The South Asia Channel

AfPak Cross-Border Attacks; Landslides in India Kill 30; Senior Afghan Candidates Introduced For Confirmation

AfPak Cross-Border Attacks; Landslides in India Kill 30; Senior Afghan Candidates Introduced For Confirmation

Pakistan

Afghan-Pakistan cross-border attacks

Pajhwok Afghan News is reporting that Pakistani soldiers tried to create a checkpost in the Angoor Adda area of Paktika province in Afghanistan resulting in a gun battle overnight between Afghan border police and Pakistani soldiers (Pajhwok). Afghan Interior Ministry Spokesman Sadique Sadiqui confirmed the clash took place. One Afghan police commander and eight Pakistani soldiers were said to have been killed. Both Afghan and Pakistani news outlets are reporting that in response early on Wednesday Afghan security forces fired mortar shells at a security checkpost in the Angoor Adda area of South Waziristan in Pakistan, injuring six Pakistani forces (Dawn).

PM orders heat wave death inquiry

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered a transparent inquiry against those responsible for the heat wave deaths in Karachi on Wednesday (ET). “The incident was unprecedented in the history of Karachi and all departments who were negligent in performing their duties must be held accountable in a transparent manner,” he said. Sharif also ordered the state government to complete the Karachi drinking water project within two years. The death toll now stands around 1,250, and 65,000 individuals have been treated at Karachi hospitals for heat-related ailments. The National Disaster Management Authority expects parts of Sindh province — where the heat wave struck — to receive low monsoon rainfall (ET).

India

Landslides in West Bengal kill 30 people

Police in the Darjeeling region of India’s northeastern state of West Bengal said that landslides triggered by heavy rains have killed at least 30 people (BBC, PTI). Local officials said rescuers were digging through debris looking for survivors after landslides struck homes in Mirik, Kalimpong, and Darjeeling towns in the state. More people are feared trapped under mounds of mud and debris. Roads and communication links are reported to have been extensively damaged. BBC is reporting that thousands of tourists are now stuck in the picturesque hilly area but are in no immediate danger. Darjeeling district, known for its tea growing regions, attracts thousands of tourists every year, and is about 600 km (372 miles) north of the state capital, Kolkata.

World Bank approves $650 million loan for freight railways construction

On Wednesday the World Bank announced it had approved a $650 million loan for a freight rail corridor in India that will span 1,840 km (1,140 miles) across the northern parts of the country (Reuters). Construction of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor will speed up the carrying of goods between Ludhiana in the west of India and Kolkata in the east, and is part of a series of new freight lines the World Bank says India needs to ease congestion on its network. “The Indian Railways urgently needs to add freight routes to meet the growing freight traffic in India, which is projected to increase more than 7 percent annually,” Ben L. J. Eijbergen, the Task Team Leader for the project, said in a statement. The loan is the third from the World Bank to help fund the freight corridor. Last year the bank approved a $1.1 billion outlay and in 2011, $975 million. India’s railways, built mostly by the British before India became independent in 1947, are among the most extensive in the world but have struggled to expand to keep up with demand.

Amnesty International report alleges human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir

Amnesty International on Wednesday released a report saying India has neglected international obligations and its own constitution by ignoring human rights violations allegedly carried out in the name of national security in the Jammu and Kashmir state (WSJ, Hindu). The report titled “Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir,” by the London-based rights group is based on the examination of nearly 100 cases of alleged human rights abuses by security forces between 1990 and 2012 and interviews with 58 family members of the victims in 2013. The report says that no member of the security forces deployed in the northern-most state over the past 25 years of militancy in the region has been tried for human rights violations in a civilian court. “An absence of accountability has ensured that security force personnel continue to operate in a manner that facilitates serious human rights violations,” the group says in the report. The disputed region of Kashmir has been a site of conflict between India and Pakistan since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. The two countries each control parts of the territory but claim it in full and have fought three wars over it. An armed insurgency that erupted in the late 1980s claimed the lives of thousands of people, many of them civilians.

Afghanistan

Candidates for senior office introduced to Parliament for confirmation

Afghanistan’s Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish introduced to the Wolesi Jirga (lower house) on Wednesday four candidates nominated for high-level positions (TOLO News, Pajhwok). The four individuals are: Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai, minister of defense; Khalilullah Sediq, head of the Central Bank; Sayed Yousuf Halim, Supreme Court justice; and Anisa Rassouli, Supreme Court justice. A confidence vote to confirm or reject their nomination is scheduled for Saturday. If confirmed, Rassouli will be the first woman to hold such a senior judgeship.

Afghanistan, UN reach police fund deal

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Interior announced that a deal over the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan — the mechanism that pays Afghan National Police salaries — has been reached with the United Nations Development Programme (Reuters, TOLO News). The deal will transfer control of the fund to Afghanistan over an 18-month period after months of negotiating the timetable of transfer, and will require the government to meet certain conditions at six-month intervals. Since 2002, the fund has received $3.6 billion in international donor money.

–Courtney Schuster and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images