The South Asia Channel

Data Shows Drones Dominate Afghanistan Air Campaign; Uttarkhand High Court Dismisses President’s Rule; Pakistan Dismisses 12 Army Officers on Corruption Charges

Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Not Even Kabul Is Safe from the Taliban,” by Dexter Filkins (New Yorker) Data shows drones dominate Afghanistan air campaign Data reviewed by Reuters shows that drone strikes accounted for over half of weapons deployed by the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan in 2015 (Reuters). As the U.S.-led NATO mission shrinks, the ...

Afghan security personnel gather at the scene after a suicide car bomb attack in Puli Mahmood Khan neighbourhood in Kabul on April 19, 2016. 
A powerful Taliban car bomb followed by a fierce firefight left many people dead or wounded in Kabul April 19, the Afghan president said, a week after the insurgents launched their annual spring offensive. / AFP / WAKIL KOHSAR        (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan security personnel gather at the scene after a suicide car bomb attack in Puli Mahmood Khan neighbourhood in Kabul on April 19, 2016. A powerful Taliban car bomb followed by a fierce firefight left many people dead or wounded in Kabul April 19, the Afghan president said, a week after the insurgents launched their annual spring offensive. / AFP / WAKIL KOHSAR (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Bonus Read: “Not Even Kabul Is Safe from the Taliban,” by Dexter Filkins (New Yorker)

Data shows drones dominate Afghanistan air campaign

Data reviewed by Reuters shows that drone strikes accounted for over half of weapons deployed by the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan in 2015 (Reuters). As the U.S.-led NATO mission shrinks, the U.S. has relied more on unmanned aircraft than ever, according to the data. Drones accounted for 56 percent of weapons deployed by the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan in 2015, a significant increase from just five percent in 2011. “We’ve seen increased weapons deployment in the past few months, and the demand is insatiable,” Lieutenant Colonel Michael Navicky, commander of the Air Force’s 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, said about the increase in drone strikes in Afghanistan. The United States currently plans to maintain a U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan until 2017.

Kabul Ambulance Service strained after explosion

After a truck bomb struck a security compound in Kabul on Tuesday, the small Kabul Ambulance Service was strained to transport victims to hospitals (NYT). All of the service’s 15 vehicles and 108 staff members from across the city were dispatched to the bomb site. Mechanics drove vehicles, and desk clerks took on nursing duties due to understaffing. The service transported as many as 12 victims at a time to city hospitals in vehicles meant for one or two, according to a New York Times report. “The doors of two ambulances came off the hinges because they were packed with too many wounded,” said Dr. Alem Asem, the ambulance service’s director. The ambulance service was created by the Norwegian Red Cross in 2003 and was transferred to the Afghan government a few years ago. The Afghan government confirmed on Wednesday that 64 people were killed in the explosion and 347 others wounded.

China seeks deeper military ties with Afghanistan

A senior Chinese military officer indicated to a visiting Afghan envoy that China wants to have deeper security ties with Afghanistan (NYT). China is willing to “deepen counter-terrorism intelligence, joint drills, personnel training and other areas of practical cooperation”, Fang Fenghui, a member of the Central Military Commission which controls China’s armed forces, told Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the Afghan national security advisor. China has become increasingly concerned about what it refers to as extremists and separatists in Xinjiang, where violence has killed hundreds in recent years, and sees security in Afghanistan as key to stability in China.

India

Uttarkhand High Court dismisses President’s Rule

The high court of the state of Uttarakhand on Thursday dismissed President’s Rule — direct rule of the state by the federal government — in that state, arguing that Article 356 of the Indian Constitution was imposed contrary to the law defined by the Supreme Court (Hindu, HT,NDTV). In its ruling, the court said that the federal government acted in “blatant falsehood” and the speaker of the state assembly had “double standards.” The court also ordered the Uttarakhand state government to get a vote of confidence from the state legislature on April 29. Last month, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee dismissed the government of Chief Minister Harish Rawat in Uttarkhand, a day before he was set to receive a vote of confidence from the state legislature.

Polling begins in West Bengal state assembly elections

The third phase of state assembly elections in West Bengal began on Thursday, where 62 state legislature seats are being contested (Hindu,NDTV). There are reports of election-related violence in the state, and local media reports indicate that a “polling agent from a political party” has been killed, however officials have refuted these claims. In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress is attempting to forge an alliance with the Congress party to compete with Prime Minister Modi’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP has seen a drop in its favorability since the general election in 2014 and faces a tough challenge on economic reforms in the national parliament. State elections are vital for BJP, as members of the upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha, are indirectly elected by state legislatures.

Pakistan

Pakistan dismisses 12 army officers on corruption charges

In an unprecedented move, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Thursday dismissed 12 army officers from service on charges of corruption (Dawn). The dismissals come two day after Sharif stated that “across the board accountability is necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan.” Five brigadier generals, three colonels and a major general are among those removed from the army by Sharif. There has been no official statement regarding the move.

–Alyssa Sims and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images

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