The South Asia Channel
Landslide Kills 52 in Afghanistan; Karachi University Professor Killed; India Toughens Penalty for Corruption
Event Notice: “Reporting Under Fear” with CNN’s Peter Bergen, April 30, 4:30pm-6:30pm (SAIS Observer Inaugural at Johns Hopkins SAIS) Afghanistan Landslide kills at least 52 At least 52 people are believed to be dead following a landslide on Tuesday in the Khawahan district of Afghanistan’s northeastern Badakhshan province (AJE, BBC, Pajhwok, TOLO News). According to Mohammad ...
Event Notice: “Reporting Under Fear” with CNN’s Peter Bergen, April 30, 4:30pm-6:30pm (SAIS Observer Inaugural at Johns Hopkins SAIS)
Landslide kills at least 52
At least 52 people are believed to be dead following a landslide on Tuesday in the Khawahan district of Afghanistan’s northeastern Badakhshan province (AJE, BBC, Pajhwok, TOLO News). According to Mohammad Ghufran Zaki, the Khawahan district chief, 25 women, 22 children, and five men are missing and believed dead. According to Gul Mohammad Beidar, the deputy provincial governor, the central government is sending helicopters to enable access to the remote village hit by the landslide. Beidar explained the difficulty saying: “This is a remote area on the border with Tajikistan and the road to this district remains closed for six months of the year.” Last year 350 people died in a similar landslide in Badakhsan’s Argu district.
Afghan officials warn of insurgent influx from Pakistan
On Wednesday, Afghan officials warned of an influx of insurgents into Afghanistan from Pakistan (AP, Dawn, TOLO News). Interior Ministry Spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said that fighters including foreign fighters from Chechnya and Uzbekistan were entering the country from Pakistan. He stated: “We found out from people that foreign fighters are present in northern provinces, but investigative work is ongoing regarding the location and how the foreign fighters came to these areas.” Ministry of Defense Deputy Spokesman Dawlat Waziri told TOLO News: “No one can deny that the battles are against foreign insurgents, but it is not the number that has been said.” In the past officials have blamed foreign fighters for an increase in the brutality of violence in Afghanistan.
Bonus Read: “Silenced: Another Killing Amidst Pakistan’s Democratic Trappings,” Farahnaz Ispahani (South Asia).
Karachi University professor killed
On Wednesday, unidentified assailants on motorcycle shot and killed Dr. Syed Wahidur Rehman, an assistant professor at Karachi University, in Karachi’s Federal B area (ET, Dawn). Police said that Rehman was not Shia, however, the attack might have targeted him as Shia in a case of mistaken identity. The police are also looking into whether he was killed in connection with the killing of Shakil Auj, the university’s dean of the faculty of Islamic studies, who was killed in September. Following the attack the university released a notification reading: “The University of Karachi is closed today ie April 29, 2015 due to the sad demise of Dr Syed Waheedur Rehman, assistant professor, department of mass communication, University of Karachi.”
Mirza report sent to Interior Ministry
On Wednesday, the Joint Investigation Team sent its report on its questioning of Saulat Mirza to the Interior Ministry (ET). Mirza, who was convicted of murder, had his execution stayed on March 19 after he alleged that Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain was involved in the murder of the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC)’s managing director. According to sources close to the investigation the report includes new information and Mirza named three other men in Karachi jails with information.
Pakistan claims successes in Tirah Valley
On Tuesday, Pakistani forces took the Sipah and Akkakhel areas in Tirah valley flushing Lashkar-i-Islam activists from the area according to Pakistani officials (Dawn). Pakistani forces also reportedly made advances against the Pakistani Taliban in Kukikhel. A security official stated: “The fall of Kukikhel is a matter of time now because the area has been encircled from almost all sides and militants were seen fleeing the area.” Lashkar-i-Islam spokesman Salahuddin Ayoubi called the loss of Sipah and Akkakhel a “tactical retreat” saying they would reclaim the area.
— David Sterman
Indian government increases penalty for corruption
The Federal Cabinet approved official amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, an anti-graft legislation, which increases penalty to a maximum of seven years of imprisonment from the existing five years, according to news reports on Wednesday (Indian Express, Economic Times). The proposed amendments bring corruption into the heinous crime category, and include stringent punishment both for the bribe giver and bribe taker. The amendments have also increased the minimum sentence from six months to at least six years in jail, and provide provisions for a speedy trial. In the past four years, the average trial period for corruption cases was eight years.
World Bank forecasts Indian economy to grow at 7.5 percent
The World Bank forecast that India’s economy will grow at 7.5 percent this fiscal year, and the country’s growth will further accelerate with policy changes, according to news reports on Tuesday (Zee News, Economic Times). The World Bank stated in its report: “While data constraints make it difficult to estimate potential gross domestic product with precision, we estimate potential growth to nearly converge to 8% by 2017-18 from around 7% in 2013-14 assuming both a meaningful and sustainable pick up in investment, as well as a pick up in productivity growth” (WSJ). The World Bank further said that the Indian economy has significantly improved over the past year, with economic indicators, including current-account deficit, fiscal deficit, and foreign exchange reserves improving.
Data is driving growth for Indian telecom companies
Bharti Airtel Ltd., India’s largest telecom network operator, and Idea Cellular Ltd., India’s third-biggest mobile operator, reported a rise in quarterly profits on Tuesday, in response to the strong subscriber growth for mobile data services (Livemint, Reuters, NDTV). Further, both companies collectively spent approximately $9.5 billion in the recent government auction for airwaves. While Bharti Airtel Ltd., posted a 30.5 percent rise in quarterly profits, Idea Cellular Ltd., posted a 60 percent rise. According to a consulting firm Zinnov, India’s smartphone market is set to grow around 36 percent a year for the next five years.
— Neeli Shah
Edited by Peter Bergen
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