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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 14, No. 18, November 2, 2015

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal


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Sectarian Fire
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

At least 27 persons including 13 children were killed and 36 were injured in a suicide blast targetting a 9th Muharram (Shia mourning period) procession near a park in the Lashari area of Jacobabad District in Sindh in the evening of October 23, 2015. The blast took place at about 7:30 pm when a Muharram procession, which started from the Dargah Hajan Shah, was passing through the Lashari Muhalla (neighbourhood).

A day earlier, on October 22, 10 Shias were killed while several others received injuries when a blast ripped through an Imambargah (Shia place of worship) in the Bhaag area of Bolan District in Balochistan. The attack took place as Shias gathered at the mosque to observe Muharram. Responsibility was claimed by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). Sindh Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) official Raja Umer Khattab disclosed the LeJ had a strong network in bordering areas with Balochistan and might have been operating from there: “The LeJ network remains intact in bordering areas of Sindh-Balochistan despite arrests and killings of several militants of the group.”

LeJ had suffered major setbacks recently with the killing of top leaders such as Usman Kurd, the Balochistan chapter ‘chief’ on February 15, 2015, and LeJ ‘chief’ Malik Ishaq in the Muzaffargarh District of Punjab on July 29, 2015. The suicide bombings on ‘soft targets’ in Jacobabad and Bolan indicate LeJ efforts to reassert itself after the recent setbacks.  

The Jacobabad and Bolan attacks are just a reminder of rampant sectarianism in Pakistan. The primary player, here, has been LeJ, which was formed in 1996, when it formally separated from Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), which is now known as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ). The LeJ aims to transform Pakistan into a Sunni state, primarily through violence. According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 4,174 persons have been killed and another 7,240 injured in 1,431 incidents of sectarian violence since 2001. Though there has been a decreasing trend in the number of incidents in recent years, LeJ’s capacity to execute such violence remains intact. 2015 recorded 49 incidents, a drop of 46.73 per cent against the 92 incidents in 2014; fatalities, however, increased 20.52 per cent, from 210 in 2014 to 251 in 2015.

Sectarian violence 2001-2015
































Source: SATP, *Data till November 1, 2015

The elimination of top ranking LeJ leaders has clearly not deterred the group, as 2015 has witnessed some of the gravest sectarian attacks, most prominently including, in addition to the Jacobabad and Bolan attacks:

May 13, 2015: At least 45 Ismaili Shias were killed and 24 were injured when unidentified militants opened fire on their Bus in Safora Chowrangi area near Dow Medical College in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town of Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh.

February 13, 2015: At least 22 Shias were killed and another 50 were injured during a gun and bomb attack at an Imambargah in the Phase-5 locality of the Hayatabad area in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) when suicide attackers and gunmen – dressed in Police uniforms – attacked worshippers offering Friday prayers.

January 30, 2015: At least 61 Shias were killed and 50 were injured in a bomb explosion at Karbala Maula Imambargah in the Lakhi Dar area of Shikarpur District, Sindh. 

Sectarian strife has afflicted Pakistan virtually from the moment of its birth, but has escalated continuously since 1979, with the then President General Zia-ul-Haq’s ‘Islamicisation’ of Pakistani politics. Shias resisted this process as the ‘Sunnification’ of Pakistan, since most of the laws and regulations introduced were based on Sunni Fiqh (Jurisprudence). Notably, in July 1980, 25,000 Shias gathered in Islamabad to protest the Islamicisation laws. But the more the Shias protested, the more were they targeted, and the strife widened. The violence worsened after September 11, 2001, and the expulsion of the Taliban from Afghanistan, leading then President Pervez Musharraf to ban some 104 terrorist and religio-extremist groups, including the LeJ and SSP.

The horror of sectarian violence increases especially when the month of Muharram approaches each year. Muharram includes a ten day period of mourning observed by the Shias at the death of the family of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet, at the battle of Karbala in 680 AD, at the hands of the Umayyad Caliphate.

