The South Asia Channel
Kidnapped Afghan Ex-Governor Freed; Nearly 100 Children Admitted to Hospital for Food Poisoning; U.S. Senator John McCain Wants Hearing on F-16 Sale
Event Notice: Future of War Conference: Where will the innovation that shapes the future military come from? Wednesday, March 10 (Presented by New America and Arizona State University, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, D.C.) Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Afghan Police Force Struggling to Maintain Membership,” by Jessica Donati and Ehsanullah Amiri (WSJ) Kidnapped Afghan ex-governor freed Fazlullah Wahidi, the ...
Event Notice: Future of War Conference: Where will the innovation that shapes the future military come from? Wednesday, March 10 (Presented by New America and Arizona State University, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, D.C.)
Bonus Read: “Afghan Police Force Struggling to Maintain Membership,” by Jessica Donati and Ehsanullah Amiri (WSJ)
Kidnapped Afghan ex-governor freed
Fazlullah Wahidi, the former governor of Afghanistan’s western Herat province who was abducted in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad on Feb. 12, was recovered from his captors on Friday in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province (Reuters, Dawn, VOA). Three arrests were made, while the kidnappers’ identities and motives remain unknown. According to Javed Iqbal Wazir, police chief of the KP’s Swabi district, “The former governor was in good health and has been shifted to the Afghan consulate in Peshawar.”
Afghan government revenue rises in 2015
According to a report from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Afghanistan’s budget revenue was up 22 percent in 2015, a substantial improvement versus the 8 percent revenue decline in 2014 (Reuters). Government revenue stood at nearly 122 billion afghani ($1.7 billion) in 2015. 56 percent of the increased revenue came from better collection procedures, while about 24 percent came from taxes on mobile phone usage and imported gas. However, challenges remain. Researchers involved in the USIP report wrote, “The long-term challenge will be to grow the economy and develop new, buoyant revenue sources, which will not be easy given poor prospects for mineral revenues and for additional revenues from the proposed Value Added Tax.”
Nearly 100 children admitted to hospital for food poisoning
Police in Mumbai confirmed that almost 100 children have been admitted to the hospital with food poisoning after eating a free meal at a government-run school (Guardian). The Indian government’s mid-day meal program in government-run schools is the largest of its kind in the world and feeds nearly 120 million children every day. However the program has often faced criticism due to corruption and inefficiency, as students often fall sick after eating contaminated and poorly prepared food. In 2013 about two dozen children died in Bihar after they ate a meal laced with pesticides.
Government should review its fiscal strategy: Finance Ministry
India’s Finance Ministry’s Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian released a report on Friday which recommended that the government review its medium-term fiscal strategy (Reuters, FT, LiveMint). The report titled Economic Survey comes just days before Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is to present his annual third budget on Monday and hints at the fact that Jaitley may have to increase government borrowing to raise pay for government employees and bail out banks. This year the government needs to pay an estimated $16 billion for a once-in-a-decade pay and pension hike for federal employees. The Economic Survey projects the Indian economy would grow by 7.0 to 7.75 percent in the 2016/17 fiscal year that starts on April 1.
Haryana police ask for information regarding rapes during Jat protest
Police in Haryana have put out a public request for witnesses to come forward with information about at least 10 different incidents of rape during the recent caste related protests in the state (BBC). Members of the Jat community had demanded inclusion in caste quotas for jobs and education opportunities that are available to lower castes, which led to week long protests across the state in which 30 people were killed and 170 injured.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Director General of Police in Haryana, YP Singhal, said that his department was willing to investigate any incidents of rape during the protests but needed leads to pursue an investigation. Media reports previously alleged that police officials advised the victims to not register any complaint. This led the Punjab High Court to issue orders advising the victims to lodge complaints with the chief judicial magistrate if they did not want to go to the police.
U.S. Senator John McCain wants hearing on F-16 sale
Sen. John McCain, chairman of the U.S. Senate’s influential Armed Services committee, called for a hearing in the Senate’s Foreign Relations committee to further question the timing of the United States’ sale of up to eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan (Reuters). Referencing the sale that is valued at $699 million, the senator said, “I would rather have seen it kicked over into the next administration.” His colleague from Kentucky, Sen. Rand Paul, separately called for a resolution that would block U.S. arms sales to Pakistan. David McKeeby, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department – the agency responsible for conducting the deal – said, “Pakistan’s current F-16s have proven critical to the success of these operations to date. These operations reduce the ability of militants to use Pakistani territory as a safe haven for terrorism and a base of support for the insurgency in Afghanistan.”
Globally, Pakistan has second-most children out of school
According to a report released by Pakistan’s Ministry of Federal Education’s Academy of Educational Planning and Management, 24 million Pakistani children are out of school as of the 2014-15 year (Dawn). Globally, only Nigeria has more school-aged children out of the classroom. However, the 24 million children is a reduction from 2013-14, when 25.02 million children were out of school. The report noted that 47 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 16 were out of school. Of that percentage, more girls than boys are out of school.
–Albert Ford and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen
JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images