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The South Asia Channel
Ten Killed in Attack on Afghan Prosecutor’s Office; India Evacuates Hundreds from Yemen; Pak Parliament Opposes Action in Yemen
Afghanistan Ten killed, dozens injured in attack on prosecutor’s office At least 10 people, including two Afghan police officers, were killed and more than 20 civilians were injured in Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday, when at least three gunmen stormed a judicial office in the city (Pajhwok). According to reports, the attackers were wearing Afghan military uniforms ...
Ten killed, dozens injured in attack on prosecutor’s office
At least 10 people, including two Afghan police officers, were killed and more than 20 civilians were injured in Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday, when at least three gunmen stormed a judicial office in the city (Pajhwok). According to reports, the attackers were wearing Afghan military uniforms when they entered the prosecutorial office in the Balkh provincial capital, and took about 10 prosecutors hostage; the gunmen are reportedly still in the building (RFE/RL, TOLO News).
Though doctors at a local hospital said that police officers, prosecutors, and court staff were among the wounded, it is unclear if the attorney general was in his office at the time of the attack. While most media outlets said that no one had claimed responsibility for the incident, the BBC reported that the Taliban had taken credit for the attack (BBC).
Elsewhere, in Khost province, a powerful explosion in front of a medical supply store injured at least 10 civilians on Thursday (Pajhwok). Brig. Gen. Faizullah Ghairat, the provincial police chief, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the explosives were attached to a bicycle that had been parked in front of the store. Early reports suggest that the attack may have been personal as “the owner of the medical store had personal enmity” and not related to terrorism, but an investigation is ongoing.
U.S. officials confirm death of American soldier in insider attack
U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told multiple media outlets on Wednesday that the NATO soldier killed in an insider attack in Jalalabad that morning was an American (Fox News, RFE/RL). According to Gen. Fazel Ahmad Sherzad, the police chief in Nangarhar province, an Afghan soldier manning a nearby guard post opened fire on the coalition forces shortly after Amb. Donald Y. Yamamoto, the senior U.S. civilian representative in Afghanistan for Regional Command North, concluded security talks with regional leaders (NYT, Post, VOA). All reports say that Yamamoto had already left the area when the attack occurred. While the shooter’s motive is not known at this time, an investigation is underway.
The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe reported on Wednesday that the attack brought an end to a noteworthy period in the Afghan conflict: “the longest span without a U.S. military death in a combat zone since the terrorist attacks on Sep. 11, 2001” (Post). Lamothe said the last U.S. military deaths in a combat zone came on Dec. 12, 2014, when two soldiers died after their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Parwan province – making the span between deaths a full 116 days, more than twice the amount of previous tallies by the Post. Bonus Read: “The last Americans: What’s left behind after the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan,” Nick Paton Walsh (CNN).
India evacuates nationals, Pakistanis, and Americans from Yemen
India has evacuated thousands of its citizens and more than 500 foreigners, including 32 Americans and three Pakistanis, from war-torn Yemen since it began its rescue operations last week (FirstPost, Hindustan Times, Post). Coordinated by a government team based in the small African state of Djibouti, India has deployed air, sea, and rail assets to lead evacuation efforts of trapped foreigners. India’s success has brought pride and praise from several countries, some of which has been captured with the Twitter hashtag #YemenEvacuation.
Assistance for Indian nationals also came from Pakistan, which agreed to transport 11 Indians out of Yemen on a Pakistani vessel. Indian authorities confirmed this development on Wednesday, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked Pakistan on Thursday via Twitter, tweeting: “I welcome our 11 citizens who’ve returned from Yemen with assistance from Pakistan. Thank you PM Nawaz Sharif for your humanitarian gesture” (ZeeNews). More than 20 countries requested India’s help to rescue their nationals, including France, Germany, Sweden, and the United States, which has not initiated any evacuation plans for American citizens due to security concerns (FirstPost).
