The South Asia Channel
Six Pakistani Taliban Leaders Pledge to ISIS; India, Pakistan Armies Establish Contact; Kabul Bank Suspects Flee Country
Pakistan Bonus Read: "Splits in the Pakistani Taliban," Daud Khattak (South Asia) Bonus Read: "ISIS Makes Inroads in Afghanistan, Pakistan," Najib Sharifi (South Asia) Senior Pakistani Taliban leaders pledge allegiance to Islamic State Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and five other senior leaders pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according ...
Bonus Read: "Splits in the Pakistani Taliban," Daud Khattak (South Asia)
Bonus Read: "ISIS Makes Inroads in Afghanistan, Pakistan," Najib Sharifi (South Asia)
Senior Pakistani Taliban leaders pledge allegiance to Islamic State
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and five other senior leaders pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to news reports on Tuesday (ET, Dawn). In addition to Shahid, allegiance was sworn by the Taliban’s leaders in the Orakzai tribal region, the Khyber and Khurram Agencies, and the towns of Peshawar and Hangu. In a statement sent to media outlets and posted online Shahid said: "I declare allegiance to the Caliph of Muslims, Amirul Momineen Abu Bakar al Baghdadi al Qarshi al Hussaini. I will listen and follow his every instruction whatever the situation may have been. This allegiance is neither from the TTP [Taliban] or its leader Maulvi Fazlullah. This is only from me and five leaders." Shahid added that Fazlullah supported the Islamic State, but had not sworn allegiance to the militant group.
Polio drive launched in Balochistan
A three-day polio immunization campaign involving 1,831 vaccination teams began on Monday in six districts of Balochistan (ET). According to Dr. Ishaq Panezai, the deputy manager for the Extended Program on Immunization in Balochistan, 857,838 children will be immunized.
The campaign comes as Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell announced new recommendations to confront polio in high-risk areas on Monday. That report noted that 202 cases of polio-linked paralysis have been recorded so far in 2014, the highest number in 14 years (NYT). Pakistan’s polio problem has even spilled into Afghanistan; according to the World Health Organization’s director for polio response in Pakistan, Dr. Elias Durry, eight of the ten polio cases in Afghanistan this year are linked to Pakistan.
Peshawar to get journalism institute
The Journalists Welfare, Safety and Development Foundation announced on Monday that it would set up a practical journalism institute in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (Dawn). The institute plans to focus on holding events and workshops to train journalists operating in Pakistan. The foundation also decided to collect more data on deceased journalists’ families in order to further support orphans and widows of those who die working for the media.
— David Sterman
Indian and Pakistani armies establish contact
Indian and Pakistani military officials spoke to each other on Tuesday, and discussed ways to reduce tension along the Indo-Pakistan border in Kashmir (Pakistan Today, ET). Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported, citing a senior military official, that: "Directors of Military Operations (DMO) of the Pakistani and Indian armies spoke to each other over [a] hotline" (Dawn). This was the first contact between the two armies since ceasefire violations began earlier this month.
In response to Pakistan’s letter to the United Nations seeking its intervention on the Kashmir border dispute, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters on Monday that the U.N. chief would encourage both countries to resolve their differences through dialogue (Indian Express, Livemint). Pakistani officials wrote to the United Nations on Sunday, asking the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan to intervene in the recent border dispute in Kashmir.
Retail and wholesale inflation ease in September
India’s retail inflation based on the consumer price index fell to 6.46 percent in September, compared to 7.73 percent in August, marking the lowest inflation rate since the government started releasing the data in 2012, according to news reports on Monday (Indian Express, NDTV). On Tuesday, media outlets reported that wholesale price index inflation also dipped to a five-year low of 2.38 percent in September compared to 3.74 percent in August (NDTV, Economic Times). The decline in inflation was driven by falling prices of fuel and food.
India may impose duties to check Chinese imports
The Indian government said on Monday that it may impose "some kind of safeguard duties" on Chinese imports to reduce the trade gap between the two countries (IBNLive). With Indian exports to China totaling only $15 billion, and imports totaling $51 billion, India’s trade deficit with China stands at about $36 billion. On Monday, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Secretary Amitabh Kant — working under the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry — said: "This trade deficit (between India and China) is not sustainable in the long run and therefore it is very important to understand for Chinese companies that in the coming years, India will have to put some kind of safeguards whether it is in terms of standards… India will do this because (India) cannot sustain this (trade deficit) for over a long period" (Economic Times). Kant said further: "Chinese companies should actually manufacture the same goods (which they export to India) in India. We welcome Chinese companies."
Election Commission seizes cash and alcohol
The Election Commission of India (EC) seized over $2 million in cash and more than 200,000 bottles of illicit liquor in the western state of Maharashtra on Monday, ahead of the state legislative assembly elections (IBNLive, Indian Express). According to news reports, the EC has established teams to ensure that political parties do not lure voters with cash and alcohol before the elections, which will be held on Oct.15. An election official noted that: "While cash seized by the police and I-T [Income Tax] is returned in case it can be accounted for, in the case of liquor, the seizure and vehicles are confiscated and the people involved are arrested" (DNA).
— Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan
Bonus Read: "My Terrifying Night With Afghanistan’s Only Female Warlord," Jen Percy (TNR)
Two Kabul Bank suspects leave country
Afghanistan’s Attorney General’s Office announced on Monday that two of the suspects in the Kabul Bank fraud investigation had left the country (TOLO News). Deputy Attorney Gen. Rahmatullah Nazari stated: "Two of the loan receivers of Kabul Bank, Mohebullah Safi, CEO of the Millie Bank, and Masood Ghazi, CEO of the New Kabul Bank, have taken leave and ran away." Both Safi and Ghazi had been sentenced to three years in prison for their involvement in the corruption case. Gen. Fareed Afzali, who heads the Kabul Police criminal investigation branch, stated: "The list [of individuals involved in the case] that was given to us had 18 names, we have arrested seven of the names, two others were bailed out and freed by one of the embassies, two others ran away and the rest are outside the country." Safi and Ghazi’s flight from the country just a few weeks after newly inaugurated Afghan President Ashraf Ghani promised to push the investigation forward.
37 dead in fighting at Sar-i-Pul
Fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters in Sar-i-Pul province left 37 people dead, the provincial governor announced on Monday (Pajhwok, TOLO News). According to reports, 14 members of the Afghan security forces died along with 23 Taliban fighters. Mullah Nadir, a Taliban commander, was among those reportedly killed. The fighting began with a Taliban ambush in Laghman village. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi claimed 40 Afghan security personnel were killed in the fighting – though the militant group is known for citing higher casualty counts.
Bomb kills two in Kabul
A bomb killed two civilians and injured three others in the Kote Sangi district of Kabul early on Tuesday morning according to local news reports (Pajhwok, TOLO News). No group has claimed responsibility for the attack though it comes one day after two other bombings occurred in the Afghan capital, one of which was claimed by the Taliban.
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen