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The South Asia Channel

Afghani Drops to 13 Year Low; Pakistan has World’s Fastest Growing Nuke Program; Indo-Pakistani Foreign Ministers Meet

Afghanistan Afghani drops to 13 year low Afghanistan’s currency, the Afghani, dropped to a 13 year low, 58 Afghanis and 20 cents to $1 US (TOLO News, Pajhwok). Officials from the Money Exchangers Union of Shahzada Currency Market point to the Afghan central bank’s failure to stabilize the current market, the delayed formation of a ...

Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images
Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images


Afghani drops to 13 year low

Afghanistan’s currency, the Afghani, dropped to a 13 year low, 58 Afghanis and 20 cents to $1 US (TOLO News, Pajhwok). Officials from the Money Exchangers Union of Shahzada Currency Market point to the Afghan central bank’s failure to stabilize the current market, the delayed formation of a new cabinet, and the lack of trust in the new government as reasons for the decrease in value.

Afghan peace process excludes women

The international aid group, Oxfam, released a report on Monday that concluded that Afghan women have been excluded from the government’s attempts to make peace with the Taliban (NYT, RFE/RL). The report found that Afghan women felt marginalized in the peace process and were worried that any agreement with the Taliban would detract from any gains made by Afghan women in education, work, and government. The report cited 23 secret peace talks between the Afghan government and militants, including the Taliban, since 2005, none of which had female delegates (TOLO News). Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban was in favor of including woman in the peace process, as well as any future government, but only after all foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

Haqqani Network bombed weekend games

The Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) spokesman, Hasib Sediqi, said on Monday that Haqqani Network militants, Qari Omari and Mullah Rahimullah, planned Sunday’s suicide bombing at an inter-district volleyball game in Paktika province that killed 61 people (TOLO News, Pajhwok). Sediqi added that the two plotters took instructions from Abdullah Bilal, the so-called governor of the Haqqani Network in Paktika, and the suicide bomber’s name was Ismail.

TTP chief escapes drone strike

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Mullah Fazlullah survived a U.S. drone strike that hit in the Nizyan area of Ningarhar province in Afghanistan on Monday, according to a senior FATA security official speaking to the Express Tribune (ET). The official said that five others were killed in the strike, and that Fazlullah’s current location is unknown.


Pakistan has world’ fastest growing nuke program

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Pakistan has the world’s fastest growing nuclear program (Dawn). The recently released report found that Pakistan “is believed to have enough fissile material to produce between 110 and 120 nuclear warheads,” and “by 2020, Pakistan could have a fissile material stockpile sufficient to produce more than 200 nuclear weapons.” According to the report, the United States currently has 7,330 weapons stockpiled, Russia has 8,000, and India has 110.

PM Sharif not meeting India’s Modi

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in Nepal for the 18th South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, along with leaders of other member states, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (ET, Dawn). The two will not have a one-on-one meeting, according to Sharif’s senior aide, Sartaj Aziz; however, a meeting could be arranged if India’s external affairs minister made a request. Sharif will be meeting with leaders of other member states at the summit, according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry.

WHO: No Ebola in Pakistan

A 40-year-old man in Faisalabad did not die on Monday from Ebola, according to the World Health Organization and the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (ET, Dawn). Hospital officials had feared the man had Ebola after presenting with Ebola-like symptoms, such as a high-grade fever, for five days. The man, who returned from spending three years in Togo on Nov. 16, suffered from Hepatitis C and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Togo is not one of the West African states currently facing an Ebola outbreak.

— Courtney Schuster


Indo-Pakistani foreign ministers meet

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met with Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s advisor on national security and foreign affairs, briefly on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Kathmandu, Nepal on Tuesday (IBNLive, The Hindu). SAARC is an economic and geopolitical cooperation between South Asian nations, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

After the brief interaction with Aziz during the SAARC foreign minister’s meeting, Swaraj said: “I met him [Aziz] out of courtesy. It is a common courtesy that when representatives of different countries meet in an international fora, they greet each other and this is how we met” (Indian Express). When asked whether Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would meet Sharif, Aziz said that a meeting could be arranged if India desired to have informal talks with Pakistan and made a request (ET).

Modi arrived in Nepal for the two-day SAARC summit on Tuesday and inaugurated a trauma center built by India (NDTV). In his pre-departure statement, Modi said: “Although this is my first Saarc summit, during the last six months, I have interacted extensively with leaders of Saarc countries beginning with their auspicious presence at my swearing-in ceremony. Development of close relations with our neighbours is a key priority for my government” (Livemint).

Indian Parliament session adjourned
The Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) was adjourned on Tuesday after members of the opposition parties protested over the issue of “black money” (Livemint, Economic Times, Times of India). Members of the Trinamool Congress — the ruling political party in the eastern state of West Bengal — started protesting by holding black umbrellas with “bring back black money” painted on them. The Congress party, Aam Aadmi Party, and the Samajwadi Party — a political party based in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh — also joined the protests. Parliamentarians shouted slogans like “where is black money, PM [Modi] should answer, ” and “where are the good days you promised” (Indian Express). Earlier this year, the Modi-led government set up a special task force to find black money stashed overseas. Modi’s estranged wife concerned about her security

Modi’s estranged wife, Jashodaben Modi, filed an application under the Right To Information Act in the western state of Gujarat on Monday, seeking information about the security arrangements she was entitled to as the prime minister’s wife (Times of India, Indian Express). After her husband became the prime minister in May, Modi was provided round-the-clock security. In her application, Modi expressed her fear for the security guards, and said: “Given that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her security guards, I am frightened by the presence of the security cover. So kindly provide me all details about the security personnel provided to me” (NDTV). The three-page application also stated: “I travel by public transport while my security personnel travel in official vehicles.” The Indian prime minister acknowledged his wife publicly for first time in April, ahead of the Indian elections, when he disclosed his marital status and his wife’s name.

— 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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