The South Asia Channel
Afghan Probe Finds Leadership Failure Cause of Kunduz Fall; PM Modi and Malaysian PM Discuss Security; EU Migration Chief in Pakistan; Nepalese Police Kill 3 Protesters
Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Afghanistan’s Female Warlord,” by Bashir Ghazali, Wali Sabawoon, and Ray Furlong (RFE/RL) Bonus Read: “Slow road from Kabul highlights China’s challenge in Afghanistan,” by Michael Martina and Mirwais Harooni (Reuters) Afghan probe finds leadership failure cause of Kunduz fall On Saturday, Amrullah Saleh, head of the Afghan team investigating the Sep. 28 ...
Bonus Read: “Afghanistan’s Female Warlord,” by Bashir Ghazali, Wali Sabawoon, and Ray Furlong (RFE/RL)
Bonus Read: “Slow road from Kabul highlights China’s challenge in Afghanistan,” by Michael Martina and Mirwais Harooni (Reuters)
Afghan probe finds leadership failure cause of Kunduz fall
On Saturday, Amrullah Saleh, head of the Afghan team investigating the Sep. 28 fall of Kunduz to the Taliban, cited weak leadership, misuse of resources, and lack of coordination between Afghan security services as the reason for the brief militant takeover (NYT, RFE/RL, TOLO News). At a press conference, Saleh pointed to “grey networks,” referring to the “influence of a number of individuals” working against government interests in the city, including wealthy businessmen, local warlords, and senior officials as the source of conflict, “in whose interests it was to ensure the government remained weak.” Saleh’s investigation into Kunduz is the first to release results to the public, in the form of a 30-page summary. The investigators were appointed by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and submitted their full 200-page report to the government last month.
5.9 magnitude earthquake hits northeast Afghanistan
A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan on Monday near the border with Pakistan and Tajikistan, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) (NYT, Reuters). The USGS said the earthquake hit at 2:16 a.m. (Afghan local time) with its epicenter located 14 miles (21 kilometers) south-southwest of the town of Ashkasham in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. The quake was felt across Afghanistan, northwestern Pakistan, and New Delhi as well. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Afghans seeking asylum buy fake Taliban threat letters
Afghans hoping to migrate to Europe are now purchasing fake Taliban threat letters as proof of persecution, according to the Associated Press (NYT). The handwritten notes were traditionally sent to those alleged to have worked with Afghan security forces or U.S.-led troops, listing their “crimes” and warning that a “military commission” would decide on their punishment. Today, forgers are selling the similar letters for as much as $1,000. “Of the threat letters now being presented to European authorities by Afghans, I’d say only one percent are real and 99 percent are phony,” said Mukhamil (he has only one name) who has forged and sold 20 such letters. Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees spokeswoman Susanne Eikemeier said the office is aware of the letters, but “while they can be drawn on as evidence of a threat by the Taliban, the applicant’s entire account has to be coherent, comprehensible and credible.”
Several Hazaras kidnapped in Afghanistan
Between 14 and 30 Hazara bus passengers were kidnapped along Highway 1 in Zabul province on Saturday (NYT, RFE/RL, TOLO News). The hostages were taken off of four buses at a single point along the highway, according to local officials. A driver of one of the stopped buses said that six or seven militants climbed aboard and began pulling Hazara passengers out of their seats. Local police chief Mirwais Noorzai said that local Taliban leader Mullah Taqwa ordered the kidnappings because Hazaras allegedly “stole sheep,” however no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. Both ISIS and the Taliban have targeted the Persian-speaking minority group in the past. There have been at least five other kidnappings of Hazaras along the portion of Highway 1 between Kabul and Kandahar this year, according to Ghazni provincial council member Hassan Raza Yusufi.
