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The South Asia Channel

Drone Strike in Northwest Pakistan; India’s Sterilization Tragedy; Kabul Bank Case Grows

Editor’s Note: New America’s International Security Program is looking for a Project Manager – UAVs and Development 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 ...

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: New America’s International Security Program is looking for a Project Manager – UAVs and Development 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.


Drone strike in northwest Pakistan

On Tuesday a U.S. drone strike killed at least four foreign militants in the Datta Khel area in North Waziristan (NYTET). According to a security official, two missiles were fired at a compound and a vehicle carrying explosives, killing four Uzbeks and two Arabs (Dawn). The Pakistani government condemned the strike, saying it was a violation of their sovereignty, in a statement by the Foreign Office spokesperson. This was the 18th drone strike in Pakistan this year according to data gathered by New America (NA).

Taliban killed polio workers’ guards

In the Bajaur tribal region, a bomb targeted a security force vehicle on polio security patrol on Tuesday, killing three personnel and injuring three more (Dawn). Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Muhammad Khurrsani told Dawn that "the Taliban had targeted Shaibzada in Bajaur Agency’s Salarzai tehsil by planting an improvised explosive device." On Oct. 21, TTP distributed pamphlets in the area warning polio workers against the vaccination drive, saying they risked, "severe consequences" for participating (Dawn).

The Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation, and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar said on Wednesday that 80 percent of all polio cases in Pakistan were linked to the Pashtun community (ET). Tarar added that in Sindh province alone, the vaccination campaign was 29 percent completed in some of the districts within the province but only 4 percent completed in other districts within the province. Bonus read: "Into the Abyss: Escalating Violence Against Pakistan’s Polio Workers," David Sterman (South Asia).

Sharif in London for energy conference

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in London on Wednesday for the first Pakistan-U.K. Energy Dialogue and Investment Conference, which will be held on Thursday (DawnET). The conference will be attended by chief executive officers from the British energy sector and will focus on investments and energy needs in Pakistan.

–Courtney Schuster


India’s sterilization tragedy

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Raman Singh, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh, located in central India, on Tuesday to conduct a thorough investigation into the deaths of over 11 women after laparoscopic tubectomy surgeries were botched in a state-run health camp (Indian Express, BBC, NDTV, CNN). Over 80 women were reportedly operated on Saturday, as part of a program to control India’s large population. Approximately 50 other women were hospitalized, and at least 20 are in a critical condition following the mass-sterilization procedure.

A state health official, Kamalpreet Singh, said: "It’s a very unfortunate incident. Prima facie it appears that the incident occurred due to negligence (by doctors). A detailed enquiry will be conducted keeping in view all angles including the quality of the medicines, standard of the surgery, post operative measures and others" (Economic Times). Family planning camps are routinely held in India, where women who undergo such sterilization surgeries are given INR 1,400 ($ 23).

PM Modi debuts on Instagram

Modi joined Instagram — an online photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service — from Myanmar on Wednesday, and posted his first photograph of the ASEAN Summit (Times of India, WSJ). Modi announced his debut on Instagram and Twitter, and said: "Hello World! Great being on Instagram. My first photo…this one from the ASEAN Summit" (NDTV). Within hours his photograph had over 9,000 likes and more than 59,000 followers. The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit, is an annual meeting held in relation to economic and cultural development of Southeast Asian countries.

Indian university bars women from using library

Indian Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani criticized the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) — located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh — Vice Chancellor Lt. Gen. Zameeruddin Shah on Tuesday for his controversial remarks regarding the restriction of undergraduate girls to the varsity library (Times of India). Irani said: "There are some reports which hurt you as a woman and also agitates you that when we attained freedom there was a belief that education and constitutional rights were same for all… And now we get reports that amount to insult to daughters" (Zee News).

On Monday, Shah rejected student’s demands to end restrictions on women students using the main library. Shah said: "If we allow girls into the library, there will be four times more boys… The issue is not that of discipline, but of space. Our library is packed. There is no place for even boys to sit" (NDTV). Shah further said that women students can use the Women’s College, which has its own library even though it is not well-stocked. Lalitha Kumaramangalam, chief of the National Commission for Women, called Shah’s statement "regressive and antediluvian," and wondered whether it was "legal for them (AMU) to bar any student from accessing such services in a university" (Indian Express).

Congress candidate lists daughter’s marriage as a liability

The Congress party’s election candidate Mohammad Yousuf Bhat from the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir created a controversy by listing "unmarried daughter’s marriage" in the liabilities column of his nomination form, according to news reports on Tuesday (Times of India, IBNLive). Bhat later clarified that his nomination form was misinterpreted, and said: "A daughter is the light of the house. But a father has to spend money for a daughter’s education and marriage" (NDTV). Bhat also said: "My son is working, he has a family, so he is not dependent, but my daughter is dependent."

Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni defended Bhat, and said: "English is not his [Bhat’s] mother tongue as it is not yours or mine. He doesn’t mean liability. He means, I’m sure and confident, he means dependent… If he was writing in Kashmiri, I’m sure he wouldn’t have made that mistake." Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah — @abdullah_omar— tweeted: "The Cong candidate from Ganderbal while declaring his assets says his three unmarried daughters are a liability. #Shame on him."

— Neeli Shah


Kabul Bank case grows

On Tuesday an Afghan judge tripled the sentences of Sherkhan Farnood and Khalilullah Frozi, former Kabul Bank officials, giving each 15 years in jail for embezzling $810 million from the bank (NYTPajhwok). The two were initially sentenced on Monday to ten years in jail for their involvement in the embezzlement scandal that collapsed the bank in 2010, and the assets of Mahmoud Karzai and Haseen Fahim were frozen (TOLO News).

The Interior Ministry’s anti-crime police arrested an additional five individuals accused in the bank scandal, including Sadiq Yar Company director Attiqullah, his deputy Mohibullah, an employee of Kabul Bank and Sayer Masssoud Limited Director Abdul Majeed, a shopkeeper in Kabul Haji Mohammad, and Mohibullah son of Tahir, according to a ministry statement (Pajhwok).

U.N. blames elections for opium increase

A U.N. official on Wednesday said that the cultivation and production of opium in Afghanistan reached a record high this year, and blamed part of the increase on the 2014 Afghan presidential elections (ReutersRFE/RL). Jean-Luc Lemahieu, a senior official with the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said: "With the presidential election ongoing, there was a huge demand of funding and that funding is not available in the licit economy…That money has to come from somewhere, so they turned to the illicit economy" (NYT). The United Nations and the Afghan Ministry of Counternarcotics released their annual survey on opium on Wednesday showing that cultivation was up by 7 percent in 2014 and production increased by 17 percent (BBC).

Taliban closed schools in Nangarhar

The Taliban forced the closure of all the schools in the Haskamina district of Nangarhar province this week, according to the Nangarhar Education Directorate spokesman Muhammad Asif Shinwari, preventing around 20,000 boys and girls from attending school (TOLO News). Shinwari added: "The Taliban have conditioned reopening of schools to the release of their prisoners, reopening of the blocked roads and medical aid to their clinics." A letter has been sent to the Ministry of Education about the closures but no response has been received yet.

–Courtney Schuster

Edited by Peter Bergen

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

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