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The South Asia Channel
ISIS Recruit Returns to India; Suicide Blast Kills 9 at Afghan Funeral; IDEAS Exhibition Begins in Karachi
India ISIS recruit returns to India An Indian court remanded ISIS recruit Areeb Majeed, who allegedly went to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to the custody of the National Investigation Agency (?NIA, a federal agency that combats terror in India) on Saturday (Indian Express, Economic Times, NDTV, WSJ). Majeed, a ...
ISIS recruit returns to India
An Indian court remanded ISIS recruit Areeb Majeed, who allegedly went to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to the custody of the National Investigation Agency (?NIA, a federal agency that combats terror in India) on Saturday (Indian Express, Economic Times, NDTV, WSJ). Majeed, a 23-year-old engineering student from Mumbai, traveled to Iraq in May with three other friends on a religious pilgrimage, but never returned. After reaching Iraq, Majeed — in a letter to his parents — reportedly said he was joining the militant group. In July, Majeed’s father, a doctor, met Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking action against the people who had radicalized his son.
After Majeed was injured while fighting for ISIS, he made his way to a relief camp in Turkey and called his parents for help. Majeed’s father reached out to the NIA, who facilitated Majeed’s return to India on Friday. A NIA official said: "Majeed was grilled for several hours on Sunday, after which he revealed the names of his handlers and the local contacts who radicalized him and his three other friends here, and helped them fly to Iraq. We are verifying his claims and are trying to locate these local contacts" (DNA).
Indian PM supports Bangladesh land swap
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a speech in the northeastern state of Assam on Sunday, said he will support a land transfer agreement with Bangladesh, to address illegal immigration from the country and security issues in Assam (BBC, Indian Express, NDTV). According to the land swap deal, India and Bangladesh will resolve their border issues by exchanging more than 100 small enclaves in each other’s territories. Although Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh, signed the deal in 2011, the Indian parliament has not yet ratified it. Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had strongly opposed it as it will result in Assam losing territory.
Modi said: "The land swap deal will be beneficial. It might seem to be an immediate loss for Assam, but it will serve security interests in the long term and help solve the problem of Bangladeshi migrants" (Hindustan Times). Local groups in Assam were quick to react to Modi’s comments, and Atul Bora, the president of Asom Gana Parishad — a state political party in Assam — said: "The people of Assam clearly remember that while Narendra Modi had gone on record saying he was opposed to land transfer to Bangladesh, the BJP had even called a bandh [political protest] to protest the then prime minister Manmohan Singh’s pact with [Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh] Hasina… This announcement of Modi has once again vindicated our stand that there is no basic difference between BJP and Congress in relation to their outlook on Assam" (Indian Express).
— Neeli Shah
Suicide blast kills 9 at funeral in northern Afghanistan
At least nine people, including two local policemen, were killed and 20 others injured in a suicide attack on a tribal chief’s funeral in Baghlan province on Monday (Pajhwok, BBC, AJE). Aminullah Amarkhil, the police chief in Baghlan province, told Agence France Presse that the suicide bomber was on foot when he detonated his explosives and the targets were probably a number of high-ranking police officials and provincial council members who were attending the funeral (AFP).
Ghani fires most of his cabinet
On Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fired most of the ministers in his cabinet, who were all holdovers from former President Hamid Karzai’s administration (NYT). Ghani, who shares power with CEO Abdullah Abdullah, promised to form a new government within 45 days after his election — a marker that was passed on Nov. 13. Some believed that disagreements between Ghani and Abdullah led to the delay in choosing a new cabinet, although by agreement the cabinet appointments were to be divided "equitably" between the two leaders (NYT).
Kabul police chief’s offer to resign rejected
Gen. Zahir Zahir, the Kabul police chief, offered his resignation on Sunday in light of the worsening recent bombings in Afghanistan’s capital city (NYT). A dozen high-profile attacks over the past month have raised questions about the ability of local security forces to protect the city after NATO concludes its combat mission at the end of this year (Post, VOA). The most recent spate of bombings began three weeks ago with an assassination attempt on Gen. Zahir at police headquarters, but the suicide bomber failed to reach the general’s office. Since then, a female lawmaker, a British embassy vehicle, a foreign development group, and an aid group’s guesthouse have all been targeted (WSJ, M&G). However, Zahir was reportedly reinstated "on the request of high ranking officials," according to his spokesman, who told Agence France Presse that he would continue his duties "in order to avoid disruption of security affairs" (BBC).
The attacks have not been limited to Kabul. On Friday, Taliban militants overran an Afghan National Army outpost in Helmand province and killed as many as 14 soldiers in one of the deadliest attacks on Afghan soldiers this year (NYT). According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has resumed negotiations with the Taliban under U.N. supervision (ET).
IDEAs exhibition kicks off
The 8th International Defense Exhibition and Seminar, one of the major defense exhibitions in the region, began on Monday at Karachi’s Expo Center. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the exhibition, saying that Pakistan is committed to providing its defenders with all the necessary resources and noting that the counrty is developing sophisticated defense systems (ET). Minister for Defense Production Rana Tanveer Hussain said that the 88 delegations from 47 countries participating in the exhibition will benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience and that it is a platform for establishing business relationships. Many local commuters in Karachi were stuck in traffic for hours due to roadblocks by security officials (ET).
Gen. Sharif, John Kerry discuss regional security
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed regional security issues in Washington at a 4:30 a.m. meeting on Monday (ET, Nation). According to the Express Tribune, Kerry acknowledged Pakistan’s role in fighting terrorism and praised the country’s army for its professionalism. Gen. Sharif is wrapping up his two-week visit to the United States, which was aimed at boosting relations between the two countries.
Pakistan won’t be paralyzed by Imran Khan
Syed Khurshid Shah , leader of the opposition in Pakistan’s National Assembly, told reporters outside the Parliament House in Islamabad on Monday that Pakistan will not be paralyzed by Imran Khan’s call to shut down the country (Dawn). Imran Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman, has been demanding the prime minister’s resignation and a probe into the 2013 elections, alleging that they were rigged. He promised to a crowd of nearly 100,000 supporters last week that they would methodically paralyze Pakistan by Dec. 16 by shutting down major cities, including Lahore, Faisalabad, Karachi,. Shah’s remark to reporters was the first reaction by the opposition leader to Khan’s call. After Shah’s statement, official sources told Dawn that Sharif decided to resume dialogue with PTI members.
Edited by Peter Bergen