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The South Asia Channel

AfPak Leaders Met in Islamabad; Indian Sterilization Deaths: Rat Poison Found in Drugs; Taliban Commander Killed

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.


AfPak leaders met in Islamabad

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday in Islamabad (Washington Post, Dawn). During their meeting Sharif pledged to support Ghani in Ghani’s attempt to bring the Taliban into peace talks, saying: "I reaffirmed that a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s vital national interest." Sharif added that the peace process must "be fully Afghan led and Afghan owned" (ET). Ghani added: "We’ve overcome obstacles of 13 years in three days," in reference to the difficult relations between the countries under former Afghan President Hamid Karzai (RFE/RL, VOA). The two then attended a cricket match between the countries which Afghanistan won with 54 runs.

U.S.-Pakistan talks begin

The United States and Pakistan began week-long talks on rebuilding their relationship on Sunday (Dawn). Pakistani Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and his team arrived at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida for two days of military-to-military talks. The Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Daniel Feldman, said: "We look forward to having close and honest consultations." Feldman added that Pakistan is not seeking military aid or weapons, but rather "a strong, long-term relationship based on the realization that Pakistan is engaged in a full-fledged war against the militants and needs sympathy and support, not undue criticism."

Pakistani refugees flee to Afghanistan

Since the June start of the Pakistani military offensive in North Waziristan, at least 1.5 million Pakistanis have fled the area, with 250,000 crossing into Afghanistan alone (NYT). Many of those who flee are Pashtun and settle with Pashtuns in the Afghan provinces of Khost and Paktika. Almost 3,000 families now live in canvas tents in the Gulan Camp in Khost province for refugees. The United Nations asked for $25 million in aid for the Pakistani refugees, but only about $10 million has been gathered so far, according to Bo Schack, representative in Afghanistan for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

–Courtney Schuster


Indian sterilization deaths: rat poison found in drugs

Over a dozen women who died after sterilization surgeries in Chhattisgarh, located in central India, were given medication that may have contained a chemical compound commonly used in rat poison, according to news reports on Friday (CNN, WP, BBC). Ciprofloxacin, the antibiotic that was given to the women, contained zinc phosphide, a chemical found in rat poison. Indian police arrested the owners of two pharmaceutical factories, which manufactured some of the drugs given to the women at the sterilization procedure. The Chief minister of Chhattisgarh Raman Singh said: "If indeed there was a manufacturing defect and the medicines were toxic, we will find out… We will act in the strictest possible manner against the officers who gave permission for procurement of the drugs, as soon as all the facts are out" (NYT).

R. K. Gupta, the doctor who performed tubectomies on 130 women last Saturday and Monday has also been arrested. According to reports, Gupta operated on 83 women in five hours in one of the camps, even though government rules state that a surgeon should only perform 35 operations in a day. Family planning camps are routinely held in India as part of a program to control India’s large population, where women who undergo such sterilization surgeries are given INR 1,400 ($ 23).

PM Modi speaks at G20 summit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed for cooperation to tackle unaccounted Indian money stashed abroad at the G20 (Group of 20) summit on Sunday (Times of India, Hindustan Times, Economic Times). Modi asked countries, particularly tax havens, to provide information for tax purposes in accordance with treaty obligations. Modi also said that economic reforms should be "people-centric and people-driven," and free from politics. Modi invited other countries to invest in the energy sector in India, and said: "Energy efficiency is the best source of clean energy. In India, for example, building energy efficiency and efficiency in areas such as buildings, household appliances and industrial goods is receiving strong attention. I invite you to come and invest in this sector in India" (Livemint).

On the sidelines of the G20 summit, Modi also met French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Premier Stephen Harper, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spain’s Premier Mariano Rajoy, and Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Modi also met BRICS — the five emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — leaders at an informal meeting on Saturday in Brisbane (Indian Express, The Hindu). The BRICS leaders discussed the progress of the New Development Bank that was announced in the sixth BRICS Summit in Brazil earlier this year.

Modi addressed an audience of 21,000 Indian-Australians at Sydney’s Allphones Arena on Monday, and promised lifetime visas to people of Indian origin (Livemint, NDTV). A special train called the "Modi Express" was chartered from Melbourne to Sydney for the the event. In a 90-minute address, Modi said: "I know that behind this affection lies expectations. Yes. We want to create the India you are dreaming of" (Times of India). Modi also appealed to Indians living abroad to invest in India, saying that there is "no reason why India should stay behind." Earlier on Monday, Modi addressed Australian business leaders in Brisbane, and said: "Good governance is the starting point of change and it is important to business as it is to ordinary citizens. You will begin to find a difference in India" (BBC).

China training Pakistani army on Indo-Pakistan border

India’s Border Security Force submitted a report to National Security Advisor Ajit Doval that Chinese troops have been providing "weapon handling training" to the Pakistani Army along the Indo-Pakistan border in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, according to news reports on Saturday (Livemint, Economic Times, Indian Express). The report also stated that the Pakistani Army was taking over key posts along the international border from the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers. Indian Minister of Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju express his "dismay" on Sunday, and said: "The ministry of external affairs has already expressed its dismay to the Chinese side, that it should not support Pakistan’s anti India activities" (Times of India, Zee News). Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit dismissed the reports on Sunday, and said: "It’s all speculative. Let me not comment on speculative stories" (Business Standard).

— Neeli Shah


Taliban commander killed

The Taliban commander, Aimal, who like many Afghans goes by only one name, who closed 28 schools over the past week in Kaskamina district in Nangarhar province, was killed in a drone strike on Sunday, according to 301st zone border police commander Mohammad Ayub Hussainkhel who also claims that the United States was responsible (Pajwok). Nangarhar police spokesman Colonel Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal later confirmed the death of Aimal by drone strike. The Taliban have yet to comment.

Women’s rights lawmaker targeted

On Sunday Shukria Barakzai, a women’s rights leader and member of Parliament, survived a suicide bombing targeting her in Kabul outside the Parliament building that killed three people and injured another 32 (NYT, Washington Post). Sediq Sediqqi, the Ministry of Interior spokesman, tweeted that Barakzai "is fine and suffers small injuries and reports of her family killed in this attack are not true" (TOLO News). Barakzai ran underground schools for girls under the Taliban regime and is a strong supporter of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack and Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid did not know if his group had committed the attack.

Taliban coordinated attacks

More than 400 Taliban fighters coordinated multiple attacks on government buildings and security checkpoints in Bala Buluk district in Farah province in Afghanistan on Monday (RFE/RL). The district governor, Mullah Said Mohammad, said that "heavy clashes" are still ongoing and that the district "might fall to the insurgents if government forces don’t receive additional support." At least eight Taliban fighters and one policeman have been killed (TOLO News). The Taliban have not commented on the attacks yet.

Abdullah denied rift with Ghani

Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah spoke to an audience at a university in Kabul on Sunday, covering topics from the Afghan Army to the delays in the formation of a unity government cabinet (Pajhwok). Abdullah rebuffed the allegation that the delays were caused by differences with President Ghani, adding that the delay is the result of additional consultations.

–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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