Afghanistan commander defects, joins group linked to Taleban

Updated 13 November 2013
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Afghanistan commander defects, joins group linked to Taleban

KUNAR, Afghanistan: An Afghan army special forces commander has defected to an insurgent group allied with the Taleban in a Humvee truck packed with his team’s guns and high-tech equipment, officials in the eastern Kunar province said on Sunday.
Monsif Khan, who raided the supplies of his 20-man team in Kunar’s capital Asadabad over the Eid Al-Adha religious holiday, is the first special forces commander to switch sides, joining the Hezb-e-Islami organization.
“He sent some of his comrades on leave and paid others to go out sightseeing, and then escaped with up to 30 guns, night-vision goggles, binoculars and a Humvee,” said Shuja ul-Mulkh Jalala, the governor of Kunar.
Zubair Sediqi, a spokesman for Hezb-e-Islami, confirmed that Khan had joined the group, saying he had brought 15 guns and high-tech equipment.
The NATO-led coalition is grappling with a rise in “insider attacks” by Afghan soldiers who turn on their allies, undermining trust and efficiency.
It has reported four lethal incidents over the past month taking the total number this year to 10, according to a Reuters tally.
Kunar, like other provinces along the border with Pakistan, is among the more insecure and volatile parts of Afghanistan.
Local security forces have started a manhunt for the commander and tribal elders have promised to help.
“We are trying our best to use elders’ influence in that area to bring back all equipment,” Jalala said.
A record number of insider attacks — accounting for about one in every five coalition combat deaths — last year prompted the coalition to briefly suspend all joint activities and take steps to curb interaction between foreign and Afghan troops.
That has cut down the number of incidents, but some soldiers say the measures have further eroded the trust painstakingly nurtured between the allies over more than 12 years of war.
All entrants to the Afghan National Security Force have to pass an eight step vetting process, which includes providing identification cards, letters of recommendation by village or district elders and undergoing tests.


Indian minister steps up calls to deport illegal immigrants

Updated 23 min 3 sec ago
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Indian minister steps up calls to deport illegal immigrants

  • National Register of Citizenship will be extended across country, says Amit Shah

NEW DELHI: New Delhi will deport all illegal immigrants found in the country, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah told Parliament on Wednesday.

The warning signaled a heightening of a campaign that some critics say is “aimed at alienating the Muslim minority.”

The minister’s statement comes as the state of Assam is set to release its final list of the National Register of Citizenship (NRC), an exercise to identify illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The Supreme Court demanded that the NRC should submit its report at the end of this month.

Of the state’s 31 million residents, almost 4 million were missing from the NRC’s report last year. Most were poor Muslims. Illegal immigration was a core election issue for the ruling right-wing party Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)

“The government will identify illegal immigrants living in every inch of the country’s soil and will deport them in line with international law,” said Shah.

He added that the NRC would be extended across the country. 

Shah, a Hindu hard-liner and the second most powerful figure in the Narendra Modi government, has been belligerently opposed to illegal Muslim immigrants, who he recently described as “termites.”

Critics have questioned the need for the NRC throughout the country.

The BJP does not want to clarify what it truly means because that is part of their politics, but the opposition leaders are also silent.

Hilal Ahmad, Academic

“This is a witch hunt of the minority under the false concern of illegal immigration,” said SubHajjit Naskar of Jadavpur University.

“The way the NRC is being implemented in Assam is damaging for our secular and democratic values.”

Naskar told Arab News: “The register is part of the broader majoritarian agenda to make India a Hindu state where minority Muslims will be treated as second class citizens.” 

Dr. Hilal Ahmad, associate professor at the Center for the Study of Developing Societies, said: “The substantial part of Shah’s statement is that NRC is not entirely about Muslims. It also claims that it’s an institutional process with legal support and it’s not at all concerned with Muslims.”

Ahmad added: “The BJP does not want to clarify what it truly means because that is part of their politics, but the opposition leaders are also silent. They are also trying to consolidate the impression that the NRC is anti-Muslim.”

Suhas Chakma, director of the Rights and Risks Analysis Group, said that “Shah’s plans are not practical.”

“How you are going to identify illegal migrants? Have you spoken to Bangladesh about the deportation? What the BJP government is trying to do is not implementable. It is a recipe for chaos,” said Chakma.

Sabber Ahmad, from the Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, a New Delhi-based group serving the persecuted minority community from Myanmar, said the “Indian government’s stance on illegal migrants creates panic among the small Rohingya community living here.”

“I fled Myanmar in 2012 and India gave me a new lease of life. New Dehli should show some humanity in dealing with people like us,” Ahmad told Arab News.

“India has a history of sheltering persecuted minorities from around the world. They must continue this proud tradition,” Ahmad added.