlled section of Kashmir and deployed hundreds of police in anticipation of protests and potentially violent clashes. A group of 400 protesters gathered in the Kashmiri city of Muzzafarabad vowing to continue Guru's mission. Guru's hanging was only the second execution carried out by India's government since 2004, with the other being Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, a gunman in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, who was executed in November.

India: Naxalite hand in opium trade?

Following a series of raids on the strongholds of Naxalite rebels and the slaying of top commanders, authorities say the guerillas' leaders have taken refuge in India's northeastern hinterlands, seeking to regroup and resupply—through control of opium production in their traditional strongholds. Home Ministry Joint Secretary MA Ganapathy said that Naxalites in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh are producing opium in their jungle territories. "Intelligence reports say that the Maoists have joined hands with drug cartels to cultivate opium, which is subsequently delivered to the mafia, who convert raw opium into heroin and smuggle the drug outside the country," he said. The proceeds are reportedly used to purchase weapons in the northeast that come across the border from Burma.

UN rights expert to investigate drone strikes

UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Ben Emmerson announced (PDF) on Jan. 24 that he will begin investigating the legality of the use of drone strikes. Emmerson said that after asking the US to allow an independent investigation of its use of targeted killings last year, there is still no consensus among the international community as to the legality of the conduct. He stated an investigation by the UN was necessary in order to establish clear international guidelines on the use of this and other emerging technology:

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