Azadi March in Pakistan – Nawaz Sharif vs Army?

    The synchronised protest marches undertaken by Imran Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and cleric Tahir-ul Qadri, chairman of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), culminated in a combined sit-in outside the Parliament building in Islamabad.

    Analysis

    The synchronised protest marches undertaken by Imran Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and cleric Tahir-ul Qadri, chairman of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), culminated in a combined sit-in outside the Parliament building in Islamabad. While the former accuses Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of rigging last year’s polls, the latter accuses him of corruption. Both want Nawaz Sharif to resign and call for fresh elections. The large protest raises several questions about political control and stability.

    Do the protests have broader public support? Is this protest likely to destabilise an already troubled Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) at the centre? Will Imran Khan gain political traction from this movement? And most importantly, do these protests have the tacit backing of the Pakistan Army?

    The Pakistan Army continues to be the most powerful institution in the country and its role in the anti-government protest is under much scrutiny. The Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) issued two statements about the situation. The first asked the protestors to respect the sanctity of the buildings in the Red Zone while the second took on a more advisory tone and called for meaningful dialogue between the parties in the larger national public interest. After PTI and PAT declared that they would be entering the Red Zone, the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced that a request had been made to the Army to deploy troops for security reasons. The statement seems to be aimed at easing the fears of many by declaring that the military is on the side of the government. With the country’s history of multiple military coups, media reports from across the world have been voicing fears of an Army takeover. On 1 August, the Army had also taken control of Islamabad’s security at the request of the government. With the backdrop of Pakistan’s first democratic transition that took place last year, a military coup seems unlikely.

    While Mr Khan and Mr Qadri’s protest marches did not attract one million people as was claimed, the people who have joined the movement, ’tens of thousands’ according to media reports, cannot be ignored. However, those numbers may not represent the support of the millions of Pakistani citizens who voted the current government into power. Even among the political class, the Pakistan People’s Party, Awami National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam have rejected the demands for dissolution of the assemblies and Mr Sharif’s resignation. Imran Khan and Tahir-ul Qadri also seem to be at odds about what they are demanding of the government. The latter seems more willing to negotiate while the former is adamant about Mr Sharif’s resignation as the prerequisite for any talks.

    The United States of America has also issued a statement that it does not support any extra-constitutional changes to the democratic system in Pakistan or people attempting to impose them. The statement seems to lend show international support for the Nawaz Sharif government even as it labels Khan and Qadri’s protests as extra-constitutional. The government is trying not to exacerbate the situation. The riot police and paramilitary have been told to not intervene in the protest. The deployed troops are acting as silent spectators and are not antagonising the large crowd of protestors. The government also chose not to take police action or enforce unlawful assembly laws. This lack of resistance by the government and the security forces has led to criticism of Imran Khan’s claims that the protest is aimed at establishing a democracy in the country. The counter-argument is that if Pakistan had not been a democracy, such a protest could never have taken place.

    The current government is already struggling with the country’s energy crisis, extremist activities propagated by Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan as well as an ongoing military operation in North Waziristan to deal with the burgeoning militancy problem. Some observers are worried that the protests will affect the political stability of the troubled country. However, it is also possible that the protest could polarise opinions in favour of the ruling party and Nawaz Sharif. The ongoing events have already led to a show of support for Sharif by the Members of the National Assembly during the session on 20 August 2014. Imran Khan’s announcement that he would lead his suppor ters to the Prime Minister’s residence and then his subsequent backtracking on the decision has diminished his standing. Also, if Imran Khan finds himself in a situation where he must concede to the government, Nawaz Sharif’s political footing will be strengthened.

    (The writer is a Research Assistant at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi)

    Sri Lanka: Why ’template models’ don’t work

    N Sathiya Moorthy

    The West has lately been miffed that the Sri Lankan Government should be resisting the UNHRC probe just for the sake of it. Worse critics, some even nearer home, attribute it to apprehensions of personal vilification at the hands of the probe, and political and personal consequences for some.

    The truth is far from it. It is not only about Sri Lanka. The whole of South Asia in particular and the Third World in general has a socio-cultural civilisation dating back to centuries prior to western societies and democracies came into being. Maybe not as ’modern’ in concept and practice, they have had democratic values of a kind ingrained in the DNA of the rulers, who were hereditary and the people, who came to be dubbed ’subjects’ in the colonial lingo.

