The South Asia Channel
India Willing to Cut Coal for Cash; Conflicting Reports Over Fate of Afghan Taliban Leader; Pakistan Sends Back 30 Deportees
India Bonus Read: “What Narendra Modi Can Do in Paris” (NYT) India willing to cut coal for cash A senior Indian negotiator at the Paris climate talks, Ajay Mathur, said on Wednesday that India is willing to cut down on coal consumption if developed countries provide greater funding for renewable energy development (Time, BBC). India is expected to ...
Bonus Read: “What Narendra Modi Can Do in Paris” (NYT)
India willing to cut coal for cash
A senior Indian negotiator at the Paris climate talks, Ajay Mathur, said on Wednesday that India is willing to cut down on coal consumption if developed countries provide greater funding for renewable energy development (Time, BBC). India is expected to become the world’s top coal user and importer by 2020 as it seeks to provide expand coverage of its power grid to under-served rural areas. “We look forward to an agreement that enables financial support from the countries that have developed on the backs of cheap energy, to those who have to meet their energy with more expensive but low carbon energy,” said Mathur. India had adopted a tough stance when the negotiations kicked off on Nov. 30, but it appears to be striking a more conciliatory tone, and Mathur said that India would “absolutely” consume less coal if the Paris deal resulted in more money for the country. India has also committed to significantly expanding solar, wind, hydroelectric, and nuclear power.Bonus Read: “Paris Climate Change Summit: India’s Moment to Shine,” by Sriram Balasubramanian (FP)
Death toll rises from Chennai floods
Over 40 people have been killed over the last two days as a result of severe flooding in and around the southern city of Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu, Indian authorities said on Thursday (WSJ, The Hindu). In the region, more than 250 people have died as a result of heavy rains since the beginning of November. India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh told lawmakers that the central government has released 9.4 billion rupees ($141 million) for relief and recovery efforts. Modi arrived in Chennai to survey the damage firsthand, and he announced an additional 10 billion rupees ($150 million) in disaster relief. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa also conducted an aerial survey of flood-hit areas on Thursday. The India Meteorological Department predicts continued heavy rains in the area for the next two to three days.
New Chief Justice sworn in
Justice Tirath Singh Thakur was sworn in as the 43rd chief justice of India on Thursday (NDTV, ET). The 63-year old Thakur is currently the most senior justice on India’s supreme court, and he takes over for H.L. Dattu, who retired on Wednesday. Pranab Mukherjee, the president of India, presided over the swearing in ceremony, which was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other high-ranking government officials. Thakur’s tenure as chief justice is expected to last until his 65th birthday on Jan.4, 2017, when a constitutional age limit on Supreme Court justices mandates his retirement.
Bonus Read: “Idle cranes, untapped mines as Afghans struggle to wean themselves off aid,” by Robert Birsel (Reuters)
Conflicting reports over fate of Afghan Taliban leader
On Wednesday reports emerged that Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, was wounded in a firefight, however, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has since denied these reports (NYT, Reuters). Afghan government officials said on Wednesday that Mullah Mansour had been wounded during a tense meeting of his commanders in Pakistan on Tuesday. On Thursday, spokesman Mullah Naim Niazi from a breakaway Taliban faction reported that Mullah Mansour was killed in a shootout at the meeting. Mullah Ghafar, a Taliban commander, told The Associated Press that “nothing like this happened” (NYT). Taliban officials previously denied that the group’s founder and previous leader Mullah Muhammad Omar was dead before finally admitting this summer that he died two years ago.
CIA trained Afghan counterterrorism forces killed six civilians in past month
A series of three raids in the past month by Afghan counterterrorism forces trained by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) resulted in the deaths of at least six civilians (NYT). The raids were conducted in Khost province by the Khost Protection Force, a regional counterterrorism unit arranged by the CIA to fight the Taliban, al Qaeda, and the Haqqani network. In the Nov. 20 raid — the third of the three raids under scrutiny — a husband and wife were killed with two American advisers present. Some senior Afghan officials consider these CIA units a problem due to their unaccountability to the Afghan government and frequent accusations of human rights abuses.
Pakistan sends back 30 deportees from Greece
On Thursday, Pakistan refused to allow 30 migrants deported from Greece to exit a plane in Islamabad (NYT, Dawn). Pakistan stated last month that it was suspending a deal with the European Union to accept migrants deported from mainland Europe. However, an EU official said last week that, after discussion, Pakistan would stick to the agreement. The Pakistan Interior Ministry said the 30 deportees arriving on Thursday were “unverified deportees” which is why they were not accepted. Pakistan Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan stated, “Despite having settled all issues with the European Commissioner, Pakistani laws have been violated, which absolutely cannot be allowed.”
Pakistan and India deny reports of ‘secret meeting’
A recently published book by veteran broadcast journalist Barkha Dutt alleges that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a ‘secret meeting’ during last year’s South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit in Nepal, a claim that both nations have refuted (Dawn, ET). The Pakistan government called the reports “baseless, malicious, and concocted,” and added that the allegations are “nothing but a pack of lies and an attempt to malign the office of the prime minister.” Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup stated on social media that “The report is completely baseless. No such meeting took place in Kathmandu during the SAARC summit.”
–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen
ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images