The South Asia Channel
Mumbai Attacks Planner Turns Witness; Afghan Intelligence Chief Resigns; Pakistan Tests Ballistic Missile
Event Notice: “After Paris: The Refugee Crisis,” Friday, December 11 (New America). India Mumbai attacks planner turns witness David Headley, a U.S. national convicted for his role in planning the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, was pardoned by an Indian court on Friday after he agreed to serve as a witness for the prosecution (BBC, ...
Event Notice: “After Paris: The Refugee Crisis,” Friday, December 11 (New America).
Mumbai attacks planner turns witness
David Headley, a U.S. national convicted for his role in planning the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, was pardoned by an Indian court on Friday after he agreed to serve as a witness for the prosecution (BBC, Asian Age). Headley remains in an undisclosed location in the United States, and he appeared before the Indian court via video conference. “He has become a government witness. The court decided to pardon him because his testimony will give more details of the attacks. He will testify on 8 February,” said Indian prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. In 2013, Headley was sentenced in the United States on 12 counts, including conspiring to aid the Pakistan-based Laskhar-e-Taiba militant group, which India blames for the Mumbai attacks. Headley pleaded guilty and cooperated with U.S. authorities in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and extradition to India. He is currently serving a 35-year sentence in the United States, which is unaffected by the Indian pardon.
Japanese PM begins 3-day India visit
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in New Delhi on Friday, kicking off a three-day visit to India (ABC, HT, ET). During Abe’s visit, India and Japan are expected to sign a $15 billion agreement for a high-speed rail link between the western cities of Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The two sides also hope to finalize a civilian nuclear deal and a deal for US-2 amphibious aircraft, which would represent Japan’s first major sale of military equipment since World War II. Japan and India share concerns about growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean and East Asia, and relations between the two countries have rapidly strengthened under the governments of Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Abe’s visit will mark the fourth meeting between the two leaders in just over a month. Chinese state-media claimed that Abe’s visit was a part of Japan’s containment strategy for China. “Tokyo is trying to contain and besiege Beijing by every possible means, and Abe will not miss any chance to draw Modi over to his side to counter China,” wrote the Global Times, a Chinese state-run newspaper.
Bollywood star acquitted in hit-and-run case
Bollywood star Salman Khan was acquitted on appeal by a court in Mumbai on Thursday for a hit-and-run incident in 2002 that killed one person and injured four others (NYT, Indian Express). The court overturned Khan’s earlier conviction and his five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide and other charges. The prosecution argued that Khan was driving while drunk when he ran over five homeless men sleeping on a Mumbai sidewalk, while the defense argued that Khan was not the driver. A lower court found Khan guilty in May, but in Thursday’s appeal ruling, Justice A.R. Joshi said that the prosecution failed to prove its case. “I forgive Salman, but now I don’t know who killed my father. It has been 13 years … even today, the question remains unanswered. The verdict has not brought any closure,” said Firoz Shaikh, the son of Noorullah Khan, the man killed in the incident.
— Udit Banerjea
Afghan intelligence chief resigns
On Thursday, Rahmatullah Nabil resigned as Afghanistan’s intelligence chief (WSJ). Nabil cited opposition to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s push for closer relations with Pakistan as his reason for resigning. Nabil’s resignation letter referred to “clear interference” by Pakistan in Afghanistan’s affairs and said that Ghani had made “frequent verbal demands to quit my job.” Ghani appointed Deputy Head of the National Directorate of Security, Massoud Andarabi, to serve as acting intelligence chief (TOLO News).
Foreign woman conducts suicide bombing
On Friday, a Russian-speaking foreign woman, her three children, and an Afghan intelligence official were killed when the woman who had been detained detonated explosives on her body while being transported to be searched, according to the provincial government spokesman for Nangarhar where the incident took place (VOA, Pajhwok). No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Bonus Read: “Actually, Pakistan is Winning its War on Terror,” by Sameer Lalwani (South Asia)
Pakistan tests ballistic missile
On Friday, Pakistan successfully tested an intermediate range ballistic missile capable of reaching 1,700 miles (ABC, ET, Dawn). A government statement read: “The successful flight test with its impact point in the Arabian Sea, validating all the desired parameters, was witnessed by senior officers from Strategic Plans Division, Strategic Forces, scientists and engineers of Strategic Organisations.” The missile was first tested in March.
Iran recruits Pakistani Shiites to fight in Syria
Iran has been recruiting Pakistani Shiites to fight in Syria in defense of Syria’s government, according to a report by Reuters on Thursday (Reuters). The report notes two death notices for Pakistanis that were posted in mid-November. One source familiar with the issue told Reuters there are hundreds of Pakistanis fighting in Syria.
Cell service temporarily suspended in Islamabad
Cell service in Islamabad was temporarily suspended for three hours during prayer times for security reasons on Friday (Dawn). A celluar service company representative told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper that the shutoff was for security reasons and had been requested by the government.
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen
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