The South Asia Channel

IMU Members Pledge Support to ISIS; Pakistani Delegation Heads to Saudi Arabia; Gujarat Passes Contentious Anti-Terror Bill

Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Woman Killed in Kabul Transformed From Pariah to Martyr,” Joseph Goldstein (NYT). Uzbek group in Afghanistan pledges allegiance to ISIS A group of Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan claiming to be from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) pledged their allegiance to ISIS’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Tuesday (RFE/RL). It is unclear if ...

A flag of the Islamic State (IS) is seen on the other side of a bridge at the frontline of fighting between Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Islamist militants in Rashad, on the road between Kirkuk and Tikrit, on September 11, 2014. Ten Arab states, including heavyweight Saudi Arabia, agreed today in Jeddah to rally behind Washington in the fight against Islamic State jihadists, as it seeks to build an international coalition. AFP PHOTO/JM LOPEZ (Photo credit should read JM LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)


Bonus Read: “Woman Killed in Kabul Transformed From Pariah to Martyr,” Joseph Goldstein (NYT).

Uzbek group in Afghanistan pledges allegiance to ISIS

A group of Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan claiming to be from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) pledged their allegiance to ISIS’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Tuesday (RFE/RL). It is unclear if this announcement was included in a video posted online or in a statement to reporters, but RFE/RL reported that a man calling himself Sadulla Urgenji said the IMU no longer recognized Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar as he has not been seen for some 13 years and, “according to Shari’a,” can no longer be leader. The group also posted a video that showed members beheading an Afghan soldier, which Urgenji said was in retaliation for the capture of several female IMU members by Afghan security forces. Afghan authorities have not commented on the video.

Power restored to southern Afghanistan

Cables carrying electricity from Afghanistan’s Kajaki hydropower plant to Kandahar and Lashkar Gah were repaired on Monday, about a month and a half after they were first damaged (Pajhwok). According to reports, the cables were cut in the Sangin district of Helmand province after security forces launched a massive operation against militants in the area. Amanullah Ayub Farooqi, an Afghan official, said the cables had first been repaired about three weeks ago, but were damaged within two hours due to renewed fighting in the area. Though residents were relieved to finally have their power restored, many said they were concerned about being able to keep the lights on during the upcoming summer fighting season. Bonus Read: “Clashes with Taliban halt supply of power in south Afghanistan,” Jessica Donati (Reuters).

Roadside bomb kills seven members of same family

Multiple media outlets reported on Tuesday that a roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province killed seven members of the same family on Monday afternoon (AP, Pajhwok, TOLO News). Asadullha Ensafi, the deputy provincial police chief, said that the family’s mini-bus struck the bomb and that all seven passengers — three women, three children, and one man — were killed. Though no one has claimed responsibility for the incident, Ensafi blamed the Taliban. It was the third such bombing in Ghazni this month.


Pakistani delegation heads to Saudi Arabia to discuss Yemen conflict

A high-level Pakistani delegation led by Defense Minister Khawaja Asif and Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s advisor on foreign affairs and national security, headed to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Yemen (Dawn, ET). The delegation, which includes senior officials from the Foreign Office and armed forces personnel, will meet with Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz and Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s defense minister. The delegation is also expected to meet with leaders from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss the possibility of a truce in Yemen.

Reuters’ Mehreen Zahra-Malik reported on Monday that a senior Pakistani official had told her that the country would send troops to Saudi Arabia to support the coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, but Asif denied that claim, saying instead that a decision would be made after the delegation’s visit (Reuters).

Grooms face terror charges for wedding fireworks

The Agence France-Presse wire service reported on Tuesday that two newlywed brothers in Karachi could face long prison sentences (no terms were given) after police arrested them on terrorism charges for setting off fireworks at their joint wedding ceremony (AFP). Though setting off fireworks or firing weapons into the air in celebration is a longstanding custom at Pakistani weddings, local police said these happy couples went too far.

Officer Abbas Golarchi, who arrested the grooms and three other people, said the powerful fireworks created fear in the densely populated neighborhood, though no one was hurt. The men have been charged under the explosives provisions of the country’s anti-terrorism legislation and are currently in police custody awaiting a remand hearing. If found guilty, they could face long prison sentences or the death penalty.


Gujarat passes contentious anti-terror bill

The Gujarat Assembly, located in western India, passed a controversial Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime Bill, which allows the police to intercept and record telephone conversations and use them as evidence, according to news reports on Tuesday (Indian Express, The Hindu, IBNLive). The bill also makes confessions to police officers admissible in court and allows the police to keep a suspect in custody for 30 days instead of the present 15-day period, which can be further extended up to 180 days. Although the proposed bill did not receive presidential approval twice before, the Gujarat state government has reintroduced it with a new name. The bill was first introduced by current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.

According to the Times of India, the Gujarat government is confident that the bill will receive presidential approval under the Modi government. The Congress party in Gujarat staged a walkout, stating that the controversial provisions in the bill contradicted national law, with Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil saying: “A state cannot pass a bill contradictory to the central law. Two presidents have rejected this bill” (NDTV).

U.N. ranks India as one of the least e-commerce friendly markets

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD’s) business-to-consumer e-commerce index states that India’s retail infrastructure has not been able to keep up with the country’s fast-growing e-commerce market (WSJ, Times of India). According to news reports on Monday, India ranked 83rd out of 130 countries on measures such as the availability of secure server infrastructure, credit card penetration, the number of Internet users, and postal delivery. Torbjorn Fredriksson, the chief of information and communications technology analysis at UNCTAD, said: “India is quite far down [in the rankings] and you can see why because you have low levels of credit card use. Also, at the country level you still have relatively low Internet use. But one of the strong points is that you have mail delivered at home. Far from all (countries) have 100 percent (mails delivered at home) like in India” (Economic Times).

1,000 arrested for impersonation during police exams

The Indian police arrested approximately 1,000 aspiring constables for using impersonators for police recruitment exams in the eastern state of Bihar, according to news reports on Monday (BBC, Indian Express). Senior Superintendent Jitender Rana said: “The fraud was detected when the signatures, photographs, and fingerprints of the candidates were matched with those who had appeared for the exam” (Livemint). According to reports, some candidates admitted that they had paid around $2,395 to middlemen to help them clear the exam. Earlier this month, around 1,000 people, including parents, were arrested in Bihar over another cheating scandal, where relatives were scaling school walls to help students during their exams.

— Bailey Cahall and Neeli Shah

Edited by Peter Bergen.

JM LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

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. Twitter: @neelishah