The South Asia Channel

Alleged Mumbai Mastermind Released by Pakistani Court; Modi Arrives in Sri Lanka; Obama, Ghani, and Abdullah Speak Ahead of Trip

Pakistan Alleged Mumbai mastermind released by Pakistani court Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind behind the Mumbai attacks, was ordered to be released by the highest court in Pakistan on Friday (CNN). Lakhvi is a top leader of the terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and was out of jail on bail since last year and was not at ...

Pakistani security personnel escort Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi (C), alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, waves to media representatives as he leaves court after a hearing in Islamabad on January 1, 2015. Pakistan on January 1, approached the country's supreme court to stop the release of alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks whose detention order was this week suspended by a high court, a government prosecutor said. AFP PHOTO/ Aamir QURESHI        (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani security personnel escort Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi (C), alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, waves to media representatives as he leaves court after a hearing in Islamabad on January 1, 2015. Pakistan on January 1, approached the country's supreme court to stop the release of alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks whose detention order was this week suspended by a high court, a government prosecutor said. AFP PHOTO/ Aamir QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan

Alleged Mumbai mastermind released by Pakistani court

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind behind the Mumbai attacks, was ordered to be released by the highest court in Pakistan on Friday (CNN). Lakhvi is a top leader of the terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and was out of jail on bail since last year and was not at the hearing on Friday where the court called his detention illegal. The Mumbai attacks killed more than 160 people in November 2008, after heavily armed men stormed multiple buildings around Mumbai over a three-day period. India executed the last surviving gunman who participated in the attacks in 2012. Lakhvi was among the seven people charged with planning, financing, and executing the attacks.

According to India’s external affairs spokesman, Syed Akbarudin, India summoned the Pakistan high commissioner “to convey [India’s] strong feelings about (the) Lakhvi verdict.”  The Indian Ministry of External Affairs summoned Abdul Basit, the Pakistani high commissioner in New Delhi, who, after the meeting  said: “He may have been granted bail but as you know the trial continues, we are all working to complete the trial. Let the judicial process take its course” (NDTV). Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told reporters: “Pakistan did not present the evidence before the court… The way the case has been handled by Pakistani agencies. Our concern is Pakistan should deal with terrorists in a manner in which the whole global community is looking at” (Livemint).

Pakistani militant group parts with ISIS, rejoins Taliban

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani militant group that pledged allegiance to ISIS last summer, announced on Thursday that it was rejoining the Taliban (Reuters). The split from the Pakistani Taliban in 2014 occurred due to leadership rivalries and could have been an effort to obtain more men or money from ISIS. But now, a month after Afghan officials said they were exploring peace talks with the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani officials publicly supported those talks, the militant group has changed its mind.

Displaced Pakistanis to start returning home

Pakistan will on Sunday will allow the some of the nearly million civilians ordered to leave their homes in North Waziristan before the start of a military operation that began in June 2014 to return to their homes in the tribal region (Reuters). “It will take time to send so many people home but when things get better in these areas, we will start to shift more and more people,” Abdul Qadir Baloch, minister for frontier regions, said.

Project aims to collect stories from partition

A non-profit based out of Berkley, California is attempting to record and collect stories from people who remember the 1947 split that resulted in modern-day India and Pakistan (AP). Partition, often referred to as the largest mass migration in history, caused Hindus living for generations in what was to become Pakistan to flee their homes overnight. Simultaneously, millions of Muslims abandoned their homes to cross the border into Pakistan. Guneeta Singh Bhalla, the founder of the 1947 Partition Archvie, said that she and other volunteers have collected 2,000 oral histories from partition survivors so far, and hoped to have 10,000 by 2017.

India

Modi arrives in Sri Lanka

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his landmark two-day visit to Sri Lanka on Friday, becoming the first Indian prime minister to visit the country in 28 years (BBC, Indian Express, Livemint, NDTV). After talks with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Modi said: “I am conscious of the significance of this visit… This is how it should be between neighbors. We should meet regularly. It helps us understand each other better find solutions to mutual concerns and move our relationship forward” (Post). Modi and Sirisena signed bilateral agreements, including a customs pact to balance trade, a credit line of more than $300 million, and ​a visa-on-arrival program for Sri Lankan nationals in India. Modi also said that Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and the local subsidiary of ​the Indian Oil Corporation will jointly develop a strategic oil storage facility in Trincomalee​, which is a major port city in the Eastern Province​. During his visit, Modi will address the Sri Lankan Parliament, and visit the city of Jaffna, which is located in the war-ravaged Northern Province, to hand over 20,000 homes that were built with the help of Indian assistance.

Indian bride leaves groom for failing math test

An Indian bride, suspicious of her groom-to-be’s educational qualifications, left him at the altar after he failed to answer a simple math problem in the village of Rasoolabad, located in northern state of Uttar Pradesh, according to news reports on Friday (Deccan Chronicle, The Hindu). When Lovely Singh, the bride, tested the groom with a simple question​, what is ​​”​15+6?​,” ​he incorrectly said “17” instead of “21.” While the groom’s family tried to persuade Singh to go ahead with the marriage ceremony, she refused to marry an uneducated person. Both families returned the gifts and jewelry they had exchanged, and Lovely’s father was reported ​as saying: “The family of the groom had kept us in dark about the youth’s qualification… It was a very embarrassing situation for all of us as we had come with all preparations and it was a matter of social prestige as well. We have been cheated” (Times of India).

Afghanistan

Obama, Ghani, and Abdullah speak ahead of visit

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah on Thursday in preparation for their visit to the White House later this March (AP, Pajhwok). The conversation, which took place via a video conference, centered on Kabul-Islamabad relations. “The president commended Ghani and Dr. Abdullah on their leadership in promoting an Afghan peace process to end the conflict and their initiative to improve Afghanistan-Pakistan relations,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters. Ghani and Abdullah are scheduled to arrive in the United States later this month on what will be their first trip to the country after coming to power last year.

Six Daesh militants killed in Nangarhar

Six militants allegedly associated with Daesh, another name for the Islamic State, have been killed and 12 others wounded during an operation in the Ghanikhel district of Nangarhar province, a security official said on Friday (Pajhwok). Mauman Hatifi, spokesman for the 201st Selab Corps, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the offensive was launched after intelligence suggested militants were recruiting rebels. He also said that two special forces personnel were lost in the battle. A resident in the area said that three civilians were also killed in the clash.

— Emily Schneider and Neeli Shah

Edited by Peter Bergen

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Schneider is a program associate in the International Security Program at New America. She is also an assistant editor of the South Asia channel. @emilydsch

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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