    The DNA-coded perceptions for the ruling class was based on ’sin’ that travelled with them in this birth and the next, and carrying on to generations of the kind. The rulers were thus told not to sow bad seeds in this birth and leave behind a worse crop for generations to reap. The family, and not the individual, being at the nucleus of societal existence, it helped. It worked.

    There were bad apples there too – just as there are dictators even under the modern democratic scheme. If the bygone royalty ’fooled’ the subjects, any working and more successful democracy of the world today is systemised at being a ’guided democracy’. In a way, ’market capitalism’ and the interests of the capitalists from among them is at the centre of all such democracies. Not the people, who are just given a choice between two political forces – invariably not more.

    ’He who has not sinned…’

    The problem with the UNHRC kind of probes in the nations of South Asia in particular is that the people at large still believe in the encoded Biblical preaching of ’he who has not sinned alone can throw stones’. So when nations that they think have ’sinned’ in Afghanistan and Iraq before their eyes start throwing the UNHRC book at their own nation, they are not amused.

    Given again the inherited social philosophies of these nations, the people don’t even think seriously about such text-book, template models of ’accountability’ and the rest. For ’em all, that which lacks the moral authority ingrained in them does not matter. They are less serious about it, in turn. A government, as if it were under siege, cannot even explain the predicament to its people. They just refuse to hear. If they were to see their government capitulating under international pressure on moral issues of the kind, they are repulsed – not rejected. From repulsion to revolution is not a great distance.

    One has to be a South Asian, not only by birth, but also by instinct, to understand it. Appreciation comes next. It is true of other ancient civilisations, where all western template models have been put to practice, and have failed. More importantly, they have failed the nations and peoples concerned.

    Centuries of colonisation had created a local community who was ’modernised’ in thought, word and deed by the colonial masters, for the former speak their lingo. The end of colonialism has thrown up new opportunities for the neglected sections of the society, seated in rural areas.

    It is a spin-off effort from franchise-centric electoral democracy. It came to Sri Lanka decades later and owing to historic reasons, long after the international community had got used to dealing with the ’elites’ of ’Colombo Seven’ as they are known, in politics and bureaucracy. The fact is that the world does not know how to deal with the new, rural-based political leadership of Sri Lanka.

    Rather than having the patience to learn the lingo of the new ruling class in countries such as Sri Lanka, the West wants to bring back those who had adapted their own lingo without being asked. It is also in the DNA of these classes. Coupled with the even more deep-seated socio-cultural embedded DNA, they have stood out in public life, but not anymore.

    Democratic transition

    The temptation to compare Sri Lanka with the northern Indian neighbour cannot but be avoided. India is after all the world’s largest democracy, as understood by the West. There are reasons, again. The colonial masters did not have the patience and reach to take Westminster democracy to the rural masses in India, as with Sri Lanka, too. The Indian Independence movement did it. The refusal to accept colonial practices, other than what India needed, with the launch of Gandhiji’s ’Swadeshi movement’ was both the forerunner and catalyst.

    There again, the convulsions of ’democratic transition’ from the urban middle class elite to the rural classes (middle and lower classes) are all so visible in ways successive elections have thrown up combinations that would have been hard to perceive under the colonial dispensation. The West is learning to cut the cloth according to what is available. It will take time.

    ’Modern societies’, if they could be termed so, have the ’advantage’ of being able to challenge the ’status quo’ social values and win. Rather, they side-step those social values, nor do they have the time and energy for the same, driven as they are by more materialistic goals and aspirations. The US as a nation is the world’s best and first example. Inside nations and societies too, there are very many examples.

    ’Ancient societies’ in comparisons cannot be expected to change the same way. They just don’t. The ’template models’ developed in classroom studies that do not provide for understood variations, do not also work in real-life situations outside of the ’homogenised’ societies. ’Homogenisation’ too is hard to achieve.

    That leaves behind ’conquered’ societies from where the conqueror wants to leave faster than he came. That has left behind devastated societies and nations, which do not know what had hit them, or why they were hit. It does not always provide for modernisation of those societies. In cases like Afghanistan and Iraq, the reverse happens. As a traditional society, Sri Lanka cannot have it, the nation cannot do it, either. The failure of the two JVP insurgencies and the ultimate extinction of the LTTE are pointers from the near past. The nation can do without pointers from the future.

