TIME Germany

Counter-Protesters Rally in Germany Against Anti-Islam Movement

BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 05 :  A man holds a placard reading "We all say, stop the hate against Islam" during a protest against Pegida (Patriotische Europaeer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) movement in Berlin, Germany on January 05, 2015.  (Photo by Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Cuneyt Karadag—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images A man holds a placard reading "We all say, stop the hate against Islam" during a protest against Pegida movement in Berlin, Germany on January 05, 2015.

Germans in four cities gathered by the thousands to oppose anti-Islam demonstrations

Thousands of protesters rallied across four cities in Germany on Monday to denounce a recent wave of demonstrations by nationalist parties against immigration and the “Islamization of the West.”

The counter protest movement was expected to draw a crowd of 10,000 in Berlin and several thousand more in Dresden, Stuttgart and Cologne, the Associated Press reports.

Protest organizers said they would endorse a message of tolerance and urge Germans to reject the nationalist ideology of a movement that has united under the name Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA.

“You’re taking part in an action that, from its roots and also from speeches, one can see is Nazi-ist, racist and extremist,” the provost of Cologne’s famous cathedral, Norbert Feldhoff, told AP. Churches and city hall in the cities agreed to darken their lights in solidarity with the counter protest.

[AP]

TIME russia

Putin Critic Protests House Arrest By Cutting Off Tracking Bracelet

RUSSIA-POLITICS-JUSTICE-NAVALNY-VERDICT
Dmitry Serebryakov—AFP/Getty Images Russian anti-Kremlin opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks as he attends the verdict announcement of his fraud trial at a court in Moscow on December 30, 2014.

"The bracelet with some effort has been cut off with kitchen scissors"

A leading protest figure in Russia’s beleaguered opposition camp defied the terms of his house arrest on Monday, announcing that he had severed a tracking device that he was ordered to wear by a Russian court.

Alexei Navalny posted a picture of a severed bracelet on his blog, Reuters reports.

“I refuse to comply with the requirements of my illegal detention under house arrest,” Navalny wrote on the blog, which draws up to 1 million readers a month. “The bracelet with some effort has been cut off with kitchen scissors.”

Navalny was handed a suspended sentence in late December on charges of embezzling 30 million rubles from two firms. Russian authorities launched an investigation against Navalny in 2010, shortly after he exposed evidence of corruption in Russia’s state-owned corporation amounting to $4 billion in fraudulent payments.

TIME United Kingdom

British Royal Officials Weighing Prince Andrew’s Legal Options

Officials do not rule out the royal court taking legal action

In September 2013 armed police confronted a suspected intruder in the lush gardens of Buckingham Palace, provoking the target of their suspicions to howl with outrage: “Do you know who I am?” The officers offered apologies for failing to recognize Prince Andrew, but the Queen’s second son, fifth in line to the British throne, might not now be embroiled in controversy if he hadn’t been groping for an answer to the same question for more than a decade. Since retiring from the Royal Navy in 2001, he has been more at sea than ever.

The controversy relating to the disgraced U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein shows no signs of dying down any time soon, no matter that Andrew is “incredibly clear” in the words of a royal source that he has done nothing wrong. A legal process against Epstein in the U.S. must take its course and Virginia Roberts, one of the litigants, is reported to be mulling a tell-all book. The palace usually refuses to comment on matters relating to the private lives of the royals but has been bounced into making two extraordinary statements, the first on Jan. 2 rejecting “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors” by the Prince as “categorically untrue”; the second on Jan. 4 referring to Andrew by his official title. “It is emphatically denied,” said the palace, “that HRH The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. The allegations made are false and without any foundation.”

MORE: Rude Royal: WikiLeaks Reveals Prince Andrew’s Undiplomatic Remarks

The second rebuttal came in response to an interview with Roberts in the Mail on Sunday. She alleged she had worked for Epstein for three years as a “sex slave” and had on three separate occasions while only 17 been steered by him to sexual contacts with the Prince. Roberts waived anonymity to give the interview. In December, as “Jane Doe 3,” she had joined a civil suit in a Florida court with three other women, all claiming past abuse by Epstein and objecting to the arrangement that saw him convicted in 2008 on a charge of procuring an underaged person for prostitution rather than answering in court to the allegations of Roberts and her fellow litigants. The documents lodged by Roberts in the civil suit not only allege sexual relations with the Prince and with Epstein but also with the former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has vigorously denied the claims and used an interview with the BBC to accuse Roberts of lying. In a second BBC interview, Dershowitz said he hoped for the opportunity to test Roberts’ allegations in court and urged Prince Andrew to “take whatever legal action is available.” Lawyers consulting with palace officials have indicated that the options for such action appear limited. Even if a case could be brought, palace sources are aware that such a course would be fraught with risk, at very least dragging back into the public eye the messy backstory that brought Andrew into Epstein’s orbit.

