The South Asia Channel
Power-Delivery Project for AfPak Launched in Tajikistan; CEO Abdullah to Visit China; Indian Parliament Passes Bankruptcy Bill
Editor’s Note: The South Asia Daily Brief will cease publication on May 13, 2016, as the partnership between Foreign Policy, New America, and Johns Hopkins SAIS comes to a close. Starting almost eight years ago in the summer of 2009 as the AfPak Daily Brief, we have published well over 1,500 Daily Briefs covering a range of South Asian issues including terrorism, politics, religion, business, and development for ...
Editor’s Note: The South Asia Daily Brief will cease publication on May 13, 2016, as the partnership between Foreign Policy, New America, and Johns Hopkins SAIS comes to a close. Starting almost eight years ago in the summer of 2009 as the AfPak Daily Brief, we have published well over 1,500 Daily Briefs covering a range of South Asian issues including terrorism, politics, religion, business, and development for our more than 80,000 subscribers. New America wishes to thank our readers and our colleagues at Foreign Policy and Johns Hopkins SAIS for their collaboration on this project. Also, thanks to the editors of the brief over the years: Katherine Tiedemann, Andrew Lebovich, Jennifer Rowland, Bailey Cahall, Emily Schneider, Courtney Schuster, Ana Swanson, Shruti Pandalai, Jameel Khan, and Neeli Shah. Foreign Policy’s South Asia Channel will continue to be the home of thought-provoking content on the key issues facing Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and the larger region.
—Peter Bergen, David Sterman, Alyssa Sims, Albert Ford, Udit Banerjea, and Shuja Malik
Bonus Read: “Time to Put the Squeeze on Pakistan,” by The Editorial Board (NYT)
Bonus Read: “Meet the women trying to rid Pakistan — and the world — of polio,” by Shashank Bengali (LA Times)
Power-delivery project for AfPak launched in Tajikistan
On Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, and Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov attended the unveiling ceremony in Dushanbe, Tajikistan for the $1.17 billion CASA-1000 power project that will carry roughly 1,300 megawatts of electricity from hydropower plants in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan into Afghanistan (300 MW) and Pakistan (1,000 MW) through a 759 mile-long power-transmission line (RFE/RL, ET, VOA). According to PM Nawaz, “CASA project will help mitigate (the) electricity deficit of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It will provide new employment opportunities to the people.” The project, scheduled to be completed by 2018, is financed by the United States, Great Britain, the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, and the Islamic Development Bank.
Pakistan to receive additional $510 million from IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Thursday that it is providing an additional $510 million in aid to Pakistan as part of the country’s three-year, $6.7 billion financial assistance program (Dawn). According to Harald Finger, the IMF mission chief for Pakistan, “After productive discussions, the mission and the Pakistani authorities have reached staff- level agreement on the completion of the eleventh review under the EFF arrangement.” The money will not be officially provided until the deal is approved by the IMF’s management and executive board. The IMF statement cited Pakistan’s strong economic growth, with projected GDP growth of 4.5 percent in FY 2015/16 and 4.7 percent in FY 2016/17.
Bonus Read: “Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Exiled Afghan Insurgent, Nears a Comeback,” by Mujib Mashal Jawad Sukhanyar (NYT)
Bonus Watch: “The Taliban resurge in Afghanistan – and ISIS also moves in,” by Hari Sreenivasan and Jennifer Glasse (PBS)
CEO Abdullah to visit China
Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abudllah will visit China from Sunday, May 15 through Wednesday, May 18 (Xinhua). According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, this is Abdullah’s first official visit to China since taking office. Speaking of the visit, Lu said, “We hope the visit will further advance bilateral cooperation in areas of economy and trade, security, culture, international and regional affairs, and push China-Afghanistan strategic partnership of cooperation to a higher level.” China and Afghanistan share a border via the Wakhan Corridor.
Bonus Read: “Skeletons in the closet: India bad loans getting messier,” by Devidutta Tripathy (Reuters)
Indian parliament passes bankruptcy bill
The Indian parliament on Wednesday passed a new bankruptcy law that allows for tougher action against corporate defaulters and will help banks recover over $120 billion in troubled loans (FT, Reuters, LiveMint). The new bankruptcy code will help lenders recover outstanding debts by setting a deadline of 180 days for companies to pay or face liquidation. The measure is aimed at improving the ease of business in India, which was a campaign promise by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he came to power two years ago. India is the world’s fastest growing and Asia’s third largest economy, yet according to World Bank estimates declaring corporate bankruptcy in India typically takes four years, twice as long as in China and Russia, with an average recovery of 25.7 cents on the dollar, one of the worst rates in emerging markets.
Delhi no longer most polluted city in the world
According to a report released by the World Health Organization on Thursday, the Indian capital New Delhi lost its top spot as the “most polluted city in the world” in 2014, falling to a rank of ninth (Guardian, Hindu, Reuters). However four of the top five polluted cities are from India. The dirtiest air was recorded at Zabol in Iran, which suffers from months of dust storms in the summer, the next four were all Indian: Gwalior, Allahabad, Patna and Raipur. WHO experts acknowledge that India faces a “huge challenge,” but air pollution in many countries is so bad that they have no monitoring system and cannot be included in its ranking.
Right-wing Hindu group prays for a Trump victory
Members of the right-wing group Hindu Sena held a prayer in New Delhi on Wednesday in support of Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidential election (BBC). The group said they supported Trump “because he is hope for humanity against Islamic terror.” The group praised Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States as well as invading Syria to eradicate the so-called Islamic State group and appropriate its oil.
–Albert Ford and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen
Tajikistan Presidency Press Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images