Indian Supreme Court Rejects Memon’s Mercy Plea; US Imam Allegedly Aided al Qaeda Precursor in Pakistan; Sharif Expedites Flood Relief Efforts

India Supreme Court rejects Yaqub Memon’s final mercy plea India’s Supreme Court has rejected a final mercy plea of a man found guilty of financing the 1993 serial bombings in the western city of Mumbai (Reuters, TOI, Hindu). Yakub Memon will be the first person to be executed in India since a Kashmiri man, Afzal ...

Members of the media wait on the Supreme Court lawn in New Delhi on December 11, 2013.  India's Supreme Court upheld a colonial-era law criminalising homosexuality in a landmark judgment that crushes activists' hopes for guarantees on sexual freedom in the world's biggest democracy. A two-judge bench cancelled a Delhi High Court ruling in 2009 that section 377 of the Indian penal code prohibiting people from engaging in "carnal acts against the order of nature" infringed the fundamental rights of Indians.   AFP PHOTO/Prakash SINGH        (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the media wait on the Supreme Court lawn in New Delhi on December 11, 2013. India's Supreme Court upheld a colonial-era law criminalising homosexuality in a landmark judgment that crushes activists' hopes for guarantees on sexual freedom in the world's biggest democracy. A two-judge bench cancelled a Delhi High Court ruling in 2009 that section 377 of the Indian penal code prohibiting people from engaging in "carnal acts against the order of nature" infringed the fundamental rights of Indians. AFP PHOTO/Prakash SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the media wait on the Supreme Court lawn in New Delhi on December 11, 2013. India's Supreme Court upheld a colonial-era law criminalising homosexuality in a landmark judgment that crushes activists' hopes for guarantees on sexual freedom in the world's biggest democracy. A two-judge bench cancelled a Delhi High Court ruling in 2009 that section 377 of the Indian penal code prohibiting people from engaging in "carnal acts against the order of nature" infringed the fundamental rights of Indians. AFP PHOTO/Prakash SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

India

India

Supreme Court rejects Yaqub Memon’s final mercy plea

India’s Supreme Court has rejected a final mercy plea of a man found guilty of financing the 1993 serial bombings in the western city of Mumbai (Reuters, TOI, Hindu). Yakub Memon will be the first person to be executed in India since a Kashmiri man, Afzal Guru, was hanged in 2013 for the 2001 attack on India’s parliament. The 1993 blasts killed 257 people and wounded 713. The attacks were allegedly organised to avenge the killings of Muslims in riots a few months earlier. Before the Supreme Court hearing, the Maharashtra state government announced plans to hang Memon on July 30. A total of eight members of the Memon family were initially accused of planning the bombings and dispersing funds for the attacks. The alleged masterminds of the blasts, Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, Yakub’s brother, have been on the run since 1993.

India monsoon parliament session off to a turbulent start

India’s new session of parliament began this morning with disruptions from the opposition parties demanding the resignation of three ruling BJP ministers (BBC, TOI, Hindu) . Members of the main opposition Congress party stormed the chamber and forced the speaker to halt proceedings. The opening of the upper house was disrupted by opposition members protesting and the lower house shut down for the day soon after opening to allow members to mark the recent death of a member. Opposition leaders called for the resignations of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje for helping former IPL cricket chief Lalit Modi, wanted on tax evasion charges, to relocated to the United Kingdom. They are also demanding the resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over a corruption scandal.

Elderly woman accused of being a witch, killed in Assam

Police in the northeastern state of Assam said that on Monday an elderly Indian woman Purni Orang, was accused of practicing witchcraft, stripped naked, and beheaded by villagers (BBC). Officials said that the 63 year old had been blamed for causing illness among villagers in the tribal settlement. Seven people, including two women, have been arrested over her killing. Police in Assam say nearly 90 people, mostly women, have been beheaded, burnt alive or stabbed to death after such accusations over the last six years. Branding women as witches is particularly prevalent among tribal communities and tea plantation workers in the state.

Afghanistan

U.S. Imam allegedly aided al Qaeda precursor in Pakistan

U.S. authorities are seeking to revoke the citizenship of Mohamed Sheik Abdirahman Kariye, an imam who they say tried to conceal past associations with radical groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan (AP, RFE/RL, AJA). Kariye raised money, recruited fighters, and provided training to groups battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Justice says in a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Portland on Monday. Government lawyers say that Kariye “dealt directly” with Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam, the founders of al Qaeda, and recruited sympathizers in the United States and Pakistan for Maktab al Khidamat, a precursor to al Qaeda. Federal authorities say Kariye failed to reveal those details in his application for citizenship, which was granted in 1998. 

Afghan fruit industry suffers amid tariff hike

A recent hike in Pakistan’s customs tariffs on Afghan fruit imports has reportedly contributed to $4 million in losses to farmers and businesses in Afghanistan over the past 20 days (TOLO). Officials at the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) have said that the losses are tied to the fact that a large amount of fresh vegetables and fruits on their way to Pakistan have spoiled because of the increasing obstacles in Pakistani customs. “If the issue is not solved in the coming week, and if the situation continues, we will suffer losses of about 200 million USD through the end of the year and those losses will effect our farmers and our businessmen, and it will not have a good effect on the country’s economic growth,” ACCI Deputy Khan Jan Alkozai said on Tuesday. The Afghan government has assured farmers that efforts are underway to resolve the issue through diplomatic negotiations with Pakistan.

Pakistan

PM directs authorities to expedite flood relief efforts

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday directed authorities to expedite relief efforts as flash floods continued to cause damage across the country (ET, Dawn). Roads, bridges, and a number of villages were washed away in the Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as heavy rain triggered flash flooding. “PM Nawaz has expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of life and property due to floods in Chitral and intends to visit the flood affected areas in Chitral today but is stuck in Lahore due to bad weather,” a PM House statement read. It is the sixth consecutive day that the army is undertaking relief operations in the affected areas and many residents have been evacuated already.

‘Fresh buns’ stir debate

The American fast food chain Hardees, known for its burgers and milkshakes, is causing controversy with its new ad campaign in Islamabad (ET). The restaurant, which first opened in Pakistan in 20009, is advertising its freshly-baked hamburger buns with ads that show two buns placed together and a woman’s hand firmly grabbing one, while the ad reads “fresh buns.” The innuendo caused a backlash on social media, sparking debate about whether it was appropriate or lewd. This isn’t the first time the fast food chain has caused controversy with its ads; before its launch in the country, a stream of advertisements were launched that many thought were inappropriate.

— 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. Twitter: @emilydsch

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