The South Asia Channel
Officials: Kunduz City Cleared; Hindu Nationalists Douse Activist in Ink; Karachi Landslide Kills 13
Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Hope fades on Obama’s vow to bring troops home before presidency ends,” by Greg Jaffe (Post) Officials: Kunduz City cleared On Tuesday, the northern Kunduz police chief, Quasim Jangal Bagh, announced that Kunduz City had been cleared of insurgents (TOLO News). Bagh noted, however, that fighting continues on the Takhar –Kunduz highway ...
Bonus Read: “Hope fades on Obama’s vow to bring troops home before presidency ends,” by Greg Jaffe (Post)
Officials: Kunduz City cleared
On Tuesday, the northern Kunduz police chief, Quasim Jangal Bagh, announced that Kunduz City had been cleared of insurgents (TOLO News). Bagh noted, however, that fighting continues on the Takhar –Kunduz highway and in the Dasht-e-Archi district of Kunduz. Karim Amini, a journalist for TOLO News reported that “most of the people have come out into the city and are going back to work” and that the city is “like it was two weeks ago.”
Two Americans among dead in helicopter crash
On Monday, coalition forces announced that two Americans were among the five killed in a helicopter crash in Kabul on Sunday (USA Today, NBC). Two British servicemembers and a French contractor were also killed in the crash. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, the military communications chief in Afghanistan, stated: “We’re deeply saddened by the loss of our teammates.” The crash occurred after the helicopter struck a monitoring balloon while trying to land, according to a local witness, and a spokesman for U.S. and NATO forces confirmed a balloon was involved in the incident.
American forces accused of killing four civilians in Logar
On Monday, the provincial council chief for central Logar province accused American forces of killing four civilians and injuring 15 others in indiscriminate firing after a roadside bomb exploded near the provincial capital of Pul-i-Alam (Pajhwok). Salim Saleh, a spokesman for the provincial governor, confirmed the roadside bomb attack but said he was unaware of any civilian casualties.
— David Sterman
Bonus Read: “Why India is transfixed by elections in Bihar” (Economist).
Indian activist doused in ink by Hindu nationalists
Members of the far-right Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party poured black ink on an Indian activist in protest over the launch of a book on Monday by a former Pakistani foreign minister (BBC, Economic Times). The activist, Sudheendra Kulkarni, a one-time aide to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, organized a book launch event for Kurshid Mahmud Kasuri, a former Pakistani foreign minister. Later that day, a group of men forced Kulkarni out of his car, verbally accosted him, and then poured a bucket of black ink over his head. The Shiv Sena claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it “non-violent and historic.” This development comes amidst a recent string of troubling anti-Muslim incidents across India. Last month, a Muslim man was beaten to death by a mob in northern India for allegedly slaughtering cows and consuming beef, an act seen as taboo by some Hindus. Last week, state politicians from the ruling BJP party attacked a Muslim politician in Kashmir for serving beef at a private party, and the Shiv Sena forced the cancellation of a concert by a Pakistani singer.
Supreme Court clears Vajpayee government in “Kargil scam” case
The Indian Supreme Court cleared the government of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Monday of involvement in an alleged corruption scheme during the 1999 Kargil War (TOI, Asian Age). Since 2004, the Supreme Court has been monitoring an investigation of corruption charges in the procurement of munitions, missiles, and other military materiel during the three-month war with Pakistan. The court closed the case on Monday without finding anyone guilty. India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, the central law enforcement agency charged with investigating the matter, had initially registered 25 separate cases but found insufficient evidence to proceed with any prosecutions.
70-year old Sikh militant to be released
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh cleared the release on Tuesday of 70-year-old Waryam Singh, a Sikh separatist arrested on terrorism charges in 1990 (NDTV, Indian Express, Economic Times). Waryam Singh was convicted in 1995 under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, a law designed to combat a Sikh separatist movement in the northwestern state of Punjab. The law was allowed to lapse the same year due to unpopularity and allegations of abuse. Singh has been serving a life sentence in a prison in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, but his release has been approved on the grounds of “old age” and good conduct. The state government of Uttar Pradesh had requested his release, and Singh is one of 13 Sikh separatists petitioned for release by the Punjab chief minister.
— Udit Banerjea
Landslide in Karachi kills 13
On Tuesday, a landslide killed 13 people after hitting makeshift houses in the slums of Karachi (Post, ET, Dawn). Seven children died in the landslide with one being as young as six months. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed grief over the incident, according to Pakistani state television.
Austrian company finds gas reserves in Sindh
On Monday, Austrian oil and gas company OMV issued a press release saying it had discovered a new gas deposit at the Latif exploration block in Sindh province (ET, Dawn). Johann Pleininger, an OMV board member in charge of exploration and production, stated: “We are very pleased with this exploration success.” The company began gas exploration in Sindh in 1991 and holds a 33.4 percent stake in the Latif exploration license alongside its partners Pakistan Petroleum Ltd and the Italian energy group Eni.
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen