Malala Attackers Arrested; UN Threatens to Reduce Afghan Assistance; India and Vietnam Sign Cooperation Pacts

Pakistan Two years later, Malala attackers arrested Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, a spokesman for Pakistan’s army, told reporters in Islamabad on Friday that 10 people associated with the Pakistani Taliban, and the October 2012 attack on Malala Yousafzai, an internationally-recognized youth education advocate, had been arrested in a joint operation involving the army, local ...

Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Pakistan

Two years later, Malala attackers arrested

Pakistan

Two years later, Malala attackers arrested

Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, a spokesman for Pakistan’s army, told reporters in Islamabad on Friday that 10 people associated with the Pakistani Taliban, and the October 2012 attack on Malala Yousafzai, an internationally-recognized youth education advocate, had been arrested in a joint operation involving the army, local police officers, and national intelligence agencies (AP, CNN, Reuters, RFE/RL). It was unclear, however, when the arrests had actually occurred, though Bajwa noted that they had not come all at once (NYT).

According to Bajwa, Mullah Maulana Fazlullah, the current head of the Taliban, was behind the attempt to kill Yousafzai for her promotion of girls’ education. Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban fighter, but recovered. She currently resides in England with her family.

Dozens of opposition activists arrested, talks breakdown

One hundred opposition activists were arrested and sentenced to a two-week stint in jail on Saturday, though the causes for the arrests have been disputed (Reuters, RFE/RL). While the Pakistani government maintained that they arrested only those people involved with the Sep. 1 attack on a state-run Pakistan television station, the protestors alleged that their peers had been arrested for protesting against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (AP). The arrests came just as the protests by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahir ul-Qadri marked their one-month anniversary. Though demonstrators gathered outside the court to protest the ruling on Saturday, the crowd left peacefully after a two-hour standoff with police. Both the PTI and the PAT suspended their ongoing negotiations with the government over the arrests, saying that they would not restart the talks until their supporters had been released (Bloomberg).

Boat capsizes in floodwaters, killing at least 17

At least 17 people, including a groom and two children, drowned on Sunday when an army-run boat carrying a wedding party in Punjab province capsized (AP, RFE/RL, VOA). The accident occurred in the Muzaffargarh district when the boat hit debris from a dyke that had been blown up a few days earlier to divert some of the floodwaters that have poured into the province. Media outlets reported that most of the passengers were from a wedding party that had requested the use of the boat to take them to the reception. While Pakistani authorities said that at least 17 other people had been rescued, it is unclear how many people were on the boat at the time of the incident, and how many are still missing. 

AQIS claims attack at Karachi dockyard

On Thursday, al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent (AQIS) — the militant group’s latest affiliate — claimed responsibility for last Saturday’s attack on a Pakistani naval ship in the port city of Karachi, though its actual role in the incident is still disputed (Telegraph). According to a report by Britain’s Telegraph, the group thought it was targeting an American aircraft carrier, but instead hit a Pakistan Navy frigate and were overwhelmed before they could cause any damage, though one Pakistani soldier was killed in the incident — which was first mentioned in the brief last Tuesday. Three AQIS fighters were killed during the attack, and seven others were arrested. 

Investigators speaking to the Telegraph‘s Dean Nelson denied that all of the attackers belonged to the Navy, saying that only one was a former officer. They were also skeptical about AQIS’s involvement in the incident, telling Nelson: "If they did it why would they wait until Thursday to claim it?"

Afghanistan 

U.N. threatens to cut assistance to Afghanistan

A day after demonstrators gathered outside the United Nations’ headquarters in Kabul and accused the international organization of vote-rigging as it conducted an audit of all the votes cast in Afghanistan’s run-off presidential election, the mission threatened to cut its assistance to the country on Saturday tweeting: "Threats against #UN = threats against entire international community. If such abuse continues, #UN will be forced to severely limit its activities, reducing its assistance to #Afghanistan and its people" (Post, RFE/RL). While the mission stressed that "consultations are ongoing" and that no final decisions had been made about its continued presence in the country, the Washington Post‘s Tim Craig noted that: "[T]he fact that a U.N. pullout is even up for discussion reflects the unease within the organization after Friday’s protest."

The protest and the United Nations’ response add to the tension that has been building over Afghanistan’s disputed presidential elections, with many observers suggesting that if political rivals Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani cannot come to a power-sharing agreement, civil unrest could follow. 

