Afghan Panel Sets Date for Postponed Elections; Next Round of Afghan Peace Talks Scheduled for Feb. 6 in Islamabad; Protests Erupt Over Student Suicide in Hyderabad

Afghanistan Bonus read: “Desertions deplete Afghan forces, adding to security worries,” by Sayed Sarwar Amani and Andrew Macaskill (Reuters) Afghan panel sets date for postponed elections The Afghan election commission announced on Monday that it set an Oct. 15 date for parliamentary and district council elections (NYT, Reuters). Parliament’s five-year term expired in June 2015, ...

Afghan president-elect Ashraf Ghani (4th L) sits with Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani (4th R) and other officials during a ceremony at the IEC compound in Kabul on September 26, 2014. Ashraf Ghani won Afghanistan's disputed presidential election decisively with 55 percent of the vote, results revealed Friday, after the figure was kept secret for five days over concerns that fraud allegations could trigger violence. AFP PHOTO/ Noorullah SHIRZADA         (Photo credit should read Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan president-elect Ashraf Ghani (4th L) sits with Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani (4th R) and other officials during a ceremony at the IEC compound in Kabul on September 26, 2014. Ashraf Ghani won Afghanistan's disputed presidential election decisively with 55 percent of the vote, results revealed Friday, after the figure was kept secret for five days over concerns that fraud allegations could trigger violence. AFP PHOTO/ Noorullah SHIRZADA (Photo credit should read Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan president-elect Ashraf Ghani (4th L) sits with Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani (4th R) and other officials during a ceremony at the IEC compound in Kabul on September 26, 2014. Ashraf Ghani won Afghanistan's disputed presidential election decisively with 55 percent of the vote, results revealed Friday, after the figure was kept secret for five days over concerns that fraud allegations could trigger violence. AFP PHOTO/ Noorullah SHIRZADA (Photo credit should read Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Bonus read: “Desertions deplete Afghan forces, adding to security worries,” by Sayed Sarwar Amani and Andrew Macaskill (Reuters)

Afghan panel sets date for postponed elections

Afghanistan

Bonus read: “Desertions deplete Afghan forces, adding to security worries,” by Sayed Sarwar Amani and Andrew Macaskill (Reuters)

Afghan panel sets date for postponed elections

The Afghan election commission announced on Monday that it set an Oct. 15 date for parliamentary and district council elections (NYT, Reuters). Parliament’s five-year term expired in June 2015, but elections were postponed and parliament’s term extended due to security fears and disagreements regarding how to ensure a fair election. A spokesman for Abdullah Abdullah, the unity government’s chief executive, denounced the plan as illegitimate because of a lack of electoral reform. “The current election commission has no legitimacy because it was their weak management of the previous election that brought us on the brink of chaos,” said Abdullah’s spokesman Javid Faisal. “Reforming the election process is a precondition to any election, and a part of the larger reform is the changing of current commission officials.”

Suicide bomber kills 13 people in eastern Afghanistan

According to local officials, a suicide bomber killed 13 people at a tribal elder’s home in Jalalabad on Sunday (Reuters). There was a gathering at the elder’s home to celebrate his son’s release from Taliban captivity. The son was killed and at least 14 people, including his father, were wounded in the attack. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on his Twitter page denied responsibility for the attack.

Nine Afghan police killed in insider attack

According to Uruzgan officials, Afghan police are looking for rogue policemen who allegedly shot and killed nine colleagues, stole their weapons, and fled to the Taliban (NYT). The gunmen shot the men at a police checkpoint on Sunday evening in the volatile Uruzgan province. “A preliminary investigation shows that up to four policemen carried out the attack,” he said. “An operation is underway to arrest those responsible.” The Taliban have not claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pakistan

Bonus read: “Boy’s Response to Blasphemy Charge Unnerves Many in Pakistan,” by Waqar Gillani and Rod Nordland (NYT)

Next round of Afghan peace talks scheduled for Feb. 6 in Islamabad

Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States have scheduled the next meeting for potential peace negotiations between Afghanistan and the Taliban for Feb. 6 in Islamabad (RFE/RL, Reuters). The four countries sat down for talks on Monday in Kabul to lay the groundwork for a negotiated end to the nearly 15 year war between the Afghan forces and Taliban insurgents. The four nations in a statement after the meeting in Kabul called on “all Taliban groups to enter into early talks with the Afghan government to resolve all differences politically.”

Suicide bomber in Pakistan kills 11

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle attacked a crowded police checkpoint in Peshawar, killing 11 people and wounding 21 (NYT). The blast occurred as a local police chief arrived at the checkpoint, but he was not harmed in the attack. Local Pakistani Taliban commander Maqbool Dawar claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in response to the killing of members of the group by security forces.

India

Bonus Read: “What Lifting Sanctions on Iran Means for India,” by Vibhuti Agarwal (WSJ)

Protests erupt over student suicide in Hyderabad

The University of Hyderabad, located in southern India, was temporarily shut down by protests over a student’s suicide (BBCThe HinduHT). Rohith Vemula, a PhD candidate, killed himself on Sunday on the university campus. Vemula was one of five lower-caste Dalits protesting their expulsion from the university’s housing facility for alleged “anti-social” behavior. Protesters led by Vemula’s friends accuse university officials of unfair treatment of Dalit students, and they hold those officials responsible for Vemula’s death. The protesters also called for the resignation of Bandaru Dattatreya, a federal minister and a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), for his role in allegedly pressuring university officials to expel the students. Rahul Gandhi, vice president of the opposition Congress party, traveled to Hyderabad on Tuesday to address the students and to demonstrate his solidarity with the protesters. Gandhi called for the “strictest” punishment for those responsible for Vemula’s death. BJP leaders accused Gandhi of politicizing the issue.

India to set up “laser fences” along Pakistan border

An Indian home ministry official said over the weekend that “laser fences” would be put in place in over 40 vulnerable areas along the India-Pakistan border (BBCHT). The laser fences detect objects that pass through its beams and set off a loud siren. Earlier this month, terrorists from the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group crossed the border from Pakistan and attacked an Indian air base at Pathankot, in the northwestern state of Punjab. Six militants and seven Indian soldiers were killed in the attack, which lasted four days. India’s Border Security Force began deploying laser fences along some riverine portions of the border in Kashmir last year, but the suspected infiltration point used by the militants was not covered at the time of the attack.

Delhi chief minister attacked with ink

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was attacked with ink on Sunday by a woman accusing him of involvement in a corruption scandal (TOIIndian Express). The woman, Bhavna Arora, was identified as a member of the Aam Aadmi Sena, a splinter group of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The AAP forms the state government in Delhi. Arora alleged that Kejriwal and the AAP government were complicit in a “scam” involving the false labeling of vehicles that run on compressed natural gas. Arora was taken into custody for a day by the police.

–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea

Edited by Peter Bergen

Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

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