The South Asia Channel
Kunduz Hospital Said To Be Misidentified Before Strike; India’s BJP Willing to Compromise on Tax Reform; EU Resolves Deportee Conflict with Pakistan
Editor’s Note: The South Asia Daily Brief will not be published on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27, but will resume publication on Monday, Dec. 30. Afghanistan Bonus Read: “In Nangarhar, ISIS Recruits Amidst Af-Pak Border Tensions,” by Casey Garret Johnson and Sanaullah Tassal (FP) Bonus Read: “Afghan Leaders Try to Halt Exodus, But Pleas Ring ...
Editor’s Note: The South Asia Daily Brief will not be published on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27, but will resume publication on Monday, Dec. 30.
Bonus Read: “In Nangarhar, ISIS Recruits Amidst Af-Pak Border Tensions,” by Casey Garret Johnson and Sanaullah Tassal (FP)
Bonus Read: “Afghan Leaders Try to Halt Exodus, But Pleas Ring Hollow,” by Mujib Mashal (NYT)
Doctors Without Borders hospital said to be misidentified before strike
According to the Pentagon’s investigative report obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, the U.S. AC-130 crew that fired at the Doctors Without Borders Kunduz hospital on Oct. 3 believed it to be a government compound overtaken by the Taliban (NYT, Los Angeles Times). The unofficially released report from the Pentagon’s investigation blames the attack on multiple human errors and malfunctions of technical equipment. According to an unnamed official, the special operations gunship sought to attack a suspected base used by Taliban insurgents, but the coordinates provided by Afghan forces led the crew to an open field. Relying on a description of the compound given by their Afghan counterparts, the U.S. air crew opened fire on a nearby large building. An onboard targeting computer that might have warned the gunship crew that the building was a hospital was malfunctioning at the time, according to the investigation. The U.S military is expected to give details on the findings at a news conference on Wednesday.
Afghan soldiers and foreigners captured by Taliban
The Taliban captured at least 13 Afghan soldiers and two foreigners on Tuesday after their helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in Faryab province (NYT). “They were flying so low that they were shot at, and no one was hurt in the emergency landing,” Faryab parliament member Naqibullah Fayeq said. “They had enough ammunition to resist for an hour after the landing and were then overpowered by the Taliban,” he continued. While the nationalities of the foreigners are unclear, in a social media post, the Taliban claimed that two American soldiers were among those captured. Col. Michael T. Lawhorn, a spokesman for United States forces in Afghanistan, said that although he was aware of reports of an aircraft crash, “we have no reports at this time of any Americans being on board.” According to Afghan National Army spokesman Maj. Mohammad Reza Rezai, an operation is currently underway to rescue the hostages.
Afghan Taliban appoint veteran to run Qatar office
A spokesman for the Afghan Taliban Zabihullah Mujahid announced on Tuesday that the group appointed Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, a veteran official, to run the political office in Qatar (NYT). Speaking about Stanekzai, Mujahid said, “He had been associated with the [Taliban’s] political office in the past and has represented the Islamic Emirate in a number of rounds of peace talks with the U.S. and Afghan government.” On the stalled peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, Mujahid added,”There has been no sign of progress in peace because of the presence of foreign troops.” In July, Taliban officials met Kabul government representatives for the first time, in Pakistan. However, the talks were suspended after the revelation of the death of former supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Bonus Read: “How India Fares in Company Corruption,” by Shefali Anand (WSJ)
Bonus Read: “Islam, Beyond the Stereotypes,” by James Estrin (NYT)
BJP shows willingness to compromise on tax reform bill
Leaders from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party expressed willingness to compromise with the opposition on a major tax reform bill on Wednesday, two days before the start of the winter session of parliament (Indian Express,NDTV). The government’s proposed Goods and Services Tax bill, known as GST, would overhaul India’s tax code, replacing many state taxes with a national value added tax at the point of sale. The bill was passed by the lower house of India’s parliament with a target implementation date of April 1, 2016, but the bill has been blocked by the opposition Congress Party in the upper house of parliament. “The government is ready to listen to the opposition’s demands on various issues. We have sought support on GST,” said Vekaiah Naidu, the parliamentary affairs minister. “We are reaching out to them, we are willing to discuss with them because some of these suggestions may not necessarily be in the larger interest of the GST structure,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, arguing that a lack of cooperation could result in a “flawed architecture” and doom the reform effort to failure.
Militants attack army camp in Kashmir
Three militants attacked an Indian Army camp in Indian-controlled Kashmir, killing one soldier on Wednesday (BBC, The Hindu). Jaish-e-Muhammad, a militant group believed to be responsible for a 2001 attack on India’s parliament, claimed responsibility for the attack. The army camp was located near the Line of Control, the de facto border dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, with each country controlling a portion of the territory. An army official told Reuters that the militants entered the camp by cutting through a perimeter fence. Indian news channels have reported that the army has launched a counter-offensive against the attackers.
PM Modi addresses crowd of 18,000
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a crowd of over 18,000 at a community event for Indian expatriates at a convention center in Singaporeon Tuesday (WSJ). Modi rallied the crowd with his call for a greater Indian profile in global affairs, a message he has often repeated in front of similar crowds while on other foreign visits. Before the public event, Modi had dinner with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching at a restaurant in Singapore’s Indian neighborhood. Indians make up the third largest ethnic group in the city-state, after the Chinese and Malay ethnic groups. Modi was in Singapore for a two-day visit to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic ties between Singapore and India.
Bonus read: “A Storied Bookstore and Its Late Oracle Leave and Imprint on Islamabad,” by Rod Nordland (NYT)
EU resolves deportee conflict with Pakistan
A top European Union (EU) official reported on Monday that Pakistan will stick to the 2009 agreement to repatriate citizens who are deported from mainland Europe (Reuters, ET). The announcement comes days after Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said it was suspending the accord with the EU under which thousands are deported to Pakistan per year. EU migrations commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos met on Monday with Pakistan’s foreign policy chief and interior minister to discuss the concerns, and said to reporters following the meeting, “We had friendly, frank, and positive discussions with the Pakistani interior minister. I think after the talks today … everything is back to normal.” There has not been immediate comment on the meeting from Pakistan.
Overseas Pakistanis will not be able to vote in 2018
On Tuesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and officials from the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) informed a parliamentary committee that voting by overseas Pakistanis will not be possible in the next general elections (Dawn). The ECP carried out mock voting exercises at the Pakistani embassy in Riyadh, High Commission in London, and consulates in New York, Dubai, Manchester, Bradford, and Glasgow. According to sources, postal ballots took six to 14 days to reach the ECP via the Foreign Office, and no votes were able to be cast by telephone. The ECP had difficulties handling just 67 mock postal ballots whereas 1.8 million Pakistanis reside in Saudi Arabia alone, raising fears about casting ballots from abroad in the general election. ECP officials told the committee that they wrote a letter to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to prepare a feasibility report on the issue of granting voting rights to overseas Pakistanis, and the UNDP has been asked to submit its recommendations to the ECP as quickly as possible.
–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen