India Backs Away From Proposed Encryption Law; US Responds to NYT Report on Afghan’s Child Sexual Abuse; Execution in Pakistan Halted
India Bonus read: “What Do International Economists Really Think of India’s Rosy GDP Readings?” by Anant Vijay Kala (WSJ) Indian government backs away from proposed law after public outrage Talking to reporters on Tuesday, India’s Minister for Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government was withdrawing its draft encryption policy and the policy ...
Bonus read: “What Do International Economists Really Think of India’s Rosy GDP Readings?” by Anant Vijay Kala (WSJ)
Indian government backs away from proposed law after public outrage
Talking to reporters on Tuesday, India’s Minister for Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government was withdrawing its draft encryption policy and the policy would not be applicable to social media platforms (BBC, WP). The proposed law would have mandated that all internet users would have had to save non-encrypted plain-text versions of their messages to other users for 90 days on their devices. Numerous services such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Viber, and Google Chat encrypt messages as they are sent between users. The proposal, which would have been an amendment to the current telecom law, would also have required foreign companies using encryption to submit their software to scrutiny by Indian government agencies.
The proposal was met with severe criticism and outrage on social media over issues of invasion of privacy forced the government to reconsider its position. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an avid social media user and even launched a special social media app for citizens to register their complaints.
Asian Development Bank cuts economic growth forecast on India
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has revised its growth projections for Asia, cutting back its forecast for India, China, and numerous other Asian countries (Guardian, WSJ, FT). According to the report released by the ADB on Tuesday, regional economies will now grow at an average 5.8 percent this year and 6 percent next year, down from the 6.3 percent it forecast in March for both years. India is forecast to now grow 7.4 percent in 2015 and 7.8 percent in 2016, which is lower by 0.4 percentage points for both years. The bank’s report cited slower progress on major reforms, which has hindered investment, and a decline in exports.
India unhappy with the new Nepali constitution
The Indian ambassador in Kathmandu has returned to New Delhi for talks with senior Indian officials after the Nepali government approved a new constitution that sparked weeks of violence that has killed more than 40 people (WSJ, Reuters). India has already shown displeasure over the new constitution as it is perceived to not provide minorities enough rights in Nepal. Many of the minorities protesting against the new constitution live in the southern plains of Nepal, bordering India. In a statement, India’s foreign ministry criticized Nepal over the unabated violence in its southern region, where police shot at least three protesters on Monday.
US responds to report that US soldiers told to ignore sexual abuse
The U.S. government has clarified its policies on sexual abuse of children by Afghan allies following Sunday’s New York Times report that U.S. soldiers were instructed by superiors to ignore such acts (NYT, Reuters). A Pentagon spokesman, Captain Jeff Davis, said on Monday: “I can tell you we’ve never had a policy in place that directs any military member or any government personnel overseas to ignore human rights abuses…The practices described in that article, we find absolutely abhorrent.” He added that “there’s nothing that would preclude any military member from making reports about human rights violations to their chain of command” but the issue is “fundamentally an Afghan law enforcement matter.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at a briefing: “The United States is deeply concerned about the safety and welfare of Afghan boys who may be exploited by members of the Afghan national security and defense forces,” and called the sexual abuse a violation “Afghan law and Afghanistan’s international obligations.”
Taliban head releases Eid message
On Tuesday, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour released the Taliban’s annual Eid message (BBC, VOA, RFE/RL). In the message, Mansour called for unity within the Taliban and the expulsion of foreign troops from Afghanistan. Mansour said: “If the country is not under occupation, the problem of the Afghans can be resolved through intra-Afghan understanding…If the Kabul administration wants to end the war and establish peace in the country, it is possible through ending the occupation and revoking all military and security treaties with the invaders.” Mansour also addressed reports of internal rifts, calling them propaganda “stratagems” by the enemy.
Gas pipeline to involve private sector
The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum announced on Monday that it will work with the private sector on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline (TOLO News). A spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Mahaiuddin Noori, said: “The private companies that will be given priority will be in the technical and implementation sections of the TAPI. This move by government is in a bid to encourage investment and provide job opportunities for the people.” Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries supported this move. Construction on the pipeline is scheduled to begin in December.
Execution halted due to logistics
A magistrate postponed the execution of paraplegic inmate Abdul Basit one hour before he was scheduled to be hanged (AP, BBC, RFE/RL). Just yesterday the Pakistani Supreme Court rejected a plea to stay the execution. The Pakistan jail manual imposes hanging as the sole means of execution and requires that the inmate stand on the gallows. Basit became paralyzed in prison for murder after contracting meningitis and his execution has been the source of numerous appeals by human rights groups.
Afghan arrested over air base attack
On Tuesday, a security official told the Express Tribune that police and law enforcement agencies arrested an Afghan national in the Charsadda district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province for alleged involvement in the attack on Badhaber air base last Friday that killed 29 people (ET). Pakistani national security adviser Sartaj Aziz has said that the militants who attacked the air base had support from individuals in Afghanistan.
— Shuja Malik and Courtney Schuster
Edited by Peter Bergen
Editor’s Note: In this week’s The E.R. podcast, just posted today, FP’s CEO and editor David Rothkopf sits down with the usual panel Rosa Brooks, Kori Schake and Robert Kagan to discuss the America’s presidential candidates and how they compare on foreign policy. Listen and subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher: http://atfp.co/1K7nhrI
NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images
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