Operation in NW Pak Disrupted Haqqani Network; PM Modi Debuts on Forbes’ List; U.S. Sought Iranian Investment in Afghanistan
Editor’s Note: New America’s International Security Program is looking for a Project Manager to join our team in Washington, D.C. to support our efforts to create a primer and a corresponding database on the development potential of unmanned aerial vehicles. For more information about this one-year contract position, as well as the application requirements, please ...
Editor's Note: New America's International Security Program is looking for a Project Manager to join our team in Washington, D.C. to support our efforts to create a primer and a corresponding database on the development potential of unmanned aerial vehicles. For more information about this one-year contract position, as well as the application requirements, please check out the employment listing here.
Editor’s Note: New America’s International Security Program is looking for a Project Manager to join our team in Washington, D.C. to support our efforts to create a primer and a corresponding database on the development potential of unmanned aerial vehicles. For more information about this one-year contract position, as well as the application requirements, please check out the employment listing here.
Event Notice: "War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love," Nov. 6, 12:15 PM (New America).
Bonus Read: "Into the Abyss: The Escalating Violence Against Pakistan’s Polio Workers," David Sterman
Operation in northwest Pakistan disrupted Haqqani network
Operation Zarb-i-Azb, a Pakistani military operation in North Waziristan that began in June, has weakened the Haqqani network, according to a senior U.S. military commander in Afghanistan (Dawn). Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, a senior commander for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said in a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday: "They are fractured like the Taliban is. That’s based pretty much on the Pakistan [operations] in North Waziristan this entire summer-fall," and added "[t]hat has very much disrupted their efforts [in Afghanistan] and has caused them to be less effective in terms of their ability to pull off an attack in Kabul."
Pakistan rejects Indian dialogue conditions
On Thursday, Pakistan rejected India’s "red line" drawn by Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday, according to Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam (ET). Aslam said that Pakistan does not accept India’s conditions on talks, adding that: "Dialogue with India is not a favour, but a necessity for peace and development in South Asia." India said yesterday that Pakistan will have to choose between dialogue with the Indian government or the Kashmiri Hurriyat leadership.
Polio eradication deadline not set by Sharif
Despite wide reporting yesterday that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif set a six-month deadline for polio eradication in Pakistan, on Thursday the Prime Minister (PM) House spokesman denied the statement (Dawn, ET). The PM House spokesman said that Sharif had not made any strict deadline at the Polio Steering Committee meeting on Wednesday, and that Sharif directed the chief ministers to make polio eradication a top priority.
Balochistan ordered to hold elections
The Balochistan Election Commission was directed by the chief minister to hold elections for vacant seats in the local government in the peasants and laborers categories but the state election commission insists that they cannot be scheduled yet (ET). Balochistan Election Commissioner (BEC) Sultan Bayzeed told the Express Tribune: "The notification we received does not state which categories or the number of seats we need to hold elections for" and without such information, the BEC cannot schedule the elections. Currently there are 743 seats reserved for peasants and laborers in Balochistan’s local government, all of which have been empty for the past 11 months.
— Courtney Schuster
PM Modi debuts on Forbes’ list
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ranked 15th on the Forbes’ list, as he made his debut among the world’s most powerful people, according to news reports on Wednesday (Forbes,Economic Times). Speaking about Modi, Forbes said: "India’s newest rock star doesn’t hail from Bollywood. He is the newly elected Prime Minister who sailed into office in May with a landslide victory, ushering the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into power after decades of control by the Gandhi dynasty" (NDTV). Forbes further said: "The world is as impressed as the citizens of India: So far he’s toured the US and China and met with his Southeast Asian neighbors" (Hindustan Times). The magazine also noted that Modi, a "Hindu nationalist," was the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat when hundreds of Muslims were massacred during the 2002 riots.
Other Indians on the Forbes’ list included Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani (No. 36), ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal (No. 57), and Microsoft’s Indian-born CEO Satya Nadella at (No. 64). The Congress party President Sonia Gandhi, who ranked 21st last year, was omitted from the list. Russian President Vladimir Putin topped the Forbes’ list and was followed by U.S. President Barack Obama. The terror group Islamic State’s chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, made his first appearance on the list.
