Indian Growth Slows in the Second Quarter; Electoral Reforms Commission Proposal Sent to Ghani, Abdullah; Suicide Bomber Hits KP Gov’t Office

India Indian growth slows down in the second quarter of 2015 Official data released on Tuesday showed that the Indian economy grew at a lower-than-expected rate of 7 percent in the second quarter of 2015 (BBC, Reuters). The GDP data released not only missed expectations but was also lower than the first quarter of 2015 ...

The television screen on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building features Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram presenting the interim budget to parliament, in Mumbai on February 17, 2014. India's finance minister Chidambaram defended his embattled ruling Congress party as he announced the interim budget and steered clear of populist measures, despite fears of a looming electoral defeat in the coming months.  AFP PHOTO/ PUNIT PARANJPE        (Photo credit should read PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)
The television screen on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building features Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram presenting the interim budget to parliament, in Mumbai on February 17, 2014. India's finance minister Chidambaram defended his embattled ruling Congress party as he announced the interim budget and steered clear of populist measures, despite fears of a looming electoral defeat in the coming months. AFP PHOTO/ PUNIT PARANJPE (Photo credit should read PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)
The television screen on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building features Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram presenting the interim budget to parliament, in Mumbai on February 17, 2014. India's finance minister Chidambaram defended his embattled ruling Congress party as he announced the interim budget and steered clear of populist measures, despite fears of a looming electoral defeat in the coming months. AFP PHOTO/ PUNIT PARANJPE (Photo credit should read PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

India

Indian growth slows down in the second quarter of 2015

Official data released on Tuesday showed that the Indian economy grew at a lower-than-expected rate of 7 percent in the second quarter of 2015 (BBC, Reuters). The GDP data released not only missed expectations but was also lower than the first quarter of 2015 which recorded 7.5 percent growth. China and India now share the title for being the fastest growing economies in the world as both demonstrated 7 percent growth.

India

Indian growth slows down in the second quarter of 2015

Official data released on Tuesday showed that the Indian economy grew at a lower-than-expected rate of 7 percent in the second quarter of 2015 (BBC, Reuters). The GDP data released not only missed expectations but was also lower than the first quarter of 2015 which recorded 7.5 percent growth. China and India now share the title for being the fastest growing economies in the world as both demonstrated 7 percent growth.

On the other hand some economists expressed concerns about India’s GDP data, arguing it overstates the strength of the economy since other economic indicators show only lukewarm recovery. Concerns have been raised on the new growth figures as doubts persist over India’s new way of calculating GDP, which it adopted earlier this year, according to which the base year was changed (WSJ).

Assam floods kill 21, displace 800,000 people

Floods in the Brahmaputra river in the northeastern state of Assam have killed at least 21 people in the past week (NYT/AP). Officials from the state’s disaster management authority said that 1600 villages have been hit, displacing nearly 800,000 people. The government has setup 168 relief camps, which are giving shelter to almost 50,000 people. There are reports of severe food shortages in the area, and according to one official, people are being forced to drink flood water.

India accuses Google of unfair practices

Officials in India are accusing the search engine giant Google of unfair business practices, alleging that Google had been “unfairly highlighting its own services” (BBC, Guardian, Reuters). The three year long investigation by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) found that Google manipulated its online advertising services and search results to disadvantage competitors. The CCI is to make its final ruling on Sept. 17 and has given the San Francisco based firm ten days to respond to accusations. Google India said in a statement that they are confident they will be cleared on any wrongdoing.

In the past, Google faced charges of unethical practices regarding manipulation of search results in the United States as well, and is currently being investigated on similar charges in the European Union. If found guilty in the European Union, it could face a multi-billion euro penalty.

Afghanistan

Electoral Reforms Commission proposal sent to Ghani, Abdullah

On Sunday, the Electoral Reforms Commission delivered recommendations to the Afghan National Unity Government on reforming the electoral system after a month of deliberations (NYT, TOLO News, Pajhwok). The new proposal has been met with mixed reviews. Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told TOLOnews: “such recommendations [have been made] several times but they have not been translated into action.” Abdul Sattar Saadat, head of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, questioned the legality of some of the proposed reforms, calling the proposal a “public admission” that the presidential elections were “bankrupt.” Watchdog organizations, like Afghanistan’s Democracy Watch and Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan, welcomed the recommendations, saying a number of the proposed changes, including increasing women’s role in provincial councils, are a positive step forward.

The recommendations also include allotting one-third of Parliament’s 250 seats to political parties; changing the IEC appointment process; creating a voter identification system; and dividing provinces into smaller voting districts, among others.

Baghlan attorney general killed in attack

Tuesday morning, the attorney general for northern Baghlan province, Col. Syed Mansoor, was shot in Pul-i-Khumri, the provincial capital, when his car was ambushed (Pajhwok). Col. Mansoor was in his car with his son when gunmen in another vehicle opened fire. He was killed instantly but his son survived. Provincial police chief Col. Abdul Bashir said they are investigating and no arrests have been made yet. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Arrests made in Kabul attacks

Afghanistan’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), announced on Monday that it arrested 30 Haqqani members with alleged connections to the recent Kabul airport and suicide bombing attacks (TOLO News). The NDS said the detained suspects were planning to attack key government buildings, including the ministries of defense and interior, the Presidential Palace, and the U.S. embassy. According to security sources that spoke to TOLOnews, high-quality, military grade explosives were also found during the operation.

Pakistan

Suicide bomber hits government office

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber struck a local government office in the Jamrud area of Khyber Agency near Peshawar, killing at least six people and wounding 31 others (ET, RFE/RL). Most of the dead are reported as local policemen. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack. “The TTP’s special ‘martyrdom’ unit targeted the assistant political agent and those leaders and forces that have been tasked to implement the National Action Plan,” said TTP spokesperson Muhammad Khorasani. Reuters is reporting that Lashkar-e-Islam also claimed responsibility when its spokesman Salahuddin Ayubi called the news agency (Reuters).

Aziz: Haqqani no longer in Pakistan

Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz told a news conference on Monday that the ongoing military action in North Waziristan has driven the Haqqani Network out of Pakistan (Pajhwok). “[The] Haqqani network is no longer present in Pakistan; they have shifted to Afghanistan after the recent military operations in the area,” he said, adding that the infrastructure supporting the group been destroyed.

Target killers arrested in journalists’ deaths

On Tuesday, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Safaraz Bugti announced the arrests of two “target killers” in the Aug. 28 murders of journalists Irshad Mastoi and Abdul Rasool and accountant Muhammad Younas (Dawn). The three were killed in Quetta when armed men entered the office of Online, the news agency the deceased worked for. Minister Bugti said the two arrestees were also involved in 30 bomb explosions and a series of targeted killings in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.

— Shuja Malik and Courtney Schuster

Edited by Peter Bergen

PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images

Courtney Schuster is a research associate with the International Security Program at New America and an assistant editor with the South Asia Channel.

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