The South Asia Channel
U.S. Citizens in Kabul Warned of Imminent Attack; India, France To Launch Global Solar Alliance; Pakistan’s Deadline for BlackBerry Users’ Data Extended
Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Once in Guantanamo, Afghan Now Leads War Against Taliban and ISIS,” Joseph Goldstein (NYT) U.S. citizens in Kabul warned of imminent attack On Monday, the United States Embassy warned U.S. citizens in Kabul of an “imminent attack” within the next 48 hours. (VOA, RFE/RL) No details on the potential targets, timing, or ...
Bonus Read: “Once in Guantanamo, Afghan Now Leads War Against Taliban and ISIS,” Joseph Goldstein (NYT)
U.S. citizens in Kabul warned of imminent attack
On Monday, the United States Embassy warned U.S. citizens in Kabul of an “imminent attack” within the next 48 hours. (VOA, RFE/RL) No details on the potential targets, timing, or methods of attacks were given. The embassy issues such warnings frequently as the security situation in Kabul deteriorates. On Saturday, a suicide bombing targeted Hawliya Rodwal, the Kabul provincial director of the Afghan Independent Election Commission (RFE/RL). Rodwal survived but one of his security guards was killed, and his driver was wounded. On Monday, a bomb attached to a police vehicle detonated shortly after the vehicle left the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Pajhwok).
Ghani, Sharif to meet informally
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are expected to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations Congress of Parties climate change conference in Paris (TOLO News). The two are expected to discuss reviving the Afghan Taliban peace talks that dissolved over the summer. The conference, which began on Monday, will be attended by 150 world leaders.
NATO ministers meet in Brussels
On Monday, ministers from 40 NATO and partner countries met in Brussels to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan and extending their presence beyond 2016 (Pajhwok). Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and NATO’s civilian representative in Afghanistan Ismael Armaz are attending the two-day meeting. NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Campbell will speak via videoconference.
Land grab in Nangarhar province
On Sunday, Nangarhar provincial council members and residents reported a widespread land-grab scheme by “influential people” (TOLO News). They claim that more than 300,000 acres of privately-owned and government land have been taken illegally over the past few years. The mayor of Jalalabad, Hamidullah Afghan, denied the claims that mosques and public picnic areas have been taken. Provincial council member Suhrab Qaderi said: “They build houses or shops where there are green areas. This is illegal and it should not be done.” Bonus read: “In Nangarhar, IS Recruits,” Casey Garret Johnson and Sanaullah Tassal (Foreign Policy).
Bonus Read: “COP21 Paris climate talks: India looms as obstacle to deal,” by Victor Mallet (FT)
India and France set to launch global solar alliance
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande are set to launch a major international solar energy partnership on Monday, coinciding with the start of a two-week climate change summit in Paris (ET, NDTV). The alliance, known as the International Agency for Solar Technologies and Applications (INSTA), aims to bring 120 countries located within the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn onto a shared platform of standardized technologies and procurement processes for solar energy. The goal of the initiative is to drive down costs and increase adoption of solar energy by creating a more unified market and by encouraging collaboration between countries in deploying existing solar technology. “The solar alliance brings together countries that have high solar resource, which have been relatively under-exploited, and represents a large market for solar technology,” said Ajay Mathur, a senior Indian negotiator and India’s principal spokesperson at the Paris summit. “The idea is that larger markets and bigger volumes will lead to lower costs making it possible to spur demand,” he said.
Parliament to discuss intolerance
The Indian Parliament is holding a debate on the issue of intolerance on Monday at the insistence of the opposition (HT, IBN, NDTV). India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been accused by members of the opposition for failing to adequately respond to a series of attacks on Muslims and secular advocates in the country over the past few months, leading to a wave of rising intolerance. Parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said that although the government disagrees with the perception that intolerance is rising, it was “willing to go along with the opposition in this regard for a discussion in an appropriate manner.” No vote is expected after the debate. The debate on Monday was seen as a concession by the government in order to gain support from the opposition for its signature bill, the Goods and Services Tax bill, which is to be taken up by Parliament later in the week. The proposed tax bill would overhaul India’s tax code, replacing many state taxes with a national value added tax at the point of sale.
Nestle resumes full production of Maggi noodles
Food giant Nestle announced on Monday that it had resumed production of Maggi noodles at all five manufacturing facilities in India (NDTV, ET). India’s food safety regulator had banned the highly popular product in June, calling it “unsafe and hazardous” after finding lead content above permissible limits. Nestle shut down production for five months while bringing its manufacturing processes up to standards, and the company relaunched production of Maggi noodles at a single facility on Nov. 9. The company incurred a loss of 4.5 billion rupees ($68 million) and had to destroy over 30,000 tonnes of instant noodles as a result of the ban. Nestle also faces a class-action lawsuit from the consumer affairs ministry, which is seeking 6.4 billion rupees ($96 million) in damages for consumers.
BlackBerry’s deadline to turn over users’ data to Pakistan extended
BlackBerry Ltd will not shut down operations in Pakistan by the Nov. 30 deadline imposed by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) (Reuters). In July, the PTA demanded that BlackBerry turn over access to users’ private data via BlackBerry Enterprise Services, which encrypts emails and instant messages, or shut down operations in Pakistan by Nov. 30. The deadline has been extended by one month as negotiations over the level of access continue.
Police investigating fire at Karachi Christian TV station
On Thursday, police officials said they were investigating a fire at a Christian cable television station in Karachi (NYT, ET, Dawn). The fire was started early Tuesday at Gawahi TV, and employees of the station say the fire was deliberate. Religious violence in Pakistan has been on the rise; an Ahmadi-owned factory and mosque in Jhelum were burned down earlier in November.
Four Army School attackers to be executed
On Monday, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif signed the death warrants for four individuals involved in the December 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar (ET, Dawn). Inter Services Public Relations announced that Maulvi Abdus Salam, Hazrat Ali, Mujeebur Rehman, and Sabeel alias Yahya will be hanged after being convicted by a military court for their role in the attack.
Islamabad local elections conclude
On Monday, local elections in Islamabad concluded peacefully (ET, Dawn). Voting for 600 representatives began at 7 in the morning with high security, including teams of Rangers and army personnel. The Election Commission of Pakistan received 30 complaints. This was the first local election in Islamabad since 1979.
— Courtney Schuster and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen
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