Thousands of members of India’s Armed Forces were deployed throughout Kashmir, a region in northwestern India, on the anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru, a prominent Indian nationalist as well as the alleged mastermind behind attacks carried out against the Indian Parliament in December of 2001. Authorities are said to have instituted a curfew throughout the region, in addition to restricting access to roads and detaining more than 200 individuals with Kashmir-based separatist groups. Commerce in Sringagar, Kashmir’s main city, ground to a halt as many businesses shuttered amidst fear of violent clashes between Indian forces and separatists.
The sweeping, preventative maneuvers implemented throughout the region represent another in a series of contentious interactions between separatists in Kashmir that either favor accession to Pakistan or complete independence, and Indian armed forces. The execution of Afzal Guru represents a major source of bitterness and resentment for many living in Kashmir. Guru, who was secretly hanged in 2013, was convicted of involvement in the attacks on parliament although the Indian Supreme Court was unable to establish definite ties between him and Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the two known terrorist groups that claimed responsibility for the attack. Allegations of torture and underhanded legal practices in the prosecution exacerbated an already tense region that has been marked by violence since 1947.
It remains to be seen whether the ongoing crackdown in Kashmir will come to represent a new Indian policy towards its contentious northwest. Although violence in Kashmir has fallen under Kashmir’s Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, recent outbreaks and the present crackdown suggest that the region is still far from overcoming the sources of contention that have plagued it for more than half a century.
- Tajik government officials have made considerable headway in improving public health access to its citizenry. In a multilateral effort that includes support from the World Health Organization (WHO) the European Union and the Tajik Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Tajikistan seeks to reach and exceed goals outlined in National Health Sector Strategy 2010-2020, a set of public health goals that also align with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
- Today marks the 35th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that gave rise to the abrogation of the existing political system and the institution of the current Islamic Republic. A recent article in the Washington Post minutely describes the differences in sentiment that led to the 1979 Revolution and the popular sentiment today. Though distrust, uncertainty and ongoing disagreements regarding Syria continue to muddy the relationship between Tehran and Washington, the retrospective highlights recent concessions made by the Islamic Republic as it seeks to move itself out of the shadows and into a more prominent role on the world’s stage.
- The Eurasian Central Bank allotted $100 million in funding to the reconstruction of the Bishkek-Kara-Balta highway, an initiative that falls in line with the ECB’s Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) undertaking. CAREC constitutes a regional cooperation agreement signed by ten Central Asian states in order to bolster cooperation throughout the region and provide for a more efficient and expeditious transport system between states. The latest allocation will provide the necessary resources to expand the highway to four lanes as well as renovate areas that had fallen into disrepair.
- The Express Tribune highlights efforts made by two separate blocks of superpowers to strengthen ties with Pakistan as its economy grows and its energy needs become greater. While China and Russia are attempting to convince Pakistan to purchase gas from Iran, the United States and its allies have lobbied Islamabad to strengthen economic relations with Qatar and Turkmenistan. The report emphasizes efforts set into motion by both sides to construct multilateral pipelines, with the Russo-Sino camp favoring an Iran-Pakistan pipeline, and the United States favoring a pipeline that would span Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.
- Eurasia Net provides an interesting portrayal of support for Ukraine’s pro-West, EuroMaidan movement in Eastern Ukraine, a Russian-speaking region that is largely in favor of incumbent Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych. Yanukovych has been the target of intense scrutiny and outrage due to police brutality and oppression in cities where protests are densest, but small pockets of support have emerged in Russian-speaking cities with political and historical connections to Russia, such as Kharkiv and Dnepropetrovsk.