The South Asia Channel
Modi Weighs in on Beef Lynching; Sharif to Brief Obama on Taliban Talks; Afghanistan Seeks SCO Membership
India Bonus Read: “India and the environment: Catching up with China” (Economist) PM Modi weighs in on “beef” lynching Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally spoke publicly on Thursday about the mob killing of Mohammad Akhlaq (BBC, Guardian,NBC, Hindustan Times). Akhlaq, a Muslim, was beaten to death by a Hindu mob in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on ...
Bonus Read: “India and the environment: Catching up with China” (Economist)
PM Modi weighs in on “beef” lynching
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally spoke publicly on Thursday about the mob killing of Mohammad Akhlaq (BBC, Guardian,NBC, Hindustan Times). Akhlaq, a Muslim, was beaten to death by a Hindu mob in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Sept. 28 after being suspected of slaughtering cows for consumption. Speaking at an election rally in the northern state of Bihar, Modi made an appeal to religious unity, asking Hindus and Muslims to unite to fight poverty instead of each other. Modi did not directly reference Akhlaq’s killing, but his statements were clearly a response to rising religious tensions over the incident. Many Hindus consider cows to be sacred, and many Indian states have banned the sale or consumption of beef. There has been a recent increase in violence against those accused of breaking such bans, and Modi has been under pressure to condemn such violence. On Thursday, politicians from the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party—Modi’s own party—attacked a Muslim member of the Kashmir state assembly after he served beef at a private party in protest of the beef ban. Spokespeople for the opposition Congress party accused Modi of skirting the issue and demanded he explicitly condemn the attack and members of his own party stoking communal tensions. To date, at least eight men have been arrested over Akhlaq’s murder.
Government to ask social media companies to censor incendiary content
The Indian government plans on asking senior representatives of social media platforms to censor content that could incite communal tensions, according to Indian media reports (TOI, Indian Express). Indian authorities are concerned about communal violence in the aftermath of the mob lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq over accusations of cow slaughter and beef consumption. Representatives from various intelligence agencies, the department of electronics and IT, and the home ministry are expected to attend the meeting. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the state in which the lynching occurred, has also directed his own state administration to take action against those “inciting hatred.” Indian law allows for the restriction of speech in certain cases to preserve religious and communal harmony.
“Green Corridor” established to expedite liver transplant
Police authorities coordinated to establish a temporary traffic-free lane on the highway between the northern cities of Delhi and Gurgaon on Thursday to expedite a liver transplant (Hindustan Times). The donated liver was flown into Delhi from Indore, in the northern state of Madhya Pradesh, and then transported by road to the transplant recipient in a hospital in Gurgaon. The trip, which normally takes between 45 to 60 minutes with traffic, was completed in 20 minutes. This is the third time this year that Indian authorities have established a “green corridor” to expedite the transfer of a donated organ.
— Udit Banerjea
Sharif to brief Obama on Taliban talks efforts
During an upcoming visit to the United States, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will brief President Barack Obama on the state of Pakistani efforts to facilitate negotiations with the Taliban (ET). A source told the Express Tribune on Friday: “PM Nawaz, during his visit to the US will brief US President Barack Obama about Pakistan’s efforts on resuming talks between Afghanistan and Taliban” adding that the United States was interested in seeing more concrete steps on the part of Pakistan.
On Thursday, Pakistan announced it would assist with negotiations if both the Taliban and Afghanistan sought its help (ET, Pajhwok). A Foreign Office spokesman stated: “Pakistan supported and hosted the first round of intra-Afghan dialogue for peace and reconciliation [in early July] and if both sides agree to it, we are ready to offer our cooperation to them for future talks.” Coming after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani asserted that his government would not seek Pakistani facilitation anymore, the Foreign Office’s comments are seen by some as Pakistan backing away from mediating negotiations. Bonus Read: “The Essential Lessons of Terrorists at the Table” by David Sterman (South Asia)
Anti-polio drive to launch in Quetta
On Saturday, Pakistan will launch a three-day anti-polio drive in Quetta (Dawn). During the drive, 927 polio teams will administer anti-polio drops to at least 375,906 people. The campaign is part of a broader campaign in Balochistan. A spokesman for the Emergency Operation Centre Balochistan stated: “The three-day drive is aimed at vaccinating over 1.36 million children in 12 districts, including Quetta.”
Afghanistan seeks full SCO membership
Dmitry Mezentsev, the secretary general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, announced that Afghanistan was seeking full membership in the organization, according to a report by Pajhwok Afghan News on Friday (Pajhwok). Mezentsev stated: “The Afghan authorities have recently applied to the president of the country chairing the SCO requesting for its full membership in the organization.” The organization currently has six full member states: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan is one of six observer states at the moment.
Campbell: 70 percent of Taliban reconcilable
On Thursday, Gen. John Campbell, the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, told U.S. lawmakers that 60 to 70 percent of Taliban forces are reconcilable with the Afghan government (Pajhwok). Gen. Campbell commented: “The estimates I’ve heard both from Afghan perspective and probably from Intel community is anywhere between 60 or 70 percent with potentially reconcilable on the Taliban side.” He excluded the Haqqani group from those who might be reconcilable stating: “You probably would not have Haqqani, who continues to be an enemy, and is dangerous to both the coalition of the Afghan civilians because they attack civilians; they’re the ones that are responsible for the high profile attacks in Kunduz.”
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen
INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images