The South Asia Channel

Chief of Police in Ghazni Province Warns of Taliban Takeovers; Rain Causes Deaths of 42 People Across Pakistan; Hindu Nationalist Group Changes Its Uniform

Afghanistan Chief of Police in Ghazni province warns of Taliban takeovers Appealing to Kabul for reinforcements, the chief of police of Afghanistan’s central Ghazni province warned on Sunday that eight districts are on the verge of falling into Taliban control if more security force personnel are not sent (RFE/RL). The chief, Aminullah Amarkhil, has threatened ...

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Afghan police forces patrol during an anti-Taliban operation in the Andar district of Ghazni province on February 4, 2015. Afghan police forces launched a joint anti-militant operation in Ander district of Ghazni Province on February 4. AFP PHOTO / Rahmatullah Alizadah (Photo credit should read Rahmatullah Alizadah/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Chief of Police in Ghazni province warns of Taliban takeovers

Appealing to Kabul for reinforcements, the chief of police of Afghanistan’s central Ghazni province warned on Sunday that eight districts are on the verge of falling into Taliban control if more security force personnel are not sent (RFE/RL). The chief, Aminullah Amarkhil, has threatened to quit if more troops don’t supplement Ghazni’s current allotment. While no official response has come from Kabul, the Afghan Defense Ministry released a statement on Sunday saying at least 26 militants were killed by Afghan security forces in the last 24 hours in clashes in Herat, Helmand, Uruzgan, Baghlan, and Kapisa provinces.

Hazara man to be forcibly repatriated from Australia

On Monday, Australia’s immigration minister, Peter Dutton, rejected a final plea from a Hazara man – identified as “T” – to remain in Australia as an asylum seeker (Guardian). He is the fifth Hazara to be sent back to Afghanistan from Australia since late 2014, is 42 years old, and has been in Australia since arriving by boat in 2012. Appearing before the Refugee Review Tribunal, T said he would “be killed because of his religion [Shiite Muslim] and because of being Hazara.” The Australian government has acknowledged the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, but does not view the risks to the Hazara population – a notoriously persecuted ethnic minority – to be any greater than those faced by other Afghans. T is scheduled to leave Australia today.

–Albert Ford

Pakistan

Rain causes deaths of 42 people across Pakistan

On Saturday evening, a coal mine in the Orakzai Agency, located in Pakistan’s FATA region, collapsed due to heavy rains and killed at least five workers while others were injured (CNN, AP, ET, RFE/RL). According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), 26 other workers were pulled to safety. The incident in Orakzai comes in addition to other rain-induced fatalities in the Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan provinces and the cities of Lahore and Islamabad that have led to the deaths of 42 individuals. Many of the deaths are the result of collapsed houses, with the NDMA reporting a total of 75 damaged houses. Rains are expected to continue through March 15, per the Pakistan Meteorological Department.

New law criminalizes child sex abuse

For the first time, Pakistan’s parliament passed a bill that criminalizes sexual assault against minors, child pornography, and trafficking (Dawn, RFE/RL). The new legislation, passed by the Senate on Friday, amends the current penal code to raise the age of criminal responsibility from seven to 10 years old. It also criminalizes sexual assault with a penalty of up to seven years in prison, whereas only rape was previously illegal. Child pornography, previously absent from the penal code, was also criminalized with up to seven years in prison and a $7,000 fine. The law comes in the wake of a pedophilia scandal in the village of Hussain Khanwala in Punjab province August 2015, where hundreds of pornographic videos of minors were found and 20 arrests were subsequently made.

–Albert Ford

India

Bonus read: “A Killing Tests India’s Protection of an Aboriginal Culture,” by Ellen Barry and Hari Kumar (NYT)

Hindu nationalist group changes its uniform

Right-wing Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) announced on Monday that it plans to change its uniform from khaki shorts to brown trousers (Time, BBC). The iconic khaki shorts have been a part of the RSS uniform for more than 90 years, since the organization’s creation in 1925. The RSS is the ideological mentor of India’s ruling BJP, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a former member. Critics of the organization say that it is a sectarian, militant group, which believes in the “supremacy of Hindus” and “preaches hate” against Muslims and Christian minorities.

Dalit man killed for “marrying into higher caste”

On Sunday, a Dalit man was murdered in Tirupur district in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, allegedly by his in-laws for marrying into a higher caste than himself (Hindu, HT, BBC). 22-year old V. Shankar was stabbed at a market place in broad daylight and his wife was also severed injured. He died on his way to the hospital. Shankar’s wife, Kausalya, told the police that she suspected her family was responsible for her husband’s murder.

India bans more than 300 combination drugs

On Saturday, the health ministry in India issued an order that banned more than 300 combination drugs being sold in the country (Reuters, Indian Express). On the list of banned drugs were the popular cough syrups including Pfizer’s Corex-brand syrup and Abbott’s identical Phensedyl, which contain the narcotic codeine. A team of experts from the health ministry reviewed these drugs based on their “efficacy” and found them to be insufficient. U.S.-based Pfizer and Abbott responded by saying they will comply with the ban which led them both to experience a drop in their share prices.

–Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

Rahmatullah Alizadah/AFP/Getty Images

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

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