The South Asia Channel
Five Former Afghan Ministers Face Corruption Charges; Pakistani Polio Team Attacked; Firing on the Indo-Pak Border
Afghanistan Bonus Read: "Ashraf Ghani Races to Make His Mark on Presidency in Afghanistan," Azam Ahmed (NYT) Five former ministers face corruption charges Afghanistan’s Attorney General’s office announced on Tuesday that five former ministers face corruption charges (Pajhwok). The ministers facing charges are Mir Mohammad Siddiqui, the former minister of mines, Inayatullah Qasimi and Wahidullah ...
Bonus Read: "Ashraf Ghani Races to Make His Mark on Presidency in Afghanistan," Azam Ahmed (NYT)
Five former ministers face corruption charges
Afghanistan’s Attorney General’s office announced on Tuesday that five former ministers face corruption charges (Pajhwok). The ministers facing charges are Mir Mohammad Siddiqui, the former minister of mines, Inayatullah Qasimi and Wahidullah Qadiri, former transportation ministers, Jalil Shams, a former economy minister, and Mohammad Amin Farhang, a former minister of commerce. Basir Azizi, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office, said that a special bench of judges would be formed for the case, but refused to provide further details on any of the cases.
Interior Minister: Afghanistan needs neighbors to fight terrorism
Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Omar Daudzai, warned that the country cannot prevent terrorism by itself and requires cooperation from its neighbors during the Munich Security Conference Core Group on Tuesday (Pajhwok). Daudzai stated that terrorists are being trained in Pakistan to attack Afghanistan, and noted the failure of political negotiation: "We exhausted every option that could lead us to a political settlement of the problem. Complex realities surrounding us hindered our efforts." Daudzai emphasized the need for cooperation, saying: "But we all know that for a genuine peace settlement, our neighbors’ sincere cooperation is key. In this respect, we are inviting our neighbors to have a fresh look at the emerging opportunities and see the threat that they are also now faced with."
650 deaf children receive hearing aids
The Bayat Foundation and the Starkey Hearing Aid Foundation distributed 650 hearing aids to deaf children in Kabul on Tuesday (TOLO News). The hearing aids were distributed through schools specifically for deaf children. In Afghanistan, 100,000 people have registered as being deaf with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
Ghani, officials call for investigation of ‘blasphemous’ article
Afghan government officials, including members of Afghanistan’s upper house and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, on Tuesday criticized the publication of an article in the Afghanistan Express for blasphemy (Pajhwok, Pajhwok). The article titled "IS and Taliban" reportedly used profane words regarding the Prophet Mohammed. Afghan senators Maulvi Mahmood Danishjo, Maulvi Mohiuddin Munsif, Amanullah Azimi called for legal action, and the deputy chairman of the upper house, Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, also voiced support for legal action. Ghani also expressed criticism of the article stating: "I’m seeking Allah’s forgiveness for the blunder that has been committed" and announcing that a probe was ongoing.
Attack on polio team injures three
Three people were injured on Monday in an attack on a polio vaccination team in Bajaur agency (ET, Dawn, RFE/RL). According to Pakistani officials, an improvised explosive device was remotely detonated as the van carrying the team passed by. No deaths have been reported. The attack comes as a three-day vaccination campaign in the agency was set to end. Bajaur has been the target of anti-polio worker violence before; two attacks on polio teams in September left two people dead.
Pakistan and Iran to increase intelligence cooperation
Pakistani and Iranian officials met in Tehran on Wednesday to discuss increased tensions on the Iran-Pakistan border and agreed to increase intelligence cooperation (Dawn). Khan Wasey, a spokesman for the Frontier Corps, called such cooperation "indispensable," and stated: "The two sides agreed to boost intelligence cooperation with regard to border security." The meeting followed a series of cross-border incidents, including one on Oct. 18 when Iranian border guards entered Pakistan and killed a Frontier Corps soldier in the ensuing clash. Balochistan’s Home Secretary, Akbar Hussain Durrani, told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper that Pakistan and Iran are scheduled to continue meetings on the border issue on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10.
