The South Asia Channel

US Bombs Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz; Merkel in New Delhi; ISIS Claims Killing in Bangladesh; Pakistan Prepares Punjab Operation

US Bombs Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz; Merkel in New Delhi; ISIS Claims Killing in Bangladesh; Pakistan Prepares Punjab Operation


Bonus Read: “Taliban’s New Leader Strengthens His Hold With Intrigue and Battlefield Victory” by Joseph Goldstein (NYT)

US bombs Doctors Without Borders hospital, faces aftermath

On Saturday, the United States conducted an airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital during operations in Kunduz, killing at least 22 people, including three children and 12 staff members (NYT, Post). The U.S. military confirmed that it conducted the strike saying it targeted individuals “who were threatening the force” and adding: “there may have been collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” Doctors Without Borders released a statement calling for an inquiry and referring to the strike as a war crime (CNN, Reuters, RFE/RL). The statement read: “Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF [Doctors Without Borders] demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body.” President Obama issued a statement calling the incident “tragic” and saying the United States will await the findings of the Pentagon inquiry. On Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed that the Pentagon will initiate an inquiry into the strike (Guardian). Meanwhile in Afghanistan, despite a history of criticism of American air strikes, the response to the strike on the hospital was relatively muted (Post). Large protests did not break out, media coverage of the strike was limited, and while referring to the strike as a “sorrow,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani did not level the kind of harsh criticism his predecessor was known for regarding American air strikes.

On Sunday, following the air strike, Doctors Without Borders announced it was leaving Kunduz (NYT, Chicago Tribune, NBC, Pajhwok). The closure will leave Kunduz with little in the way of medical care. According to Doctors Without Borders, the group provided care to 22,000 patients in the province in 2014. Bonus Read: “Aftermath of MSF airstrikes in Afghanistan – in pictures” (Guardian).

Reports: Germany to extend Afghan mission by one year

On Saturday, reports citing anonymous senior German officials emerged that Germany will seek to extend its mission in Afghanistan by one year (Reuters). About 850 German soldiers remain in Afghanistan despite the withdrawal of most of the NATO force from the country. Earlier last week, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen commented that Germany would be open to extending its mission given the fall of Kunduz City.

Afghan forces advance, seek to consolidate power in Kunduz

On Sunday, Afghan officials stated that Afghan forces had cleared Taliban forces from the Bala Hisar fortress and the National Directorate of Security office in Kunduz City (Pajhwok). Amruddin Wali, the deputy head of the provincial council, stated that about 70 percent of the city is now in government hands while 30 percent remains under Taliban control. On Monday, the Afghan government began an effort to clear Kunduz City’s streets of bodies (TOLO News). Meanwhile some residents are urging the government to officially announce that it is safe to return to normal life in the city.

— David Sterman


Bonus Read: “Why has India’s ‘beef lynching’ sparked no remorse?” (BBC)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in New Delhi

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on her arrival in New Delhi on Monday (Reuters, Hindu, BBC). India and Germany are looking to expand trade between the two countries and possibly revive talks on a free trade pact between the European Union and India. A number of memoranda of understanding were signed between the two countries upon Merkel’s arrival, which included a commitment from Germany to provide more than 2 billion euros in aid for solar projects and high-efficiency power grids, as part of a broader push for sustainable development. The German delegation includes representatives from numerous German firms such as Siemens, Airbus, E.ON, and Thyssenkrupp.

Supreme Court suspends beef ban in Jammu and Kashmir for two months

The Supreme Court of India on Monday suspended for two months an earlier order by Jammu and Kashmir high court to ban the sale of beef in the state, on the grounds that “conflicting orders” had been issued by the two benches of the high court in Srinagar and Jammu (HT, Hindu). Hearing a public interest notice in early September, the Jammu bench of the high court in Jammu & Kashmir state had instructed officials to enforce a ban on the sale of beef in the state in accordance to the special constitutional setup for the state, Ranbir Penal Code. A week later, the Srinagar bench issued notice to the state government in response to another public interest notice that sought the striking down of constitutional provisions criminalizing cow slaughter in the state. The Supreme Court directed the high court’s chief justice to set up a three-judge bench to resolve the conflict.

Students dressed as Gandhi set Guinness record

On Friday on Gandhi Jayanti, 4,605 school children dressed up as the Mohandas Gandhi in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, setting a world record for “the largest gathering of people dressed as Mohandas Gandhi,” (BBC). Gandhi Jayanti is a national festival celebrated in India to mark the occasion of the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi, the “Father of the Nation.” The record was previously held by a school in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu.


ISIS claims second targeted killing of a foreigner

The terrorist organization, Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the shooting of a Japanese citizen in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, the second targeted killing of foreign national in the city in the past week for which the group has taken responsibility (Reuters). Security in the diplomatic zone of the city has been on high alert and most embassies have instructed their staff to limit their movement. Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina has dismissed these claims by ISIS, and suggested that local Bangladeshi extremists may be behind these killings (NYT). Police have arrested four suspects in regards to this shooting.

— Shuja Malik


Pakistan prepares to go after sectarian groups in Punjab

Pakistan’s federal government is preparing to launch an effort to confront sectarian groups in Punjab according to a report Monday in the Express Tribune (ET). The decision was reportedly made after intelligence reports warned of the danger that the region could be a potential breeding ground for the Islamic State. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s military courts reportedly issued their first convictions for the killings of Shi’a Muslims. The official cited by the Express Tribune as saying that the government is preparing to launch a decisive effort in Punjab commented: “You will see more such actions in coming weeks.”

MQM leader appears for bail hearing

On Monday, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain appeared at Southwark police station in South London for a hearing on bail extension in the UK money laundering case against him (ET, Dawn). Hussain has been under investigation for money laundering since June 2013 when a large amount of cash was found at his house.

— David Sterman

Edited by Peter Bergen