South Asia Daily: Nicholson Sees Deteriorating Afghan Security; Power Outage in Karachi; Bengaluru Bombing Suspect Arrested

Event Notice: “The Butcher’s Trail: The Manhunt for Balkan War Criminals,” Monday, February 1 (New America) “United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists,” Wednesday, February 3 (New America NYC) Book Review: “Peter Bergen’s ‘United States of Jihad’ Surveys Homegrown Terrorism,” by Michiko Kakutani (NYT) Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Embracing The Enemies We Know In Afghanistan,” by Fahd Humayun (FP) Nominee ...

gettyimages-507233168
gettyimages-507233168
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: Lt. General John W. Nicholson Jr., speaks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, January 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the US Senate, Gen. Nicholson will become General Commander, Resolute Support and Commander, United States Forces-Afghanistan. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Event Notice:

“The Butcher’s Trail: The Manhunt for Balkan War Criminals,” Monday, February 1 (New America)

“United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists,” Wednesday, February 3 (New America NYC)

Event Notice:

“The Butcher’s Trail: The Manhunt for Balkan War Criminals,” Monday, February 1 (New America)

“United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists,” Wednesday, February 3 (New America NYC)

Book Review: “Peter Bergen’s ‘United States of Jihad’ Surveys Homegrown Terrorism,” by Michiko Kakutani (NYT)

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “Embracing The Enemies We Know In Afghanistan,” by Fahd Humayun (FP)

Nominee to lead U.S. forces in Afghanistan believes security situation is deteriorating

Speaking at his confirmation hearing on Thursday, President Barack Obama’s choice to become the new commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that the security situation in Afghanistan is worsening (ABC,APGuardian). In response to Sen. John McCain’s statement that he and his colleagues believe the situation is “deteriorating rather than improving,” Lt. Gen. Nicholson said, “Sir, I agree with your assessment.” If confirmed, among the first tasks of Lt. Gen. Nicholson will be to independently assess the posture of U.S. forces, determine the force’s counter-terrorism abilities, and ensure the Taliban does not take Kandahar, the group’s traditional homeland in the south of the country.

Taliban suffers losses as clashes continue with Afghan troops in Baghlan

Following the Taliban’s cutting of the electricity supply from Tajikistan to Kabul, battles have erupted between the group and Afghan troops in Baghlan province, about 140 miles north of Kabul, since Tuesday (TOLO News). According to Baghlan governor Abdul Sattar Barez, “Three top Taliban commanders known as Mullah Laal, Zar Alam, and Muhib have been seriously wounded and our forces are completely ready to secure the area and to stop them from relocating the wounded fighters.”

–Albert Ford

Pakistan

Bonus Read: “Pakistan’s Pivot,” by Umair Jamal and Yaqoob Khan Bangash (FP)

Power outage in Karachi leaves 90 percent of city without electricity

On Friday, the city of Karachi – Pakistan’s most populous and home to the stock exchange and central bank – suffered a power outage that left 90 percent of the city without electricity (ReutersET). It was the third such breakdown within a month. Downplaying concerns about the blackouts being caused by the country’s lacking grid infrastructure, K-Electric, the city’s power provider, released a statement saying, “The tripping should not be attributed to any lack in the infrastructure, rather it was caused by high levels of humidity.” Power returned to most of the city by early afternoon.

Suicide blast injures security personnel and civilians outside Pakistani military compound 

Pakistani security personnel, two of whom are in critical condition, and two civilians – including a child – were injured when a vehicle loaded with explosives detonated at the gate of a military compound in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, on Friday (DawnAP). According to a senior Pakistani police officer, Zahid Afzal, the suicide bomber driving the vehicle failed to enter the compound, which has offices and residential buildings for officers, after being asked to halt outside the facility. Azam Tariq, a spokesman for a Pakistani Taliban splinter group, claimed responsibility in a telephone call with The Associated Press.

–Albert Ford

India

Bonus Read: “Nepal’s constitutional standoff: Trouble in the basement,” (The Economist)

Bonus Read: “Subhas Chandra Bose: Mystery theatre,” (The Economist)

India arrests 2014 Bengaluru bombing suspect

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), along with Telangana state police, arrested Alam Jeb Afridi on Friday for a Dec. 2014 bomb attack that killed one person and injured several others in the southern city of Bengaluru (The HinduIndian Express). Afridi, who is also known by his alias Javed Rafeeq, allegedly confessed to planting the improvised explosive device for the blast, according to the Indian Express. According to the NIA, Afridi is affiliated with the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a banned organization viewed as a terrorist group by the Indian government. SIMI was responsible for a 2008 bomb attack in the western city of Ahmedabad that killed 56 people. The NIA also believes Afridi may be linked to a 2015 arson case outside an Israeli visa office in Bengaluru.

Government recalls controversial Gujarat anti-terror bill

India’s home ministry on Friday withdrew a controversial anti-terrorism bill submitted by the western state of Gujarat over concerns that Indian President Pranab Mukherjee would not give his assent to the bill (The HinduNDTV). The home ministry said it would “rework [the bill] with additional inputs from the state government.” The bill, which was originally introduced in the Gujarat state legislature in 2003 under then-Chief Minister Narendra Modi, is controversial among rights advocates who see it as excessively curtailing civil liberties. The most controversial measures in the bill include allowing police to hold suspects for a longer period of time without filing charges and allowing confessions made before senior police officers as admissible evidence in court. Rights activists are concerned that the police would abuse the second provision by torturing suspects into confessions. The bill was passed at the state level last year by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party without opposition, as the opposing Congress party boycotted the vote in protest. At the federal level, however, the bill has stalled after sitting on the president’s desk awaiting his approval.

–Udit Banerjea 

Edited by Peter Bergen

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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