    (The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter)

    Country Reports

    Afghanistan

    Some consensus over power-sharing

    Dr Abdullah Abdullah’s camp announced that following a series of meetings between the two presidential candidates some agreement has been reached over some of the more crucial points of the power sharing agreement. This includes the definition of the post of chief executive, the manner of his appointment and that of the leader of opposition. However, the exact powers of the chief executive under the new system have still not been agreed upon. Such issues were discussed directly by the two candidates after the National Unity Committee created last week was unable to resolve differences over such issues.

    For more information see: "Candidates agree on key points of dispute", Tolo News, 22 August 2014

    63 percent of votes audited

    The Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan announced that 63 percent of the total votes from the runoff elections have already been audited. A total of 14,516 ballot boxes have been audited so far. A new disciplinary code was also agreed upon by the two candidates following a brawl between the representatives of Dr Abdullah and the IEC officials, which has delayed the auditing process by a few hours.

    For more information see : "IEC Says 63 Percent of Votes Audited", Tolo News, 22 August 2014; "IEC to Have Candidates Agree to New Disciplinary Rules" Tolo News, 21 August 2014

    Pakistan asked to stop destructive role

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai, during the 95th Afghan Independence Day commemoration, called upon Pakistan to stop its interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. His remarks were seen as a clear reference to the cross-border shelling currently taking place in eastern Afghanistan. President Karzai’s remarks come following accusations by the National Security Counci that Pakistan is providing as much as 30,000 rupees in support to militants looking to destabilise the Afghan government.

    For information more see : "Karzai asks Pakistan to stop its destructive role in Afghanistan", Khaama Press, 19 August 2014

    NYT reporter expelled

    The Afghanistan correspondent for the New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg, became the first journalist to be expelled from the country since the Taliban was overthrown. The order was issued following Mr Rosenberg’s story in the paper that claimed that high ranking government officials were planning to form an interim government as a way of resolving the electoral standoff. Earlier, Mr Rosenberg was barred from leaving Afghanistan as he was being investigated about his sources for the story.

    For more information see : "Calling Article ’Divisive’, Afghanistan Orders Expulsion of Times Correspondent", The New York Times, 20 August 2014; "New York Times reporter banned from leaving Afghanistan", Khaama Press, 19 August 2014

    Bangladesh

    BNP demand election before 2019

    Bangladesh Nationalist Party reiterated its demand for an early election. The Party spokesman Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the election will be held much before 2019. BNP boycotted the 5 January parliamentary election and considers it to be illegal. Meanwhile, ruling Awami League has claimed that the next general election will take place on 2019.

    For more information see: "Polls to be held much ahead of 2019: BNP" The Independent, 21 August 2014

    Parliament to be empowered to impeach judges

    This week the cabinet cleared the 16th Constitutional Amendment Act allowing restoration of the Parliament’s authority to impeach Supreme Court judges. The act will come into force after it is passed in the Parliament. However, government is facing criticism for this constitutional amendment bill as the feeling is it will curtail the independence of the judiciary. Criticising the government, the BNP claimed that the bill has been enacted to establish rule of one party.

    For more information see : "JS to get back authority to impeach judges", Dhaka Tribune, 19 August 2014; "Many senior lawyers oppose cabinet’s move over judges’ impeachment", Dhaka Tribune, 19 August 2014 "A bid to restore BAKSAL rule: BNP", Dhaka Tribune, 19 August 2014

    Bangladesh to join BRICS bank

    The Finance Minister declared that the government has decided to join the new US$ 50 billion BRICS development Bank named New Development Bank. Defending the government’s decision to join the new bank the Minister said, "We want to join the BRICS bank as more sources of credit other than the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund must be explored…".

    For more information see : "Bangladesh all set to join $50bn BRICS bank", Dhaka Tribune, 20 August 2014

    BNP protests against Gaza attacks

    Bangladesh Nationalist Party led 20-party alliance staged a huge showdown in Dhaka to protest against Israel’s attack on the Gaza and to stop killings of the Palestinians. Thousands of people mostly activists of Islami Chhatra Shibir and Jamaat-e-Islami thronged streets of the capital with black flags. Government had organised strict security arrangement to avoid any incident of violence.

    For more information see : "20-party stages showdown protesting attacks on Gaza", The Daily Star, 16 August 2014

    Bhutan

    Treasury bills to shore up deficit

    In order to make up for the resource gap in the present financial year, Bhutan has issued three separate treasury bills to raise Nu 4 bn. The government is expecting to raise the money from individuals, firms, corporate bodies, financial institutions and more.

