The South Asia Channel

Ghani Speaks Out Against Child Abuse; Supplies Stuck at Indian-Nepali Border; No Official NYC Sharif-Modi Meeting

Ghani Speaks Out Against Child Abuse; Supplies Stuck at Indian-Nepali Border; No Official NYC Sharif-Modi Meeting

Afghanistan

Ghani speaks out against child abuse

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani released a statement on Wednesday calling child rape “intolerable,” finally weighing in the report of child sexual abuse by Afghan forces in Sunday’s New York Times (NYT, VOA). Ghani spoke to his security authorities and ordered them to prevent the “recurrence of any such acts through taking instructive, reformative, and punitive measures.” He continued: “The laws, culture and religious values of the people of Afghanistan recognize sexual abuse of children as one of the severest crimes and violations of human rights.”

Taliban faced defeat in Helmand districts

On Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Nabi Jan Mullah Khail, the police chief for southern Helmand province, said the security situation in Kajaki and Musa Qala districts was improving (Pajhwok). He told journalists that the Taliban “faced defeat” in the area despite “diverting all their energies to the two districts.” The Taliban spent much of the summer fighting in the area and had captured the Musa Qala district at one point.

Cell phone tax goes into effect

On Wednesday, a 10 percent tax on cell phone users went into effect in an effort to make the Afghan economy self-sufficient (Pajhwok). The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology spokesman, Mohammad Yasin Samim, said telecom companies would be fined 20 to 50 million afghanis ($313,235 to $783,088) if they did not enforce the tax and added that systems were created to monitor the collection records. According to Samim, 23.4 million Afghans use cell phones and more than 700,000 people used 3G internet services. Bonus read: “Afghanistan Calling,” Karim Khoja (South Asia)

India

Supplies stuck at the Indian-Nepali border

Nearly 1,000 oil tankers and other trucks carrying essential supplies are stuck at a Indian-Nepali border crossing due to violent protests in southern Nepal (WP/AP, NYT). Indian customs official Sri Prakash told the Associated Press that “1,500 oil tankers from India used to enter southern Nepal every day from the Jogbani, but there has been no movement for the past three days, raising fear of shortages in the Himalayan nation.” The protesters are unhappy with the Nepali government’s adoption of the new constitution, which is perceived to not provide minorities enough rights in the country. Forty-five people have been killed in the resulting violence so far. The Indian government has already shown its displeasure with the new constitution and in an issued statement criticized the Katmandu police’s response to the rioting and the protests.

Dramatic increase in respiratory diseases in India blamed on air pollution

India’s National Health Profile 2015 indicates that the number of chest and throat disease in India has risen sharply in comparison to previous years, reaching 3.5 million reported cases of acute respiratory infection (ARI) in 2015 (Guardian). Doctors and medical professionals are blaming air pollution in the country as the primary cause of this dramatic increase in ARI cases in 2015, a 30 percent rise over 2010 data. The Indian government has tried to balance environmental concerns with a growing economy but have received severe criticism from numerous environmental organizations including Greenpeace. The Hindustan Times reported last month that India is now “home to 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world” (HT). This summer one study found that half of Delhi’s 4.4 million schoolchildren would never recover full lung capacity.

Royal Bank of Scotland to exit India

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc will exit the Indian market by selling its Indian private banking unit to senior management in the country (Reuters). Shiv Gupta, the bank’s head of business in India will lead the new bank, which will be owned by Sanctum Wealth Management. The transaction is expected to take a year to complete. Although the Indian economy is growing quickly, numerous international banks have had difficulties in successfully acquiring market share in India.

Pakistan

Sharif and Modi have no official NYC meeting

On Tuesday, Paksitan’s foreign office told Reuters that there is no official meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled during their upcoming visit to New York City for the United Nations General Assembly meeting (Reuters). There was speculation that the two leaders would meet as they will be staying at the same hotel.

MQM accuses Rangers of extrajudicial killings

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has made a list of 46 party members it says were killed extrajudicially by the paramilitary Rangers in Karachi, and submitted the list to Prime Minister Sharif’s office (Reuters). The MQM has accused the Rangers of illegally detaining its members before but this is the first time it has accused the Rangers of a campaign of deliberate extrajudicial killings. The MQM is trying to pressure Sharif to make the Rangers more accountable since they began their security operation in Karachi in 2013 to reduce Karachi’s high crime rate.

Top energy officials quit

Three top energy officials in Pakistan resigned in as many weeks over the management of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) system (Dawn). On Wednesday, Mohammad Amjad, the Managing Director of Central Power Purchase Agency — an umbrella organization of all the power generation, transmission, and distribution companies — resigned citing personal reasons. Sources close to Amjad said that the real reason for his resignation was the pressure he faced “from three sides to sign three different [LNG] agreements, which he felt were not in the interests of his organization.” Amjad was allegedly pressured by the Ministry of Water and Power to sign the controversial proposed reimbursement agreement with Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) (Business Recorder).

Last week, the managing director of SNGPL, Arif Hamid, resigned and on Sept. 6, Asghar Khan, the legal department head of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board resigned.

— Courtney Schuster and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

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