The South Asia Channel

Pakistan Still Wants to Play a Role in Peace Talks; Reports of Taliban, ISIS Fighting in Nangarhar; Greenpeace India Prevented from Collecting International Donations

Pakistan Still Wants to Play a Role in Peace Talks; Reports of Taliban, ISIS Fighting in Nangarhar; Greenpeace India Prevented from Collecting International Donations

Editor’s Note: The South Asia Channel will not be publishing a daily brief on Monday, Sept. 7, but will resume publication on Tuesday, Sept. 8.


Pakistan still wants to play a role in peace talks

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qazi Khalilullah, said on Friday that Islamabad is “still ready to facilitate the revival of stalled peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban” (VOA, ET). The comments came during a press conference held shortly after Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz left to attend the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan summit in Kabul. At the summit, Aziz will be meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to “restore trust and confidence between the two countries” and urge Afghanistan to stop the anti-Pakistan media campaign (RFE/RL).

Military operation in Waziristan to go to 2019

Pakistani military officers told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence on Thursday that the operation in North and South Waziristan will last until 2019 (ET). The operation is designed to combat all militant groups in the Waziristan area and prevent groups from exploiting the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Officers also told the committee that the military will be used as a back-up force in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas past 2019. According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah, Pakistan has spent $1.9 billion in Operation Zarb-i-Azb, the current operation in Waziristan, and the return of temporary displaced persons (Dawn).


Bonus read: “Germany and Sweden Are Said to Help Make Afghan ‘Kill Decisions’,” Rod Nordland (NYT)

Reports of Taliban, ISIS fighting in Nangarhar

According to Lt. Col. Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, the Nangarhar provincial police spokesperson, 23 Taliban and Islamic State militants were killed in a gun battle between the two groups on Friday (Pajhwok). Mashriqiwal added that one civilian was killed and four others were wounded. Local elders reported that Islamic State fighters took up residence in civilian homes causing 14 civilians to be killed during the battle. They also claimed that Islamic State fighters abducted 22 other civilians. No militant group has commented on the incident so far.

Afghani rises against the dollar, rupee

Afghanistan’s currency, the Afghani, rose against the U.S. dollar and the Pakistani rupee at the weekend (Pajhwok). The appreciation was attributed to the $40 million purchase from the open market by Da Afghanistan Bank, Afghanistan’s central bank. Food Traders Union head Fazal Rahman acknowledged the central bank’s move also led to a drop in food prices, including flour and ghee. The current buying rate is 1 USD to 62.70 AFN and 1,000 Pakistani rupees to 600 AFN. Last week’s exchange value stood at 65.10 AFN to the dollar and 619 AFN to 1,000 Pakistani rupees.


Greenpeace India prevented from collecting international donations

Greenpeace officials in India told the media on Thursday that the Indian government cancelled the organization’s license to receive donations from outside the country (PTI, BBC, Guardian). Senior Greenpeace India official Vinuta Gopal said the move was “a desperate attempt to get us to cease our work” where as government officials allege that Greenpeace has been working against the economic interests of the country.

Earlier this year in April, the government froze Greenpeace’s local bank accounts accusing the organization of violating tax laws, but Delhi High Court overturned those orders from the Home Ministry. Greenpeace claims it is being targeted because of its campaigns regarding pollution and environmental damage, issues that can sometimes threaten certain developmental projects the BJP government is very keen on.

Since coming to power, the BJP government has cracked down on several non-governmental organizations, canceling licenses for 9,000 organizations this year on charges of not complying with the tax code of the country.

Train derails in Tamil Nadu, 40 injured

Five carriages from a passenger train traveling between Chennai and Mangalore in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, derailed early Friday morning, severely injuring at least 40 people (BBC, IBT). Injured passengers were rushed to local hospitals and all railway traffic in the sector was suspended. India’s government run railway network, comprising of more than 12,000 passenger trains, has often been criticized for subpar safety standards as accidents are becoming increasingly frequent. Last month 24 passengers were killed in Madhya Pradesh when two trains derailed within minutes of each other, and in March another train derailment killed at least 34 people in Uttar Pradesh.

20 years imprisonment for three men for raping a Japanese tourist

A court in Delhi sentenced three men to 20 years imprisonment who had raped a Japanese student after pretending to be tour guides in Jaipur, the capital of western Rajasthan state this February (NYT/AP). The court was told that these men took the woman to a near by village, raped her and left her on the roadside, where she was found by locals badly injured.

India has put in place severe anti-rape laws in response to wide scale protests across the country in December 2012 after a young female student died due to being brutally raped and beaten in a bus driving around in Delhi.

— Courtney Schuster and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen