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The South Asia Channel

ISIS Presence in Pakistan Possibly Increasing; PM Modi Arrives In Australia; Ghani Missed his Goal for Cabinet

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 ...


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.


ISIS presence in Pakistan possibly increasing

On Thursday police in Quetta discovered graffiti on walls around the city supporting the Islamic State (or ISIS) (ET). Capital City Police Officer Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema said there was no ISIS presence in Quetta. Graffiti welcoming ISIS was also found on four streets in Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that said: “We welcome the head of Syrian Daish Group Abu Bakkar Al Bagdadi and pay him tributes,” using the Arabic name for ISIS (Dawn). ISIS members reportedly visited Balochistan on Wednesday to meet with the group Jundullah, a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan offshoot, according to a Jundullah spokesman (ET). This all follows Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan reassuring statement on Nov. 11 that ISIS did not exist in Pakistan, which he made after news broke on Nov. 8 that the Balochistan government, in a confidential report to the government and law enforcement agencies issued on Oct. 31, warned of increased ISIS presence in Balochistan.

Army chief to visit United States

Pakistani Army Chief General Raheel Sharif will visit the United States this weekend for his first official visit to the country (Washington Post). Sharif is expected to face a warmer reception than his predecessor, largely due to Sharif overseeing the months-long military campaign in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency against militants that has disrupted the militants’ activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The campaign began in June and has reportedly resulted in the killing or capturing of more than 1,200 terrorists. Sharif also met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday when Ghani visited Pakistan (VOAET). Military spokesman General Asim Bajwa tweeted: “#COAS [Chief of Army Staff] meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani finished. A great deal of good will and positivity” (Dawn).

Airstrikes kill at least 30 militants

Pakistani military airstrikes in Datta Khel on Friday killed at least 30 suspected militants, including foreign fighters, and destroyed a number of their hideouts, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (Dawn). North Waziristan has been the target of the Pakistani military operation, Zarb-i-Azb, since June, that has displaced more than 800,000 residents. The army said it has cleared 90 percent of the tribal region so far.

–Courtney Schuster


PM Modi arrives in Australia

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Brisbane, Australia, on Friday and began his five-day trip by visiting the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) (IBNLive, Times of India). Modi interacted with students at QUT, took a selfie with them, and tweeted: “I wrote on the selfie with my young friends at QUT.. Today is 14th November. Pandit Nehru’s birthday. My good wishes to children” (The Hindu). Friday is also the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. At QUT, Modi was shown the Agro Robot, an agricultural robot that functions as a large tractor. Modi wrote on it: “Research is the mother of development” (NDTV).

Modi met U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday. Syed Akbaruddin, India’s external affairs ministry spokesman, tweeted: “Relations with India are at the top of the priorities of UK’s foreign policy –@David_Cameron to PM @narendramodi” (The Hindu). Modi also attended a dinner hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Akbaruddin tweeted: “Happy to meet you once again: PM @narendramodi to Prime Minister Abe during their dinner meeting” (DNA).  

In Australia, Modi will attend G-20 (Group of 20) meeting starting Saturday, and hold bilateral talks with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The Indian prime minister is also expected to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Australia in 28 years, will speak to the Indian community at a reception in Sydney, where more than 15,000 people are expected to attend.

Indian soldiers get life for fake encounter case

An Indian Army court awarded life sentences to at least five army men, including two officers on Thursday, for their involvement in the killing of three Kashmiris in a fake encounter in Machil — located in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) — four years ago (Times of India, IBNLive, NDTV, Indian Express). In April, 2010, the Indian Army killed three infiltrators in the Machil sector, claiming that they were Pakistani militants. However, the men were locals, who had gone missing for several days. The case resulted in massive protests in J&K, and families of the victims claimed that the Army misled the three men on the pretext of finding them jobs and later killed them in a fake encounter. J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah — @abdullah_omar — tweeted: “This is a watershed moment. No one in Kashmir ever believed that justice would be done in such cases. Faith in institutions disappeared.” Abdullah further tweeted: “I hope that we never see such Machil fake encounter type of incidents ever again & let this serve as a warning to those tempted to try.”

India, U.S. clear way for WTO deal

Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India reached an agreement with the United States on stockpiling of food on Thursday, ending the impasse at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the signing of the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) (WSJ, Indian Express, Livemint). Sitharaman said: “India and the United States have resolved their differences on public stockholding of food… This opens the way for implementation of the WTO trade facilitation deal” (NDTV). U.S. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said: “The [U.S.] President [Barack Obama] had extensive discussions with Prime Minister Modi on this issue and appreciates his personal leadership in finding a path forward” (Economic Times).

Last year in Bali, Indonesia, WTO member countries had agreed to make trade easier, faster, and cheaper by reducing red tape and making systems transparent. Existing TFA rules cap the value of food subsidies at 10 percent of the value of production based on the understanding that stockpiling subsidized food can distort trade. India’s stand was that this cap will affect India’s food security program as India stockpiles food for its poor.

— Neeli Shah


Ghani missed his goal for cabinet

Afghan President Ghani vowed at his inauguration on Sept. 29 to have his cabinet in place within 45 days of taking office, a period which elapsed on Thursday (NYT). Ghani spokesman, Nazifullah Salarzai, said: “President Ghani is well aware that today’s the 45th day, but he feels we need time and more thorough thinking before we finish it.” Ghani has already filled several key positions with his own staff, including his spokesman, personal chief of staff, presidential envoy for good governance, the minister of finance, and the national security advisor.

While the lack of a cabinet has stalled many government programs and worried Western donors about losing ground on current initiatives, Ghani has managed to reconstruct the attorney general’s office, signed long-term security agreements with NATO and the United States, pushed the Kabul Bank case through the court system, and make official state visits to three countries.

AfPak agree to increase trade

Ghani and his 145 member delegation visited Pakistan on Friday and met with Pakistani military heads while acting Afghan Minister of Finance, Omar Zakhilwal, spent time in Lahore visiting Pakistani businessmen to discuss increased trade (TOLO NewsPajhwok). Zakhilwal also met with the Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and the two agreed to enhance their bilateral trade from the existing $2.5 billion to $5 billion over the next two to three years. Ghani is expected to meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday.

Denmark to give aid to Afghanistan

On Thursday Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard visited Afghanistan and pledged $270 million in assistance over the next three years, giving $90 million per year, according to a statement released by the Afghan Presidential Palace (Pajhwok). The statement added that Lidegaard spoke of Denmark’s commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan, while Ghani talked of his government’s commitment to ending corruption.

–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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