Kabul Airport Attacked; Pakistan Violates Kashmir Ceasefire, China Makes Incursions; Pakistani PM to Visit Saudi Arabia
Bonus Read: "Kabul's Panopticon," Deni Bechard (FP)
Militants attack Kabul airport
Militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked Kabul International Airport on Thursday, forcing the diversion of all incoming flights to other airports (Reuters, BBC, AJE, Pajhwok, TOLO News). Sediq Sediqqi, an interior ministry spokesman, told Reuters that: "Four terrorists were killed by police special forces. The area is being cleared now, there are no casualties to our forces." According to the interior ministry, there was no substantial damage to the airport itself either. The Taliban have claimed the attack.
Thursday's attack on Kabul's airport was the second time in as many days that it had been targeted. On Wednesday, the airport was targeted by rocket fire from Deh Sabz district (TOLO News, Pajhwok). The attacks in Kabul have raised security concerns with Mir Dad Khan Nejrabi, the head of the Parliamentary Commission on Internal Security, stating: "I think our intelligence services need to increase their efficacy."
Afghanistan doesn't need full provision of aircraft
Afghanistan may not need all of the C-130 aircraft that the United States has provided to the country, John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, stated in a letter dated July 10 (Pajhwok, Post). The letter notes that Sopko's office "analyzed flight data for the two AAF [Afghan Air Force] C-130s currently in Afghanistan and found that they are being underutilized, which raises questions about whether additional aircraft are truly needed." According to Sopko: "Even the elimination of one C-130 could save up to $40.5 million through 2017." Maj. Brad Avots, a Pentagon spokesperson, said that the Pentagon is reviewing the letter.
Presidential guards attacked in Paktia
Afghan President Hamid Karzai's security team was ambushed on Thursday, as it travelled to Paktia province in preparation for a visit by the President (Pajhwok). At least four security personnel were injured in the attack. Faiq Wahidi, Karzai's deputy spokesperson, told TOLO News that: "this morning, the security convoy of the president of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan was on its way toward Paktia province when the Taliban ambushed the convoy in the suburb of Gardiz city, after the clash between the two sides, reinforcement dispatched to the area, currently the clash has ended and the security team is continuing on its way, so far we have recorded four injuries" (TOLO News).
Vote audit begins
An audit of votes cast in Afghanistan's June 14 presidential runoff election began in Kabul on Thursday (Pajhwok, TOLO News). Independent Election Commission chairman Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani said the audit would take three to four weeks, beginning with 3,000 ballot boxes already at the commission's headquarters. The audit takes place within the agreed-upon framework -- brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry -- that was part of a deal between Afghan presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to resolve an electoral crisis earlier this month. Nuristani stated: "In accordance with their agreement with the US foreign secretary, both candidates are committed to respect the outcome." Bonus Read: "Afghanistan's Audacious Audit," Nishank Motwani (South Asia)
Bonus Read: "The Indo-China Border Heats Up" Ritika Katyal (Foreign Policy)
Pakistan violates ceasefire; China attempts incursions
Pakistani rangers, in a major ceasefire violation, opened heavy fire at Indian border outposts along the international border in the Jammu district in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on Wednesday, leaving one Border Security Force (BSF) soldier dead and three injured (The Hindu, Hindustan Times, DNA). This is third ceasefire violation by Pakistan in July. Pakistan violated the ceasefire five times along the Line of Control (LoC) and international border in the Jammu region of J&K in June. The LoC is a military boundary between the Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir. The BSF guards the international border in J&K, while the Indian army guards the LoC.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the J&K border, Chinese troops reportedly made two incursion attempts in the last three days in the Ladakh sector according to media reports on Thursday (Indian Express, Times of India, Economic Times). The Chinese People's Liberation (PLA) soldiers were stopped by the Indian army and the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), a force which guards the India-China border. A 30-minute stand-off was followed by a banner drill where armies on both sides of the border warned each other against moving forward. Eventually, the Chinese PLA returned to their side.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said heads of both the countries are in talks on border issues, and stated further: "Incursions along the border take place due to the difference of perception about boundary" (Economic Times). The incursion attempts by the PLA came even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke about resolving the border dispute that has strained ties between the two countries for decades during their meeting in Fortaleza in Brazil on Tuesday.
Indian Prime Minister meets Brazilian President
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Brasilia for their first bilateral meeting on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, a grouping acronym of the five emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (NDTV, Business Standard, The Financial Express). Both leaders decided to deepen collaboration in the fields of renewable energy, defense, space, agriculture, and cyber security as they signed three pacts on cooperation in the sectors of environment and space, and establishing a consultation mechanism on consular issues.
As leaders of the Group of 4 (G4) countries, Rousseff and Modi called for urgent progress on reforms of the United Nations, including the Security Council. The G4 nations (comprising of Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan) support each other's bids for permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council. The Indian External Affairs ministry said that the two leaders agreed to take steps to further expand and diversify trade and investment flows. Bilateral trade between India and Brazil was $9.4 billion last year.
Outrage after a six-year-old girl allegedly raped in school
More than a hundred parents protested outside their children's school in Bangalore on Wednesday over the alleged rape of a six-year-old girl by two gym instructors during school hours (Times of India, NDTV, DNA). Although, the alleged rape happened on July 2 in a prominent school in Bangalore -- the third largest city in India located in the southern state of Karnataka -- it was reported a week later and the alleged attackers have been arrested.
Outraged parents broke through the gates and stormed into the school while police tried to restrain them. The school's chairman, Rustam Kerawala eventually came out to speak to the parents, and promised more security for children. Kerawala told the agitated parents: "We will install CCTVs and ensure background checks of staff."
The protests and anger further spread across schools in Bangalore after many schools declared that they couldn't be held responsible for the safety of students. Further, many schools asked parents to sign declaration forms saying that when a child participates in school events like field trips, excursions, and camps, the school's staff or teachers can't be held responsible for "damage to loss of property, sickness or injury." In response to the forms, one parent said: "We collectively refuse to sign such a form. My child spends 6-7 hours in school. I am at work. If the school doesn't protect her, then how can I send her to school?"
--Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan
Prime Minister to visit Saudi Arabia
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family are expected to visit Saudi Arabia beginning on July 20 (ET). Sharif will spend the final ten days of Ramadan at Masjid-e-Nabvi in Madina. Sharif is expected to meet with senior Saudi officials during his stay to discuss, among other matters, Saudi Arabia's relations with Pakistan's intelligence agency. Bonus Read: "Pakistan in the Middle" Marvin Weinbaum (South Asia)
Britain accuses two Pakistani diplomats of serious crimes
Two Pakistani diplomats were included on a list of diplomats who have allegedly committed serious crimes in the United Kingdom, which was compiled by the U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and presented before the British parliament on Tuesday (ET). The list includes 14 officials from nine different countries. The two Pakistani diplomats allegedly committed rape and child abduction. Pakistan's government partially lifted one of the diplomats' diplomatic immunity to allow him to be interviewed by the British police.
Ten-hour targeted operation in Lahore ends
A targeted operation in Lahore's Raiwind area that began early Thursday and lasted ten hours ended with the death of one militant who was besieged in a house and one member of the country's security services (ET, Dawn). The raid began with a tip regarding the presence of militants in the area according to Nawaz Marwat, the Superintendent of Police Investigation. The security services allegedly found suicide jackets and grenades at the site of the raid.
Edited by Peter Bergen
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images