The South Asia Channel

COAS: Pakistan and Kashmir Inseparable; India Completes Test For Its Fastest Train; Anti-Corruption Body Finds Nepotism in Afghanistan

Pakistan Chief of Army Staff says Pakistan and Kashmir are inseparable Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday said that Pakistan and Kashmir are inseparable and that Kashmir is “an unfinished agenda of partition” (Dawn, ET). He also said: “While we wish for peace and stability in region, we want Kashmir’s just resolution ...

Activists of the banned Pakistani charity organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) shout anti-India slogans during a protest to mark Kashmir Solidarity day in Karachi on February 5, 2015. Pakistan observed Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5 to denounce Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region claimed in whole by both countries. AFP PHOTO / RIZWAN TABASSUM        (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)
Activists of the banned Pakistani charity organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) shout anti-India slogans during a protest to mark Kashmir Solidarity day in Karachi on February 5, 2015. Pakistan observed Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5 to denounce Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region claimed in whole by both countries. AFP PHOTO / RIZWAN TABASSUM (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan

Chief of Army Staff says Pakistan and Kashmir are inseparable

Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday said that Pakistan and Kashmir are inseparable and that Kashmir is “an unfinished agenda of partition” (Dawn, ET). He also said: “While we wish for peace and stability in region, we want Kashmir’s just resolution in the light of United Nations resolutions and as per aspirations of the Kashmiri people to bring lasting peace in region.” The statements, made while address a conference at the National Defense University, were then tweeted by Director General Inter-Services Public Relations Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa. Gen. Sharif also said that Pakistan is opposed to the use of proxies against other countries and that Pakistan would not allow other countries to use proxies against it. The statements follow a flurry of statements by public officials claiming that India stokes terrorism in Pakistan; India denied any involvement with terrorist groups in Pakistan.

ISI: Thousands of phones tapped in May

The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) told the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday that it tapped 6,856 phones across Pakistan during the month of May (ET). The admission came in compliance with the court’s May 22 order where Justice Mian Saqib Nisar asked that a classified report be submitted that detailed the number of phones tapped in the past four months. The three-judge bench revealed that over 6,500 phones were tapped each month from February through May. The ISI’s classified report furnished to the court is part of a hearing on a 19-year-old sua motu case in which the court is examining the law being used to justify phone tapping.

India

Tests completed for India’s fastest train

The sixth and final trial for Gatimaan Express, the first semi high-speed train service in India was completed on Tuesday (TOI). The train covered the 195-km (121 mile) journey between Delhi and Agra in 115 minutes, reaching a maximum speed of almost 160 kph (99 mph). The train is equipped with a 5,400HP electric locomotive. Bhupinder Dhillon, public relations officer for divisional railway manager (DRM), Agra, told reporters: “It was the last trial run of Gatimaan Express, which was conducted by the maintenance department of Northern Railway. So, now we can expect the train to be flagged off soon.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the service in the coming weeks.

Services sector in India contracts for the first time in a year

On Wednesday HSBC released its research for the past month indicating that the Service Sector Business Activity Index in India fell in May to 49.6 from 52.4 in April, showing a contraction in the sector (WSJ). This is the first time the index has fallen below 50 since May 2014. Services sector contributes 60% to India’s GDP. The findings follow other recent indicators, such as industrial production, freight traffic, and bank credit, that show India’s economy is struggling to gather momentum, despite recently revamped GDP data showing a robust expansion. HSBC said competitive pressures and natural disasters were to blame for crimping demand. However, businesses are optimistic that a broader improvement in the economy would lead to a pickup in activity over the next year. A similar survey by HSBC released Monday showed manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in four months in May.

Indian government launches a website to trace lost children

The Indian government has launched a new initiative to help families trace the tens of thousands of children who are separated in the country every year. The Khoya Paya, or “Lost and Found” website — khoyapaya.gov.in — was launched by Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi on Wednesday, who said the portal would allow parents to register details of missing children and citizens to report sightings. Gandhi said that according to National Crime Records Bureau nearly 70,000 children are reported missing every year in India and only about a third of them are recovered. Missing children in India are often abducted and forced into labor or sexual exploitation.

 

Afghanistan

Afghan anti-corruption body criticizes nepotism in government

In a report released on Wednesday, the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, an independent Afghan anti-corruption body, said that nepotism plays a critical role in getting a job as a diplomat in the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (AP). The committee’s executive director, Ahmad Rashed Behrorz, says officials with power prefer to appoint relatives to job openings, often overlooking other qualified candidates. He said such practices undermine constitutional guarantees of equality for all Afghan citizens.

Karaoke capital of Afghanistan

Mazar-i-Sharif, a city in northern Afghanistan most famous for its blue mosque that dates back to the 1400s, is developing a reputation as the karaoke capital of Afghanistan (Reuters). More than a dozen clubs operate in the city and although there’s no alcohol, customers enjoy tea and shisha while signing. One club owner told a reporter that they get up to 500 customers a night and they will stay until 1 a.m.

— Emily Schneider and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Schneider is a program associate in the International Security Program at New America. She is also an assistant editor of the South Asia channel. @emilydsch

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