The South Asia Channel
US Analysts Thought Pakistani Operative Used Kunduz Hospital; India, Nepal to Discuss Trade Disruption; Putin Warns of Afghan War Spillover
Pakistan Bonus Read: “The Drone Papers” (Intercept) US analysts thought Pakistani operative was using Doctors Without Borders hospital On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that American special forces analysts believed that the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz was being used as a Taliban headquarters and that a Pakistani intelligence operative was present there prior ...
Bonus Read: “The Drone Papers” (Intercept)
US analysts thought Pakistani operative was using Doctors Without Borders hospital
On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that American special forces analysts believed that the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz was being used as a Taliban headquarters and that a Pakistani intelligence operative was present there prior to the American strike on the hospital that killed 22 people (AP, ET). A dossier compiled by the analysts included surveillance reports and a map with the hospital circled. It is unclear whether the intelligence was seen by those who carried out the strike. After the strike, analysts concluded that the operative had been killed. Pakistan’s foreign office denied the report (Dawn). Qazi Khalilullah, a spokesman for the foreign office, stated: “Allegations implicating Pakistan are baseless,” adding, “I want to reiterate that non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs is a key pillar of our Afghan policy.”
Russia to build gas pipeline in Pakistan
On Friday, Pakistan’s petroleum ministry announced that Pakistan and Russia had signed an agreement to build a gas pipeline connecting natural gas terminals in Pakistan’s south with consumers in the north (Bloomberg, ET, Dawn). Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stated: “Construction of the North-South pipeline brings trade and economic cooperation of Russia and Pakistan to a new level.” Russia is seeking Chinese foreign investment as part of the construction plan.
— David Sterman
India and Nepal to discuss trade disruption
Nepal’s new Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa is set to arrive in the Indian capital on Saturday, and the two governments are expected to discuss an ongoing trade disruption between the two countries (NDTV, NYT). Protesters from the Madhesi ethnic group in Nepal have disrupted imports from India by blocking main border crossings on Nepal’s southern border. The unofficial blockade has set off a fuel crisis in Nepal, which relies entirely on India for fuel, and 45 people have died in related riots. Many Madhesis are unhappy with Nepal’s new constitution, which they argue disproportionately favors other ethnic groups. Some in Nepal have accused India, which has been sympathetic to the Madhesis, of being complicit in the blockade. Western diplomats insist that the dispute is a bilateral issue between India and Nepal, but many note that Nepal may be on the brink of a humanitarian crisis if the situation does not improve soon.
Chinese companies to invest $5B in Indian renewable power
Two Chinese companies, the Sany Group and the Chint Group, announced on Thursday that they would invest $5 billion in India’s renewable energy sector (Bloomberg, TOI). Sany has committed $3 billion to set up wind turbines over the next five years, while Chint will invest $2 billion in solar power and equipment. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pushing for a major expansion of India’s clean energy sector, setting a goal of 175 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2022, up from the current level of 37 gigawatts. The estimated cost of this initiative is expected to be around $200 billion. Other large Asian companies, such as Japan’s SoftBank and Taiwan’s Foxconn have also shown interest in investing in India’s renewables sector. India is one of the world’s largest polluters, and about 60 percent of its energy currently comes from coal.
Indian “mystery girl” stranded in Pakistan finds her family
An Indian woman who has spent the last decade stranded in Pakistan has identified her family in India from pictures sent to her, clearing the way for her return (BBC). The woman, named Geeta, is speech and hearing impaired, and she is believed to have strayed into Pakistan by accident when she was eleven years old. Geeta was unable to provide a name, address, or other identifying information to Pakistani border guards who found her at the time. She was taken in by a charity shelter, where she has lived since then. The Indian government finally recognized Geeta as an Indian citizen in August, and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that she will be returned to her family after a DNA test.
— Udit Banerjea
Putin warns of Afghan war spillover
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Central Asian leaders of the threat of militancy and violence spilling over from the Afghan conflict during a meeting of regional leaders in Kazakhstan (AP, AFP). Putin stated: “The situation there (in Afghanistan) is genuinely close to critical,” continuing, “Terrorists of different stripes are gaining more influence and do not hide their plans for further expansion.” Putin’s comments follow a statement on Thursday by Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov suggesting Russian forces could be deployed to guard the Tajik-Afghan border (Reuters). Borisov stated: “I don’t rule it out… We have a (military) base there as you know.”
NATO Chief commends troop level decision
On Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg voiced support for the United States’ decision to halt plans to withdraw from Afghanistan instead keeping 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through 2016 (Pajhwok, TOLO News). Stoltenberg stated: “I welcome President Obama’s announcement that the United States will maintain its current troop levels in Afghanistan through 2016 and will retain a substantial presence beyond 2016.” He added: “This important decision paves the way for a sustained presence by NATO allies and partners in Afghanistan. It demonstrates the continued commitment by NATO Allies and our partners towards Afghanistan.”
State Department announces new Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department announced that Ambassador Richard Olson would succeed Dan Feldman as U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) (State, Pajhwok). Dan Feldman completed his tenure as SRAP on Sept. 18 and Olson will begin his work on Nov. 17. Olson previously served as U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and as the coordinating director for development and economic affairs at the U.S. embassy in Kabul from 2011 to 2012 among other positions.
Afghan migrant killed on Bulgarian border
On Thursday, an Afghan migrant died after being shot by Bulgarian border guards while he tried to enter the country from Turkey (TOLO News). The incident occurred as a group of 50 migrants from Afghanistan sought to enter the country and were intercepted by two border guards and a police officer according, to Bulgarian Interior Ministry Chief of Staff Georgy Kostov. Kostov stated: “They put up resistance during the arrest. One of the officers fired warning shots and, in his words, one of the migrants was wounded by a ricochet and later died.” Kostov added that the regional prosecutor had opened an investigation into the incident.
— David Sterman
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Edited by Peter Bergen