The South Asia Channel

Intelligence Bureau Chief Says IS Is Growing in Pakistan; Bergdahl Court Martial Delayed; India Launches Nationwide Deworming Campaign for Children

Intelligence Bureau Chief Says IS Is Growing in Pakistan; Bergdahl Court Martial Delayed; India Launches Nationwide Deworming Campaign for Children

Bonus Read: “Chabahar Port: A Win for South Asia,” by Rohullah Osmani (FP)


Intelligence Bureau chief says IS is growing in Pakistan

Testifying before the Pakistani senate standing committee on interior and narcotics control on Wednesday, Aftab Sultan, Director General Intelligence Bureau, said the Islamic State (IS) is expanding in Pakistan and coordinating with the Pakistani Taliban (ET). “There are reports of fighters being recruited by sectarian and other outfits, and being sent to Syria. The number of people leaving from Pakistan to Syria to join IS are in the hundreds,” he said. Sultan referenced IS attacks on media houses and schools as well, though stated terrorist attacks on the whole have decreased due to Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

World Bank chief cites Pakistan’s economic growth in visit

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in Islamabad on Tuesday (Dawn). Kim remarked on Pakistan’s economic growth and increased stability, recognizing the government’s policies in achieving it. Giving examples of his country’s economic growth, the prime minister referenced Pakistan’s continued improvement in sectors such as the development of mega-hydropower projects, rail and road infrastructure, education, and health. “Let me state that under your leadership, Pakistan has witnessed phenomenal improvements in all three sectors and we support your endeavors,” Kim said.

–Albert Ford


Bergdahl court martial delayed

The court martial brought against Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who is charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after disappearing from his base in Afghanistan’s Paktika province in June 2009, has been delayed by the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals and presiding Judge Colonel Jeffrey Nance. This is due to disputes over the defense’s access to classified documents used by the prosecution in their case against Bergdahl (RFE/RLCNN). Last week, Colonel Nance instructed the prosecution to share several of the classified documents with the defense, which had previously claimed they had access to less than 1 percent of all the classified material. The trial was expected to unfold this summer, but could be delayed due to the holdup in the prosecution’s appeal of releasing the classified documents.

Afghan woman will get new nose in Turkey

Reza Gul, a 20-year old victim of domestic violence whose husband cut off her nose in their village in Afghanistan’s Faryab province in January, is in Ankara, Turkey to undergo reconstructive surgery (RFE/RL). Her doctor, Turkish plastic surgeon Ramazan Erkin, said, “The patient’s nose was … completely cut off…The bone, cartilage, and soft tissues are missing. But we can reattach the nose with surgery. We might carry out a couple of surgeries.” According to her family, Gul does not want to return to Afghanistan unless she has full protection. Police say they have yet to detain her husband, who fled their village after the attack.

–Albert Ford


India launches nationwide deworming campaign for children

Indian officials on Wednesday launched a nationwide child health campaign to combat the risk of parasitic worm infection in the country, declaring Feb. 10 as “national deworming day” (NYT/AP). The health ministry said in a statement that they aimed to reach 270 million children during this campaign and had mobilized 900,000 teachers and volunteers to take part. While officials from the health ministry have called the first day of the campaign a resounding success, 180 children in Bihar reportedly fell ill after taking the prescribed chewing tablets (Indian Express).

The World Health Organization estimates that 220 million children between the ages of 1 and 14 are at risk of parasitic worm infection in India, caused mainly by lack of proper toilets, unclean drinking water and poor hygiene. Parasitic worms decrease nutrient absorption in children and could lead to malnourishment and other diseases.

Scientists express doubt over meteorite death claim

Scientists in India have expressed skepticism over an earlier claim by Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram that a meteorite killed a person for the first time in nearly 200 years when it hit a bus driver named Kamraj on a college campus in the southern city of Vellore on Friday (BBC, Reuters).

The team of investigating scientists visiting from the Indian space agency argue that the small crater caused by the fallen object, the absence of a sonic boom before impact, a lack of debris and the green and blue color of rock recovered (rather than brown and black typically found in fallen meteorites) suggest some other cause. According to the scientific journal International Comet Quarterly, the last reported death from a meteorite strike was in 1825 in India.

–Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

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