The South Asia Channel

AQAP Sides With ISIS; Karzai Calls for End to Impasse; Police Arrest 150 in Islamabad; India Cancels Talks with Pakistan


Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) published a statement on its website on August 14 announcing its support for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) (Reuters). After declaring AQAP's solidarity with their "Muslim brothers in Iraq against the crusade," AQAP advised ISIS to be wary of drones. The statement read: "Based on our experience with drones, we advise our brothers in Iraq to be cautious about spies among them because they are a key factor in setting goals; be cautious about dealing with cell phones and internet networks; do not gather in large numbers or move in large convoys; spread in farms or hide under trees in the case of loud humming of warplanes; and dig sophisticated trenches because they reduce the impact of shelling" (YemenTimes).  According to New America data, U.S. drone strikes in Yemen have killed between 61 and 96 militants in Yemen this year alone -- the majority of them members of AQAP (NewAmerica).


Bonus read: "For middle-class Kabul district, insurgency comes home," Erin Cunningham (Post).

Karzai calls for an end to the impasse

In a speech marking Afghanistan's Independence Day in Kabul on Tuesday, outgoing President Hamid Karzai called on the country's presidential candidates -- Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah -- to end the ongoing dispute over election results (Pajhwok, RFE/RL). Karzai said he wants the candidates to agree on an "inclusive government in which nobody is left out" and to work together to save the country from violence and economic decline. Both Abdullah and Ghani participated in the ceremony that marked the country's 95th independence day. Bonus read: "Afghanistan's Missing Political Will," Moh. Sayed Madadi (SouthAsia).

‘Rumors' of an interim government

Meanwhile, a group of powerful Afghan government ministers and officials are threatening to seize power if the election impasse is not resolved soon, Matthew Rosenberg reported in the New York Times on Monday (NYT). The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they believed they would have the backing of Afghanistan's army, police, and intelligence corps -- although no concrete plans are in place. The interim government would be run by committee and representatives of the two presidential candidates, Abdullah and Ghani, would be asked to join, even though both candidates have dismissed the idea of an interim government. However, Rosenberg notes that many Afghans would see the move as a power grab by the men who currently surround Karzai. Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Karzai, dismissed the idea of an interim government as "rumors."


Police arrest 150 protestors

Police in Pakistan say they arrested some 150 activists following the fifth day of mass demonstrations in Islamabad against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (RFE/RL). Opposition leader Imran Khan and conservative Islamist cleric Tahir al Qadri have led twin protests from Lahore to Islamabad to bring down Sharif's government, which they view as corrupt and illegitimate. Khan threatened to lead protestors into Islamabad's "red zone," where parliament, government buildings, and embassies are located, as his 48-hour deadline for the government to step down ends. The area had been cordoned off with container cars and barbed wire, and is protected by riot police and paramilitary forces.

Imran Khan's party to resign all Parliamentary seats

Khan's political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, has decided to resign all of its seats in the country's national assembly, according to an announcement by Shah Memood Qureshi, the party's deputy leader (Dawn, RFE/RL). The decision coincides with Imran Khan's threat to lead the party's thousands of supporters into the "red zone" in an effort to force the Sharif government to step down.

-- Emily Schneider


India takes tough stand; cancels talks with Pakistan

Indian ?Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government cancelled foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit met with Kashmiri separatists on Monday, ahead of ?a diplomatic meeting ?scheduled to take place in Islamabad on August 25? between Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and her Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry (Economic Times, BBC, Financial Express, Livemint, NDTV).

In response to the cancellation, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said meetings with the All Parties Hurriyat Conference? -- a political front seeking the right of self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) -- were a "longstanding practice" ahead of any India-Pakistan diplomatic talks, and? that the cancellation of the meeting was a "setback to the efforts by our leadership to promote good neighbourly relations with India."  

Prior to the meeting with the ?Kashmiri separatists, Singh had phoned Basit?, telling him to "talk to separatists or talk to us," according to Syed Akbaruddin, ?a spokesman for the Indian foreign ministry. Akbaruddin also said: "At a time when serious initiatives were being undertaken by the government of India to move bilateral ties forward, including towards the resumption of a regular dialogue process, the invitation to so-called leaders of the Hurriyat by Pakistan's high commissioner does indeed raise questions about Pakistan's sincerity."

India's ?Congress party ?attacked the Modi government's decision. Congress leader Manish Tewari said the government was in a "sonorous slumber" over the Pakistan issue, and has "completely walked itself into a corner" on Pakistan policies. U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters: "It is unfortunate that planned talks between India and Pakistan have fallen through," and said further that the United States' policy on Kashmir has not changed. "We continue to believe that the pace and the scope and character of any discussions on Kashmir are for India and Pakistan to determine between them. That hasn't changed and that will remain our position going forward."

Indian Army Chief dismisses reports of Chinese incursions

An Indian Border Patrol  noticed Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops enter into Indian territory on Monday? in the Burtse area in Ladakh, located in ?J&K, according to various sources (Livemint, NDTV, Economic Times). The PLA were 15 to 18 miles from the perceived Line of Actual Control (LAC), and held up flags that read: "This is Chinese territory, go back." The Burtse area has an altitude of 17,000 feet.

India's Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, however, dismissed the reports on Tuesday. Udhampur-based Army spokesman Col. S. D. Goswami also denied that any such incident had taken place, and said: "There are areas along the border where India and China have differing perception of LAC. Due to both sides undertaking patrolling up to their respective perception of the LAC, transgressions do occur."

Marriage website for graduates from prestigious schools

A new website -- -- allows people? in India to seek matrimonial partners from specific alma maters, according to the Wall Street Journal on Monday (WSJ). The name of the website includes India's most prestigious academic institutions, the Indian Institute of Technology? (IIT) and the Indian Institute of Management  (IIM)?, and "shaadi," which means marriage in Hindi?.? Although the site's name states two prestigious schools, the membership is not limited to these schools. ?
According to the site, criteria for male membership is limited to "alumni of Indian and international premier institutions" in fields like engineering, law, and medicine, while the criteria for women membership is a degree from ?a ?school with a "country-wide" reputation.

Commenting on the differing entry requirements for men and women, namely the higher bar for educational attainment by men over women, the site's founder Ajay Gupta said: "It is not a chauvinistic discrimination, but some highly-educated men, in terms of practicality, like women who also consider taking care of the home a task as good as a job."

-- Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan

Edited by Peter Bergen