The South Asia Channel

NATO forces contacted during Kunduz hospital strike; Pakistan to receive $502 million bailout from IMF; Gujarat High Court upholds polygamy for Muslims; ISIS claims attack killing police officer

Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Initial MSF internal review: attack on Kunduz trauma center, Afghanistan,” by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Doctors Without Borders contacted NATO forces during Kunduz hospital strike According to a new report released by Doctors Without Borders, following the U.S. air strike on their Kunduz hospital, medical staff frantically attempted to alert military headquarters ...

The damaged hospital in which the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical charity operated is seen on October 13, 2015 following an air strike in the northern city of Kunduz. Thirty-three people are still missing days after a US air strike on an Afghan hospital, the medical charity has warned, sparking fears the death toll could rise significantly. AFP PHOTO        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The damaged hospital in which the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical charity operated is seen on October 13, 2015 following an air strike in the northern city of Kunduz. Thirty-three people are still missing days after a US air strike on an Afghan hospital, the medical charity has warned, sparking fears the death toll could rise significantly. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “Initial MSF internal review: attack on Kunduz trauma center, Afghanistan,” by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)

Doctors Without Borders contacted NATO forces during Kunduz hospital strike

According to a new report released by Doctors Without Borders, following the U.S. air strike on their Kunduz hospital, medical staff frantically attempted to alert military headquarters in Kabul and Washington D.C. (Guardian, NYT). Approximately 45 minutes into the attack, NATO’s Afghanistan mission responded to the hospital’s calls with a text saying, “I’m sorry to hear that, I still do not know what happened.” When hospital staff demanded an end to the strikes, a NATO officer responded, “I’ll do my best, praying for you all.” The strikes reportedly continued for another 15 minutes. The report graphically describes the deaths and injuries of staff members, noting that many died on makeshift operating tables or were burned alive running to safety. The internal investigation concludes that although wounded Taliban fighters were being treated at the hospital, there were no armed men or nearby fighting before the attack.

Afghanistan turns to India for helicopters

Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar will travel to New Delhi this weekend to finalize the transfer of four Russian-made Mi-25 helicopters, according to New York Times sources in New Delhi and Kabul who are involved in the plans (NYT, RFE/RL). A wave of bombings in Kabul that President Ashraf Ghani said were plotted in Pakistan, followed by the Taliban’s brief takeover of Kunduz, has prompted Afghanistan to seek regional support. “We are going to give them the helicopters, [but] this is a one-off arrangement,” said an Indian security official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The supply of helicopters will be the first offensive weapon given to Afghanistan from India since the countries signed a strategic partnership agreement in 2011.

Finland suspends decisions of Afghan asylum seekers

Finland announced on Wednesday that has suspended its decision-making process for Afghan migrants due to an ongoing security assessment of Afghanistan (Reuters). “The guidelines for making decisions on asylum applications are updated on the basis of the obtained information,” according to the statement released by the Finnish Immigration Service. The immigration service also stated that Finland would review European Union practices and consider returning people to Afghanistan. Last month, Finland narrowed asylum criteria for Iraqis and Somalis based on its assessment of an improved security situation in both countries.

Pakistan

Bonus Read: “In Pakistan, reconstruction and resilience in earthquake’s aftermath,” by Midhat Ali Zaidi (UNICEF)

Pakistan to receive $502 million bailout from IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Friday that Pakistan will receive the tenth tranche of $502 million next month under a bailout package arrangement (Economic Times). “The mission and Pakistani authorities have reached staff-level agreement on the completion of the ninth review under the Extended Fund Facility arrangement,” IMF’s mission chief to Pakistan Harold Finger announced. Finger said that Pakistan needs to develop four weak areas: taxation, energy sector reforms, restructuring and privatization of public sector enterprises, and improvement in investment climate. According to Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the IMF is expected to approve disbursement at its next meeting on Dec. 15.

Prime minister announces Rs2.5 billion development package for Lodhran

On Friday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a grant of Rs2.5 billion (almost 40 million USD) and multiple development projects for Lodhran district in Punjab province (ET). Lodhran’s grant is a part of Sharif’s Rs341 billion (5.1 billion USD) Kisan relief package announced last month for small farmers. “Although I have been asked to provide Rs2 billion but I will provide Rs2.5 billion for development works in Lodhran,” Sharif said while addressing farmers during his visit to Lodhran, adding that it was the largest relief package ever to be granted to farmers. Further, the prime minister announced construction of a commerce college, an agriculture university, and the construction of a highway in Lodhran which will connect the city to Karachi and Lahore.

India

Bonus Read: “Will beef undo Narendra Modi’s chances in Bihar election?” (BBC)

Gujarat High Court upholds polygamy for Muslims under protest

The high court of the western state of Gujarat reluctantly upheld a Muslim man’s ability to marry multiple women on Thursday, noting that “there is no law in [India] which takes care of this situation” (NDTV, DNA). Polygamy is illegal under the Indian Penal Code, but for personal and family issues, Muslims in India are subject to an independent Muslim Personal Law, which is based on Islamic Sharia law. Jafar Abbas Merchant, a Muslim man, had approached the high court to throw out a complaint filed against him by his wife for marrying another woman. In a strongly-worded order, the court ruled in favor of Jafar but noted that Muslim men were misinterpreting the Quran and misusing its polygamy provision for “selfish reasons.” The court called on the government to fix the disparity in laws, noting that polygamy and unilateral divorce were in violation of the Indian constitution. “On the basis of modern, progressive thinking, India must shun the practice and establish uniform civil code,” the justices wrote in their judgment.

Chinese smartphone maker sells 1 million phones in India in 3 months

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi sold 1 million phones in India between July and September, representing its fastest growth in the country since entering the market last year (WSJ). Last year, Xiaomi sold a total of 3 million phones. Xiaomi entered the Indian market in response to increasing competition in the Chinese domestic market. The company is relying on internet flash sales, with some devices selling for as little as one rupee ($0.02) during a sale for the Hindu holiday of Diwali. India’s smartphone market is small but expected to grow rapidly, and companies like Xiaomi are hoping to capitalize on that growth.

Bangladesh

ISIS claims attack killing police officer

ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed one police officer and injured another, theNew York Times reported on Friday (NYT). The attack took place on Wednesday at a checkpoint 30 miles outside Dhaka, the capital. There have been fears of rising Islamist violence in the country from both domestic and foreign groups. Earlier this week, a secular publisher was murdered by Islamic extremists, while two other writers and another publisher were injured in a separate attack. At least four atheist bloggers have been murdered in Bangladesh this year by Islamic extremists, with a regional al Qaeda division claiming responsibility for some of those attacks. ISIS has also claimed responsibility for three other attacks, including a bombing in Dhaka onOct. 4 that killed a teenager and injured 100 other people. Bangladeshi government officials deny the presence of ISIS in the country, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has attributed the attacks to a conspiracy by domestic political opponents.

— Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea

Edited by Peter Bergen

With the upcoming Burmese elections on Sunday, don’t miss this new Backstory episode, where FP’s Christian Caryl reports from Rangoon, Burma. He talks about how much Burma, whose official name is Myanmar, has changed in the past four years, what Burmese voters in urban and rural areas actually care about most, and the one crucial thing that Westerners always forget about Aung San Suu Kyi. Listen and subscribe here

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images

Alyssa Sims is an intern in the International Security Program at the New America Foundation.

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