The South Asia Channel

At Least 37 Dead in Taliban Attack on Kandahar Airfield; Indian Opposition Stalls Parliament Over Court Case; Pakistan, China Hold Joint Military Exercise

Event Notice: “After Paris: The Refugee Crisis,” Friday, December 11 (New America). Afghanistan At least 37 dead in Taliban attack on Kandahar airfield On Wednesday, Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry stated that 37 civilians have been killed so far in a Taliban attack on Kandahar airfield that began on Tuesday (RFE/RL, Reuters, Fox, WSJ, Pajhwok, TOLO News). ...

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN - NOVEMBER 12:  The sun begins to set at Kandahar airfield on November 12, 2014 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Now that British combat operations have ended and the last UK base in Afghanistan had been handed over to the control of Afghan security forces, any remaining troops are leaving the country via Kandahar. As the drawdown of the US-led coalition troops heads into its final stages, many parts of Kandahar airfield - once home to tens of thousands of soldiers and contractors - are being closed or handed over to the Afghans.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN - NOVEMBER 12: The sun begins to set at Kandahar airfield on November 12, 2014 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Now that British combat operations have ended and the last UK base in Afghanistan had been handed over to the control of Afghan security forces, any remaining troops are leaving the country via Kandahar. As the drawdown of the US-led coalition troops heads into its final stages, many parts of Kandahar airfield - once home to tens of thousands of soldiers and contractors - are being closed or handed over to the Afghans. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Event Notice: “After Paris: The Refugee Crisis,” Friday, December 11 (New America).

Afghanistan

At least 37 dead in Taliban attack on Kandahar airfield

On Wednesday, Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry stated that 37 civilians have been killed so far in a Taliban attack on Kandahar airfield that began on Tuesday (RFE/RL, Reuters, Fox, WSJ, Pajhwok, TOLO News). A spokesman for NATO’s Resolute Support mission said that none of the international personnel stationed at the airfield had been killed. The airfield serves as an important hub of coalition activity housing thousands of coalition troops and contractors.

Taliban attack on Khansin district thwarted

On Tuesday, Afghan forces thwarted a major Taliban attack on the Khansin district of Helmand province, according to local officials (Pajhwok). Helmand Police Chief Brig. Gen. Abdul Rahman Sarjang said the government had prior knowledge of the planned attack. According to one security official, 17 policemen were killed in the attack.

Six Afghan refugee children die off Turkish coast

Six Afghan refugee children, including a six month old baby, have reportedly died after the boat they were in capsized in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey on Tuesday (RFE/RL). According to Turkish authorities, eight people were rescued from the capsized boat.

— David Sterman

India

Bonus Read: “Obama Making Calls to Negotiate Climate Deal, Kerry Says,” by Coral Davenport (NYT)

Opposition stalls parliamentary debate over court case

Parliamentary debate was brought to a halt on Tuesday after members of the opposition from the Congress party protested what they claim is a “political vendetta” against its two highest leaders, Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi (FT, WSJ). Congress members were upset over a court case against the Gandhis, who face allegations that the party illegally acquired the National Herald, a defunct newspaper, under their leadership in 2010. The case has been filed by Subramanian Swamy, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The disruption to debate threatens to delay a vote on a long-awaited goods and services tax (GST) bill, which is a major component of the BJP’s economic reform platform. The GST bill 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 repeatedly blocked by Congress in the upper house of parliament. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dismissed any political motivation for the court case against the Gandhis.  “Nobody enjoys immunity from court cases in India. Parliament doesn’t decide guilt or innocence. It’s not a banana republic,” he said. Jaitley also said that India “desperately needs the GST.”

Indian FM in Pakistan for talks

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday to attend a security conference on Afghanistan and to hold bilateral talks with Pakistan (BBC, The Hindu). Swaraj’s visit comes just days after high-level diplomatic talks between India and Pakistan in Bangkok on Dec. 6. The Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad brings together Asian countries to discuss the future of Afghanistan. At the conference on Wednesday, Swaraj said that India was prepared to work with the Afghan government to help strengthen its security forces. “Terrorists have made concerted efforts to capture and hold territory, reminding us that they have not changed. We salute the Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan people for countering the forces of terrorism and extremism with courage and resilience,” she said. Swaraj also emphasized the need for greater cooperation between India and Pakistan, calling for both sides to show the “maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation.”

5 security personnel injured in Maoist attack

Five members of a joint security team were injured after a group of Maoist rebels ambushed the team in the rural Sukma district of the central state of Chhattisgarh on Wednesday (Indian Express, TOI). The security team was conducting a search operation in a heavily forested area of the district when the Maoists attacked, leading to a gun battle. Police suspect that there were casualties on the Maoist side as well, but their number could not be confirmed, as the rebels dragged the bodies into the forest.

— Udit Banerjea

Pakistan

Pakistan, China hold joint military exercise

On Tuesday, Pakistan and China began a two-week joint military exercise, “YOUYI 5,” in Qingtongxia city in China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (Dawn). The exercise focuses on counterterrorism training.

No executive extension of Sindh Ranger mandate

On Tuesday, the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government decided not to extend the mandate of the Rangers, a paramilitary force tasked with providing security in Sindh, through an executive order (ET). Instead the issue will be raised at a session of the Sindh Assembly on Thursday. Senior Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro stated: “We will give the powers [to Rangers] through the assembly, not through executive orders.” The Rangers’ authority to conduct investigations and raids without a warrant and detain suspects for 90 days in Karachi expired on Sunday.

— David Sterman

Edited by Peter Bergen

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

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