The South Asia Channel

Afghan Public Poll Released; Khan Accuses Pak Government of Ties to Terrorists; India Tops Global Slavery Index

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Editor’s Note: New America 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.

Wonk Watch: "The Unblinking Stare," Steve Coll (New Yorker) 


Afghan public opinion poll released

The Asia Foundation released its annual report, "Afghanistan in 2014: A Survey of the Afghan People," the longest-running and broadest nation-wide opinion poll on the opinions of 9,271 Afghans from 14 ethnic groups and 34 provinces on Tuesday (Asia Foundation, TOLO News). The poll found that 54.7 percent of Afghan thought the country was moving in the right direction, down almost three percent from 2013, and were optimistic due to reconstruction (36.4 percent), the security situation (32.8 percent), and an improved education system (15.1 percent). Conversely, 40.4 percent thought the country was moving in the wrong direction, up almost three percent from 2013, and were pessimistic due to insecurity (38.3 percent), corruption (24.2 percent), and unemployment (22.6 percent). Afghans responded that the biggest problems facing the country were unemployment (33.1 percent), the electric supply (22.5 percent), and roads (17.5 percent). A total of 75.3 percent of Afghans felt the national government was doing a somewhat good or very good job. A February 2014 Pew Research poll found that only 29 percent of Americans said they were satisfied with the government in Washington all or most of the time (Pew).   

Bomb blasts rock Afghanistan

Two separate bombings hit Afghanistan on Tuesday. In Kabul, a massive truck bomb detonated at a base housing foreign contract workers when a truck carrying gravel and explosives rammed the gate of the base, killing at least four, including two Afghan security guards, and wounding three others (NYT, VOA) As the driver detonated the truck bomb, two other attackers opened fire on the guards (Pajhwok). Afghan First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum visited the site, and said that the attack "is the work of intelligence services" acting along with the attackers (Washington Post). The incident is the third suicide bombing in the past week; the chief of police and a prominent female member of parliament were targeted in the first two attacks. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack targeting "foreign troop’s intelligence office," according to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (TOLO News).

In Khost province between Bak and Zazai Maidan districts, a roadside bomb detonated a civilian vehicle drove past, killing one civilian and wounding 13 other people, including one policeman (Pajhwok). No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

AfPak meeting will boost Afghan economy

Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries Chief Executive Atiqullah Nasrat told reporters on Monday that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s meetings in Pakistan will improve bilateral economic, trade, and investment relations (Pajhwok). During Ghani’s two-day trip to Pakistan, a business conference with 150 investors from both countries was held to discuss economic relations. The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding that will relax transit trade and investment in the countries, permitting vehicles carrying Afghan goods to freely move into Pakistan and increasing the annual trade volume from the current $2.5 billion to $5 billion over the next five years.


Imran Khan’s party claim government is tied to terrorists  

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan accused Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders of having links with terrorists on Monday while PTI Information Secretary Shireen Mazari claimed that PML-N had links to "al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and some other banned organizations" (Dawn). This comes after Minister for Information Pervez Rashid alleged on Sunday that Khan and PTI were "outsourcing terrorists trained in handling weapons, wooden clubs, and cranes to wreak havoc in the capital" (ET).

Musharraf warns of proxy war with India

Former Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf warned on Monday in an interview with AFP that "the danger for Pakistan is…the Indian influence in Afghanistan…. Indian involvement [in Pakistan] has an anti-Pakistan connotation. They [India] want to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan" (ET, Dawn). Musharraf pointed to India’s attempt to strength ties with the Tajik ethnic group in Afghanistan and accused India of supporting separatists in Balochistan through training camps in Afghanistan. Musharraf is under house arrest due to several criminal cases against him, including charges of treason. 

Army chief praised by United States

Pakistani Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, who was in Tampa, Florida visiting the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) on Monday and Tuesday, was praised by CENTCOM commander General Lloyd Austin for his commitment to combating terrorism (ET). During the meetings between the two, a range of issues was discussed, including border security and Pakistan’s assessment of regional security, and the talks were positive and productive, according to a U.S. State Department spokesperson. 

— Courtney Schuster 


India tops global slavery index

The 2014 Global Slavery Index — published by the Walk Free Foundation, an organization attempting to end modern slavery — states that India has the most slaves with 14 million adults and children trapped in modern slavery, according to news reports on Tuesday (BBC, Times of India, IBNLive). According to the report, India remains on top of the list, in absolute numbers, followed by China (3.24 million), Pakistan (2.06 million), Uzbekistan (1.2 million), and Russia (1.05 million). The report further states that people are trapped in slavery through human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, or commercial sexual exploitation. 

PM Modi addresses Australian Parliament

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Australian Parliament in Canberra on Tuesday, and said that Australia was a "vital partner in India’s quest for progress and prosperity" (BBC, Times of India, Zee News). In his 25-minute extempore speech, Modi said: "There are few countries in the world where we see so much synergy… Australia will not be at the periphery of our vision, but at the center of our thoughts" (NDTV). Modi also held bilateral talks with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and both the countries signed five pacts on transfer of sentenced prisoners, combating narcotics trade, social security, tourism, and arts and culture.

Violence at Indian guru’s ashram

Supporters of Rampal, a self-styled Hindu guru, clashed with the police outside his ashram — a spiritual hermitage or a monastery — in the northern state of Haryana on Tuesday (BBC, Livemint, NDTV). Thousands of supporters formed human chains to prevent the arrest of Rampal, who is out on bail after being accused in a murder case in 2006. After Rampal failed to appear in court several times, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him. Rampal’s supporters, also known as "Baba’s Commandos" targeted the police with acid pouches, sticks, and stones. The police fired tear gas shells and used bulldozers to enter the ashram. The Indian Express reported that there are approximately 30,000 supporters inside and around the ashram (Indian Express). There are also about 120 firing trenches inside the ashram, and some supporters have rifles. 

— Neeli Shah

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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