Bonus Read: “Bankruptcy in India: The business of going bust” (Economist)
PM Modi and Malaysian PM discuss security cooperation
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up a three-day visit to Malaysiaon Monday, meeting with Malaysian Prime Minsiter Najib Razak to discuss defense and security ties (NDTV, The Hindu, HT). Earlier over the weekend, Modi attended the ASEAN-India Summit and the East Asia Summit in Malaysia. Combating terrorism was a central focus of Modi’s visit, and Modi praised his Malaysian counterpart for his role in combating extremism and radicalization. India and Malaysia pledged to increased bilateral cooperation on a range of defense and security issues, including maritime security, disaster response, and cyber security. From Malaysia, Modi headed to Singapore on Monday for a two-day visit to discuss bilateral ties with President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, coinciding with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between India and Singapore.
Environment minister: India seeks “climate justice” at Paris summit
India’s environment minister, Prakash Javedkar, said on Monday that India would be seeking “climate justice” for developing countries at the upcoming Paris climate summit (NDTV, The Hindu). “India and the developing world has taken more than their fair share [of responsibility] and the developed world has taken much less than their fair share, much less than their capacity,” Javedkar said in an interview with AFP. Javedkar argued that developed countries should commit to more stringent carbon emissions cuts to free up “carbon space” for developing countries to grow, and he called on developed countries to bear a greater financial burden in helping developing countries to move towards cleaner sources of energy. India has pledged to generate 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, but at the same time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to double coal production by 2020 in order to deliver on a campaign promise to bring reliable electricity to India’s poor. The Indian environment minister also rejected a statement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that India would pose a “challenge” in the climate negotiations, claiming that India is in favor of consensus.
7 dead in helicopter crash
At least seven people died in a helicopter crash in the Jammu region of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday (BBC, TOI). The helicopter was carrying pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi shrine, considered one of Hinduism’s holiest temples. The helicopter caught fire and crashed soon after taking off. “Seven people — six pilgrims and the lady pilot — died in the crash. We are investigating the cause of the accident,” said Danish Rana, Inspector General of Jammu.
Bonus Read: “New Home for Street Kids in Pakistan,” by Radio Mashaal (RFE/RL)
EU migration chief in Pakistan after rejection of deportees
European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos was in Pakistan on Monday for talks following Pakistan’s suspension of a deal to accept deportations of its citizens from Europe (NYT). Ayesha Babar, spokeswoman for the European Union (EU), said the visit was planned in advance and that Avramopoulos is not coming “just because of the statements by Pakistani officials that the country would no longer accept deportees from Europe.” EU nations signed a deal with Pakistan in 2009 allowing them to repatriate illegal immigrants from Pakistan and other countries who transited through Pakistan on their way to Europe, but last week Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said that airlines returning deportees would be penalized moving forward. The EU has not officially commented on the decision.
Pakistani-Afghan trade talks commence
On Monday, Pakistan and Afghanistan opened talks in Islamabad on economic issues that were previously postponed due to tensions between the two nations (ET). “The issues being discussed include taxation, trade facilitation, motorways, highways and railway projects, increase in scholarships for Afghan students in Pakistani medical and engineering colleges, transportation, energy projects as well as potential joint ventures in other sectors,” according to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. Dar is leading the Pakistani delegation while Afghan Minister Eklil Ahmad Hakimi is heading the Afghan delegation for the day-long Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission meeting. The current bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan is nearly $2.5 billion, and the countries have agreed to increase it to $5 billion by 2017.
Police kill 3 protesters in border violence
Three protesters were killed in clashes with Nepalese police over the weekend (NYT,NDTV). Protesters from the Madhesi ethnic group in southern Nepal have set up an unofficial blockade along the border with India, blocking shipments of essential goods from India for the past several months. Many Madhesis are unhappy with Nepal’s new constitution, which they argue disproportionately favors other ethnic groups. Two protesters were killed when police opened fireon Saturday in an attempt to clear the blockade of the main highway, and at least 28 people, including 15 police officers, were injured in the clash. A third protester was killed on Sunday when police opened fire on protesters who had set fire to a police van in response to the deaths from the previous night. The new Nepalese government has vowed to resolve the issue through dialogue, but talks between the government and protesters has yielded little progress. “We may have to quit talks if the government continues to kill the people,” said Laxman Lal Karna, a member of the United Democratic Madhesi Front, an umbrella organization of Madhesi parties.
–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images