The South Asia Channel

EU Urges Extreme Caution When Flying Over Pakistan; Modi Replaces Foreign Secretary; ANSF Retake Chak After 13 Years

Pakistan Bonus Read: “As Obama visits India, Pakistan looks to Russia for military, economic assistance,” Tim Craig (Post) EU agency urges extreme caution when flying over Pakistan In a bulletin issued last Thursday, the European Aviation Safety Agency warned airline operators to exercise extreme caution when flying over Pakistan due to the threat of terrorism ...

A Pakistani airport security official st
Lahore, PAKISTAN: A Pakistani airport security official stands alert as a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aeroplane sits on the tarmac at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore, 06 March 2007. PIA has suspended 14 flights over the next three weeks following a European Union ban. EU aviation sources said last month experts had agreed that PIA should be added to the European flight blacklist for safety reasons because of its ageing fleet. AFP PHOTO/Arif ALI (Photo credit should read Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan

Bonus Read: “As Obama visits India, Pakistan looks to Russia for military, economic assistance,” Tim Craig (Post)

EU agency urges extreme caution when flying over Pakistan

In a bulletin issued last Thursday, the European Aviation Safety Agency warned airline operators to exercise extreme caution when flying over Pakistan due to the threat of terrorism (ET). The agency warned: “National aviation authorities are reporting an increased risk to flight operation safety due to potential terrorist attacks in Pakistan.” The agency urged: “extreme caution if planning to fly into, out of, within or above Pakistan airspace and to monitor all relevant information, including NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen).” The bulletin followed a Jan. 17 circular released by the French Aeronautical Information Service telling French airlines to fly at at least 24,000 feet when in Pakistani air space.

Drone strike kills at least six

A U.S. drone strike on Wednesday killed at least six suspected militants in the Shawal valley which connects North and South Waziristan (RFE/RL, ET). The strike targeted a compound, and foreigners from Central Asia were reportedly among the dead. The drone hovered for 30 minutes after the strike delaying emergency responders from reaching the site. According to data collected by New America, 26 militants have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan during 2015 (NA).

Pakistan Central Bank warns Islamic banks

On Monday, Ashraf Wathra, the head of Pakistan’s Central Bank, warned Islamic banks that they should be more equitable (Reuters). Wathra said that banks needed to reward their customers in keeping with the sector’s increasing profitability. He warned during his speech: “Banks were advised to come up with their own solutions or the SBP (State Bank of Pakistan) will apply sharia-compliant measures to address the issue.”

— David Sterman

India

PM Modi replaces foreign secretary

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi replaced Sujatha Singh, the foreign secretary appointed by the previous Congress administration, with Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s envoy to the United States on Thursday (BBC, Indian Express). Prior to his sudden appointment as foreign secretary, Jaishankar was India’s ambassador to the United States, and had also been posted as ambassador to China, Singapore, and Czech Republic. Taking over as the new foreign secretary, Jaishankar said: “Government’s priorities are my priorities,” and described his new position as “a big responsibility. I am honoured that I have been assigned this responsibility” (Reuters).

The Congress party questioned the timing of Singh’s removal, who was set to retire in August. Manish Tewari, a leader of the Congress party, said: “If the PM was unhappy with the foreign secretary, why didn’t he ask her to go nine months ago. The timing is questionable. Why wait for the presidential visit to end? Did something happen during the visit? The PM needs to explain” (NDTV). Singh’s replacement came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India.

India to sell up to 10 percent stake in Coal India

The Indian government is expected to sell up to 10 percent of its stake in Coal India Ltd., the state-controlled mining company, for approximately $4 billion on Friday, according to news reports on Wednesday (Livemint, Bloomberg, WSJ, Economic Times). The central government presently owns 89.65 percent of the monopoly coal producer in India, and the sale is expected to be the government’s largest share sale transaction. This disinvestment is a part of the government’s plan to raise revenue of about $10 billion in the fiscal year ending in March. In response to the announcement of the share sale, Coal India Ltd. slipped 5 percent in trade on Thursday.

SC bans sex-test advertisements in India

The Indian Supreme Court ordered companies including Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc., and Microsoft Corp. not to advertise sex determination tests that reveal a child’s sex, according to news reports on Wednesday (BBC, Livemint). The interim court order came after the central government said the three search engines have “relevant technology and deep-domain knowledge and expertise to block/filter the words/phrases/expressions and sponsored links” (NDTV). The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, prohibits advertisements related to prenatal determination of sex due to the widespread practice of aborting female fetuses in India. According to the 2011 census, there has been a decline in the number of girls under the age of seven. Activists claim that as many as eight million female fetuses in India may have been aborted in the last decade.

— Neeli Shah

Afghanistan

Afghan forces retake Chak after 13 years of Taliban rule

On Wednesday Afghanistan’s TOLO News reported that the Afghan National Security Forces retook the Chak district in central Wardak province after 13 years of Taliban control in the district (TOLO News). One police officer said: “Previously, even we were unable to transfer our supplies through air because of the worsened situation, but now security is ensured here.” Another police commander stated: “Taliban’s oppression forced us to get together against them.” The retaking of Chak district represents an important success for Afghan security forces as they take over responsibility for security in the country from withdrawing foreign forces.

Bus crash kills 23

At least 23 people died on Thursday when a bus crashed into a fuel truck in Afghanistan’s Zabul province (NYT, Pajhwok, TOLO News). In addition, at least 30 people are believed to have been injured in the accident. Zabul Security Chief Jalali Khan Farahi stated: “The incident took place in Qalat City of the province when a bus collided with a fuel truck” and that: “some of the injured victims are in critical condition.” Four children and five women are among the dead.

NDS seizes 15,000 kg of ammonium chloride

On Thursday, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) announced that it had seized a vehicle carrying 15,000 kilograms (16.5 tons) of ammonium chloride, a substance often used to make bombs (Pajhwok). The NDS said that the Haqqani Network had dispatched the truck carrying the ammonium chloride. The vehicle was sized in southern Paktia province.

Taliban kill eleven in Ghazni

Eleven members of an anti-Taliban group were killed on Thursday while resisting a Taliban attack on a checkpoint in Ghazni province (TOLO News, Pajhwok). The gubernatorial spokesperson said that the attack occurred in the Alam Walu locality of Andar district. The area is now under police control. The Taliban have not commented on the incident.

— David Sterman

Edited by Peter Bergen

Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

 Twitter: @Dsterms
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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