The South Asia Channel

Pakistani Doctor Used in bin Laden Raid Remains Imprisoned in Solitary Confinement; Pentagon Releases More Information About Doctors Without Borders Hospital Attack; Forest Fires Engulf 4,700 Acres in Uttarkhand, 6 Killed

Event Notice: “Anderson Cooper 360 Special: We Got Him: President Obama, Bin Laden, and the Future of the War on Terror,” on Monday, May 2 at 8 PM (EST). CNN’s and New America’s Peter Bergen sits down with President Barack Obama and current and former national security staff members to talk about the Bin Laden raid and ...

This photograph taken on July 22, 2010, shows Pakistani surgeon Shakeel Afridi, who was working for CIA to help find Osama bin Laden, attending a Malaria control campaign in Khyber tribal district. Pakistan's problematic relationship with the United States sailed into fresh controversy as US lawmakers warned of aid cuts after the jailing of a surgeon who helped the CIA hunt down Osama bin Laden. Shakeeel Afridi was found guilty of treason, sentenced to 33 years in prison and fined 320,000 rupees (3,500 USD) under an archaic tribal justice system that has governed Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt since British rule. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMAD RAUF (Photo credit should read MOHAMMAD RAUF/AFP/GettyImages)

Event Notice: “Anderson Cooper 360 Special: We Got Him: President Obama, Bin Laden, and the Future of the War on Terror,” on Monday, May 2 at 8 PM (EST). CNN’s and New America’s Peter Bergen sits down with President Barack Obama and current and former national security staff members to talk about the Bin Laden raid and the state of the war on terror five years later.

Event Notice: “A Conversation with a Former Muslim Extremist,” Tuesday, May 3 (New America DC)


Bonus Read: “Where are they now? Key players in the bin Laden raid,” (AFP)

Pakistani doctor used in bin Laden raid remains imprisoned in solitary confinement

Shakeel Afridi, a Pakistani surgeon recruited by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to conduct fake Hepatitis C vaccinations to gain access to the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad and obtain genetic samples, has been in jail since a week after the May 2011 raid after being accused of having ties to unidentified militants (Yahoo/AFP). The United States has reportedly prioritized other regional issues, including Taliban peace talks, over securing Afridi’s release.

33 dead from pesticide-laced sweets in Pakistan

On Monday, Pakistani officials reported that the number of people who have died from consuming sweets tainted with farming pesticides from a bakery in the Karor Lal Esan area of Punjab province is now 33, up from the initial count of 23 victims (RFE/RL). The incident occurred last week. Haji Mohammad Akhtar, a police investigator, told AFP that the two owners of the sweet shop and one employee who were arrested will be in court on Monday.


Pentagon releases more information about Doctors Without Borders hospital attack

The findings of an investigation into the U.S. military’s October strike of a Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) hospital in Kunduz were released and presented by Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, on Friday (NYT). The largely redacted, 3,000-word page report details the actions of military personnel who “failed to comply with the rules of engagement in the law of armed conflict,” according to Gen. Votel. The strike from the AC-130 gunship, which occurred at 2:08 AM local time, hit the compound that, according to a Special Forces air controller who was on the ground at the time, “is currently under control of the TB (Taliban), so those nine PAX (people) are hostile.” According to the report, this was one of many failures that contributed to the authorization of the strike.

Afghan forces defend Uruzgan highway against the Taliban

A prolonged battle between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents continues in the southern province of Uruzgan (Reuters). Speaking on Sunday, Afghan security officials spoke of ongoing efforts to clear roadside bombs from the highway into Tarin Kowt, the provincial capital. Uruzgan has been under threat from the Taliban over the past month. According to Abdul Karim Khademzai, a provincial council chief, “The Taliban have not been defeated. They are everywhere.” Gen. Abdul Raziq, the police chief of Kandahar, has reportedly joined to aid security forces in Uruzgan. Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, a spokesman for NATO’s Resolute Support mission, confirmed that no foreign troops or coalition-led air strikes have been used to assist Afghan forces in the current battle in Uruzgan.

Afghan police officer publicly kills himself, wife

An Afghan police officer fatally shot his wife and then himself in a crowded public market in Paktika province, according to Nesar Ahmad AbdulRahimzai, a deputy provincial police chief (ABC/AP). AbdulRahimzai, speaking on Monday, said the officer accused his wife of being unfaithful. The officer died at the scene, while his wife was transported to a local hospital and died there.


Bonus Read: “On Close Inspection, India’s Sharp Growth Picture Gets Fuzzy,” by Raymond Zhong (WSJ)

Forest fires engulf 4,700 acres in Uttarkhand, 6 killed

At least six people have been killed as forest fires raged across more than 4,700 acres in the northern state of Uttarkhand (BBC, LiveMint). Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar compared the fires to the worst forest fires in Indian history from 2012, when forest fires in Himachal Pradesh destroyed nearly 50,000 acres over a two-month period.

The fires in Uttarkhand broke out a month ago but intensified in recent days due to rising temperatures across the country. Officials say fires have been widespread this year because the forest is exceptionally dry due to low rainfall. The fires come as India suffers one of its worst droughts in years with 330 million affected by water shortages.

Hague court orders the return of Italian marine

The Italian Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that a UN arbitration court has ruled that Salvatore Girone, an Italian marine, detained in Delhi by the Indian government for more than four years, should be allowed to return to Italy (Reuters, HT). 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. While India claimed that this case fell under its jurisdiction, Italy argued that the marines should be tried in Italy because the incident occurred in international waters. Latorre was later allowed to leave India in 2015 due to health reasons. Girone, though free on bail at the moment, is still barred from leaving India.

–Albert Ford and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen


Albert Ford is a research assistant with the International Security Program at New America.

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