It’s at very least a tale of money and poor judgment. The Prince is by no means the only senior royal to seek out wealthy company, lured by the apparent protection such company affords — the secluded retreats, the private security, the largesse. Andrew, like his big brother Charles, often seeks to raise money for his own charitable ventures. But in 2010, when Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson — “Fergie” — came close to bankruptcy, charity began closer to home with Epstein helping to pay off her debts. This embarrassing revelation emerged after a photographer snapped Epstein, recently released after serving 13 months of his 18-month jail sentence, strolling through Central Park in New York in conversation with the Prince. Andrew’s decision to maintain the friendship despite Epstein’s criminal conviction unleashed a wave of criticism that eventually precipitated the royal’s 2011 resignation from his post as the U.K.’s special representative for international trade and investment. It wasn’t a paid job but had been the Prince’s main occupation since his navy days.

MORE: Prince Andrew Abseils Down Europe’s Tallest Skyscraper

The challenge for Andrew and his palace minders has long been how to keep him meaningfully occupied and out of the headlines. There isn’t really enough royal work to go round, especially since the younger generation has started to pitch in. The Prince’s penchant for the good life earned him the nickname “Air Miles Andy” and has resulted in a trove of images that consolidated his image as a playboy, including a shot of him on Epstein’s yacht in 2001 surrounded by topless women and, from the same year, with his arm around the waist of a pretty blond: Virginia Roberts.

He has also broken bread with some pretty dodgy people, sometimes of choice and sometimes at the behest of the U.K. government, which likes to deploy royal soft power around the world. Until the financier’s downfall and conviction, Epstein appeared reasonably respectable by comparison, with a circle of friends that has been reported to include former President Bill Clinton among other well-known figures. The litigants have questioned whether Epstein’s connections helped him to strike his 2008 plea bargain. A royal source says that Prince Andrew vehemently denies having interceded with the U.S. authorities on Epstein’s behalf.

Another source speaks of the quiet work that has gone into carving out a lower profile set of activities for Andrew in the years since his association with Epstein tipped him out of the U.K. trade role. He had seemed, rather later in life, to be finding himself by focusing on charitable work, says the source. The fresh scandal threatens to define him in quite different terms, and risks contagion to the wider Windsor brand, and that is why palace officials will not fully rule out any options about what may happen, not even the prospect of the royal court seeking redress from a court of law.

Read next: Palace ‘Emphatically’ Denies Prince Andrew Had Sex With Teen as Alleged Victim Speaks Out

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Courts

U.S. Accuses Pair of Trying To Overthrow Gambian Government

US-AFRICA-SUMMIT
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images Gambia's President, Yahya Jammeh, attends the "Session 1- Investing in Africas Future" of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC on Aug. 6, 2014.

'The United States strongly condemns such conspiracies'

Two men who allegedly tried to overthrow the Gambian government in December have been charged with conspiracy to violate the centuries-old Neutrality Act, according to a Department of Justice complaint filed in Federal court.

“The United States strongly condemns such conspiracies,” United States Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. “With these serious charges, the United States is committed to holding them fully responsible for their actions.”

The Neutrality Act prohibits U.S. citizens from attempting to incite war with a country that is at peace with the U.S.

Cherno Njie, 57, and Papa Faal, 46, traveled to the Gambia with an arsenal of firearms that included semi-automatic rifles, according to the complaint. Faal and others met near the home of the country’s president and prepared an assault against government buildings. The effort was quickly stopped in its track.

Njie, stayed on the sidelines of the operation, reportedly planned to serve as the leader of the country once the leader had been deposed.

TIME energy

Top Five Factors Affecting Oil Prices in 2015

The big question is when they will rise, and by how much

As we ring in the New Year, let’s take stock of where we are at with the oil markets. 2014 proved to be a momentous one for the oil markets, having seen prices cut in half in just six months.

