The South Asia Channel

Indian, Pakistani Stock Markets Plummet; India-Pakistan Security Talks Called Off; Kabul Car Bomb Kills 12 Over Weekend

India Bonus Read: “Why Aren’t India’s Women Working?” by Rohini Pande and Charity Troyer Moore (NYT) Indian stocks fall nearly 6 percent India’s major stock exchange index, the BSE Sensex, suffered its largest single-day decline since January 2009 on Monday (Reuters, The Hindu, NDTV). The Mumbai-based index slid over 1,600 points, representing a nearly 6 percent decline. The ...

An Indian stockbroker watches currency rates on a screen during a trading session at the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai on August 24, 2015. The plummenting Chinese market on August 24 led a slump across Asian equities, as Beijing's latest intervention failed to restore confidence.   AFP PHOTO/ INDRANIL MUKHERJEE        (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indian stockbroker watches currency rates on a screen during a trading session at the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai on August 24, 2015. The plummenting Chinese market on August 24 led a slump across Asian equities, as Beijing's latest intervention failed to restore confidence. AFP PHOTO/ INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

India

Bonus Read: “Why Aren’t India’s Women Working?” by Rohini Pande and Charity Troyer Moore (NYT)

Indian stocks fall nearly 6 percent

India’s major stock exchange index, the BSE Sensex, suffered its largest single-day decline since January 2009 on Monday (ReutersThe HinduNDTV). The Mumbai-based index slid over 1,600 points, representing a nearly 6 percent decline. The Indian rupee also fell to its weakest level since September 2013, prompting the governor of the Reserve Bank of India to state that the central bank stood ready to deploy foreign exchange reserves if necessary to curb volatility. The downturn in Indian stocks comes amidst global market turmoil as a result of a steep decline in Chinese equities. However, analysts believe Indian markets could be hurt less than other countries due to India’s stronger fundamental economic parameters and the government’s commitment to fiscal discipline.

India-Pakistan security talks called off

India and Pakistan failed to hold scheduled security talks between the two countries’ national security advisers over the weekend (BBCTOI, WSJDawn). Pakistan called off the high-level security talks with India, citing India’s refusal to allow the Pakistani national security adviser to meet with Kashmiri separatists as unacceptable. Prominent domestic newspapers in both countries, however, blamed both sides for a lack of greater flexibility. The United States expressed disappointment and urged both countries to resume a formal security dialogue soon. Despite the setback, scheduled bilateral border talks between India and Pakistan are set to proceed in early September.

5 killed in train accident

Five people were killed and 20 others were injured when a truck collided with a train in the state of Andhra Pradesh on Monday (BBCTOI, NDTV). Among those killed was Venkatesh Nayak, a legislator from the state of Karnataka, as well as the driver of the truck. The chief minister of Andhra Pradesh ordered a probe into the accident. This incident comes two weeks after two trains derailed on a flooded bridge in the state of Madhya Pradesh, killing 24 people.

— Udit Banerjea

Pakistan

Bonus Read: “Pakistan’s embattled comedians spin troubles into punchlines” by Katherine Houreld (Reuters).

Karachi stock exchange plummets

On Monday, Karachi’s stock market plummeted 1,492 points before gaining slightly for a total fall of 1,370 points or 3.92 percent (ET). The fall comes as other stock markets have fallen largely due to concern over the Chinese and Greek economies. One trader told Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper: “Foreign investors have been booking losses in (emerging) equity markets plus commodity derivatives elsewhere. They have to make up for those losses by selling profitable stocks in their portfolio elsewhere.”

National Assembly speaker removed

On Saturday, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly, was removed from his seat after an election tribunal ruled that his 2013 election was marred by irregularities (NYT, ET). The tribunal has ordered a new election for Sadiq’s seat. The decision is an embarrassment for the ruling PMLN party, to which Sadiq belonged, and a victory for the opposition PTI party. Sadiq stated: “We respect and accept the tribunal’s decision,” continuing, “but we have some reservations for which we shall approach the Supreme Court.”

Suspected bomber escapes from Karachi anti-terrorism court

On Monday, a prisoner facing charges of possessing explosives in a Karachi anti-terrorism court escaped (ET, Dawn). Tanveer alias Jambu, the prisoner, was brought to the court but slipped out of the handcuffs and fled the court’s premises. Tanveer was arrested in late 2014. The judiciary had previously recommended moving anti-terrorism courts to more secure premises, but no action had been taken yet. Over five months in 2014, three individuals on trial for kidnapping escaped from the anti-terrorism courts.

Kidnapped Chinese cyclist released

On Saturday, a Pakistani military operation managed to release Hong Xudong, a Chinese man kidnapped while cycling through Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in May 2014 (BBC, Reuters, AP, RFE/RL). Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a press conference: “The Chinese tourist was recovered on Saturday night after a successful operation and is to be handed over to the Chinese embassy in Islamabad anytime soon.” The Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for Hong’s abduction soon after he was kidnapped.

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “Critiquing U.S. Spending in Afghanistan, to Dramatic Effect” by Ron Nixon (NYT)

Kabul car bomb kills 12

On Saturday, a car bomb exploded outside a private hospital in Kabul killing twelve people and injuring at least 60 (RFE/RL, Reuters). Three U.S. contractors were among those killed. The bombing is the latest in a wave of significant bomb attacks inside the country’s capital since the Taliban confirmed the death of its leader Mullah Omar. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pakistan summons Afghan ambassador over cross-border firing

On Sunday, Pakistan summoned Afghanistan’s ambassador to discuss allegations that cross-border firing from Afghanistan killed four Pakistani soldiers earlier in the day (Reuters, Dawn, TOLO News). According to Pakistan, militants fired on Pakistani soldiers from the Afghan side of the border and “Pakistani troops befittingly responded and eliminated the group of terrorists.” The incident is the second time Pakistan has summoned the Afghan ambassador in a week and a Pakistani statement read: “such incidents do not augur well for the positive trajectory of relations.”

EU suspends e-NIC funding

On Sunday, European Union Special Representative and Head of the EU Delegation to Afghanistan, Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, announced the suspension of EU funding for Afghanistan’s Electronic National Identity Card (e-NIC) citing continued delays in implementation (TOLO News). Melbin stated: “We cannot continue to pay for people for rolling out the card when actually the card is not rolled out. So as soon as the card starts being rolled out again, our contributions will start to flow.” USAID terminated its contribution to the e-NIC several weeks ago also citing the delays in implementation. Fayazuddin Gheyasi, the e-NIC program director, commented: “If the government does not decide to launch the distribution of ID cards, we will be compelled to stop our work due to lack of funding to pay the employees.”

— David Sterman

Edited by Peter Bergen

INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

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