More Than 9,000 Radical Clerics Arrested Under Pakistan’s National Action Plan; Taliban Execute Ghormach Police Chief; Japan Offers Loan for Indian Bullet Train
Pakistan Bonus Read: “The Polio Capital of the World,” by Arsla Jawaid (FP) More than 9,000 radical clerics arrested under National Action Plan About 9,400 clerics have been arrested on charges of promoting religious hatred as part of the National Action Plan, Pakistan’s action plan to combat terrorism in the country (ET). “All of them ...
Bonus Read: “The Polio Capital of the World,” by Arsla Jawaid (FP)
More than 9,000 radical clerics arrested under National Action Plan
About 9,400 clerics have been arrested on charges of promoting religious hatred as part of the National Action Plan, Pakistan’s action plan to combat terrorism in the country (ET). “All of them were found involved in fuelling sectarianism in the name of religion,” an official tasked with monitoring the progress of the action plan told the Express Tribune. Furthermore, the police departments of the provinces have barred 1,345 hate-promoting preachers from making speeches on the eighth, ninth, and tenth days of Muharram. “We are serious about getting rid of all elements breeding extremism in our society,” said Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Muhammad Yousuf. Yousef says that representatives of all sects have cooperated with the government on this matter.
Bombing at Shiite mosque kills 10
A suicide bomber set off explosives in a Shiite mosque on the eve of Ashura, a Shia religious holiday, killing at least 10 and injuring several others (NYT, Dawn). “At least 10 people were killed and 12 others were wounded after a suicide bomber blew himself up at an imambargah,” said Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti. According to Bugti, there were six children among the dead. The suspected bomber reportedly appeared to be an 18-year-old male clothed in a woman’s burqa. The attack took place approximately 120 miles southeast of Quetta in the city of Sibi. No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Pakistan to double spending for education, will receive $70 million from U.S.
The office of United States First Lady Michelle Obama announced on Thursday Pakistan’s intention to increase spending from two percent to four percent of GDP by 2018 (Dawn, ET). Building on Pakistan’s commitment, the U.S. first lady said that the United States will invest $70 million specifically for the education of adolescent girls in Pakistan. USAID’s Let Girls Learn initiative in Pakistan will contribute the additional aid to new and ongoing USAID programs that benefit over 200,000 adolescent girls (USAID).
— Alyssa Sims
Bonus Read: “Kunduz faces tough resurrection after brief Taliban takeover,” by Sudarsan Raghavan (Post)
Taliban execute Ghormach police chief
The Taliban executed the district police chief for Ghormach district in Faryab province after holding him captive for several days, according to an Afghan official on Friday (Pajhwok). The Taliban captured the district holding its police chief and several other police officers hostage on Sunday.
Afghanistan elected to UN Economic and Social Council
Afghanistan was elected to serve a three year term as a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), according to reports on Friday (Pajhwok). The term will begin in January 2016. The term will be the third time Afghanistan has been a member of the ECOSOC. Previously Afghanistan was a member from 1959-1961 and then from 1976-1978. ECOSOC discusses and coordinates economic and social policies for the United Nations. Nations are voted on to be members within regional groupings. Afghanistan will serve alongside Lebanon, Iraq, and Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific group.
Stoltenberg and Ghani discuss security situation
On Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani discussed the security situation in Afghanistan during a phone call (TOLO News, Pajhwok). The discussion focused in part on plans for NATO nations to extend their troop presences into 2016. Stoltenberg stated: “Our conversation followed my recent discussions with allied leaders regarding the future of NATO’s presence in Afghanistan.” Stoltenberg also reiterated his support for President Obama’s decision to halt the plan to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan saying: “This important decision paves the way for a sustained presence by NATO allies and partners in Afghanistan.”
— David Sterman
Bonus Read: “Nepal and India: Mr. Oli’s winter challenge” (Economist).
Japan offers low-interest loan for bullet trains
Japan has offered to finance the first bullet train in India with a low-interest loan, officials said on Thursday (Reuters, TOI). The bullet train’s route would span a distance of 505 kilometers (314 miles) and would connect the western cities of Mumbai, India’s largest, and Ahmedabad. Japan had won the contract to assess the feasibility of the route earlier, and although the rail project will be subject to a bidding process, Japan’s offer of low-cost financing makes them a strong favorite to win the overall development contract. The Japan International Cooperation Agency, which led the feasibility study, offered to finance 80 percent of the project’s estimated $15 billion at an interest rate below 1 percent, provided India buys at least 30 percent of the needed equipment from Japanese firms. Japan is competing with China and other countries to provide high-speed rail technology to India.
20 arrested at Indian embassy protest in UK
British police arrested 20 people at a protest outside the Indian embassy in London on Thursday (TOI). The protesters had gathered to peacefully demonstrate against police brutality against Sikhs in India’s northwestern state of Punjab, but “a small group of protesters became violent towards police,” according to a statement from London’s Metropolitan Police Service. Last week, Sikhs in the village of Behbal Kalan in Punjab had gathered to protest an incidence of apparent desecration of a copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism’s holy book. While attempting to contain the protests, police opened fire, killing two protesters and injuring dozens more. Those killings have further enraged the Sikh community, with protests now forming as far away as London.
India celebrates Dussehra
Indians celebrated the Hindu festival of Dussehra, a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, on Thursday (WSJ, NDTV). A central aspect of the festivities was the burning of giant effigies of demons, symbolizing the destruction of evil forces. The roots of the festival can be traced to the Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic that tells the story of the hero Rama’s defeat of the demon king Ravana. India’s head of state, President Pranab Mukherjee, took the opportunity to address a crowd in Delhi, reminding them of India’s shared “ancient culture.” Mukherjee encouraged people to “maintain unity and integrity of the nation” in response to recent high-profile cases of intolerance. Government offices, schools, and universities were closed for the holiday.
— Udit Banerjea
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Edited by Peter Bergen
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
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