The South Asia Channel
Taliban Violence in Afghanistan; Protests in Lahore; Modi Congratulates Abe on Win
Afghanistan Taliban increase violent attacks Violent attacks by the Taliban rocked Afghanistanon Saturday as six Afghan soldiers aboard a bus were killed, a Supreme Court official was assassinated, and 12 men clearing land mines were shot to death (AP, NYT). The six soldiers who were killed were on a bus in southwest Kabul when a ...
Taliban increase violent attacks
Violent attacks by the Taliban rocked Afghanistanon Saturday as six Afghan soldiers aboard a bus were killed, a Supreme Court official was assassinated, and 12 men clearing land mines were shot to death (AP, NYT). The six soldiers who were killed were on a bus in southwest Kabul when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive devise. The Supreme Court official, Atiqullah Rawoofi, was shot by two assailants on a motorbike while he was traveling to work and the group of twelve men who were killed were clearing land mines in Helmand Province when they were ambushed by gunmen. Then on Monday, a gas cylinder exploded inside a shop in Kabul, wounding three people (Pajhwok). The attacks continue what has been an unusually violent fall compared to past years, when Taliban violence has tapered off during colder months.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tried to calm the country by saying that the appointments of security ministry officials would be based on merit and not the power-sharing agreement he has with Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah (TOLO News). Speaking with officials at the Ministry of Interior over the weekend, Ghani said: “None of the security ministries will be divided, I assure you that every commander and general must pass an interview with me.”
Cooperation with Kazakhstan
Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah has held talks on bilateral cooperation with Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Karim Massimov, Pajhwok Afghan News reported on Monday (Pajhwok). The two met in Astana, Kazahkstan recently to discuss the two countries cooperating in areas of trade, commerce, and humanitarian assistance. The leaders also talked about security issues in the region. Both sides then called for more collaboration between their countries.
Khan’s protest continues in Lahore
Imran Khan, leader of Pakistan’s opposition Tehreek-e-Insaf party, led a day of protest in the eastern city of Lahore on Monday, where hundreds of his supporters blocked traffic as they demanded an inquiry into allegations of election rigging (AJE, Dawn). Khan and his supporters aim to “shut down” the country in an effort to force the government to examine the 2013 general elections; Lahore is the third city Khan has visited and attempted to “shut down.” In Faisalabad last week, one of Khan’s supporters was killed during the protest, but the protest in Karachi was peaceful. Security was increased in Lahore in preparation of Khan’s visit, with 15,000 police personnel deployed to keep order. Khan’s goal is to shut down the entire country by Dec. 18 unless the government forms a judicial committee to investigate his allegations (ET).
311 children died in Thar this year
A report submitted in the Sindh High Court by the chief secretary last week, and obtained by Dawn on Sunday, showed that 311 children under the age of five have died in the province’s Thar district since Dec. 2013 (Dawn). The report was prepared by the provincial government as part of an assessment of the recent extreme drought in the region. The main causes of deaths include birth asphyxia, pre-term births, low birth weight, respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, and natal sepsis. Of those that have died, 118 children were only one day old. The report notes that the mortality rate in the Thar district was lower than that in Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rajanpur, Rahimyarkhan, and other neighboring districts in Punjab.
Modi congratulates Abe on electoral win
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Shinzo Abe on Monday for his victory in being elected Japan’s prime minister for a third term (Economic Times, NDTV). “Congratulations @AbeShinzo on your victory in the elections. Japan will scale newer heights of progress under your able leadership,” Modi said in a Twitter update. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with @AbeShinzo to strengthen the relations between India & Japan.”
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and the Buddhist-backed Komeito Party together won more than two-thirds of the seats in Japan’s lower house of parliament, scoring a sweeping victory for Abe. But despite the win, voter turnout was low and Abe’s ruling coalition still faces resistance over economic and political reforms from business interests and bureaucrats (Hindustan Times). Modi and Abe met earlier in September during bilateral talks in Japan, where they discussed strategic, defense, and trade issues (Times of India).
Pro-ISIS Twitter handler arrested in India
Mehdi Biswas, the Bangalore-based 24-year-old engineer who was arrested on Saturday at his residence in Jalahalli for his alleged role in running a pro-Islamic State (IS) Twitter account (The Guardian, Times of India), has denied involvement with any recruitment activity for IS. “The accused had come to prominence in the electronic media in the UK regarding his role in circulating IS material through a Twitter account,” said Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Parliament on Monday (Times of India). “The central agencies worked in close collaboration with the Karnataka Police to develop information leading to his arrest. Mehdi had a Twitter account under the username @ShamiWitness.”
Singh continued by saying Biswas visited IS-related websites and translated content from Arabic into English on his Twitter account. His interrogation by Indian authorities suggested his activities were limited to only posting pro-IS material. Police claimed Mehdi has more than 17,000 followers on his Twitter account and maintains a 60GB Internet connection for tweeting purposes (FirstPost). Since the rise of the Islamic State earlier this year, the jihadist extremist group has been attempting to expand its appeal beyond Iraq and Syria.
Delhi court bans ‘China’s Apple’ from Indian market
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered Xiaomi Technology and its retail partner Flipkart to halt business in India following a patent dispute filed by Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson (The Guardian, Times of India). Documents released to the Economic Times indicate that Xiaomi is “restrained from manufacturing, assembling, importing, selling or advertising” its smartphones in India. Patent infringement is the primary claim put forth by Ericsson.
Founded in 2010, Xiaomi began as a startup to sell cheap smartphones over the Internet. Due to the nature of its product unveiling ceremonies and media events, Xiaomi is often dubbed the “Apple of China” (Times of India). Xiaomi outsells Apple and Samsung Electronics in China, and in October, it became the world’s third largest smartphones vendor (Reuters). According to research firm IDC, an estimated one in 10 people use smartphones in India, where the market grew 82 percent in the third quarter of 2014 compared to 10.8 percent in China. Xiaomi’s founders include Chinese entrepreneur Li Jun and former Google executive Lin Bin, who both hope to take their brand global. “Selling the phone to users is a good start, but it’s really not the end of the business,” Lin said in a recent interview. “It’s actually the beginning of the business. It’s after the user buys the phone and starts using the phone that will generate extra value, to users and to us.”
— Emily Schneider and Jameel Khan
Edited by Peter Bergen