The South Asia Channel

Afghan Court Sentences Journalist’s Killer to 20 Years in Prison; Pakistan Evacuates Hundreds from Yemen; Modi to Cut Oil Imports by 2022

Afghan Court Sentences Journalist’s Killer to 20 Years in Prison; Pakistan Evacuates Hundreds from Yemen; Modi to Cut Oil Imports by 2022

Afghanistan

Afghan Supreme Court sentences AP photographer’s killer to 20 years in prison

Afghanistan’s Supreme Court has ruled that the police officer convicted of killing Associated Press (AP) photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding AP correspondent Kathy Gannon in 2014 should serve 20 years in prison for his crimes (AP, RFE/RL). The court’s ruling against former Afghan police commander Naqibullah, who like most Afghans goes by only one name, was revealed in documents sent to Afghanistan’s attorney general on Saturday. Naqibullah’s sentence was reduced from the death penalty, which had been recommended by a trial court last year; 20 years in prison is the maximum jail sentence in Afghanistan.

Naqibullah opened fire on the two AP journalists in April 2014, as they covered the first round of Afghanistan’s presidential elections outside the southeastern city of Khost. Niedringhaus was killed instantly. Gannon, who was hit by six bullets, is still recovering from her injuries.

After learning about the ruling, Gannon said: “Neither Anja nor I believe in the death penalty. I know I speak for Anja, as well as for myself, when I say one crazy gunman neither defines a nation nor a people, and covering Afghanistan and Afghans was a joy for both of us and is what I will return to once the surgeries and healing is completed. I will return for both of us” (AP).

On Monday, AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called for changes to international laws that would make killing journalists or taking them hostage war crimes (AP). Speaking at Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Pruitt said that a new framework is needed to protect journalists as they cover conflicts in regions where they are increasingly seen as legitimate targets by extremist groups.

Three killed in attack on Afghan lawmaker 

Three people were killed and eight others were wounded in Kabul on Sunday when a suicide bomber targeted Gul Pacha Mujedi, an Afghan parliamentarian from Paktia province, as he left a meeting with tribal elders; Mujedi survived the bombing, though he sustained shrapnel wounds to his leg (Pajhwok, RFE/RL, TOLO News). No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pakistan

Pakistan evacuates hundreds of citizens stranded in Yemen

Multiple media outlets reported on Sunday that Pakistan has evacuated hundreds of citizens and diplomatic staff from Yemen, taking advantage of a brief pause in the fighting to get its citizens to safety (RFE/RL). According to reports, a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 747 took off from Yemen’s Al-Hudaydah airport on Sunday with 496 Pakistani nationals, including 116 children, on board (Dawn).

Security forces from Saudi Arabia, which are leading a campaign of air strikes against the Houthi rebels that have taken control over much of Yemen, stopped their operations for more than two hours to allow the evacuation to occur (Reuters). While Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has rejected reports that the country will join the campaign, the Pakistani Navy said it left one of its frigates in the Gulf of Aden. About 3,000 Pakistani citizens live in Yemen.

Two Czech women kidnapped in 2013 are freed

Two female Czech tourists who were abducted by gunmen in March 2013 as they traveled on a bus through southwestern Pakistan have been released, the Czech government said on Saturday (RFE/RL, VOA). Hana Humpalova and Antonie Chrastecka were on the road from Iran to Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, when they were seized by armed gunmen.

According to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, their release was negotiated by the Turkish non-governmental humanitarian organization Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH). Serkan Nergis, a spokesman for IHH, said that the women’s families had contacted the organization about two months ago. He added that they were held by a group linked to al Qaeda, but did not elaborate further on who captured the women, where they were detained, or the nature of their release (AP).

India

Bonus Read: “How English Ruined Indian Literature,” by Aatish Taseer (NYT)

Modi plans to cut oil imports by 10 percent by 2022

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India should cut oil imports by 10 percent by 2022, and urged wealthy citizens to give up subsidized cooking gas connections, while speaking at a conference in New Delhi on Friday (Economic Times, NDTV). During his speech, Modi also called on domestic energy companies to increase their presence in energy corridors in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia, and said: “These days energy diplomacy is a new area. In global relations energy diplomacy has become a requirement. The more our companies become multinational, the more we can increase our reach and space in this sector” (Indian Express). Modi further said that if the rich in India opt out of the subsidized cooking gas scheme, it would result in savings, which would help the poor.

Government to push for nationwide cow slaughter ban

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government will push for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter, while addressing spiritual leaders in Indore City, located in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, on Sunday (Reuters, Indian Express). Singh said: “Cow slaughter cannot be accepted in this country. We will make all-out efforts to ban slaughter of cows and will also try hard to have a consensus for this purpose,” adding further: “Nobody can question our commitment to ban slaughter of cows. The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has enacted a tough law for this purpose so has the Maharashtra government” (NDTV). Earlier this year, the western state of Maharashtra imposed a ban on cow slaughter. India’s majority Hindu population reveres cows and many states ban or restrict the sale and consumption of beef. India is the second-largest exporter of beef in the world and fifth-largest consumer.

First Indian woman becomes world #1 in badminton

Saina Nehwal became the first Indian woman to attain the world’s top female badminton player position, according to news reports on Sunday (Economic Times, NDTV, Indian Express). Nehwal, an Olympic bronze medalist, won the final of the India Open Super Series against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in New Delhi. After her win, Nehwal said: “When I joined the sport, I never thought of becoming world No. 1. It was only my mom’s dream who would say, ‘Saina you have to get an Olympic medal for me. That’s it. Not world No. 1.’ But today, I feel like ‘Oh my God, world No. 1.’ Obviously it’s huge” (Times of India).

— Bailey Cahall and Neeli Shah

Edited by Peter Bergen.

FRANK AUGSTEIN/AFP/Getty Images