The South Asia Channel

U.S. Strikes Islamic State in Afghanistan Under New Authority; U.S. Official Denies Pakistani Link to 2009 Terror Attack on Americans; New Delhi Starts Second Round of Car Rationing

Event Notice: “The State of the Afghan Economy: The View from the Finance Ministry” with Ameen Habibi and Khalid Payenda on Friday, April 15, 2016, from 12:15 PM – 01:45 PM at New America. Afghanistan Bonus Read: “The Reporting Heroes – A Study on the Condition of Afghan Female Journalists,” by the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee” ...

TOPSHOT - In this photograph taken on February 17, 2016, a member of the Afghan security forces patrols after an operation against Islamic State (IS) militants in Achin district in Nangarhar province. Security forces launched anti-militant operations on February 12, in Achin district, killing at least 46 armed insurgents and wounding 20 others, army commander General Zaman Waziri said. AFP PHOTO / Noorullah SHIRZADA / AFP / Noorullah Shirzada        (Photo credit should read NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - In this photograph taken on February 17, 2016, a member of the Afghan security forces patrols after an operation against Islamic State (IS) militants in Achin district in Nangarhar province. Security forces launched anti-militant operations on February 12, in Achin district, killing at least 46 armed insurgents and wounding 20 others, army commander General Zaman Waziri said. AFP PHOTO / Noorullah SHIRZADA / AFP / Noorullah Shirzada (Photo credit should read NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images)

Event Notice: “The State of the Afghan Economy: The View from the Finance Ministry” with Ameen Habibi and Khalid Payenda on Friday, April 15, 2016, from 12:15 PM – 01:45 PM at New America.

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “The Reporting Heroes – A Study on the Condition of Afghan Female Journalists,” by the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee” (AJSC)

U.S. strikes Islamic State in Afghanistan under new authority

The United States has carried out 70 to 80 air strikes against the Islamic State in Afghanistan since January, when U.S. forces were given broader authority to target the militants (NYT). Before the expansion of the rules, the U.S. military could only strike at the Middle East-based group in Afghanistan under limited circumstances like self-defense. “The capacity of Daesh, we believe has been lessened and their overall footprint in Nangarhar, we do believe, has been lessened as well,” military spokesman Brigadier General Charles Cleveland said on Thursday. Previous estimates said between 1,000 and 3,000 Islamic State members are in Afghanistan. However, Cleveland said that number is now closer to the lower end of the estimate.

Former Afghan president dismisses statements of U.S. secretary

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai remarked negatively on the foreign influence in Afghanistan in response to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to the country on April 9 (TOLO News). During his trip, Kerry asserted that the political agreement signed by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in 2014 is a five year mandate and will not expire this year. “The remarks of John Kerry and setting up a period for NUG agreement is a major violation of Afghanistan’s national sovereignty, no foreigner can represent our national determination,” Karzai said. He continued, “Every Afghan wants to have a legal government, a government which is in line with the constitution of Afghanistan, but not under foreign pressure and that the foreigners do not determine the tenure of our government,” Karzai said. He also made statements accusing the United States of being an exploitative partner and allowing Pakistan to influence Afghan affairs.

Pakistan

U.S. official denies Pakistani link to 2009 terror attack on Americans

A declassified State Department cable recently obtained by the National Security Archive, a nongovernmental research institute at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., suggests a connection between Pakistan’s intelligence service and the 2009 suicide attacks on a CIA base in Afghanistan (NYT). A U.S. intelligence official told the New York Times that the information was “uncorroborated and inconsistent with what is known about the 2009 suicide bombing at Camp Chapman” in Khost, Afghanistan (NYT). The cable said an unidentified Pakistani intelligence officer provided $200,000 to a representative of the militant Haqqani network and another man “to enable the attack on Chapman.” However, a line in the document says, “This is an information report, not finally evaluated intelligence.”

Pakistan’s prime minister leaves country for cardiac treatment

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif left Pakistan on Wednesday for cardiac medical treatment in London that he described as a checkup (NYT). The timing of the visit immediately prompted rumors that Sharif might not return to Pakistan until investigations into the unfolding Panama Papers document leak were completed. The leak revealed that three of his children controlled shell companies through which they owned expensive real estate in London. The prime minister and his family have denied any wrong-doing. In his absence, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is leading cabinet meetings this week, however, government officials said that Sharif will return on Sunday.

India

New Delhi starts second round of car rationing

Local government in the Indian capital New Delhi announced a second round of car rationing on Friday, in an attempt to curb high pollution levels in the city (BBC). According to the plan, private vehicles with even and odd number plates would only be allowed to be driven in the city on alternate days from 15-30 April. A two week trial of the scheme from Jan. 1 took more than a third of the city’s three million private cars off the road. However, it is not clear whether it helped to bring down pollution. The local government said that the second phase of the “odd-even plan” would be “decisive” to ascertain its success as a pollution control measure and on whether it would be repeated every month.

Indian tigers may be sent to Cambodia

Secretary General of the Global Tiger Forum, Rajesh Gopal, said on Friday that tigers from India could be relocated to Cambodia as part of a plan to increase the animal’s global population (Hindu, BBC). The proposal to relocate tigers from countries where they are thriving to nations where they are almost extinct was agreed to in principle at a ministerial meeting in New Delhi of 13 Asian nations with tiger populations. Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Indian government was “ready to cooperate with all countries” to conserve tigers. The estimated number of wild tigers worldwide has risen for the first time in a century, according to conservationists. India is home to nearly half of the world’s wild tiger population.

–Alyssa Sims and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images

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