The South Asia Channel

U.S. Ends Pakistan Spy Case vs. Former Envoy; Secret EU Plan Urges Aid Cut if Afghanistan Refuses Deportees; India Has Most People Without Clean Water

Pakistan U.S. ends espionage case against former envoy The U.S. Justice Department has closed its espionage investigation into former U.S. diplomat Robin L. Raphel with no charges according to a statement by her lawyer on Monday (NYT). In 2014, the FBI raided Raphel’s home suspecting her of spying for Pakistan. While the investigation was initiated ...

WASHINGTON - APRIL 7:  Office of Iraq Reconstruction Coordinator, Robin Raphel testifes during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Capitol Hill, April 7, 2004 in Washington, DC. The hearing focused on a review of the United Nations oil for food program.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - APRIL 7: Office of Iraq Reconstruction Coordinator, Robin Raphel testifes during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Capitol Hill, April 7, 2004 in Washington, DC. The hearing focused on a review of the United Nations oil for food program. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Pakistan

U.S. ends espionage case against former envoy

The U.S. Justice Department has closed its espionage investigation into former U.S. diplomat Robin L. Raphel with no charges according to a statement by her lawyer on Monday (NYT). In 2014, the FBI raided Raphel’s home suspecting her of spying for Pakistan. While the investigation was initiated by an intercepted conversation in which a Pakistani official suggested Pakistan was receiving secrets from Raphel, it quickly began to fall apart and was downgraded from espionage to less serious charges of keeping classified information at home. The Justice Department did not confirm whether the investigation had now been closed with no charges.

Dissident Taliban leader detained in Pakistan

Pakistan detained Mullah Muhammad Rasool, the chief of a faction that broke away from the Afghan Taliban, according to two Taliban leaders who spoke to Pakistan’s Express Tribune on Monday (ET, Pajhwok). One of the leaders stated: “I can confirm that Mullah Rasool has been arrested by authorities in Pakistan after he crossed the border.” The leaders were unable to confirm when Rasool had been detained. In November, Rasool came to lead a group of Taliban that dissented from the appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor following the announcement of Mullah Omar’s death. Rasool’s group had engaged in several clashes with the main Taliban faction led by Mansoor following the split.

Afghanistan

Secret EU plan urges aid cut if Afghanistan refuses deportees

A secret European Union plan suggests threatening aid cuts if Afghanistan does not accept deported Afghan migrants and refuges from European countries, according to a report in The Telegraph on Monday (Telegraph). The joint “non-paper” discussion document marked EU Restricted was prepared by the European Commission. The paper refers to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as “highly aid dependent” and notes “The EU should stress that to reach the objective of the Brussels Conference to raise financial commitments ‘at or near current levels’ it is critical that substantial progress has been made in the negotiations with the Afghan Government on migration by early summer.” The proposed threat is framed by the paper’s determination that the EU will need to deport more than 80,000 Afghans.

— David Sterman

India

India has the most people without clean water

According to a report released on Tuesday by the international organization Water Aid, India has the world’s highest number of people without access to clean water (WP/AP). The report claims that nearly five percent of Indians (approximately 75.8 million) are forced to either buy water or use supplies that are contaminated with sewage or chemicals. Globally, 650 million people are estimated to be without access to clean water and Indians make up more than a tenth of this population.

Mumbai covered in smog after waste facility catches fire

India’s financial capital, Mumbai was covered in a thick layer of smoke on Tuesday morning as the fire at the city’s largest landfill expanded (WSJ). The Deonar landfill is located on the eastern side of Mumbai, and it caught fire on Sunday. During the past three days, the city has deployed more than a 100 emergency staff, but the fire is yet to be brought under control. The 110-hectare Deonar landfill is estimated to receive 10,000 tons of waste every day from the city of Mumbai and has an estimated 16 million tons of waste piled up in it. This is not the first time the Deonar landfill has caused citywide smog. Last month, the landfill was also on fire creating a smoke cloud big enough for NASA to photograph (CNN).

Endangered tortoises seized at Mumbai airport

Customs officials in the Indian port city of Mumbai seized more than 140 tortoises, belonging to the rare and endangered species radiated tortoise, at Mumbai airport on Tuesday (BBC). Officials said the tortoises were inhumanely packed in plastic bags and were being smuggled from Madagascar to Nepal, with Mumbai as a transit point. Radiated tortoises are an extremely rare species and valued for their distinctive gold and black shells, they fetch exceptionally high prices on the international black market.

Two Indians injured in the Brussels attack

Two crew members from the Indian airlines Jet Airways were injured on Tuesday morning as twin bombs ripped through Brussels airport, killing at least 20 people (NDTV, HT). However, the Indian foreign ministry has confirmed that Prime Minister Modi’s planned visit to Belgium later this month will go ahead as planned. Modi also issued a statement condemning the attacks in Brussels Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that there are no reports of any Indian casualties in the attacks.

— Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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