The South Asia Channel
10 Major Indian Workers’ Unions Strike; U.S. Drone Strike in North Waziristan; U.S. Military Airfields Turned Over to Afghanistan
India Bonus read: “India and Pakistan’s Dialogue of the Deaf” by Mohammad Hanif (NYT) 10 major workers’ unions go on strike in India Nearly 150 million workers belonging to 10 major workers’ unions in India have gone to strike on Wednesday to protest policies of the Narendra Modi government (BBC, Hindu). The strike seems to ...
Bonus read: “India and Pakistan’s Dialogue of the Deaf” by Mohammad Hanif (NYT)
10 major workers’ unions go on strike in India
Nearly 150 million workers belonging to 10 major workers’ unions in India have gone to strike on Wednesday to protest policies of the Narendra Modi government (BBC, Hindu). The strike seems to have badly affected the public transportation systems with long queues of commuters seen in numerous big cities at railway stations and airports. Some banks and most schools stayed closed for the day. Other industries adversely affected by the strike are manufacturing, construction and coal mining. The workers are demanding that the government abandon its plans to privatize some of the state run companies and changes in labor laws.
8 die in overnight clashes in Manipur
Officials in the north-eastern state of Manipur have confirmed deaths of eight people during overnight clashes between protesters and local police, over tribal rights laws (BBC, Hindu). Violence began on Monday after three controversial bills aimed at giving more rights to indigenous group were introduced by the state government. A total of 30 people have died since Monday in numerous incidents and curfew has been placed in some districts of state while internet services are blocked in many parts of the state. The homes of a state minister, a member of parliament, and five state legislators were also set on fire. The federal government has called the situation “very tense” and offered to send soldiers to defuse the situation.
Government announces auctions for 69 marginal oil fields
The Indian government on Wednesday announced Marginal Fields Policy according to which the government decided to sell off exploration rights in 69 marginal oil fields through a competitive bidding process (Indian Express, ET, LiveMint). Exploration rights to these fields were previously held by national oil companies such as Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd and Oil India Ltd.
The government has instituted two policy changes in this latest announcement. Firstly, it has dropped the profit sharing methodology used in the past with oil exploration companies and will receive a share of revenue earned from resource sale. Secondly, the license granted to the successful bidder will cover all hydrocarbons found in the field.
Bonus read: “Pakistan’s Drug Crisis in Numbers,” Maya Foa (South Asia)
U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan
On Tuesday, a U.S. drone strike in Datta Khel, North Waziristan killed at least five suspected militants and wounded four others (RFE/RL). Pakistani security officials and tribal sources reported that a compound used by suspected foreign militants was struck. According to a count by New America, this is the tenth drone strike in Pakistan this year (New America).
Taliban publish biography of new leader
The Taliban have posted to their website a 5,000 word biography of their new leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, in five languages (RFE/RL). The biography describes Mansour as a pious warrior with “jihadi acumen” who likes to wear “loose, neat, and clean clothes” and “dislikes and avoids extravagance.” Analysts say the biography is an attempt to solidify Mansour’s position and quash growing infighting over his appointment.
Execution of disabled man delayed
On Tuesday, the deadline lapsed for Pakistani prison officials to explain to the Lahore High Court how they intend to execute 43-year-old Abdul Basit, a paraplegic death row inmate (BBC). Pakistan’s jail manual does not contain instructions on how to execute an inmate who uses a wheelchair. The court told prison officials they had until Sept. 1 to deliver a specific plan to execute Basit if they were to be allowed to proceed. Basit was convicted of murder in 2009 and became paralyzed in jail after contracting tuberculous meningitis while incarcerated. Pakistan has executed more than 200 people since December 2014 when the death penalty was reinstituted.
Bonus read: “Afghan villagers skeptical as U.S. reopens probe into 2013 killings,” Sayed Salahuddin and Sudarsan Raghavan (Post)
U.S. military airfields turned over to Afghanistan
Eight military airfields across Afghanistan — including Bagram Airfield and airfields in Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, and Mazar-e-Sharif — are being handed over to the Afghan government as the NATO mission in Afghanistan winds down (TOLO News). The airfields, worth an estimated $2 billion, are being transferred to the government rather than being closed so that they might help the economy, according to U.S. Major General Todd Semonite. Colonel Tom Tickner, the director of the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan, said that most of the airfields are in operational condition.
Food aid given to IDPs
In three districts of Badakhshan province on Wednesday, 500 internally displaced families were given food aid by the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (Pajhwok). Each family received a 110-pound bag of flour, a 44-pound bag of rice, 11 pounds of sugar, and 22 pounds of macaroni. One man who received the food said: “The aid is not sufficient for our families. We are confused where to go to save our families in the coming winter.” Badakhshan provincial council head Abdullah Naji Nazari warned: “The problems of IDPs will double in the next winter because most of the people are living in open area or in tents. If their shelter problem was not resolved, the situations will become serious.”
— Shuja Malik and Courtney Schuster
Edited by Peter Bergen
NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images