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Protests all around
As thousands in Islamabad continued to protest corruption as part of a demonstration led by Sufi cleric Tahir-ul Qadri, officials called Qadri's demands that the government be dissolved "not possible," but agreed to send a delegation to speak with him (CNN, LAT, Reuters, ET, Dawn, NYT). Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Wednesday warned the protesters to disperse, saying they were at risk of attack by militants. Protesters in Peshawar displayed the bodies of several people who they say were killed by Pakistani security forces on Tuesday night, in the second day of protests against the killings (ET/AFP, AJE, Dawn, BBC). The protesters say Pakistani troops entered the homes of villagers and murdered them in retribution for the killing of six security forces the day before.
A member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Sindh Provincial Assembly, Syed Manzar Imam, was gunned down outside his home in Karachi on Thursday, along with three of his guards (Dawn, ET/AFP). The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan later claimed responsibility for the attack. And India and Pakistan agreed on Wednesday to observe a decade-old ceasefire that was violated at least five times in the past week, resulting in the deaths of soldiers from both countries (AP, AFP).
Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau says the investigation report they submitted to the Supreme Court -- which found that now-Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf received kickbacks from energy projects while he was Minister for Power and Water -- is inaccurate (ET, Dawn, AP). The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered Ashraf's arrest for this alleged corruption.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar blasted the Obama administration's plans to accelerate the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, saying the Afghan border with Pakistan has become "less well managed" since NATO invaded, and that the United States is leaving "without determining whether you have accomplished your objectives" (NYT).
The U.S. military has stopped sending detainees to certain Afghan prisons out of concern for human rights abuses occurring there, according to a NATO official on Wednesday (NYT). NATO also said it has asked the Afghan government to investigate reports of torture by members of the Afghan Local Police, who are trained by U.S. Special Forces.
Taliban militants escalated their bomb attack on the Afghan intelligence agency headquarters in Kabul on Wednesday, engaging Afghan security forces in a gun battle following one explosion (NYT, LAT). A second explosion was averted when security forces killed five militants in a second vehicle and defused their bomb just three minutes before it was set to go off, according to officials in Kabul.
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