Taliban Attacks Kabul Hotel; Prime Minister Modi Meets President Xi; Mass Funeral in Karachi
Afghanistan Kabul hotel attacked by Taliban Fourteen people, including one American, were killed in an attack on a Kabul hotel on Wednesday (BBC, AP, CNN, NYT). Gunman stormed the Park Palace Guest House late Wednesday evening as a crowd, many of them foreigners, gathered for a concert at the hotel, which is in a wealthier ...
Kabul hotel attacked by Taliban
Fourteen people, including one American, were killed in an attack on a Kabul hotel on Wednesday (BBC, AP, CNN, NYT). Gunman stormed the Park Palace Guest House late Wednesday evening as a crowd, many of them foreigners, gathered for a concert at the hotel, which is in a wealthier part of the capital near several aid agencies and a hospital. Police stormed the hotel after the three gunmen were inside, but the attackers were able to hold the hotel for five hours. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
NATO to stay in Afghanistan after 2016
On Wednesday, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) formally announced plans to retain a small troop presence in Afghanistan after 2016 (WSJ, Pajhwok). NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the future mission, called “Enduring Partnership,” would be led by civilians. NATO’s leadership will finalize plans for the new mission by the fall, but Stoltenberg said that the NATO force in the country would be smaller than the current one.
Prime Minister Modi meets President Xi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in China on Thursday, launching a three-day official visit (U.S. News & World Report, Times of India, BBC). In a sign of personal diplomacy, Modi met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the city of Xian, Xi’s hometown in central Shaanxi province. This was intended to mirror Xi’s visit to India last September, when Modi hosted the Chinese president in his own hometown of Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat. The two leaders met for about an hour and a half and discussed a number of issues, including border disputes, terrorism, and bilateral trade and investment, which is Modi’s top priority on this trip. Modi hopes to decrease India’s $38 billion trade deficit with China and attract Chinese investment in Indian infrastructure projects (NYT). Modi also visited cultural sites including a Buddhist temple housing translations of Sanskrit texts and the famed Terra Cotta Warriors. Modi is scheduled to meet with the Chinese Prime Minister in Beijing on Friday and Chinese business leaders in Shanghai on Saturday (WSJ).
Indian Cabinet approves child labor ban with exceptions
The Indian Cabinet approved amendments to a bill on Wednesday that would ban the employment of children under the age of 14, except in certain industries (Hindustan Times, Firstpost). The Child Labour Prohibition Bill, introduced in 2012 by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, originally called for an outright ban on employing children under 14. The current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government’s version of the bill carves out exceptions for “non-hazardous” family enterprises, the entertainment industry, and sports. Under the current law, child labor is allowed in all but 18 specified occupations. Children’s rights activists decried the inclusion of the exceptions in the bill, arguing that they were regressive and in contradiction to the Right to Education Act, which guarantees education for children under 14 years of age. “The provision, ‘home-based industries,’ will be used for exploitation of children and betrays the real intent of this government. We are legalizing a horrible reality instead of banning it,” said activist lawyer Vrinda Grover (Times of India). The proposed amendments also increase penalties for employers but decrease penalties for parents for breaching the law.
Indian Supreme Court demands action on India-Bangladesh border
The Supreme Court of India chastised both the central government and the government of the northeastern state of Assam on Wednesday for “dragging their feet” on securing the border with Bangladesh (The Times of India). The court accused the central government of not paying enough attention to India’s eastern border, noting, “The western border with Pakistan, being 3,300 km long, is not only properly fenced but properly manned too and not porous at any point” (The Hindu). In a judgment made in December of last year, the court had ordered the central government to construct roads and install floodlights along the eastern border to prevent illegal immigration and cross-border trafficking. Led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, the Supreme Court accused both the central government and Assam state government of not implementing its orders in a timely fashion. The court has appointed an independent commissioner to visit the border and report back to the court in three weeks. The court also expressed disapproval of the Assam High Court’s lack of urgency in filling positions for special foreigners tribunals, which are charged with identifying and deporting illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh recently reached a deal to resolve all outstanding border disputes between the two countries.
Mass funeral in Karachi
A mass funeral took place in Karachi on Thursday for the victims of a militant attack on a bus carrying minority Ismaili Shia Muslims (BBC, ET). Flags were flown at half-mast and markets, schools, and transit were closed during the day of mourning. At least 45 people were killed in the attack by gunmen on a crowded bus on the city’s outskirts. Officials found pamphlets purporting to be from ISIS at the site of the attack, but the Pakistani Taliban also claimed responsibility for the attack.
— Emily Schneider and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen
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