The South Asia Channel

Woman accused of adultery stoned to death by Taliban; Bollywood Actor Shah Rukh Khan criticizes intolerance; Taliban claim killing of Pakistani journalist

Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Life Pulls Back in Afghan Capital, as Danger Rises and Troops Recede,” by Alissa Rubin (NYT) Woman accused of adultery stoned to death by Taliban On Wednesday, an Afghan official confirmed the Oct. 24 murder of a 22-year-old Afghan woman accused of adultery (Post, Guardian). The woman, identified only as Rokhshana, was ...

MATTANI, NORTH-WEST FRONTIER PROVINCE, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 22, 2009: New recruits being trained under the authority of Abdul Rehman, who claimed they were part of the Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamist militant group, however this claim was later denied upon verification by senior contacts within that group. Part of their training program was a 15km hike with weapons training. The best recruits will be sent on to a commando training camp in Kashmir, before taking up jihad in Afghanistan, India or Iraq. Lashkar-e-Taiba is a Pakistani jihadist group created in the 1980s to fight in Afghanistan, and especially in Indian Kashmir. Their members have often claimed they were trained by former military officers. They were also allegedly employed by the Pakistani intelligence agency called the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in India and Afghanistan. They were officially banned in 2001, following an attack on parliament in New Delhi, India, so they regrouped under the name Jama'at-ud-Da'wah. It is widely claimed that the group was responsible for the Mumbai bombings in November 2008, which killed nearly 200 people. Since then, they have been on the UN list of terrorist organizations. The US authorities liken them to al-Qaeda, and as much of a security risk. The Pakistani authorities in Islamabad state that they have dismantled Lashkar-e-Taiba, however overseas intelligence services state this is not possible. The group's fighters are implicated in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and India, however they are not currently in battle with the Pakistani authorities, due to a supposed good relationship with the military there. They fight alongside the Taliban against NATO forces, and are the best trained and most battle-hardened fighters in the region. Their training is very military and regimented, compared to that of the Taliban which is more basic. (Photo by Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images)
MATTANI, NORTH-WEST FRONTIER PROVINCE, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 22, 2009: New recruits being trained under the authority of Abdul Rehman, who claimed they were part of the Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamist militant group, however this claim was later denied upon verification by senior contacts within that group. Part of their training program was a 15km hike with weapons training. The best recruits will be sent on to a commando training camp in Kashmir, before taking up jihad in Afghanistan, India or Iraq. Lashkar-e-Taiba is a Pakistani jihadist group created in the 1980s to fight in Afghanistan, and especially in Indian Kashmir. Their members have often claimed they were trained by former military officers. They were also allegedly employed by the Pakistani intelligence agency called the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in India and Afghanistan. They were officially banned in 2001, following an attack on parliament in New Delhi, India, so they regrouped under the name Jama'at-ud-Da'wah. It is widely claimed that the group was responsible for the Mumbai bombings in November 2008, which killed nearly 200 people. Since then, they have been on the UN list of terrorist organizations. The US authorities liken them to al-Qaeda, and as much of a security risk. The Pakistani authorities in Islamabad state that they have dismantled Lashkar-e-Taiba, however overseas intelligence services state this is not possible. The group's fighters are implicated in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and India, however they are not currently in battle with the Pakistani authorities, due to a supposed good relationship with the military there. They fight alongside the Taliban against NATO forces, and are the best trained and most battle-hardened fighters in the region. Their training is very military and regimented, compared to that of the Taliban which is more basic. (Photo by Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “Life Pulls Back in Afghan Capital, as Danger Rises and Troops Recede,” by Alissa Rubin (NYT)

Woman accused of adultery stoned to death by Taliban

On Wednesday, an Afghan official confirmed the Oct. 24 murder of a 22-year-old Afghan woman accused of adultery (Post, Guardian). The woman, identified only as Rokhshana, was forced to stand in a deep hole in the ground while being stoned in Ghor province, according to governor spokesman Abdul Hai Khateby. The stoning occurred after the Taliban’s local tribal council found her guilty of having pre-marital sex with her fiancé, and the fiancé was lashed (Aljazeera). A video of the stoning appeared online late on Monday and has been widely discussed on social media in Afghanistan.