The big question is what oil prices will do in 2015. Oil prices are unsustainably low right now – many high-cost oil producers and oil-producing regions are currently operating in the red. That may work in the short-term, but over the medium and long-term, companies will be forced out of the market, precipitating a price rise. The big question is when they will rise, and by how much.

So, what does that mean for oil prices in 2015? It is anybody’s guess, but here are the top five variables that will determine the trajectory of oil prices over the next 12 months, in no particular order.

1. China’s Economy. China is the second largest consumer of oil in the world and surpassed the United States as the largest importer of liquid fuels in late 2013. More importantly for oil prices is how much China’s consumption will increase in the coming years. According to the EIA, China is expected burn through 3 million more barrels per day in 2020 compared to 2012, accounting for about one-quarter of global demand growth over that timeframe. Although there is much uncertainty, China just wrapped up a disappointing fourth quarter, capping off its slowest annual growth in over a quarter century. It is not at all obvious that China will be able to halt its sliding growth rate, but the trajectory of China’s economy will significantly impact oil prices in 2015.

2. American shale. By the end of 2014, the U.S. was producing more than 9 million barrels of oil per day, an 80 percent increase from 2007. That output went a long way to creating a glut of oil, which helped send oil prices to the dumps in 2014. Having collectively shot themselves in the foot, the big question is how affected U.S. drillers will be by sub-$60 WTI. Rig counts continue to fall, spending is being slashed, but output has so far been stable. Whether the industry can maintain output given today’s prices or production begins to fall will have an enormous impact on international supplies, and as a result, prices.

3. Elasticity of Demand. The cure for low prices is low prices. That cliché can be applied to both the supply and demand side of the equation. Will oil selling at fire sale prices spur renewed demand? In some countries where oil is more regulated, low prices may not trickle down to the retail level. Countries like Indonesia are scrapping subsidies, which will be a boon to state coffers but will diminish the benefits to consumers. However, in the U.S., gasoline prices are now below $2.40 per gallon, more than 35 percent down from mid-2014. That has led to an uptick in gasoline consumption. In the waning days of 2014, the U.S. consumed gasoline at the highest daily rate since 2007. Low prices could spark higher demand, which in turn could send oil prices back up.

4. OPEC’s Next Move. OPEC deserves a lot of credit (or blame) for the remarkable downturn in oil prices last year. While many pundits have declared OPEC irrelevant after their decision to leave output unchanged, the mere fact that oil prices crashed after the cartel’s November meeting demonstrates just how influential they are over price swings. For now OPEC – or, more accurately, Saudi Arabia – has stood firm in its insistence not to cut production quotas. Whether that remains true through 2015 is up in the air.

5. Geopolitical flashpoints. In the not too distant past, a small supply disruption would send oil prices skyward. In early 2014, for example, violence in Libya blocked oil exports, contributing to a rise in oil prices. In Iraq, ISIS overran parts of the country and oil prices shot up on fears of supply outages. But since then, geopolitical flashpoints have had much less of an effect on the price of crude. During the last few weeks of 2014, violence flared up again in Libya. But after a brief increase in prices, the markets shrugged off the event. Nevertheless, history has demonstrated time and again that geopolitical crises are some of the most powerful short-term movers of oil prices.

This post originally appeared on OilPrice.com.

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TIME Military

U.S. Army Aims to Build a Better Bullet

U.S. Army Sensors crammed into the tip of the grenade trigger the round's detonation once it passes over a wall or other obstacle.

Pentagon's new airburst round designed to take away enemy hiding places

In the olden days, soldiers killed when they fired a bullet at an enemy they could see. Then came indirect fire—lobbing mortars from afar, hoping for a lucky hit.

Now the Army is working on a new round, combining the best of both, by reducing the bad guy’s ability to hide.

Troops on the battlefield like to be “in defilade”—protected from enemy fire by physical obstacles. The Army’s new Small Arms Grenade Munition (SAGM) round is designed to remove the advantage offered by such cover: it explodes in midair after it has cleared whatever shield the enemy is hiding behind.

“It has a sensor that will sense defilade or walls or anything that somebody will be hiding behind,” SAGM chief Steven Gilbert says in a Pentagon release. “And basically detects it without the need of a laser range finder.” He has estimated the new round would more than double the lethality of existing grenade rounds at ranges of up to 500 meters.

