Germany to Send 130 More Troops to Afghanistan; Pakistan Suspends Deal to Accept Deportations from Europe; Tourism Grows from Expansion of Electronic Visa Program
Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Afghanistan Survey Finds Security, Economy Major Concerns,” the Associated Press (NYT) Germany to send 130 more troops to Afghanistan The German government announced on Wednesday that their country will send 130 additional troops to Afghanistan (NYT). This was announced after the conclusion of a cabinet meeting in which officials discussed support for ...
Bonus Read: “Afghanistan Survey Finds Security, Economy Major Concerns,” the Associated Press (NYT)
Germany to send 130 more troops to Afghanistan
The German government announced on Wednesday that their country will send 130 additional troops to Afghanistan (NYT). This was announced after the conclusion of a cabinet meeting in which officials discussed support for Afghan forces struggling to combat the Taliban. Although NATO has withdrawn most of its combat troops, about 850 German soldiers remain in Afghanistan to train local forces. That number will now go up to 980, according to the German government. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said previously that after the Taliban seizure of Kunduz in September, she is open to delaying the withdrawal of German soldiers from Afghanistan beyond next year.
Ghani launches Afghan jobs program to stem exodus of youth
On Tuesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani launched a modest jobs program in Afghanistan in an attempt to stem the flow of young migrants to Europe (NYT, TOLO News). Since the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014, many Afghans have lost jobs once linked to the international coalition of troops. According to Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, this economic hardship is partially responsible for the unprecedented wave of migration of Afghans to Europe, with about 146,000 Afghan migrants arriving in Europe this year. Ghani’s program will be rolled out in phases. “In the first phase, the program will cover 4,700 villages, and in the spring it will reach 15,000 villages,” the president said in a televised address. The goal is to bring about two months of food security for nearly 100,000 families, and the initial cost of the program is about $100 million, officials said. The program is slated to cover all 34 provinces by June, totaling about $350 million.
Bonus Read: “The General’s Shot at Improving U.S.-Pakistan Relations,” by Moeed Yusuf (FP)
Bonus Read: “Pakistan Military Expands Its Power, and Is Thanked for Doing So,” Rod Nordland (NYT)
Pakistan temporarily suspends deal to accept deportations from Europe
The Pakistan Interior Ministry said on Wednesday that Pakistan will refuse to accept any citizens deported from Europe (NYT). European Union nations signed a deal with Pakistan in 2009 allowing them to repatriate illegal immigrants in addition to other nationalities who traveled through Pakistan on their way to Europe. “The signing country had to first verify the nationality of that person who was being deported, but there were instances where the nationality was not being verified. The minister took notice and the agreement is temporarily suspended,” said an unnamed spokesman, explaining irregularities in the implementation of the agreement. “Any airline that brings deportees to Pakistan without Interior Ministry permission and without Pakistan travel documents will be fined heavily,” Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said on Tuesday in advance of this announcement.
Human Rights Watch: Pakistan police abusing Afghans
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on Wednesday revealed that incidents of police abuse against Afghans in Pakistan have skyrocketed since the Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshwar on Dec. 16, 2014 (Dawn, TOLO News). Through a series of interviews with refugees who had returned to Kabul, as well as Afghans still living in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir, and Punjab, HRW determined that use of harassment and intimidation by law enforcement agencies had reached an all-time high in wake of the attack, despite the fact that investigations did not yield evidence of significant Afghan involvement. “The Pakistani government needs to develop a long-term strategy that emphasizes the protection of its Afghan population rather than pursue a vindictive punishment policy that is as unlawful as it is inhumane,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at HRW.
Bonus Read: “Pollution in India: Gasping for air,” by Amy Kazim (FT)
Tourism grows from expansion of electronic visa program
The Indian government’s expansion of its “e-Tourist Visa” program, which enables electronic authorization of tourist visa applications, has resulted in a massive growth in the number of tourists visiting the country, according to a government official (NDTV). The number of tourists who were granted visas under the program grew nearly 2,000 percent over the last year after it was expanded from 12 countries to 113 countries. Under the e-Tourist Visa program, over 56,000 tourists landed in India in October of this year, compared to under 3,000 tourists in October 2014. The United Kingdom had the largest number of tourists under the program, accounting for 22.8 percent, followed by the United States with 16.7 percent.
Delhi launches garbage reporting app
The government of the Indian capital, Delhi, has launched a mobile app to tackle the city’s mounting garbage problem, reported the BBC on Wednesday (BBC). The app, named Swachh Delhi (“Clean Delhi”), was launched for Android and allows users to upload pictures of garbage in their neighborhoods. The pictures are geo-tagged, allowing the government to keep track of particularly unsanitary areas. Users have untilNov. 30 to upload pictures, after which municipal workers will clean up the flagged areas. “The app is not even two days old, but we are already inundated. We have already received more than 3,000 pictures and the app has about 24,000 downloads,” said Gopal Mohan, an advisor to Delhi’s chief minister and the man in charge of developing the app.
Supreme Court orders crematorium near Taj Mahal to move
The Indian Supreme Court has ordered a crematorium near the Taj Mahal to move due to damage to the monument from pollution (BBC). The court ruled that smoke from the wood-burning crematorium could damage the 17th-century marble mausoleum located in Agra, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The state advocate general agreed with the supreme court’s assessment, while staff from the crematorium denied the pollution charges. The Taj Mahal has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983, and it attracts millions of visitors each year. However, the monument has suffered from heavy pollution in Agra, with its white marble gradually turning yellow.
–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen
In this week’s Global Thinkers podcast, FP Global Thinkers Erica Chenoweth and David Scheffer debate when – if ever – social and political movements should turn to armed insurgency. Check it out on iTunes, along with FP’s other podcasts here
KAY NIETFELD/AFP/Getty Images
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