News from South Asia, Wednesday 15th May 2013

Pakistan:

The News: The May 12 suicide bombing which killed ten people and injured over 75 was carried out by an al-Qaeda-linked Uzbek suicide bomber. “According to well-informed officials in the law enforcement agencies, the Waziristan-based Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) has claimed responsibility for the May 12 suicide bombing that targeted the convoy of the Quetta Police Chief Mushtaq Sukhera. A statement released on several jehadi websites by the IMU spokesman Yahya Hikmati says that the target of the Quetta suicide bombing was IG Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera. While the IG had a narrow escape, ten people were killed including three policemen, two Frontier Corps (FC) personnel and three civilians. Around 1500 to 2000kg explosive material was used in the massive bombing that produced a shockwave which was felt across Quetta.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that the bombing was carried out by Ali, a 52-year old Uzbek militant, right outside the official residence of IGP Balochistan when his convoy, escorted by a police cavalcade, was entering his official residence located in the high security Jinnah Road area which is lined up with several important buildings and government offices including those of the Commissioner Quetta, Frontier Corps, Chief Minister’s House, Governor’s House and the residence of Inspector General of Quetta Police.”

Analysis: Lisa Curtis writing for the Heritage Foundation: The US should continue to press counterterrorism as an important agenda item following the Pakistani elections. “Pursuing U.S. counterterrorism objectives in Pakistan will not be any easier after this election and could even become more difficult. Sharif campaigned on a policy of reordering ties with the U.S. and convincing Washington to end controversial drone strikes against terrorists in the Afghan–Pakistani border areas. Khan was even more strident in his calls to end counterterrorism cooperation with the U.S., even threatening to shoot down U.S. drone aircraft.

Sharif may temper some of his election rhetoric against U.S. policies in recognition of Pakistan’s need to retain American support with the international financial institutions on which Pakistan will rely to bail out its faltering economy. But he will be constrained by Pakistani public opinion, which blames U.S. policies for Pakistan’s problems.”

Afghanistan:

Fox News: Three US troops have been killed in a roadside explosion in Kandahar. “The soldiers were in a vehicle on patrol in the Zhari district of the Kandahar province when they were killed, said NATO spokesman Col. Thomas Collins. The spiritual heartland of the Taliban, Kandahar is one of the most volatile regions in Afghanistan. Several service members were also wounded, although the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.”

Analysis: Emma Graham-Harrison writing for the Guardian: Bamiyan province, although it has typically been more secure than other Afghan provinces, will likely fall to the Taliban once foreign troops leave. “So great was the sense of security that Bamiyan was chosen by Nato to be the very first place in the country where Afghan forces officially took over from foreign troops, although the ceremony in 2011 was just a nominal shift to pave the way for real changes this year.

But since then the insurgency has spread and violence lapped steadily closer to this virtual island of calm, isolated by mountain peaks rather than water. First one, then both roads to Kabul became a dangerous lottery. The head of the provincial council, a popular man who had done much to help development in a desperately poor area, was abducted and slaughtered in 2011. A US engineer is among the many others killed on the roads since.”

India:

 Newstrack India: Two Maoist rebels have been killed, with three security personnel injured during a gun battle between the two sides in the state of Jharkhand.

“The paramilitary forces in Balam village in Jharkhand’s Kharsava District clashed with the Maoists, who opened fire at them. In retaliation, the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA) fought back. A Maoist was also arrested post the encounter. The three injured security personnel Shankar Linga, Sunil Kumar and Sibesh were immediately rushed to the hospital for treatment.”

Zee News: India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) “may not oppose bail application” of suspected Hizbul Mujahideen militant Liyaqat Shah, who was arrested by Delhi Police for his alleged role in a conspiracy to carry out terror attacks in New Delhi.

“The NIA, which took over the case on the direction of Home Ministry after Shah’s arrest on March 28 had generated conflicting versions from Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir Police, has already interrogated him. Sources said no evidence about Shah’s involvement has been found by the NIA officials during his interrogation.

Forty five-year-old Shah, who was arrested by Delhi Police Special Cell on March 20 from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, had yesterday approached a special NIA court here seeking bail. The court will hear the matter tomorrow.”

The New Indian Express: A Delhi University professor has claimed that communal hatred and labelling certain minority groups as terrorists is now slowly spreading to the southern parts of the country.

“‘Members of the Muslim community are being labelled as terrorists and framed in the name of SIMI and Indian Mujahideen,’ Geelani alleged, while inaugurating a meeting organised by the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) – the students’ wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind – at the Gandhi Park here ahead of the fourth anniversary of the police firing in Beemappalli.

Terming the police firing in Beemappalli in 2009, in which six persons including a child were killed, as ‘state terrorism,’ Geelani demanded that the inquiry report into the incident should be made public at the earliest.”

Forty five-year-old Shah, who was arrested by Delhi Police Special Cell on March 20 from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, had yesterday approached a special NIA court here seeking bail. The court will hear the matter tomorrow.”

Bangladesh:

The Financial Express: A nationwide strike called by Jamaat-e-Islami on Tuesday has passed “almost peacefully”.

“The nationwide daylong hartal, enforced by Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Tuesday, passed off almost peacefully, reports UNB. No major incident of violence was reported from anywhere during the hartal hours as pickets were hardly seen on streets.

In the capital, public life was almost normal though educational institutions remained closed. But government and non-government offices were open amid thin attendance. Rickshaws and auto-rickshaws ruled the city streets as motorised vehicles largely stayed off the roads during the first hours of the hartal. However, the number of buses and minibuses on the streets increased as the day went on.”

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