India Summons Pakistani Diplomat; Electricity Fails in Karachi; Militants Kill 14 Shiites in Afghanistan
India summons Pakistani diplomat over 26/11 trials
India summoned Pakistan's deputy high commissioner to the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi on Friday, and strongly protested the reported adjournment of the ongoing Mumbai terror attack trial in Pakistan (Times of India, NDTV, Livemint). The Indian deputy high commissioner also went to the Pakistan foreign office in Islamabad and lodged a similar diplomatic protest. A Pakistani anti-terrorism court trying seven accused militants in the Mumbai attacks case adjourned the hearing on Wednesday for the seventh time.
In 2008, 10 Pakistani militants attacked Mumbai, where 166 individuals were killed and hundreds were left injured in an attack that lasted over 70 hours. Members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant organization, have been charged with planning, financing, and executing the attacks in Mumbai.
Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh will meet Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry in Islamabad, Pakistan on August 25 to discuss key issues such as granting India the most favoured nation status, ratifying the visa relaxation agreement, and examining ceasefire violations on the India-Pakistan border (The Hindu, Times of India, NDTV). The foreign secretaries of the two countries had last met in September 2012. On the upcoming meeting, Chaudhry said: "It will be our desire to work together where we find common ground and common benefit and to resolve differences where we have disagreements and disputes."
Japan joins U.S.-India Malabar naval exercise
India, Japan, and the United States gathered with warships, submarines, aircrafts, and helicopters in the north-western Pacific on Thursday to start their trilateral Malabar naval exercise -- an annual event that has been primarily a bilateral U.S.-Indian operation since 1992 (WSJ, Times of India, The Hindu, Economic Times). This year is the third time Japan is taking part in the exercise. The "harbor phase" of the exercise will begin on July 24 and the "sea phase" will begin on July 27.
China had reacted strongly when when Japan, Australia, and Singapore joined the bilateral U.S.-Indian naval exercise in 2007. According to Indian officials, India will exercise its "strategic autonomy" but will not participate in a U.S.-led counter-China policy with other countries. A Pentagon official said to reporters: "It has absolutely no relations anything [sic] to do with China. If anything it is strengthening the U.S. naval presence in the Pacific Ocean region ... and maritime partnership with our allies" (Economic Times, Livemint).
For this exercise, India has sent three Indian warships: the guided-missile destroyer INS Ranvijay, the stealth frigate INS Shivalik, the tanker INS Shakti, and also, the Kamov-28 and Chetak helicopters. The U.S. will be participating with its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS George Washington, the Ticonderoga-class destroyer USS Shiloh, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer John S McCain, and the nuclear submarine USS Columbus. The United States will also use the P-3 Orion aircraft and MH-60R helicopters for the naval games. Japan has sent two destroyers, the JS Kurama and the JS Ashigara, as well as the US-2i ShinMaywa amphibious aircraft, which Japan has offered to sell to India. Last week, India participated in naval exercises with the Russian Navy in Vladivostok, Russia.
Modi: First PM to visit Nepal in 17 years
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit neighboring country Nepal on a two-day official trip starting on August 3, according to media reports on Thursday (Times of India, Economic Times, NDTV). Modi's trip to Nepal will mark the first stand-alone bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister in 17 years. Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had invited Modi to visit Nepal during Modi's swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi in May.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will arrive in Nepal on Friday to prepare for Modi's visit next month. After a gap of 23 years, India and Nepal will hold a Joint Commission meeting to discuss key political, security, and border issues. Swaraj will head the commission with her Nepalese counterpart.
-- Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan
Electricity fails in Karachi
Electricity went out across Karachi and other parts of southern Sindh province on Friday as a result of a power grid failure (Dawn). The grid failure also interrupted Karachi's water supply by taking water pumping stations off line. Dr Ishratul Ebad -- the governor of Sindh -- said that emergency efforts would be taken to restore power.
Pakistan gives army control over capital
On Friday Pakistan's interior ministry invoked Article 245 of Pakistan's constitution to give its army control over the law and order situation in Islamabad for three months (ET, Dawn). The ministry stated it was responding to information regarding potential terrorist attacks.
Two policemen killed in Quetta
On Friday, militants killed two policemen in Quetta, the capital of Balochistanprovince (ET, Dawn). The attackers escaped and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Last Friday, a Frontier Corps member was injured by a roadside bomb near Quetta.
Militants kill 14 Shiites
Militants killed 14 Hazara Shiites after stopping buses traveling in western Afghanistan, identifying passengers who were Shi'a, and shooting them on the side of the road (AP, Pajhwok, TOLO News, RFE/RL). The dead included three women and a child. According to Afghan officials the attackers were members of the Taliban. However, the Taliban has not claimed the attack.
Massound rejects coalition government
Ahmad Zia Massoud -- a former Afghan vice president and Ashraf Ghani supporter -- rejected the establishment of a coalition government (Pajhwok, TOLO News). Massoud stated: "We categorically reject a coalition government and foreign pressures for this are an insult to the Afghans' votes." Massoud sought to distinguish a coalition government from the national unity government mentioned in the agreement -- brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to end Afghanistan's electoral crisis -- stating: "Our team is supportive of national unity. Our rivals should also strive for national representation if they truly want Afghanistan's unity."
Gaza aid check delivered
On Thursday Afghanistan's deputy Foreign Minister Ershad Ahmadi handed a $500,000 check to Walid Abu Ali, the non-resident Palestinian ambassador, to support Gaza (Pajhwok). The money had been promised earlier this week, and on Wednesday Afghan President Hamid Karzai had sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, stating: "With deep shock, I have learnt of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing hundreds of civilians and displacing thousands." The promise of aid met with a mixed response, as some questioned the wisdom of using Afghanistan's budget abroad rather than at home.
Edited by Peter Bergen
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