Pakistani envoy summed, protest lodged over Punjabi Taliban comments

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry summoned Syed Muazzam Shah, Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires in the country, on Sunday, and lodged a strong protest over what it said was a declaration of war by the Punjabi Taliban (ET). The move came shortly after Asmatullah Muaweya, the leader of the militant group, said in a video message that the group would renounce violence in Pakistan, but shift its focus to Afghanistan (Dawn, TOLO News). Abdul Samad Samad, the Afghan ministry’s head of political affairs, said Muaweya’s remarks were "a clear conspiracy against stability in Afghanistan," adding that: "Such moves are against the norms of good neighbourliness and international law" (Pajhwok). 

Afghan commission to investigate Pakistani trenches 

Pakistan’s Express Tribune reported on Monday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had created a commission to "assess and investigate" Pakistan’s plan to dig a nearly 300-mile-long trench along the border between the two countries in an effort to stop cross-border incursions (ET). According to a statement posted on Karzai’s website, and cited by the Tribune, the commission will be headed by Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister, and will include deputy foreign, defense, and border and tribal affairs ministers. Technical experts will also be a part of the team, which "will examine all relevant documents and historical evidence to determine the status of the excavations and will submit a report as soon as possible."

The trenches have also angered Afghan politicians, who said it was being dug along the Durand Line, a disputed border that was created by Britain in 1893, separating the two countries (Pajhwok). Members of the country’s Meshrano Jirga, the upper house of parliament, said the issue would be raised with the United Nations and in other international forums. Pakistan, however, dismissed Afghanistan’s criticisms of the project, saying instead that it is designed to "effectively" control the movement of terrorists, human traffickers, and drugs into the country, and that "anything that is done on this side of the border remaining within our own area is very much legal" (VOA).

— Bailey Cahall 

India

India and Vietnam sign seven cooperation pacts

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee met with his Vietnamese counterpart, Truong Tan Sang, during his four-day visit to Vietnam, which started on Sunday (Economic Times). India and Vietnam signed seven agreements on cooperation in the strategic oil sector, direct flights between the two countries, an extended line of credit for purchasing defense equipment, agriculture cooperation, cooperation in animal health, customs cooperation, and youth affairs and skill development. A joint statement issued after Mukherjee’s meeting with Sang stated that both countries agreed to "strengthen and deepen bilateral cooperation on the basis of the strategic partnership with focus on political, defence and security cooperation, economic cooperation, science and technology, culture and people-to-people links, technical cooperation and multilateral and regional cooperation" (Livemint). During his visit, Mukherjee also gifted to the people of Vietnam a sapling of the holy Bodhi tree, which was planted at the presidential palace in Hanoi (NDTV).

Wholesale inflation in India drops to five-year low

India’s wholesale inflation rate in August eased to 3.74 percent, the lowest level in about five years, according to data issued by the Indian government on Monday (Hindustan Times). A decrease in food and fuel prices helped cool inflation, with food inflation easing to 5.15 percent in August after hitting 8.43 percent in July. Unlike the drop in the wholesale inflation rate, consumer price inflation is still high, which is preventing the government from lowering interest rates (WSJ). The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) wants to reduce consumer price inflation to 6 percent by 2016. According to government data released on Friday, consumer price inflation was marginally down at 7.80 percent in August, from 7.96 percent in July. RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said at a bankers summit in Mumbai on Monday: "The bottom line is that while the macro indicators are improving, we still have some way to go before we can declare we are out of the woods" (Times of India).

Indian Minister calls for ban on meat exports

India’s minister for women and child development, Maneka Gandhi, called for a nationwide ban on animal slaughter on Sunday, and alleged that: "We are the largest beef exporters in the world and also killing them for leather production. We are actually killing more animals than China, it is appalling!" (NDTV). Gandhi said further: "Milking animals are being slaughtered and illegally traded to Bangladesh and the Middle East. It is no longer about religion but money" (Indian Express). Gandhi, addressing a three-day international conference on "India For Animals," said: "Slaughter of milking animals is a trade of Indians. Money through trade of slaughtered animals goes into terrorism and therefore into killing us. Why are we allowing this?" (Times of India). A Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Gandhi is also an animal rights activist and environmentalist.

The Congress party reacted to Gandhi’s comments on Monday, with Congress leader Manish Tewari saying: "If a Union Minister is making such serious allegations, she must substantiate it and put the evidence in the public domain" (Free Press Journal).

— Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan

Edited by Peter Bergen

Neeli Shah is a Washington D.C.-based economics, law, and policy professional. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Twitter: @neelishah

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