The South Asia Channel

India a Key Player in Paris Climate Change Summit; NATO Pledges Annual Funding to Afghan Security Forces until 2020; Pakistani and International Organizations Call to Halt Cybercrime Bill; UNICEF to Nepal: Blockade Endangers Children

India a Key Player in Paris Climate Change Summit; NATO Pledges Annual Funding to Afghan Security Forces until 2020; Pakistani and International Organizations Call to Halt Cybercrime Bill; UNICEF to Nepal: Blockade Endangers Children


Bonus Read: “Paris Climate Change Summit: India’s Moment to Shine,” by Sriram Balasubramanian (FP)

India a key player in Paris climate change summit

India is a key player that could make or break an international agreement on reducing carbon emissions at the ongoing Paris climate negotiations, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported on Monday (NYTWSJ). India is currently the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and its growing energy use over the next 30 years is expected to have a major impact on global carbon emissions. While India plans a major expansion of renewable energy, it is also expected to be the fastest-growing consumer of coal and oil over that period. U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders are pushing for a consensus for universal carbon emission cuts from all countries, but India could obstruct such a deal.

Positioning itself as the champion of developing nations, India argues that the current climate change problem is the result of the industrialization and economic growth of the developed world and that developing countries deserve the same opportunity to grow without excessive constraints. Moreover, on a per capita basis, India currently contributes just 1.7 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, compared to 16.6 tons for the United States and 7.4 tons for China. Indian negotiators are seeking stronger commitments from developed countries for financing renewable energy development in India and other developing countries. Some observers are optimistic that India and other world powers will reach a deal. “We’re seeing [the Indians] put forth their national interest, but you’re also seeing a willingness to negotiate,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert on international climate change negotiations with the World Resources Institute. “They’re staking out the priorities for their country. They know they’re not going to get everything they need, but they’re going to fight hard. This is classic positioning.”

GDP growth picks up to 7.4%

India’s GDP grew at an annual rate of 7.4 percent between July and September, according to official figures released on Monday (BBCET). This growth rate is an improvement from 7 percent over the previous quarter, and it maintains India’s position as the world’s fastest growing major economy. The improvement was largely a result of higher domestic demand and manufacturing activity. However, analysts remained cautious about the sustainability of the growth, noting that agricultural output and farm wages have declined due to drought. India’s central bank is meeting to set the level of interest rates on Tuesday, and this week India’s parliament will debate a key tax reform bill that could boost growth further.


NATO pledges annual funding to Afghan Security Forces until 2020

Speaking at the Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the alliance plans to extend their pledge to finance the Afghan National Security Forces annually until 2020 (TOLO News). “We will also launch work to ensure we can finance the Afghan security forces from 2018 to 2020. Because as you know we made a pledge back at our summit in Chicago several years ago to finance Afghan National Security Forces, but that pledge ends in 2017,” said Stoltenberg. The final decision will be made at the NATO summit in July 2016.

Two Taliban commanders killed in Sar-e-Pul

On Monday, at least two local Taliban commanders and three insurgents were killed in military operations in the Sancharak district of Sar-e-Pul province (TOLO News). According to Provincial Governor Mohammad Zahir Wahdat, “During the clashes with the insurgents two residents were also injured. They were supporting the local security forces.” According to Wahdat, 300 residents of Sancharak are supporting the military operation against insurgents in the district. The operation is ongoing.


Pakistani and international organizations call to halt cybercrime bill

International and domestic organizations in Pakistan released a joint statement on Tuesday demanding an end to the Prevention of Electric Crimes Bill 2015, a cybercrime bill currently awaiting debate in the National Assembly (Dawn). Organizations including Privacy International, Article 19, Human Rights Watch, Association for Progressive Communications, Digital Rights Foundation, and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, contend that the bill poses risks to human rights and was rushed to parliament without proper inquiry. The statement says that certain mandates in the bill “drastically expand the surveillance powers of the Pakistan government and goes against the growing consensus that the blanket retention of all subscribers’ data is an unlawful and disproportionate interference with the right to privacy.”

Pakistan air strikes kill 17 militants

Pakistani air strikes killed 17 militants in the Rajgal area of the Khyber Agency, according to a Nov. 27 statement from the Pakistani Army (RFE/RL). The army reported that foreign militants were among those killed; however, the number and identity of the dead is unconfirmed due to the inaccessibility of the conflict zone. The air strikes are part of an offensive against militants that began in North Waziristan last year.

Bomb targeting Pakistani minister kills two

A remote-controlled bomb attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) province on Nov. 26 targeting Pakistani Federal Minister for Housing and Works Akram Khan Durrani killed at least two people (RFE/RL). Durrani, former chief minister of K-P and a current leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl political party, was targeted as his convoy was traveling in the Bannu district in K-P. At least two employees of the provincial health department were killed.

A founder of Pakistani terrorist group dies in police custody

Haroon Bhatti, a founder of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, died in police custody in Lahore on Nov. 25 (Post). The key figure of the banned terror organization was temporarily removed from a Pakistani prison by police and Counter Terrorism Department personnel to assist them in identifying a suspected terrorist safe house (Dawn). According to officials, militants opened fire when the raiding party arrived at the house, police returned fire, and Bhatti was killed in the crossfire along with three other terrorists.


UNICEF: Blockade endangers children

UNICEF, the U.N. children’s fund, reported on Monday that a blockade along Nepal’s border with India puts more than 3 million Nepalese infants at risk of death or disease (BBC, DW). Protesters from the Madhesi ethnic group in southern Nepal have set up an unofficial blockade along the border with India since September, blocking shipments of essential goods like fuel, food, medicine, and vaccines from India for the past several months. Many Madhesis are unhappy with Nepal’s new constitution, which they argue disproportionately favors other ethnic groups. Nepal is still recovering from anApr. 25 earthquake, and the country’s children are especially vulnerable due to the shortage of essential goods as the onset of winter approaches. “The risks of hypothermia and malnutrition, and the shortfall in life-saving medicines and vaccines, could be a potentially deadly combination for children this winter,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea

Edited by Peter Bergen