Pakistan Invites Separatist Leaders to High Commission in Delhi; Military Report on Afghan Massacre; Pakistan Bans Houbara Bastard Hunting
India Pakistan invites Kashmiri separatist leaders to the High Commission in Delhi The Pakistani High Commission in Delhi extended an invitation to separatist leaders from the disputed Kashmir region, including hardline Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, for a meeting on Aug 23, the day talks between the security officials from the two countries are ...
Pakistan invites Kashmiri separatist leaders to the High Commission in Delhi
The Pakistani High Commission in Delhi extended an invitation to separatist leaders from the disputed Kashmir region, including hardline Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, for a meeting on Aug 23, the day talks between the security officials from the two countries are due to start (Reuters, Hindu, NDTV). The move comes amid risks of straining efforts to restart a peace dialogue between the nuclear-armed nations. NDTV has quoted Indian government sources as saying that India will not call off next week’s talks with Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz despite the invitation to separatists adding that India “has a surprise for Pakistan in the talks.”
India called off peace talks with Pakistan a year ago after its neighbor consulted the separatists before a meeting between their foreign secretaries. At the time, India accused Pakistan of interfering in its domestic affairs. After being elected last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated that he would not tolerate meetings between Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists.
Two brothers behead teenage sister over alleged affair
Police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh said on Wednesday that two brothers in Shahjahanapur, beheaded their teenage sister and carried her head through their village because they disapproved of her romantic relationship with a cousin (NYT/AP, NDTV).
Officer Rajesh Singh from local police said that at least a dozen people watched as 17-year-old Phool Jehan was dragged out of her house, beaten, and beheaded by her brothers late Monday, but no one informed the police. After beheading Jehan, Nanhe and Gul Hasan left their sister’s body in the street and roamed around the village with her head, shouting that they were against the relationship, Singh said.
Honor killings are common across India, but such brutal slayings are extremely rare. India also is considered one of the harshest places in the world for women, with female infanticide and child marriage still common. The United Nations’ gender inequality index places India next to last, above only Saudi Arabia, based on labor, reproductive health, education, and politics.
Snapdeal raises $500 million from international investors
One of India’s e-commerce companies, Snapdeal says it has raised $500 million from international investors for expanding its online marketplace. Among the backers are China’s Alibaba, Taiwan’s Foxconn, and Japan’s SoftBank (LiveMint, BBC). U.S. company eBay though, one of the early supporters of Snapdeal, announced it was selling its stake to boost its own business in the country. In the Indian e-commerce sector, Snapdeal competes with rivals Flipkart and Amazon for market share. In 2014, the company had already raised some $627 million in investment from Japanese technology giant SoftBank, coming on top of the $350 million previously raised since the company’s founding in 2010. U.S. research company CB Insights puts Snapdeal’s current valuation at $2.5 billion, making it the second largest venture-funded startup in India after Flipkart.
Cochin airport goes completely solar
Cochin International Airport in the southern Indian state of Kerala became the world’s first entirely solar-powered airport on Tuesday, unveiling a new system that will make the airport “absolutely power neutral,” according to a statement released by the parent company (Indian Express, Time).
The airport’s solar power plant is comprised of more than 46,000 solar panels arrayed across 45 acres of land, the Economic Times reports. Over the next 25 years, Cochin International’s solar power station is expected to save 300,000 tons worth of carbon emissions.
— Shuja Malik
Bonus Read: “The Quiet Demise of the Army’s Plan to Understand Afghanistan and Iraq” by Vanessa Gezari (NYT Magazine)
Military report: culture of drugs, booze, and racism surrounded massacre
On Tuesday, a United States military report that pointed to a culture of drugs, alcohol, and racism surrounding the 2012 massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by Sgt. Robert Bales was made public (ABC). The report’s executive summary notes that “[T]he command climate at VSP [Village Stability Platform] Belambai suffered from low standards of personal conduct and discipline while at the VSP.” The report alleges that non-commissioned officers at the VSP “committed, participated in, or tolerated the inappropriate behavior or failed to report the behavior.” It furthermore noted “the use of alcohol… use of steroids, and inappropriate remarks and behavior with respect to Afghans” on the part of personnel deployed at the VSP. The report was compiled in 2012 by Brig. Gen. Ricky Waddell on behalf of Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan at the time.
Afghanistan celebrates Independence Day
On Wednesday, Afghanistan celebrated its 96th Independence Day. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani laid a wreath at the Freedom Monument in Kabul to mark the day (Pajhwok, TOLO News). The wreath laying ceremony was attended by Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai, and other senior figures including NATO commanders. Similar events occurred in other provinces including Balkh (Pajhwok). On Tuesday night, the eve of Independence Day, residents of Kabul were treated to a fireworks display (TOLO News). Despite the celebrations, the day was also marked by continued tension and discussions with Pakistan over its alleged role or responsibility for a recent wave of violence that hit Kabul (Reuters). One resident commented: “I’ve come to celebrate our Independence Day, we’re celebrating against Pakistan.”
Top court bans Houbara Bastard hunting
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld a provincial ban on hunting of the Houbara Bastard bird and ordered the cancellation of all hunting permits for it (ET, Dawn). The case derived from the federal government’s issuance of such permits over provincial objections. The panel ruled: “After the passing of the 18th Constitutional amendment, the rights to issue any such licenses rests with the provincial governments.” Justice Qazi Faiz Essa commented: “The federal government has not only violated the federal and the provincial laws but has also breached the international agreements by issuing such licenses.” The Houbara Bastard is listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to its rapid population decline in recent years. However, the bird remains a popular prey of hunters from Arab countries.
Godil weaned off ventilator as MQM talks progress
On Wednesday, Liaquat National Hospital spokesman Anjum Rizvi stated that Rashid Godil, an MQM leader who was shot on Tuesday, was responsive and being weaned off the ventilator (Dawn). According to Rizvi, Goidl has been weaned 60 percent off the ventilator, commenting: “Doctors call it clinical stability. His state is not deteriorating but it is still critical. The next 24 hours will be important for him.” The improvements in Godil’s condition come amid talks seeking to forestall the en masse resignation of MQM lawmakers. Negotiations over reconciliation had been stalled as a result of the attack on Godil. On Wednesday, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the JUI-F party who had been tasked with mediating the process, updated Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the negotiations (ET, Dawn). Fazl was optimistic about the talks’ potential for success calling them “positive” and adding: “the reasonable demands of MQM will be met.”
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen
TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images
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