New post: Shuja Nawaz, "Stilling a stormy relationship" (FP).
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday gave Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf two weeks to ask Swiss authorities to reopen a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari (NYT, Reuters). The former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was removed from his post in June after being found guilty of contempt of court for refusing the same Supreme Court order.
Dozens of militants who had crossed the border into Pakistan's Bajaur Agency on Thursday, taken hostages, and engaged in a firefight with Pakistani security forces were eventually able to flee back across the border, carrying the bodies of 15 dead militants and leaving the hostages (AP, Reuters). Meanwhile, a bombing in Quetta at a rally of an anti-militancy political party, the Awami National Party, killed five people on Thursday (ET/AFP).
Pakistan and the United States will soon sign a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will govern the shipping of supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan via land routes over Pakistan (ET). After a seven-month hiatus, the ground supply routes were reopened last week when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized for a NATO air raid on two Pakistani border posts in November.
Outgoing U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said Thursday that he thinks the chances of a civil war erupting after NATO troops withdraw from the country in 2014 are slim, and that moderate Taliban members would like to see a peace deal (AP, WSJ). Amb. Crocker saw the appearance of a top Taliban official at a peace conference in Tokyo at the end of June as a sign that the peace process is moving forward and the Taliban are on board.
A NATO service member was killed in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan on Friday, and in the eastern Afghan province of Laghman, an official with the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs was assassinated along with her husband by a bomb hidden in their car (AP).
Hear me roar
For the first time, Pakistan will soon be home to the rare South African white lion, which Karachi's zoo is importing next week (ET). Though exciting, the new addition comes with a high price tag: Rs 10 million ($106,000); as well as the costs of building a brand-new acrylic glass enclosure.
-- Jennifer Rowland