The South Asia Channel

Islamic State Destroying Opium Plants in Nangarhar; Senator: U.S. Will Not Subsidize F-16 Sale to Pakistan; Supreme Court to Decide on Italian Marine Release: Jaitley; Eight Bangladeshis Held in Singapore on Terrorism Charges

Event Notice: “A Conversation with a Former Muslim Extremist,” Tuesday, May 3 at 12:00 PM (New America) Afghanistan Islamic State destroying opium plants in Nangarhar In comments to Voice of America’s Afghan service, opium farmers in areas under control of the Islamic State (IS) say the group is eliminating the poppy crop – used to ...

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An Afghan farmer harvests opium sap from a poppy field in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar province on April 19, 2016. Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan dropped 19 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year, according to figures from the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Oiffce on Drugs and Crime. / AFP / NOORULLAH SHIRZADA (Photo credit should read NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images)

Event Notice: “A Conversation with a Former Muslim Extremist,” Tuesday, May 3 at 12:00 PM (New America)

Afghanistan

Islamic State destroying opium plants in Nangarhar

In comments to Voice of America’s Afghan service, opium farmers in areas under control of the Islamic State (IS) say the group is eliminating the poppy crop – used to make heroin – in Nangarhar province’s Achin and Dehbala districts (VOA). Mohammad Naeem, an Achin resident, said to VOA, “They (IS) say this plant is Haram (prohibited in Islam) … people had cultivated poppy in a few villages but it has been destroyed.” Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world’s heroin. The Taliban reportedly amasses 30 percent of its annual revenue through the drug trade, while the Afghan government continues to try and find ways to get rid of opium crops and help farmers find alternative options.

Young Messi fan and family forced to flee Afghanistan

A five-year old Afghan boy, Murtaza Ahmadi, who rose to fame after a photo of him wearing a homemade Lionel Messi jersey went viral, and his family have fled their home in Ghazni to Quetta, Pakistan after receiving kidnap threats and demands for money from an Afghan gangster (BBC). Messi, the Argentine soccer star, had sent Ahmadi two signed jerseys and a ball after seeing the photo. Speaking to the BBC, the boy’s father, Arif Ahmadi said, “A few days ago I got a call from a local gangster. He thought that since my son had received these T-shirts from Messi that maybe he also got money and asked for his share.” Efforts have been made to arrange a meeting between Murtaza Ahmadi and Messi, but it has not yet happened. Ahmadi told the BBC, “Messi, you know how much I like you. Now I want you to invite me so I can come and meet you.”

Pakistan

Bonus Read: “How the lives of Osama Bin Laden’s neighbours changed forever” (BBC)

Bonus Read: “Five Years After Osama Bin Laden’s Death, al Qaeda Remains a Threat,” by Michael Kugelman (WSJ)

Senator: U.S. will not subsidize F-16 sale to Pakistan

On Monday, Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced that Pakistan will have to pay full price for its purchase of eight F-16 fighter jets from the United States in a deal valued at $699 million (Reuters). Sen. Corker commented, “Given congressional objections, we have told the Pakistanis that they should put forward national funds for that purpose.” Some members of the U.S. Congress, led by Sen. Corker, objected to the use of U.S. funds to subsidize the sale of the F-16s to Pakistan based on what they see as the Pakistani government’s support of militant groups that have targeted Americans and Afghans and their inadequate support of the Afghan peace process. Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistani prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, said that Pakistan will “opt for jets from some other place” if U.S. funding is not arranged (Dawn).

India

Bonus Read: “After Decades of Near Statelessness, Thousands of Indians Will Vote for the First Time Ever,” by Rishi Iyengar (TIME)

Supreme Court to decide on Italian marine release: Jaitley

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the parliament on Tuesday that the Supreme Court of India will make the final decision about allowing Salvatore Girone, an Italian marine, detained in Delhi by the Indian government for more than four years, to return to Italy (HT, Hindu). On Monday, a U.N. arbitration court in the Hague ruled that Girone should be allowed to return to Italy. Jaitley told the house that India contested Italian claims at the tribunal, and the issue of jurisdiction is yet to be established at the Hague court. The U.N. tribunal confirmed Italy’s obligation to send the Girone back to India, if needed.

In 2012, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, two Italian marines were arrested after a shooting incident off the Indian coast in which two fishermen were killed. They were assigned to the protection of an Italian oil tanker, the Enrica Lexie, and claimed that they mistook the fishermen for pirates. While India claimed that this case fell under its jurisdiction, Italy argued that the marines should be tried in

Italy because the incident occurred in international waters. Latorre was later allowed to leave India in 2015 due to health reasons. Girone, though free on bail at the moment, is still barred from leaving India.

Three detained after student “raped and murdered” in Kerela

Police in the city of Perumbavoor, near Kochi in Kerela state, detained three men on Tuesday, as a part of the investigation of the rape and murder of a Dalit student, whose body was found mutilated in her home on Friday (NYT, Indian Express) . The autopsy on the 30-year-old victim revealed she had been tortured and sexually penetrated before being murdered. The Dalit community is considered the lowest caste in India’s centuries-old social hierarchy. Women’s groups in Kerela have called for protests in response to this case. There is a growing concern in India over the increasing sexual violence against women. Government data shows that there were 337,922 reports of violence against women, including rape, molestation, abduction and cruelty in 2014, a rise of 9% on the previous year’s figures. In 2012 the fatal rape of a student in Delhi led to protests and the introduction of tougher anti-rape laws, however incidents of sexual violence against women continue to be increasingly reported across the country.

Bangladesh

Eight Bangladeshis held in Singapore on terrorism charges

Officials in Singapore announced on Tuesday that eight Bangladeshi men planning to stage terror attacks in Bangladesh under the banner of Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB), were arrested in April (Reuters, BBC). According to the government statement, the men aged 26 to 34, were working in Singapore’s construction and marine industries. Islamist militants in Bangladesh have targeted atheist bloggers, academics, religious minorities and foreign aid workers in a series of killings that have claimed at least 20 lives.

–Albert Ford and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images

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

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