Drone Strike Kills Four in Pakistan; New UN Report on Casualties in Afghanistan; Modi Arrives in Germany
Pakistan Bonus Read: “Terrorism Case Renews Debate Over Drone Hits,” Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt (NYT). Bonus Read: “Pakistani Militant Leader Tied to 2008 Mumbai Attacks Is Freed on Bail,” Salman Masood and Declan Walsh (NYT). Drone strike kills four suspected militants in Shawal Valley On Sunday, a U.S. drone strike killed four suspected Taliban ...
Bonus Read: “Terrorism Case Renews Debate Over Drone Hits,” Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt (NYT).
Bonus Read: “Pakistani Militant Leader Tied to 2008 Mumbai Attacks Is Freed on Bail,” Salman Masood and Declan Walsh (NYT).
Drone strike kills four suspected militants in Shawal Valley
On Sunday, a U.S. drone strike killed four suspected Taliban militants in Pakistan’s Shawal Valley (ET, Dawn, Reuters). The strike reportedly targeted a house that had been turned into a militant compound, killing members of the Pakistani Taliban faction led by Khan Said Sajna. The faction led by Sajna took refuge in the Shawal Valley as well as other parts of North and South Waziristan following its split from Mullah Fazal Ullah’s Pakistani Taliban. Over the course of the drone campaign in Pakistan, the United States has launched close to 400 strikes in Pakistan according to data collected by New America (NA).
In an audio message released to the media on Sunday, Al Qaeda in the Indian Sub Continent spokesman Usama Mehmood confirmed that nearly 50 of the group’s members have been killed in American drone strikes including two senior leaders in separate strikes in January (ET, Fox, RFE/RL). The two senior leaders were named as the group’s Deputy Head Ustad Ahmad Farooq and Qari Imran the group’s central council member in charge of operations in Afghanistan. Mehmood stated: “Mujahideen al Qaeda had been the main target of the drone strikes since the security forces have launched military operation in North Waziristan in June last year. Taliban also came under attack but the real target was al Qaeda.”
UAE and Pakistan at odds over Yemen.
On Saturday, Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s foreign minister, criticized Pakistan’s refusal to intervene in Yemen calling it “dangerous and unexpected” (ET). On Sunday, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan criticized Gargash’s comments calling them “contrary to all diplomatic norms” and saying: “A minister of the U.A.E. is threatening Pakistan” (WSJ). Gargash warned of consequences if Pakistan did not back the intervention in Yemen writing “Contradictory and equivocal positions have a high cost in this crucial affair.” The calls for intervention place Pakistan in an odd position as it gets the majority of its oil from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to an unnamed Pakistani Petroleum Ministry official (Bloomberg).
Pakistani security forces kill 13 suspected militants liked to Turbat massacre
On Monday, Pakistani security forces killed 13 suspected militants from the Baloch Liberation Front in a raid near Turbat in Balochistan’s Kech district (Dawn). Those killed reportedly include the perpetrators of an attack on Saturday in which 20 construction workers in Turbat were killed. The Baloch Liberation Front had claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack (Dawn).
Chinese run deep sea port to begin operations
On Sunday, Pakistan’s Express Tribune reported that the Chinese run Gwadar deep sea port would commence operations this month and aim to be fully operational by the end of 2015 (ET). Gwadar Port Managing Director (MD) Dostain Khan Jamaldini stated: “The first commercial ship will dock at the port and a new ship lane will be in operation thereafter,” adding: “Our target is to make the port fully operational this year.” Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Pakistan in April during which time he will discuss issues related to the port. According to Jamaldini, the development of routes using the port will cut 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) off of current shipping routes to Northern Pakistan.
Bonus Read: “Afghanistan’s defining fight: Technocrats vs. strongmen,” Sudarsan Raghavan (Post).
