The South Asia Channel
PM Modi arrives in UK; Afghan Hazaras protest beheadings; Pakistan army convenes to discuss internal security
India Bonus Read: “India Is Caught in a Climate Change Quandary,” by Eduardo Porter (NYT) PM Modi arrives in U.K. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in London on Thursday, kicking off his first official visit to the United Kingdom (WSJ, BBC,Bloomberg). On Thursday, Modi will hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron before addressing the media. ...
Bonus Read: “India Is Caught in a Climate Change Quandary,” by Eduardo Porter (NYT)
PM Modi arrives in U.K.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in London on Thursday, kicking off his first official visit to the United Kingdom (WSJ, BBC,Bloomberg). On Thursday, Modi will hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron before addressing the media. He will also address the British Parliament and spend the night at Cameron’s country estate. On Friday, Modi will meet Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace and address members of the Indian diaspora at Wembley Stadium. Both countries are seeking greater investment from each other. While analysts don’t expect any large “mega-deals” to come out of the visit, the two countries are expected to make a series of smaller trade and investment deals to improve financial ties and increase trade. While this is Modi’s first visit to the United Kingdom, Cameron has visited India three times as prime minister.
Hindu nationalist killed in clash
A Hindu nationalist activist was killed in a clash with Muslims in the southern state of Karnataka while protesting the celebration of the birth of a historical Muslim ruler (NYT, HT). The activist, D.S. Kuttappa, was protesting a celebration honoring the birth of Tipu Sultan, an 18th-century ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore who fought against British rule in southern India. Kuttappa and other Hindu nationalists opposed the celebration, arguing that Tipu Sultan was a “religious bigot” who persecuted Hindus. During the protest, Muslims and Hindu activists both showed up in force and incited a riot. In the ensuing melee, Kuttappa was killed after losing his balance on a wall and falling to his death after attempting to escape the violence. Communal tensions in India are running high in the wake of several high-profile incidents involving violence towards Muslims and secular activists by Hindu nationalists over the past few months.
Bangladesh hands over Assamese separatist leader
The government of Bangladesh handed Anup Chetia, a top leader of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), over to Indian authoritieson Thursday (NDTV, Indian Express, TOI). Chetia is a founder and senior leader of the ULFA, a separatist group that wants independence for the northeastern Indian state of Assam. He is wanted in India for several cases of murder, abduction, bank robbery, and extortion. Chetia fled to Bangladesh in the early 1990s, but he was arrested by Bangladeshi authorities in 1997 and has been in custody since. Indian intelligence sources say that Chetia is likely to be questioned by central law enforcement agencies in Delhi before being turned over to Assam police authorities.
Afghan Hazaras protest beheadings in Kabul
Thousands of members of the Hazara ethnic minority in Afghanistan marched through Kabul to the Presidential Palace on Wednesday, holding the coffins of the seven Hazaras who had been kidnapped and found dead on Sunday (NYT, Reuters). The protesters walked about six miles through the rain, carrying the coffins of the four men, two women, and child who were found with their heads nearly cut off in the southeastern province of Zabul, while calling for a new government that can ensure security in the country. “The only way to prevent such crimes in the future is to take over all government offices until they wake up and make a decision,” demonstrator Sayed Karim told Reuters. President Ashraf Ghani sent a delegation to Ghazni to investigate the killings, and in a written statement described the kidnappers as “mainly non-local terrorists.” However, Afghanistan’s spy agency has dismissed Taliban claims that ISIS affiliates were behind the killings. The predominately Shiite Hazaras have been the victims of a number of large-scale kidnappings this year.
Afghanistan gets clearance to join WTO
On Wednesday, Afghanistan agreed to terms for joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) at a meeting in Geneva (RFE/RL). Afghanistan agreed upon a draft deal in March 2014, but WTO officials said the final deal still required “appropriate signaling” from Kabul. Trade ministers will confirm the terms of Afghanistan’s accession during a meeting in Nairobi in December, according to a WTO official who attended the Geneva meeting. To join the WTO, candidate countries must offer to cut tariffs and alter their laws to guarantee the rights of importers and exporters under WTO rules. Afghanistan would become a member of the WTO 30 days after it ratifies the deal for which the deadline is June 30, 2016.
Bonus Read: “Pakistan Government, Frustrated by Power Crisis, Changes Tack,” (NYT)
Pakistan army convenes to discuss internal security
On Tuesday, in a corps commanders meeting army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif called for taking “governance initiatives” in order to aid the security forces in combatting extremism (ET). Civilian and military authorities appear to disagree over the pace of implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) introduced to effectively deal with the threat of terrorism. “Progress of NAP’s implementation, finalization of FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] reforms, and concluding all ongoing JITs [joint investigation teams] at priority were highlighted as issues, which could undermine the effects of operations,” said the Inter-Services Public Relations. A senior security official told the Express Tribune that the military leadership has conveyed its reservations to the federal government over lack of progress on certain aspects of the NAP. The official continued that while the army has successfully eliminated the terror infrastructure, the gains could be undone by a lack of civil initiatives.
U.S. official visits Pakistan to encourage Afghan peace talks
U.S. Acting Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan Laurel Miller met on Wednesday with the Pakistani prime minister’s special assistant on foreign affairs, Tariq Fatemi (NYT). In an apparent effort to encourage Pakistan to host more peace talks, Miller praised Islamabad’s role in promoting peace and stability in neighboring Afghanistan, according to a written statement by Pakistan’s foreign ministry. The statement also said that Fatemi informed Miller about Pakistan’s contribution toward facilitating an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process,” without providing details.
–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen
Listen to this week’s fascinating Global Thinker’s podcast with 2013 Global Thinker and epidemiologist Caroline Buckee and FP columnist and global health expert Laurie Garrett. They discuss ebola, malaria, and the world’s next health crises. Listen and subscribe to FP’s Global Thinkers podcasts here
Photo by SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images