The South Asia Channel

Modi Condemns Pakistan's 'Proxy War'; Police Officer Deaths Rise in Karachi; Afghan Taliban Kill 20 Civilians Over Tax

India

PM Modi visits Kargil; condemns Pakistan's proxy war

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kargil and Leh in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on Tuesday, his second visit to J&K in two months (Indian Express, NDTV, Hindustan Times). While addressing troops of the Indian Army and the Air Force in Leh, Modi strongly condemned Pakistan, and said the neighboring country "has lost the strength to fight a conventional war, but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism."

Dressed in traditional Ladakhi clothes, Modi said in Leh: "There was a time when Prime Ministers never visited this state. I have come here two times already, your love has drawn me here." Modi said further that his three-pronged development plan for the region was about three P's: "Prakash (electricity), Paryavaran (environment), and Paryatan (tourism)."

As the first Indian prime minister to visit the volatile Kargil region since the war in 1999, Modi inaugurated a 44-megawatt Chutak power station in Kargil and promised industrial development of the area. Modi also praised the locals and said: "The people of Kargil are very patriotic and it is inspiring for the entire country." The Kargil war in 1999 was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan, which began after Pakistani soldiers infiltrated the Indian side of the LoC, a military boundary between the Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir. Although New Delhi and Islamabad agreed to a truce in 2003, ceasefire violations have continued across the borders.

Sonia Gandhi: increase in communal violence under Modi

In strong criticism of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said on Tuesday that there had been an increase in communal violence in the country since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in May (Hindustan Times, IBNLive). While addressing Congress leaders in the southern state of Kerala, Gandhi said further that the BJP government's main agenda was to divide the people. Gandhi said: "During UPA [United Progressive Alliance] 1 and 2, there were hardly such instances. But in a very short span we have had nothing less than 600 incidents of communal violence in UP [Uttar Pradesh] and perhaps as many in Maharashtra. Why suddenly all these communal instances after the BJP came to power? These instances are deliberately created to divide our society on religious lines. We must condemn this."

Gandhi also criticized the Modi government for not expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people over Israel's assault on Gaza, and said: "this has muted the country's response to the suffering people and betrayed its long tradition of solidarity with the people in Palestine and the vision of two states existing side-by-side in peace and harmony." Last week, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had demanded a discussion over the communal violence in Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament).

Indian minister claims Yale ‘degree;' creates Twitter storm

Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani said her statement regarding her participation at Yale University's leadership program had been "misconstrued" on Monday, a day after claiming she had a "degree from Yale University" (Washington Post, Indian Express, NDTV, Economic Times). Irani tweeted on Monday: "Unfortunate that the statement re my participation in a leadership programme and certificate thereafter was misconstrued." At an event on Saturday Irani had said: "In that kitty of mine where people call me 'anpadh' (illiterate) I do have a degree from Yale University as well which I can bring out and show how Yale celebrated my leadership capacities."

Irani, the youngest cabinet minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, has been criticized for being the education minister even though she does not have a college degree. Irani has had to defend her academic background ever since she took office in May because of contradictory declarations about her education qualifications in her election affidavits in 2004 and 2014.

?Despite her clarification on Monday, Irani's statement created a storm on twitter. Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted: "And our HRD minister forgot to mention her Yale degree in her affidavit this time. But all her affidavits have had different degrees, sigh." A post from "God" retweeted several times said: "Congratulations to Smriti Irani on Graduating from Yale in the exact same amount of time it took Me to Create the World." Another post said: "2 more days at Yale, You could've been Dr. Smriti Irani :P."

-- Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan

Pakistan

Police officer killings in Karachi on the rise

The New York Times' Zia ur-Rehman and Declan Walsh reported on Monday that Karachi's police force, which recently logged its 102nd officer death, is on track to exceed the 2013 death toll of 166 police deaths (NYT). They attribute many of the deaths to a growing Taliban presence in the city and Pakistani officials say that the guerilla war that was once fought only in northwestern Pakistan is now seeping into Karachi. "It's a very serious threat," said Ghulam Qadir Thebo, the Karachi police chief. "The Taliban are well trained and well organized, with a network that is linked to global jihad."

Stock market drops

On Tuesday, Pakistani stocks rose above 350 points to settle at the Karach Stock Exchange (KSE) benchmark 100-share index at 28, 425 (Dawn). Earlier that same day, stocks fell over 450 points in the first twelve minutes of the morning trading session.  The market suffered its largest ever drop in a single day in share prices on Monday, as investors panicked about the political marches by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri on Islamabad planned for August 14.

Will Pakistan censor the kiss?

Pakistan's sweetheart (and most highly paid actress) Humaima Malik, worries that her native country won't be very receptive to her latest on-screen romance (BBC). Starring in her first Bollywood role, she will be seen on screen locking lips with Indian co-star Emraan Hashmi (who is known as the ‘serial kisser' in Bollywood)(NDTV). Until recently, all kisses were censored in Pakistani cinema, but the fact that the object of her affection is Indian adds to the shock value. Many Pakistani actresses who have sought fame in Bollywood have seen backlash at home in conservative Pakistan.

Afghanistan

Afghan Taliban kill civilians over ‘war tax'

Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, Kundex police spokesman, said that Taliban militants killed 20 civilians who refused to pay a "war tax" in northern Kunduz province on August 11 (RFE/RL). The Taliban shot and wounded 10 others for refusing to pay that same day. According to a Defense Ministry statement, government troops launched military operations against militants across the country on Monday and Hussaini said 16 militants were killed in these operations.

Attack kills NATO soldier

A NATO service member died in an attack in eastern Afghanistan while a roadside bombing killed three Afghan policemen in the south on Tuesday, Afghanistan officials said (AP). The U.S.-led military alliance gave no further details about the death of the service member, but the death brings the number of NATO service members who have died in Afghanistan so far this year to 51, including 38 Americans.

-- Emily Schneider

Edited by Peter Bergen

ROUF BHAT/AFP/Getty Images