Purportedly, the Federal and provincial Governments in Pakistan had made ‘fool proof security arrangements’ for Muharram this year. The Sindh Government had imposed a ban on pillion riding in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana. Cell phone services had been suspended in major cities, including Karachi, as a security measure during the observance of Muharram. The Sindh Government had allocated more than PKR 100 million for overall security during the month. A total of 27,942 personnel had been deployed in Karachi alone. Of these, 18,557 were in static deployments, 1,661 were located at pickets, 5,724 on Police vans, and 2,000 as a Reserve Force in the metropolis. Similarly, 6,294 Policemen had been deployed in the Hyderabad range; 2,276 in Mirpurkhas; 7,623 in Benazirabad; 9,488 in Sukkur; and 10,791 in the Larkana Range. The Sindh Government had declared 1,229 majalis (religious gatherings), 384 matmi (mourning) processions and 188 tazia (replica’s of Imam Hussain’s tomb) processions, as ‘most sensitive’ all over the Province, and announced a three layer security cordon for processions and majalis.

Among the 36 Districts of Punjab, 12 Districts – Lahore, Rawalpindi, Jhang, Rahimyar Khan, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Bhakkar, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalnagar, Chakwal and Pakpattan – were also declared “most sensitive”.

A ‘comprehensive security plan’ had also been prepared for Imambargahs and Ashura (the 10th Day of Muharram, on which Imam Hussain was killed) processions in Balochistan and its capital Quetta. Balochistan has experienced continuous violence and targeted killings of Shia Hazaras. Speaking at a Press Conference last week, Imtiaz Shah, Deputy Inspector General, Quetta, told the media that over 5,000 security personnel, including those from the Frontier Corps and three battalions of the Army, were deployed around Imambargahs and along the routes of mourning processions. Another three Army battalions would remain on stand-by. Senior Police officers aboard two helicopters would monitor the main Muharram processions on the 9th and 10th day of mourning, while around 2,500 Policemen and personnel of law-enforcement agencies had already been deployed at 56 Imambargahs and another 14 places where women’s Majalis are held. 23 Imambargahs in the city had been declared ‘very sensitive’.

Similarly, the KP Police had declared Peshawar, Hangu, Kohat and Dera Ismail Khan as the most sensitive Districts for Muharram. According to a statement issued by the Police, 429 Muharram processions were to be taken out in the Province, and 940 majalis were authorized during the month. The Police had identified 129 ‘trouble spots’ on procession routes across the Province. The provincial capital has 67 Imambargahs, from where 121 processions were to be taken out on the 9th and 10th of Muharram.

Despite claims of all these ‘fool proof’ arrangements, sectarian terrorists have succeeded in engineering two major strikes.

At least part of the problem has been the long standing support sectarian formations have received from the larger Sunni community and from state agencies. Malik Ishaq, the LeJ chief, before his killing on July 29, 2015, had benefited from the Punjab Government’s financial assistance ever since Shahbaz Sharif took charge as Chief Minister of the Province in 2008. Malik Ishaq also allegedly received a monthly stipend from the Punjab Government during his imprisonment. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah confirmed the disbursement but clarified that it was given to Ishaq’s family, and not to him, as per Court orders. Upon further investigation, however, it was discovered that there was no such Court order pertaining to the matter. No such disbursement was on record during President Musharraf’s tenure.

Meanwhile, on September 20, 2015, the Sindh Government received details about 62 banned sectarian organisations from Federal authorities. Bank accounts of 13 of these had been frozen and offices of just nine had been sealed. In a report sent to the Chief Minister Office, Officials in Interior Ministry (MoI) mentioned that the Ministry had sent some specific details of the organisations to the Province for further action. They stated that the MoI had also sent category-wise sketch details of the banned groups. Forty-three such organisations were listed in the ‘A’ category, 12 in the ‘B’ category and seven others in the ‘C’ category. Referring to the report, the officials added that 17 organisations among the 43 had been categorised under ‘anti-state terrorism (armed and anti-state)’. However, the bank accounts of just one of these had been frozen.

Meanwhile, officials disclosed, intelligence agencies informed MoI about the re-emergence of 13 banned groups in Sindh. Five such groups — the most in a District in Sindh — had re-emerged in Mirpurkhas alone. Three each were documented to have resurfaced in Hyderabad and Korangi, and two in Karachi West.

The failure of the state to rein in sectarian terrorist formations is not surprising. Pakistan has long supported Sunni sectarian and terrorist groups as instruments, both, of foreign policy and of domestic political management. Efforts by state agencies to rein in some of these groups remain selective and, at best, only partly effective. Sunni groups with ties to state agencies continue to enjoy substantial freedom of operation to act across national borders, as well as at least a wink and a nod for some of their domestic (sectarian) activities.

