Pakistani Province Rewrites Textbooks; Modi Launches ‘Run for Unity’ Day; Afghanistan Ranked Worst Asian Investment Country
Pakistan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa rewrites textbooks Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is rewriting its textbooks to be more Islamic, officials stated on Thursday (Reuters, VOA). The new textbooks will reportedly include passages on jihad, remove images of unveiled women, and rewrite some of the history. Inayatullah Khan, the leader of the religious Jamaat-e-Islami party, stated: "Kashmir, which ...
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa rewrites textbooks
Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is rewriting its textbooks to be more Islamic, officials stated on Thursday (Reuters, VOA). The new textbooks will reportedly include passages on jihad, remove images of unveiled women, and rewrite some of the history. Inayatullah Khan, the leader of the religious Jamaat-e-Islami party, stated: "Kashmir, which we consider an integral part of Pakistan, was stated as part of India in the map in a book. Similarly, it was mentioned that Bangladesh got freedom from Pakistan, which we don’t accept." He also said the books would replace content on non-Muslims with content on Muslims. The province’s textbooks had previously been rewritten in 2008 under the leadership of the secular Awami National Party.
Haqqani leader killed in drone strike
Abdullah Haqqani, a senior Haqqani leader, was killed in an American drone strike on Thursday, which we previously reported (ET). An intelligence official told AFP: "Abdullah Haqqani (the commander) was responsible for sending suicide bombers to Afghanistan." The drone strike occurred in Nargas village in South Wazirisitan. New reporting also suggests a higher death toll than initially reported, with the quoted intelligence official saying seven militants were killed in the strike. Pakistan condemned the strike on Thursday. Foreign ministry spokesperson, Tasnim Aslam, stated: "Pakistan has consistently maintained that such strikes are a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Government of Pakistan is itself taking decisive action against terrorist elements and therefore believes that such strikes are unnecessary and need to be stopped" (ET). The strike was the 17th drone strike in Pakistan this year, according to data collected by New America (NA).
Pakistani Taliban launch English language magazine
The Pakistani Taliban launched an English language magazine, according to a report by NBC on Wednesday (NBC). The magazine is the latest entry into a crowded market in which Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda Central, the Islamic State, and the Afghan Taliban all have English language magazines. Ehsanullah Ehsan, a Taliban spokesman, said the magazine would encourage people to come fight abroad for the group. The magazine, titled Ilhae Khilafat, includes articles like "The benefits of living under Khilafah" and "Why I chose to join jihad" written by a British man who joined the group. The magazine calls for submissions but also warns of surveillance stating: "Try not to contact us through your personal computer or email for your own safety." Bonus Read: "ISIS Reveals its Strategy," Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider (CNN).
Pakistan’s meteorological department downgraded Cyclone Nilofar to a tropical depression on Thursday and believe it will weaken further into a low pressure area on Friday (ET, Dawn). According to officials the storm is not expected to hit either the Pakistani or Indian coast. Fishermen in Pakistan’s Sindh and Balochistan provinces are expected to be able to return to work on Sunday. India’s Regionalized Specialized Metrological Centre also noted the storm’s weakening, stating that sea conditions off the Gujarat coast will "be moderate to rough during the next 24 hours." It also issued a warning to Indian fishermen.
Prime Minister to reduce petrol price
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced on Friday that the government would reduce the price of petrol by 9.43 rupees ($.09) per liter to provide economic relief (ET, Dawn). Sharif announced the policy while addressing the federal cabinet in Islamabad. Sharif also rejected a report auditing alleged overbilling for electricity during the summer months that was presented at the meeting by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Energy Musadiq Malik, asking that a new report be produced.
— David Sterman
PM Modi launched ‘Run for Unity’ day
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the "Run for Unity" marathon with over 10,000 people in New Delhi on Friday, to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first home minister (IBNLive, NDTV). Modi commemorated Patel, known as the "Iron Man of India," and said: "The British wanted India to break into pieces but Sardar Patel unified the 550 provinces into one country… Through his skill, vision and patriotism Sardar Patel integrated the nation. We can never forget his contribution in uniting free India" (Economic Times).
The Congress party criticized Modi for holding grand celebrations on October 31 as it coincides with the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Congress leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha (upper house of Parliament) Anand Sharma said: "It is petty-minded, it is partisan and disrespectful to those who gave their lives to their country, particularly Indira Gandhi who gave hers for the unity of this country" (IBNLive). Congress MP Shashi Tharoor expressed anger over the lack of official plans to mark the anniversary of Gandhi, as done in the past, and tweeted — @ShashiTharoor — "Disgraceful that government is ignoring the martyrdom of our only prime minister who was killed in office in the line of duty. Oct 31 forgotten?" (BBC).
