The South Asia Channel

Bin Laden Documents Released; Indian Air Force Lands Jet on Expressway; SIGAR Says Pentagon Wasted $36 Million

Pakistan Bin Laden documents released On Wednesday, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a large number of documents that were picked up by the U.S. SEALs at Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011 (CNN, NYT). The 103 documents released include correspondence between bin Laden and his ...


Bin Laden documents released

On Wednesday, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a large number of documents that were picked up by the U.S. SEALs at Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011 (CNN, NYT). The 103 documents released include correspondence between bin Laden and his family and communications between bin Laden and al Qaeda leadership (NYT). A list of bin Laden’s massive digital collection of English-language books, think tank reports, and U.S. government documents was also released. Included in what officials are calling “bin Laden’s Bookshelf,” were six issues of Foreign Policy magazine, a copy of the former C.I.A. officer Michael Scheuer’s 2004 book, “Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror,” a copy of Michel Chossudovsky’s conspiracy-minded book “America’s ‘War on Terrorism,’” and others that demonstrated a fixation with the West and his own image. Bonus Read: “Secrets of the bin Laden treasure trove,” Peter Bergen (CNN). 

Officials: No country has expressed concern over Axact scandal

Pakistan claimed on Thursday that no country has expressed concern over the fake degrees offered by online software company Axact (Dawn, ET). “No country has expressed concern over the scandal,” Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said, adding: “The matter is being investigated by the interior ministry.” Axact, a software company that the New York Times linked to a large number of online schools that awarded fake degrees, had their offices raided on Tuesday in connection with the report.


Bonus Read: “Put Climate Change on the Agenda for India-Pakistan Relations,” Neil Bhatiya (SouthAsia)

The Rack: “The fading tunes of tradition,” Sarah Eberspacher (Week)

Indian Air Force successfully lands a jet on an expressway

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Thursday carried out a successful test of landing a Mirage 2000 fighter jet on a public expressway (WSJ, TOI). The Mirage-2000 jet landed on a cordoned-off stretch of the Yamuna Expressway that connects Lucknow to Agra in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. According to officials, the purpose of this test was to demonstrate IAF’s ability to use national highways as runways in case of a conflict. Senior IAF officials confirmed that the test was successfully conducted with the help of makeshift air traffic control, safety and rescue vehicles, bird clearance parties, and other requirements mobilized exclusively by the IAF. “The operation was conducted in coordination with district magistrates and superintendents of police of Agra and Mathura,” an IAF statement said.

Gilani passport controversy continues while curfew imposed in parts of Srinagar

On Thursday the Union Home Ministry said that the request for a passport by All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader Syed Ali Shah Gilani in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir will be treated on “merit,” depending on completion of “formalities” by him (The Hindu). The ruling coalition between People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Jammu and Kashmir are sharply divided over the issue. PDP insisted that the government should issue Gilani a passport on “humanitarian grounds,” whereas the BJP’s position is that he apologize for his anti-state activities first. APHC leadership has traditionally disputed India’s claim over the state of Jammu and Kashmir and Gilani is considered less moderate among the leadership. According to government claims in the past Gilani has been involved in the armed separatist insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir since 1993, “inciting Kashmiri youth to violence.”

Meanwhile, authorities on Thursday imposed restrictions of movement on people in some parts of Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir. This measure has been taken in anticipation of rallies being organized by the APHC to mark the death anniversary of its two leaders. Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house arrest on Wednesday, a day ahead of the rally to commemorate the death anniversary of his father, who was assassinated by gunmen in 1990.

Police initiate proceedings against firm that “only hires non-muslims”

Police in Mumbai filed a case against a local diamond jewellery export firm, Hari Krishna Exports Pvt. Ltd., over the allegation that the firm rejected a job applicant on the grounds that he was a Muslim (TOI, Hindustan Times). Applicant Zeshan Ali Khan had applied for a position of marketing executive but was surprised when he received the response from the firm stating that it hires only “non-Muslim candidates.” The firm has said it was an error on the part of one of its staff and it has never practiced religious discrimination.


Bonus Read: “Hardly Justice for Farkhunda,” Danielle Moylan (South Asia) 

SIGAR: Pentagon wasted $36 million on facility

A report released by the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) discussing the investigation of the construction of a command and control facility at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province, Afghanistan was released on Wednesday (NBC, ProPublica). The report found that the building was originally requested to support the military surge in Afghanistan in 2010 but then-major General Richard P. Mills, who was in charge of the surge in Helmand, requested that the facility not be build because it was not needed. But other officials believed it would not be “prudent” to cancel a project that already had funding from Congress. The failure to not cancel the building of the facility resulted in the waste of about $36 million.

Ghani names Defense Minister nominee

President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday announced that Masoom Stanekzai was his nomination for the post of Minister of Defense (TOLO). Speaking at the opening of the International Contact group at the Presidential Palace on Thursday, Ghani noted the importance of appointing provincial governors as soon as possible, but said appointing the right people was critical. He said he had interviewed numerous people for the High Court judges positions. Stanekzai served as Afghan Communications Minister from 2002 to 2004 and then as former president Hamid Karzai’s security advisor. Stanekzai still needs to be introduced to the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) for a vote of confidence before he can be appointed minister.

— Shuja Malik and Emily Schneider

Edited by Peter Bergen


Emily Schneider is a program associate in the International Security Program at New America. She is also an assistant editor of the South Asia channel. Twitter: @emilydsch

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