The South Asia Channel

Modi Secures Nuclear Energy Deal; Pakistan SC Stays Military Tribunal Death Sentences; Power Shortage Forces Kandahar Factory Closures

India Modi secures landmark nuclear energy deal, meets Indian diaspora in Canada Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi secured on Wednesday a landmark nuclear energy deal with Canada, which will supply India with 3.2 million kilos of uranium over a five-year period, formally ending a long-standing moratorium on Canadian exports of nuclear materials to India (NDTV, ...

CANADA-INDIA-POLITICS
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaks during a joint press conference with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada on April 15, 2015. Prime Minister Modi will continue his official visit to Canada in Toronto and Vancouver. AFP PHOTO/ COLE BURSTON (Photo credit should read Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images)

India

Modi secures landmark nuclear energy deal, meets Indian diaspora in Canada

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi secured on Wednesday a landmark nuclear energy deal with Canada, which will supply India with 3.2 million kilos of uranium over a five-year period, formally ending a long-standing moratorium on Canadian exports of nuclear materials to India (NDTV, Reuters, Times of India). “Canada is providing uranium to India as a mark of its trust and confidence in India,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told media during his official visit (Reuters). In the 1970s, India used Canadian technology towards development of a nuclear bomb. Supplying the uranium will be Canadian producer Cameco Corporation, who says India is the second-fastest market for nuclear fuel.

While in Canada, Modi also addressed the large Indian diaspora in Toronto at the Ricoh Coliseum where more than 10,000 Canadian Indians gathered. “There is a new atmosphere of trust in our nation,” Modi told the crowd. Calling development the solution to India’s problems, Modi also spoke of India’s youth as the country’s greatest treasure. “[800 million] youth population, [800 million] dreams, [1.6 billion] strong hands. What can we not achieve?” Modi said, adding that he envisions the youth as job creators and not job seekers (Times of India). His trip to Canada marks the first for an Indian prime minister in over forty years.

IMF: India’s economic growth to outpace China’s in 2015

India’s economic growth is projected to outpace China’s this year, according to the recently released World Economic Outlook (WEO) by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier this week (Bloomberg, FT, NDTV). According to the WEO, India’s economy will grow 7.5 percent in 2015 and 2016, up from a 6.3 percent prediction in January. By comparison, the IMF projects China’s growth at 6.8 and 6.3 percent for the next two years. Falling oil prices and market reforms by Modi’s government are two reasons driving these projections. Examples include the lifting of caps on foreign direct investment in sectors such as defense and insurance, and new initiatives like Modi’s “Make In India” campaign — a program to transform Indian in a manufacturing hub — which he has been trumpeting during his foreign trips.

Communities across India celebrate new year

Several states across India ushered in the new year this week with myriad customs, colors, and traditions during a time known as Vaishakh (NDTV, Times of India). Dressed in sarees and dhotis, women and men in the state of Kerala celebrated Vishu — a public holiday in the state — by visiting famous temples such of Sabarimala, Guruvayur, and Sree Padmanabhaswamy. Vishu is considered the beginning of good fortune for the next year. For Bengalis, the occasion is called Pohela Boishakh, which begins on April 14 and is celebrated in West Bengal and other smaller Bengali communities across India. Farther south, Tamils celebrate their own version with Puthandu, an occasion when locals decorate houses with rice flour rangoli and women prepare sweet dishes. In Assam, Bohag is the term for Vaishakh, which is celebrated over three days in a festival called Rongali Bihu. During this time, locals will worship deities and also seek blessings from elders (Times of India). In all, Vishakh marks a new season for the natives of Punjab, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Assam, and Kerala.

— Jameel Khan

Pakistan

Supreme Court stays military tribunal death sentences

On Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court stayed the death sentences for six individuals sentenced by military tribunals set up by constitutional amendment in the aftermath of the attack on the school in Peshawar (ET, Dawn, RFE/RL). The court also ordered that the stay would apply to any future death sentences handed down by the military tribunals while the court considers constitutional challenges to the military tribunals. Pakistan’s Chief Justice Nasir ul Mulk stated: “The execution of military courts’ death sentences, those which have already been awarded and those which will be awarded, is suspended.” The six individuals were sentenced to death in April. Pakistan lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in the wake of the attack on the school in Peshawar.

Nisar: Farooq murder investigation won’t target MQM leaders

On Thursday, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar assured the governor of Sindh that the investigation into the murder of Dr. Imran Farooq would not target MQM leaders (ET). According to officials Chaudhry told the governor: “This is an important case but the government have never been in any mind to target political leaders of MQM in this case,” and “I assure you that there will be no political victimisation in this case.” The call follows the arrest on Monday of Moazzam Ali, a suspect accused of helping Farooq’s murders obtain visas. Dr. Farooq, a senior MQM member, was stabbed to death in London on Sept. 16, 2010.

Russia, Pakistan to hold joint military drills

On Wednesday, Pakistan and Russia agreed to improve their defense cooperation and to hold joint military drills following a meeting between the two countries’ defense ministers in Moscow (ET). Pakistan’s Defense Ministry released a statement that read: “There was consensus that a multipolar world would ensure peace and balance in international relations,” and “Joint participation in military exercises will be promoted.”

Afghanistan

Power shortage closes Kandahar factories

At a press conference on Wednesday, Afghan industrialists stated that power shortages had shut down around 200 factories in Southern Kandahar causing 5,000 people to lose their jobs (Pajhwok). Haji Faizul Haq Mushkanai, the Kandahar Industrialists Union president and owner of a paper mill told the press conference that only 3 megawatts of electricity were being provided to the factories while 10 MW were needed to run Kandahar City’s industrial park. Haji Baridad, another office holder in the Kandahar Industrialists Union, placed the sector’s losses at $10 million. Kandahar’s factories produce cotton, cooking oil, soaps, ice, cattle food, paper, tissue papers, plastic pipes, food items, and non-alcoholic drinks as well as other products.

Russia promises support to Afghanistan

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov promised Russian support to Afghanistan during a visit by Afghan National Security Advisor Muhammad Hanif Atmar to Moscow (TOLO News). Lavrov stated: “We are ready to help Afghanistan in stabilizing its current complex conditions,” and “We are ready to cooperate; we will cooperate with Afghanistan’s allies in fighting against terrorism and counter narcotics.” Atmar praised the promises, stating: “The defense cooperation that you mentioned you are ready for is of a great importance for the Afghan Security Forces and its efforts to fight against terrorism and narcotics.” On Thursday, Lavrov criticized the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan at a security conference in Moscow for being unable to provide security (Pajhwok). Lavrov stated: “International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan has failed to handle the set goals. Terrorism in the country has not been unrooted and drug trafficking has increased.”

— David Sterman

Edited by Peter Bergen

Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images

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