The South Asia Channel
Ambassadors Killed in Pakistan Helicopter Crash; Pakistan Warns India of Meddling Inside its Borders; Afghan Taliban Fear Losing Recruits to ISIS
Pakistan Ambassadors killed in Pakistan Helicopter Crash The ambassadors to Pakistan from the Philippines and Norway and the wives of the ambassadors from Malaysia and Indonesia were killed Friday when a Pakistani army helicopter made a crash landing in the northern area of Naltar (NYT, Guardian). The helicopter was on its way to the city ...
Ambassadors killed in Pakistan Helicopter Crash
The ambassadors to Pakistan from the Philippines and Norway and the wives of the ambassadors from Malaysia and Indonesia were killed Friday when a Pakistani army helicopter made a crash landing in the northern area of Naltar (NYT, Guardian). The helicopter was on its way to the city of Gilgit, where Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was to attend a public ceremony to inaugurate the newly installed chair-lift at a ski resort. The helicopter’s two pilots were also killed, however 13 passengers, including the Dutch and Polish ambassador, survived the crash with varying degrees of injuries. Sharif returned to Islamabad early in the wake of the crash.
Coffin sales soar
The unstable security situation in Pakistan is bad for business, that is unless you’re an enterprising coffin maker (OZY). The profession has seen a dramatic rise in business in recent years. In the 4.5 million-person capital Peshawar, around 40 coffin-makers work day and night to keep up with demand. Terrorist attacks and drone strikes since 2001 have contributed to the need for more coffins; previously, corpses were wrapped in funeral shrouds before being buried directly in the ground. But with so many people being killed by explosions or drone attacks, many families have no choice but to use a coffin to gather the remains. “Coffins are sold in large numbers when some major attack happens, like the school one in December,” says Javed Aziz Khan, a local journalist. “But these incidents have decreased now, so there are hopes that things are going to improve soon.”
Pakistan warns India of meddling inside its borders
Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah on Thursday warned India to refrain from meddling in its internal affairs, an announcement that comes a few days after Pakistani military leaders leveled accusations that India’s intelligence agency was “whipping up terrorism” inside its borders (BBC, Express Tribune, Times of India). “We have availed all possible opportunities to remind India to avoid interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs,” Khalilullah said. “The recent time, we did it at foreign secretary-level talks.”
While Tuesday’s accusation by the military did not cite a specific incident, some officials believe India has a hand in the separatist insurgency in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. These public accusations by Islamabad suggests the nuclear-armed rivals are experiencing heightened hostilities at a time when Pakistan is also experiencing threats by the Pakistani Taliban and sectarian and political unrest. Despite enmity that trails from the British Partition of India in 1947, one major thorn of late between the two countries stems from the case of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, who was recently released on bail in Pakistan.
India’s High Court suspends Bollywood actor’s five-year sentence
Two days after an Indian sessions court found Bollywood actor Salman Khan guilty of culpable homicide in the killing of Noor Ullah Khan while driving under the influence 13 years ago, India’s High Court on Friday suspended the actor’s five-year jail term (BBC, CNN, Guardian, Times of India). According to several reports, the homeless man, Noor Khan, was sleeping on a Mumbai pavement when Salman Khan drove over him in an incident that left four others injured. Shortly after Wednesday’s conviction, the actor appealed to the High Court and received bail, avoiding prison.
Since his first debut on the film scene in the 1980s, Khan has starred in more than 100 movies and has become one of Bollywood’s most popular actors. Friday’s ruling has left the country divided, coming as a relief to his many fans and fellow actors but also a disappointment to those who thought this case would send the message that India’s elites are not above the law. Khan is scheduled to appear in court again on June 15 as part of the appeal and has to request permission from a court to travel abroad.
China, India top Mexico as most immigrants to the United States
Recent data released from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that China and India top the list of countries who send the most immigrants to the United States (NPR, WSJ). Based on the Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2013 data — the most recent year with complete data — 147,000 immigrants came from China, followed by 129,000 from India and 125,000 from Mexico (NPR). Other countries on the list include Korea, the Philippines and Japan.
Drivers for these trends include a decade-long surge of Asian migration, declining immigration from Mexico, educational opportunities in high-tech and engineering, and a decline in low-wage jobs, according to statistician Erik Jensen of the Census Bureau and William Frey of the Brookings Institution. According to the World Bank from 2013 data, India and China are the world’s most populous countries with a combined population of 2.61 billion people, making up over one-third of global population.
Taliban fears young recruits will choose ISIS
Foreign fighters who claim allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) are recruiting dozens in eastern Afghanistan, using the group’s powerful brand and generous resources to lure young men away from the Taliban, a Taliban fighter who has met with several of their commanders told the Guardian (Guardian). “This is something new in the market,” said the commander, who is based in Ghazni province, south-west of Kabul. “They think Isis is strong compared with the Taliban, and can help them achieve their goals.” The commander estimated that several districts have ISIS units more than 100 men strong. “No one knows who is leading these people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the moment what they are doing is recruiting,” the Taliban commander said. “They are in groups of a few dozen and do military exercises, going up mountains and down.”
Nine militants killed in operations, drone strike
At least nine militants were killed in separate security operations in eastern Nangarhar province, Afghan officials said Friday (Pajhwok). Maj. Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, the provincial police spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News that four insurgents were killed when a drone fired a missile into their car in the Goshti district late on Thursday. He also said that a skirmish between local police and militants Friday morning at a police checkpoint left several militants dead and wounded.
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images