    For more information see: "Govt. Issues Nu 4B T-bills to shore up deficit", Kuensel Online, 21 August 2014

    Climatic extremes threaten Bhutan’s future

    Melting glaciers and other climate-linked dangers pose a serious threat to Bhutan’s economy and could cause annual losses of 6 percent of the GDP by the end of this century according to the findings of the Asian Development Bank climate and economics report for South Asia.

    For more information see : "Melting Glaciers, Climate Extremes Threaten Bhutan’s Future- Report", Bhutan Observer, 19 August 2014

    Japanese encephalitis claims a life in Punakha

    Japanese Encephalitis claimed the life of a 22 year old man in Punakha on 15 August. The man was brought to the Punakha hospital on 2 August in an unconscious state and suspecting meningitis we referred him to Thimphu hospital.

    For information more see : "Japanese Encephalitis claims a life in Punakha", Kuensel Online, 22 August 2014

    India

    India cancels foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan

    The Indian government cancelled foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan after Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit met with Hurriyat representatives. A meeting between Indian foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and her Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry was to be held in Islamabad on 25 August. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry the decision by saying that they were talking to all stakeholders in the conflict and that talking to Hurriyat leaders has been a long standing practice. India’s MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that Sujatha Singh had earlier told Mr. Basit to "either talk to us or talk to the separatists" and that this decision raises questions about Pakistan’s sincerity towards solving the problem.

    For information more see : "Govt calls off talks with Pakistan over separatists meet", Livemint, 18 August 2014; and "India Calls Off Talks; Meeting With Pakistan Envoy Stands, Says Separatist", NDTV, 19 August 2014; "Modi walks the talk against Pakistan; infuriates Congress", The Financial Express, 22 August 2014

    Speaker denies INC opposition leader status, SC seeks clarification

    Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected Congress’s claim to leadership of the opposition in the lower house of the Parliament, on 19 August. While Congress, with 44 seats, falls below the eligibility criteria of 10 percent of total seats, it is the second largest party after BJP, on the basis of which it laid claim to the position. Besides the prestige associated with the position that is equivalent to a cabinet minister, the leader of opposition participates in important committees and has a say in selection of key officials such as the chief of the Central Vigilance Commission and members of the Lokpal. In a related development, the Supreme Court asked the government to clarify its position about the vacancy, noting that it has obstructed selection of the Lokpal so far.

    For more information see: "Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejects Congress’ claim for LoP", The Economic Times, 19 August 2014; "Speaker’s Loud and Clear Message to Sonia: No LoP, The Indian Express, 20 August 2014; "Cong latches on to SC’s observations on LoP, says court vindicates its stand" The Indian Express, 22 August 2014

    Govt mulls revised strategy against Naxal insurgency

    Home Minister Rajnath Singh has sought insight from Naxal-affected states to produce a uniform ’anti Maoist doctrine’. The goal of the exercise is to disseminate shared counterinsurgency goals and create measures to prevent nonconformity from states in future. Some of the salient features of the doctrine include not negotiating with rebels unless they disarm, insurgent leadership decapitation, and population control by deploying extra troops. The new doctrine aims to counter recurrent coordination problems among the affected states by linking disbursement of central funds to compliance with shared counterinsurgency strategy. In recent weeks, several states have requisitioned funds for anti-mine equipment, improved mobile communication, accelerated police recruitment, and special law enforcement training.

    For more information see : "Home Minister Rajnath Singh orders new ’anti-Maoist doctrine’ to wipe out naxal menace", The Economic Times, 22 August, 2014; "Government to acquire mine detectors for use in Naxal-hit states", The Economic Times, 21 August 2014; "Cabinet nod for mobile towers in naxal belts; cost Rs 3,216 crore", The Economic Times, 20 August 2014; "MP seeks Centre’s nod for buying weapons for Naxal-hit areas", The Times of India, 17 August 2014

    More than 1000 displaced in protests between Assam and Nagaland

    Fifteen civilians died in Assam as protestors clashed with police in wake of Naga insurgent violence. Tensions rose after nine Assamese civilians were killed by Naga insurgents suspected of belonging to the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM). Subsequent rebel harassment forced 10000 people to migrate to relief camps. Police firing against protestors caused three more deaths, against which a shut-down was observed by the Opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association. Local political organisations blocked major national highways leading to Nagaland. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju visited Guwahati; Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and his Nagaland counterpart T R Zeliang agreed to normalise state relations.

