The South Asia Channel
UN Condemns Attack on Afghan Parliament; Pakistan Declares Heatwave Emergency; China Blocks Indian Effort at UN
Event Notice: “Terrorists at the Table,” Wednesday, June 24, 12:15pm (NewAmerica) Afghanistan UN condemns attack on Afghan Parliament Members of the U.N. Security Council on Monday condemned the terrorist attack on the Parliament building in Kabul that killed two people and injured dozens of others and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice ...
Event Notice: “Terrorists at the Table,” Wednesday, June 24, 12:15pm (NewAmerica)
UN condemns attack on Afghan Parliament
Members of the U.N. Security Council on Monday condemned the terrorist attack on the Parliament building in Kabul that killed two people and injured dozens of others and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice (AP, Pajhwok, TOLO). Michele J Sison, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations said: “The Taliban’s actions today, which the United States condemns in the strongest terms, demonstrate the growing distance between the insurgency and the Afghan people.” In the past week, Taliban forces have been fighting in Kunduz province and on Monday, they were less than four miles from gaining control of the capital city, Kunduz (Post). Bloodshed in Kunduz, a city of 300,000 people is expected to intensify. Nicholas Haysom, U.N. envoy in Afghanistan, told the Security Council that foreign fighters from neighboring countries are compounding the challenge posed by the Taliban and other militant groups and that there was concern that ISIS was gaining a foothold in the country.
Dutch aid worker kidnapped in Kabul
A Dutch woman kidnapped in Afghanistan on Monday was named by Dutch newspaper the Telegraaf as Anja de Beer (Telegraaf, TOLO). She was in Afghanistan working for the Swiss aid organization Helvetas and was the director of the Afghan branch of the organization. Helvetas spokesman Matthias Herfeldt told the paper that she had been in charge of the Afghan operation for a year, but she had been active in the country for about 13 years. De Beer was pulled from her car outside her office in Taimani in Kabul city by armed gunmen at 7:30 a.m., according to eyewitnesses. Police told TOLO News that they immediately launched an investigation and are working to secure de Beer’s release.
Pakistan declares heatwave emergency
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for emergency measures on Tuesday as the death toll from a heatwave in Pakistan reached 450 (BBC, RFE/RL, Reuters). The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said it received orders from Sharif to undertake immediate response measures. The army has also been deployed to set up heat stroke centers. Electricity shortages have cut off access to air conditioning and crippled the water supply system in some areas, including Karachi, making matters worse and leading to harsh criticism of the government’s public health system and K-electric, the private company that supplies electricity to Karachi. Many of the victims are elderly people. But meteorological authorities say rain is due. “We are anticipating a sea breeze will set in some time tonight. The temperature will come down as the monsoon rain enters the Sindh coast, bringing rain to the city,” said Ghulam Rasool, director general of the Meteorological Department.
Pakistan changes stance on Save the Children
Pakistan said Save the Children, an international charity, can continue operating in the country, less than two weeks after ordering the organization to shut down all operations (WSJ). The reversal came after the United States and the United Kingdom expressed their concern about Pakistan’s broader decision to regulate NGOs taken in parallel with the order to close Save the Children. Police sealed the charity’s main office in the capital on June 11 and a day later, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the group had been operating “contrary to its charter and agenda for years.” But on Monday, Khan said the charity would be allowed to operate out of all of its 13 offices in Pakistan. “We got information that the number of their offices is excessive,” Mr. Khan said. “It wasn’t that they were working against Pakistan’s interests.”
China blocks Indian effort at UN to seek explanation from Pakistan over Lakhvi release
China blocked India’s move at the U.N. Sanctions Committee for action against Pakistan for the release of 26/11 Mumbai attacks’ alleged mastermind Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi from jail last month (HT, TOI, NDTV). The committee met at India’s request to seek clarification from Pakistan on Lakhvi’s release but China blocked the move on grounds that India did not provide sufficient information. India approached the U.N. last month against Lakhvi’s release in April this year from a jail in Rawalpindi. The Islamabad High Court had declared his detention illegal and ordered his release. Lakhvi, 55, faces trial, along with six others, over the attack in 2008 in Mumbai, in which 166 people were killed. India’s permanent representative to the U.N., Asoke Mukherjee, wrote to the U.N.’s Sanctions Committee terming Lakhvi’s release a violation of a U.N. resolution on terrorist organizations and groups, including al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba. The sanctions committee includes China as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
SoftBank investing $20 billion in India
Japanese firm SoftBank’s founder, Masayoshi Son, announced on Tuesday in Delhi that SoftBank will team up with Taiwan’s Foxconn and India’s Bharti Enterprises to invest $20 billion in solar projects in India (BBC, LIveMint). The Tokyo-based mobile giant said the project aimed to generate 20GW (gigawatts) of energy through solar and wind power plants. India relies on highly pollutant coal for 60 percent of its energy needs. Son said his company would help manufacture solar equipment in India, adding that SoftBank has invested $1 billion in the country in the last nine months. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants clean energy to help bring electricity to 300 million people without power. Modi has insisted that his commitment to increase India’s renewable energy supplies is not aimed at “impressing the world” following international pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Mother Teresa’s successor passes away
Sister Nirmala, the nun who succeeded Mother Teresa as the head of a charity in the Indian city of Kolkata has died, at the age of 81 (BBC, Reuters, WSJ, NDTV). The former Superior General of Missionaries of Charity was suffering from various ailments. She took over the running of the charity after Mother Teresa died in 1997 and ran it for 12 years before Sister Mary Prema took over in 2009. The Missionaries of Charity cares for the homeless and terminally ill in Kolkata. Archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D’Souza told the AFP news agency that Sister Nirmala “passed away peacefully.” He said: “She had been suffering from a heart disease for quite some time, but she never lost her smile and was always cheerful.” He said Sister Nirmala “carried forward Mother Teresa’s legacy of compassion, gentleness, service to the poorest of the poor and holiness of life.”
— Emily Schneider and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen