The South Asia Channel

Musharraf Leaves Pakistan; Afghan Intel Agency: Kunar Next Likely IS Hideout; Pakistani Investigators to Arrive in India on March 27

Pakistan Musharraf leaves Pakistan Early on Friday morning, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf left Pakistan for Dubai (Guardian, BBC, ABC, ET). Musharraf’s travel followed the lifting of a ban on his travel earlier this week which had been in place since April 2013 when he was accused of a number of crimes following his return ...

A Pakistani commuter rides past a poster of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi on April 1, 2014. A Pakistani court on March 31 indicted Musharraf for treason -- a milestone for civilian authority in a country long dominated by the army.  AFP PHOTO/Farooq NAEEM        (Photo credit should read FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)
A Pakistani commuter rides past a poster of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi on April 1, 2014. A Pakistani court on March 31 indicted Musharraf for treason -- a milestone for civilian authority in a country long dominated by the army. AFP PHOTO/Farooq NAEEM (Photo credit should read FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan

Musharraf leaves Pakistan

Early on Friday morning, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf left Pakistan for Dubai (Guardian, BBC, ABC, ET). Musharraf’s travel followed the lifting of a ban on his travel earlier this week which had been in place since April 2013 when he was accused of a number of crimes following his return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile. Musharraf’s lawyer asserted that he was traveling only for back surgery that is unavailable in Pakistan and that he would return in four to six weeks. For his part, Musharraf commented, “I am a commando, and I love my homeland. I will come back in a few weeks or months.” Musharraf, as former army chief, ousted then and current Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup in 1999, for which he faces treason charges. Musharraf denies all charges.

Russia: Lack of substance preventing Putin Pakistan visit

Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Dedov commented this week that Russia does not believe there is enough substance currently on the agenda to justify a visit to Pakistan by Russian President Vladimir Putin (ET). Delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, Dedov stated: “The problem is that usually the purpose of the visit is not participation in ceremonies. The visit should have some substance.” He added, “As soon as the substance is ready we can discuss the visit.” No Russian president has ever visited Pakistan – a 2012 visit was cancelled at the last moment. However, speculation about a possible visit has increased with Russia’s agreement to provide $2 billion in investment in a natural gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore.

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “An Afghan Bazaar Parachutes Into Washington,” by Rod Nordland (NYT)

NDS: Kunar next likely IS hideout

On Thursday, Gen. Dad Mohammad Harifi, the National Directorate of Security chief for Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, said that IS would likely move to Kunar province following defeats in Nangarhar (Pajhwok). Harifi stated: “[IS] has been comprehensively suppressed in Nangarhar and limited to Achin and Haska Mena districts. Up to 250 Daesh fighters are seen in Kunar, so I think the province would be their next hideout after Nangarhar.” Nangarhar Police Chief Maj. Gen. Fazal Ahmad Sherzad added: “We have killed 762 militants in the past one year and conducted hundreds of operations and cleared many areas from the presence of insurgents.”

Afghanistan has deadly year for journalists

On Thursday, NAI, a group that promotes media freedom in Afghanistan released a report on violence against journalists in Afghanistan over the past year, identifying twelve murders of journalists (Pajhwok, TOLO News). The report noted 116 incidents of violence in total including 23 injuries, three arrests, 15 beatings, and 63 threats. The number of murders increased 33 percent since last year.

— David Sterman

India

Bonus Read: “Two Men Face Jail in India for Photoshopping Women’s Pants on a Male Leader’s Picture,” by Rishi Iyengar (TIME)

Pakistani investigators to arrive in India on March 27

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj announced on Friday that a team of Pakistani expert will arrive in India on March 27 to help investigate the Pathankot airbase attack (BBC). The announcement came after Sawaraj met with Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz on the sidelines of a SAARC summit of foreign ministers and top diplomats from eight South Asian nations in the resort town of Pokhara in Nepal.

Seven security personnel and six attackers were killed in the January 2016 attack at the airforce base in Pathankot, in the western state of Punjab. India blames Pakistan based militants from Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a banned militant organization, for the attack. Diplomatic talks between the countries were postposed after the attack. Pakistan claims to have arrested senior members of JeM.

India to export two million tonnes of sugar in 2015-2016

According to a statement by Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) on Friday, India is likely to export approximately 2 million tonnes of sugar in the 2015-2016 (Reuters). India is the world’s second-biggest sugar producer, however, three years of below average rainfall pushed sugarcane yields down, forcing 189 sugar mills to close operations during this time period. ISMA statement also said that output this year is expected to be higher than the previous year when the country produced 22.16 million tonnes of sugar.

Two JNU sedition students released on bail

A court in New Delhi on Friday granted six months interim bail to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya (HT, Hindu, NDTV). Khalid and Bhattacharya were arrested on sedition charges for allegedly raising anti-national slogans at a rally held on the university campus on February 9. The rally was held to condemn the execution of Kashmiri man, Afzal Guru, convicted for his involvement in the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament. Khalid and Bhattacharya claim the video footage of them chanting anti-India slogans were “false and doctored”. The president of the student government at JNU, Kanhaiya Kumar, was also arrested on February 12 for his role in organizing the event and since has been released on bail as well.

— Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images

 Twitter: @Dsterms

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