The South Asia Channel

Ghani and Dempsey Discuss Anti-ISIS Strategy; Pakistan Begins 700 km Gas Pipeline; Modi All Party Meeting Ends Without Resolution

Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Afghanistan’s Karzai gave up the presidency, but not the power” by Sudarsan Raghavan (Post) Ghani and Dempsey discuss anti-ISIS strategy On Sunday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey visited Afghanistan and discussed strategies to confront ISIS with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (DoD, LAT). Dempsey told reporters traveling with him: “I think ...

General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, salutes during a change of command ceremony at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul on August 26, 2014. US Army General James Campbell assumed command of NATO forces in Afghanistan on August 26, taking over from US General Joseph Dunford as the coalition prepares to withdraw the bulk of its combat troops by this year. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai        (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, salutes during a change of command ceremony at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul on August 26, 2014. US Army General James Campbell assumed command of NATO forces in Afghanistan on August 26, taking over from US General Joseph Dunford as the coalition prepares to withdraw the bulk of its combat troops by this year. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “Afghanistan’s Karzai gave up the presidency, but not the power” by Sudarsan Raghavan (Post)

Ghani and Dempsey discuss anti-ISIS strategy

On Sunday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey visited Afghanistan and discussed strategies to confront ISIS with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (DoD, LAT). Dempsey told reporters traveling with him: “I think we’re all having an important discussion on how to address the transregional nature of what is clearly a persistent threat that has to be addressed at a sustainable level of effort over a period of time,” and said that Ghani had told him that he wants Afghanistan to be a “regional hub” in the effort. Dempsey compared the threat in Afghanistan to other sites of ISIS expansion stating: “In Iraq and Syria, you might say they are in stage 6 or 7 or 8 […] In Libya, they are in stage 3 or 4, and in Afghanistan they are in stage 1 or 2.” Also on Sunday, Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, warned that while the U.S. used to call ISIS in Afghanistan nascent, “Now we say it’s probably operationally emergent.” According to Campbell, Ghani has had two videoconferences with President Obama to discuss the issue of ISIS and will soon have another one.

Afghan soldiers killed in friendly fire airstrike

At least seven Afghan soldiers were killed in a coalition airstrike in Afghanistan on Monday (Pajhwok, TOLO News, RFE/RL). According to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, coalition helicopters were flying over an area in Logar Province where Afghan forces were clashing with the Taliban. District Governor Mohammad Rahim Amin said the strike was likely the result of bad coordination while Col. Brian Tribus, a U.S. military spokesman, said the incident was being investigated. The provincial police chief, Mohammad Daoud Ahmadi, stated: “The foreign troops made mistakes. They should have targeted point 55-68 [coordinates] but they targeted point 55-87 which was about one kilometer from the target. However it was not coordinated with us.”

Six captured policemen released

On Saturday, local officials announced that three policemen captured by the Taliban in northeastern Badakhshan province had been released after three months of captivity (TOLO News). According to Shah Waliullah Adib, the acting governor, the men had been captured during clashes in the province’s Warduj district. Adib added: “The efforts (of tribal elders) continued over the past three months and the six policemen were released without any demands.” The policemen said they were tortured by Tajik and Chechen insurgents.

Pakistan

Bonus Read: “VoIP use by Safoora carnage suspects causes Sindh to invest in counter-strategy: report” by Hasan Mansoor (Dawn)

Pakistan begins work on 700 km pipeline to import gas from China

On Monday, the Pakistani press reported that Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi announced that Pakistan had begun construction work on a 700 km (435 mile) pipeline to import natural gas from China (ET, Dawn, Radio Pakistan). Abassi added that funds from the project would help fund the Pakistani-Iranian gas pipeline and that sanctions on Iran had complicated Pakistani efforts in completing the Iran pipeline.

Court remands MQM leader for transit

On Monday, a Karachi court remanded Qamar Mansoor, a senior MQM leader, into the custody of the Rangers, a paramilitary force tasked with providing security in Karachi, for transit (ET, Dawn). Mansoor had been arrested on Friday in the MQM’s headquarters district of Karachi, Nine Zero, on Friday along with Kaif-ul-Wara, another MQM leader. The two were arrested on charges of facilitating hate speech. The two men’s arrest was the second raid on the MQM in Karachi this year.

Meanwhile in London, Altaf Hussain, the head of the MQM, announced on Sunday that he would go on hunger strike to protest the treatment of Muhajirs, Pakistan’s Urdu-speaking population that migrated from India (ET, Dawn). Hussain accused the Rangers and police of “genocide of Muhajirs, both economically and physically” and stated: “I can never bow down my head before anyone.” The MQM’s Rabita Committee, a coordinating council for the party, reportedly appealed to Hussain to take back his decision to begin a hunger strike.

— David Sterman

India

Modi’s all party meet ends without resolution

The Indian Prime Minister Narindera Modi met leaders from all parliamentary political parties on Monday, a day before the monsoon session of the parliament, in an attempt to resolve issue that may disrupt the proceedings of the house; reports indicate no progress has been made towards a resolution (BBC, Hindu). Analysts say if differences between the government and opposition parties can not be resolved, the session which is expected to debate key bills on the Modi government’s legislative agenda like the land acquisition bill and the national Goods and Sales Tax (GST) bill, will be a washout. Opposition parties are demanding the resignations of three ruling BJP party leaders mired in a scandal if the house is to be allowed to function smoothly. The government’s controversial land bill is also facing fierce opposition. The session is due to begin on Tuesday and will conclude on August 8.

At Monday morning’s meeting, Modi said the government was ready to discuss all issues and urged opposition parties to help pass the land bill. Opposition leaders, however, called for the resignations of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje for helping former IPL cricket chief Lalit Modi obtain a British visa, who lives in London and is wanted by Indian authorities on tax evasion charges. They are also demanding the resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over his alleged involvement in India’s massive medical school admissions examination scandal.

India and Pakistan skirmishes continue on the LoC

Pakistani and Indian troops continued to exchange intermittent firing at the Poonch and Shahpur sectors on the Line of Control near Kashmir (PTI, Dawn, IBT). At least four civilians have been killed and 16 injured in the latest round of fighting. Both governments have blamed each other for the incidents. Prime Ministers from both countries met in Russia last week in an attempt to calm tensions after similar skirmishes in the preceding weeks. Relations between India and Pakistan have been tense for the past month after an Indian operation inside Myanmar’s territory drew statements from a Pakistani ministers threatening that any similar operation inside Pakistani territory would be met with the strongest of force.

Electric power employees threaten to go on strike if controversial bill presented

Chairman of All India Power Engineers Federation Shailendra Dubey threatened on Monday that nearly 1.2 million power employees and engineers across the country will go on one-day strike if the Electricity (Amendment) Bill is presented in the monsoon session of Parliament (HT). This strike could cause severe power disruptions in up to 18 states by one estimate. Despite the opposition of power employees and engineers to the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2014, it has been put on agenda of Lok Sabha (Lower House) and can come up anytime between July 21 and August 13 this monsoon session. Dubey said: “Powermen throughout the country have been alerted to observe strike/work boycott on the day after the bill is presented on the floor.” Dubey alleged the proposed amendments were not based upon ground realities and were in the interest of private power producers.

— Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

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