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The South Asia Channel
American Wounded in Possible ISIS Attack in Karachi; India Tests Nuclear Capable Missile; Collusion Alleged in Badakhshan Massacre
Pakistan American wounded in possible ISIS attack in Karachi Debra Lobo, a 55-year-old American citizen, was wounded in an apparent terror attack in Karachi when two men on motorcycle shot at her car on Thursday (NYT, Reuters, Guardian, RFE/RL). Pamphlets left at the scene claimed the shooting was conducted by Dualat al Islamia as a ...
American wounded in possible ISIS attack in Karachi
Debra Lobo, a 55-year-old American citizen, was wounded in an apparent terror attack in Karachi when two men on motorcycle shot at her car on Thursday (NYT, Reuters, Guardian, RFE/RL). Pamphlets left at the scene claimed the shooting was conducted by Dualat al Islamia as a terror attack. Deputy police superintendent Nasir Lodhi stated: “Pamphlets claiming the attack have been found in the car, giving impression that some banned (militant) outfit carried out the attack.” Syed Pir Mohammad Shah, a senior police officer for the district warned against taking the pamphlets at face value stating: “They call themselves Daulah, like ISIS, but these typed letters seem very crude. We still need to verify this,” adding, “It’s too early to say.” ISIS’ Arabic name is Dawla al-Islamiya fil-Iraq wa al-Sham. Lobo is a long-time resident of Karachi and vice principal of student affairs at the city’s Jinnah Medical and Dental College. On Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued a statement condemning the attack and directing the authorities to apprehend the attackers as soon as possible (Dawn).
China to unveil $46 billion trade route in Pakistan
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to unveil a $46 billion plan to develop Pakistani infrastructure as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor plan to develop new trade routes (WSJ, Reuters, VoA). He will reveal the plan on a visit to Pakistan next Monday and Tuesday. Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s planning minister, stated: “This is going to be a game-changer for Pakistan,” adding, “If we become the bridge between these three engines of growth, we will be able to carve out a large economic bloc of about 3 billion living in this part of the world…nearly half the planet,” referring to linking China with Central and South Asia. The plan will create a 2,000-mile economic corridor between Gwadar – a port city in southwest Pakistan – and northwest China involving the development of new roads, rail links, and pipelines. Trade between China and Pakistan grew $4 billion in 2007 to $10 billion in 2010. China is also expected to sell Pakistan eight Chinese submarines during Jinping’s visit.
ISIS chief killed during explosion
On Thursday, ISIS’ designated commander for Pakistan, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, was killed along with two others when a bomb they were manufacturing in Pakistan’s Tirah Valley exploded according to security officials (ET). The militant group has not yet confirmed his death. Saeed was among five Pakistani Taliban leaders who split from the group in October and pledged allegiance to ISIS under the leadership of Shahidullah Shahid. ISIS then circulated a message that Shahid had declared Saeed as the ISIS chief for Pakistan though Shaid is believed to be the real power in the group.
Pakistan to help enforce Yemen embargo
On Thursday, Pakistan’s government said that it had assured Saudi Arabia that it would help enforce the United Nations arms embargo on Houthi militia in Yemen including through the possible use of its navy (Dawn). Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif conveyed the commitment to Saudi Arabia on a visit to the country with the Prime Minister’s National Security Sartaj Aziz, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Nadeem, and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry. A key government official told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper on background: “We are looking at how many ships can be spared,” adding that two Pakistan naval ships are already deployed in the area to combat piracy.
— David Sterman
India, Pakistan test nuclear-capable ballistic missiles
Pakistan and India this week both test-fired nuclear-capable long-range ballistic missiles, according to media reports on Thursday and Friday (Dawn, FirstPost, The Indian Express). Pakistan tested its 800-mile range Ghauri missile on Wednesday, while India tested its indigenously-developed 1,800-mile range Agni III missile on Thursday. Both missiles are capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads. Such tests are considered routine exercises for the two archrivals since they developed nuclear weapons capabilities in 1998.
A statement released from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations said the test was conducted by the Strategic Missile Group of the Army Strategic Forces Command, a launch that received praise from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain (Dawn). On India’s launch, Integrated Test Range Director M.V.K.V. Prasad said: “The trial, carried out by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC of the Indian Army), was fully successful.” Stretching back to the British Partition of India in 1947, India and Pakistan — who have fought three wars against each other — have evolved with mutual distrust and hostility towards each other while also pursuing an arms race for decades.
Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi returns to India
After a nearly two-month mysterious absence at an undisclosed location, Indian National Congress (INC) party Vice President Rahul Gandhi returns home to India at a time when questions are brewing about the future leadership of the INC — a party that during its heydey dominated many Indian governments since independence (NYT, The Indian Express, Post). Speculation spinning from the rumor mill suggested Gandhi was either staying at a meditation center in Myanmar, experiencing Vipassana meditation, or traveling in Cambodia, London, or Italy (NYT, Post).
Despite his absence — during which he missed a parliamentary budget session and a controversial land reform program led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — several party leaders expressed optimism upon his return, including Congress leader Anand Sharma, who said: “He is back and I have no doubt that he will not only be taking proactive measures but also with dynamism, with commitment, provide leadership” (The Indian Express). By contrast, uncertainty of his whereabouts and rising divisions within the party in the aftermath of last year’s crushing defeat at the polls have born doubt in others. Some party members are split on whether the reins should slide to Gandhi or continue to stay with his mother and current party president Sonia Gandhi. As for the immediate future, he is expected to lead a farmers’ rally this weekend and eventually attend a Congress Working Committee meeting.
— Jameel Khan
Allegations of collusion in Badakhshan massacre
On Thursday, Ministry of Defense Deputy Spokesman Dawlat Waziri suggested that local officials in Badakhshan had colluded with militants enabling the Taliban’s massacre of Afghan soldiers in the province last week (TOLO News). The defense ministry has already confirmed that the battalion commander responsible for the overran outpost has been referred to the Attorney General’s office for investigation of alleged negligence. However, some officials have alleged that collusion and not just negligence led to the massacre. Badakhshan Police Chief, General Baba Jan, for example, has claimed that provincial officials, including MPs and Provincial Council members provided support to the Taliban. He stated: “One of the Taliban’s commanders known as Shamsullah was wounded in Jurm district and was transported by a person who serves in the government,” adding, “He was given medical treatment and then returned, and the head of the Provincial Council was also there and his phone calls are registered.” The allegations as of yet remain vague and unsubstantiated.
On Friday, Sadiq Sadiqi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, announced that an offensive would be initiated in the Juram and Warduj districts of northeastern Badakhshan province to oust anti-state militants (Pajhwok). Sadiqi stated: “The interior minister had a detailed meeting with local people during his visit to the locality. He directed the security forces to flush out militants from the area.”
Locusts bedevil Baghlan farmers
On Thursday, farmers in Baghlan province expressed concern over locust attacks (Pajhwok). Mohammad Omar, the head of an agricultural cooperative in the province, said the number of grasshoppers had seemed to have doubled. The Agriculture Department has sprayed 2,000 acres of land in the province with an anti-grasshopper pesticide. However, Omar expressed doubts that it would be sufficient stating: “The agriculture department each year sends five teams for elimination of grasshoppers but the single team this year cannot perform the task alone.”
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen
RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images