The South Asia Channel

U.S. Can’t Confirm Pakistani Ban on JuD, Haqqani Network; Abdullah in Talks Over Dual Citizen Nominees; New Details on Obama India Visit

Pakistan U.S. can’t confirm ban on JuD and Haqqani Network On Friday India’s NDTV reported that U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the United States could not confirm that Pakistan had banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa, designated by the United States as a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Haqqani Network (NDTV, ET, Dawn). Psaki stated: “We ...

US-UKRAINE-DIPLOMACY-PSAKI
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki speaks at the daily briefing at the State Department in Washington,dc on March 10, 2014. Washington called on Russia to prove that it was willing to act on a series of US proposals aimed at ending the crisis over Ukraine. US Secretary of State John Kerry had laid out a number of ideas to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and is prepared to take part in further talks "if and when we see concrete evidence that Russia is prepared to engage on these proposals," Psaki said. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan

U.S. can’t confirm ban on JuD and Haqqani Network

On Friday India’s NDTV reported that U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the United States could not confirm that Pakistan had banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa, designated by the United States as a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Haqqani Network (NDTV, ET, Dawn). Psaki stated: “We recognize that Pakistan is working through the process of implementing measures to thwart violent extremism, including the national action plan. We don’t have any confirmation of specific steps.” In Pakistan, Jamaat-ud-Dawa vowed on Thursday that it would continue to operate in Pakistan (Dawn). A spokesman for the group said they would challenge the ban in court and noted previous decisions in favor of Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s continued operation.

PM Sharif declares day of mourning for Saudi King Abdullah

On Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a day of mourning for Saudi King Abdullah who died on Friday, and departed for the late king’s funeral in Saudi Arabia (ET, Dawn). During the day of mourning Pakistan will fly its flag at half mast. Regarding the late king, Prime Minister Sharif stated that he had a “special place in the heart of every Pakistani being the custodian of Islam’s holy mosques.”

Gas pipelines attacked in Balochistan

Two gas pipelines in Balochistan’s Naseerabad and Sohbat Pur districts were blown up on Friday according to police statements (Dawn). Both explosions caused suspensions in gas supply. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but police suspect Baloch separatist groups.

Afghanistan

Abdullah in talks over dual citizen nominees

Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah is in talks with Afghan lawmakers over their refusal to accept cabinet nominees who hold dual citizenship (TOLO News). Earlier this week, Afghanistan’s lower parliamentary house rejected seven cabinet nominees on the basis that they held dual citizenship. On Thursday, Abdullah’s Cultural and Social Affairs Advisor, Said Agha Fazel Sancharaki, stated: “Talks are ongoing between the president and CEO with the MPs to find a solution for dual citizenship cabinet nominees.” However, Sancharaki also noted that Abdullah would respect the lawmakers’ decision. The negotiations come amid an effort to complete the nomination process that has lasted three months.

Crime, terror down in Kabul

On Thursday, Abdul Rahman Rahimi, Kabul’s police chief, announced that crime and terrorist attacks were down in Kabul (TOLO News). Rahimi stated: “Criminal cases have declined by 58 percent.” He continued: “with regard to terrorist attacks, our assessments reveal that it has declined by 77 percent.” Rahimi’s statement comes in the context of a series of high profile attacks in Kabul that occurred right after the new national unity government took office.

Afghan Air Force obtains 20 armed helicopters

The Afghan Air Force will add 20 armed helicopters to its arsenal according to reports on Thursday (Pajhwok). The delivery will be funded by the United States. The Air Force already has five training helicopters. In addition to the helicopters, the Air Force awaits the delivery of 20 Embraer A29 Super Tucano light support aircraft, which are currently located in Georgia.

— David Sterman

India

Among Obama’s India itinerary, a star-studded banquet of India’s elites

U.S. President Barack Obama will finish his first day of a landmark India trip on Sunday, Jan. 25, at a star-studded ceremonial banquet within the Rashtrapati Bhavan — the official residence of India’s President Pranab Mukherjee — where the guest list boasts up to 200 of India’s leading industrialists, politicians, academics, physicians, and actors (Hindustan Times, Times of India). Expected guests include Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata, and a host of other top industry leaders. The business-heavy invitation list reflects the high priority the United States and India are placing on reviving bilateral trade ties. Sunday’s grand affair will follow a lunch between Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a series of bilateral meetings spanning a range of issues at Hyderabad House (Times of India). On Monday, Obama will attend India’s Republic Day Parade alongside Modi, becoming the first U.S. president to attend this occasion. Obama is then expected to join Modi for back-to-back meetings with Indian business leaders: the Indo-U.S. CEO Forum and the India-U.S. Business Council (Hindustan Times).

India, Russia hold talks on defense deal days before Obama visit

Indian and Russian officials on Wednesday agreed to fast-track progress on a fifth-generation military aircraft program, Indian officials said on Thursday just days before U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi where expectations are high for reviving bilateral ties (Reuters, NDTV). Signed in 2010, the deal sought to secure joint development and production of stealth aircraft for their respective militaries and other countries in what Indian officials said would have been India’s largest-ever defense program. Disagreement over the details — such as contribution amounts and decisions on whether the aircraft should have one or two seats — has slowed progress in the five years since. Held in New Delhi, the recent high-level meeting — officially the 14th Meeting of the Indian-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation — between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar ended in agreement to fast-track defense-related projects and to review progress every three months. The deal comes amid warming relations between the India and the United States, whose relations with Russia have deteriorated since the latter’s incursion into Crimea last year.

Twitter acquires India technology startup for $35 million

Social media heavyweight Twitter said earlier this week that it acquired Bangalore-based ZipDial Mobile Solutions, a nearly five-year-old technology startup that connects Internet-less customers with businesses in emerging markets (Economic Times, LiveMint, NYT). Exploiting what is called the “missed call” method, customers unable to afford steep data plans call a toll-free number of a specific business and then hang up before the other end answers to prevent charges (NYT). Information is then sent directly to customer phones through calls, texts, and software applications. Such an acquisition helps Twitter’s base in India, where it has 33 million users (out of 284 million globally). By comparison, Facebook has 100 million users (out of its 1.3 billion globally). “It dramatically accelerates our ability to drive user growth in India, and over time, other emerging economies, for instance, Indonesia, Brazil and others,” said Rishi Jaitly, Twitter’s market director for India and Southeast Asia (LiveMint). Twitter’s foray into India offers optimism for other foreign firms and startups looking to break into what the International Monetary Fund recently called the fastest growing major economy in the word (LiveMint).

Jameel Khan

Edited by Peter Bergen

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

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