The South Asia Channel

Government Claims Control of Kunduz; Indian Manufacturing Growth at 7 Month Low; Four Involved in Death of Punjab Home Minister Killed in Raid

Event Notice: “Objective Troy: The Hunt for Awlaki,” Thursday, October 1, 12:15 pm to 1:45 pm, (New America) Afghanistan Bonus Read: “U.S. Base Seen as Monument to Futility as Afghans Watch Kunduz Fall,” James Dao (NYT) Afghan government claims control in Kunduz, locals deny The Afghan government launched an assault on Kunduz 11 p.m. Wednesday ...

This photograph taken on September 29, 2015 shows Afghan security personnel keeping watch as heavy fighting erupted near the airport on the outskirts of Kunduz. Taliban insurgents who seized the Afghan city of Kunduz have defied a counter-offensive and advanced on the airport where government forces retreated after the fall of the strategic northern gateway. Heavy fighting erupted near the airport on the city's outskirts as the insurgents closed in late on September 29, highlighting the potent challenge the militants represent after their lightning capture of Kunduz the previous day. AFP PHOTO / Nasir Waqif        (Photo credit should read NASIR WAQIF/AFP/Getty Images)
This photograph taken on September 29, 2015 shows Afghan security personnel keeping watch as heavy fighting erupted near the airport on the outskirts of Kunduz. Taliban insurgents who seized the Afghan city of Kunduz have defied a counter-offensive and advanced on the airport where government forces retreated after the fall of the strategic northern gateway. Heavy fighting erupted near the airport on the city's outskirts as the insurgents closed in late on September 29, highlighting the potent challenge the militants represent after their lightning capture of Kunduz the previous day. AFP PHOTO / Nasir Waqif (Photo credit should read NASIR WAQIF/AFP/Getty Images)

Event Notice: “Objective Troy: The Hunt for Awlaki,” Thursday, October 1, 12:15 pm to 1:45 pm, (New America)

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “U.S. Base Seen as Monument to Futility as Afghans Watch Kunduz Fall,” James Dao (NYT)

Afghan government claims control in Kunduz, locals deny

The Afghan government launched an assault on Kunduz 11 p.m. Wednesday night in an attempt to free the city of Taliban control (NYT, TOLO News, Pajhwok). The government claims that it is now in control of the city, however local officials and residents dispute this claim. Sediq Sediqqi, spokesperson for the interior minister posted on Twitter: “AFG Special Security Forces now controls Kunduz City, it is retaken and being cleared from terrorists, heavy causality to the enemy.” Sediqqi later told the Associated Press that 200 Taliban militants were killed (BBC). A member of the Kunduz provincial council, Kareema Sediqi, told the New York Times that “the city is still in Taliban control,” but added that Afghan security forces did advance to a roundabout near the city’s entrance. Interviews conducted by the New York Times with several residents “suggested that the situation was fluid, with fighting continuing.”

Ghani dismisses Kunduz provincial governor

In a statement Wednesday night, Ghani announced that Kunduz governor Mohammad Omar Safi was dismissed, and Hamdullah Danishi was appointed acting governor (TOLO News, Pajhwok). Safi was abroad when Kunduz city fell to the Taliban and did not return to Afghanistan until Wednesday. He was heavily criticized for his disappearance, and it was even speculated that he fled to Europe. Danishi is from the Independent Directorate of Local Governance and previously served as Kunduz deputy governor.

India

Bonus read: “Having a Soda With the 14-Year-Old Indian Girl Who Conquered Everest,” by Julia Felsenthal (Vogue)

Indian manufacturing growth at a seven month low

According to the Nikkei Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), India’s manufacturing output slowed down in September by a margin beyond expectations, to a seven month low, due to a “difficult economic climate” (PTI, LiveMint). The PMI indicator was 51.2 in September, down from 52.3 in August. The PMI is a combined indicator of manufacturing performance, and a figure above 50 represents expansion and below 50 reflects contraction of the economy. Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday cut interest rates for the fourth time this year to give economic activity a boost and revised its economic growth forecast for the current year to 7.4 percent from a previous projection of 7.6 percent. Previously, the RBI decreased its projection by 0.2 percent in April down from 7.8 percent projected growth in the first quarter.

Monsoon rains shortfall 14 percent this year

India’s Meteorological Department announced on Wednesday that during the June-September monsoon season, total rainfall was 14 percent lower than the usual average (Reuters). This is the first time in nearly thirty years that India has faced dramatically short rainfalls for two consecutive years and summer crop yields have been hit adversely. The shortfall in monsoon rains is said to be explained by a weather pattern called El Nino, which is caused by warming of the average temperature of the Pacific Ocean.

Pakistan

Four involved in assassination of Punjab Home Minister killed in raid

On Thursday, four people suspected of involvement in the Aug. 16 suicide attack that killed Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada were killed in an “encounter’” with the Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) (Dawn, ET). The Punjab CTD spokesman said that the CTD was acting on a tip that seven to eight terrorists “were planning to launch a big attack on officials of law enforcement agencies in the late morning.” When CTD officials raided the house in Iqbal Town Division just outside of Lahore where the men were, according to the CTD spokesman, “instead of laying down arms, the terrorists started firing at the police party. The police fired in self defense… Four terrorists were found dead, killed by firing of their own accomplices.” The four suspects — identified only as Qasim, Amjad, Saddam, and Sadaqat — are reportedly affiliated with an unnamed banned militant organization and facilitated the attack on Khanzada. On Tuesday, a senior official of the CTD announced that the department had arrested five key suspects in the attack, including the mastermind, named only as Muawiya.

Scores of Pakistanis still missing after Hajj stampede

According to numbers posted by the Ministry of Religious Affairs on Wednesday, 52 Pakistanis were killed and 49 were injured in last week’s stampede in Mina during Hajj (Dawn). Another 60 Pakistani pilgrims remain missing.

Balochistan appoints 5,000 teachers

On Wednesday, the Balochistan Education Department appointed 5,000 teachers based on merit from a pool of 95,000 candidates, according to Balochistan Education Secretary Saboor Kakar (Dawn). The teachers were selected based on tests and interviews conducted for the first time by the National Testing Service. The new teachers will begin their appointments by Oct. 12.

Nepal

Protests and fuel rationing continues in Nepal

The Nepali government has announced a ban on the sale of petrol fuel to be enforced by this week leading to long queue at gas stations and rationing (BBC, NYT, Reuters). Protests have continued in southern Nepal in opposition to a newly adopted constitution, which, according to its critics, does not afford enough rights to minorities. Almost 40 people have been killed in the violence during the protests. The unrest has caused a blockage of goods and fuel coming into the country as nearly 4,000 trucks have been halted at the Indian border for almost a week now. Nepali authorities call this an illegal blockade of their country, motivated by the Indian government’s attempt to show displeasure for the new constitution.

Bangladesh

Diplomatic security increased in Dhaka after Italian aid worker killed

Local authorities in Dhaka increased security checkpoints in areas frequented by diplomats and international aid workers after a 50-year-old Italian aid worker, Cesare Travella, was shot in the Bangladeshi capital by three gunmen on a motorcycle on Monday (Reuters). Embassies and missions have also instructed their staff to keep their movement to a minimum. The terrorist organization, the Islamic State, has issued a claim to be behind the attack, but authorities have not yet confirmed the claim. If true, it would be the group’s first attack in Bangladesh. Travella was working on a food security project for the Dutch development group ICCO and had more than 20 years experience in rural development, mostly in Asia.

— Courtney Schuster and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

NASIR WAQIF/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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