Audio Overview of South Asia Issues, Monday, 21 January 2019

APAC Assistance Director Paul Quaglia discusses Main Issues in South Asia

Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in PAKISTAN

  • The security situation in Pakistan continues to deteriorate as three civilians were reportedly killed in crossfire during a shootout between the police and suspected Islamic State terrorists on Saturday. A police team led by Counter Terrorism Department officers opened fire at the suspected terrorists at a checkpoint near Sahiwal city, in the northern province of Punjab.
  • In another encounter in Punjab yesterday, two other terrorists of the Islamic State in Gujranwala (Guj-ran-wala) were killed by the officers of the Counter Terrorism Department. The Law Minister of Punjab province called the civilian deaths in the encounter near Sahiwal “collateral damage” during an operation to eliminate the Islamic State terrorists. The relatives of civilians killed accused the police of negligence and misuse of power.
  • Clients are advised to employ extreme caution while traveling to smaller towns like Gujranwala and Sahiwal. The anti-terror operations may trigger retaliatory attacks by the terror groups posing a proximity threat to businesses and civilians.


  • The president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Amit Shah is scheduled to hold a rally at Malda in the eastern state of West Bengal tomorrow. The rally is scheduled two days after a rally in Kolkata by the ruling Trinamool Congress Party on Saturday. Amit Shah has been denied permission to land his helicopter at the local airport by the state authorities as they said the airport is under construction.
  • The Bharatiya Janata Party has accused the ruling Trinamool Congress party of obstructing their political campaign before the general and state elections in April this year. A similar controversy erupted after they were denied permission by the state government to hold political rallies last month which was overturned by the High Court of Kolkata. Clashes between the supporters of the two parties are likely during the rally and can potentially trigger statewide unrest.
  • Clients are advised to avoid all political events in West Bengal. Monitor alerts and advisories from APAC Assistance for further updates.



  • Lethal violence continues in the southern provinces of Thailand, two Buddhist monks were killed and two others were injured in an attack on the Rattanaupap temple in southern Narathiwat on Friday. The attack was carried out by two unidentified assailants who opened fire inside the temple. Separatist insurgents in the region have carried out multiple attacks again this month targeting both civilians and security forces.
  • More than 7000 people have been killed since the 2004 clashes between the security forces and the rebels became more prevalent in the southern provinces. The insurgents can potentially target businesses in the region for kidnappings and extortion but the more direct threat remains collateral damage dent of proximity.
  • Clients are advised to employ extreme caution while traveling in the southern provinces of Thailand. Professional travel security planning and an appropriately qualified Thai travel security detail are required for all travel to the southern provinces. Contact APAC Assistance for assistance.


  • President Widodo has pardoned convicted Islamist cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011. He will be released unconditionally on humanitarian grounds this week. He was convicted for funding a military training camp for terrorists in Aceh province.
  • The pardon comes months before the general elections scheduled to be held in April this year. The unconditional release on humanitarian grounds is perceived by objective analysts as a politically motivated move to appease the right-wing supporters of the cleric despite already having a clear and unassailable lead in all credible polls Terror activities in Aceh and the rest of Indonesia have been a major security concern in Indonesia with multiple arrests and some attacks in 2018.


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