The South Asia Channel

Sri Lanka’s President Dissolves Parliament; Chennai Introduces First Metro Train; Saudi Arabia Reportedly in Touch with Haqqani Network; Second Female Governor Appointed in Afghanistan

Sri Lanka Sri Lanka’s president dissolves parliament Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the country’s parliament, paving the way for an early general election (BBC). Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said on Friday: “The president signed a gazette notification dissolving parliament with effect from midnight today.” The general election was not scheduled for another 10 months. ...

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09:  President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena arrives at the Observance for Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena arrives at the Observance for Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s president dissolves parliament

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the country’s parliament, paving the way for an early general election (BBC). Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said on Friday: “The president signed a gazette notification dissolving parliament with effect from midnight today.” The general election was not scheduled for another 10 months. Sirisena defeated incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in presidential elections held in January 2015. The president’s decision to dissolve parliament came shortly after a spokesman for the United National Party (UNP) said it had formally requested him to do so. The UNP was the main party behind Sirisena’s presidential bid and its leader, Ranil Wickremesingha, is the country’s prime minister. Sri Lankan law dictates that elections be held between 52 and 66 days after the dissolution. Government sources indicated to the the media that the election will be held on August 17. 

India

Chennai’s first metro train introduced with a woman at the wheel

A young woman was behind the wheel on Monday, when metro service was introduced for the first time in the eastern city of Chennai (NDTV, Hindu, PTI). At around noon, the Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, connected through video conference, pressed a button and on cue, 28-year-old Preethi drove the train out of the Alandur station. From the Alandur metro station, Preethi drove the train to Koyambedu, covering the 10 km (6.2 miles) stretch in 18 minutes. Officials said with four coaches, the train will have a capacity of 1,276 passengers. The first phase was launched on Monday; the two corridors in this phase will cover a 45-km (28 miles) stretch. The corridors will be partly underground and partly elevated, and cost Rs. 16,500 crore ($2.58 billion) to build. The second corridor is likely to be ready by the end of this year.

School director killed in a lynching after two students found dead

Devendra Prasad Sinha, the director of a school in the eastern state of Bihar was killed on Sunday in a mob lynching over the deaths of two of his students (BBC, PTI). Local media showed footage of Sinha being kicked and beaten with sticks by a group of men in the Nalanda district. The incident took place after the bodies of two students, Ravi Kumar and Sagar Kumar, who attended Sinha’s private school, were found in a local canal near Mirpur village. Villagers accused teachers from the private school of killing the students. No arrests have been made. The Times of India newspaper reported that that the villagers accused the school teachers of killing the students “in a fit of rage.” Police said they were investigating the case, adding that there was no evidence the teachers were involved in the students’ deaths. 

Pakistan

Saudi Arabia reportedly in contact with Haqqani network

Saudi Arabia had high-level contacts with the Haqqani network, a terrorist group in Pakistan, according to purported Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks (WSJ). The documents claim that the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan met with Nasiruddin Haqqani, the chief fundraiser for the group, in 2012. In the meeting, Haqqani requested medical treatment in Saudi Arabia for his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani. In another document, dated Feb. 25, 2012, a senior official from Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry recommends that Jalaluddin Haqqani be treated in a Saudi hospital. It is unclear whether the treatment ever took place. Senior U.S. officials said they were reviewing the reports.

Four dead after Pakistan police bust hideaway

A Pakistani police officer says four suspected militants are dead, two others arrested, and a large cache of weapons have been seized from a home in the Sheikhupura district of Punjab province after a raid Sunday night (AP, NYT, AFP). Shuja Khanzada, the provincial home minister, said the men belonged to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and planned to attack targets in Lahore. An anonymous security official told the New York Times that the raid was conducted after an intelligence tip when the police learned that militants living in the house were planning a terrorist attack on important buildings during Ramadan.

Afghanistan

Second female governor appointed

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appointed a second woman as a provincial governor on Sunday (NYT). Seema Joyenda, 43, a former member of parliament and a mother of nine, will serve in Ghor province in central Afghanistan, one of the poorest places in the country. Joyenda believes she is well positioned to govern the province, saying: “This is not new to me,” she said. “As their former representative, I traveled the province, I know my people’s pain.” However, Joyenda is already facing opposition; Abdul Basir Qaderi, a local elder, said that he doesn’t “believe the appointment of a female governor will be effective for Ghor” since it is “traditional society, and it is an insecure province facing enemy threats. A female governor will struggle to lead military and security meetings.” Ghani’s first female appointee, Masooma Muradi, has not been able to take office because of fierce opposition and protests.

Taliban ambush kills 11 soldiers in western Afghanistan

Taliban militants ambushed a convoy of Afghan army forces in western Afghanistan on Sunday, killing 11 soldiers (Reuters, AP, BBC). An army logistics supply unit came under heavy Taliban fire on Sunday in the Karokh district of Herat, according to a statement by the defense ministry on Monday. Najibullah Najibi, a spokesman for the 207 Zafar military corps, said the fighting lasted five hours and that six Taliban militants were also killed in the clash.

— 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. @emilydsch

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