The South Asia Channel

AAP routs Modi’s BJP with historic win; Nangarhar councilwoman targeted in bombing; Pakistan facing water shortage

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Indian Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal (C) speaks to supporters as he celebrates victory in the state assembly elections outside the party's headquarters in New Delhi on February 10, 2015. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conceded defeat on February 10 in the Delhi state elections as early results showed anti-corruption campaigner Arvind Kejriwal's party set for a landslide victory. AFP PHOTO / Money Sharma (Photo credit should read MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: New America’s Fellows Program is looking for talented U.S.-based academics in the field of international affairs to apply for our annual fellowships. We’re seeking to fund and create a community of bold thinkers with fresh perspectives on the major challenges facing our nation and our world, and support them as they work on projects that can communicate their ideas to broad audiences.

Applications for the 2016 class are due March 1, 2015. For more information about the fellowship program and application process, please see our information page here.

Event Notice: “88 Days to Kandahar,” Today, 12:15-1:45 (New America).


AAP routs Modi’s BJP with historic win

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), commonly known as the anti-corruption party, defeated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in an election for the New Delhi assembly on Tuesday, after winning 67 of the 70 seats (Livemint, Indian Express, WSJ). AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, a former tax inspector, said: “We will always walk the path of truth… It is very scary, the kind of support the people of Delhi have given us” (NDTV). Kejriwal further said: “With the help of people, we will make Delhi a city which both poor and rich will feel proud of” (BBC).

Kejriwal, 46, will take oath as chief minister of New Delhi on Feb. 14, exactly a year after he resigned from the same position when opponents blocked his anti-corruption bill in the state assembly. Modi, admitting BJP’s defeat, tweeted: “Spoke to @ArvindKejriwal & congratulated him on the win. Assured him Centre’s complete support in the development of Delhi.” This is Modi’s first major setback since his historic win in the national elections in May last year. The Congress party, which had ruled New Delhi for 15 years, did not win a single seat.

Police make arrests in Rohtak rape case

The Indian police arrested eight men on Monday in the Rohtak district, located in northern state of Haryana, in connection with the rape, mutilation, and murder of a Nepalese woman earlier this month (WSJ, Indian Express, BBC). The suspects, all in their 20s, come from a village close to Rohtak. While the police arrested eight suspects, a ninth suspect allegedly committed suicide on Monday. According to the police, the body of the 28-year-old woman was found with a fractured skull and some of her internal organs had been cut out. The autopsy report stated that stones, blades, and sticks were forced inside the woman’s body during the assault, and she suffered “several sexual attacks.” Dr S.K. Dattarwal, who headed the autopsy, said: “I have never seen such a horrific case in 30 years. The injuries suggest she was hit on the head with a heavy object, became partly unconscious and was then gang-raped” (NDTV).

McDonald’s to shed weight in India

McDonald’s Corp, the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, has cut about 40 percent of the fat content in sauces, approximately 20 percent sodium in fries, and almost 50-60 calories on an average from all its burgers on its Indian menu, according to news reports on Tuesday (NDTV, Reuters). Amit Jatia, vice president of one of India’s two main McDonald’s franchisees, said: “This is also to make McDonald’s a better option for consumers. You have to meet the needs of consumers. If consumers are going in this (health) direction, I can’t stick to the opposite direction” (Economic Times). According to analysts, this is McDonald’s strategy to beat the competition as international chains like Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Johnny Rockets, and Wendy’s have already opened or announced their plans to open in India.

— Neeli Shah


Nangarhar councilwoman targeted in bombing

A roadside bomb planted near a school in Jalalabad detonated as Angeza Shinwari, a Nangarhar provincial councilwoman, drove past (AP, Pajhwok). According to Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial governor, Shinwari and another were severely wounded and her driver was killed. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. At the time of the attack, students were making their way to school.

Ghani held talks with China, Pakistan

On Monday President Ghani met with Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao at the Presidential Palace in Kabul where they discussed bilateral relations, counterterrorism, and regional cooperation (Pajhwok). Ghani called for improving track-two diplomacy between parliamentarians, civil society activists, and the youth of China and Afghanistan.

Jianchao was in Kabul to take part in a trilateral dialogue with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China, along with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai (ET). The three had a discussion on the security situation of the region, resolving to maintain peace and stability in Afghanistan, and reaffirming that Afghanistan needed an Afghan-led peace process. Pakistan’s foreign secretary also met individually with Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister where he emphasized the importance of a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

Taliban attack Afghan police station

On Tuesday the Taliban launched an hour-long attack against a police station in Kunduz province (TOLO News, Pajhwok). According to Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi, a suicide car bomb detonated first followed by a suicide bomber on foot and gunmen (AP). Sediqqi said three gunmen died in a shootout with the police. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement condemning the attack that killed one police officer. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter.

ICRC: 2014 deadlier year for combatants

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said that it removed twice as many bodies of combatants from battlefields in 2014 than in the previous year: 1,372 dead — up from 620 in 2013(Reuters). The ICRC is responsible for removing the fallen Afghan forces and militants; U.S. and international forces use their own evacuation services. The increase in dead was attributed to the uptick in violence and the poor rural health care infrastructure.


Pakistan facing water shortage

After facing electrical shortages, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif said on Tuesday that Pakistan will have another utility shortage: water (Dawn, ET). Asif, addressing the Water and Power Development Authority in Lahore, said that a water shortage was imminent and that authorities have failed to pay attention to the impending issue. As for the electricity shortage, Asif added that it will be resolved in the next two to three years.

Baloch militants killed in operation

On Tuesday the Frontier Corps clashed with suspected militants in southwestern Balochistan during a search operation (ET, Dawn). At least 15 militants were killed, one Frontier Corps member was killed, and three were wounded. A spokesman for Frontier Corps said that the dead militants were involved in bombings and targeted killings in the area.

— Courtney Schuster

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. @neelishah

Courtney Schuster is a research associate with the International Security Program at New America and an assistant editor with the South Asia Channel.

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