The South Asia Channel
Four Arrested for Karachi Airport Attack; India Submits Black Money List; Afghanistan and China Sign Four Agreements
Pakistan Four arrested for Karachi airport attack Pakistani police announced on Tuesday that they had arrested four people for involvement in the June 8 attack on Karachi’s airport (Dawn). The accused individuals were identified as Sarmad Siddiqi, Nadeem also known as Burger, Asif Zaheer, and Master Essa. The men are accused of arranging accommodation for ...
Four arrested for Karachi airport attack
Pakistani police announced on Tuesday that they had arrested four people for involvement in the June 8 attack on Karachi’s airport (Dawn). The accused individuals were identified as Sarmad Siddiqi, Nadeem also known as Burger, Asif Zaheer, and Master Essa. The men are accused of arranging accommodation for the militants who attacked the airport. One of the suspects, Zaheer, had been arrested for the 2002 bombing of a Sheraton hotel, served eight years in prison, and then befriended Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, who was found guilty of involvement in the murder of Daniel Pearl.
Pakistan delays airline, steel mill privatization efforts
Pakistan’s Privatisation Commission Chairman Mohammad Zubair announced on Tuesday that the government would delay the privatization of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) until October 2015 (ET). The change is the fourth time the government has delayed the planned date for privatizing PIA despite the existence of clear deadlines from the International Monetary Fund, which originally sought privatization in December 2014. The delay is reportedly due to the government’s unwillingness to alienate the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political parties, which many of the workers in the two firms support.
ISPR: Afghanistan not cooperating with Pakistani military
Military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa stated, that Afghanistan is not cooperating with the Pakistani military and that splinter groups from the Pakistani Taliban are operating from Afghanistan while briefing the press on Wednesday (ET). Bajwa stated: "Banned TTP outfit leadership is operating from Afghanistan." Bajwa also emphasized that the military operation in North Waziristan has so far been successful, noting: "The Pakistan Army has got control of all major areas in North Waziristan." Also on Wednesday, Pakistan renewed its pledge to support peace efforts in Afghanistan following meetings between Dan Feldman, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Pakistani officials (VOA).
Pakistani wins second place in Laugh Factory contest
Saad Haroon, a Pakistani, won second place in the Laugh Factory’s Funniest Person in the World contest held in the United States on Monday (BBC). Haroon’s jokes draw upon his Pakistani roots, and his latest tour is called "Don’t worry, Be Pakistani." One of his jokes involves an imaginary phone call between former Pakistani President Musharraf and Sonia Gandhi, the leader of India’s Congress party, with each saying, "No you take Kashmir." Other jokes make fun of Pakistani militant groups. Regarding his comedic focus on Pakistan, Haroon says: "I see nothing faulty with Pakistan more or less than any other country, my job is to highlight things so we take a closer look at them."
— David Sterman
India submits ‘black money’ list
The Indian government submitted a list containing 627 names of Indians that have untaxed wealth in foreign banks to the Supreme Court on Wednesday (Indian Express, NDTV, BBC). As tax treaties with other countries prohibit the public disclosure of names till charges are framed, a sealed envelope was submitted to the court, which left it to a special investigation team to carry out necessary investigations and submit a status report by the end of November.
After the government disclosed the names of three entities on the black money list on Monday, the Supreme Court chided the government, and asked for the disclosure of the entire list. India claims illegal funds are sent to tax havens, including Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, and the British Virgin Islands, and it is estimated that Indians hold approximately $500 billion in overseas tax havens. In June, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government set up a special task force to find black money stashed overseas.
SC criticizes government for Delhi impasse
The Indian Supreme Court criticized the central government on Tuesday over the delay in government formation in New Delhi, which has been under the President’s rule after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal quit as chief minister on February 14, when he alleged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress party were blocking the introduction and passage of the Jan Lokpal, an anti-corruption bill (NDTV). The Supreme Court urged the parties to resolve the issue, with Chief Justice H. L. Dattu saying: "We gave you enough time but nothing has happened so far… The people of Delhi have a right to have a democratically-elected government and not be ruled by the president." (BBC).
