The South Asia Channel

Afghan Taliban Leader Backs Peace Talks; Bodies of Four Abducted Policemen Found; Upgrades For Pakistani Air Force

Afghanistan Bonus Read: “For a Therapist in Afghanistan, Empathy is Good Medicine,” Mujib Mashal (NYT) Bonus Read: “Afghans who once watched war from afar forced to flee as front lines shift,” Sudarsan Raghavan (Post) Afghan Taliban leader backs peace talks In a rare message distributed to media Wednesday, the reclusive Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad ...

Guests arrive for the opening ceremony of the new Taliban political office in Doha on June 18, 2013. The office is intended to open dialogue with the international community and Afghan groups for a "peaceful solution" in Afghanistan office spokesman Mohammed Naim told reporters. AFP PHOTO / FAISAL AL-TIMIMI        (Photo credit should read FAISAL AL-TIMIMI/AFP/Getty Images)
Guests arrive for the opening ceremony of the new Taliban political office in Doha on June 18, 2013. The office is intended to open dialogue with the international community and Afghan groups for a "peaceful solution" in Afghanistan office spokesman Mohammed Naim told reporters. AFP PHOTO / FAISAL AL-TIMIMI (Photo credit should read FAISAL AL-TIMIMI/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “For a Therapist in Afghanistan, Empathy is Good Medicine,” Mujib Mashal (NYT)

Bonus Read: “Afghans who once watched war from afar forced to flee as front lines shift,” Sudarsan Raghavan (Post)

Afghan Taliban leader backs peace talks

In a rare message distributed to media Wednesday, the reclusive Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar backed peace talks with the Kabul government, saying that the goal of the efforts is an “end to occupation” by foreign forces (AP, Reuters, BBC). The written message, which was released ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan, Omar urged Muslim leaders to unite and pledged to continue to fighting until foreign troops left Afghanistan. Although he made no specific mention of the first face-to-face talks between the Taliban and Afghan government on July 7 in Islamabad, the statement seemed to endorse that meeting and others, reminding his followers that “peaceful interactions with the enemies is not prohibited” under Islamic tradition. The progress that had been made at the July 7 meeting was doubted by some who did not believe the Taliban representatives who attended had the green light from Mullah Omar or the political office in Qatar. Bonus Read: “Who’s Talking for the Taliban?” Daud Khattak (SouthAsia)

Senate asks NUG, Karzai to end rivalry

Senators in Afghanistan’s Parliament on Tuesday asked Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai to put aside their differences for the sake of the nation (TOLO). The plea from the Senators came amid rising tensions between the national unity government and the former president and rumors that Karzai was attempting to undermine the Ghani administration.  “Let’s visit the three leaders – Ghani, Abdullah and Karzai – and beg in front of them and tell them that for the sake of God help the people and heal their pain,” Senator Zalmai Zabuli told fellow representatives.

India

Bonus read: “Could a new pavement design give walking culture a foothold in Bangalore?” Kavitha Rao (Guardian)

Bodies of four abducted policemen found in Chhattisgarh

The bodies of four policemen who were abducted by Maoist rebels have been recovered in India’s Chhattisgarh state (BBC, HT). The bodies were found by the roadside near Gudma village in Bijapur district, 350 km (218 miles) south of state capital Raipur. The rebels had abducted the policemen after stopping a bus carrying security personnel in Bijapur on Monday. The Maoists say they are fighting for communist rule and greater rights for tribal people and the rural poor. Their insurgency began in West Bengal in the late 1960s, spreading to more than a third of India’s 676 districts. Chhattisgarh state is often hit by Maoist violence. At least 14 policemen were killed in an ambush in the state in December. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described India’s Maoist insurgency as its “greatest internal security challenge.”

Officials prepare for the first hanging in 1993 Mumbai blasts case

Official police sources in Nagpur have indicated that Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, a death row convict in the March 12, 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, will be hanged at 7 am on July 30 in Nagpur Central Jail, if the Supreme Court rejects his curative petition on July 21 (Hindu, IBT, Zee News).

If hanged, this will be the first, and possibly the only hanging in the 1993 blasts case in which 100 people have been convicted. 53 year old Memon has filed his second review petition before the Supreme Court which is expected to be heard July 21, but the state government is making all preparations for the hanging with the death warrant issued earlier this week. He was given the death sentence by a Special TADA Court in Mumbai on July 27, 2007 for his role in the blasts, including arranging finances for carrying out the 13 serial explosions which left 257 dead and over 700 injured across the city on March 12, 1993. Police sources say that the bombings were carried out at the behest of the famed gangster Dawood Ibrahim to avenge the destruction of an ancient mosque by Hindu zealots in 1992 and subsequent riots in which many Muslims were killed. Believed to be in hiding in Pakistan, Dawood Ibrahim is the head of a notorious criminal organization called the D-Company which is based in Mumbai.

Boeing and Tata to team up to develop products

U.S. aircraft manufacturing firm Boeing said on Wednesday that they will be joining hands with the Indian firm Tata Advanced Systems Ltd to work together on manufacturing aerospace and defense equipment including unmanned aerial vehicles (Reuters). The Boeing statement said that the two firms intend to sell into markets products that they have jointly developed. New Delhi is trying to encourage more companies to manufacture in India and boost skilled employment, particularly in defense. Tata Advanced Systems owned by conglomerate Tata Sons already works with Airbus Group and Lockheed Martin.

 

Pakistan

Pakistan’s air force to get an upgrade

The Pakistani Air Force has signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to produce and upgrade Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods (ATP) for its F-16 fleet (ET). The contract includes the upgrade of Pakistan’s existing 22 Sniper ATPs and the production of 15 new Sniper ATPs. “Sniper ATP has supported the Pakistan Air Force’s mission since 2010,” said Rich Lovette, Sniper international programme director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Additional Sniper ATPs and upgrades will give the Pakistan Air Force a more robust precision targeting capability to support the nation’s security requirements.” Delivery will begin late this year.

Police set up complaint cell

The Islamabad Central Police Office has set up a complaint cell, where citizens can lodge complaints against police officials, it was reported on Wednesday (Dawn). Complaints can be submitted through email, fax, text message, telephone, or in person for misbehavior, misuse of power, delaying investigations, negligence, and unprofessional attitude.

–Emily Schneider and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

FAISAL AL-TIMIMI/AFP/Getty Images

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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