The South Asia Channel
Gunmen Kill Lawyer for Pakistani Doctor Employed by CIA; Indian Parliamentarians March to Protest Land Reforms; Attack on Governor’s Compound Kills 7
Pakistan Gunmen kill lawyer for Pakistani doctor employed by CIA Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Samiullah Afridi, the lawyer representing a doctor employed by the CIA to help to try to locate Osama bin Laden, on Tuesday (CNN, BBC). Afridi was on his way home from work in the city of Peshawar when he was attacked. ...
Gunmen kill lawyer for Pakistani doctor employed by CIA
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Samiullah Afridi, the lawyer representing a doctor employed by the CIA to help to try to locate Osama bin Laden, on Tuesday (CNN, BBC). Afridi was on his way home from work in the city of Peshawar when he was attacked. Afridi fled Pakistan in 2013 after receiving threats from militants, but returned last year, telling the BBC that he had stopped working on the doctor’s case. That doctor, Shakil Afridi (no relation), is appealing a 33-year sentence for being found guilty of collaborating with a militant group in the tribal region. However, many people saw his sentence as revenge for aiding the CIA.
Nine convicts hanged
Nine people convicted of murder were hanged in jails across Pakistan on Wednesday (ET). The hangings took place just one day after 12 convicts were hanged, the largest number of people to be executed in one day since the unofficial moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in December 2014.
One of those hanged on Wednesday was Shafqat Hussain, who was barely a teenager at the time of his conviction, according to his family and a birth certificate they produced (ET). His family and attorney contend that he was sentenced to death when he was just 13 and should have been pardoned or given a reduced sentence. Hussain’s sentence caused public outcry in Pakistan and last ditch efforts, including a video of famous Pakistanis discussing how clueless they were at 14, a social media storm using the hashtag #SaveShafqat, and an op-ed in the New York Times by Fatima Bhutto explaining how Hussain was tortured under police custody, all failed.
34 militants killed in northwest Pakistan
Pakistani air strikes on Wednesday killed 34 militants in the northwest region of the country along the border with Afghanistan, according to security officials (Reuters, RFE/RL). Residents in the area say that the death toll was closer to 20 militants. Fighter jets carried out what the military called “precise aerial strikes” in the Tirah Valley in the Khyber tribal region and most of the local population fled their homes. One security official said that those killed belonged to the Pakistani Taliban.
Indian parliamentarians march to protest land reforms
Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi led a delegation of 14 opposition parties in New Delhi on Tuesday to protest against a controversial land acquisition bill (BBC, Indian Express). After submitting a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee, Gandhi told reporters: “We oppose the [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi government on the land bill and are determined to defeat its designs… We request the President to intervene and ask the Modi government not to go ahead with land bill in the Rajya Sabha [upper house of Parliament]” (NDTV). While opposition parties have united against the bill, stating that it will force farmers and the poor to lose their lands, the government says that it will expedite pending infrastructure projects.
Indian cabinet approves black money bill
The Indian cabinet approved the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of New Tax) Bill on Tuesday imposing a new tax that is designed to tackle black money, and plans to introduce it before parliament later this month (Livemint, Indian Express). Under the new bill, tax evaders can be imprisoned for up to 10 years for their concealment of foreign assets and income. Additionally, a penalty of 300 percent of the tax amount can be levied. During a budget speech earlier this year, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the government’s plans to introduce new laws to deal with money being held overseas.
Indian company to participate in Formula E racing series
Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, a multinational automobile manufacturing corporation held in India, will participate in the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile’s Formula E racing series, a competition of electric racing cars, according to news reports on Tuesday (NDTV). Mahindra’s e2o, which costs $10,000, is the only pure battery-operated car to be manufactured in India. Pawan Goenka, the company’s automotive chief, said: “Mahindra is eager to become a global brand… If we were to do it through electric vehicles, it may be an easier thing than to come through the mainstream” (WSJ). The e2o can fit four passengers and travel 75 miles on a five-hour charge.
Attack on governor’s compound kills 7
Seven people were killed and 46 others wounded on Wednesday when a car bomb exploded outside the governor’s compound in Helmand province (CNN, AP). Jan Rasoolyr, the deputy provincial governor, said that government officials, employees, and civilians were among those killed and injured. He told reporters that the explosion was so powerful that not only were most buildings inside the compound damaged, but many civilian homes outside were also affected. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.
U.N. calls for consensus on talks with Taliban
The United Nations on Tuesday acknowledged efforts by Afghanistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, and suggested that the process continue with the agreement of the Afghan people (Pajhwok). Tadamichi Yamamoto, the U.N. deputy special representative for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said at a meeting with CEO Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul that: “[T]he process should go ahead with the general agreement of the people and the government.” Yamamoto and Abdullah spoke on a range of issues, including Abdullah’s upcoming visit to the United States, where it is expected that he and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will try to gain support for the peace talks (Pajhwok).
–Emily Schneider and Neeli Shah
Edited by Peter Bergen