    For information more see : "What has triggered clashes at the Nagaland-Assam border?" The Economic Times, 21 August 2014; "Assam-Nagaland Border Clashes: Curfew Re-imposed in Golaghat", NDTV, 22 August 2014; "Explained: Assam vs Nagaland, a border dispute of five decades", The Indian Express, 22 August 2014

    India, Singapore to scale up trade ties

    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held extensive talks with her Singaporean counterpart K. Shanmugam during her visit to Singapore on bilateral relations and discussed ways to speed up air and maritime connectivity and coastal development. Her visit also aimed at enhancing investment to India in various infrastructure projects including the new government’s ambitious 100 smart cities venture. The two leaders hoped that negotiations for the second review of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement would be completed expeditiously to give further fillip to economic ties. Bilateral trade has witnessed a huge surge from $4.2 billion to about $19.4 billion in the last one decade. Defence Minister Arun Jaitley also met with his Singaporean counterpart to discuss strengthening of defence ties.

    For information more see : "India, Singapore decide to scale up trade ties", The Hindu, 16 August 2014; "India, Singapore to boost defence ties", NDTV, 20 August 2014; The Hindu, 16 August 2014; India and Singapore have significant areas of potential cooperation: PM Lee", Channel NewsAsia, 22 August 2014

    Singapore keen to cooperate with India to build ’smart cities’

    In her two-day visit to Singapore, External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj asked Singapore’s top leaders to consider aiding the 100 smart cities project along the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor. Singapore expressed interest in providing its expertise in water management and urban rejuvenation.

    For information more see : : "Cooperate in developing ’little Singapore’ in India: Sushma Swaraj", The Economic Times, 16 August 2014; "External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrives in Singapore to bolster ties", The Economic Times, 15 August 2014

    India to surpass China as world’s top cotton producer

    According to the Cotton Association of India, India could surpass China as the world’s top cotton producer as farmers planted the biggest area and boosted production to near-record levels. The harvest is estimated at 39.63 million bales of 170 kg each, or 6.74 million tonnes (MT), in the season starting October 1, more than the 6.04 mt estimated for India by the International Cotton Advisory Committee and the 6.22 mt of Chinese output.

    For information more see : "India set to surpass China as world’s top cotton producer", Business Standard, 20 August 2014

    Maldives

    Yameen soothes India

    Returning from his first China visit, where he was promised hundred percent grant for a sea-bridge in Maldives, President Abdulla Yameen said that strengthening economic ties with China would not affect relations with India.

    For information more see : "Relations with China will not affect relations with India: President", Haveeru Online 21 August 2014; "China will provide free aid to build bridge: President", Haveeru Online 21 August 2014; "India to help renovate historical mosques", Haveeru Online, 21 August 2014

    Borrowing powers for President

    The Government has proposed to Parliament, to amend the Public Finance Act, to empower President to take any government borrowings without mandatory approval by Parliament.

    For more information see: "Amendments to Public Finance Act", Haveeru Online, 21 August 2014


    Missing journalist feared abducted

    Maldivian media organisations have said that the missing ’Minivan News’ journalist Rilwan Abhulla may have been abducted even as Home Minister Umar Naseer said that the police was widening the search for him and Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon said that protection of journalists is fundamental at the personal, national and international levels.

    For more information see : "Search for Rilwan widened: Home Minister", Haveeru Online, 20 August 2014; "Foreign Minister: Protection of journalists is fundamental", SunOnline, 23 August 2014; "Information strongly suggests Rilwan was abducted, say journalists", SunOnline 23 August 2014; "Family announces MVR 50,000 reward for information on missing journalist", SunOnline, 23 August, 2014

    Myanmar

    Proportional representation unlikely for 2015 elections

    Proportional representation is unlikely to be introduced for the 2015 elections, said U Thaung Hlaing, director of the election department in the Union Election Commission.

    For information more see : "Proportional representation won’t be ready for 2015, says election commission official", Mizzima, 20 August 2014

    Rohingya enumeration, a failure

    An independent team monitoring the census underway in Myanmar said that the Rohingya enumeration has been a complete failure. The team warned that omission of the Rohingya from the census would leave gaps in the data on the group.

    For information more see : "Enumeration of the Rohingya a complete failure, census observers say", Myanmar Times, 19 August 2014

    Stalled Dawei SEZ gets the green light

    The Thai military has given a green signal to Dawei development, saying the project will help smooth investment between Thailand and Myanmar. A National Council for Peace and Order has agreed that the development of the project should proceed as scheduled, said a spokesperson of the Dawei SEZ Development agency.

