South Asia Tracker 30.11.12

Pakistan:

Dawn: Two IED devices exploded in Khyber Agency, injuring four security personnel. “Speaking to Dawn.com’s correspondent, sources in the political administration said the first blast took place when a vehicle of the Levies was on routine patrol in Sheikhwal, adding that, the vehicle was partially damaged whereas no personnel were injured in the attack.

The second blast took place shortly after additional security personnel and rescue teams reached the area and were inspecting the site.”

The Economist: Links between violent sectarian groups and the Pakistani Taliban are increasing. “The armed forces, which control security policy, now differentiate between “good” jihadi groups, which follow its agenda, and “bad” jihadi groups, which attack the state. The desire to have proxies, as well as pressure from Saudi Arabia, a vital ally, to allow Sunni groups to operate in order to counter the perceived influence of Shia Iran, means that Pakistan tolerates some extremist groups, while it is at war with others. That produces monsters which spiral out of control, including sectarian groups that have now taken on the broader agenda of al-Qaeda.”

Gant Daily: US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon defended the use of armed drones in Pakistan’s tribal areas in a speech at Harvard University. “Donilon said the U.S. has the right to take action against terrorists and the use of drones still results in less casualty than when a broader military attack is used against Al Qaeda militants. The statement was in answer to a question by a Pakistani student as to why armed drones are being used.

Donilon’s statement also came about a month after United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights Ben Emmerson announced in a conference at the Harvard Law School that the UN Human Rights Council will form early next year a unit that will investigate drone attacks that also caused civilian deaths.”

Afghanistan:

Washington Post: Afghanistan officials want Pakistan to free more Taliban detainees to help facilitate peace talks with the militant group. “Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasoul will make the request during a one-day visit to Islamabad, according to an Afghan official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Rasoul’s agenda ahead of the minister’s talks with high-ranking Pakistani officials.”

NBC: US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta sees an ‘enduring presence‘ of US forces to fight al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. “Panetta said fighting the core al-Qaida group to prevent it from re-establishing a haven in Afghanistan was ‘going to be the fundamental thrust of the (counter-terrorism) effort.’

A narrow focus could help limit the size of the mission.

‘Although we clearly have had an impact on (al-Qaida’s) presence in Afghanistan, the fact is that they continue to show up and intelligence continues to indicate that … they are looking for some kind of capability to be able to go into Afghanistan, as well,’ Panetta said Thursday.”

The Telegraph: An Afghan currency dealer who funneled millions of dollars to Taliban insurgents has been arrested. “Haji Mohammed Qasim is accused by the United States Treasury of using his chain of money transfer shops to funnel significant funds for the Taliban commander leading operations in the province.

He also allegedly smuggled large quantities of weapons and ammunition into Helmand for the insurgents.

The United Nations and the Treasury both last week announced they were adding Qasim and his firm to sanctions lists, along with one of his deputies.

But the Nato-led coalition has now disclosed he has been arrested in a joint operation with Afghan forces.”

India:

Times of India: Indian security agencies are unperturbed by threatening statements made by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Jandullah group– who both warned of impending attacks in India. “Intelligence agencies in India have brushed aside these statements as mere political posturing directed at the outfits’ own support base in Pakistan. That explains why no specific intelligence alert has been issued after these statements.”

Business Standard: Maoists have set ablaze eight construction vehicles in Dumka, leading to a combing operation by security forces. “A group of around 25 armed Maoists arrived at the crusher plant site and set ablaze eight dumpers, a excavator, pick up van, motorcycle and tractor belonging to the road construction company near Gumhra River on Dumka-Pakur road late last night, Deputy Superintendent of Police B C Ram said.”

Indian Express: The Bombay High Court has requested a confident report from the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court in connection with 13 alleged SIMI members involved in the 7/11 train blast. “’I have to remove doubt on whether the documents are there and you (state government) are trying to hide it,’ Justice A M Thipsay said. He added that ‘coercive action’ will have to be taken if it was found that the state had hidden the CDRs. The court felt that the CDRs are kept somewhere but the state government may be hiding them.”

Sri Lanka:

BBC News: “Students at Jaffna University in northern Sri Lanka have started a two-day boycott of classes after clashes with security forces on Wednesday.They say they do not feel safe after several were beaten and injured in the worst political disturbances since the civil war ended in 2009.

Security forces entered the university, disrupting students marking a commemoration of dead rebel fighters.”

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