Such a capability would have come in handy in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where anti-U.S. forces routinely sought shelter in walled compounds. “Warfighter lacks ability to engage combatants in defilade,” a 2012 briefing slide grumbled. “Grenade overshoots the target.”

The new round would give U.S. troops “a higher probability of achieving a first-shot kill against enemy personnel,” Gilbert adds, and could “defeat personnel targets in defilade positions at increased ranges with greater accuracy and lethality.”

Chris Boston / U.S. ArmyArmy engineers have spent three years mating sensors to explosives to ensure the round explodes at a “sweet spot” designed to increase the chances of a kill.

The Army’s Joint Service Small Arms Program, part of the service’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (known to friends as JSSAP-ARDEC) at New Jersey’s Picatinny Arsenal, has been developing the thumb-shaped, four-inch round for the past three years.

It’s the ultimate fire-and-forget weapon: the soldier doesn’t need to do anything before firing, other than point it toward whatever obstacle the enemy is using for defensive cover. “All the soldier would need to do is aim the weapon and fire it,” Gilbert told the Army’s C. Todd Lopez. “He’d have to have good aim…or the round won’t detect the wall. You have to have some sort of accuracy.”

Among Pentagon wags, “close enough” has long been deemed good enough for nuclear weapons. It could also end up being good enough for the Small Arms Grenade Munition if a formal Pentagon evaluation, set to begin in July, pans out.

TIME Markets

IPOs Raise $249 Billion in 2014 Amid Funding Frenzy

Dow Rises Over 400 Points Day After Fed Signals No Rise In Interest Rates
Andrew Burton—Getty Images A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City during the afternoon of Dec. 18, 2014.

Last year was a busy one for public offerings, even without Alibaba’s record-breaking listing

A company looking to raise money in 2014 didn’t have to look too far. Last year was the busiest for initial public offerings since 2010.

From Alibaba Group’s $25 billion IPO to much-hyped smaller listings, such as GoPro and Ally Financial, companies listing on the stock markets raised $249 billion worldwide, according to data collected by Thompson Reuters. Even without Alibaba’s record-breaking offering, last year was a standout period for IPOs.

IPOs picked up pace from 2013: about 40% more companies listed on public markets in 2014 compared to the year prior. They also raised more money. Leaving out Alibaba’s offering, which many agree is a once-in-a-generation kind of IPO, companies raised almost 36% more money year-over-year, according to the New York Times.

The booming market has led some analysts to speculate that it is inflated past realistic valuations, pumped up by overly optimistic investors. For instance, Lending Club’s December IPO valued the online lender at 35 times estimated revenue for 2017, which would put it on par with tech companies such as Facebook.

The public markets weren’t the only place to raise big bucks. The private market also saw big number sums, including Uber’s $1.8 billion fundraising round that valued it at $40 billion. Chinese smart phone maker Xiaomi and online home rental service Airbnb also raised huge sums that valued the startups at $10 billion or more.

Fundraising in both the public and private markets have been driven by a confluence of factors, including low interest rates that have pushed investors toward higher-growth opportunities and a skyrocketing stock market.

While no mega-IPO like Alibaba is set for the year ahead, there are some big-name companies that are scheduled to go public, including file-sharing startup Box and “fine casual” dining chain Shake Shack.

Other potential IPOs remain the subject of much speculation. Investors are watching startups such as Uber, Pinterest and Fitbit carefully, though none have yet indicated when or if they will list on public markets.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Economy

Euro Falls to a 9-Year Low on Greek Fears

Euro Money Greece
Getty Images

The euro fell to its lowest level against the dollar in nine years Monday, driven by fears of political turmoil in Greece and hopes for more monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank.

By lunchtime in Europe, the single currency had fallen to $1.1914 and has now fallen over 2c against the dollar since the start of the year.

It had already lurched lower on Friday, the first trading session of 2015, on the back of comments by ECB President Mario Draghi in an interview with a German newspaper saying that the risks of it undershooting its inflation target had increased. That added to speculation that the ECB will announce a bigger program of bond-buying, or so-called quantitative easing, at its first policy meeting of the year on Jan. 22.

The ECB is keen to play up that fact that its policy is getting easier even as the Federal Reserve prepares to tighten monetary policy in the U.S.. That outlook will keep the euro cheap on foreign exchange markets, helping the area to boost growth through the export channel.