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Meghalaya: Vulnerabilities Persist
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On October 26, 2015, the body of Rezaul Parvez, a student of the CV Raman Junior College in Nagaon town, was recovered by Police at Nongpoh in the Ri Bhoi District of Meghalaya. He had been abducted on October 21, from a private hostel at Nagaon Aminpatti (Assam) and is believed to have been killed by his abductors.

On October 24, 2015, the dead bodies of Assistant Central Intelligence Officer (ACIO) of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Bikash Kumar Singh (32) and cloth merchant Kamal Saha, were recovered in a decomposed state, from a village in Meghalaya's South Garo Hills District. They had been abducted by A'chik Songna An'pachakgipa Kotok (ASAK) militants at gunpoint between Ampangre and Panda Reserve Forest on September 23, while they were travelling in a public vehicle towards Baghmara, the District headquarters of South Garo Hills, from Rongara.

On October 19, Fakrul Islam (32), a resident of Krishnai Badwan in the neighbouring Assam State, was killed by suspected militants in Bajengdoba village in the North Garo Hills District of Meghalaya. Islam’s body was recovered in the Bajengdoba Police Station jurisdiction in East Garo Hills District.

On October 7, two suspected members of a ‘kidnappers’ gang’ were killed by Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants in the Chi A’ding area and their bodies were dumped on the new highway road connecting Jengjal with Williamnagar in East Garo Hills District.

On October 1, suspected GNLA militants killed two Policemen near a hanging bridge at Kusumkolgre in Williamnagar of East Garo Hills District. The two Constables, Helpingstone Nongkseh, and Kundan Dalu, both 24, in civilian clothes, were travelling from the Bolkingre camp to Williamnagar on a motorcycle around 3 pm when the militants opened fire, killing them on the spot.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Meghalaya has recorded at least 53 militancy-linked fatalities, including 16 civilians, seven Security Forces (SFs) personnel and 30 militants, as of November 1, 2015, against 69 such fatalities, including 20 civilians, four SF personnel and 45 militants, during the corresponding period of 2014. The fatalities for the whole of 2014 stood at 76, including 23 civilians, six SF personnel and 47 militants. Though two months remain in 2015, SF fatalities this year have already crossed last year’s total. Insurgency related data for 1992-2015 indicates an interesting trend: between 2003 and 2012, SF fatalities exceeded five only once, in 2011 [at 10], while fatalities over the past three years [2013-15] have consistently remained above five.

According to the State Police, during Operation Hill Storm 2, the anti-insurgency operation conducted between April 2 and June 6, 2015, at least 17 militants were killed, including seven cadres of GNLA, four cadres of A'chik Matgrik Elite Force (AMEF), two cadres of ASAK, and one cadre each of the Independent faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA-I) and Liberation of Achik Elite Force (LAEF). The group affiliation of the remaining two was not known.

In Operation Hill Storm 1, [conducted between July 7, 2014, and December 31, 2014, SFs had killed 16 militants [seven GNLA, five ASAK, two United A’chik Liberation Army (UALA), and one each of ULFA-I and LAEF]. Another 24 militants were injured during the operation. The official statement had also disclosed that six Policemen were killed and another 10 SF personnel were injured during this period.

The successful beating back of the insurgents by the SFs in Operations Hill Storm 1 and 2 did raise hopes of larger peace in the State. However, militants appear to have retained a measure of disruptive dominance in parts of the State. In a statement issued to the media on August 9, 2015, GNLA declared that its team of ‘Eagle Hunters’ [a seven-member ‘special operation team’] was specifically formed to carry out attacks on Police personnel anytime anywhere: “Our Eagle Hunters team will shoot Police personnel dead on the spot no matter how many Police personnel are there at the time of the incident.” Evidently, the militants are attempting to salvage what they can of their abduction and extortion business in the face of the SFs operations in their erstwhile areas of dominance.

Abduction-for ransom has long been rampant, especially in the Garo Hills Region. These incidents are the handiwork of not only the GNLA, but all other militant outfits operating in Meghalaya, including ASAK and AMEF. According to SATP data, in the current year, until November 1, 2015, at least 40 incidents of abduction, in which 64 persons were abducted, have been reported, as compared to 39 such incidents resulting in 51 abductions during the corresponding period of 2014. Reported incidents are likely to be a fraction of the actual incidence of such crimes, as families of victims often settle with the abductors without reporting to the Police.

