"Representation without Taxation"
A report published Wednesday by the U.S.-based Center for Investigative Reporting and the Pakistan-based Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives has found that almost 70 percent of Pakistan's politicians did not file tax returns last year (Guardian, AFP, NYT). According to the report, the tax evaders include legislators, Cabinet members, and even President Asif Ali Zardari, whose spokesman vehemently denied the accusation.
Another report, released Thursday by Amnesty International, says that residents of Pakistan's tribal regions are suffering abuses both at the hands of the Taliban and the Pakistani Army (BBC). A Pakistani Army spokesman called the report "a pack of lies."
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Wednesday approved a 6-month extension on the residency visas of 1.6 Afghan refugees that were due to expire at the end of this month (AFP, AP). A spokeswoman for the United Nation High Commission on Refugees said that Pakistan had pledged not to expel any refugees who are registered with the government.
Weathering the storm
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari met for a second day in Turkey on Wednesday to discuss a suicide attack on the Afghan spy chief Asadullah Khalid that Karzai has said originated in Pakistan, with both sides agreeing to a joint investigation of the attack (AP, Reuters). McClatchy reports that the Ankara meeting appears to be the first step in a five part-plan entitled the "Peace Process Roadmap to 2015," which lays out a blueprint for finding peace with the Taliban by 2015, and replacing the United States with Pakistan as the lead party in those peace talks (McClatchy).
The scenes of CIA harsh interrogation techniques in the as-yet unreleased Hollywood account of the hunt to fund Osama bin Laden have reignited the national argument over the efficacy of torture (NYT). And the Senate Intelligence Committee will decide Thursday whether or not to approve a 6,000-page report on the controversial interrogations, which has found that torture tactics did not play a central role in finding bin Laden. Bonus read: Peter Bergen, "Zero Dark Thirty: Did torture really net bin Laden?" (CNN).
The sitar player
Beloved Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar passed away in the United States at the age of 92 on Tuesday (ET). Musicians throughout South Asia mourn Shankar's loss as a blow to the classical Indian music scene, and credit him with introducing the music of the region to the rest of the world.
-- Jennifer Rowland