The South Asia Channel

Kunduz Offensive Continues; IMF Approves $500 Million For Pakistan; Death Penalty For 2006 Mumbai Train Bombers

Event Notice: “Objective Troy: The Hunt for Awlaki,” Thursday, October 1, 12:15 pm to 1:45 pm, (New America) Afghanistan Kunduz offensive continues, coalition forces aid The U.S.-led coalition dispatched special forces to Kunduz early Wednesday in an effort to help Afghan forces retake the city from the Taliban (Post). Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for ...

A Taliban flag flutters over the main traffic roundabout a day after the insurgents overran the strategic northern city of Kunduz, on September 29, 2015.  Afghanistan on September 29, 2015, mobilised reinforcements for a counter-offensive to take back Kunduz, a day after Taliban insurgents overran the strategic northern city in their biggest victory since being ousted from power in 2001.   AFP PHOTO        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A Taliban flag flutters over the main traffic roundabout a day after the insurgents overran the strategic northern city of Kunduz, on September 29, 2015. Afghanistan on September 29, 2015, mobilised reinforcements for a counter-offensive to take back Kunduz, a day after Taliban insurgents overran the strategic northern city in their biggest victory since being ousted from power in 2001. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Event Notice: “Objective Troy: The Hunt for Awlaki,” Thursday, October 1, 12:15 pm to 1:45 pm, (New America)

Afghanistan

Kunduz offensive continues, coalition forces aid

The U.S.-led coalition dispatched special forces to Kunduz early Wednesday in an effort to help Afghan forces retake the city from the Taliban (Post). Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for the coalition, told Reuters: “Coalition special forces advisers, while advising and assisting elements of the Afghan Security Forces, encountered an insurgent threat in the vicinity of the Kunduz airport at approximately 1 a.m., 30 September,” and as a result, “U.S. forces conducted an airstrike to eliminate the threat in Kunduz.” Col. Tribus did not say what nationality the special forces were, but did reply that they engaged in combat. The United States has conducted two airstrikes near the airport, and according to the BBC, the airport is the only major stronghold in the government’s hands (BBC).

Local officials report that at least 160 Taliban militants were killed in the U.S. airstrikes, and the National Directorate of Security said the Taliban’s shadow governor for Kunduz, Maulvi Salam, was killed (TOLO News, Pajhwok). The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said that more than 100 civilians have been killed or injured in Kunduz (VOA). Bonus read: “Kunduz City Falls,” Ioannis Koskinas (South Asia)

U.S. military leaders want larger U.S. presence after 2016

According to the Associated Press, “U.S. military leaders want to keep at least a few thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016” (AP). Under U.S. President Barack Obama’s current withdrawal plan, only 1,000 embassy-based military personnel for security would remain in the country by the end of 2016. Currently, there are 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to train, advise, and assist Afghan troops. Bonus read: “The US Military: Between A Rock and A Repulsive Place,” Jeff Eggers (South Asia)

Pakistan

IMF approves $500 million for Pakistan

The IMF has approved releasing $504.8 million to Pakistan despite questions from some executive directors over the additional waiver of two conditions (ET). At the most recent IMF Board review, two conditions were waived: lowering the budget deficit and borrowing from the central bank. This brings the total number of waivers for Pakistan up to 12 over the last eight IMF reviews of the program. Although it disbursed the money, the IMF warned Pakistan that it needs to broaden its tax base and do more to give autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan.

U.S. designates Islamic State affiliate in Pakistan terrorist group

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department designated the Islamic State-Khorasan, the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a terrorist group (State, Dawn). With this inclusion on the terror watch-list, the United States can put sanctions on leaders and financiers of the group. The Khorasan group is led by former Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan commander Hafiz Saeed Khan, and consists of former Pakistani and Afghan Taliban members.

India

Bonus read: “India Has Overtaken the U.S. and China to Top Spot in a Key World Foreign Investment Table,” Rishi Iyengar (TIME)

Five men given death sentences for 2006 Mumbai train blasts

A court in Mumbai on Wednesday handed down death sentences to five men and life sentences to another seven, for their involvement in the 2006 blasts on the city’s commuter rail network (BBC, Guardian). A series of seven bombings took place on the evening of July 11, 2006 during the evening rush hour in Mumbai, killing 189 people and injuring more than 800. More than 200 witnesses were examined during the eight-year-long trial. Defense lawyers told the media after the sentencing that their clients were “innocent” and were being framed. The decision is expected to be appealed in the high court. Indian authorities often blame the attack on the Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, a charge denied by Pakistan.

Mob kills man over rumors of cow slaughter

A Muslim man, Muhammad Ikhlaq, was beaten to death by a mob on Monday evening in Dadri in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh over rumors that he and his family had slaughtered cows and stored beef for consumption (NYT, Reuters, BBC). Ikhlaq’s 22-year-old son was also seriously injured in the incident and was admitted to the hospital. Police have arrested six people in relation to the incident and have taken samples of meat from Ikhlaq family’s fridge to get it tested. The family claims that they had stored mutton and not beef. Senior police official Kiran S told the AFP news agency that the “announcement about the family consuming beef was made at a [local] temple.” Eleven states, including Uttar Pradesh have recently instituted laws banning the slaughter of cows.

— Courtney Schuster and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

STR/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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