The South Asia Channel
A Success Story In Karimabad; Obama Wrapping up Plan to Close Guantanamo; Modigate and Vyapam Scandals Paralyze Parliament
Pakistan In Karimabad, a success story for moderate Islam Once a hard Himalayan town where resident barely had enough food, Karimabad, in the Hunza Valley, is now one of Pakistan’s most idyllic spots and has become an oasis of tolerance, security, and good schools, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday (Post). Residents say they cannot ...
In Karimabad, a success story for moderate Islam
Once a hard Himalayan town where resident barely had enough food, Karimabad, in the Hunza Valley, is now one of Pakistan’s most idyllic spots and has become an oasis of tolerance, security, and good schools, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday (Post). Residents say they cannot remember the last murder in the valley and nearly all families own at least a small plot of land. Many parents say that if they had to choose, they would send their daughters to school over their sons. Those views have allowed Hunza Valley’s population to become a bulwark against Islamic extremism, despite being relatively close to militant strongholds in Pakistan’s tribal belt and Kashmir. According to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, the Hunza Valley’s literacy rate is 77 percent, although Karimabad residents say nearly everyone younger than 30 can read and write. The national literacy rate is about 58 percent.
Pakistan’s military helicopters, boats evacuate flood victims
Pakistan’s military deployed helicopters and boats Wednesday to evacuate flood victims from the country’s north, where monsoon rains and flash flood washed away several villages this week. So far, three people have been killed and another 285,000 have been affected by the floods in and around the city of Chitral in Pakistan’s Kybher Pakhtunkhwa province, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. Floods triggered by monsoon rains kill scored of people annually in Pakistan.
Obama wrapping up plan to close Guantanamo
The Obama administration is wrapping up a plan to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and will soon send it to Congress, spokesman josh Earnest said Wednesday. (DefenseOne, AP) It was the White House’s first public admission that it is drafting a closure plan for lawmakers. “Let me confirm for you that the administration is in fact in the final stages of drafting a plan to safely and responsibly close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and to present that plan to Congress,” Earnest said. Fifty-two of the remaining 116 prisoners are cleared for transfer, and more could be cleared in periodic reviews “to assess whether their continued detention remains necessary,” the spokesman said.
Abdullah kicks off election reform commission
Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, the most vocal critic of Afghanistan’s electoral system during the 2014 presidential election, on Wednesday spoke at the inaugural ceremony for the new electoral reforms commission (TOLO). Abdullah endorsed the new commission and said it embodied the government’s commitment to change. “One of the main priorities of the people is to reform the electoral system, and the first step has been taken with the start of the commission’s work,” Abdullah said on Wednesday. President Ashraf Ghani has disputed the existence of the commission with Abdullah in recent months, exposing divisions within the national unity government and delaying the next round of parliamentary elections. The commission will be expected to propose amendments to the national electoral laws, particularly regarding the election commissions, their responsibilities and authorities.
Modigate and Vyapam scandals paralyze Parliament
The Indian Parliament did not conduct any legislative business for the third day in a row as the deadlock between the government and opposition over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues continued (PTI, Hindu). The opposition stuck to its demand for the resignation of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the government countered in the Lok Sabha by citing a Facebook post of Robert Vadra, Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son in law, seeking action against him for “demeaning” members of parliament. Foreign Minister Swaraj has been involved in a controversy for helping disgraced cricket tycoon Lalit Modi with travel documents in the United Kingdom when his passport had been cancelled by the Indian government, while Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been at the center of large scale corruption scandal over medical school admissions in the country. The BJP government was hoping to push through important tax reform and land acquisition bills during the ongoing monsoon session of the parliament which ends on August 8.
Delhi man confesses to “30 acts of murder and sexual assault”
A man in the custody of Delhi police has confessed to committing 30 different acts of murder and sexual assault on young children in the city (BBC). Police in the Indian capital recently arrested Ravinder, who uses just one name, for the murder of a six year old girl but are now investigating whether this man is a serial killer. In the days since his arrest, Ravinder has confessed to dozens of sexual assaults and murders of children while under the influence of alcohol, giving “details of times and places of crimes,” with surprising accuracy according to police sources. His family, however, alleges he is being framed and the confessions are obtained under duress. Last year, he was also arrested for a similar crime, when he was accused of sexually assaulting a six year old boy and slitting his throat. He spent a year in jail but was freed two months ago after the boy, who survived the assault, failed to identify him.
Supreme Court restores states’ right to commute life sentences
On Thursday, the Supreme Court in India restored the right of the state governments to exercise their discretion to grant freedom to life convicts (Hindu, TOI). Last year the Supreme Court had ordered a blanket freeze against state governments using their power of remission under sections 432, 433 of the criminal penal code of India to release life convicts on July 9. The trigger for the stay order came when the federal government challenged the Jayalalithaa government in the state of Tamil Nadu ordering the release of seven life convicts whose death penalty was commuted to life sentence by the Supreme Court. A special exception to the latest order has been put in place for the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
— Emily Schneider and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen