Commentary from the South Asia Center on the most relevant news from the region, and suggested “must-read” analyses from the week.

As the Pakistani military officially decides to go after the Taliban in North Waziristan, initiating airstrikes without considering the hitherto held ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban divide, the nation’s political parties unanimously agreed to stand behind the decision. Aided by airstrikes, the military neutralized over sixty per cent of the North Waziristan region this past week. Since the start of the operation, over 200 militants have been killed while many of them have fled to Afghanistan. On completion of the military operation, the onus will lie on the civil government and the intelligence agencies to root out the remaining terrorists’ sleeping cells in large cities – especially Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and Quetta. In a separate development, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz led government in Punjab decided to take on a group of protestors with a heavy hand – killing over a dozen of them and seriously injuring around three dozen in Lahore. Unofficial figures relating to death and injury at the hands of the provincial police are significantly higher than the official figures released. The incident is being labeled as one of the worst examples of ‘state terrorism’ in the history of the country and as such opposition parties have decided to launch nationwide protests.

Relevant News Stories

Zarb-e-Azb – Bad News for ‘Good’ Taliban? (Daily Dawn)
Was this Lahore or Occupied Kashmir? (The News)
In Solidarity: Lahore chaos triggers protests across Punjab (Express Tribune)


Citing incidents of rigging and stuffing of ballot boxes, leading Afghan Presidential candidate, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah questioned the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC). Suggesting that electoral fraud was widespread and carefully engineered, the former Foreign Minister of Afghanistan demanded that the IEC stop the vote counting process immediately. Fearing the rigging to be ubiquitous, Dr. Abdullah would not accept the outcome “whatever the result may be”. Afghan security forces have initiated their preparation for street protests and other forms of agitation that are likely to ensue following this political impasse.

Relevant News Stories
Abdullah Challenges legitimacy of Afghan poll body (The Afghanistan Sun)
Playing with fire in Afghanistan (New York Times)
Presidential Palace pours scorn on partiality claim (Afghanistan Times)

Despite officials on both sides remaining upbeat regarding a comprehensive nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that, “the other side should abandon its excessive demands. Iran will never accept such demands”. The statement comes at the end of the fifth round of talks between Iran and the six world powers. A senior Chinese official vaguely stated that both sides have agreed upon a “textual framework” this week, hinting at progress in procedural terms. Other diplomats in the know-how suggest that one of the most difficult and unresolved issues at hand, is the number of centrifuges Tehran will be allowed to keep in order to enrich uranium. A diplomat with one of the six powers admitted to some progress being made this round before going on to also admit that “we have not concluded a big element of the negotiation”. The sixth round of negotiations begins on July 2nd ahead of a July 20th deadline.

Relevant News Stories
Iran says Obama Lacks Will to Combat Terrorism in Iraq (Agence France-Presse)
Mohammad Javad Zarif: Iran is committed to a peaceful nuclear program (The Washington Post)
Iran’s Repressed Religious Minorities Using Internet to Practice Faith (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)

The kidnapping of 40 Indian construction workers in Iraq by suspected militants looks to be the first foreign policy test for India’s newly elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. The workers are most likely to have been captured by militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a jihadist group who infiltrated and overran the northern Iraqi city of Mosul this past week. While the Indian government has gathered intelligence regarding the location of the men, no demand has yet been received for ransom. The majority of the construction workers have been identified as Sikh and therefore may potentially be seen by the militants as neutral in the Sunni-Shiite Muslim sectarian conflict currently plaguing Iraq. Additionally, 46 Indian nurses are stranded at a teaching hospital in Tikrit, the former hometown of Saddam Hussein, which was also captured by militants. 

Relevant News Stories
Shashi Tharoor – India’s Iraq Crisis: Let’s Keep Our Heads  (NDTV) 
40 Indian Construction Workers Kidnapped in Iraq (Associated Press) 
Hindi on Social Media Only for Hindi-Speaking States, Government Clarifies (NDTV) 
Rail Fares Hiked by 14 percent, ‘Achche Din?’ Mocks Opposition (NDTV)

Khan Akram Hossain, accused of committing crimes against humanity during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 was arrested this week. Akram who is now 59, was allegedly a commander of the Razakar, a paramilitary force organized by the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan during the war. On the run since the International Criminal Tribunal issued an arrest warrant against him on June 10th, Khan Akram Hossain was allegedly directly involved in the Shakharikathi genocide in which 42 people were killed.

Relevant News Stories
Construction Work of New India-Bangladesh Railway Link to Begin in 2015 (inSerbia)
Bangladesh Embassy in Iraq ready to help repatriate workers (Dhaka Tribune)
Bangladesh situation stable, Hamid tells UN chief (Dhaka Tribune)