The South Asia Channel
Drone Strikes Continue In N. Waziristan; Firing Continues on Indo-Pak Border; Watchdog Critiques UN Agency in Afghanistan
Pakistan Drone strikes continue in North Waziristan A U.S. drone strike killed eight people, all reportedly militants, and injured six others in the Shawal district of North Waziristan on Monday (BBC, ET, Dawn). Pakistani intelligence sources said the strike targeted the residence of a Taliban leader, Habib. Another drone strike killed at least six suspected ...
Drone strikes continue in North Waziristan
A U.S. drone strike killed eight people, all reportedly militants, and injured six others in the Shawal district of North Waziristan on Monday (BBC, ET, Dawn). Pakistani intelligence sources said the strike targeted the residence of a Taliban leader, Habib. Another drone strike killed at least six suspected militants in North Waziristan on Tuesday and reportedly targeted another militant commander’s house and a vehicle (ET, Dawn). According to data collected by New America, the strikes are the eleventh and twelfth strikes in 2014 and 94 militants have been reportedly killed so far this year (NA). There have been three drone strikes in as many days in Pakistan – including one on Sunday – a sharp increase in the covert program.
Plane attacked in Peshawar
Four men armed with machine guns and grenades fired at a passenger plane as it sought to land in Peshawar on Tuesday, according to sources within the city’s police department (ET). No casualties have been reported. However, the police have so far denied that any attack occurred. The incident follows a spate of recent attacks on planes in Peshawar, including an incident on Sep. 27, when a Pakistan International Airlines plane was fired upon as it landed.
New navy chief takes charge
Vice Adm. Muhammad Zakaullah took command as Pakistan’s new chief of the navy on Tuesday during a ceremony attended by senior defense officials (ET, Dawn). Zakaullah succeeded Adm. Asif Sandila who previously held the position. Zakaullah graduated from the United Kingdom’s Royal Naval Staff College and Pakistan’s National Defence University, and has also competed in international sporting events and sailing competitions, winning two gold medals at the Asian Games for Pakistan. Laying out his vision for the navy, Zakaullah stated: "In all areas of Pakistan Navy, development and merit will be first priorities."
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan praises Islamic State
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported on Tuesday that Usman Gazi, a leading figure in the militant Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan organization, praised the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in a statement distributed over the Internet on Sep. 26 (Dawn). The statement read: "Hereby, on behalf of all members of our movement, in line with our sacred duties, I declare that we are in the same ranks with the Islamic State." The report of Gazi’s statement comes as the Pakistani Taliban declared its support of the Islamic State’s territorial gains and encouraged unity among jihadist organizations.
— David Sterman
Firing continues on the Indo-Pakistan border
Pakistani Rangers targeted 40 Indian Border Security Force (BSF) posts and other positions along the Line of Control (LoC) — a military boundary between the Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir — in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday night, as both countries continued to exchange fire a day after nine civilians were killed on both sides of the border (Indian Express). The BSF guards the international border in Jammu and Kashmir, while the Indian army guards the LoC. At least seven Indian civilians have been injured in the cross-border firing since Monday night. While India claimed that it was giving a befitting reply to the firing, Pakistan accused India of initiating the most recent round of firing, and its foreign ministry lodged a protest with Indian diplomats (BBC).
The Indian and Pakistani heads of military operations held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing ceasefire violations, where both nations blamed each other for the incidents (Zee News). In response to the continued firing, Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said: "Let everybody be assured that our armed forces and paramilitary forces are fully ready and they are responding to each of these provocations from Pakistan" (NDTV). On Monday, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah strongly condemned the ongoing firing, and told reporters: "They (the Pakistani leadership) have nothing else to speak, but only Kashmir. Whenever they go abroad, they try to raise only Kashmir issue, but every time they miserably fail to get international attention. The cross-border shelling is an indication of their frustration" (Indian Express).
SC issues guidelines for government advertisements
An Indian Supreme Court committee issued a report on Monday advocating strict regulations on advertising content and expenditure in the media by politicians and governments (Indian Express). The committee stated that only pictures and names of the president, prime minister, governors, and chief ministers should be published in government advertisements, and that the advertisements must not "glorify politicians in power." The committee further stated that their recommendations serve to prevent "the arbitrary use of public funds for advertising… to project particular personalities, parties or governments without any attendant public interest" (NDTV). The report also highlighted that there had been "misuse and abuse" of public money on such advertisements, and recommended that government ministries and the public sector declare a budget for public advertisements, which would then be audited by the comptroller and auditor general of India (Hindustan Times).
India, with four other countries, to build world’s biggest telescope
India, along with the United States, Japan, Canada, and China, will build the world’s biggest telescope, which will be able to identify an object as small as a coin from a distance of 500 km (311 miles), according to news reports on Monday (Times of India, NDTV). The 30-meter telescope — also known as TMT — will cost $1.4 billion, and will be built near the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano on Hawaii Island in the United States. It was reported that Japan will cover a quarter of the costs (Japan Times). Around 100 astronomers and officials from these five countries will attend a ceremony in Hawaii on Tuesday to mark the beginning of construction. Once built, the TMT will help identify whether planets outside the solar system, which have an atmosphere, are capable of supporting life.
— Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan
Bonus Read: "Female Heads Of Household (And Hair) Reveal Afghanistan’s Drug Use," Hannah Bloch (NPR).
SIGAR releases letters critical of UNDP
The United States’ Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released a series of letters on Monday raising concerns regarding the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (FP, Pajhwok). According to SIGAR, donor countries have provided $3.17 billion to the fund since 2002 and tens of millions of dollars were spent without supporting documentation. John Sopko, the head of the office, wrote: "I am concerned that UNDP officials are not proactively addressing many of the problems plaguing this program."
Five Paghman rapists to face gallows Wednesday
Five of the men convicted of committing a gang rape on the Qargha-Paghman road outside of Kabul on Aug. 22, and sentenced to death will be hung on Wednesday, according to officials in Afghanistan’s Attorney General’s office and Ministry of the Interior spokesman Siddiqui Siddique (Pajhwok, TOLO News). According to the Attorney General’s office, 10 people were involved in the rape and seven have been arrested so far, with all seven being convicted. While all seven were originally sentenced to death in September, the sentences for two of the men were reduced to 20-year prison sentences on appeal.
Afghan soldiers training in Italy go missing
Four Afghan National Army soldiers training in Italy went missing two weeks ago, according to reports in the Italian press on Tuesday (Pajhwok). The four men were taking part in a course on mountain warfare, but have not reported for duty in two weeks. They are believed to be heading to France. The incident follows a similar case in the United States, in which three Afghan soldiers attempted to desert and were arrested.
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. @neelishah