The South Asia Channel

Afghan Taliban may negotiate; India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable missile; Military court will hear Shikarpur blast case

Event Notice: Future of War First Annual Conference, February 24-25, 8:00-5:00 (New America). Afghanistan Afghan Taliban may come to negotiating table Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Raheel Sharif met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul this week (RFE/RL). According to Western officials who spoke anonymously to the New York Times, Sharif told Ghani and ...

AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-TALIBAN
Afghan former Taliban fighters are photographed holding weapons before they hand them over as part of a government peace and reconciliation process at a ceremony in Jalalabad on February 8, 2015. Over twenty former Taliban fighters from Achin district of Nangarhar province handed over weapons as part of a peace reconciliation program. AFP PHOTO / Noorullah Shirzada (Photo credit should read Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)

Event Notice: Future of War First Annual Conference, February 24-25, 8:00-5:00 (New America).

Afghanistan

Afghan Taliban may come to negotiating table

Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Raheel Sharif met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul this week (RFE/RL). According to Western officials who spoke anonymously to the New York Times, Sharif told Ghani and other Afghan leaders that: “The Taliban appeared willing to meet for negotiations in the coming month” (NYT). Afghan Taliban sources told Reuters that they would hold the first round of peace talks with U.S. officials in Qatar on Thursday, although no U.S. or Qatari officials have commented (Reuters). However, Western officials believe major hurdles exist, including getting the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, to approve of the idea of negotiations. This would be the first direct peace talk with the Taliban since the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001.

Bank hit by insider scam

The branch manager and two others stole more than 50 million afghanis (around $872,500) from De Afghanistan Bank branch in the Spin Boldak district of southern Kandahar (Pajhwok). Police spokesman Zia Durrani said on Thursday that a manhunt is underway for the three believed to be involved in the scam. A group from the central bank in Kabul has arrived at the bank to formally investigate how much money was stolen and who was involved.

Afghan families hide rape cases

Research by the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation, a research and advocacy organization registered with the Afghan government, has found that the majorities of Afghan families conceal instances of rape and sexual harassment that occur to their family members (Pajhwok). The study found that the primary factors for non-disclosure include domestic disputes, bias towards women, superstition, poverty, and illiteracy. In 2015, over 4,000 cases of violence against women have been registered with the Ministry of Women Affairs, including 110 rape cases.

–Courtney Schuster

India

India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable missile

India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable surface-to-surface missile Prithvi-II from a military base in the eastern state of Odisha on Thursday (Economic Times, Indian Express). The indigenously-developed missile has a strike range of 217 miles and can carry 1102 lbs to 2204 lbs of warheads. According to Indian defense officials, Prithvi-II is now a proven technology, and was the first missile developed by the DRDO under India’s prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.

Delhi government sets deadline for Uber

The New Delhi government has given Uber Technologies Inc., the U.S.-based online taxi service, a week to address issues on its taxi license to operate in the capital city, according to news reports on Thursday (Reuters, WSJ, Economic Times). Uber’s application is missing details, including its office address in New Delhi, information about their call center, and arrangements made for parking a fleet of 200 vehicles. Uber was banned in New Delhi in December last year after an Indian-based driver for the company allegedly raped a 27-year-old woman. After the incident, New Delhi’s transport department began requiring companies operating taxi-hailing apps to install tracking devices and emergency buttons in their taxis.

Indian bride marries another after groom collapses

An angry Indian bride married a guest at her wedding after her groom collapsed during the ceremony in Rampur town, located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, according to news reports on Wednesday (BBC, Times of India). Jugal Kishore, the groom, was epileptic and had not disclosed his medical condition to Indira, his bride-to-be. After the groom collapsed, the angry bride asked a guest at the wedding to marry her, while Kishore was taken to the hospital. After returning from the hospital, Kishore asked Indira to reconsider her decision as his family and friends would mock him for not getting married. After the bride refused, the wedding ceremony turned violent with wedding guests throwing spoons, plates, and dishes at each other.

— Neeli Shah

Pakistan

Bonus read: “Protesting Against Terrorism in Pakistan,” Nadia Naviwala (South Asia).

Military court will hear Shikarpur blast case

On Thursday Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon announced that military courts will hear the case related to the Jan. 30 blast at the Shikarpur Shiite mosque that killed over 60 people (Dawn, ET). At the press conference, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah also announced that a joint interrogation team will be formed to investigate the attack on the mosque.

Disgraced cricketer admits to role in fixing game

The former captain of Pakistan’s cricket team, Salman Butt, admitted to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the first time that he played a role in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal (ET). Butt, along with Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamir, were banned after it was discovered that Butt told Asif and Aamir to bowl no-balls in a game against England. The three received minimum five-year bans by the PCB and jail sentences in the United Kingdom, as did the U.K.-based bookmaker involved. Butt apparently gave his first full confession after the International Cricket Council (ICC), who believes Butt was the mastermind behind the scheme, informed the PCB that it was not satisfied with the statements the men made around the time of the scandal. After Butt’s five-year ban is over, he also faces a suspended five-year ban.

–Courtney Schuster

Edited by Peter Bergen

Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

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

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