The South Asia Channel

Parliamentarians Accuse Ghani of Treason; Weinstein Kidnapper Sentenced to Death; Modi Addresses 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Event Notice: “Algeria and the Sahel in the Arab Spring Aftermath,” FRIDAY, 12:15 – 1:45 PM (New America). Afghanistan Bonus Reads: “Bala Hissar” Photo Essay, Whitney Grespin (FP); “What You Won’t Hear in Afghanistan in 2015,” Michael Kugelman (SouthAsia). Parliamentarians accuse Ghani of treason At least 10 parliamentarians in Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga (lower house) signed ...

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrives for a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on December 10, 2014. Afghanistan's new President Ashraf Ghani on December 10 condemned CIA torture detailed in a US Senate report, at a specially-convened press conference in Kabul. AFP PHOTO / SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Event Notice: “Algeria and the Sahel in the Arab Spring Aftermath,” FRIDAY, 12:15 – 1:45 PM (New America).


Bonus Reads: “Bala Hissar” Photo Essay, Whitney Grespin (FP); “What You Won’t Hear in Afghanistan in 2015,” Michael Kugelman (SouthAsia).

Parliamentarians accuse Ghani of treason

At least 10 parliamentarians in Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga (lower house) signed a petition on Wednesday accusing President Ashraf Ghani of committing “national treason” for failing to create an administrative cabinet (TOLO News). The petition, created by Ramazan Bashardost, a lawmaker from Kabul, noted that, according to Afghanistan’s Constitution, the president has 30 days to introduce a cabinet, but it has been more than 100 days since Ghani was sworn in.

In response to Bashardost’s petition, Jirga Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said that Ghani has promised to introduce cabinet members within a week (Pajhwok). Afghanistan’s TOLO News, however, reported that this is the third time such a promise has been given. The Presidential Palace has not yet commented on the petition or its accusations.

Six militants killed in U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar province

Afghanistan’s Pajhwok Afghan News reported on Thursday that six militants had been killed the night before in a U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar province (Pajhwok). According to Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, a spokesman for the local police force, the strike occurred in the Lalpori district and struck a militant sanctuary, though further information was not given.

The report came one day after Pajhwok said three Taliban fighters, including two key commanders, were killed in a U.S. drone strike in Logar province (Pajhwok). A district chief told reporters that the drone targeted a car, and killed leaders Rahmatullah and Mujeeb-u-Rrahman, as well as a third unidentified militant. According to the report, the men had headed a group that was involved in high-profile attacks on government institutions. The Taliban have not yet commented on either strike.


Weinstein kidnapper sentenced to death

An anti-terrorism court in Lahore on Wednesday sentenced Hafiz Imran to death for his role in the kidnapping of American aid worker Warren Weinstein (NYT). According to reports, prosecutors argued that Imran was among the men who seized Weinstein at his home in the city in 2011, and said he would join the growing list of men scheduled for execution now that Pakistan has reinstated capital punishment since the December Taliban attack at a school in Peshawar. A judge also ordered Imran, who was convicted shortly after the kidnapping nearly four years ago, to pay a fine of Rs. 500,000 [around $5,000] (ET).

Weinstein, 73, had been working in Pakistan for an Arlington, Virginia-based development consulting company when he was kidnapped. He has since been shown in hostage videos released by al Qaeda, which claims to be holding him, though Weinstein’s whereabouts are unknown. He also hasn’t been seen in any videos since 2013 (VOA).

Pakistani businesswoman featured on Forbes list of social media entrepreneurs

Fiza Farhan, the 28-year-old co-founder of the Buksh Foundation, was honored by the U.S. magazine Forbes on Wednesday and included on its 2015 “30 Under 30” list in the Social Entrepreneurs category (Dawn, ET). The Buksh Foundation, which has been operating in Pakistan since 2009, is a microfinance organization that brings clean energy projects to poor and rural parts of the country. According to reports in Pakistani media outlets, the foundation has trained around 135 women to be energy entrepreneurs, and extended business and clean energy loans to some 12,000 entrepreneurs. Farhan is the fourth Pakistani woman to be included on the list, a who’s who of young movers and shakers.

— Bailey Cahall


Modi addresses 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) — an annual celebration that marks the contributions of the overseas Indian community to the development of India — in the city of Gandhinagar, located in the western state of Gujarat, on Thursday (NDTV, Indian Express). This year, the PBD celebrates 100 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa. Speaking to an audience of 4,000 non-resident Indians (NRIs) from 58 countries, Modi said: “There was a time when professionals in India went to distant lands to explore new possibilities…Now India awaits you with opportunities” (Reuters).

Modi further told the Indian diaspora that he had eased travel restrictions and visa requirements for persons of Indian origin and Indian citizens living overseas. On Friday, the second day of the PBD, chief ministers will pitch their states as investment destinations to the attending NRI delegates. On Sunday, Gandhinagar will also host the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, an investment summit organized by the state government, which will be inaugurated by Modi, and addressed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

Mumbai airport on alert after terror threat

Security has been increased and passengers are being carefully scanned at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in Mumbai after a message threatening a terror attack on Jan. 10 was found scribbled on a bathroom wall in the airport, according to news reports on Tuesday (Indian Express, Times of India). The message, which read: “ATTACK BY ISIS DATE 10/01/15,” was found written on the wall of a bathroom in CSIA’s Terminal 2. Deputy Police Commissioner (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni said: “We have been informed about the threatening message. We are looking into the matter. We are taking it very seriously and checking if it was just a mischief” (NDTV).

Indian diplomat named U.N. Under Secretary-General for Field Support

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon appointed Indian diplomat Atul Khare as the U.N. Under Secretary-General for Field Support, according to news reports on Wednesday (Economic Times, Indian Express). Khare will head the department that provides support to peacekeeping missions around the world. A statement issued by the United Nations said: “[Khare] brings to the position strategic management and innovative reform expertise in both headquarters and field perspective” (NDTV).

Khare joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1984 and has served Indian Missions in Dakar, Senegal; London, England; Paris, France; and Port Louis, Mauritius. Khare previously served at the United Nations as the Assistant Secretary-General leading the Change Management Team from 2011 to 2012, and as the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Deputy Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations from 2010 to 2011.

— Neeli Shah

Edited by Peter Bergen.


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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