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The South Asia Channel
Taliban Splinter Group Aligns with ISIS; India Isolates Ebola Survivor; Schools Closed by Taliban Reopen
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, ...
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)
Taliban splinter group aligns with ISIS
The Pakistani Taliban splinter group Jundullah announced that the group is pledging its support for the Islamic State (or ISIS) (Reuters). Junduallah spokesman Fahad Marwar said: "They (Islamic State) are our brothers, whatever plan they have we will support them." A meeting between Jundullah and a three-man ISIS delegation led by al Zubair al Kuwaiti reportedly occurred on Nov. 12 (ET).
Four sentenced to death for honor killing
A Pakistani court sentenced four men to death and one other to 10 years in prison for killing a pregnant woman who married against her family’s wishes (Washington Post, BBC, Dawn, ET). The woman, Farzana Perveen, was beaten to death by her father, two brothers, cousin, and one man who has been reported as her former fiancé, husband, and ex-husband, on May 27 in Lahore outside the province High Court. The family was at the court that day due to an abduction charge brought against Perveen’s new husband, Muhammed Iqbal, by her family. In that case, Iqbal admitted to killing his first wife so that he could marry Perveen (Reuters). He was never charged because his son forgave him.
Army Chief reportedly said India affects military operation
Pakistani Army Chief General Raheel Sharif reportedly said that Pakistan’s military operation against terrorists in North Waziristan is negatively affected by India’s ceasefire violations at the Line of Control and Working Boundary, according to an anonymous U.S. official (Dawn, ET). General Sharif, who is currently in the United States, reportedly told U.S. officials in Washington that India’s aggression, heavy firing by Indian troops at the border, and Indian leaders’ statements are negatively affecting Zarb-i-Azb, Pakistan’s major military operation in the tribal areas. General Sharif is to meet with U.S. congressmen on Wednesday.
India isolates Ebola survivor
India quarantined a 26-year-old Indian man at the New Delhi airport, as samples of his semen on arrival showed traces of Ebola, according to the Indian health ministry on Tuesday (BBC, NYT, NDTV). A statement issued by the healthy ministry said: "Presence of virus in his semen samples may have the possibility of transmitting the disease through sexual route up to 90 days from time of clinical cure" (Indian Express). The unidentified man was carrying documents that stated he was tested for the disease according to the World Health Organization guidelines, and had been successfully treated for Ebola in Liberia. While 485 passengers have been quarantined since India started testing its passengers for Ebola two months ago, no cases of Ebola have been reported (Hindustan Times).
India announces over $70 million credit for Fiji
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a $70 million line of credit in Fiji on Wednesday for a cogeneration power plant to upgrade the sugar industry (Indian Express, NDTV). Modi also extended $5 million to Fiji to develop its villages. Modi held talks with Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, and later said to the media: "Fiji could serve as a hub for stronger Indian engagement with Pacific islands. I see this visit as an opportunity to renew an old relationship and lay the foundation for a strong partnership in the future" (Livemint). Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Fiji in 33 years, addressed the Fiji parliament and announced visa on arrival for Fijians.
The Social Democratic Liberal Party, an opposition party in Fiji, boycotted Modi’s address to the parliament. Bainimarama apologized for the boycott, and said: "I apologize to you, Prime Minister Modi, on behalf of the people of Fiji, for this inexcusable behaviour, which does not have anything to do with the relations between our countries. It only shows that some of us have some lessons to learn about democracy, statecraft, and nationhood" (Zee News). Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Fiji on Friday, and will offer an aid package to the Pacific island nations (Reuters).
Shell wins tax case in India
The Bombay High Court, located in the western city of Mumbai, ruled in favor of the Indian unit of Royal Dutch Shell plc, an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company, which was accused of underpricing shares transferred to its parent firm, according to news reports on Wednesday (Livemint, Indian Express). The Indian income tax department claimed in 2013 that Shell’s Indian unit underpriced shares transferred to the parent company by about $2.5 billion, and wanted to tax the interest Shell would have earned in India. Shell’s Indian unit issued a statement stating: "This is a positive outcome which should provide a further boost to the Indian government’s initiatives to improve the country’s investment climate" (BBC). Earlier this year, a decision was made in favor of Vodafone Group plc, the biggest foreign corporate investor in India, in a similar transfer pricing battle with a local tax department.
— Neeli Shah
Schools closed by Taliban reopen
Schools in the Haskamina district of Nangarhar province, closed by the Taliban on Nov. 13, have reopened with the support of tribal elders (Pajhwok). The 23 schools were closed by Taliban commander Aimal aka Yasir, who like many Afghans goes by only one name, when he demanded that the government release his brother, Abdul Khaliq, also a senior Taliban member, provide medical equipment for a health clinic, and allow their use of roads blocked by security forces. Aimal was reportedly killed in a U.S. drone strike on Sunday (Pajhwok). A resident, Rabbani Shinwari, and a schoolteacher, Najbullah, both claimed that some of the Taliban’s demands were met in order for the reopening to occur. The governor’s spokesman, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, merely confirmed that schools were reopened and did not give details. The Taliban have yet to speak on the closure and reopening of the schools.
Proposed budget sent to Senate
The Ministry of Finance sent its proposed 2015 budget to the Senate for review on Wednesday and is based on a projected 25 percent increase in government revenue from 2014 (TOLO News). The budget, which includes cuts and cost-saving measures, is estimated to be 458.8 billion Afghanis ($7.9 billion), with 275 billion Afghanis ($4.7 billion) coming from the ordinary budget and 183 billion Afghanis ($3.1 billion) coming from the development budget. Acting Minister of Finance Hazrat Omar Zakhelwal said that cuts were made to services and products, publicly owned businesses, hiring temporary employees, and the emergency code. Zakhelwal said that most of the proposed budget is allocated to the security sector. According to Zakhelwal, the proposed budget has a net 30 billion Afghanis ($517 million) increase despite the Afghan budget suffering a 4.7 billion Afghanis ($81 million) budget deficit in 2014.
Inferior medicine floods Afghanistan
According to a report released on Wednesday by the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, a joint group between the Afghan government and international community, half of all available medicine in Afghanistan is either made in Pakistan under sub-standard conditions or is illegally smuggled into Afghanistan (AP). The report found that 300 Pakistani companies produce inferior drugs strictly for Afghanistan because the production does not meet Pakistani regulations; Afghanistan has no pharmaceutical regulations. The sub-standard medicines are often ineffective and cause dangerous side-effects.
Edited by Peter Bergen