Modi talked about Gandhi’s death anniversary in his speech, and said that this commemoration was not an attempt to belittle any other leader. He said: "Let us not forget that a nation that disregards its history can never create one… Don’t divide history, legacy in narrow confines of ideology" (Indian Express). The Modi government announced it will provide $33 million to construct a massive Patel statue in the western state of Gujarat, which will be twice as tall as New York City’s Statue of Liberty.
Former Google employee attempted to join ISIS
A former Google employee was under surveillance by the police in the southern city of Hyderabad, after he was suspected of trying to travel to Saudi Arabia to join the militant group Islamic State or ISIS, according to news reports on Wednesday (NDTV, Times of India, Economic Times). Munawad Salman, a 30-year-old engineer working as a security analyst at Google, quit his job to find employment in Saudi Arabia after he became attracted to ISIS through social media. A senior police officer said: "We had been tracking Munawad’s activities on the Internet for the past several weeks. He was drawn especially to the ISIS’s propaganda and other Islamic militant groups’ websites. He had created some fake identities and would ‘like’ and comment on videos and photos posted by ISIS and other jihadi groups" (Indian Express).
Although the police did not register a case against Salman, they asked him not to leave the city and to undergo counselling. Recently, four engineering students from Hyderabad were returned to their families after they were caught trying to travel to Iraq to allegedly join ISIS (NDTV). Earlier this year, a young Muslim from Mumbai lost his life in Iraq, where he was fighting with ISIS.
India’s Shahi Imam invites Pakistani PM; snubs Modi
India’s top Muslim cleric, Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari, created a controversy on Thursday after inviting Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but not Modi for his son’s anointment ceremony at New Delhi’s Jama Masjid (NDTV). Bukhari defended his decision to not invite Modi, and said: "Modi claims to be the prime minister of 125 crore Indians but conveniently and deliberately avoids addressing Muslims. He has shown he doesn’t like us. He is the one who has been maintaining distance from the community. So, I too chose to maintain my distance" (Times of India). Meanwhile, some Muslim leaders criticized the decision and said that Bukhari did not represent Indian Muslims.
In response to Bukhari’s comments, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national spokesperson Nalin Kohli said: "He is raising questions on himself. Indian Muslims are born in India and they love India and they would never ever think of Pakistan and what message Shahi Imam wants to send out" (IBNLive). Bukhari clarified his decision to invite Sharif, and said: "We have invited the prime minister of Pakistan as we have had relations with him since my father’s time" (Indian Express). Other distinguished guests invited to the ceremony include the Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, senior BJP leaders, including Rajnath Singh, Shahnawaz Hussain, and Harsh Vardhan, and Muslim religious leaders from Bangladesh, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan.
— Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan
Afghanistan ranked worst Asian investment country
The World Bank released a report on Thursday finding that Afghanistan is the worst county in Asia for investments, and the seventh worst country worldwide (TOLO News). Afghanistan ranked 183 out of 189 countries in the new report; last year Afghanistan was ranked 182 out of 185 countries. The Afghanistan Investment Supporting Agency (AISA) did not dispute the findings of the report and AISA Chairman Wafiullah Iftikhari blamed "political instability, security problems and the Afghan elections" for the results. In order to increase international investments, according to the report, Afghanistan needs to institute reforms consistent with international standards.
The World Bank report comes at the same time that the Afghan government published a report that trade figures gathered by two different government agencies, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce and the Office of Central Statistics, had a discrepancy of $1 billion (TOLO News).
Ghani to include Taliban in peace process
On Friday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared: "Peace is our highest priority. We invite the political opposition, particularly the Taliban, to join and enter Afghan dialogue" (Post). Ghani delivered the speech to the Fourth Annual Ministerial Conference of Istanbul Process of Afghanistan, a conference held in China to discuss peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang echoed Ghani’s call, urging groups to "lay aside former enmity and join the political reconciliation process" (RFE/RL). In recent days, religious scholars from three provinces — Khost, Logar, and Paktika — have called upon Ghani to hold talks with the Taliban (Pajhwok).
War amputees play in national tournament
The Afghan national wheelchair tournament was played this week with Mazar-e-Sharif beating Heart 33 to 9. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) began the wheelchair basketball program in Afghanistan four years ago for war amputees to recreate their lives with hundreds of players from every province competing on six teams (Post). An estimated 10 million landmines remain in Afghanistan, mostly deployed by the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, Italy, and Belgium, and over 40,500 Afghan amputees, 74 percent of whom are civilians, have registered with the ICRC.
— Courtney Schuster
Edited by Peter Bergen
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