The South Asia Channel

Suicide Bomber Strikes Police Office In Kabul; In Karachi, Pakistan Arrests Infamous Ganglord; Protest Over Caste Quotas Turns Violent

Event Notice: United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists, Wednesday, February 3 (New America NYC) United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists (DC Launch), Tuesday, February 9 (New America) Bonus Read: “Farewell to South Asia: boisterous, sometimes brutal, always extraordinary,” by Jason Burke (Guardian) Afghanistan Bonus Read: “U.S. Broadens Fight Against ISIS With ...

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Afghan security personnel stand guard near the site of a suicide attack at the entrance to a police base in Kabul on February 1, 2016. A Taliban suicide bomber struck a police base in central Kabul on February1, killing at least nine people just days before a fresh round of international talks aimed at reviving dialogue with the Islamist group. AFP PHOTO / WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP / WAKIL KOHSAR (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Event Notice:

United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists, Wednesday, February 3 (New America NYC)

United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists (DC Launch), Tuesday, February 9 (New America)

Bonus Read: “Farewell to South Asia: boisterous, sometimes brutal, always extraordinary,” by Jason Burke (Guardian)

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “U.S. Broadens Fight Against ISIS With Attacks in Afghanistan,” by Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt (NYT)

Suicide bomber strikes police office in Kabul

On Monday, a suicide bomber attacked a police base in Dehmazang, a busy area of west Kabul, and close to the Kabul Zoo (APReuters). The police base is home to the civil order police, who patrol urban areas and are active in anti-terror efforts. There are conflicting reports about the number of dead and injured, but according to a spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, Ismail Kawasi, one person is dead and 16 are in the hospital. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter.

Kabul still hobbled by lack of electricity 

Due to bad weather and the continuing threat from militants, much of Afghanistan’s capital remains without electricity for more than six hours each day (Reuters). The chief commercial officer for Afghanistan’s national power company, Mirwai Alami, said that repairmen are unable to access the power lines because of mines and the threat of attack from militants, who continue to cut down electricity pylons. The wealthy use private generators, but the poor are left to burning wood during the long nights of Afghanistan’s winter.

President Ghani issues decree to protect and defend journalists

On Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree that will better ensure the safety of journalists and focus on the investigations conducted when journalists are killed (TOLO News). The deputy spokesman for Ghani, Sayed Zafar Hashemi, said, “This indicates the commitment of the Presidential Palace and National Unity Government, especially the president, towards free press. We try to strengthen them (the media) and we try to act offensively, rather than defensively.” Some meet the decree with skepticism, as the recent attacks that killed TOLO employees show journalists are under constant threat from the Taliban and other militant groups.

Afghanistan CEO on five-day trip in India

On Monday, Abdullah Abduallah, Afghanistan’s chief executive officer, begins a five-day trip to India where he will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and converse on subjects primarily related to security and bilateral cooperation (Economic Times). The meetings with Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj come as Afghanistan received three out of four Mi-35 helicopters from India in January.

–Albert Ford

Pakistan

In Karachi, Pakistan arrests infamous ganglord

On Saturday, Pakistan’s Rangers paramilitary force arrested Uzair Baluch, who is allegedly tied to the killings of countless politicians and policemen in Karachi (Reuters). Operating primarily in Pakistan’s Lyari slum, Baluch, about 40 years old, is the leader of the Lyari crime outfit that is linked to more than 20 murder, extortion, and terrorism cases. To many, the arrest of Baluch came as a surprise, as he was thought to already be in custody after Interpol detained him in Dubai in 2014.

Five separatists killed in Balochistan province

Pakistani forces killed five suspected separatists in the southwestern province of Balochistan (AP). According to Sarfaraz Bugti, the provincial home minister, the paramilitary Frontier Corps engaged the five militants near Quetta on Friday night. Of those killed was Abdul Mannan, the group’s commander, a medical doctor, and a member of the Baloch Nationalist Movement.

Pakistani central bank leaves interest rate unchanged at 6 percent

As inflation accelerates and the Pakistani rupee weakens, Pakistan’s central bank again left the interest rate unchanged after their most recent meeting on Saturday (Bloomberg). The Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, made the announcement as the decision is the first from Pakistan’s recently established monetary policy committee, set up per the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The rupee’s decline of 0.2 percent still leaves it as one of Asia’s best performing currencies, but the IMF said in November it is overvalued by 20 percent, and Pakistan’s consumer prices rose 3.19 percent in December, the fastest pace in 10 years.

–Albert Ford

India

Bonus Read: “Indian Women Seeking Jobs Confront Taboos and Threats,” by Ellen Barry (NYT)

Bonus Read: “India Targets Illicit Sex-Selective Abortions,” by Suryatapa Bhattacharya (WSJ)

Protest over caste quotas turns violent

At least 15 police officers were injured on Sunday in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh during a violent protest by a lower-caste community (BBCNDTV). The protesters, hailing from the Kapu community, set fire to a train, at least two police stations, and 25 vehicles. The protesters also blocked a major highway and rail lines, disrupting all transportation services in the area. The violence began shortly after a large public meeting organized by the Kapu State Committee in the town of Tuni. The protesters accused the ruling state government of failing to reserve jobs and public positions for the lower-caste community. The Kapu community makes up about 26 percent of the 50 million people in Andhra Pradesh.

India and Afghanistan agree to visa-free travel for diplomats

India and Afghanistan signed a deal on Monday allowing diplomats to travel freely without visas between the two countries (The HinduHT). The deal followed a meeting between Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Abdullah is in India for a five-day visit, during which he will also meet with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and attend a counter-terrorism conference.

University of Hyderabad to re-open

Classes are set to resume at the University of Hyderabad on Monday after university officials agreed to meet some of the demands of protesters (Indian Express). The university, located in the city of the same name in the southern state of Telangana, has been closed down since the suicide of PhD candidate Rohith Vemula on Jan. 17, which set off protests surrounding the university’s treatment of lower-caste students. University officials agreed to allow four lower-caste students — who had been expelled along with Vemula for allegedly “anti-social” behavior — to return to their hostel. The university also agreed to help find employment for relatives of Vemula and other students who committed suicide at the university in recent years.

–Udit Banerjea

Edited by Peter Bergen

WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images

Albert Ford is a research assistant with the International Security Program at New America.

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