United Nations releases new Afghan casualties report
On Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan released its first quarterly report of 2015 which found record high casualties from ground battles in the first quarter of 2015 (RFE/RL, TOLO News). According to the report, the number of casualties caused by ground operations rose eight percent compared to the same time period in 2014. However, the report found that while there were record casualties as a result of ground battles, the overall number of civilian casualties declined by two percent. The report also identified a fifteen percent rise in women casualties as well as a rise in children as casualties. The report placed responsibility for the majority of casualties on anti-government forces writing: “anti-government elements remained responsible for the largest proportion of total civilian casualties at 73 percent, with pro-government forces responsible for 14 percent and seven percent attributed to both parties. Responsibility could not be attributed for six percent of civilian casualties, caused mainly by explosive remnants of war.”
Taliban kill more than 20 Afghan soldiers in Badakhshan province
Taliban militants killed more than 20 Afghan National Army soldiers in Badakshan province following an attack on military posts in the province’s Jurm district on Friday (TOLO News, Pajhwok). On Monday, the Afghan Ministry of Defense confirmed that at least 33 soldiers were dead, wounded, or missing. The Taliban reportedly took 14 soldiers hostage and have beheaded four of them. Taliban militants claim to have killed 49 soldiers and considerable uncertainty remains over the true number of soldiers killed or taken hostage in the battle.
Poppy cultivation up
On Sunday, Acting Afghan Counternarcotics Minister Haroon Rashid Sherzad stated that the country’s poppy cultivation had risen seven percent in the current season as a result of insecurity (Pajhwok). According to Sherzad, poppy was grown on 224,000 hectares of land in 132 districts and 65 percent of the cultivation occurred in Helmand, Kandahar, Farah, and Nimroz provinces. Sherzad also noted that an eradication drive is in progress and had already cleared hundreds of hectares of land.
— David Sterman
PM Modi arrives in Germany
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Hannover, Germany on Sunday, on the second leg of his three-nation tour to France, Germany, and Canada (Economic Times, WSJ). Modi, along with German chancellor Angela Merkel, inaugurated the Hannover Messe Fair 2015 — the world’s largest trade fair for industrial technology — on Sunday. Modi said: “We are creating an environment that is stable, where rules will not be changed frequently and there will be no surprise elements” (Indian Express). India is the official partner country of the Messe fair. Modi also held a roundtable discussion with German CEOs. The Indian prime minister further unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi at the city hall of Hannover on Sunday, and said: “It (the unveiling of Mahatma Gandhi’s bust) is not only a moment of pride for residents of Hannover, for Germany, for Indians but for every individual who has faith in humanity” (NDTV).
Indian MP says Muslim’s voting rights should be revoked
Sanjay Raut, an Indian member of the Parliament and leader of the regional Shiv Sena party, said that Muslims should not be allowed to vote during elections as the community is used as “vote bank politics,” according to news reports on Sunday (The Hindu). Raut said: “Muslims will not be on the path of development if their numerical strength continues to be misused by political parties. Muslims have no future in this country if there is going to be petty politics over their voting power… The mask of secularists will come off if Muslims are disenfranchised… Muslims should take the initiative in this connection” (Times of India). Opposition parties were quick to criticize Raut’s comments, with Anand Sharma, Congress Party leader, saying: “Those behind the remarks have no place in a culture like ours… These observations deserve to be condemned. It is unacceptable. We are proud to be a constitutional democracy, a secular nation. We are proud of India’s diversity, its pluralism. India belongs to all and every citizen of this country enjoys the same fundamental rights” (Indian Express).
First Indian woman becomes world #1 in tennis doubles
Sania Mirza became the first Indian female tennis player to achieve the world number one rank in doubles after winning the title at the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Family Circle Cup with partner Martina Hingis, according to news reports on Sunday (Economic Times, Indian Express). Mirza, 28-years-old, becomes the first Indian woman to top the number one position in either singles or doubles. Mirza and Hingis defeated Casey Dellacqua and Darija Jurak 6-0 6-4 in Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday to win the trophy. After her victory, Mirza tweeted: “On top of the world,” and further tweeted: “One last thing I’d like to tell all the young girls-BELIEVE- believe in yourself so strongly that the world can’t help but believe in u too.” Earlier this year, Saina Nehwal became the first Indian woman shuttler to attain the world’s top female badminton player position.
— Neeli Shah
Edited by Peter Bergen
John Moore/Getty Images
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