India Signs Peace Deal With Naga Rebels; Shafqat Hussain Executed; Taliban Qatar Office Head Resigns
India India signs a peace accord with Naga rebels India’s government has signed a peace deal with a leading Naga separatist group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), bringing to an end one of the country’s oldest insurgencies (PTI, BBC, Reuters). Officials from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government signed the accord with NSCN-IM, one of ...
India signs a peace accord with Naga rebels
India’s government has signed a peace deal with a leading Naga separatist group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), bringing to an end one of the country’s oldest insurgencies (PTI, BBC, Reuters). Officials from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government signed the accord with NSCN-IM, one of several separatist groups active in the remote and underdeveloped northeastern region bordering on China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. The NSCN-IM has been fighting for an independent ethnic Naga homeland for two million Naga tribespeople, uniting parts of the mountainous northeast with areas of neighboring Myanmar, where it runs a government-in-exile. At least one other Naga faction remains at war with New Delhi. New Delhi and the NSCN-IM have been in talks since 1997. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the accord as “historic”.
India clamps down on pornography
A spokesman at the Department of Telecommunications, N.N. Kaul confirmed on Monday that during the weekend, the government ordered internet service providers to block hundreds of adult websites, in an attempt to prevent pornography from becoming a social nuisance (BBC, Reuters, Guardian, Post). In July, the Supreme Court expressed its unhappiness over the government’s inability to block sites, especially those featuring child pornography. Telecom companies have said they will not be able to enforce the “ban” immediately.
Last month, the Supreme Court refused to impose an outright ban after hearing a petition that said Internet porn fuelled sex crime. The court said individuals should be free to access such websites in private. After the current move, adults will still be able to access the sites using virtual private networks (VPNs) or proxy servers. The move has sparked a debate about censorship and freedom in the world’s largest democracy. Responding to criticism on social media, telecom department officials have clarified that the move to ban 857 adult content websites is “temporary” and was in response to the Supreme Court’s directions (Hindu). Senior officials told reporters that the department is working on a long term policy, which could include the setting up of a regulatory body or an ombudsman, to regulate such sites.
11 killed in a building collapse in suburban Mumbai
Police in the western city of Mumbai has said that at least 11 people have died after a three-story building collapsed early on Tuesday morning, in the suburb of Thane (Guardian, BBC). Many others are feared trapped beneath the rubble. Reports say the municipality had declared the old, dilapidated property dangerous to live in, but residents had refused to vacate. More than 100 people have died in residential building collapses in Mumbai in the last two years.
— Shuja Malik
Bonus Read: “Pakistan’s Shocking Strategic Shift” by Sameer Lalwani (TNI)
Bonus Read: “ISIS or Al Qaeda? American Officials Split Over Biggest Threat” by Eric Schmitt (NYT)
Shafqat Hussain executed
On Tuesday, Pakistan hanged Shafqat Hussain in Karachi (NYT, Guardian, Dawn, ET). In 2004 Hussain was convicted of killing a 7-year-old boy after abducting him based largely on a confession he gave to police. Hussain’s execution was extremely controversial and had been delayed four times, as his lawyers alleged that Hussain was younger than 18 when sentenced to death making the death sentence illegal. Pakistan investigated the claim and ruled that he had been 23. Hussain’s lawyers also alleged that he had confessed after torture. Raza Rumi, a Pakistani analyst based in Washington DC, told the New York Times: “The trial of Shafqat Hussain sums up the structural flaws in our criminal justice system, where police torture and confessions under duress are the norm.”
Expanding Chinese Free Trade sparks Pakistani fears
During talks on Monday as part of the Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement, Pakistan’s delegation raised concerns that China’s expanding set of free trade agreements with other countries threatened Pakistan’s market share (ET). According to an official with Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry, the delegation is seeking lower tariffs in response to the expanding number of Chinese Free Trade Agreements with other countries. According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper Pakistani negotiators are particularly concerned regarding the effect of China’s deals with members of ASEAN.
World Bank considers $500 million energy loan
On Monday, Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Managing Director of the World Bank, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, discussed the possibility of a $500 million loan for Pakistan’s energy sector (ET). The loan was originally scheduled to be approved in June, but had been delayed. Dar stated: “We are trying to get $500 million at the earliest,” and suggested the loan may be approved by September.
Taliban Qatar office head resigns
On Monday, Sayed Tayyeb Agha, the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar resigned over Akhtar Mansoor’s emergence as the group’s leader in the wake of the public acknowledgment of Mullah Omar’s death (ET, Dawn). Agha criticized the decision to keep Mullah Omar’s death secret and argued a new leader should have been elected by Taliban fighters. Agha stated: “I have decided to step down as head of the political office of the Islamic Emirate, because my political role has come to an end. I will not be part of any decision and statements of the Islamic Emirate Taliban.” Regarding the decision to keep Mullah Omar’s death secret, Agha stated: “I consider this a historical mistake.”
Abdullah: officials mourning Mullah Omar to be prosecuted
On Monday, Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah warned that officials who attend ceremonies mourning the death of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar would be prosecuted (Pajhwok). Interior Minister Noor-ul-Haq Ulumi stated: “The news of Mullah Omar’s death is a good message to our forces. It also conveys this message to the enemies that the path to war only leads to their failure and destruction,” continuing, “Unfortunately, it has been seen that even in Kabul some officials have attended the mourning ceremonies of Mullah Omar.” According to officials from the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, directives have been sent to each of Afghanistan’s provinces disallowing mourning ceremonies for Mullah Omar. In addition, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) warned that such gatherings would be a “legitimate target” for Afghan forces (Pajhwok). An NDS statement read in part: “Mullah Omar was the biggest cause of war and backwardness in the modern history of Afghanistan.”
Afghan doctors separate conjoined twins
Afghan doctors at the French Medical Institute for Children separated two 15-day-old conjoined twins in Kabul, Afghanistan’s TOLO News reported on Tuesday (TOLO News). Jalil Wardak, the head of surgery at the institute, said the twins had come from Badakhshan and were conjoined at the abdomen. Haidar Ahmad, the twins’ father, said: “We had no hope that they will remain alive. But when we came here, the doctors’ operation was successful, and now the baby girls are alive and are separated from each other.” The operation is the first such operation to be conducted in Afghanistan.
US to provide $800 million in aid to Afghanistan
On Monday, Michael McKinley, the United States’ ambassador to Afghanistan, announced that the United States would provide $800 million in aid to Afghanistan as part of a new development partnership (TOLO News). The money will be spent in coordination with the World Bank. Afghan Minister of Finance Eklil Ahmad Hakimi explained the aid package, stating: “The U.S aid package is conditional and covers five areas on the basis of which we can get the rest of the money. This will be a bilateral accountability process for the allocation of the funds. This also covers better utilization of the funds on which both sides have consensus and agreement.” Ambassador McKinley stated that the partnership “represents a fundamental transformation in the nature of development cooperation between our two countries.”
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen
PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images
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