The South Asia Channel
Taliban Attack Pakistan Air Force Base; US Drone Strike, ANSF Target Taliban; RBI Warns Against Monetary Policy
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Taliban attack a Pakistan Air Force base
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan militants attacked a Pakistan Air Force camp in Peshawar early Friday (NYT, BBC, ET, Dawn). According to the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asim Bajwa, a firefight erupted when gunmen wearing paramilitary Frontier Constabulary uniforms entered the camp at two points and split into three sub-groups. A least 20 Pakistanis have died in the attack, including 16 who were praying in a mosque, and another 22 people have been injured. Pakistani forces killed 13 militants. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, with spokesman Muhammad Khorasani telling Reuters: “We proudly claim responsibility for the attack on [the] Pakistani air base [that] is being used by fighter jets for bombing us” (Reuters). Khorasani added that 14 militants had been dispatched to the base.
US drone strike kills militants
On Friday, a U.S. drone strike in South Waziristan killed at least six suspected militants (ET, Dawn). An unnamed official who spoke with the Express Tribune would not go into the identities of the dead but did add: “a vehicle close to a militant compound was the target of the strike in the Shonkrai Narai village of South Waziristan.” According to a county by New America, this is the 11th drone strike in Pakistan this year (NewAmerica).
Controversial cybercrimes bill advances to the National Assembly
The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 advanced out of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology on Thursday and has been sent to the full National Assembly for final approval (ET, Dawn). In January 2015 when the bill was introduced, it faced criticism for curbing the freedom of speech, giving law enforcement agencies abusive powers, and harming industry businesses. The bill approved by the committee criminalizes political criticism and expression, obscene and immoral messages on social media, and sending an email or message without the recipient’s permission. Members of committee have complained that the bill was not show to them before the vote.
US drone strike, ANSF target the Taliban
On Thursday evening, a U.S. drone strike in the Melawe area of Nazian district in Nangarhar province killed five insurgents at a camp, according to Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, the provincial police chief (Reuters, TOLO News). The affiliation of the militants is unclear as Reuters is reporting the militants were both Islamic State and Taliban members, while TOLO News is reporting they were Islamic State fighters.
Also on Thursday, in the Mohammad Agha district in Logar province, Afghan National Security Forces destroyed a major insurgent Taliban base that was used to plan attacks and as a training camp (TOLO News).
MEC: Government’s anti-corruption efforts not enough
The Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) — an independent watchdog agency — issued a report on Thursday that found the National Unity Government has made “notable if incremental and uneven progress” in stopping corruption (VOA, TOLO News, Pajhwok). The report found that the judicial branch was holding back progress: “Unfortunately, notwithstanding billions in foreign investment, the justice sector remains largely incapable of investigating and prosecuting corruption cases, especially against well-connected individuals who operate with near impunity.” It also concluded that until the president appoints an attorney general, “the fight against corruption will remain severely handicapped.” Government agencies have not heeded the advice of the committee, leading to diminished results. MEC member Yama Torabi said: “We have sent 380 recommendations to government entities after the committee commenced its job, but only 128 of them have been implemented.”
Rajan warns against chasing growth with monetary policy
Speaking to a group of industrialists and bankers in Mumbai on Friday, Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan said that India must focus on keeping inflation low and avoid only using monetary policy to fuel short-term economic growth (Reuters). Over the past few months Rajan has been under pressure from the Modi government to cut interest rates as India’s economic growth slows down below its target of 7.5 percent annual rate. Rajan has repeatedly advocated against cutting interest rates due to fears of inflation, which currently stands at 3.66 percent and is projected by the central bank to hit 6 percent by January.
West Bengal declassifies 64 files about Chandra Bose
The Indian state of West Bengal declassified 64 files pertaining to a leader of the Indian independence movement, Subhash Chandra Bose (BBC, PTI, India Today). Bose has been the subject of many conspiracy theories over the years due to his sudden death in 1945 in an air crash. No photograph of the body was ever presented.
Bose had written to Nazi Germany to form an alliance against the British, which would fight to remove them from India, and was wanted by Allied forces. Many have suggested that he faked his own death to escape arrest after World War II. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked the federal government in Delhi to also release documents about Bose, which they have refused to do until now.
2.3 million candidates apply for 368 low level clerical positions in Uttar Pradesh
Officials in northern state of Uttar Pradesh have confirmed that an advertisement from August of 368 low level clerical government jobs received 2.3 million applications in a month (NYT/AP, Reuters, BBC). While the advertised jobs demanded primary school qualifications and the ability to ride a bicycle, tens of thousands of graduates, post-graduates, and 255 PhD holders applied. One senior official estimated that it would take four years to interview all candidates even if ten boards interviewed 200 candidates a day for 25 days a month. The monthly salary of these positions is approximately $240 USD. Unemployment is a major challenge in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, where there are estimated to be 13.2 million young people unemployed by 2017.
— Courtney Schuster and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen
HASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images