The South Asia Channel

F-16 Struck by Taliban Fire; US, Japan, India Conduct Joint Naval Exercise; PM Sharif Visits US

Afghanistan F-16 struck by Taliban fire Taliban small arms fire struck an American F-16 fighter jet over the Sayid Karam district of eastern Paktia province last Tuesday (ET). Military officials confirmed that the F-16 was struck by Taliban fire to Agence France-Presse. On Tuesday, the Taliban claimed to have downed the jet on Twitter, but ...

Two US Airforce grounstaff inspect a F-16 fighter jet at the Bagram Airbase in the Parwan province, some 50 kms north of Kabul on August 10, 2009. The top US military commander in Afghanistan says the Taliban have gained the upper hand in the country, forcing the United States to change its strategy by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas, The Wall Street Journal reported.   AFP PHOTO/  MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Two US Airforce grounstaff inspect a F-16 fighter jet at the Bagram Airbase in the Parwan province, some 50 kms north of Kabul on August 10, 2009. The top US military commander in Afghanistan says the Taliban have gained the upper hand in the country, forcing the United States to change its strategy by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas, The Wall Street Journal reported. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

F-16 struck by Taliban fire

Taliban small arms fire struck an American F-16 fighter jet over the Sayid Karam district of eastern Paktia province last Tuesday (ET). Military officials confirmed that the F-16 was struck by Taliban fire to Agence France-Presse. On Tuesday, the Taliban claimed to have downed the jet on Twitter, but instead the jet jettisoned its fuel tanks and munitions before returning to base. Initially the U.S. military denied the incident stating that it had no “operational reporting to support the Taliban claims.” However, it later confirmed the jet encountered small arms fire. The Taliban have previously managed to down helicopters but they have never downed a fighter jet and even events along the lines of Tuesday’s incident in which the jet was hit are rare.

Fact finding team: intelligence failure behind fall of Kunduz

On Sunday, a fact-finding team launched by Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga (lower legislative house) reported that a lack of intelligence was the main reason behind the fall of Kunduz City to the Taliban (TOLO News). The team also noted the Taliban effectively infiltrated government forces in the city and warned of the risk that Kunduz could fall again. The report provided information on Taliban and government casualties but did not provide details on civilian casualties during the battle.

Iran to boost oil exports

On Saturday, Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh expressed support for increased oil exports to Afghanistan in part to confront oil smuggling across the border (TOLO News). Zangeneh commented: “Increased exports will prevent smuggling so that only quality products will be exported to Afghanistan.” Zangeneh’s comments followed a meeting with Afghan Minister of Mines and Petroleum Daud Shah Saba on Saturday.

Afghan defense minister says militants hid in hospital

On Monday, Afghanistan’s acting Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai claimed that Taliban insurgents and potentially Pakistani operatives were using the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz as a “safe place” (Dawn). Stanekzai claimed that a Taliban flag was hoisted on the hospital’s wall and said Afghanistan would not support an independent investigation of the incident, which Doctors Without Borders has called for. Doctors Without Borders has repeatedly denied that Taliban fighters were active in the hospital at the time of the United States air strike that killed at least 22 people.

— David Sterman

India

Bonus Read: “The Indian women who took on a multinational and won,” by Justin Rowlatt (BBC).

U.S., Japan, and India conduct joint naval exercise

The United States, Japan, and India began conducting a joint naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal over the weekend (WSJ, The Hindu). The U.S. Navy described the drills as a “complex, high-end warfighting exercise.” India has steadily been strengthening its defense ties with the United States and Japan to counter increased Chinese capabilities. India has been wary of China’s increasing naval presence in the Indian Ocean, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made the modernization of India’s military and the expansion of its navy a high priority. A major focus of the military improvements is the upgrade of the Indian Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities in response to increased activity by Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean. Additionally, Richard R. Verma, the U.S. ambassador to India, told the media on Sunday that the United States is considering sharing aircraft carrier technology with India. The trilateral naval maneuvers will conclude on Monday.

Indian and Nepalese high-level ministers meet

The deputy prime minister of Nepal met the foreign minister of India in New Delhi on Sunday to discuss the ongoing political crisis and consequent fuel shortage in Nepal (NDTV, Indian Express). Protesters from the Madhesi ethnic group in Nepal have disrupted fuel imports from India by blocking main border crossings on Nepal’s southern border, setting off a fuel crisis in the country. Many Madhesis are unhappy with Nepal’s new constitution, which they argue disproportionately favors other ethnic groups. Some in Nepal have accused India, which has been sympathetic to the Madhesis, of being complicit in the blockade. In the meeting, Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa said that Kathmandu was prepared to resolve the political crisis through “dialogue” soon. In turn, India agreed to allow 300 trucks carrying fuel supplies stuck at the Raxaul border crossing to be rerouted through other border crossing points.

Tibetan exiles vote

Tibetan exiles from around the world voted on Sunday to select nominees for prime minister and members of parliament (ABC, NDTV). The government-in-exile has been based in the northern Indian hill town of Dharmasala since the Dalai Lama fled Chinese occupation in 1959. This is the second time Tibetan exiles have been able to vote for their leaders, with the Dalai Lama giving up his political powers in 2011 to focus on his role as the spiritual leader of the community. A major issue differentiating candidate platforms in the election is whether or not Tibet should seek complete independence or negotiate for greater autonomy within China. More than 80,000 voters had registered for the election, and the results are expected to be announced in December. A final runoff election for nominees and candidates receiving at least one-third of all votes will take place on March 20.

— Udit Banerjea

Pakistan

PM Sharif visits US

On Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif departed for his official visit to the United States (ET). Sharif will meet with President Obama, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council and the United States Chambers of Commerce. In a statement Sharif commented: “Pakistan-US relations are advancing satisfactorily.” Prior to the visit Pakistan’s foreign office dismissed reports that the Sharif would discuss a possible civil nuclear deal with the United States during his visit.

Former general replaces Sartaj Aziz as national security adviser

Lt. Gen. (ret) Nasir Khan Janjua will replace Sartaj Aziz as Pakistan’s national security adviser in the next 24 hours, according to a report in Dawn on Monday (Dawn). Aziz is expected to maintain his foreign affairs portfolio. The decision to replace Aziz as national security adviser was made in principle last week. It is unclear what prompted the decision.

Zulfiqar Mirza announces new party

Former Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza announced the formation of a new political party on Monday (ET). Mirza had served as home minister under the Pakistan Peoples Party but developed disputes with the party’s co-chairperson, Asif Ali Zardari.

— David Sterman

Edited by Peter Bergen

MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

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