The South Asia Channel

Pakistan has third highest percentage of slaves in world, report says

Event Notice: "Contemporary Sovereignty and Pakistan," a discussion with Ayesha Jalal, TODAY, 12:30-2:30 PM (SAIS).   Top tier  The Walk Free Foundation, an Australian-based human rights organization, released its "Global Slavery Index 2013" survey on Thursday, which shows that approximately 54 percent of the 30 million people living in slavery worldwide reside in India and Pakistan ...

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Event Notice: "Contemporary Sovereignty and Pakistan," a discussion with Ayesha Jalal, TODAY, 12:30-2:30 PM (SAIS).  

Top tier 

The Walk Free Foundation, an Australian-based human rights organization, released its "Global Slavery Index 2013" survey on Thursday, which shows that approximately 54 percent of the 30 million people living in slavery worldwide reside in India and Pakistan (AP, Dawn, Post, RFE/RL, VOA).  According to the report, which looks at practices including forced and bonded labor, human trafficking, forced marriage, and the use of child soldiers, nearly 14.7 million slaves reside in India and 2.2 million are in Pakistan, placing the countries at 4th and 3rd place, respectively, on the list – Mauritania and Haiti were 1st and 2nd.  The foundation also criticized Pakistan for its lack of organization in tackling slavery, and noted that India’s inefficient legal system frequently discourages victims from seeking help (AJAM). 

Following the death of Israrullah Gandapur, the law minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in a suicide attack on Wednesday, the provincial cabinet held a special meeting on Thursday and approved the creation of an anti-terrorism task force to help control law and order in the area (Dawn, ET).  The task force, to be led by a new inspector general, will include members from all law enforcement and intelligence agencies operating in the province, including the Army, Frontier Corps, and Frontier Constabulary. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, who led the meeting, also called upon the federal government to proceed with its proposed reconciliation talks with militant groups operating in the country as the province is enduring most of the attacks. 

Speaking in Karachi on Friday, Bilawal Bhutto, the son of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, used the recent attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkwha province to criticize Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party (PTI), which governs the area (Dawn, ET).  Calling the PTI "cowardly" and accusing Khan of making excuses for the terrorists responsible, Bhutto claimed the "PPP will save the people of Khyber Pakhtunkwha from drowning in the tsunami."  He also declared "jihad" against religious extremists, who he called "hijackers of the faith." 

Interim report 

Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur for counterterrorism and human rights, released an interim report on Friday, which says U.S. drone strikes have killed far more civilians in Pakistan and Yemen than U.S. officials have publicly acknowledged (NBC News).  According to Emmerson, who has been investigating the covert drone program, at least 400 civilians have been killed in Pakistan and as many as 58 have been killed in Yemen.  He also criticized the U.S. government for its lack of transparency about the strikes, saying that he "does not accept that considerations of national security justify withholding statistical and basic methodological data of this kind."  Laura Magnuson, a White House spokesperson, said they were reviewing the report, which will be presented to the U.N. General Assembly next Friday, "carefully." Emmerson’s report follows one by Christof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, which was also critical of the program (Guardian). 

Embassy closed

Germany’s foreign ministry confirmed on Thursday that its embassy in Afghanistan’s capital is closed, but declined to comment on reports that it had been shuttered due to the threat of a terrorist attack (AFP, Pajhwok).  Germany’s Die Welt newspaper cited sources in the country’s secret service, the BND, who said there were "concrete" and "serious" indications of a looming attack from Islamists in Kabul.  Germany has approximately 4,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, making it the third-largest contributor to the NATO-led combat mission. 

As the Afghan fighting season comes to an end, many of the unintended consequences of having the Afghan army take the lead in fighting the insurgents this year are starting to emerge, including their inability to repair broken equipment.  The Washington Post looked at the case of one particular army unit and reported on Thursday that, due to the militants’ use of roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, nearly 75 percent of the battalion’s armored vehicles were out of service (Post).  U.S. military mechanics used to repair Afghan equipment but when the Afghan army took over control of security operations, they stopped making repairs.  As the Post notes, the transition was inevitable, but the country’s supply chain is "still undeveloped and the Defense Ministry is still hobbled by corruption," meaning the troops aren’t getting the equipment they need to fight the war.  Col. Hamidullah, the battalion’s commander, notes that some soldiers walk 20 hours to get from base to base due to the lack of Humvees and wondered: "How can we fight a war like this?"

Arsala Jamal, the governor of Logar province who was assassinated on Tuesday, was laid to rest on Thursday in a cemetery in Kabul (AP, Pajhwok).  Jamal’s murder was the highest-profile assassination in the country this year, and his memorial service was attended by Afghan officials, dignitaries, and family members.  While it is still unclear who was behind the attack that killed Jamal, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on Friday that it had received an email from an Islamist group calling itself the Fidain (Sacrifice) Front of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan claiming responsibility for the incident (RFE/RL).  The statement said the explosive that killed Jamal had been planted under the stage, though Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security reported that it had been placed in a Koran. 

Box office record 

Despite critical reviews, "Waar," the most anticipated movie of the year in Pakistan, opened in theaters on Wednesday and set the new opening day sales record at 11.4 million rupees (Dawn, ET).  The film broke the previous Rs9 million record set by "Chennai Express" earlier this year, and is expected to take in Rs55 million over the weekend.  Advanced ticket sales mean that showings of "Waar," an action thriller, are sold out through next week.  

— Bailey Cahall 

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