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


The disputed region of Kashmir witnessed its worst fighting since the India-Pakistan truce was settled in 2003. This week, at least nineteen people have been killed — eleven on the Pakistani side and eight on the Indian side. Exchange of fire between the two sides are frequent and expected at times, however civilian deaths have been rare. Shelling has caused damage to the roofs of several houses, while some homes have completely collapsed; while 18,000 people from the region have fled their homes to escape the fighting to take refuge in schools and relief camps. These civilians have had no food and minimal shelter, they voiced their desire for the fighting to end so they can return home.

Indian officials have reported Pakistani mortar and small-arms fire directed at villages more than a mile away from the de-facto border. Indian authorities claim that Pakistani forces have intensified attacks on Indian military positions in order to provide cover for militant groups to enter India and destabilize the Kashmir Jammu region before upcoming elections.

The desire for reconciliation between India and Pakistan is strong within each respective civilian governments, but is not expected. Relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated despite high-level diplomatic outreach, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s trip to India this year for Indian Prime Minister Modi’s swearing-in ceremony earlier this year.

Relevant News Stories:

Survey Gives BJP, Allies 154 Seats in Maharashtra – (Times of India)

Cyclone Hudhud to Hit Andhra Pradesh Coast on Sunday, Heavy Rains on Saturday – (Deccan Chronicle)


Casualties are mounting on both sides of the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir. Islamabad and Delhi have blamed one another for initiating and continuation of the mortar shelling and small-arms fire. To the surprise of many Pakistanis was, the exchange of fire occurred during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha. A local resident near the area of conflict said, “We are burying our relatives, rushing the injured to the hospital instead of celebrating Eid.” Like the civilians on the Indian side, Pakistanis residing near the border region are also fleeing their homes to safer areas.

An agreement to stop the conflict seems unlikely, given the hostile attitudes the defense ministers of both countries hold for one another. India has made it quite clear that they would not tolerate Pakistan’s actions and will retaliate will full force if required; while Pakistan’s Defense Minister, Khawaja Asif said that his country is also capable of responding “befittingly” to Indian actions in the disputed region.

Relevant News Stories:

In Dry Pakistan, Deaths from Toxic Liquor Continue – (Washington Post)

Indian Defense Chief Blames Pakistan for Kashmir Conflict – (NYT) 


New reporting shows US air strikes reaching a two year high in August 2014, triple the average rate. The stepped-up campaign was viewed by some as an effort to beat back recent Taliban gains ahead of the US military drawdown. Other commentators’ view these statistics as a preview of what might lie ahead, as the Afghan government professionalizes its security forces while relying on sustained US help from the air. However, ISAF commander Army Gen. John Campbell said on October 2nd that by 2015 the number of US aircraft to provide:  intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR); close-air support; and medevac flights to Afghan forces, will be “greatly diminished from what we have today.” He continued, saying US forces will continue to provide ISR and close-air support  throughout 2015 and 2016.


Relevant News Stories:

Afghanistan’s New First Lady – (Foreign Policy)

US Intensifies Afghan Airstrikes as Drawdown Nears – (The Boston Globe)




The time for Bangladesh’s GSP review is coming up soon, and in light of last year’s Rana Plaza incident, the country is asking the US to take a ‘considerate view’ when approaching the task of assessing the GSP renewal. The US had revoked GSP on certain Bangladeshi products after the Rana Plaza incident. To ensure that Bangladesh’s GSP would not be jeopardized in the future when time came for its renewal the US established the ‘Bangladesh Action Plan 2013’ to guide the country in making reforms. Ambassador to the US Mohammad Ziauddin reassured the US that most of the issues under the action plan were implemented to better factory safety standards and labor rights. Both Ambassador Ziauddin and US Trade Representatives agreed to resolve bilateral trade issues to create a favorable climate for the GSP renewal.

Relevant News Stories:

3rd Bangladesh-US Dialogue Oct 21 – (The Daily Star)


A massive and mysterious explosion rocked an important military complex near Tehran this week, lighting up the night skies. Iranian officials deny the huge explosion occurred at the Parchin military base, drawing increasing speculation to its cause. The base has been considered by international monitors as a potential site for testing nuclear warhead triggers for Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. The Iranian government has repeatedly denied conducting research for a nuclear weapons program, but has accused Western powers and Israel of a campaign to sabotage its (military) missile program and (civilian) nuclear power program in the past.

Relevant News Stories:

Timeline on Iran’s Nuclear Program – (NYT)