In the latest of a series of such incidents, on October 27, 2015, GNLA militants abducted the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Chokpot region in South Garo Hills District, near Deku Deganggre. Jude Rangku T. Sangma, a 2010 Meghalaya Civil Service batch officer, had left the Chokpot Block Office around 4:30 pm, enroute to Tura Town, and had stopped over at a funeral of a relative in Deku Deganggre village, 25 kilometres from Chokpot town. Police sources revealed that GNLA ‘commander’ Hedeo Ch Momin alias Karak was the ‘mastermind’ behind this abduction. Sangma is still to be traced and his abductors have threatened to execute him if counter-insurgency operations in the Garo Hills are not stopped.

According to the Police, on October 7, 2015, during an operation to rescue Waseem Ahmed (25), an engineer with the BSC C&C Construction Company who was abducted on September 29, 2015, SF personnel came across a new militant outfit, the United Garo Security Force (UGSF). Meghalaya Police launched a coordinated rescue operation to mount pressure on the UGSF militants to release Ahmed, which also led to the arrest of six UGSF militants. Police however suspect that Ahmed's kidnappers belonged to the A'chik National Liberation Army (ANLA) , operating under the cover of UGSF.

The ‘business’ has also provoked jealous turf wars. GNLA, the most lethal group in the State, thus executed two suspected members of a ‘kidnappers’ gang’ on October 7, 2015, for their suspected involvement in a string of cases in the Chi A’ding area, dumping their bodies on the road connecting Jengjal with Williamnagar in East Garo Hills District. Earlier, on February 3, 2015, suspected GNLA militants attacked Bolmoram Agalgre village after learning about the presence of cadres of its rival breakaway faction ASAK. A teenage girl, Manchi Ch Marak, and an unidentified ASAK militant were killed in the gun battle that followed, and one ASAK cadre was injured.

According to the latest Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) figures, however, the entire Northeast region has seen a significant decline in incidents of abduction in 2015. The worst-affected State, Assam, registered a drop of nearly 70 per cent, even as the recently banned Khaplang faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) resorted to the maximum number of abductions for any outfit in 2015. 182 kidnappings have been reported till September 15 in the current year from the seven Northeastern States, compared to 250 in the same period last year, and 369 in all in 2014. Assam saw a drop from 125 abductions in 2013 and 94 in 2014, to just 24 this year, thus far. Kidnappings in Meghalaya, according to UMHA data, were down from 110 last year to 45, so far, this year. Arunachal registered 24 such cases this year, down from 49 in 2014.

In a significant development, the ‘political and organising secretary’ of Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), identified as Fredrick Kharmawphlang, surrendered before Sunil Kumar Jain, the Chief intelligence officer of Meghalaya Police on July 31, 2015. Kharmawphlang was reportedly disillusioned with the HNLC leadership in Bangladesh because they engaged in ‘immoral activities’ at the cost of the Khasi people on whose behalf they claimed to be fighting. According to Jain, “Kharmawphlang realized a bleak future for HNLC because of its leadership and he fled from his hideout in Putisara village in Bangladesh and surrendered himself to the law in the presence of his parents and some members of the Khasi Student’s Union.” However, HNLC subsequently stated that it was his (Kharmawphlang’s) personal decision to return to the mainstream and "we do not have any qualms or complaints." HNLC also claimed that it had joined hands with other "stronger organisations" of the Northeast, and would soon "co-ordinate" to prove that they "still exist."

Indeed, if Paresh Baruah, ‘commander-in-chief’ of ULFA-I is to be believed, two Meghalaya-based outfits – GNLA and HNLC – had expressed their desire to join the United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFWSEA), a common platform of militants in India’s Northeast.

Meanwhile, concerned over the delay in the implementation of the ‘Agreed Text for Settlement’, which was signed between the A'chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC), breakaway faction of A’chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC-B), the Centre and the Meghalaya Government in September 24, 2014. Bernard Rimpu N. Marak, former leader of the ANVC-B, observed, on October 25, 2015, “The delay of which is obstructing the good days from dawning in Garo Hills. Good governance is the core vision of the agreed text which has to be materialized against all odds and obstructions. The state should implement the agreement instead of dilly-dallying the entire rehabilitation process (sic)” Bernard argued that the “agreed text” was a solution to many issues related to the people of Garo Hills. Earlier, in an initiative to overcome the Government’s failure to implement the Agreed Text for Settlement, Bernard declared, on September 6, 2015, that his group would contest the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) polls on October 12, 2015, to fulfill their demands. Bernard had contested as an independent candidate for Tura constituency while former ANVC-B's 'commander-in-chief' Bidith Sangma contested for Siju constituency. However, both Bernard and Sangma lost their respective seats.

