The South Asia Channel

Indian Police Arrest Seven for Corporate Espionage; Afghan Taliban Respond to U.N. Report; Pakistan Resolved to Fight in N. Waziristan

Indian Police Arrest Seven for Corporate Espionage; Afghan Taliban Respond to U.N. Report; Pakistan Resolved to Fight in N. Waziristan

Event Notice: Future of War First Annual Conference, February 24-25, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (New America).

India

Police arrest seven for corporate espionage
The Indian police arrested seven people in a case of suspected corporate espionage after confidential government documents were allegedly leaked to some energy companies and independent consultants, according to news reports on Thursday (Reuters, WSJ, Livemint). Two government officials, an employee of a leading energy company, two energy consultants, and two “middlemen” were arrested for alleged trespassing, theft, and forgery. New Delhi police chief B. S. Bassi said: “Confidential documents were leaked to certain independent consultants and energy companies, some of whom are being interrogated. We will analyse the documents that we have recovered and see if the Official Secrets Act needs to be invoked. More arrests are likely” (BBC). According to media reports, the New Delhi police also questioned two executives of Reliance Industries and Essar Group (Times of India). After coming to power last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had installed closed circuit cameras in ministries to check such leaks.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen cites political interference for resigning

Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen resigned as chancellor of Nalanda University (NU), located in the eastern state of Bihar, which re-opened for the first time in 800 years last year, according to news reports on Friday (Livemint, Indian Express, BBC). Sen accused the Modi government of political interference in higher education, and said that despite the board’s unanimous recommendation that he remain chancellor, the government had not approved Sen’s second term. Syed Akbaruddin, India’s external affairs ministry spokesman, stated that no attempts were made to “curtail” Sen’s tenure at NU, and the government had not yet received the board minutes approving Sen’s second tenure. A critic of Modi, Sen had stated last year that Modi had not done enough to make minorities feel safe. Spread over 443 acres, NU was originally established in the fifth century during the Gupta dynasty, and was said to have attracted thousands of scholars and thinkers from around the world before it was destroyed by an invading Turkish army in 1193 AD.

Curtains down on India’s longest-running movie

A romantic Bollywood film titled Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ – The Brave-Hearted Will Take The Bride), which released in 1995, had its final showing at the iconic Maratha Mandir Theatre in Mumbai on Thursday, after an uninterrupted record-breaking 1,009 week run (Indian Express, BBC, Times of India). DDLJ is the longest running film in the history of Indian cinema, followed by the 1975 movie Sholay, which ran in Mumbai’s Minerva Theatre for five years. DDLJ follows the lives of two Indians who fall in love while traveling through Europe. Due to its high popularity, U.S. President Barack Obama quoted a dialogue from the movie during his visit to India last month.
— Neeli Shah

Afghanistan

Bonus read: “Call the Taliban What They Are – Terrorists,” Ioannis Koskinas (South Asia).

Afghan Taliban respond to U.N. report

The Afghan Taliban have responded to the United Nations report released on Wednesday that found that 72 percent of the civilian casualties in the conflict were caused by the Taliban and other militant groups (RFE/RL). In a statement released by the Taliban on Thursday, they accused the U.N. of having “unjust and political motives” and continued: “The findings of the report are unjust and we refute them.”

Increasing claims of corruption, negligence

Allegations of corruption and negligence at the hands of acting governors are increasing daily (TOLO News). Since the start of the unity government, only three governors have been introduced (in Kunduz, Farah, and Paktika provinces) while the remaining 28 provinces are run by governors appointed by former President Hamid Karzai and who lack a sense of accountability to the new government, according to local leaders. Zabul Provincial Council head Atta Muhammad Haq Wayand said on Thursday: “At the moment, in Zabul, most of our local officials are accused of having a hand in corruption and there is no observation or any accountability to the central government.”

Young couple elopes, drinks poison

A girl, Laila, 19, died after she and her fiancé, Waheed, 22, fled their home in Kabul to marry (Pajhwok). The two were staying with relatives in Kunduz, and in order to escape their families’ disapproval of their elopement, drank poison together. Laila died instantly but Waheed, who fell into a coma while being transported to the hospital, has been released from the hospital. Waheed told reporters that they were in love for nine years but Laila’s parents refused to let them marry.

Pakistan

Pakistan resolved to fight in North Waziristan

Pakistani soldiers stated their resolve to fight against Islamic militants in North Waziristan in the military operation Zarb-e-Azb amid fears that militants in Pakistan are fragmenting into smaller and more extreme groups that will exist for years to come (Washington Post). Despite this, military leaders are still concerned about diverting too many troops away from their traditional mission — border defense with India.

Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said in a recent interview that he hopes the majority of the fighting in North Waziristan will be over within “a few months.” However, an anonymous senior Pakistani military official told the Washington Post: “Current plans call for keeping up to 170,000 soldiers — almost one-third of the entire force — near the Afghan border through at least 2019” to safeguard gains made against al Qaeda. The military operation, which began in June 2014, has left 219 Pakistani soldiers dead and almost 800 wounded. Since anti-militant operations began in Pakistan in 2002, almost 4,400 soldiers have been killed.

Activists protest Shiite mosque attacks

Civil society protesters on Friday, many of them Sunni, have formed a human chain in Karachi in order to express solidarity with the victims of Shiite mosque attacks (Dawn). This was just the latest in Jibran Nasir’s activism; his group, Pakistan For All, has formed human chains in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi. The most recent attack against a Shiite mosque occurred on Wednesday in Rawalpindi that killed three. Nasir said the situation has been “facilitated by the government of Pakistan and other state agencies who continue to provide patronage to banned sectarian outfits.” Bonus read: “Protesting Against Terrorism in Pakistan,” Nadia Naviwala (South Asia).

Schoolchildren taught to respond to terror attacks

Following the December attack on a school in Peshawar, schoolchildren in Punjab are receiving training by police and bomb disposal squads on how to shoot weapons, defuse explosives, and administer emergency aid in the event of a terrorist attack (ET). Police in Karachi and Peshawar have already been training teachers in self-defense.

–Courtney Schuster

Edited by Peter Bergen

DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images