Taliban Attack Afghan Parliament; Over 200 People Die of Heatstroke In Karachi; Modi Participates in International Yoga Day
Afghanistan Taliban attack Afghan Parliament The Taliban attacked the Afghan Parliament on Monday as lawmakers were convening for the third time in an attempt to confirm a defense minister (NYT). Government officials said that all members of Parliament had been evacuated with only minor injuries, although the attack, which was apparently timed to coincide with ...
Taliban attack Afghan Parliament
The Taliban attacked the Afghan Parliament on Monday as lawmakers were convening for the third time in an attempt to confirm a defense minister (NYT). Government officials said that all members of Parliament had been evacuated with only minor injuries, although the attack, which was apparently timed to coincide with the appearance of the acting defense minister, Masoom Stanekzai, was an embarrassment to the government. The country has been without a confirmed defense minister for almost ten months. The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, posting what their spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, called “live tweets.” Bonus Read: “Taliban are Talking Peace, Though Not With Afghan Government,” Mujib Mashal (NYT)
Taliban seize district in north
In northern Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents seized Archi district bordering the capital Kunduz district in the northern province of Kunduz on Monday (AP). It was the second district neighboring the capital to fall to militants in two days. The seizure comes just a day after the Taliban and Afghan government disputed the status of Kunduz, causing concern and even panic among residents (NYT). On Sunday, the Taliban claimed they were on the verge of taking their first city, Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, and many residents began to flee the area. But the central government in Kabul said there was no cause for concern. Kunduz is Afghanistan’s fifth-largest city with a population of 300,000 and is an important trading city. Although the Taliban’s claim seemed to be false on Sunday, Kunduz is now directly threatened.
First Afghans killed fighting for ISIS
On Friday, the Washington Post reported the death Wali Mohammad Darwazi, a 23-year-old Afghan who had left for Syria in May, as the first known case of an Afghan being killed while fighting for the Islamic State (Post). Darwazi and some of his classmates from Kabul University were killed in a U.S. airstrike near the Iraqi town of Baiji in May, according to Darwazi’s father. Their radicalization and departure to join ISIS highlights growing concerns about the group’s emergence in Afghanistan. The possibility of Afghans being trained in Syria and Iraq, then returning to Afghanistan to fight and recruit others for ISIS could pose a new threat to the Afghan government, which is already struggling to fend off the Taliban.
Over 200 die of heatstroke in Karachi
Over 200 people have died from heatstroke in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi in the last two days, officials said Monday (AP, Reuters, Dawn). Hundreds more are being treated for heat-related ailments, including fever and dehydration, said Seemi Jamali, a spokeswomam for Jinnah Hospital. Temperatures have been as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit, making this the worst heat wave in the last decade. The electric grid collapsed over the weekend, making dealing with the heat almost impossible. Health officials have told people to stay out of the sun and to drink more fluids.
NGOs to operate under interior ministry: Ali Khan
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that NGOs will now operate under the Interior Ministry instead of the Economic Affairs Division while speaking at a news conference on Monday (Dawn, ET). The move was a result of a recommendation from the high-level inter-ministerial committee, which was set up under Special Assistant to PM Tariq Fatemi to review the laws and regulations for accreditation and working conditions of NGOs in Pakistan. He said: “A lot of NGOs are doing work that governmental institutions are not equipped or able to do. We welcome these NGOs but we will not allow any NGO to work here if they operate in conflict with our values.” Ali Khan noted that there should be a transparent accountability system in place, saying that “We should know where their money is coming from and what it’s being used for.” He claims that right now, around 40 percent of NGOs working in Pakistan are not registered.
Modi participates in International Yoga Day event in Delhi
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday participated in an International Yoga Day event in the capital, Delhi, at which authorities claim 35,000 people participated (BBC, Guardian, NYT, WSJ). Modi was expected to only give a speech on the occasion but decided to participate in the yoga exercises for a few minutes. Modi is a yoga enthusiast who says he pratices the ancient Indian art daily for an hour, and had lobbied the United Nations for the yoga day. The government is hoping the event will set a new Guinness World Record for the largest yoga class at a single venue, the current record is held by 29,973 students who practised yoga in the central Indian city of Gwalior. In the days before the yoga day celebrations, there had been concerns of protest from some Muslim organizations that since yoga has its origins in Hinduism, practicing it is against the monotheism preached by Islam and that Modi’s government is trying to promote its Hindu agenda. On Sunday, however, thousands of Muslims participated in the yoga day event.
Arrests over the kidnapping and murder of a journalist
On Monday, police in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh arrested three men suspected of kidnapping a journalist, Sandeep Kothari, and burning him to death (BBC). Kothari, 40, disappeared from his home in Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh on Friday night. His charred body was found near a railway track in neighboring Maharashtra state the following evening. Media reports say he may have been targeted for writing about illegal mining in the area and for pursuing a related case in court. Kothari’s death is the latest in an apparently unrelated spate of serious attacks on Indian journalists. Earlier this month police registered a murder and criminal conspiracy case against a ruling party politician, Ram Murti Singh Verma, over the death of freelance journalist Jagendra Singh. Singh published an article and posted allegations of corruption on Facebook against Verma. India ranked 136 out of 180 nations in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, according to Paris-based Reporters without Borders.
China opens new land route for Indian pilgrims
China inaugurated a new land crossing into Tibet on Monday for Indian pilgrims who wish to visit one of the holiest sites in both Hinduism and Buddhism, as the two countries seek to set aside differences and improve ties (Reuters, NDTV, HT, Hindu). The state media announced that the first group of pilgrims entered Tibet via a Himalayan pass on mid-morning Monday for the 12-day trip to Mount Kailash, which will also lead to a holy lake. The opening of the pass was agreed last year when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India. The state news agency Xinhua emphasized that the move will “further promote religious exchanges between the two countries.” Few Indian pilgrims ever make it to Mount Kailash despite its significance, not only because of its remoteness but also because of difficulties in getting visas for China’s tightly controlled region of Tibet. China and India have growing commercial links and long historical ties, but their recent history has been overshadowed by suspicion and they have yet to sort out a festering border dispute.
— Emily Schneider and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen
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