Meanwhile, in an effort to push active militants to return to the mainstream, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, on August 21, 2015, announced that Government of India (GoI) had decided to hold talks with militant groups only after they surrender and deposit their arms and ammunition to concerned authorities: “We have made an appeal to those (militant groups) who wanted to come to the mainstream, that the first and foremost is to lay down arms and abjure violence because violence and talk cannot go parallel... We will not talk to anybody who indulges in any kind of violence.”

While there has been a sustained decline in insurgent violence in India’s Northeast over the years, the persistence of violence and the proliferation of militant factions in Meghalaya threaten the possibilities of an enduring peace in the State.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
October 26 - November 1, 2015



Security Force Personnel





Islamist Extremism








Jammu and Kashmir








Left-Wing Extremism










Total (INDIA)













Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


There would be no place for secessionists and militants in Bangladeshi soil, says Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal: Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal while speaking as the chief guest at an event in Supreme Court Bar Association auditorium in Dhaka city on October 30 said that there would be no place for secessionists and militants in the Bangladeshi soil. He said "Bangladesh will be made a peaceful and developed country by combating militants at any cost. Those who organized the grenade attack at Hossaini Dalan were cohorts of war criminals and other anti-liberation elements." Dhaka Tribune, October 31, 2015.


Kashmir issue needs political solution, says APHC-M chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq: The Kashmir issue needs a "political solution" and the Centre can't woo its people only by extending financial packages and concessions, All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC-M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said on October 30. "Kashmir is a political issue that needs a political solution. New Delhi can't woo people only by extending financial packages and concession," Mirwaiz said while addressing a gathering in Ganderbal District. Mirwaiz said it was time for Indian leadership to give up its "military approach" in Kashmir and understand that a political resolution and not economic packages alone could resolve the vexed issue of Kashmir. The Hindu, October 31, 2015.

Pakistan fanning militancy in Kashmir, says Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that his country supported and trained terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in 1990s for fanning militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. The former military ruler also asserted that terror leaders like Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri were Pakistan's "heroes" but later became "villains". "In 1990s the freedom struggle began in Kashmir…At that time Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and 11 or 12 other organisations were formed. We supported them and trained them as they were fighting in Kashmir at the cost of their lives," Musharraf said in an interview to Dunya News. Daily Excelsior, October 30, 2015.

Dawood Ibrahim not in Pakistan, claims Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit: Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit on October 28 denied India's renewed allegations in the aftermath of gangster Chhota Rajan's arrest in Indonesia's Bali that terror suspect Dawood Ibrahim was hiding in Pakistan. "Who told you he is in Pakistan? If you have any information, please pass it on to us, we will nab him and hand it over to you," said Basit. He said Pakistan is ready to hold talks with India, at any level, with even some conditions in order to address each other's concerns but India should not make mistake that Pakistan made some ten years ago by refusing to sit at the negotiating table. Times of India, October 30, 2015.

Narco-smuggling in Punjab on rise, says report: In present India, Punjab is in a serious grip of drug abuse. Border Security Force (BSF) recently submitted a report to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) on the narco trafficking in Punjab from beyond the borders. The detailed report suggests an increase in drug smuggling across the border. In 2011, the BSF had seized heroin worth 67 kilogram, while in 2012 the seizure was elevated to 288 kilogram. These figures touched 313 kilogram and 324 kilogram in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Daily Excelsior, October 29, 2015.

Zero tolerance towards firing, infiltration, says IG of BSF, Rakesh Sharma: The Border Security Force (BSF) on October 27, did some hard talk with Pakistani Rangers during two hours long flag meeting between the Sector Commanders of two sides at Octroi post on the International Border (IB) in RS Pura sector in Jammu District and told the Rangers in categorical terms that they will not tolerate firing and shelling on the civilian areas and give very effective response if Pakistan initiates firing. Daily Excelsior, October 28, 2015.

NSA warns Pakistan: Covert action not cost-effective strategy: Terming "jihadi terrorism" as common threat to South Asia, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on October 27, warned Pakistan not to engage in covert action saying it was a very short-sighted strategy of the neighbouring country. He said Pakistan has never realised that it can be "profitable" and "most effective" for its economic growth and stability if it engages with India and rest of the South Asian countries. Times of India, October 28, 2015.