Hopes for QE, coupled with pessimism over the Eurozone’s growth outlook, have already driven bond yields to unprecedented lows. Yields on German bonds are negative all the way out to 2019, while even Italy’s 10-year bonds yield only 1.79%.

The other factor weighing on the euro is the fear that the radical left-wing Syriza party will win Greece’s parliamentary elections at the end of January, starting a process that may lead to Greece leaving the Eurozone. The German magazine Der Spiegel reported at the weekend that Chancellor Angela Merkel was confident that the Eurozone could cope with a Greek exit.

That confidence is far from being universally shared by financial markets. Marc Ostwald, a strategist with ADM ISI in London, called a Greek exit “the ultimate example bar none of why the Euro project is doomed to failure if no progress on moving to some form of fiscal transfer union is made.”

The euro’s decline is only side of a general rally in the dollar. The dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basked of major world currencies (although, importantly, not China’s), is also at a nine-year high, after rising over 12% last year.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME World

These Are the Top 10 Geopolitical Risks of 2015

Protesters hold a banner as they march during a demonstration against the visit of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 11, 2014 in Athens.
Milos Bicanski—Getty Images Protesters hold a banner as they march during a demonstration against the visit of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 11, 2014 in Athens.

TIME foreign affairs columnist Ian Bremmer provides a guide to the global storylines of the year, beginning with an unstable Europe

International stories rise and fall so quickly in today’s media. On Monday, it’s civil conflict in Ukraine. On Tuesday, it’s the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). By Wednesday, the headlines are on to something else. Amid the global whiplash, it’s easy to lose sight of the larger picture. So as the new year begins, it’s useful to take a broader look at where these stories are headed—and to track the next wave of market-moving surprises in international politics.

Every January Eurasia Group, the political risk consultancy I founded and oversee today, publishes Top Risks, a roundup of the geopolitical trends we consider most likely to change our world in the coming year. This ranking reflects our forecast of which global storylines are most likely to play out over the next 12 months, which will have biggest impact on the markets and politics—and where we can expect surprises.

In 2015, political conflict among the world’s great powers is in play more than at any time since the end of the Cold War. U.S. relations with Russia are now fully broken. China’s powerful President Xi Jinping is creating a new economy, and the effects will be felt across East Asia and the rest of the world. Geopolitical uncertainty has Turkey, the Gulf Arab states, Brazil and India hedging their bets.

But the year’s top risk is found in once placid Europe, where an increasingly fractured political environment is generating new sources of conflict.

1. The politics of Europe

European economics aren’t as bad as they were at the height of the eurozone crisis in 2012, but the politics of the continent are now much worse. Within key countries like Britain and Germany, anti-EU political parties continue to gain popularity, undermining the ability of governments to deliver on painful but needed reforms. Friction is growing among European states, as peripheral governments come to increasingly resent the influence of a strong Germany unchecked by weak France or absent Britain. Finally, a resentful Russia and an aggressive ISIS will add to Europe’s security worries.

2. Russia

Sanctions and lower oil prices have weakened Russia enough to infuriate President Vladimir Putin, but not enough to restrain his actions. Moscow will continue to put pressure on Ukraine, and as a result, U.S. and European sanctions will tighten. As Russia’s economy sags, Putin’s approval ratings will depend increasingly on his willingness to confront the West. Western companies and investors are likely targets—on the ground and in cyberspace.

3. The effects of China slowdown

China’s economic growth will slow in 2015, but it’s all part of Xi’s plan. His historically ambitious economic reform efforts depend on transitioning his country to a consumer-driven economic model that will demand levels of growth that are lower, but more sustainable. The continuing slowdown should have little impact inside China. But countries like Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand, whose economies have come to depend on booming trade with a commodity-hungry China, will feel the pain.

4. The weaponization of finance

For the moment, the American public has had enough of wars and occupations, but the Obama administration still wants to exert significant influence around the globe. That’s why Washington is weaponizing finance on a new scale. The U.S. is using carrots (access to capital markets) and sticks (varied types of sanctions) as tools of coercive diplomacy. The advantages are considerable, but there is a risk that this strategy will damage U.S. companies caught in the crossfire between Washington and targeted states. Transatlantic relations could suffer for the same reason.

5. ISIS, beyond Iraq and Syria

ISIS faces military setbacks in Iraq and Syria, but its ideological reach will spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa in 2015. It will grow organically by setting up new units in Yemen, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, and it will inspire other jihadist organizations to join its ranks—Ansar Bayt al Maqdas in Egypt and Islamists in Libya have already pledged allegiance to ISIS. As the militant group’s influence grows, the risk to Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt will rise.

