The South Asia Channel
Kidnapped Afghan Hazara Passengers Released; Author Says Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden Raid; Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Acquitted in Indian Court
Afghanistan 19 kidnapped Hazara passengers released Nineteen passengers who were kidnapped by militants from a bus in February in southern Afghanistan were released on Monday (BBC, Pajhwok, AP). The passengers on the bus — all from the minority Hazara community — were abducted while traveling home from working in Iran. Assadullah Kakar, who was one ...
19 kidnapped Hazara passengers released
Nineteen passengers who were kidnapped by militants from a bus in February in southern Afghanistan were released on Monday (BBC, Pajhwok, AP). The passengers on the bus — all from the minority Hazara community — were abducted while traveling home from working in Iran. Assadullah Kakar, who was one of the negotiators working to secure the release of the passengers, told BBC that the 19 passengers were released in exchange for 22 children of the families of insurgents from Uzbekistan who were being held in government prisons. However, Pajhwok Afghan News reported that the passengers were exchanged for 28 Taliban prisoners who were in government custody. It is unclear what militant group kidnapped the group of passengers; some reports say the Taliban is responsible while others suggest the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is to blame.
Taliban attack second bus in a week
A suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying Afghan government employees in Kabul on Sunday, killing three people (Reuters). The attack was the second in just a week in the same area of the capital. The bus was carrying mostly employees from the attorney general’s office who were returning home from work. Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack. Last Monday, another suicide bomber targeted a bus in the same area, killing one person and wounding 15 others.
Author says Pakistan knew about bin Laden raid
In a story published in the London Review of Books on Sunday, Seymour Hersh wrote that Pakistan not only knew about the U.S. raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, but that they led the United States to him in the first place (LRB). Hersh contends that the idea that the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were not told about the raid in advance is false and that “the White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll.” Hersh asserts that a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer approached the CIA’s station chief at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad in 2010 and offered to lead them to bin Laden, starting an investigation and eventual cooperation with Pakistan’s Army and the ISI (Dawn).
The White House position remains that the Pakistani Army and ISI were never informed of the U.S. mission. Others also dispute the evidence Hersh uses to support his claim. Bonus Read: “Was the bin Laden killing story a lie?” Peter Bergen (CNN).
PM, Army Chief to visit Kabul
Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, along with a high-level delegation, will visit Afghanistan on Tuesday (ET, Dawn). The Express Tribune reports that three major issues will be discussed during the visit: negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, the allegations of India’s spy agency presence in Afghanistan, and Pakistani military operation Zarb-e-Azb against the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups. The trip tomorrow will be Sharif’s second visit to Afghanistan and the first after the installation of the National Unity Government in Kabul.
Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister acquitted in corruption case
Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the former chief minister of the state of Tamil Nadu and a former movie star, was cleared of all charges by the Karnataka High Court in a 19-year old corruption case. Jayalalithaa had been convicted and jailed last year for holding 530 million rupees ($8.7 million) in unaccounted cash and other assets, but she appealed, and the verdict has been overturned (The Times of India, The Hindu, NDTV). Current Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who had been hand-picked by Jayalalithaa to succeed her after her conviction, is expected to resign, paving the way for Jayalalithaa to return to her post as early as May 17. Jayalalithaa is also expected to resume leadership of the AIADMK party, which holds the third largest number of seats in the lower house of India’s parliament (Reuters). Subramanian Swamy, one of the petitioners in the case and a leader of the rival BJP, expressed surprise and announced his plans to appeal the decision.
Government seeks to protect rights of adopted daughters
The Indian government has proposed a change to the British-era Registration Act of 1908 that would protect the right to inherit property for adopted daughters. While a 2005 amendment changed the interpretation of the law to include daughters, the proposed change would make that inclusion explicit. “Since 2005, daughters have equal rights over property. This could make sure than an adopted girl is not left out as an heir. It is an important step to bring into practice the amended law of 2005,” said Ram Singh, an associate professor at the Delhi School of Economics (The Economic Times, The Times of India).
India’s lion population on the rise
India’s lion population has increased by 27 percent since 2010, according to the 2015 lion census conducted by the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (BBC). The number of lions has gone up from 411 in 2010 to 523 in 2015, according to the census, which was conducted by 2,500 officials and volunteers. In an encouraging sign, the number of lion cubs has been increasing as well as the overall population (The Indian Express). Gir Forest in the state of Gujarat is the only home to wild Asiatic lions.
— Udit Banerjea and Emily Schneider
Edited by Peter Bergen
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