Indian government may divest loss-making PSUs
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while addressing the opening day of the two-day India Economic Summit organized by the World Economic Forum in New Delhi on Wednesday, said that the Indian government may privatize loss-making public sector undertakings (PSUs) (Livemint, Hindustan Times). Jaitley said: "I would be open to look at some set of PSUs which could do much better in private hands. There are still a large number of them which are almost on the verge of closure, where people are going to lose employment. So, given a choice between their continuing in the present shape or getting privatised, then the second option would be a preferable option… Currently, they are being sustained merely on governmental support — now that is not a long-term solution. Taxpayers cannot continue to pay for loss-making businesses" (Economic Times). There are presently 79 loss-making PSUs in India, which include 49 sick enterprises.
Jaitley also indicated further liberalization of the insurance sector and reforms in the railway sector, land acquisition law, and auctioning of mineral assets for mining. Jaitley said the government is considering reforms for mining of minerals similar to the guidelines established for the auctioning of coal blocks. Jaitley said: "With regard to other minerals, we are about to take similar reforms to eliminate the possibility of discretion and crony capitalism" (Indian Express). Recently the Supreme Court cancelled 214 out of 218 coal block allocations, which were declared illegal and arbitrary by the court.
India leads Facebook’s list for content restriction
In the first six months of 2014, Facebook restricted access to nearly 5,000 pieces of information on its website in India, the highest for any country, according to news reports on Wednesday (NDTV, BBC). Facebook, in its Government Requests Report, said: "We restricted access in India to a number of pieces of content reported primarily by law enforcement officials and the India Computer Emergency Response Team under local laws prohibiting criticism of a religion or the state" (Indian Express). India also ranked second — behind the United States — in terms of government requests for access to users and accounts. In its report, Facebook also said that government requests worldwide were up by 24 percent, and Facebook content restricted due to local laws increased to about 19 percent globally.
— Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan
U.S. sought Iranian investment in Afghanistan
The United States sought to encourage Iranian investment in Afghanistan to prop up the country’s faltering economy, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday (WSJ). According to the report, a specialized American task force encouraged Iranian investment despite sanctions that restrict American companies’ interaction with Iranian companies seeking special permission to encourage Iranian assistance of a pharmaceutical company and four mines. Joseph Catalino, who directs the Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, told the Wall Street Journal: "For Afghanistan, you can’t ignore Iran." James Bullion, who previously led the task force said, "We wanted to see the best bidders come with the best offers for the Afghan people."
Afghan troop losses unsustainable
The second highest ranking commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, called the current rate of Afghan troop losses unsustainable while talking to reporters on Wednesday (RFE/RL,Defense One, AP). Anderson said there was a 6.5 percent increase in the number of Afghan soldiers and police killed in battle so far in 2014 compared to 2013, and said "those numbers are not sustainable in the long term." Anderson’s comments come as Gen. John Campbell, the top American commander in Afghanistan, said he is reassessing whether the delay in the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement will necessitate a longer American troop presence, according to a report in Foreign Policy on Monday (FP).
NATO chief visits Kabul
NATO’s new secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, is in Kabul on an unannounced visit, media outlets reported on Thursday (Pajhwok, RFE/RL). Stoltenberg visited a training center for Afghan Special Forces and is scheduled to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Stoltenberg stated: "I have seen a highly trained, experienced and professional force."
Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif also arrived in Kabul on Thursday (Pajhwok). He is expected to meet with Ghani and Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah to discuss a variety of issues including security. Sharif already met with his Afghan counterpart Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi.
Taliban kill 10 in Paktia
The Taliban killed ten civilians on Wednesday in Paktia province according to local officials (TOLO News, Pajhwok). According to provincial spokesman Rohullah Samon the bodies were found in the Zurmat district on Thursday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings, alleging that the men were policemen.
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen
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