Pakistan / by Lewis McKinnon

March was another rocky month for Pakistan, dominated by news of blasphemy laws, terrorism and espionage. In a sign of the government's hardening stance against extremism, Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of the Punjabi governor who killed the leader for supporting a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, was executed. His execution set off demonstrations across the country, culminating in a march to Islamabad in which a great deal of property was damaged. A Taliban splinter group carried out a terrorist attack in response as well, killing 16 people. Pakistan's census, last held in 1998, was delayed yet again. Karachi's former mayor Syed Mustafa Kamal accused the head of Karachi's ruling party of receiving funding from Indian intelligence agencies. Furthermore, a retired Indian naval officer with fake documents was arrested in Pakistan's Balochistan province this month, which appeared to substantiate claims that India funds separatism in that province. A massive explosion in Lahore on Easter left 70 people, including many Christians, dead, and led to the military launching an anti-terrorism operation in Punjab province against the wishes of the Punjabi Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. The Iranian president visited Pakistan, seeking to increase trade with Iran's western neighbour now that international sanctions have been lifted.