Myanmar Swears In First Elected Civilian President in 50 Years; Pakistan Detains 5,000 After Lahore Bombing; F-16 Crashes in Afghanistan

Myanmar Myanmar swears in first elected civilian president in 50 years For the first time in 50 years, an elected civilian, Htin Kyaw from the National League for Democracy (NLD), was sworn in as the country’s president on Wednesday (BBC). Kyaw takes over from the transitional government of Thein Sein, which brought wide ranging democratic ...

Myanmar's outgoing president Thein Sein (R) hands over the presidential seal to the country's new President Htin Kyaw (L) during the handover ceremony at the president house in Naypyidaw on March 30, 2016. 
A close aide to Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in as Myanmar's president on March 30, a role that will see him act as a proxy for the pro-democracy figurehead and carry the hopes of a nation emerging from military rule. / AFP / POOL / NYEIN CHAN NAING/POOL        (Photo credit should read NYEIN CHAN NAING/POOL/AFP/Getty Images)
Myanmar's outgoing president Thein Sein (R) hands over the presidential seal to the country's new President Htin Kyaw (L) during the handover ceremony at the president house in Naypyidaw on March 30, 2016. A close aide to Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in as Myanmar's president on March 30, a role that will see him act as a proxy for the pro-democracy figurehead and carry the hopes of a nation emerging from military rule. / AFP / POOL / NYEIN CHAN NAING/POOL (Photo credit should read NYEIN CHAN NAING/POOL/AFP/Getty Images)
Myanmar's outgoing president Thein Sein (R) hands over the presidential seal to the country's new President Htin Kyaw (L) during the handover ceremony at the president house in Naypyidaw on March 30, 2016. A close aide to Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in as Myanmar's president on March 30, a role that will see him act as a proxy for the pro-democracy figurehead and carry the hopes of a nation emerging from military rule. / AFP / POOL / NYEIN CHAN NAING/POOL (Photo credit should read NYEIN CHAN NAING/POOL/AFP/Getty Images)

Myanmar

Myanmar swears in first elected civilian president in 50 years

For the first time in 50 years, an elected civilian, Htin Kyaw from the National League for Democracy (NLD), was sworn in as the country’s president on Wednesday (BBC). Kyaw takes over from the transitional government of Thein Sein, which brought wide ranging democratic reforms to Myanmar after nearly half a century of military rule. NLD under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi won the elections in November. Suu Kyi herself is barred from being the president as the constitution prevents anyone who has family members holding citizenships from outside Myanmar to hold the office. Suu Kyi has two sons who are British citizens.

Myanmar

Myanmar swears in first elected civilian president in 50 years

For the first time in 50 years, an elected civilian, Htin Kyaw from the National League for Democracy (NLD), was sworn in as the country’s president on Wednesday (BBC). Kyaw takes over from the transitional government of Thein Sein, which brought wide ranging democratic reforms to Myanmar after nearly half a century of military rule. NLD under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi won the elections in November. Suu Kyi herself is barred from being the president as the constitution prevents anyone who has family members holding citizenships from outside Myanmar to hold the office. Suu Kyi has two sons who are British citizens.

Pakistan

Bonus Read: Terror in Lahore: Pakistan’s Toughest Test,” by Michael Kugelman (South Asia).

Bonus Read: “A Crisis for Minorities in Pakistan,” by Rozina Ali (New Yorker)

Pakistan detains more than 5,000 in wake of Lahore bombing

Pakistan has detained more than 5,000 people in the wake of the bombing that killed 72 people in Lahore on Easter Sunday, according to a report by Reuters on Tuesday (Reuters). Rana Sanaullah, a state minister for Punjab province, stated: “5,221 people have initially been detained. 5,005 have been released after verifying their identities, and 216 people have been referred for further investigation.” Army Spokesman Gen. Asim Bajwa commented, “operations are ongoing, intelligence agencies and Rangers and army troops are carrying out operations.”

On Tuesday, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JUA), the group behind the Lahore bombing threatened further violence in Pakistan (WSJ). The militant group’s spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, tweeted: “Let Nawaz Sharif know that this war has now reached the doorstep of his home.” The group also released a photo of a man it claims to be the suicide bomber.

Pakistan releases video of purported Indian spy

On Tuesday, Pakistan released a video confession of Kulbhushan Yadav, who Pakistan claims is an Indian spy and who it has arrested for allegedly organizing terrorism and separatist movements in Balochistan (NYT, BBC). Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, the military spokesman, commented on the six-minute video saying, ”It is very rare that a country’s intelligence officer is caught in another country,” continuing, “It is a big achievement.” The video was released the same day Pakistani investigators arrived at the site of the attack on India’s Pathankot air base, which India alleges was conducted with Pakistani support. India denies that Yadav is a spy. “Government categorically rejects allegations that this individual was involved in subversive activities in Pakistan at our behest,” India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a statement to media.

Afghanistan

F-16 crashes on takeoff in Afghanistan

On Tuesday night, an F-16 fighter jet crashed on takeoff near Bagram Airfield (CNN, ABC, Post, Pajhwok, TOLO News). The pilot ejected safely and was recovered by coalition forces. The cause of the crash is under investigation. Enemy fire is not believed to have been the cause of the crash.

Political defections cause trouble for Afghan government

The Afghan government is facing a wave of defections and calls for new elections from former supporters, according to a report by the Washington Post on Tuesday (Post). Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi, a former supporter of the government and former finance minister under Hamid Karzai, commented: “f it performed well, people were willing to give the [national unity] government the benefit of the doubt. But it hasn’t. It has proved disastrous for this country.” Ahadi, who formed an opposition movement stated: “They have mismanaged the country and lost their legitimacy. They should go back to the people and ask for a new mandate.” The report notes discontent even on the part of remaining supporters. Ahmad Zia Massoud, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s special representative for reform and good governance, expressed frustration; “The issues they debate at the cabinet meetings are only minor. They don’t address any major issues facing the country.” Seyyed Hussein Anwari, a military adviser to Ghani similarly stated: “Nothing was achieved in the areas of security, economy, peace, [the] fight against corruption and improving political stability.” For his part, Ahadi warned: “We don’t want to create a situation where people take to the streets, but there is a possibility of widespread demonstrations.”

— David Sterman

India

Government allows for fully foreign investment based e-commerce companies

The commerce ministry in India, on Tuesday issued a notification allowing for full foreign ownership of e-commerce companies operating in India (LiveMint, Reuters). While the companies will be allowed to provide services including warehousing, inventory and payments processing to merchants, they will still not be allowed to hold inventory like traditional online retailers or influence the price of a single product more than 25 percent than other providers. Companies like Amazon and Flipkart have already been operating under these rules for some time in India.

Italy asks for the release of marine detained in India

As Indian Prime Minister Modi arrives in Brussels for the EU-India Summit on Wednesday, Italy requests an international arbitration panel to order India to free an Italian marine detained in the country for the past four years (Reuters, NYT). In 2012, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were arrested after a shooting incident off the Indian coast in which two fishermen were killed. The marines assigned to the protection of an Italian oil tanker, the Enrica Lexie, claimed that they mistook the fishermen for pirates. Latorre was later allowed to leave India due to health reasons. Sgt Girone, though free on bail at the moment, is still barred from leaving India.

— Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

NYEIN CHAN NAING/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

David Sterman is a program associate at New America and Assistant Editor of the South Asia Channel. He tweets at @DSterms Twitter: @Dsterms

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