India and Japan Sign Nuclear and Bullet Train Deals; Taliban Attacks Spanish Embassy Compound in Kabul; LeJ Claims Market Bombing in Pakistan
India Bonus Read: “How India Can Cure Its Healthcare System,” by Suryatapa Bhattacharya (WSJ) India and Japan sign nuclear and bullet train deals India and Japan signed a series of major deals over the weekend, including India’s purchase of a high-speed rail project from Japan and a bilateral civilian nuclear pact (BBC, Indian Express). The deals ...
Bonus Read: “How India Can Cure Its Healthcare System,” by Suryatapa Bhattacharya (WSJ)
India and Japan sign nuclear and bullet train deals
India and Japan signed a series of major deals over the weekend, including India’s purchase of a high-speed rail project from Japan and a bilateral civilian nuclear pact (BBC, Indian Express). The deals were signed during a three-day visit to India by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The high-speed rail link would connect the western cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad at an estimated cost of $15 billion, of which $12 billion would be provided through low-interest loans by Japan. The civilian nuclear agreement, which took five years of negotiations to complete, will allow Japan to export nuclear power plant technologies to India. The two countries also signed deals for greater defense cooperation and for a more streamlined “visa on arrival” system for Japanese tourists and business visitors to India.
India to develop stealth combat drones
The Indian government is close to approving a project to develop an indigenous combat drone program, the Times of India reported on Monday (TOI, Zee News). The drones, also known as unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), would be capable of firing missiles and precision-guided munitions before returning to a base for future missions. The proposal, known as Project Ghatak, is estimated to cost 26.5 billion rupees ($395 million) and has already been approved by India’s defense ministry. The project is undergoing a financial review before being sent to the cabinet for final approval. The Indian military already has access to armed single-use drones, which act as cruise missiles, and unarmed multi-use drones, but the new proposal would represent a significant step forward in India’s nascent drone program. Bonus Read: “World of Drones” (New America)
India to clear out sugar surplus, affecting world prices
The Indian government is demanding that its sugar refiners release 4 million tons of sugar into global markets by September 2016 in order to clear out a sugar surplus within the country (WSJ). Some traders say that such a move could lower the world price of sugar by as much as 15 percent. India hopes to appease the country’s politically powerful sugar cane farmers with the move. The Indian government guarantees a minimum price for sugar cane farmers, but due to a massive surplus, refiners have stopped purchasing new sugar.
— Udit Banerjea
Taliban attacks Spanish embassy compound in Kabul
On Friday, Taliban gunmen entered the Spanish embassy compound in Kabul after conducting a car bombing, according to Spanish officials on Saturday (AP, WSJ, Reuters). A Spanish security guard was killed in the attack and ten people were wounded. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy commented that the attacks had not targeted the embassy itself but guesthouses near the embassy. The Taliban claimed the attack.
Hospital strike death toll rises to 42
The death toll from the American air strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz has risen to 42, the aid organization stated on Saturday (Guardian). The dead include 14 Doctors Without Borders staff, 24 patients, and four caretakers. The organization released its new death count after what it described as a “methodical review of MSF records and family claims, as well as patient, staff and family testimonies.”
IS blocks polio vaccination
Islamic State forces in Afghanistan are preventing polio vaccination efforts according to a report in Voice of America on Friday (VoA). Gula Khan Ayub, a Ministry of Public Health official, commented that 100,000 children could not be vaccinated in 14 districts due to militant threats. In Nangarhar province, local IS fighters told health workers that their leaders would not allow vaccinations. Afghanistan has reported 16 polio cases this year with Nangarhar the leading location for such cases. In some areas, IS has reversed previous allowances for vaccination made by the Taliban when the group seized control of the territory.
Lashkar-e-Janghvi claims market bombing that killed 22
On Saturday, a bomb killed at least 22 people in a market in Parachinar, a largely Shiite town that is the capital of the Kurram tribal region; within hours Lashkar-e-Janghvi, a Sunni extremist group claimed the attack (NYT, Guardian, CNN). A spokesman for the group stated: “It is revenge for the crime of taking sides with Iran and Bashar al-Assad.” The bomb was set off by remote control.
Pakistan: 3,400 militants, 488 soldiers dead in Operation Zarb-e-Azb
On Saturday, the Pakistani government released new figures regarding its counterinsurgency operation in Waziristan, Operation Zarb-e-Azb, saying that 3,400 militants had been killed and 488 soldiers had died (VoA). A spokesman for the army, Lt. General Asim Bajwa, called the operation “phenomenal successes.” It is not possible to verify the government’s claims and Afghan officials have cited an uptick in attacks on their side of the border as a result of the offensive.
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen
PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images
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