The South Asia Channel

Karzai Preps for Inauguration; Mumbai Boy Suspected of Joining IS Dead; British Police Arrest Man in Farooq Investigation


Karzai prepares for inauguration

It might seem optimistic to think that, in less than one week, the audit of the Afghan presidential run-off election will be completed and both candidates will have accepted the final results. But that has not stopped President Hamid Karzai from fixing September 2 as the inauguration date or appointing a committee to begin making preparations for the event (RFE/RL). The inauguration planning commission met on Monday, according to their website, and hashed out details like desigining invitations and decorating the Salam Khana palace in Kabul, where the ceremony will take place. Ghulam Nabi Farahi, the deputy minister of information and culture, was tasked with forming a media center and hiring translators for the expected dozens of foreign dignitaries who will attend the swearing-in ceremony. The presidential palaces said in a statement that it will be "totally ready" for the inauguration, which the commission promises will be "glorious."

IECC begins investigating complaints

Afghanistan's Independent Electoral Complaint Commission began investigating complaints from the presidential run-off election at an open hearing in Kabul on Thursday (Pajhwok). Nadir Mohseni, IECC spokesman, told reporters that the team led by Ashraf Ghani had submitted 25 complaints, but that no complaints had so far been received from Abdullah Abdullah's team. Most of the complaints focus on the Independent Election Commission's decision to invalidate 72 ballot boxes. Meanwhile, the audit process is continuing without either candidate after Abdullah withdrew earlier this week and the U.N. then asked Ghani to also withdraw his observers. Nicholas Haysom, U.N. Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, said: "The vote invalidation process should not be delayed," adding, "The audit is in the final stages, so the process will move forward without the reps of either camp" (TOLO).  However, he also noted that the U.N. is committed to addressing the matters raised by both electoral teams as they continue the audit.

-- Emily Schneider


Mumbai boy suspected of joining ISIS dead

Arif Ejaz Majeed, one of the four young Muslim boys from the outskirts of Mumbai, located in the western state of Maharashtra, who were thought to have joined insurgents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) -- a Sunni extremist group, which now calls itself the Islamic State -- was allegedly killed while fighting in Iraq, according to media reports on Wednesday (Times of India, NDTV, Indian Express). Majeed, an engineering student, traveled to Iraq on May 23 with three other friends on a religious pilgrimage, but never returned. After reaching Iraq, Majeed, in a letter to his parents, reportedly said he was joining the battle to defend Islam. In July, Majeed's father, a doctor, met Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking action against the people who had radicalized his son.

Pakistan violates ceasefire hours after flag meeting

Pakistani Rangers fired up on Indian Border Security Forces outposts along the international border in the Jammu district -- located in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir -- on Thursday, just hours after India and Pakistan held a flag meeting to defuse tensions in the region (NDTV, Indian Express). While both India and Pakistan blamed each other for the unprovoked firing at the flag meeting, both sides agreed on the need to maintain peace along the border.

The Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council passed a unanimous resolution urging the Indian central government to resume talks with Pakistan on Thursday (DNA). The resolution said: "The House resolves that the state government must urge the Union government to resume process of Indo-Pak dialogue to ensure peace and stability in the sub-continent in general and state of Jammu and Kashmir in particular" (The Hindu). Recently, the Indian government cancelled foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan, after Abdul Basit, Pakistan's High Commissioner to India, met with Kashmiri separatists. Also, there have been numerous ceasefire violations across the border in recent months. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the two countries were partitioned in 1947, and two of them were over Kashmir. Both countries have claimed Kashmir in its entirety, and the dispute has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for more than 60 years.

Indian SC passes onus to PM to disqualify criminal MPs

The Indian Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment on Wednesday, refused to recognize pending criminal cases against members of Parliament (MPs) as a disqualification for their appointment as ministers (Times of India, Indian Express). Drawing a line between judicial review and executive discretion, the Supreme Court said further that the prime minister was expected under constitutional morality not to appoint ministers with criminal backgrounds.

The bench said further: "He [the prime minister] has to bear in mind that unwarranted elements or persons who are facing charge in certain category of offences may thwart or hinder the canons of constitutional morality or principles of good governance and eventually diminish the constitutional trust" (Livemint). A five-judge constitution bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India, gave a 123-page verdict in response to a public interest litigation case filed against the appointment of ministers involved in serious crimes.

Presently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet has ministers with criminal cases lodged against them. In response to the verdict, Congress party spokesman Rajeev Gowda said: "These observations put the onus on PM Modi to explain to the nation why he continues to have in his cabinet 14 ministers who are facing serious charges against them" (Times of India).

-- Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan


Bonus Read: "Pakistan on the Brink, Again," Shuja Nawaz (SouthAsia).

British police arrest man in Imran Farooq's murder investigation

Police in Britain told reporters on Wednesday that they had arrested a 30-year-old man in connection with the murder of Pakistani politician Imran Farooq, who was stabbed to death in 2010 in northwest London (ET, NYT).  This is the second arrest in connection with the case: In June 2013, British police detained a man at Heathrow Airport as he arrived on a flight from Canada. The police also announced the names of two men they think are linked to Farooq's death and are believed to be in Pakistan. The British investigation of the case has plunged Farooq's party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, into turmoil. For example, in June, the investigation led to the arrest in London of party leader, Altaf Hussain, on money laundering charges.

Khan to announce his next move

Pakistani politician Imran Khan said he would announce the future course of action on Thursday as he addressed protestors in Islamabad (Dawn). Although there was another round of negotiations on Wednesday between Khan's party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and the government, no compromise was reached (ET). Khan's unwillingness to demand anything less than the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made negotiations tricky, and it seems his supporters are growing weary after fourteen days of protests.

--Emily Schneider

Edited by Peter Bergen