The South Asia Channel
Pakistani Military Kills 62 Militants; Modi Sends Message to Pakistan; Drone Strike in Afghanistan Kills 8
The South Asia Daily Brief for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014.
Pakistani military kills 62 militants
The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the country’s border with Afghanistan since Tuesday’s attack on a school that left 148 children and staff members dead (NYT, Pajhwok, Reuters).Shahab Ali Shah, an administration official in the tribal region, described several battles with militants and the aftermath in the Khyber region, saying in one instance: “Bodies of the militants are available with us. They are being identified.” According to a statement by the Inter Services Public Relations (IPSR), three security forces personnel were wounded in an exchange of fire after the military ambushed militant hideouts near the border; IPSR also reported that 32 militants were killed in that same incident.
Four suspects arrested in Peshawar school probe
At least four suspects, including one woman, were arrested in Punjab province’s Hasilpur area on Friday in connection with Tuesday’s attack on the Public Army School in Peshawar (Dawn). The four suspects were traced through a mobile SIM card that was reportedly used by the terrorists who attacked the school. The SIM card was registered in the name of the woman who was taken into custody. A local mobile franchise dealer was included in the investigation, but not arrested. Nasir Durrani, inspector general of police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said that the team investigating the attack was looking at all available evidence to find the perpetrators. He noted that the team has a forensic lab and crime scene investigation officers obtaining and preserving evidence from the scene.
Modi sends strong message to Pakistan
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) on Friday that India had conveyed its concerns in the “strongest terms” to Pakistan in opposition to the bail granted to Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander and alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack (NDTV, Times of India). Lakhvi was among the seven people charged with planning, financing, and executing the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed. Modi said: “Bail to LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi has come as a shock and is a serious blow to all those who believe in humanity the world over, especially as it comes right after the terror attack in Peshawar” (Times of India). Modi also spoke about the attack in Peshawar, and said: “India is no less saddened than Pakistan by what happened in Peshawar; there are tears in the eyes of each and every Indian.”
Economy expected to grow at 5.5 percent
India’s economy is expected to grow at 5.5 percent this current fiscal year, according to a finance ministry report
released on Friday (Times of India, WSJ). The projected growth rate shows an improvement from the less than 5 percent growth of the past two years. Arvind Subramanian, India’s chief economic advisor, said that lower oil prices and the government’s policy initiatives will result in faster growth. Subramanian further said: “To revive growth going forward, public investment may have to play a greater role to complement and crowd-in private investment” (Reuters).
Terror alert in Indian jail
The Tihar jail, located in New Delhi, has been placed under high alert after security officials received intelligence reports that terror outfits may target the prison to release jailed terrorists, according to news reports on Thursday (Economic Times, DNA). An anonymous source working inside the prison said: “Tihar houses many hardcore terrorists and other high-profile inmates, their security remains our priority. There are reports that attacks may be carried out to release Pakistani terrorist lodged in here. Security has been enhanced and tight vigil is being kept on every movement within and outside the jail” (Zee News).
Drone strike in Nangarhar kills 8
At least eight suspected militants were killed in a U.S. drone strike in the Nazyan district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on Friday (Dawn). The drone targeted a compound in the district’s Cort Village, destroying the compound completely and, in addition to killing the eight militants, injuring dozens of others. According to Pakistani security officials, the area has been serving as a safe haven for members of the Pakistani Taliban, led by Mullah Fazlullah, and is where militants planned Tuesday’s devastating attack in Peshawar. Since the attack, there have been increased air strikes and military operations against militants on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Women awarded karate belts
For the first time in Afghanistan’s history, the Ghazni Olympic Department on Friday awarded 24 women with yellow karate belts for completing training courses in the martial art (Pajhwok). All of the women were trained by a female instructor, who goes by Zuhra. The group demonstrated their expertise and skills to prove that they deserved the belts In front of a number of judges at a local gymnasium. Olympic Director Padshah Khan Azbar said that women’s sports faced a number of challenges, but that he was “now sure girls, looking at their performance and commitment, will out [do] boys in this strenuous sport.”
— Emily Schneider and Neeli Shah
Edited by Peter Bergen