Afghan Officials Say Taliban Kunduz Attack Repelled; Wholesale Prices Fall for 17th Straight Month in March; Pakistan Army Takes Over Security Operation in Punjab

Afghanistan Bonus Watch: “The State of the Afghan Economy: The View from the Finance Ministry” with Ameen Habibi and Khalid Payenda recorded live on Friday, April 15, 2016 at New America. Afghan officials say Taliban Kunduz attack repelled Officials said on Saturday that Afghan forces repelled a Taliban assault on the northern city of Kunduz ...

In this photograph taken on October 8, 2015, Afghan security forces stand guard at the main gate of the prison (on which it is written "General Directorate of Prison Centre of Kunduz Province) after retaking Kunduz from the Taliban, in Kunduz.  Thirty-three people are still missing five days after a US air strike on an Afghan hospital, Doctors Without Borders warned, sparking fears the death toll could rise significantly.  AFP PHOTO / Nasir WAQIF        (Photo credit should read NASIR WAQIF/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on October 8, 2015, Afghan security forces stand guard at the main gate of the prison (on which it is written "General Directorate of Prison Centre of Kunduz Province) after retaking Kunduz from the Taliban, in Kunduz. Thirty-three people are still missing five days after a US air strike on an Afghan hospital, Doctors Without Borders warned, sparking fears the death toll could rise significantly. AFP PHOTO / Nasir WAQIF (Photo credit should read NASIR WAQIF/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on October 8, 2015, Afghan security forces stand guard at the main gate of the prison (on which it is written "General Directorate of Prison Centre of Kunduz Province) after retaking Kunduz from the Taliban, in Kunduz. Thirty-three people are still missing five days after a US air strike on an Afghan hospital, Doctors Without Borders warned, sparking fears the death toll could rise significantly. AFP PHOTO / Nasir WAQIF (Photo credit should read NASIR WAQIF/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Bonus Watch: “The State of the Afghan Economy: The View from the Finance Ministry” with Ameen Habibi and Khalid Payenda recorded live on Friday, April 15, 2016 at New America.

Afghan officials say Taliban Kunduz attack repelled

Afghanistan

Bonus Watch: “The State of the Afghan Economy: The View from the Finance Ministry” with Ameen Habibi and Khalid Payenda recorded live on Friday, April 15, 2016 at New America.

Afghan officials say Taliban Kunduz attack repelled

Officials said on Saturday that Afghan forces repelled a Taliban assault on the northern city of Kunduz (NYT). Taliban insurgents on Friday attacked several districts surrounding Kunduz, which briefly fell to them last year (NYT). Kunduz provincial police chief Gen. Qasim Jangalbagh said that the Taliban were defeated in parts of Kunduz province, and security in Kunduz city has significantly improved. Sporadic gun battles are still underway in the districts of Khanabad and Dashti Archi, according to Abdul Wasay Basil, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Flash floods kill at least 38 people in northern Afghanistan

Afghan officials said on Monday that flash floods in the northern provinces of Takhar, Badghis, and Samangan killed at least 38 people Sunday night (NYT). Scores of houses were damaged, according to spokesmen for Takhar and Badghis provinces, Abdul Razaq Zinda and Ahmad Khalid Safi. Heavy rains that triggered the floods also struck the capital, Kabul, causing no major damage. Remote areas of Afghanistan in the north often see flash floods triggered by heavy rains, which also cause landslides.

UN report: Afghan schools and hospitals under threat

The United Nations reported on Monday that schools and health facilities have come under increasing threat as insurgents gain strength in Afghanistan (Reuters). Western-backed Afghan government forces are in a protracted battle with Taliban militants who are reportedly at their strongest since they were ousted in late 2001. While direct attacks on schools and health facilities dropped slightly from previous years, UN monitors recorded 257 conflict-related incidents in 2015, up from 130 in 2014. Threats of violence against medical and education workers also increased dramatically, forcing more than 369 schools to close last year. Taliban insurgents were blamed for many of the incidents, but pro-Afghan government forces were also reported to have harassed medical workers and used schools as fighting positions, according to Reuters.

India

Wholesale prices fall for 17th straight month in March

According to government data released on Monday, the wholesale price index (WPI) in India fell for the 17th straight month in March (Reuters). The index fell by an annual 0.85 percent last month, and analyst believe the reason behind the decline is the drop in the prices of oil and manufactured goods. WPI is the price of a representative basket of wholesale goods and was widely used to measure inflation, however India recently adopted the Consumer Price Index to measure inflation. Wholesale fuel prices in March were 8.3 percent lower than March last year, and the price of manufactured goods was 0.13 percent lower year on year. On the other hand, Food prices in India rose by 3.73 percent year-on-year in March.

Dipa Karmakar becomes first Indian female gymnast to qualify for Olympics

On Sunday, Dipa Karmakar became the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympic games and is expected to compete at the Rio Olympics this year (Indian Express, India Today, Reuters, BBC).Previously she was among the medals tally at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. The last time Indian gymnasts competed at the Olympics was 1964. Gymnastics is not a very popular sport in India, and does not receive much funding from the Indian government. Karmakar herself is from humble beginnings and earlier told the BBC that when she competed in her first gymnastics competition, she did so without shoes and borrowed an oversized, ill-fitting costume.

Swaraj raised Masood Azhar issue with Chinese counterpart

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday in a meeting with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, raised the issue of China blocking the Indian effort to have Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the United Nations (Hindu, TOI). Azhar is allegedly the mastermind of numerous terrorist attacks in India, including the Pathankot air base attack this January. Ms. Swaraj was meeting her counterpart on the sidelines of the Russia, India and China (RIC) trilateral meeting of foreign ministers in Moscow. Earlier this month, China prevented a United Nations sanctions committee from designating Azhar as a terrorist, arguing that the case “did not meet the requirements” of the Security Council.

Pakistan

Pakistan army takes over security operation in Punjab

On Saturday, Pakistan’s army took over an operation being conducted by security forces to flush out a criminal gang holding 24 hostages on an island in the riverine area of Rajanpur in Punjab province (NYT, Dawn). The security operation, which involves more than 1,600 policemen and Rangers, is now in its eleventh day. General Asim Bajwa, the head of the army’s public relations, made the announcement on Twitter writing, “Army troops deployed. Take over charge of op. Cordon reinforced, Police&Rangers already in op will cont to participate under Army.” At least six police officials have been killed in the battle for the island.

Pakistani bank granted Chinese license

Habib Bank Limited (HBL), Pakistan’s largest bank, announced on Monday it now has a license to operate a branch in the Chinese city of Urumqi (Reuters). The bank said in a statement, “HBL will be establishing banking operations in Urumqi, the largest city of the province of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan along the traditional Silk Route.” HBL is the first South Asian bank to be granted such a license.

–Alyssa Sims and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

NASIR WAQIF/AFP/Getty Images

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.