6. Weak incumbents

Feeble political leaders, many of whom barely won reelection last year, will become a major theme in 2015. Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will each face determined opposition and formidable obstacles as they try to enact their political agendas.

7. The rise of strategic sectors

Global businesses in 2015 will increasingly depend on risk-averse governments that are more focused on political stability than on economic growth, supporting companies that operate in harmony with their political goals and punishing those that don’t. We’ll see this trend in emerging markets, where the state already plays a more significant role in the economy, as well as in rogue states searching for weapons to fight more powerful governments. But we’ll also see it in the U.S., where national security priorities have inflated the military industrial complex, which now includes technology, telecommunications and financial companies.

8. Saudi Arabia vs Iran

The rivalry between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia is the engine of conflict in the Middle East. Given the growing reluctance of Washington and other outside powers to intervene in the region, increasingly complex domestic politics within these two countries and rising anxiety about the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, we can expect Tehran and Riyadh to use proxies to fuel trouble in more Middle Eastern countries than ever in 2015.

9. Taiwan/China

Relations between China and Taiwan will deteriorate sharply in 2015 following the opposition Democratic Progressive Party’s landslide victory over the ruling Nationalist Party in local elections this past November. If China decides that its strategy of economic engagement with Taiwan has failed to advance its ultimate goal of reunification, Beijing might well backtrack on existing trade and investment deals and significantly harden its rhetoric. The move would surely provoke public hostility in Taiwan and inject even more anti-mainland sentiment into the island’s politics. Any U.S. comment on relations between China and Taiwan would quickly increase resentment between Beijing and Washington.

10. Turkey

Lower oil prices have helped, but President Erdogan has used election victories in 2014 to try to sideline his political enemies—of which there are many—while remaking the country’s political system to tighten his hold on power. But he’s unlikely to win the authority he wants this year, creating more disputes with his prime minister, weakening policy coherence and worsening political unpredictability. Given the instability near Turkey’s borders, where the war against ISIS rages, that’s bad news. Refugees from Syria and Iraq are bringing more radicalism into the country and adding to economic hardship.

TIME Pakistan

Pakistan Seizes Indian Fishing Boats as Doubts Intensify Over Terrorist Claims

New Delhi's critics call for explanations

Pakistani authorities reportedly seized two Indian fishing boats on Saturday — a not uncommon occurrence, but one that has prompted greater controversy following a tense week in the waters between the two countries.

The boats, containing 12 Indian fishermen, were apprehended by Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency (MSA) three days after the Indian Coast Guard intercepted an alleged terrorist boat off the Gujarat coast, the Times of India reported.

The Indian authorities claim that intercepted wireless communications show the Pakistani boat, which sank about 365 km away from India’s west coast on Jan. 1, to be working with an unidentified vessel nearby and coordinating with a contact in Pakistan as well as the MSA.

A statement from India’s Defense Ministry then stated that the four people on board the boat attempted to outrun the coast guard for over an hour, following which they hid under the deck and set fire to the boat, resulting in an explosion.

However, naval officers told the Indian Express that it was not possible for a typical Pakistani fishing vessel to outrun the powerful coast guard boats, and local fishermen said they did not see a fire. Moreover, photographs released to the media of the burning boat do not show damage consistent with the detonation of explosives.

Pakistan has rubbished claims that the Jan. 1 incident could be linked to terrorism, and there are reportedly no boats unaccounted for in Keti Bandar, the Karachi port where India claims the “suspicious” boat originated from.

“No fishing crews or boats are missing from Keti Bandar,” the head of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Saeed Baloch, told the Express.

India’s Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar stuck to his guns Monday morning, telling reporters that people smuggling drugs or other contraband would have surrendered rather than martyr themselves.

“Why would smugglers keep in touch with Pakistani maritime authorities?” he asked, adding that he would categorize them as “suspected terrorists.”

But that was not enough to placate opposition parties like the Indian National Congress, who urged the government on Monday to make the evidence public.

No material evidence from the Pakistani boat or bodies of its crew has been recovered so far because of reported bad weather, but a leading coast-guard official said he was hopeful that more clues would be forthcoming. The Defense Ministry, meanwhile, has ordered a full internal review of the intercepted communications and other evidence.

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