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The South Asia Channel
Taliban Seize Villages in Kunduz; Former Indian President Kalam Dies; Karachi’s Security Forces at Odds with MQM
Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Poised to make history, a judge in Afghanistan hits a familiar wall,” Sudarsan Raghavan (Post) Taliban seize villages in Kunduz Taliban insurgents reportedly seized control of as many as 80 villages on Monday night in northern Kunduz province, local officials said on Tuesday (TOLO). “The Taliban last night took control of as many as ...
Bonus Read: “Poised to make history, a judge in Afghanistan hits a familiar wall,” Sudarsan Raghavan (Post)
Taliban seize villages in Kunduz
Taliban insurgents reportedly seized control of as many as 80 villages on Monday night in northern Kunduz province, local officials said on Tuesday (TOLO). “The Taliban last night took control of as many as 80 villages and about 14 residents who are fighting the insurgents have been killed or injured so far,” said Mohammad Yousuf Ayoubi, the head of Kunduz’s provincial council. He added that hundreds of families fled their homes as a result of the attacks. Security officials have not yet commented on the incident.
Kabul buzzing over non-alcoholic beer
The newest trend among Kabul’s young men eager to keep up with Western tastes in a country where alcohol is forbidden is alcohol-free beer (RFE/RL). The non-alcoholic beer is widely sold in Kabul’s convenience shops and bazaars after reportedly being smuggled off foreign military bases. Farooq, a shopkeeper, says: “It’s the Afghan version of alcohol,” adding that he sells one can for 20 afghanis, or around $0.30. “People don’t feel bad drinking it,” he notes.
Bonus read: “India conducts first official survey of Ganges dolphins,” by Nirmala Ganapathy (Guardian)
Former Indian President Kalam dies at 83
Former Indian president and one of the country’s foremost scientists A.P.J. Abdul Kalam died on Monday from cardiac arrest in Bethany Hospital in Shillong, the capital of India’s northeastern state of Meghalaya, at the age of 83 (PTI, BBC, Reuters). Kalam, India’s 11th president, held the office from 2002 to 2007. Popularly known as “Missile Man,” Kalam is considered the father of the country’s missile program. He led the scientific team that developed missiles able to carry India’s nuclear warheads. He became a national folk hero after helping oversee nuclear tests in 1998 that solidified India’s status as a nuclear weapons state.
Indian sprinter Dutee Chand cleared to race
Indian sprinter Dutee Chand has been cleared to race by a landmark ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland (BBC, Reuters, NYT). The ruling questioned the validity of the so-called gender tests that are based upon naturally high testosterone levels in female athletes. Chand, 19 was banned by International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) last summer after failing a hormone test. But the CAS has suspended the IAAF’s “hyperandrogenism” rules under which Chand was banned, for the next two years. The rules will be scrapped if the IAAF cannot provide new evidence to support continuing them.
In its ruling, the CAS urged the IAAF to create a procedure where athletes should be allowed to compete in one of the female or male categories and should not be excluded as a “consequence of the natural and unaltered state of their body.” Chand’s initial suspension was applied by the Athletics Federation of India in line with the IAAF’s guidelines on women testing for high levels of naturally-occurring testosterone.
10 killed in attack on Gurdaspur police station
Indian officials said that security forces fought an extended gun battle on Monday with militants who attacked a bus and stormed into a police station in the northern town Gurdaspur in the state of Punjab, bordering Pakistan, with 10 people killed in the violence (NYT, BBC, WP). The attackers killed four policemen and three civilians in the pre-dawn attack. The state’s director-general of police, Sumedh Singh Saini, said all three of the attackers were killed in fighting with Indian police officers backed by army personnel, that lasted about 12 hours. Police are investigating whether the militants came from the Indian portion of Kashmir or from Pakistan.
Karachi’s security forces at odds with MQM
Over the past two years, as Pakistan has been trying to restore order and secure Karachi, the political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has increasingly clashed with security officials (Post). In 2013, Karachi recorded 2,789 homicides, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered paramilitary forces known as the Pakistani Rangers into the city to maintain order. According to MQM leaders, 4,000 of their supporters have been arrested since the installation of the Rangers. While MQM appears to be just another vibrant political group, some of its supporters have been accused of violence and even murder over the years in an attempt to sway political affairs. Homicides have declined since the Rangers have been in Karachi; the city recorded 1,823 homicides in 2014, according to police statistics, and this year there have been 501 homicides from January through June.
Pakistan says data from drone proves spying
Pakistan’s military said on Monday that images and other data retrieved from a drone shot down earlier this month prove assertions that India was spying in the disputed Kashmir region using drones (WSJ). The drone — a Phantom commercial drone produced in China — was purportedly shot down by Pakistan on July 15 near the town of Bhimber. Indian officials dismissed claims that it belonged to India, saying that it didn’t look like a model operated by their country. Pakistan’s military said that it gleaned information about the “locations traversed” by the drone and released six images and a 97-second video that appear to show views of the Pakistani military and buildings belonging to the Indian Army, however the imagery couldn’t be independently verified.
–Emily Schneider and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen
Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images