Modi begins nine-day tour to France, Germany, and Canada
On Thursday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will begin a tour to France and Germany, where he will use his “Make In India” initiative to encourage investment from Europe’s two largest economies (Hindustan Times, NDTV, The Hindu). In France, Modi will have bilateral talks with French President Francois Hollande on energy, defense, and infrastructure issues. There will then be back-to-back meetings with French business leaders and a visit to a World War I memorial, where Modi will pay tribute to 10,000 Indians who lost their lives fighting with the French. In Germany, Modi will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and inaugurate the Hannover Messe, considered one of the world’s largest congregations of industry gurus. Focusing on fostering economic ties, Modi will join a CEO roundtable, meet with 800 business leaders, and also attend an Indo-German summit. Modi will then travel to Canada – visiting Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver – where he will focus on investment opportunities in India and reach out to the large Indian diaspora. This trip will mark the first stand-alone visit by an Indian prime minister since 1973.
Moody’s upgrades India’s rating outlook to “positive”
Moody’s, a global credit rating agency, upgraded India’s overall rating outlook from “stable” to “positive” on Thursday, amid expectations that reforms taken by Indian policymakers will improve the country’s economic strength (Moody’s, NDTV, Times of India). “Recent measures to address inflation, keep external balances in check, simplify the regulatory regime for investors, increase foreign direct investment, and facilitate infrastructure development will reduce some of India’s sovereign credit constraints,” according to a statement from Moody’s (NDTV). Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May 2014, following a campaign anchored on economic revival, he has put in motion swift market reforms, fast-tracked clearances on investments, and has promoted his “Make In India” campaign. Yet despite the favorable news, India’s actual rating remains at BAA3, which is the lowest investment grade. Other major rating firms such as Fitch and S&P share the same grade, but gave India a “stable” outlook. Citing broader market conditions, such as lower commodity prices and increased liquidity globally, Moody’s said this economic climate would also keep India’s growth ahead of its peers.
No decision on Yemen expected in Parliament
The Express Tribune’s Abdul Manan reported on Thursday that the Pakistani government is convinced that it will not receive parliamentary backing for any involvement in the Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen (ET). Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for a joint session of Parliament on Monday to discuss Saudi Arabia’s request for Pakistani fighter jets, war ships, and ground troops, but will likely end the session on Thursday as no progress has been made. Senator Pervaiz Rashid, the federal information minister, told Manan: “The sentiments of the house on the Yemen conflict have become known to the government,” and that Sharif would make a decision in keeping with those sentiments. The news comes as Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, visits Islamabad to discuss the ongoing conflict in Yemen and almost all parliamentary parties have opposed Pakistani involvement in a “distant war.” Bonus Read: “Why Pakistan is still undecided about sending troops to fight in Yemen,” Tim Craig and Shaiq Hussain (Post).
According to Voice of America’s Ayesha Tanzeem, Zarif and Sartaj Aziz, Sharif’s advisor on national security and foreign affairs, have agreed that dialogue is the way to resolve the Yemen conflict, but noted that they disagree on how to proceed with such talks (VOA). Tanzeem reported that, at a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, Aziz suggested that the U.N. Security Council adopt a resolution to enforce a ceasefire in Yemen, place on embargo on arms supplies, and disarm the Houthis. Zarif, however, was more vague, saying only that Yemenis should decide how to end the conflict.
China to complete Iran-Pakistan pipeline
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that China will agree to build Pakistan’s portion of a pipeline designed to bring natural gas from Iran to Pakistan to help address Pakistan’s acute energy shortage when Chinese President Xi Jingping visits Islamabad later this month (WSJ). According to the Journal, Xi’s visit “is expected to showcase China’s commitment to infrastructure development in ally Pakistan, at a time when few other countries are willing to make major investments in the cash-strapped, terrorism-plagued country.” Dubbed the “Peace Pipeline,” the project will bolster improving ties between Pakistan and Iran, and bring much-needed gas to Pakistan, which has long suffered from a crippling electricity deficit.
While Tehran says that its 560-mile portion of the pipeline is complete, Pakistan has not begun construction on its section due to threatened U.S. sanctions for trading with Iran. But the prospect of a nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran has restarted the project.
The Pakistani portion of the pipeline will cost around $2 billion dollars, 85 percent of which will be financed by China. While Pakistan will be responsible for building 50 miles of the pipeline – from the Iranian border to the city of Gwadar – China will build 435 miles, connecting Gwadar to the city of Nawabshah and Pakistan’s existing pipeline network.
Edited by Peter Bergen.
FARSHAD USYAN/AFP/Getty Images