The South Asia Channel

Talks with Taliban Characterized as ‘Breakthrough’; Former Pakistani Taliban Spokesperson Killed in Afghanistan; Indian PM Met Chinese President in Russia

Afghanistan Talks with Taliban characterized as “breakthrough” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said this week’s peace talks between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban held in Islamabad were a “breakthrough” and that the two sides agreed to meet again after the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan (AP, Post). The talks were among the most significant ...

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (R) speaks during a press conference while Pakistani Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif (L) looks on at the Presidential palace in Kabul on May 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SHAH Marai        (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (R) speaks during a press conference while Pakistani Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif (L) looks on at the Presidential palace in Kabul on May 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Talks with Taliban characterized as “breakthrough”

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said this week’s peace talks between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban held in Islamabad were a “breakthrough” and that the two sides agreed to meet again after the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan (AP, Post). The talks were among the most significant between the two sides since the Taliban lost power in 2001, according to Afghan and Pakistani officials. Several Pakistani officials, who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, said the representatives made significant progress, even discussing terms for a possible cease-fire. In a statement, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani described the talks as a “first step towards reaching peace.”

Ghani goes to Russia

President Ashraf Ghani left Kabul on Thursday for a two-day official visit to Russia for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Sufa city (TOLO). The SCO, which was founded in 1996, is a forum for consultation and cooperation on political, economic, and military matters. The summit is expected to be attended by leaders from India, Iran, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Pakistan

Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman killed in Afghanistan

Former spokesperson for the Pakistani Taliban, Shahidullah Shahid, was killed in a drone strike in Nangarhar, according to media reports on Thursday (Dawn, TOLO). Shahid was the spokesperson for the Pakistani Taliban until last October, when he swore allegiance to ISIS in Afghanistan along with five other Pakistani Taliban commanders. He was the third most senior ISIS commander in Afghanistan to be killed in the past few months.

Karachi’s water supply cut by power outage

Karachi is still suffering from gaps in water supply due to Tuesday’s massive power outage in Karachi and other areas of Sindh which led to the shutdown of Karachi’s five water pumping stations (ET). According to the Karachi Water and Swerage Board (KWSB), the shutdown of the main pumping stations led to a shortage of 525 million gallons of water per day, and it will take three to four days to normalize the gaps in water supply. The KWSB has asked residents of Karachi to not waste water while they work to restore full functionality.

India

Bonus read: “Narendra Modi wants to train 400 million people to avert demographic mess” by Bibhudatta Pradhan (LiveMint)

Indian PM met Chinese President in Russia

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, a day after raising strong concerns over China’s move to block action against Pakistan over Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi’s release (PTIIBT). The Chinese government had placed a “technical hold” on India’s move in the United Nations on the issue of violation of the 1267 sanctions regime, questioning Pakistan on releasing Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. China used its veto power arguing that the information India provided to support its case was not “sufficient.” According to reports the border dispute between the two countries, trade and India’s application for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group were the topics of discussion in the meeting. The two leaders also discussed the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). India is one of the founding members and the second largest shareholder of the Bank.

Indian rocket to launch 5 British satellites

An Indian space agency official said that an Indian rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle XL variant will launch five British satellites on Friday night (IBT). On Tuesday the Indian Space Research Organization official said the Launch Authorization Board at its meeting  gave the go ahead for the July 10 night rocket launch. Since 1999 India has launched 40 satellites from other countries; the successful launch of the five British satellites would take the tally to 45.

— 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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