Militants Attack Indian Army Camp; US, Britain Pledge Support to Afghanistan; ISIS Presence in Pakistan, Malik Says
The South Asia Daily Brief for Friday, December 2, 2014
Bonus Read: “‘Superbugs’ Kill India’s Babies and Pose an Overseas Threat,” Gardiner Harris (NYT).
Militants attack Indian army camp
Heavily-armed militants snuck into an army camp in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on Friday and killed 11 security personnel (Indian Express, NDTV, Livemint, BBC). After cutting through a wire fence around the camp, the militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at the security personnel, who were in their bunkers. Six militants were killed when the soldiers at the camp returned fire. The army camp is 12 miles from the Line of Control, a military boundary between the Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir.
In response to the attack, J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah — @abdullah_omar — tweeted: “Once again shows the desperate levels militants will go to disrupt peace and normalcy” (Economic Times). Later on Friday, a gun battle occurred in Srinagar, the capital city of J&K, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit next week to campaign for state elections. The attack occurred during the staggered state elections in J&K, where the third-phase of voting will take place next week.
India sends drinking water to Maldives
India will send five planes and two ships carrying water and machinery parts to Maldives, after drinking water was cut off to more than 100,000 residents in the nation’s capital of Male due to a fire in the city’s only water sewage treatment plant, according to news reports on Friday (Economic Times, NDTV, Indian Express, Post). While the first aircraft carrying bottles of water has reached Male, the Indian Navy’s patrol vessel INS Sukanya is expected to arrive later in the day. The vessel is carrying 35 tons of fresh water and has two reverse osmosis plants onboard, which can produce 20 tons of fresh water per day to meet the water crisis in Maldives.
Maldives, located south-west of India in the Indian Ocean, depends entirely on treated seawater as the low-lying island nation has no natural water source. Syed Akbaruddin, an Indian foreign ministry spokesman, said: “Last night, the Maldives foreign minister contacted us saying they were facing a grave emergency… For the next seven to eight days they are going to face extreme difficulty with water so they requested all assistance” (Reuters).
India plans to reclaim yoga
Shripad Yesso Naik, India’s newly-appointed yoga minister, spoke of the government’s plans to promote yoga in the country by reintroducing the practice in more than 600,000 schools, police training centers, and hospitals, according to news reports on Tuesday (WP). India has also begun efforts to reclaim yoga from the West as an ancient Indian tradition. Naik said: “There is little doubt about yoga being an Indian art form… We’re trying to establish to the world that it’s ours,” and further elaborated: “After the British came to India, they suppressed Indian medicine and tried to foist Western medicine on us – that’s why traditional medicine could not be promoted” (Telegraph). Naik was recently appointed to the ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) to promote the practice of yoga and ancient alternative medicine systems. Earlier this year, Modi urged the U.N. General Assembly to create an “International Yoga Day,” which has been supported by more than 130 countries.
— Neeli Shah
The Rack: “Afghanistan: The Making of a Narco State,” Matthieu Aikins (Rolling Stone).
U.S., Great Britain pledge support as combat troops leave Afghanistan
The United States and Britain pledged on Thursday to support Afghanistan’s new unity government as combat troops withdraw from the country (Reuters, NYT). At the London Conference on Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s moves to combat corruption since taking office in September, saying that “the policies outlined [Thursday] by President Ghani and CEO [Abdullah Abdullah] will result in a more stable and prosperous Afghanistan.” British Prime Minister David Cameron said that businesses would only invest in the country if Afghanistan could build strong, accountable institutions (BBC). A statement at the end of the conference reaffirmed donor pledges of $16 billion over four years. Bonus Read: “Five Key Priorities for the London Conference on Afghanistan,” Nematullah Bizhan (South Asia).
Man who killed U.S. general not linked to Taliban
A report investigating the death of the first American general to be killed in Afghanistan, released by CENTCOM on Thursday, found that the shooter was acting alone (NYT, Pajhwok). Private Rafiqullah, a 22-year-old Afghan soldier from Paktia Province, shot Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene in Aug. 2014. Rafiqullah appeared to “simply [take] advantage a target of opportunity provided by the close gathering [of officials],” according to the report. But the report also criticized Afghan officials for not fully cooperating with investigators, saying: “Afghan cooperation has been limited and guarded.”
ISIS presence in Pakistan, Malik says
Rehman Malik, the former interior minister of Pakistan, said on Friday that the Islamic State (IS) has militants in the country (Dawn). Malik told the media in Islamabad that security personnel had arrested several IS militants during raids conducted throughout the country. Malik’s statement, however, contradicts that of Federal Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan, who denied any presence of IS on Nov. 11 (Dawn). Leaflets calling for support for IS have been seen in several areas of Kybher Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in Afghan refugee camps, and graffiti promoting the militant group has been found throughout Pakistan.
Sharif meets with British Prime Minister
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday at 10 Downing Street in London (ET). The two prime ministers were also meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for a breakfast to discuss the regional situation with a strong emphasis on Afghanistan (Dawn). Sharif said that the meeting had marked a “historic new beginning” and that “Pakistan remains in strong solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.”
— Emily Schneider
Edited by Peter Bergen
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