The head of a United Nations team investigating casualties from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Ben Emmerson, said Friday that his secret, three-day investigation confirmed that the drone program violates Pakistani sovereignty (AP). A UN statement released Thursday, after Emmerson had safely left the country, said the Pakistani government has confirmed at least 400 civilian casualties in the drone strikes, and that Pakistani officials were adamant that they do not consent to the strikes.
A Pakistani court on Thursday reinstated 17 health workers who were fired last year for allegedly working with the CIA on a fake vaccination scheme to confirm the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad (AP, ET, CNN, Dawn). The accused worked for Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who has been jailed for spearheading the vaccination plot, but they have said they didn't know Afridi was working for the CIA.
Pakistani and Iranian officials have touted the Iran-Pakistan pipeline as a potential economic boon to both countries, but many in Pakistan are still doubtful that the project will be completed, seeing it instead as a last-gasp attempt by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to burnish his legacy before his five-year term is up (Post). Cash-strapped Islamabad still needs to come up with $1 billion to finish the Pakistani portion of the pipeline, and the Pakistani business community is extremely jittery about U.S. threats of sanctions if the project is completed, making the pipeline's realization less sure than officials have made it out to be.
Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, said Friday that an eight-ton truck bomb had been discovered and defused earlier this week in a neighborhood in Kabul (VOA). NDS officials said the bombing had been planned by the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network.
Afghan and U.S. officials signed an agreement Thursday to spend $250 million on a joint counternarcotic and law enforcement program in Afghanistan (CNN).
Every year, residents of Chitral in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province trek out in the snow to battle it out in a game of heem ghaal, or snow golf (ET). The game is played with wooden sticks and a homemade ball stuffed with pieces of cloth, and goals are scored by hitting the ball through the goalposts. The winning team received a live bull, which they slaughtered at the end of the day.
-- Jennifer Rowland