The South Asia Channel

Nearly 70 Percent of Pakistan Without Power After Transmission Trips; Indian and Japanese Coast Guards Conduct Joint Exercise; U.S. Designates Afghan ISIS Affiliate Terror Organization

Pakistan Nearly 70 percent of Pakistan without power after transmission trips Large sections of Pakistan — approximately 70 percent, according to National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) sources — lack power supply after a transmission line tripped in Punjab’s Muzaffargarh district on Friday (Dawn). Various areas in the Punjab, Azad, Jammu, and Kashmir provinces suffered ...

TOPSHOTS
This picture taken on February 24, 2013 shows Pakistani youth crossing a street during a nationwide power blackout in Karachi.  Pakistan was hit by a nationwide blackout for more than two hours after the breakdown of a major plant caused power stations to stop working across the country, officials said on February 25.  AFP PHOTO/Asif HASSAN        (Photo credit should read ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOTS This picture taken on February 24, 2013 shows Pakistani youth crossing a street during a nationwide power blackout in Karachi. Pakistan was hit by a nationwide blackout for more than two hours after the breakdown of a major plant caused power stations to stop working across the country, officials said on February 25. AFP PHOTO/Asif HASSAN (Photo credit should read ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan

Nearly 70 percent of Pakistan without power after transmission trips

Large sections of Pakistan — approximately 70 percent, according to National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) sources — lack power supply after a transmission line tripped in Punjab’s Muzaffargarh district on Friday (Dawn). Various areas in the Punjab, Azad, Jammu, and Kashmir provinces suffered a power breakdown at around 9:30 (PKT) this morning, while over 15 power plants were shut-down as a safety precaution to prevent the national grid from tripping. NTDC officials said transmission will be restored within a few hours.

Pakistan closes several JeM-run religious schools

Pakistani authorities have shut down several seminaries run by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the militant group accused of masterminding the attack on Pathankot air base in India (NYT, Reuters, Dawn). “Officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department raided the Jamiatul Nur seminary in the Daska area on Thursday and arrested more than a dozen people,” Rana Sanaullah, the law minister of the Punjab province where JeM is headquartered, told Reuters. Sanaullah said several other offices and religious schools run by the militant group were also raided and shut down. The crackdown follows the arrest this week of Maulana Masood Azhar, leader of JeM, and many of its members. Pakistan has said it is cracking down on Azhar’s group while it investigates Indian assertions that the Jan. 2 attack on the Pathankot air base was orchestrated by JeM militants.

Pakistani PM vows to end honor killings after Pakistani Oscar nomination

In a statement from Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office on Thursday, Sharif congratulated director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on her Academy Award (Oscar) nomination for her documentary on honor killings and vowed to eradicate the practice (RF/ERL, Dawn). Hundreds of women are reportedly murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year on the grounds of defending family honor. Their male murderers are often pardoned by relatives under the country’s controversial law that allows murderers to escape punishment under these circumstances. In the statement, Sharif expressed the government’s commitment “to rid Pakistan of this evil by bringing in appropriate legislation.”

India

Bonus Read: “India internet: Laying the foundation,” by James Crabtree (FT)

Bonus Read: “Urban pollution in India: Particular about particulates,” (Economist)

Muslim couple assaulted over beef rumors

A Muslim couple was assaulted on a train by a group of Hindus over suspicions that they were transporting beef (BBCThe Hindu). Several Hindu passengers began searching the train after recovering an unclaimed bag of meat, which later turned out to be buffalo meat. The group physically assaulted Mohammed Hussain and his wife Naseema Bano, who then called family members for help. “Around 10 to 15 people boarded the train when it reached the station and started searching the passengers’ bags. They assaulted some passengers. They also checked our bags and even assaulted my wife,” said Hussain. The BBC reported that seven people have been arrested for the assault and that the incident is being investigated by the railway police. The slaughter and consumption of cows is seen as taboo by many Hindus. Last year, a Muslim man was beaten to death over false rumors that he was storing and consuming beef in his house, setting off a national discussion on intolerance.

Indian and Japanese coast guards conduct joint exercise

Ships from the Indian and Japanese coast guards participated in a joint exercise known as Sahyog-Kaijin on Friday (ETThe Hindu). The annual exercise, in its fifteenth edition, was held in the Bay of Bengal off the southeastern coast of India. Indian Vice Admiral H. C. S. Bisht said that the goal of the exercise was to “engage with each other in case of any contingency and fine tune our strategy so that we can keep larger maritime frontiers safe.” This is the second joint military exercise between India and Japan in a span of three months, with the Japanese and Indian navies participating in the Malabar exercise alongside the United States navy in October of last year. Japan and India have sought to deepen military ties in recent years in the face of increasing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean region.

Sri Lanka to release 104 Indian fishermen

The government of Sri Lanka announced on Thursday that it would release 104 Indian fishermen as a gesture of good will (Indian Express). The fishermen were arrested by Sri Lanka’s navy for allegedly poaching in the country’s territorial waters. The arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka remains a sticking point in the relations between the two countries. Sri Lanka accuses Indian fishermen of straying into its territorial waters, while India maintains that they are simply operating in their traditional fisheries.

Afghanistan

U.S. designates Afghan ISIS affiliate terror organization

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of State designated the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISK), the Afghan affiliate of ISIS, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (NYT, TOLO News). According to the statement, ISK announced its formation on January 10, 2015. The group is based in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region and is composed primarily of former Afghan and Pakistani Taliban members. ISK’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was accepted in late January 2015. Since then, ISK has carried out suicide bombings, small arms attacks, and kidnappings in eastern Afghanistan against civilians and the Afghan Army.

Afghan ISIS leader reportedly killed in drone strike

Afghan officials announced the death of Hafiz Saeed Khan, the leader of the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISK), who they say was killed in a U.S. drone strike in a remote part of Nangarhar on Thursday (VOA, TOLO News). U.S. military officials in Kabul confirmed an airstrike was launched on Thursday in that area, but said they were unable to determine whether Hafiz Saeed Khan was among the casualties. Nangarhar province governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told Voice of America it was officially determined that Khan and his fighters were hit by the missile. Last July, similar reports surfaced confirming Khan’s death that turned out to be false.

–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea

Edited by Peter Bergen

ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images

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