Pakistan uses militant proxies against India, says CIA Director in hacked email published by WikiLeaks: Pakistan uses militants as proxies to counter India's growing influence in Afghanistan, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan has said in an email, which has been hacked and released by WikiLeaks. The email is among documents, released by the whistleblower website and deemed classified by the CIA, contained reports on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also ideas for US policy towards Iran. Times of India, October 26, 2015.


Government is committed to meeting conditions set by agitating forces for dialogue, says Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa: Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa, who heads the Government's talk's team in a letter written to the United Democratic Madheshi Front (UDMF) and United Madheshi Front (UMF), on October 30, said that the Government is committed to meeting the conditions set by the agitating forces for dialogue. According to Manish Kumar Suman, General Secretary of Sadbhavana Party, a constituent of the UDMF, the Government stated in the letter that it had already sent INR one million each to the families of the deceased protesters and was committed to providing free treatment to injured persons and withdrawing false cases. Himalayan Times, October 31, 2015.

CPN-UML Vice-chairman Bidhya Devi Bhandari elected as new President: Vice-chairman of Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) Bidhya Devi Bhandari was elected as the new President of the country on October 28. Bhandari received 327 votes in the Presidential election against her rival candidate of the Nepali Congress (NC) Kul Bahadur Gurung's 214 votes. Bhandari is the second President of the country but the first woman President of Nepal. Out of 597 votes including that of the Speaker in the 601-member Parliament, 549 members cast their votes. Eight votes were declared invalid. Himalayan Times, October 31, 2015.


Any threat to Saudi Arabia will evoke strong response from Pakistan, says CoAS General Raheel Sharif: Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Raheel Sharif during his visit to the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in Pabbi area of Gujrat District (Punjab) on October 30 said that any threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia will evoke a strong response from Pakistan. "Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong and brotherly relations which have a long history of deep rooted cooperation," quoted the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement. Tribune, October 31, 2015.

Punjab Government enhances security of 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Muhammad Saeed after 'threat alert': Punjab Government has enhanced the security of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder and Jama'at-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is accused of masterminding the November 2008, Mumbai terror attack (also known as 26/11), following a Home Department alert that a "foreign intelligence agency" may make an attempt on his chief's life. "We have enhanced the security of Hafiz Saeed in accordance with the directive of the home department," an official of the Punjab Government said on October 27. Times of India, October 30, 2015.

Ensure that no one is forced to endure an investigation or trial on the basis of false blasphemy allegations, Supreme Court tells the Government: Issuing a written order on the dismissal of Malik Mumtaz Qadri's appeal against his death sentence, the Supreme Court on October 27 urged the state to ensure that no one is forced to endure an investigation or trial on the basis of false blasphemy allegations. On October 6, 2015, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, had scrapped a plea seeking revocation of Qadri's death sentence for assassinating former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer on January 4, 2011. Daily Times, October 29, 2015.

India commits 400 LoC violations, killing 36 Pakistanis, says Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 27 provided information to National Assembly (NA) standing committee that India intends to limit the dialogue with Pakistan to terrorism while Pakistan wants unqualified dialogue on all issues, which is proving to be a deadlock in talks between the two countries. Rana Afzal presided over the committee's meeting attended by not only its members, but also experts on foreign affairs and defence policy. It was told that India had committed 400 violations of the LoC and Working Boundary this year, killing 36 people and injuring 122 others. The News, October 28, 2015.


President meets religious leaders to discuss Geneva Proposals: President Maithripala Sirisena held a special discussion with religious leaders of all faiths to discuss Geneva Proposals and its challenges, at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on October 29. The President proposed to set up a committee representing all religions to overcome the existing challenges and agreed to set up an All Religious Committee comprising 25 members. The religious leaders expressed their blessing for the initiatives taken by the President and the Government to build the national and religious reconciliation in the country and said that it is an exemplary initiative to the whole world. Colombo Page, October 30, 2015.

Government decides not to grant common amnesty to Tamil prisoners but to expedite bail procedures for section of Tamil prisoners: The Government on October 26 decided not to grant a common amnesty to the Tamil prisoners but to expedite the bail procedures for a section of the Tamil prisoners. The Government has taken this decision at a high level meeting attended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Law and Order and Prison Reforms Thilak Marapana, Minister of National Dialogue Mano Ganesan and Minister of Rehabilitation and Resettlement D.M. Swaminathan. Colombo Page, October 28, 2015.

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

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