Russia ready to respond to Afghan request for military help

Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Alexander Mantytskiy announced on Tuesday that Moscow is “ready to respond to Afghanistan’s request for military help” (TOLO News). His statements came after the Afghan government reportedly requested military assistance from Russia which was recently criticized by a number of Afghan senators. He told journalists at a press conference in Kabul that Russia is ready to help specifically with eliminating ISIS and other militant groups, but requested that the Afghan government clearly identify what kind of military help it is seeking.

 

India

Bonus Read: “Britain Needs to Boost Ties with India,” by Rob Lynes (Diplomat)

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan criticizes intolerance

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, arguably the most popular celebrity in India, joined the growing wave of high-profile figures to speak out against what is seen as an increase in intolerance in India on Tuesday (BBC, Indian Express). There has been a growing movement of writers, scientists, historians, and filmmakers who are speaking out against recent acts of violence towards minorities and secularists, including the murders of two rationalist thinkers and a Muslim man falsely accused of consuming beef. Khan voiced his own concerns about these incidents in an interview with the NDTV news channel. More than 50 notable historians and 40 writers have returned state awards or honors in protest to what they perceive as an overly passive response to the issue by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government. The governor of the Indian central bank and prominent business leaders have also spoken out about the issue, warning that the current climate may deter foreign investment in the country. In response to Khan’s comments, Kailash Vijayvargiya, a general secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said that Khan’s “soul was in Pakistan.” The official spokesperson for the BJP later condemned his comments. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, another BJP leader, has dismissed the movement as “liberal intolerance,” claiming that the prime minister was a victim of “structured and organized propaganda that there is social strife in India.”

Volcano strands VP in Bali

An ash cloud was released by Mount Rinjani, an active volcano on the Indonesian island of Lombok, on Wednesday, delaying Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari’s scheduled visit to Brunei (The Hindu, Business Standard). Ansari is on an official tour of Indonesia and Brunei, and he was scheduled to leave the Indonesian island of Bali for a one-day visit to Brunei Wednesday to meet the sultan and crown prince. He is now scheduled to arrive in Brunei on Thursday. Ansari unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi at a university in Bali and addressed students on Wednesday. The volcanic ash cloud also delayed the extradition of Chhota Rajan, a prominent Indian gang leader, from Indonesia to India, where he will face multiple charges of murder and illegal possession and use of firearms.

Pakistan

Taliban claim killing of Pakistani journalist

A gunman on a motorbike killed a Pakistani journalist in Tank district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday (NYT, Reuters). “We killed him because he was writing against us … we have some other journalists on our hit list in the region, soon we will target them,” Taliban commander Qari Saif Ullah Saif told Reuters. The journalist, Zaman Mehsud, was working for the Daily Umet, an Urdu language newspaper, and SANA news agency. He also worked for the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Four journalists and media workers have been killed in Pakistan this year, according to Reporters Without Borders.

U.S. pledges $30 million for temporarily displaced Pakistanis

The United States government has announced that it will provide $30 million through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to Pakistan in order to help facilitate the return of Temporarily Displaced Persons to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) (Dawn). “People here are resilient, and with their determination and our support, we look forward to a thriving and peaceful FATA,” said John Groarke, USAID mission director speaking at a ceremony attended by representatives of the United Nations and the government of Pakistan. The funds will support the reconstruction of schools, provide job training, improve farming techniques, and will also be used to distribute food stipends.

–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea

Edited by Peter Bergen

In this week’s Global Thinkers podcast, 2014 Global Thinker Arye Kohavi and writer Charles Fishman explain why the world’s water problems are solvable – if it weren’t for the clunky policies standing in the way. Download and listen to FP’s Global Thinkers podcasts and others on iTunes and Stitcher
Photo by Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images
Alyssa Sims is an intern in the International Security Program at the New America Foundation.

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