The South Asia Channel

Suicide Blast Kills 6 U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan; India Considers Changes in Juvenile Justice Act; Nepal to Amend Constitution; China, Pakistan Ink Power Plant Deal

Editor’s Note: The South Asia Channel will not be publishing a daily brief on Wednesday, Dec. 23 and over the Christmas and New Year holidays, but will resume publication on Monday, Jan. 4. Afghanistan Suicide blast kills 6 U.S. troops in Afghanistan On Monday, six American soldiers were killed when a Taliban suicide bomber on ...

To go with Afghanistan-unrest-US-Bagram,FEATURE by Emmanuel PARISSE
In this photograph taken on November 1, 2014, a US flag is pictured as demolition work continues in Bagram Air Base, some 50 kms north of Kabul. First they remove the power supply, then they tear out fixtures by hand, before a mechanical digger destroys the roof in a cloud of dust -- the US military is ending its war in Afghanistan and the wrecking crews are busy. AFP PHOTO/Wakil KOHSAR        (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with Afghanistan-unrest-US-Bagram,FEATURE by Emmanuel PARISSE In this photograph taken on November 1, 2014, a US flag is pictured as demolition work continues in Bagram Air Base, some 50 kms north of Kabul. First they remove the power supply, then they tear out fixtures by hand, before a mechanical digger destroys the roof in a cloud of dust -- the US military is ending its war in Afghanistan and the wrecking crews are busy. AFP PHOTO/Wakil KOHSAR (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: The South Asia Channel will not be publishing a daily brief on Wednesday, Dec. 23 and over the Christmas and New Year holidays, but will resume publication on Monday, Jan. 4.

Afghanistan

Suicide blast kills 6 U.S. troops in Afghanistan

On Monday, six American soldiers were killed when a Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcyle attacked a military convoy near Bagram Air Base (NYT, NPR, CNN, Post, Pajhwok, RFE/RL). Abdul Shakor Qudosi, the district governor of Bagram, said the attacker struck a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol and also wounded three Afghan police officers. The Taliban claimed the attack in a post on Twitter. Prior to the attack, 15 American soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan in 2015. The attack comes as security in Afghanistan deteriorates drawing coalition forces into more direct combat.

British troops deployed to retake Sangin

British troops have been deployed to help retake Sangin district after Taliban forces seized the majority of the district threatening to make further advances in Helmand province, according to reports on Tuesday (Pajhwok, TOLO News). A British Ministry of Defense spokesperson stated: “As part of the UK’s ongoing contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, a small number of UK personnel have deployed to Camp Shorabak in Helmand province in an advisory role.” According to the spokesperson, the forces remain in an advice role, not in a combat role. More than 100 British soldiers died in Sangin over the course of the Afghan War so far.

69 Afghan refugees rescued off Turkish coast

On Monday, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued 69 Afghan refugees of the coast of Turkey’s Izmir province (TOLO News). The refugees had been trying to reach the Greek island of Chios. Two bodies – that of a three-and-a-half year old child and a 17-year-old girl – were found near Chios. More than 3,000 refugees have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2015.

— David Sterman

India

Bonus Read: “India entangled in bureaucracy and graft,” by Victor Mallet (FT)

Indian parliament to consider changes to Juvenile Justice Act

Indian lawmakers are expected to vote on Tuesday to lower the age at which a person charged with a serious crime can be tried as an adult from 18 to 16 (WSJ, The Hindu). The move comes after a rapist convicted in a fatal 2012 gang rape in Delhi was released over the weekend after serving three years in a reformatory, the maximum sentence allowed for a minor under the Juvenile Justice Act. The convict was 17 years old at the time of the crime and was thus tried as a minor. The four other men convicted in the case have been sentenced to death. Under the amended law, any minor between the ages of 16 and 18 charged with a “heinous crime,” which would carry a minimum seven-year sentence for adults, will be able to be tried as an adult. The parents of the victim from the 2012 case were invited to the Rayja Sabha, the upper house of India’s parliament, to view the proceedings. “If the amendment is passed today, we will know that ours and the nation’s crusades, prayers and tears have been answered. We owe this to our girls. I owe this to the memories of my daughter. I owe this to the mothers, sisters, brothers and the many Indians who have stood by us in our darkest hour,’’ said Asha Devi, the victim’s mother.

Pakistan arrests 66 Indian fishermen

Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency arrested 66 Indian fishermen for allegedly violating the country’s territorial waters in the Arabian Sea on Monday (NDTV, Express Tribune). The authorities also seized 10 fishing boats. According to NDTV, there are currently around 400 Indian fishermen currently in jail in Karachi for similar incursions. India and Pakistan often arrest fishermen who stray into each other’s waters due to a poorly marked maritime boundary.

Seven men sentenced to death in gang rape case

Seven men in India were sentenced to death on Monday for the brutal rape and murder of a Nepalese woman in the northern state of Haryana (BBC, NDTV). The woman was being treated for depression at an Indian hospital when she was reported missing. After her body was found three days later, an autopsy revealed that she was gang-raped and violently murdered. An eighth suspect is being tried in juvenile court, while a ninth suspect killed himself shortly after his arrest.

Nepal

Nepalese government agrees to amend constitution

Hoping to end a months-long blockade of its southern border, the Nepalese government has signaled that it is willing to amend the country’s constitution to meet two of the three key demands made by protesters (WSJ, Indian Express). 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. The Nepalese cabinet agreed on an amendment bill at a meeting on Sunday that would, if passed by parliament, ensure “proportional inclusive representation” for Madhesis in local administrative, army, and police posts and ensure that electoral districts are drawn based on population rather than geography. The government said that it would put in place a political process to resolve the protesters’ third major demand, that state lines be redrawn, within three months. However, protest leaders said they were not satisfied with the government’s announcement and that the blockade would continue. “Our protests will intensify and won’t stop until all our demands are clearly and completely addressed,” said Rajendra Mahato, a senior Madhesi politician.

— Udit Banerjea

Pakistan

China, Pakistan ink coal power plant deal

On Monday, Pakistan and China inked a deal to provide financing for a coal plant in Tharparkar, Sindh (ET, Dawn, Economic Times). Reports vary on the amount of financing that was agreed to ranging from $820 million to $2 billion. The agreements were signed between Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company and Engro Powergen Thar Limited in Beijing. Negotiations over the deal had been ongoing since Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan in April, and the deal was approved by Pakistan’s finance ministry earlier this year.

World Bank approves $35 million loan for Indus River basin

On Monday, the World Bank approved a $35 million loan to support improved management, planning, and development in the Indus River Basin in Pakistan (ET). Patchamuthu Illangovan, the World Bank country director for Pakistan, commented: “Water sector issues are enormous and complex and addressing them will require a strategic engagement over the medium and long term.” The loan is in addition to an earlier $38 million loan for water management projects in the river basin.

— David Sterman

Edited by Peter Bergen

WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images

 

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