The South Asia Channel

Chinese Maps Claim AP As Own; Abdullah Renews Fraud Claims; Pakistani Couple Killed for Marrying Without Consent


China maps Arunachal Pradesh as its own, as bilateral talks continue

China, in its recent maps, has shown disputed areas in Arunachal Pradesh, located in northeast India, as its own, according to Western media reports (Economic Times, The Hindu, Indian Express, IBNLive). In a pointed reaction to the reports, India's External Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that "cartographic depictions do not change the reality on the ground." The statement said further: "the fact that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India has been conveyed to Chinese authorities at several occasions including at the very highest level."

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) condemned China's "expansionist attitude" and said the state is an integral part of India (Economic Times). "The state government should send a loud and clear message to New Delhi that Arunachal Pradesh was and will remain as an integral part of India," AAPSU General Secretary Biru Nasi said.

The incident occurred as Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari visited China. In his meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (pictured above), Ansari discussed boundary issues and bilateral trade. Three significant Memorandums of Understanding on industrial parks, flood data of the Brahmaputra river, and the establishment of a framework for regular interactions between administrative officials were signed in the presence of Ansari and his Chinese counterpart, Li Yuanchao, on Monday (Indian Express). Ansari and Yuanchao also released an encyclopedia of India-China Cultural Contacts, which traces links between the two nations, beginning with the visit of Huen Tsang to India in the 7th century to bring Buddhist scriptures to China (Times of India).

Army Chief General Bikram Singh is also scheduled to begin a visit to China on July 2 (NDTV). Singh is expected to meet Chinese military and foreign ministry officials, and will address the Chinese military academy. Singh is the second Indian army chief to visit China, and his trip is taking place after a nine year gap.

France is first to court India as Western powers eye defense deals

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will meet with India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday during his two-day trip to India (Economic Times, Livemint). Fabius is set to push a stalled deal worth approximately $15 billion to supply 126 French-made Rafale fighter jets to India, which has been under final negotiation since January 2012. Fabius will also discuss deals to supply new nuclear reactors to India, boost tourism in France, and increase space cooperation. Fabius is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

After France, senior politicians from the United States and United Kingdom are expected to visit India over the next 10 days as the Modi government intends to open the defense industry to foreign investment (Hindustan Times, Reuters). U.S. Senator John McCain is expected to visit India next week, with Britain's Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and Finance Minister, George Osborne, arriving in the second week of July.

"All the countries are trying to make their case, especially as there is the sense that the Indian market will undergo a shift," said Harsh V. Pant, a professor of international relations at King's College London. He added that: "They get a sense from their dealings that something dramatic is going to happen and they want first-mover advantage."

Presently, foreign companies can invest only 26 percent in Indian defense projects without committing to technology transfer, which has deterred many foreign investors. India spent approximately $6 billion on weapon imports last year. 

India successfully launches five foreign satellites

Modi witnessed the launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C23 on Monday in Sriharikota, located in Andhra Pradesh (DNA, Indian Express, Livemint, NDTV). The launch carried one satellite each from France, Singapore, and Germany, and two from Canada. Modi congratulated space scientists and the Department of Space for the successful launch and said: "This is definitely a global endorsement of India's space capability." Prior to the launch, Modi had tweeted: "Our Government is committed to give further impetus to our Space Programme."

Modi proposed using satellite diplomacy in the region and asked ISRO to develop a satellite that can be used for civilian purposes and as a "gift" for the country's South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) neighbors. "Today I ask you, the space community, to take up the challenge of developing a SAARC satellite that we can dedicate to our neighbourhood as a gift from India," Modi said. SAARC is an economic and geopolitical cooperation between South Asian nations, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Modi said further that: "India's Space programme is driven by a vision of service to humanity. Not by a desire of power."

In his address to the scientists, Modi said: "Generations of scientists have worked to make India a self-reliant space power," and "India has the potential to be the launch service provider of the world. We must work towards this goal." ISRO has, until Monday, launched 35 satellites from 19 countries.

Modi also suggested developing a state-of-the-art, interactive, digital space museum. He described India's space program as the most "cost-effective" in the world and remarked: "I have heard that the Hollywood movie Gravity cost more than our Mars mission -- this is a great achievement" (IBNLive, NDTV). Gravity was a 2013 British-American 3D science fiction thriller film.

For a full text of Modi's speech, click here.

-- Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan


Abdullah renews fraud claims

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah promised on Sunday that he would not accept any decisions made by the country's election commission after the panel rejected his list of demands (NYT). "From today onward, we reject all the decisions and activities of the Independent Election Commission, which will not have any legal value anyway," said Baryalai Arsalai, Abdullah's campaign manager.

Abdullah contends that it is false that seven million Afghans turned out to vote for the run-off election (more than the initial round) and that President Hamid Karzai conspired to stuff ballots in regions that support Abdullah's rival, Ashraf Ghani -- in some cases tripling the number of voters from the first election to the run-off.

The next official step for the election commission is the announcement of the preliminary results, set for July 2. Abdullah has demanded a stop to the vote counting, but the commission has ignored the request and insists that partial results will be released on time. Many fear that the release of results, which are expected to show Ghani with a lead, could heighten the instability.

10 ANA officials killed, says MoD

Ten Afghan National Army (ANA) officials were killed during operations over the past two days in various parts of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Monday (Pajhwok, TOLO News). At least 60 armed rebels, including a commander named Amir Mohammad, were killed during the ANA offensives in Badakhshan, Kandahar, Logar, Helmand, Herat, and Khost provinces. The statement also said that a number of weapons were seized during the operations. It did not give any information on ANA casualties, however, and although the Taliban have claimed that they inflicted heavy casualties on security personnel during the engagements, these claims are often exaggerated.


Couple killed after marrying for love

A young Pakistani couple was tied up and killed by the girl's family last Thursday after they married for love, the New York Times reported on Sunday (NYT). The couple, a 17-year-old girl, Muawia Bibi, and a 26-year-old man, Sajjad Ahmed, married on June 18 without the consent of their families in Satrah, in Punjab province (CNN). The girl's family lured the couple home on Thursday by promising that the marriage would receive the family's blessing, said Rana Zashid, a local police officer. When the couple arrived, the girl's family tied them up with ropes and then the girl's father slit their throats with a scythe. The police arrested the family members, who said they were embarrassed that their daughter would marry a man from a tribe they considered to be less important than their own.

In a separate incident, a young girl was burned to death Saturday night in Faisalabad by a man whose marriage proposal was rejected by her parents (ET). After Sidra Ali's family denied his proposal, Fayyaz Hussain reportedly forced his way into their home and doused Ali in petrol before setting her on fire. She died on the way to the hospital.

Nanga Parbat still struggling

Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth-highest mountain, is still struggling to regain its tourism draw after an attack by the Pakistani Taliban on a group of climbers one year ago this month (Post). Pakistan is home to five of the world's 14 highest peaks, including K2, the second-highest mountain in the world, and mountain climbing was a large part of its international tourism trade. But after 9/11, the number of hiking and climbing tourists who visited the country declined steeply -- from around 150 climbing expeditions a year to about 75 -- but after the 2013 attack, only about 30 are likely to occur this year, according to officials. And no climbers are expected to visit Nanga Parbat. The loss of foreign climbers is so distressing that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has cited it as one reason he ordered the military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan this June.

-- Emily Schneider

Edited by Peter Bergen.

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