The South Asia Channel

Pakistan Paramilitary Raids MQM Headquarters; Ghani Says Negotiations With Taliban Key to Peace; US Firm to Pay Indian Workers

Pakistan Paramilitary raids HQ of MQM Paramilitary forces raided the headquarters of the powerful Karachi political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), on Friday and arrested two party members (Reuters). The paramilitary Sindh Rangers, which fall under military command, said they raided MQM headquarters because the party had been making hate speech. The MQM is ...

Activists of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), march at a protest in Karachi on July 14, 2015. Pakistani police have registered a case under terrorism laws against the leader of a major political party who lives in exile in London over a speech criticising the country's powerful military establishment.  AFP PHOTO / Rizwan TABASSUM        (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)
Activists of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), march at a protest in Karachi on July 14, 2015. Pakistani police have registered a case under terrorism laws against the leader of a major political party who lives in exile in London over a speech criticising the country's powerful military establishment. AFP PHOTO / Rizwan TABASSUM (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan

Paramilitary raids HQ of MQM

Paramilitary forces raided the headquarters of the powerful Karachi political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), on Friday and arrested two party members (Reuters). The paramilitary Sindh Rangers, which fall under military command, said they raided MQM headquarters because the party had been making hate speech. The MQM is Pakistan’s fourth largest party and holds the majority of Karachi’s legislative seats. MQM’s leader, Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in London where he is being investigated by British authorities for money laundering, has repeatedly accused the military of targeting his party. Director General of the Sindh Rangers, Maj. Gen. Bilal Akbar, tweeted: “Those apprehended tonight … have been arranging and facilitating hate speeches against peace of Karachi.” Ranger’s spokesperson Major Sibtain Rizvi said in a statement that “more arrests will be made in the near future.” Bonus Read: “MQM Adrift: Karachi’s Brewing Political War,” Syed Moazzam Hashmi (SouthAsia)

Sindh government extends Rangers’ tenure

The Sindh government on Friday extended the Rangers’ stay in Karachi by one year, starting on July 20 (ET, Dawn). The paramilitary force’s tenure for assisting Sindh’s police and civil administration is due to expire on July 19. The deployment of the Rangers is requisitioned under Article 147 of the Constitution and under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, authorizing Rangers to prevent the commission of terrorist acts. Bonus Read: “Changes in Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Legal Regime” Zulfiqar Hameed (NewAmerica)

Afghanistan

Ghani says negotiations with Taliban are solution

In a message to the nation on the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Friday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said negotiations with the Taliban are the only way to “end the bloodshed” and bring peace (AP, Pajhwok). Ghani, who delivered his first Eid message to the nation from the presidential palace in Kabul, has made peace talks with the Taliban a priority since he was elected president last year. He also thanked Mullah Mohammad Omar, the reclusive Afghan Taliban leader, for endorsing the peace talks that occurred earlier in July in Pakistan and said it was important that the Taliban “want to join the political process.” On Thursday, the Afghan government announced that official peace talks with the Taliban will start on July 30th (TOLO).

Number of Afghan refugees returning home surges

The number of Afghan refugees who returned home from Pakistan surged in the first half of the year, exceeding the number who crossed the border in the whole of 2014, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday (Reuters, TOLO). More than 139,000 Afghans have returned from Pakistan since the beginning of 2015. Many of the Afghan refugees said they had to return to their homeland because the situation in Pakistan had become too difficult. However, when the refugees return to Afghanistan, they become displaced within the country and may not be able to go back to their home village because of the security situation. “Afghanistan is still the largest protracted refugee situation in the world,” said UNHCR spokesman Mans Nyberg.

India

Indian workers to be compensated by U.S. firm

A federal jury in the U.S. has sided with nearly 200 Indian oil rig workers in a $20 million claim against a U.S. company for defrauding and exploiting them (BBC). Reports indicate that the workers were brought to the US in 2006 by Alabama-based Signal International, a shipbuilding firm, to repair damaged oil rigs after Hurricane Katrina. Workers had to pay between $10,000-$20,000 each in fees and costs after they were promised jobs and permanent US residency. However, when the men arrived from India in 2006, they discovered that they would not receive the green cards or the permanent residency that had been promised. Reports say the workers also paid $1,050 a month to the firm to live in “isolated, guarded labour camps.” The Press Trust of India reported that the firm was found guilty by a federal jury for defrauding and exploiting workers brought from India. Hurricane Katrina claimed 1,300 lives and displaced thousands in 2005.

Indian security forces kill 7 militants along the India-Myanmar border region

Indian security forces killed seven suspected militants of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland Khaplang in Nagaland on Thursday near the India-Myanmar border region (IBT). At least two civilians were also killed in the crossfire. According to NDTV, Indian Army’s Special Forces launched an operation jointly with the paramilitary Assam Rifles late on Wednesday. The military spokesperson indicated that the security forces came upon the militants during a significant troop relocation and that the firing continued for about an hour.  This operation is widely considered to be in retaliation to the June ambush in Manipur in which at least 18 soldiers were killed and 11 others were injured when the militants attacked an Army convoy.

Journalist killed in suburban Mumbai

On Friday, a journalist from a local news magazine, Raghavendra Dube was killed after he was allegedly assaulted by the staff of a local pub in Thane district of the coastal city of Mumbai, in the south western state of Maharashtra (Hindu). Dube had gone to cover a police raid alogn with who two of his colleagues who were also assaulted during the incident. Dube went missing after the attack and his remains were found some distance away from the bar soon after the alleged attack. In less than 24 hours, three similar cases of attacks have been reported in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane.

— Emily Schneider and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

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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