Suicide Bomber Kills 17 in Khost; Pakistan Approves Deal for Chinese Submarines; India Plans for $900B in Exports by 2020
Afghanistan Suicide bomber kills 17, wounds 40 in Khost province At least 17 people were killed and about 40 were injured, including a prominent parliamentarian, on Thursday in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan’s Khost province (BBC, Reuters, VOA). According to officials, the bomber detonated his explosives during a demonstration against Abdul Jabar Naimi, the acting ...
Suicide bomber kills 17, wounds 40 in Khost province
At least 17 people were killed and about 40 were injured, including a prominent parliamentarian, on Thursday in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan’s Khost province (BBC, Reuters, VOA). According to officials, the bomber detonated his explosives during a demonstration against Abdul Jabar Naimi, the acting provincial governor, in Khost city, the provincial capital. The Wall Street Journal reported that around 15,000 people had gathered near Jaimi’s home to demand his removal for alleged corruption; it was the tenth day of protests (WSJ).
Humayoun Humayoun, the head of the defense committee in the Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament), was among the wounded. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, though the Taliban have denied that they were involved (NYT, TOLO News).
Elsewhere in the southern province of Helmand, Hikmatullah Akmal, a district police chief, was killed when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb on Thursday amid fierce clashes between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters (RFE/RL). Officials told RFE/RL that Taliban militants had attacked police checkpoints in the Gereshk district and that the gun battle was still under way. Akmal was reportedly on his way to the site of the attack when he was killed.
U.N. report says there are 6,500 foreign fighters in Afghanistan
The United Nations released a report on Tuesday that said thousands of foreign fighters from about 100 countries are fighting for al Qaeda, ISIS, or affiliated groups (AP). Of those fighters, an estimated 6,500 are fighting in Afghanistan (TOLO News). The report was released one day after a group of Uzbek militants claiming to be members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) swore allegiance to ISIS. Afghan officials have not yet commented on the purported IMU statement or the U.N. report.
Pakistan looks to buy eight Chinese submarines
Media outlets reported on Thursday that Pakistan has approved a plan to buy eight Chinese submarines in what is expected to be one of China’s largest-ever arms sales and one of Pakistan’s biggest weapons purchases (Reuters). The Wall Street Journal’s Qasim Nauman and Jeremy Page reported that the deal will likely “intensify an emerging undersea contest in the Indian Ocean, where India and China are also expanding submarine operations” (WSJ). A senior Pakistani official told the Journal that the financial and technical details of the deal would be released, but only after the negotiations are complete and the agreement has been signed. China has long been one of Pakistan’s main arms suppliers, accounting for 51 percent of the country’s weapons imports between 2010 and 2014.
Sharif calls joint session of parliament to discuss Yemen conflict
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked President Mamoon Hussain on Thursday to convene a joint session of Parliament on Monday, April 6, to discuss the ongoing conflict in Yemen and Pakistan’s involvement, if any, in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition (Dawn, ET). An official statement released after a meeting between Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership condemned the actions by the Houthi rebels to overthrow Yemen’s government and called upon all of the fighting factions to resolve their issues peacefully. Though the statement once again said that any threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity would evoke a strong Pakistani response, it added that any Pakistani involvement in the coalition would be based on Pakistan’s national interest. The statement came shortly after a Pakistani delegation returned from Saudi Arabia to learn more about the conflict and the coalition’s plans to fight the rebels (Dawn).
Indian government plans $900 billion in exports by 2020
The Indian government plans to set an export target of $900 billion by the fiscal year 2019-2020, which is almost double the $465.9 billion that India exported in 2013-2014, according to news reports on Wednesday(Indian Express, Livemint). Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman said: “The focus of the foreign trade policy is to support services and exports along with improving the ease of doing business. The new trade policy will boost exports and create jobs” (Economic Times). To increase exports, the government will focus on product branding, and will also promote traditional exports like handlooms and yoga services.
Corporate boardrooms appoint female relatives to meet gender diversity
In response to the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI’s) order to promote gender diversity in the boardroom, many Indian businessmen have appointed their wives, daughters, and stepmothers to company boards, according to news reports on Wednesday (BBC). SEBI imposed a quota last year, which requires at least one female director to be on the board of every listed company in India to promote gender diversity. According to analysts, more than 100 companies have not yet met the April 1 deadline, including many large state-owned corporations and energy firms like the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, GAIL India Ltd., and the Bharat Petroleum Corporation.
Media outlets reported that after Mukesh Ambani, India’s second-richest man and the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Ltd., appointed his wife to the board, Gautam Singhania, the chairman and managing director of the Raymond Group, named his wife as a director. Similarly, Vijay Mallya, the chairman of the UB Group, appointed his stepmother to the board. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the chairman and managing director of Biocon Ltd. and a female industrialist in India, said: “I think it is a worry. This should not be about tokenism. The intent was really to get more women professionals into the boardrooms… Having said that, at least we are breaking that particular male bastion and we are at least including women in the boardroom, even if they are from the promoter’s families” (Reuters).
India to repackage government-supplied condoms
India’s health ministry is planning to redesign Nirodh — condoms made by the state-owned HLL Lifecare Ltd. — with vibrant colors and images to compete with private firms, according to news reports on Wednesday(Indian Express). The existing state-made condoms are wrapped in text-heavy white plastic wrappers. A government official said: “Nirodh is not finding favor right now… But you will be tempted to pick up the product,” adding further: “The packaging will have attractive images of couples, but they will not be erotic” (Economic Times). Under its safe-sex campaign, the Indian government gives away 650 million Nirodh condoms every year. The male condom market in India is expected to grow by 18 percent this year.
— Bailey Cahall and Neeli Shah
Edited by Peter Bergen.
RASOOL ADIL/AFP/Getty Images
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