The South Asia Channel

Al Qaeda Chief Killed in US Drone Strike; Indian Exports Fall for Sixth Consecutive Month; Taliban Confirms Attending Norway Forum; Pakistan Wins First Jet Order

Yemen Al Qaeda chief killed in US drone strike Al Qaeda in Yemen said its leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Monday (NYT, BBC). Al-Wuhayshi was a charismatic leader who was recently appointed second in command in al Qaeda central and was a former secretary of Osama bin Laden. He ...

SIERRA VISTA, AZ - MARCH 07:  A Predator drone operated by U.S. Office of Air and Marine (OAM), awaits a surveillance flight near the Mexican border on March 7, 2013 from Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The OAM, which is part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, flies the unmanned - and unarmed - MQ-9 Predator B aircraft an average of 12 hours per day at around 19,000 feet. The drones, piloted from the ground, search for drug smugglers and immigrants crossing illegally from Mexico into the United States.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
SIERRA VISTA, AZ - MARCH 07: A Predator drone operated by U.S. Office of Air and Marine (OAM), awaits a surveillance flight near the Mexican border on March 7, 2013 from Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The OAM, which is part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, flies the unmanned - and unarmed - MQ-9 Predator B aircraft an average of 12 hours per day at around 19,000 feet. The drones, piloted from the ground, search for drug smugglers and immigrants crossing illegally from Mexico into the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Yemen

Al Qaeda chief killed in US drone strike

Al Qaeda in Yemen said its leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Monday (NYT, BBC). Al-Wuhayshi was a charismatic leader who was recently appointed second in command in al Qaeda central and was a former secretary of Osama bin Laden. He oversaw foiled bomb attacks against American passenger and cargo jets and claimed responsibility for the deadly shooting at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, as well as a number of attacks inside Yemen in recent years. “We in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) mourn to our Muslim nation … that Abu Baseer Nasser bin Abdul Karim al-Wuhayshi, God rest his soul, passed away in an American strike which targeted him along with two of his mujahideen brothers, may God rest their souls,” said top AQAP member Khaled Batarfi.

Al Qaeda did not specify when or how Wuhayshi was killed. CNN quoted two Yemeni officials as saying the attack that killed the leader occurred on Friday, while U.S. officials told the Washington Post that the attack occurred last Tuesday, which Reuters confirmed (CNN, Post, Reuters). Qassim al-Raymi, the group’s former military chief, has been appointed as Wuhayshi’s replacement.

India

Exports fall for the sixth consecutive month, trade deficit to a 3 month low

The commerce ministry announced on Tuesday that India’s exports fell 20.2 percent compared with the same month last year (LiveMint, Reuters). This announcement makes May the sixth consecutive month in which exports have fallen and this is the the longest such streak since 2009. The ministry also announced that imports fell by 16.5 percent, bringing the overall trade deficit to a 3 month low. According to the data gathered by Bloomberg, in May, oil imports fell 41 percent to $8.53 billion, non-oil imports fell 2.2 percent to $24.21 billion however gold imports grew 10.5 percent to $2.42 billion. A weakening rupee and an acceleration in inflation indicates maneuverability is decreasing for Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan to lower interest rates any further. RBI has already cut the interest rates in the country three times this year.

Nestle to destroy $50 million worth of instant noodles

Nestle India announced that it will destroy more than $50 million worth of its hugely popular Maggi noodles after it was banned by Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) (BBC, Guardian, IBT). FSSAI has accused Nestle of failing to comply with food safety laws in the country and declared the instant noodles “unsafe and hazardous.” The company insists that the noodles are safe and is challenging the ban. Nestle has 80 percent of India’s instant noodles market. Several states have also been testing the noodles for the chemical monosodium glutamate, widely known as MSG. Earlier this month, Nestle began withdrawing the Maggi brand from stores, after regulators said they found higher-than-allowed levels of lead in some packets.

Journalist “dragged using a motorcycle” in Uttar Pradesh

A journalist, Haider Khan, who works as a stringer for a local TV channel and reported on a case of alleged land grabbing, was severely beaten by a group of men and tied to a motorcycle and dragged for almost 100 meters (330 feet) in Pilibhit district of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday (HT, CPJ). Khan was alleged invited by the assailants to a meeting under the pretext of providing information regarding a recent robbery case, and upon arrival, was attacked. Two weeks ago, another journalist Jagendra Singh, sustained fatal burn injuries during a police raid on his home in Shahjahanpur district in Uttar Pradesh as well. Singh had reportedly angered local influential people with several posts on his Facebook page about alleged encroachment of land and a gang-rape. Uttar Pradesh minister Ram Murti Verma was named in several of Singh’s posts.

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “Man of Peace to Become Afghan Wartime Defense Minister,” Associated Press (AP)

Taliban confirms attending Norway forum

The Taliban on Tuesday confirmed the group was attending a peace forum in Norway but played down reports that they were holding talks with representatives of the Afghan government (Pajhwok, TOLO). The Oslo Forum, which is beginning today, offers an opportunity for senior conflict mediators, high-level decision makers, and other actors in the peace process to interact in a discreet and informal atmosphere. The Afghan government is represented by a six-member delegation that, according to a government source speaking to Pajhwok Afghan News, would hold face-to-face talks with Taliban representatives.

Taliban shadow governor killed

A Taliban shadow governor for the northeastern Badakhshan province was killed in an airstrike by the Afghan military on Monday night, local officials said (TOLO, Pajhwok). Mawlawi Imamuddin was killed along with ten other militants in the Jurm district of the province. Imamuddin is the second Taliban shadow governor to be killed in less than a week during military airstrikes; shadow governor Omar Zadran was killed along with two commanders and 12 militants in Kunar province on Sunday.

Pakistan

Pakistan wins first jet order

Pakistan has won the first ever order for its JF-17 Thunder jet, an air force spokesman said on Monday, as the plane was displayed at the Paris Air Show (AFP). The jet, which was produced domestically and designed with the help of China, has not had a buyer for years. But Commodore Syed Muhammad Ali, spokesman for the Pakistan Air Force, confirmed that an order for the plane had been finalized, although he would not give any more details. The latest model of the jet is capable of Mach 2.0 (twice the speed of sound) and has an operational ceiling of 55,000 feet. Pakistan’s military has been a major importer of defense equipment, but Pakistan is hoping the jet, along with domestically produced tanks and surveillance drones, will increase military exports. According to data collected by New America, Pakistan began producing drones domestically in 2013 (NewAmerica).

International NGOs can function for six more months

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that all international NGOs in Pakistan would be allowed to operate for six more months (ET). Sharif announced the decision during a high-level meeting at his residence to discuss the matter. It was also decided that all international NGOs will be required to register again with the government within three months. The Inter-Ministerial Committee would provide guidelines and rules for the process and would suggest a monitoring and oversight mechanism for the future. The decision comes days after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that no NGO working against the country’s national interest would be allowed to continue operating in Pakistan. 

— Emily Schneider and Shuja Malik

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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