Hardik Patel Detained In Surat; US Soldiers In Afghanistan Told To Ignore Child Sexual Abuse; Pakistan Targets Militants After Deadly Base Attack
Hardik Patel detained in Surat
Authorities in the western state of Gujarat detained the young leader of the local Patel community, Hardik Patel as he attempted to hold a rally with several thousand supporters in the city of Surat on Saturday, without the approval of the government (BBC, WP). Local media reports 78 other protesters were also detained by the police and the detentions led to protests in the state capital Ahmedabad. Hardik Patel is arguing for OBC (Other Backward Classes) status for his community, effectively a share in India’s large quota system for access to government jobs and college admission. The Patels, who make up nearly a fifth of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat, and include some of the most prosperous business owners, are arguing that affirmative action quotas for other communities are damaging them severely. Last month, violence at similar Patel rallies led to the death of eight people and the military was deployed to keep peace.
President of BCCI Jagmohan Dalmiya dies in Kolkata
President of the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI), the governing body for the most popular sport in the country, Jagmohan Dalmiya died on Sunday evening at a hospital in Kolkata (BBC, Cricinfo, Reuters). A veteran cricket administrator, Dalmiya is often credited with bringing the World Cup tournament to the subcontinent for the first time in 1983 and later in the 2000s turning BCCI into the extremely influential organization that it is today, by measures such as introducing the financially successful Indian Premier League. Dalmiya was also president of the world cricket governing body, the International Cricket Council, from 1997 to 2000. Hindustan Times described him as the “man who made India the epicentre of world cricket.”
US soldiers in Afghanistan told to ignore child sexual abuse
A New York Times report has found that U.S. soldiers were instructed to ignore child sexual abuse by Afghan allies, even if the abuse occurred on U.S. military bases (NYT). According to interviews and court records, U.S. Marines would hear Afghan militia leaders abusing young boys at Forward Operating Base Delhi in Helmand province and were told by villagers that Afghan Local Police members would abuse the village children. The spokesman for the U.S. command in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus, wrote the New York Times: “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law.” He added that “there would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it” except when rape is used as a weapon of war. In Afghanistan, sexual abuse of children has long been a problem, especially by armed commanders who govern much of the rural countryside, and soldiers reported that discouraging abuse would be imposing cultural values.
Urbanization study finds growth informal, infrastructure lacking
On Monday, the Ministry of Urban Development Affairs delivered the State of Afghan Cities 2015 report to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (TOLO News). The study examined 34 major cities and found that almost one third of Afghanistan’s urban population lives in poverty and has no access to affordable housing and services. It estimated the urban population to be eight million people, with Kabul accounting for 41 percent. Only 31 percent of urban dwellers live in regular housing and only 4 percent live in apartments; irregular housing (54 percent) and hillside housing (7 percent) account for the remainder. While 71 percent of urban dwellers have access to improved water sources, only 14 percent are connected to the piped water network. Only 29 percent of urban dwellers have access to improved sanitation and no Afghan city examined had a comprehensive sewerage system.
Maidan Wardak gets new hospital, nurses
On Sunday, 38 women in Maidan Wardak province graduated from a two-year nursing program aimed at reducing maternal-child mortality rates (Pajhwok). The training program, which cost 28 million Afghanis ($436,206), was funded by the Global Fund and was the first-ever program of its kind in Wardak.
Maidan Wardak province also opened an emergency ward at the main hospital that has separate facilities for staff and drug rehabilitation on Sunday (Pajhwok). Construction of the new ward cost 7.5 million Afghanis ($116,841) and was provided by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan.
Pakistan targets militants after deadly base attack
On Saturday, the Pakistani military carried out air strikes against suspected militant targets in the Tirah Valley near the Afghan border, killing 16 suspected militants (RFE/RL). The air strikes were retaliation for a Pakistani Taliban attack on the Badaber air base on Friday that killed 29 people, including 16 worshippers inside a mosque. On Sunday, Pakistani national security advisor Sartaj Aziz said that there is evidence “that terrorists had telephonic contacts within Afghanistan” (Dawn). Afghan President Ghani’s office issued a statement saying the claims that the attack was “planned” or “controlled” from inside Afghanistan were baseless.
The Express Tribune is reporting that Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif held a high-level meeting on Monday where it was decided that the government will not lodge a protest against Afghanistan but instead “will actively pursue the case” and share evidence with the Afghan government (ET).
Execution of paralyzed inmate scheduled for tomorrow
The execution of Abdul Basit, a 43-year-old paralyzed inmate, has been scheduled for Tuesday by a Faisalabad session court (ET). The imposition of the death penalty in this case has been appealed numerous times, with the Supreme Court dismissing Basit’s appeal. The president granting a stay of execution before tomorrow is the only hope for human rights activists arguing the death penalty in this case would be cruel punishment. Basit became paralyzed in prison due to tubercular meningitis while awaiting death by hanging for murder.
Nepal formally initiates a new constitution
On Sunday, the government in Nepal formally adopted a constitution, which took seven years of political bargaining to develop (WP/AP, Guardian). Passed by the country’s lawmakers last week, the new constitution sets up Nepal as a secular state with seven units within a federal system of bicameral government. Parliamentarians are to be elected through a proportional representation vote. However ethnic minorities and religious groups expressed concerns about the delineation of the federating units, asking for more provinces, aligning with ethnic population centers. Nepal has a considerable number of ethnic groups, nearly 100 by one estimate, and critics say the new constitution limits their representation.
— Shuja Malik and Courtney Schuster
Edited by Peter Bergen
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