The South Asia Channel
Militants Killed in Kashmir; Regional Economic Summit Opens in Kabul; MQM Resignations Final; Nepali Earthquake Aid Not Spent
India Bonus read: “Is Teesta Setalvad India’s most hounded activist?” by Soutik Biswas (BBC) Five militants killed in Kashmir on Thursday Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir confirmed that at least five suspected militants were killed early Thursday morning in two separate gun battles with the Indian army, in Kupwara and Sopore areas (BBC). Army sources also ...
Bonus read: “Is Teesta Setalvad India’s most hounded activist?” by Soutik Biswas (BBC)
Five militants killed in Kashmir on Thursday
Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir confirmed that at least five suspected militants were killed early Thursday morning in two separate gun battles with the Indian army, in Kupwara and Sopore areas (BBC). Army sources also confirmed the deaths of two soldiers within the past 24 hours. As many as 60 people suspected of being militants are said to have been killed by police in recent months.
India and Pakistan have conflicting territorial claims over Kashmir, home to an armed separatist movement since 1989, and last month Pakistan called off high-level security talks between the two nuclear armed neighbors after India refused to allow Pakistan’s ambassador to meet separatist leaders from Kashmir. As tension runs high between the two countries, responding to the Indian army chief’s comments earlier in the week, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said on Thursday morning that Pakistan was ready to respond to any “short or long” aggression from the Indian side (Dawn).
Australia and India to hold joint naval exercises
Australian Defense Minister Kevin Andrews said on Thursday that Australian and Indian navies will hold their first bilateral naval exercise called Exercise Ausindex off the coast of India in the upcoming months (Guardian). Andrews, who is on a three day visit to India, had earlier expressed Australia’s eagerness to join India, the United States, and Japan in joint military exercises in the Indian Ocean (Reuters, NYT); a move seen as attempting to counter Chinese influence in the region. India and the United States hold annual joint military exercises called Malabar and this year Japan was invited to take part in these exercises. Earlier Andrews said in a statement that Australia was concerned about escalating strategic rivalry in the South China Sea which put Asia at risk for a military blunder.
Regional economic summit opens in Kabul
The sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan began today in Kabul (RFE/RL, TOLO News, Pajhwok). The purpose of the two-day summit is to examine the challenges of rebuilding Afghanistan after nearly 40 years of conflict. Representatives from 30 countries and 40 international organizations are in attendance. Discussion topics include economic projects, trade and customs issues, and employing Afghan workers in Gulf countries. Bonus read: “The Silk Road Through Afghanistan,” M. Ashraf Haidari (South Asia)
More schoolgirls poisoned in Herat
At least 108 schoolgirls and teachers were poisoned at the Babaji High School just outside Herat city on Wednesday (Pajhwok). This is the second incident in recent days; on Aug. 31, 190 schoolgirls and teachers were poisoned at the Habibul Mustafavi High School in Herat. Provincial police believe that the first incident was the result of a spray used to “freshen up the classrooms,” and have not determined whether the spray was intentionally tampered with or merely defective (NBC News).
Explosives, bomb-making equipment seized in Helmand
A massive amount of explosives were seized in Helmand province on Thursday (Pajhwok). Explosives weighing 2,250 kilograms (4,960 pounds) were being transported in a pick-up truck that First Lieutenant Taimur Shah Nazari, the Garamsir district police chief, said was from Pakistan. Helmand police also arrested four militants involved in planting landmines and seized bomb-making materials including 500 remote control devices and five anti-personnel mines.
Sattar: MQM resignations final
According to MQM party leader Farooq Sattar in an emergency press conference held on Thursday, the resignation of his entire party from the National Assembly, Senate, and Sindh Assembly is final (Dawn). Legislators resigned last month over “excesses” committed by Ranger security forces in Karachi against party workers and members. The government arranged for talks to be held with MQM leaders in an effort to persuade legislators to withdraw their resignations.
Sattar said what pushed them to withdraw from the talks was the government’s failure to form a grievances redressal committee to address concerns over the “forced disappearance of 150 party workers, extrajudicial murders of 45 activists and justice for thousands of workers who have been killed.”
Pakistan tries to secure energy loan delivery
The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Japan are withholding approval of a $1 billion loan to Pakistan meant as budgetary support for the energy sector (ET). According to the Express Tribune, officials from the lenders have accused the Ministry of Finance and Water and Power of not delivering on their commitments. Over the past month, Pakistan’s minister of finance, Ishaq Dar, has held meetings to try and resolve the issues and has told all government ministries they have until Sept. 4 to do so. The loan was originally to be approved in April.
Nepal has not spent any of the aid pledged after quakes
A report by Reuters claims that the Nepalese government has not made arrangements to spend any of the $4.1 billion dollars pledged to the country by international donors two months ago, in the aftermath of severe earthquakes earlier this year (Reuters). The April 2015 quakes killed over 9,000 and left millions homeless. The United Nations estimated that nearly 10 percent of the Himalayan country’s population, about three million people, were in the need of food and shelter. The Nepali government has been criticized repeatedly for its response to the quakes and extremely slow reconstruction efforts, as tens of thousands of people are still living in tents while the streets of Kathmandu are littered with rubble and damaged buildings.
— Shuja Malik and Courtney Schuster
Edited by Peter Bergen
TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images