Pakistan PM under fire for interference in murder case

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Embattled premier

Murder charges against the owners of factory in Karachi where a fire killed 259 people last year were dropped on Thursday, reportedly at the request of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, in a move that both the public and government officials have decried (NYT, ET). The Prime Minister's office sought to clarify the situation later Thursday, with Ashraf's press secretary Shafqat Jalil telling the Express Tribune that Ashraf had asked provincial officials to take another look at the case to determine if the factory owners had been falsely implicated (ET).

Things got even worse for the Prime Minister on Thursday, when the Supreme Court ordered the National Accountability Bureau to submit their evidence that Ashraf, along with Interior Minister Rehman Malik and the Pakistan People's Party Secretary General Jehangir Badar, had illegally appointed Tauqeer Sadiq as the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, and then helped Sadiq flee the country after he allegedly embezzled 83 billion rupees ($850 million) (ET, ET, DT).

Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan said Thursday at the World Economic Forum that he is confident his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), will sweep Pakistan's upcoming elections, because "people want a change," and alleged that the current regime is waging a propaganda war that aims to discredit PTI (AP).

The murder of a middle class young man in one of Karachi's wealthiest neighborhoods has sparked anger in Pakistan against the upper class, members of which often get away with wrongdoing through bribery or by twisting police and officials' arms (AP). Shehzab Khan was allegedly gunned down by two men from two of Karachi's wealthiest families after having an argument with one of their servants, and most of Karachi's residents do not expect justice to be served.

Missed target

A car bomb in the eastern Afghan province of Kapisa thought to have been targeting a NATO convoy killed at least five civilians and wounded 25 others on Friday (VOA, BBC, AP). The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Books and bonds

Despite vocal protests from the right wing in India, the Jaipur Literary Festival began Thursday with three celebrated Pakistani writers (NYT). Some were angered by calls to ban Pakistanis from the festival, but one of the Pakistani authors in attendance, M. A. Farooqi, said in an interview, "If the basis of the objection is a tragic incident that caused grief and pain and people are expressing their grief by saying that we are no longer in a welcoming mood - I respect that."

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

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