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The South Asia Channel
Cabinet Approves Security Agreements with Germany; PM Sharif: No Pardon for Peshawar Killers; Leader of Taliban Attack on Hunger Strike
India Cabinet approves security agreements with Germany India’s cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved two separate agreements on security cooperation between India and Germany on Wednesday (NDTV). One agreement encourages the exchange of information, expertise, best practices and technology on security issues. “It is an effective tool for combating terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and preventing cross border ...
Cabinet approves security agreements with Germany
India’s cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved two separate agreements on security cooperation between India and Germany on Wednesday (NDTV). One agreement encourages the exchange of information, expertise, best practices and technology on security issues. “It is an effective tool for combating terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and preventing cross border crimes through exchange of information, knowledge, technical expertise and capacity building,” said an official statement from the government. The second agreement approved by the cabinet establishes cooperation between Germany’s interior ministry and India’s civil aviation ministry for the carriage of in-flight security officers aboard international flights between the two countries. The agreements were signed during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to New Delhi in October.
Indian Muslims speak out against ISIS
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, the largest Muslim organization in India, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, organized protests in 75 cities across the country to protest against ISIS, while two influential Indian Islamic seminaries strongly condemned the attacks as “murder of humanity” (NDTV, The Hindu). Protesters mobilized by Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind gathered in cities including Delhi, Bengaluru, and Bhopal, holding placards and shouting slogans condemning the terrorist group. “We need to raise our voice now. There are so many youngsters across the world who are getting brain washed into believing falsehoods that are used as propaganda by those like ISIS. The only way to fight this is by staying united,” said one protester. The two Islamic seminaries, Darul Uloom Deoband and Dargah-e-Aala-Hazrat, issued a joint fatwa against ISIS. “There should not be any doubt about our condemnation of this group which calls itself IS in strongest possible terms. And there should also be no doubt that this group has nothing to do with Islam because Islam never teaches killing innocent people,” said Maulana Qasim Nomani, the head of of Darul Uloom Deoband.
India moves up 6 spots in Global Gender Gap Index
India has moved up six spots to rank 108th overall in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, mainly due to increased political representation for women (Livemint, NDTV). Last year, India ranked 114th. This improvement is largely a result of an increase in the number of female cabinet members and members of parliament, with the percentage of female ministers in the cabinet increasing from 9 percent to 22 percent and the number of female members in the lower house of parliament increasing to 12.2 percent from 11.4 percent. Although India ranks highly on political issues compared to other countries in its income group, it fares poorly on other issues included in the index like health and economic participation. India ranks 139th in “economic participation and opportunity” and 143rd in “health and survival.” India fell in the rankings for both of those categories over the last year.
Bonus Read: “By tracing cellphones, Pakistan makes inroads in war against polio,” by Tim Craig (Post)
PM Sharif: No pardon for Peshawar killers
In a government statement released on Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked President Mamnoon Hussain to reject a petition of pardon for four individuals sentenced to death (NYT, Dawn). The men were convicted for the Taliban-claimed Peshawar school attack on Dec. 16, 2014, that killed 150 people — mostly children — and prompted Pakistan to lift a 2008-moratorium on the death penalty. “The death sentence awarded to the four terrorists, in fact, was the will of the entire nation. By rejecting the mercy petition of these terrorists, I am also reflecting the will of the people and honoring the promise made to the families of my children who lost their lives in the Army Public School tragedy,” Sharif stated in the released statement. Since the moratorium was lifted, Pakistan has hanged nearly 300 on death row, most of them convicted criminals, not Taliban or other insurgents.
Polling ends for second phase of local elections in Sindh, Punjab
On Thursday, polling ended for the second phase of local government (LG) elections across Sindh and Punjab (Dawn). The Election Commission of Pakistan has set up a control room in Islamabad to handle the various complaints that have erupted following issues at polling stations. Candidates at various polling stations in both Punjab and Sindh called for voting to be suspended after finding their campaign symbols were misprinted on ballot papers available at the polling stations. Also, female voters were barred from casting their votes at various stations in both provinces. Over 100 complaints have been lodged with the ECP — at least 56 from Punjab and 46 from Sindh. During the first phase of LG elections, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz secured a majority by winning 1,192 local seats, with independents (mostly Leaguers) gaining second position with 1,065 seats.
Leader of Taliban attack on hunger strike
A former Russian military commander awaiting sentencing in Virginia for a 2009 attack on Afghan border police and U.S. soldiers is on a hunger strike (NYT). Irek Hamidullin, according to prosecutors, is a Russian veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan who joined the Haqqani Network, a Taliban affiliated-group, and led about 30 insurgents in the 2009 attack. “He’s basically saying he’s on a hunger strike, but he’s sneaking a few things,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Brian Stalnaker said on Thursday of Hamidullin. However, “We don’t feel it’s a full-fledged hunger strike,” Stalnaker continued. A U.S. federal jury convicted Hamidullin in August of planning and leading a Taliban attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Hamidullin was found guilty on 15 counts, and sentencing is set for Dec. 3.
Five insurgents killed in attack on Kandahar government building
Five insurgents, equipped with a car bomb, suicide vests, and weapons, were killed on Thursday in an attack on the Arghandab district governor building in Kandahar (TOLO News). Provincial governor spokesman Tamim Akhpalwak confirmed the incident and reported one security force member as dead, and three others injured. According to Akhpalwak, one insurgent died when he blew himself up with the car bomb at the entrance gate of the government building. Security forces opened fire on the other four, killing them before they could enter the building. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen
Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images