The South Asia Channel

Taliban Stage Prison Break in Ghazni; Police Offer Reward for Petlawad Blast Suspect; Blast at Pakistani Bus Terminal Kills 10

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Afghan security forces take position near the main prison building after an attack in Ghazni on September 14, 2015.  Taliban insurgents in military uniform set off a car bomb and stormed an Afghan prison on September 14, freeing hundreds of inmates and killing four policemen in the country's largest jailbreak in years.    AFP PHOTO/ Rahmatullah Alizadah        (Photo credit should read Rahmatullah Alizadah/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan security forces take position near the main prison building after an attack in Ghazni on September 14, 2015. Taliban insurgents in military uniform set off a car bomb and stormed an Afghan prison on September 14, freeing hundreds of inmates and killing four policemen in the country's largest jailbreak in years. AFP PHOTO/ Rahmatullah Alizadah (Photo credit should read Rahmatullah Alizadah/AFP/Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: If you haven’t heard, Foreign Policy launched FP Podcasts last week. The first two programs that debuted were The Editor’s Roundtable (The E.R.) and Global Thinkers. These podcasts are unique in their ability to bring together the powerful with those committed to speaking truth to power. Listen and subscribe today: http://atfp.co/1N5rv3Z

Afghanistan

Taliban stage prison break in Ghazni

In the early morning hours Monday, the Taliban attacked a prison in Ghazni province freeing hundreds of inmates (NYT, BBC, TOLO News). Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, said the prison came under attack at 2 a.m. when militants set off a car bomb at the entrance and engaged in a shootout with guards. Of the 48 police officers guarding the prison at the time, four have been killed and seven others wounded. Sediqqi said: “There were 436 prisoners in the jail; 351 of them escaped,” and of those who fled, 148 were Taliban prisoners charged with “national security crimes.” Sediqqi added that 18 senior Taliban members who were being held at the prison had been moved to Kabul a day before the attack. Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, a member of the provincial council, said that there had been indications that day that the Taliban were preparing to attack. The Taliban have claimed credit for the attack.

US soldier released by Taliban faces hearing

U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was held by the Taliban for five years and freed 15 months ago, faces new trouble (NYT). Bergdahl is to report to San Antonio, Texas this week for a preliminary hearing where the closely held details surrounding Bergdahl leaving his post in Afghanistan six years ago are expected to emerge. The hearing is to determine whether Bergdahl will be court-martialed for desertion.

Afghans in Pakistan return home

The Associated Press of Pakistan is reporting that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has helped 53,166 registered Afghan refugees return to their country from Pakistan so far this year (Pajhwok). It quoted an unnamed official as saying “27,234 registered Afghan refugees from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, 11,758 refugees from Punjab, 4,295 from Sindh, 6,255 from Balochistan, 740 from Islamabad, and 2,884 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir” had returned to Afghanistan. Bonus read: “From Prey to Predator: An Afghan Migrant’s Trafficking Story,” (RFE/RL)

India

Police offer reward for Petlawad blast suspect

Police in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have offered a cash reward for the capture of a suspect, Rajendra Kasawa, in connection with the Saturday’s deadly blast in the town of Petlawad in Jhabua district that killed at least 88 people (BBC, WSJ, Guardian). Officials say Kasawa had a license for explosives used in digging wells, construction, and mining, but he had illegally stored them in a residential area. Kasawa is being charged with criminal negligence and culpable homicide and is said to be on the run since the blast. Most of the victims were workers and school children who were having breakfast at a neighboring restaurant during their morning commute. The chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, visited the site on Sunday and was told by locals that their earlier complaints about Kasawa were ignored by district officials, leading to the suspension of one police officer.

Wholesale prices fall for a 10 consecutive months in India

Government data released on Monday shows that wholesale prices in India have fallen consistently for a 10th straight month dropping by an annual 4.95 percent in August (Reuters, LiveMint, Hindu). There is considerable media speculation that this may trigger an interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank later this month, a policy decision the Modi government has been advocating for quite some time now. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan has resisted the calls until now, primarily due to inflationary concerns even after annual economic growth slowed to 7 percent in the April-June quarter from 7.5 percent in the previous quarter. RBI has already cut interest rates thrice this year and the next review is set for Sept. 29.

Modi accepts invitation to visit facebook headquarters

Prime Minister Modi has accepted an invitation from Facebook’s CEO Mark Zukerberg to visit the company’s headquarters later this month, generating a considerable amount of media buzz about what he should ask him (BBC). The prime minister has asked Indians to send him questions through the official Narendra Modi app.

Supreme Court quashes case against Dhoni

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed criminal proceedings against India’s cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and editor-in-chief of the magazine Business Today, Aroon Purie (Hindu). The two men were charged with hurting religious sentiment when the magazine portrayed Dhoni as Lord Vishnu on a cover. The plaintiffs claimed that these complaints were frivolous and aimed at harassing the cricketer.

Pakistan

Blast at bus terminal kills 10, wounds 60

On Sunday evening, explosion and fire ripped through a bus terminal in the central Pakistani city of Multan killing at least 10 people and injuring 60 others (BBC, VOA, Dawn). Multan CPO Azhar Akram, while talking to Dawn News, said that the explosion occurred when a motorcycle collided with a rickshaw. Early reports alleged that a gas container caused the explosion, but police have said that a gas container might not have been responsible, with Akram calling the cause of the explosion a “bomb…fitted in the motorcycle.” Other officials have claimed the device was remotely detonated. Forensic teams are still investigating and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

US aid agency criticized in Pakistan

The American aid agency, USAID, which has disbursed billions of dollars to Pakistan, is facing new criticism in Pakistan about its effectiveness on the ground (NYT). A recent lawsuit filed in Peshawar by three attorneys is alleging that USAID “abandoned the recovery of U.S. taxpayer money from a former contractor.” The court documents filed by the attorneys show that one subcontractor finished only two of 12 irrigation channels he was contracted to build, and another subcontractor failed to return to USAID more than $27,000 worth of construction material and even demanded nearly $30,000 in rental charges for equipment despite no evidence of any machinery on site. USAID spokesperson Ben Edwards told the New York Times on Sunday said that they have strict oversight of their programs “to hold ourselves and our partners accountable,” and that “USAID’s investments in Pakistan have resulted in dramatic improvements to energy access, education, health, and democracy.”

New polio vaccination drive in KP

On Monday in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a three-day polio immunization drive began amid tight security (Dawn). A total of 5,422 children under the age of five will be immunized in 25 districts. According to the National Immunisation Database, 14,705 mobile teams, 1,586 fixed teams, 737 transit teams, and 107 roaming teams comprising of 17,135 workers are taking part in three-day drive. The workers will also give vitamin capsules to children. There have been 32 reported cases of polio in Pakistan this year so far, down significantly from the 306 cases last year. Polio vaccination teams at the frequent targets of attacks.

— Courtney Schuster and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

Rahmatullah Alizadah/AFP/Getty Images

Courtney Schuster is a research associate with the International Security Program at New America and an assistant editor with the South Asia Channel.

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