ISPR: 1100 militants killed in North Waziristan operation
Asim Bajwa, the director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), announced on Wednesday that Pakistan’s Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan has killed 1100 militants so far (ET). Bajwa made the announcement during a cricket match between internally displaced persons and the army. Due to the lack of access to North Waziristan, reporters have been unable to independently verify the ISPR’s statements on casualties in the operation.
MQM leaves government in Kashmir
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) announced that it would leave the governing coalition in Azad Jammu and Kashmir where it had been allied with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) (Dawn). Farooq Sattar, a senior MQM leader, made the announcement in Islamabad, saying that MQM officials serving in the cabinet would soon resign. Sattar blamed the PPP for the MQM’s departure, stating: "We have tolerated a number of antics and inadequacies…but things have come to a head now…it is no longer possible for us to be in an alliance with the PPP." In particular, Sattar noted the criticism of MQM party chief Altaf Hussain by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari calling it "the last straw."
— David Sterman
India and Pakistan exchange fire
Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fire over the disputed border in the Kashmir region on Wednesday (The Nation, Indian Express, Dawn, Economic Times). As both sides accused each other of unprovoked firing, no injury or loss to life was reported. The cross-border firing this past month has been the worst in over a decade; 20 civilians died and dozens were injured on both sides of the border. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the two countries were partitioned in 1947, and two of them were over Kashmir. Both countries claim Kashmir in its entirety, and the dispute has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for more than 60 years. Although New Delhi and Islamabad agreed to a truce in 2003, ceasefire violations have continued across the borders.
On Tuesday, Indian Defense and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley warned Pakistan of any future attacks, saying: "When Pakistan used to fire, we always had a shield in our hand. This time we also had a sword" (Economic Times). Jaitley further added: "Our conventional strength is far more than theirs. So if they persist with this, they’ll feel the pain of this adventurism." Also, on Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said: "The whole nation will have to be united and tell India that we will never accept Indian supremacy or hegemony; will never forget rights of Kashmiris; and will protect our vital interests" (Daily Times).
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Tuesday that he will celebrate the Hindu festival Diwali in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) with "sisters and brothers affected by the unfortunate flood" (Indian Express). Last month, thousands were stranded and hundreds killed due to flooding in J&K. Kashmiri separatists expressed their displeasure at Modi’s visit, and called it a "cultural aggression." Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani said: "Kashmir is a Muslim majority place, and there is no relevance of celebrating Diwali here… It is an attempt to thrust Diwali on us."
Finance Minister says Congress to be embarrassed by black money list
In response to the Congress party accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of hypocrisy for not disclosing the names of black money account holders, Jaitley said on Tuesday that the Congress party will be embarrassed once the list is released (Times of India, NDTV). The Indian Supreme Court has set up a special team to recover black money from abroad. The Indian government submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court last week, which stated that all the information on black money stashed abroad cannot be disclosed from countries with which India has a double taxation avoidance agreement.
Jaitley said: "The names (of black money account holders) will be public shortly… I can assure you there is no embarrassment I (BJP) will have when all the names are disclosed. There is some embarrassment the Congress party will have because of those names" (Indian Express). Jaitley also clarified that double taxation avoidance agreement only restrains disclosure of names to the media and not in court. In response to Jaitley’s comments, the Congress party reacted on Wednesday, with Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken saying: "Don’t blackmail the Congress, we will not succumb to any pressure… We want the complete truth…Avoid selective leakage of names" (NDTV, Indian Express).
India re-elected to UNHRC
India was re-elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the period of 2015-17 on Tuesday, after receiving the highest number of votes in the Asia-Pacific group (Economic Times, Business Standard, IBNLive). India won a second consecutive two-year term at the UNHRC, after competing with Indonesia, Bangladesh, Qatar, Thailand, Kuwait, Cambodia, Philippines, and Bahrain in the Asia-Pacific group. Indian Ambassador to the U.N. Asoke Mukerji said that India’s goal is to ensure that the "idea behind creating the Human Rights Council is actually implemented in practice." The UNHRC members are elected for three years, and they discuss thematic human rights issues and situations.
— Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan
Edited by Peter Bergen