The South Asia Channel

Modi and Sharif Meet in Russia; 23 Killed in Bangladesh Stampede; Ghani Emphasizes Regional Stability for Afghanistan’s Future

Pakistan Pakistan, India agree to fight terrorism Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed at a rare meeting on Friday to cooperate on eliminating terrorism in South Asia, according to a statement by Pakistan’s foreign ministry (AP). “Both sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with ...

From L: Uzbekistans President Islam Karimov, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, South Africas President Jacob Zuma, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chinas President Xi Jinping, Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, Brazils President Dilma Rousseff, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian pose for a family photo during the 7th BRICS summit in Ufa on July 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV        (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
From L: Uzbekistans President Islam Karimov, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, South Africas President Jacob Zuma, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chinas President Xi Jinping, Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, Brazils President Dilma Rousseff, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian pose for a family photo during the 7th BRICS summit in Ufa on July 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan

Pakistan, India agree to fight terrorism

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed at a rare meeting on Friday to cooperate on eliminating terrorism in South Asia, according to a statement by Pakistan’s foreign ministry (AP). “Both sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate the menace of terrorism from South Asia,” Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said in a statement. Sharif and Modi met in Ufa, Russia where they are attending the BRICS summit.

The meeting between the two leaders on Friday came after increased border hostilities in the past few months and the backdrop of India having cancelled secretary-level talks last year. The prime ministers also agreed to help expedite the 2008 Mumbai terror attack trial, blamed on Pakistan based militants. Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told reporters that the two sides had also agreed to hold a meeting of their top security advisers to discuss terrorism. Sources in the Pakistani government have indicated that this may include military officials.

Additionally, Modi accepted Sharif’s invitation to the South Asian regional summit, which is going to be held in Islamabad next year (ReutersBBCHinduTOI). The trip will be Modi’s first visit to Pakistan after he took power last year. Experts warned the trip could yet fall through, but if Modi goes, it would be the first time an Indian leader has visited the country since Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004.

Pakistan cracks down on illegal charities

Police have confiscated 1,200 illegal charity boxes placed at shops and public places throughout Punjab province by banned organizations (AFP). They have also arrested 72 people in connection with the banned charities, a pPunjab police spokesperson said on Friday. The crackdown began at the start of Ramadan and police were directed to seize collection boxes and arrest activists of banned charity organizations. The police spokesperson said that police would continue to block the collection of illegal funds in the name of charity in order to stop funding to militant organizations and terrorists.

India

Supreme Court orders nation’s most powerful agency to investigate Vyapam scandal

India’s Supreme Court has ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate a massive college admission and government job recruitment scandal in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, linked to dozens of suspicious deaths (Guardian).The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the CBI to take over the inquiry into Vyapam scandal in which dozens of senior officials have been jailed, nearly 2,000 people arrested. In the past two weeks, a key witness died of a heart attack in prison; an investigative journalist probing the scam was found dead; and the body of a medical college dean whose institution was being investigated was recovered from a hotel in Delhi. Thousands of people now working as teachers, nurses, doctors, vets and police officers are believed to have paid middlemen to arrange high marks at crucial examinations.

India issues dress code for medical school entrance exams

Authorities in India have issued a dress code for candidates who are retaking a medical school exam (BBC). Last month, the Supreme Court ordered more than 600,000 students to retake the exam after they found that the question paper had been leaked prior to the exam. Candidates have been told to wear light clothes with half-sleeves, and shirts that do not have big buttons and open slippers. They cannot wear earrings and carry calculators, pens, handbags and wallets. In India students cheating in exams have been often found concealing Bluetooth devices and mobile SIM cards that have been stitched to their shirts. A number of candidates have also been caught using small earphones, stitched button-hole cameras and micro earplugs. The dress code is aimed at eliminating some of the more obvious hiding places for such gadgets. The latest guidelines following national outrage over a massive medical school admissions examination scandal involving thousands of arrests and many mysterious deaths. 

Bangladesh

23 die in a stampede in Bangladesh

Police in Mymensingh city in northern Bangladesh said that at least 23 people have been killed and 50 injured in a stampede during a clothes giveaway (Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN). Hundreds of people rushed through a small gate into a factory compound before dawn to get the free garments, causing a crush. Police have detained seven people, including the owner of the factory. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, wealthy Bangladeshis often donate clothing to the poor. 

Afghanistan

Ghani emphasizes regional cooperation at BRICS summit

At the BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani linked regional stability and security to the security and stability of Afghanistan (TOLO, Pajhwok). Ghani, who along with a high-level delegation left Kabul on Thursday for an official visit to Russia, maintained at the meeting of BRICS leaders that Afghanistan was at the center of cooperation. He asked for regional cooperation to eliminate threats posed not just to his country, but to regional partners as well.

First-ever women’s football event being organized in Kabul

For the first time ever, a women’s football (soccer) tournament will be organized in Kabul as part of the Roshan Afghan Premier League, officials announced on Thursday (Pajhwok, TOLO). Karamuddin Karim, the head of the Afghanistan Football Federation, said the Roshan telecommunications company had decided to sponsor the premier league for the next three years. He praised the company’s contribution and assistance to develop the game in Afghanistan. The league has the support of the the international governing body of football, FIFIA, and the Asian football Federation. All matches are played in the new stadium in Kabul that seats 5,000 people.

— 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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