The South Asia Channel
Canadian Tourist Taken Hostage Freed by Taliban; Supreme Court Reinstates Ban on Jallikattu; Hackers Take Down Pakistan Government Website on Live Radio
Afghanistan Canadian tourist taken hostage freed by Taliban Colin Rutherford, a Canadian hostage held by the Taliban for five years, was released on Monday in Ghazni province (NYT, Guardian). The Taliban captured Rutherford and released a video of him in 2011 accusing him of being a spy. Rutherford, who was then 26, stated in the ...
Canadian tourist taken hostage freed by Taliban
Colin Rutherford, a Canadian hostage held by the Taliban for five years, was released on Monday in Ghazni province (NYT, Guardian). The Taliban captured Rutherford and released a video of him in 2011 accusing him of being a spy. Rutherford, who was then 26, stated in the video that he “travelled to Afghanistan to study historical sites and shrines.” A Taliban statement said Rutherford’s release was brokered by Qatar. “Canada is very pleased that efforts undertaken to secure the release of Colin Rutherford from captivity have been successful,” Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said in a statement.
UNICEF finds 40 percent of Afghan children out of school
With 40 percent of Afghan school-aged children not enrolled in school, Afghanistan is among the four worst-affected countries with active conflicts, according to a report released by UNICEF on Tuesday (RF/ERL, TOLO News). Nearly one in four children growing up in conflict zones do not have access to formal education, according to the UN children’s agency. “When children are not in school, they are at an increased danger of abuse, exploitation, and recruitment into armed groups,” said Jo Bourne, UNICEF’s head of education.
Bonus read: “How Six Red-Bull Drinking Militants Put India-Pakistan Detente at Risk” By Niharika Mandhana (WSJ)
Supreme Court reinstates ban on Jallikattu
The Indian Supreme Court on Tuesday has reinstated a temporary ban on Jallikattu, a traditional version of bullfighting in India, after the government removed an earlier ban on the sport last week (BBC). The decision to remove the 2014 ban on Jallikattu was successfully challenged in the Supreme Court on the basis of cruelty to animals. Last week, India’s Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar announced that the Jallikattu festival in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, would resume this month, but the event has now been cancelled. Over the years, numerous participants and spectators have been killed or injured at Jallikattu events.
35 member crew of US owned ship sentenced in India
On Monday, a court in the port city of Thoothukudi in the southern state of Tamil Nadu sentenced the 35 member crew of an American-owned ship to five years in prison for entering Indian waters without permission and carrying illegal weapons (NYT/AP). The ship was intercepted in October 2013 by the Indian coast guard and the crew has been on bail since March 2014. According to court officials, the crew comprises six British, three Ukrainian, and 14 Estonian citizens, as well as 12 Indian nationals. At the time of the arrest, the captain of the ship claimed they were carrying weapons because they provide protection to merchant ships in the Indian Ocean.
Passenger vehicle sales grow by 9.8 percent in 2015
According to a report released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on Monday, domestic passenger-car sales in India rose by 9.8 percent in 2015 (WSJ, Hindu). This is the highest percentage growth for the industry in the past five years. The report attributed the growth to interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and low fuel prices. Currently, German manufacturer Mercedes Benz is the most popular non-Indian car brand in India (IBT). On Monday Italian-American car manufacturer Fiat Chrysler also announced that they will be introducing their Jeep brand to the Indian market next month (Reuters).
Bonus read: “Pakistan is Caught in the Middle of the Conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia,” by Omar Waraich (TIME)
Hackers take down Pakistan government website on live radio
An organization known as New World Hackers performed a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Pakistan’s Frontier Constabulary during the hacking group’s radio appearance on the AnonUk Radio Show on Sunday (Newsweek). The group says that the latest attacks were performed “to support Indian hackers,” but claims that at least one of the takedowns was ISIS-related. Cyber-attacks on Pakistani websites originating from India have been taking place for the past week in reaction to the attack at Pathankot Air Force base on Jan. 2, resulting in the deaths of 14 people.
Government orders inquiry into Rangers raid of NYT correspondent’s Islamabad home
On Tuesday, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan ordered an inquiry into “how, why, and on whose orders a raid was conducted at Salman Masood’s house,” according to a statement issued from the Interior Ministry (Dawn). Salman Masood, a New York Times correspondent living in Islamabad, posted pictures on Twitter on Monday showing several Rangers – Pakistani paramilitary and border security — personnel at his home. According to Masood, the officials searched the premises without any warrants and alleged a “terrorist search operation” was underway. Rangers sources told Dawn that no other house in the vicinity was searched.
— Alyssa Sims and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen
Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images