The South Asia Channel

India Builds Posts on China Border; Pakistan Trails Global Gender Gap; Fewer Than 50% of Americans Say Afghan War Worthwhile

India India to build new border posts on Indo-China border China warned India on Monday against taking any action that may "complicate or exaggerate" the Indo-China boundary issue after India announced plans to build 54 new border posts in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh (Livemint, NDTV, Economic Times). Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying ...



India to build new border posts on Indo-China border

China warned India on Monday against taking any action that may "complicate or exaggerate" the Indo-China boundary issue after India announced plans to build 54 new border posts in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh (Livemint, NDTV, Economic Times). Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said: "China’s position on China-India boundary question is consistent and clear. We are committed to finding a solution to the boundary question with the Indian side through friendly negotiation as soon as possible and working together to safeguard peace and tranquillity along the border" (IBNLive). In addition to building 54 new border posts, the Indian government is expected to clear a proposal, which will add about 12,000 new personnel to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, which guards the Indo-China border (Times of India).

Earlier this month, China had objected to India building a 1,800-km-long (1,118 mile-long) highway along the Indo-China border in Arunachal Pradesh. In September, India and China had its biggest military standoff this year, with both countries mobilizing troops along the border. Tensions between India and China flare up occasionally as both nations disagree over the demarcation of their shared border.

PM Modi meets his Vietnamese counterpart

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Tuesday, and agreed to enhance bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2020 (The Hindu, IBNLive). Both leaders signed seven agreements in key areas of defense, trade, security, and counterterrorism. India agreed to operationalize a $100 million line of credit for Vietnam, and provide support to modernize Vietnam’s security forces. Vietnam offered two more oil blocks for exploration in the South China Sea to India. The two blocks offered were among the five blocks Vietnam had offered to India earlier.

Modi highlighted India’s defense cooperation with Vietnam, and said: "India remains committed to the modernization of Vietnam’s defense and security forces. This will include expansion of our training programme, which is already very substantial, joint exercises and cooperation in defense equipment… We will quickly operationalize the 100 million dollars Line of Credit that will enable Vietnam to acquire new naval vessels from India" (Economic Times). Modi further said: "I thanked Prime Minister for Vietnam’s commitment to collaboration with India in its oil and gas sector and its additional offer of exploration blocks. We will continue to deepen our cooperation in this sector and associated downstream industry" (Zee News).

Japan’s SoftBank to invest $10 billion in India

Japan’s SoftBank Corp., a telecommunications and internet corporation, said on Tuesday that it will invest about $10 billion in India (Reuters, ABC News, Indian Express). Softbank, announced that it is purchasing a $627 million stake in Snapdeal, the largest digital marketplace in India with 25 million users and 50,000 businesses. SoftBank is also investing $210 million in Ola Cabs, which owns a mobile application for taxi bookings to connect cab drivers with consumers in India. SoftBank was an early investor in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce company, and recently acquired U.S. mobile carrier Sprint Corp. for $21.6 billion.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son announced a 10-year investment plan for India on Tuesday, and said: "The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan has created a climate of hope and optimism about greater economic cooperation between the two countries" (NDTV). Son further said: "We believe India is at a turning point in its development and have confidence that India will grow strongly over the next decade. As part of this belief, we intend to deploy significant capital in India over the next few years to support development of the market" (Livemint).

— Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan


Pakistan ranked 2nd to last in global gender gap report

A report released on Tuesday by the World Economic Forum ranked Pakistan second to last in terms of gender equality worldwide (ET). Pakistan ranked 141st of 142 countries in terms of economic participation as well as 141st of 142 countries overall. Yemen remained the worst performing country in the report for the ninth year in a row.

Iranian, Pakistani officials meet on border issues

Senior Iranian and Pakistani officials met on Monday to resolve tensions on the border (ET). Pakistan’s delegation was led by Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Iran’s delegation was led by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ibrahim Rahimpour. A statement released after the meeting read: "It was agreed to ensure effective border controls — including through enhanced communications and coordination between the relevant focal authorities on both sides and frequent exchanges and meetings of the established mechanisms, including the Joint Border Commission (JBC)." The meeting follows reports of an increased number of attacks into Iran by extremists based in Pakistan and clashes between Iranian and Pakistani border forces.

U.S. special envoy in Pakistan

Dan Feldman, the United States special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday (Dawn). Feldman met with Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s national security adviser, to discuss Afghanistan and bilateral ties. According to a press release from the U.S. State Department, "Special Representative Feldman will meet with a wide range of civilian and military officials as well as representatives from civil society." Following meetings with Pakistani officials, Feldman will begin a two-day visit to China on Thursday.

Cyclone Nilofar intensifies

Cyclone Nilofar, a severe tropical cyclone currently 1140km off of Karachi, is expected to intensify, potentially becoming a very severe tropical cyclone according to statements by Pakistani meteorological officials on Tuesday (Dawn). Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority issued preemptive measures on Monday to ensure safety if the cyclone hits Pakistan (ET). A NDMA statement read: "Early warnings are being issued on regular basis to the fishermen not to venture into the open sea from Wednesday to Friday. Those who are already in the open sea have been advised to return to the coastal areas by Tuesday evening."

— David Sterman


Fewer than 50 percent of Americans think war in Afghanistan worthwhile

A BBC poll released on Tuesday found that fewer than 50 percent of Americans believe the war in Afghanistan was "worthwhile," with 54 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats agreeing, and only 28 percent believed the United States was safer (BBC). On whether involvement left the Afghan government capable of defending Afghans without international assistance, two-thirds of Americans polled were doubtful that it is possible. For Britons polled, only 24 percent believe U.K. troops left Afghanistan better off.

Afghan forces surrender to Taliban

Afghan National Security Forces have surrendered to Taliban fighters in Warduj district of Badakhshan province, where 300 Taliban attacked a government compound and security checkpoints on Sunday and Monday (TOLO News). At least 17 police officers were taken captive and four were killed, and "heavy casualties" were reported by the provincial police spokesman Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai (BBC, TOLO News). 

Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on government offices in Kuduz province on Monday where four Taliban dressed as police officers stormed the offices, killing at least eight people, wounding ten, and triggering a four-hour battle (NYT, Washington Post). Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack was "punishment for recent death sentences handed to Taliban prisoners." The Taliban reportedly control 30 villages in Kunduz province (TOLO News).

"Blasphemous" editor-in-chief flees to avoid arrest

The editor-in-chief responsible for publishing an article that criticized Islam and enflamed Afghans has fled the country on Monday to avoid arrest for blasphemy (ET). An Oct. 15 op-ed, published in an Afghan English-language daily newspaper reported as both the Afghanistan Express and the Afghanistan Press Daily, entitled "The Islam of the Taliban and ISIS" caused widespread outcry for blasphemy and protests in Kabul on Oct. 24 despite an Oct. 18 apology issued by the paper (RFE/RL). The Council of Ministers directed the Ministry of Information and Culture to investigate the incident and arrest the writer and newspaper officials responsible. The author of the piece is believed to live in the Netherlands.

Construction sector still unreliable

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani released a statement on Monday underscoring the importance of regulations in the booming construction sector (Pajhwok). At the same time, construction was halted by Afghanistan’s Public Works Department on two key bridges in Jalalabad due to lack of funds (Pajhwok). Under the terms of the contract with the construction company, the government is to pay during the course of the work, but currently, the Public Works Department does not have the money to do so.

— Courtney Schuster

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
Courtney Schuster is a research associate with the International Security Program at New America and an assistant editor with the South Asia Channel.
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