Indian airstrikes. Early Tuesday morning, India’s air force carried out what it called a pre-emptive strike against a training camp of militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, Pakistan. The move was in response to the Feb. 14 attack in Pulwama, Kashmir, that killed 40 Indian security personnel. Indian officials said today’s strike killed a “large number” of militants that intelligence indicated were planning another attack. Prior to the airstrike, India withdrew Pakistan’s “most favored nation” status, increased tariffs on imports from Pakistan by 200 percent and tried to restrict the flow of river water to Pakistan. Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said the government in Islamabad will respond, but so far, the country has not taken any military action. Responses from the international community have been sparse. China, Australia and Iran have called on both sides to exercise restraint, while the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, called on Washington to stop giving aid to Pakistan. The strike comes just one day after the U.N. Security Council, pushed by the U.S. and France, condemned the terrorist attack in Kashmir.
Should he stay or should he go? Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tendered his resignation yesterday. The lead negotiator of the nuclear deal and a noted reformist, Zarif apologized for “all the shortcomings” and for his “inability to continue in his post.” But it looks like much of the government wants him to stay on. President Hassan Rouhani, whose approval is needed to make it official, has refused to accept the resignation. More than half of the members of the Iranian Parliament have signed a petition calling on Zarif to remain in his post. The hard-liners who have repeatedly tried to pressure Rouhani into firing Zarif are a loud but still small faction of the legislature, yet the resignation itself shows that Iran’s political infighting is intensifying.
- China’s official commission that oversees state-owned assets said a large number of late payments totaling 83.9 billion yuan ($12.5 billion) owed by state-owned enterprises to the private sector have been settled. The amount accounts for 75 percent of the total debt. Notably, the arrears owed to rural migrant workers have been paid off.
- British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would hold a vote on delaying the Brexit deadline or ruling out a no-deal Brexit if her deal with the European Union is rejected in a parliamentary vote in March. In addition, the Labour Party said it would support a second referendum on withdrawal from the EU.
- At a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, Turkey criticized China’s treatment of the Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uighur community in China’s Xinjiang region.
- A spokesperson for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said the government will fully enforce laws against all nationals of foreign countries (read: China) who violate immigration laws.
- The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan said a draft framework for a peace deal with the Taliban had been agreed upon. It includes U.S. commitments to withdraw forces from Afghanistan and Taliban commitments not to allow jihadist groups to operate in the country.
- Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Britain’s decision to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization hasn’t harmed his country’s relationship with the U.K.