Although the BJP is the single largest party in the 70-member state assembly, it does not have a majority. In response to the Supreme Court’s criticism, Congress and AAP also criticized BJP. Kejriwal said: "BJP is not confident of winning Assembly elections, that is why they are delaying it. It is playing dirty politics over the issue. If BJP had the magic numbers, it would have formed the government in the national capital" (Indian Express). Congress leader Arvinder Singh said: "From day one we are saying that BJP is running away from fresh elections. They are just finding excuses one after another. Congress will oppose BJP and can never think of an AAP-BJP government in Delhi… we will fully oppose it" (Times of India).
‘Kiss of Love’ to protest moral policing
After the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, a Hindu outfit, vandalized a coffee shop in Kozhikode — located in the southern state of Kerala — to protest alleged immoral activities by young lovers, a group of youngsters announced the "Kiss of Love" event on November 2, according to news reports on Wednesday (Indian Express, IBNLive). However, the local police have denied permission to hold the "Kiss of Love" event, and volunteers of the event were physically assaulted by right-wing groups in the presence of the police and media. Organizers who spread information about the event through social media, have decided to still go ahead with the gathering. Rahul Pasupalan, one of the organizers spoke about the event, and said: "Lovers will kiss each other. We want to send a strong signal to moral police that violence can’t overcome love" (Hindustan Times). On the police denying permission to hold the "Kiss of Love" event, Pasupalan said: "We will not make any announcement nor will we place any placards. As per law, 20 to 25 people will gather without permission. We will definitely meet" (Times of India).
— Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan
Afghanistan and China sign four agreements
Afghanistan and China signed four agreements on trade and commerce relations, bilateral economic ties, humanitarian aid, and travel permits for public servants on Tuesday following Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s trip to China (TOLO News). Despite China’s concerns that a deteriorating security situation could threaten greater investment, it agreed to give Afghanistan $327 million in aid over the next three years — $81.8 million in 2014 and the remaining sum between 2015-2017 (BBC, WSJ, Pajhwok). China also agreed to act as a mediator between Afghanistan and Pakistan while Ghani pledged to help China fight its own Islamic militants (Reuters).
Afghanistan facing economic crisis
In light of a budget deficit, Afghan Ministry of Finance spokesman Abdul Qadir Jilani said on Tuesday that Afghanistan "faced many issues this year. National income decreased, investment was stagnated, international aid did not reach on time and the election process was prolonged; all these issues had negative impacts on the economy," continuing that Afghans "request from the international community to provide us with seven million dollars. If they do, we will be able to manage the situation for now" (TOLO News). Many Afghans blame corruption for the crisis but others point to inappropriate expenditures like the 91 code account which funded the $58 million cost of armored vehicles for the Independent Election Commission. The Afghan government has not been able to pay the salaries of 56 district governors for the past year (TOLO News).
Provincial council results revised
The Afghan Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) released revised results of the April provincial council election after investigating the complaints received (Pajhwok). The new results affected the outcome in 21 provinces; a total of 47 candidates who were initially declared the losers have now won.
Members of parliament in both the upper and lower houses are calling for members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to be prevented from leaving the country before they can be held accountable for the problems that plagued the elections (TOLO News). Some legislators have gone even further: "The commission led the country to the verge of collapse, therefore members of the commissions must be prosecuted," said Ghulam Hussain Naseri, the member of parliament from Maidan Wardak province. Khost province losing candidates, including Hakim Wali Sharafat and Bibi Omari, alleged that the IEC ignored findings of fraud by the IECC (Pajhwok).
Afghan cricket team wins regional title
On Tuesday, the Afghan under-16 cricket team defended its title at the Asian Cricket Council Under-16 Elite Cup held in Qatar, defeating Hong Kong by 150 runs (Pajhwok). Afghanistan’s under-19 cricket team won by 10 wickets on Tuesday in their opening match against Pakistan (Pajhwok). This past weekend, a new cricket academy opened in Helmand province, and Afghanistan Cricket Board Chief Executive Officer Noor Mohammad Murad said this is to be the first of other such academies (Pajhwok).
— Courtney Schuster
Edited by Peter Bergen