    For information more see : "Thai Junta gives stalled Dawei SEZ the green light", Democratic Voice of Burma, 21 August 2014

    Nepal

    Joint Task Force on labour agreement

    Nepal and Malaysia have agreed to form a joint committee to finalize the draft of Labour Agreement between the two countries, which, once enforced, would help protect the rights of Nepali’s working in the Southeast Asian country. The two countries have also agreed to form a separate committee to prepare a draft of a pact that would pave the way for the country to officially send domestic helpers to Malaysia. Nepal and Malaysia reached understandings in these regards during a meeting held in Kathmandu on 21 August between State Minister for Labour Tek Bahadur Gurung and Malaysian Human Resources Minister Richard Riot Jaem, who arrived in the country for a two-day visit yesterday.

    For information more see : "Nepal? Malaysia plan committee", The Himalayan Times, 21 August 2014; "Malaysia, Nepal agree to form joint taskforce", Republica, 22 August 2014

    Himalayan Airlines to resume operations

    Yeti Air International, a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines Group, has announced that it will resume international services in October in its new avatar Himalaya Airlines. Himalaya Airlines plans to operate Kathmandu-Lhasa flights and set to become a second international carrier linking directly to the highest cities in the world after Air China. Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai said that the joint venture agreement marks the business-to-business cooperation between Nepal and China and would further strengthen economic ties between the two countries.

    For more information see: "Himalaya Airlines to begin operations in Oct", Ekantipur, 20 August 2014; "Himalaya Airlines to start int’l flights from October", Republica, 20 August 2014; "Nepal, China join hands to set up international airline", The Economic Times, 20 August 2014

    Disagreement over fresh endorsement of Constituent Assembly

    A day after Prime Minister Sushil Koirala flatly rejected its demand for fresh endorsement of the president and vice president by the Constituent Assembly, the government´s main coalition partner, CPN-UML, on 21 August reiterated its demand with the prime minister himself. The seven-point deal reached between the two parties before the formation of the Koirala-led government in January specifically mentioned that both the president and the vice-president would be endorsed by the newly elected CA. Prime Minister Koirala has been dismissing the UML´s demand, saying that all posts including those of president and vice-president will become vacant once the new constitution is promulgated.

    For more information see : "UML sticks to fresh endorsement of Prez, VP", Republica, 21 August 2014; "Big 3 struggle for common ground", Ekantipur, 21 August 2014

    Pakistan

    Political impasse as PTI, PAT continue protest

    The Pakistan Parliament has made clear that it continues to support Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and all the elected representatives minus those from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have rejected the demand for Mr Sharif’s resignation. Imran Khan’s and Tahir-ul Qadri’s sit-ins are ongoing. Sharif has ruled out force to quell the anti-government protests and continues to look for a political solution.

    For information more see : "PTI, PAT protests: Political impasse continues", Dawn, 22 August 2014;"House into confidence: PM Nawaz rules out force to quell sit-ins", The Express Tribune, 22 August 2014

    Pakistan hopeful of better ties with India despite cancelled talks

    Pakistan’s high commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, has said that Pakistan remains hopeful of strengthening ties with India despite New Delhi cancelling scheduled talks between the foreign secretaries. The move was prompted by Basit’s meetings with Kashmiri separatist leaders because of which India accused Islamabad of interfering in its domestic affairs.

    For more information see: "Pakistan hopeful of stronger India ties despite talks row" The Express Tribune, 20 August 2014

    Pakistan government releases Rs. 8 billion for Operation Zarb-e-Azb

    The Pakistan Ministry of Finance has ordered the Accountant General Pakistan Revenue to release Rs. 8 billion to the Ministry of Defence for operation Zarb-e-Azb. On 19 August 2014, 48 militants were killed in the operation in North Waziristan according to the Inter-Service Public Relations.

    For more information see : "Govt releases Rs8bn for Operation Zarb-e-Azb", The Express Tribune, 18 August 2014; "Zarb-e-Azb updates: 48 militants killed as army pounds N Waziristan, Khyber", The Express Tribune, 15 June 2014

    Sri Lanka

    TNA delegation meets Sushma

    A delegation of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) called on Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on today and said India can play a major role in resolving the ethnic Tamil problem in the island-nation.

    For information more see : "TNA seeks Indian help to resolve Tamil issue", Daily Mirror Online, 22 August 2014

    TNA upset over demand for backdating probe

    The top leadership, including Northern Province Chief Minister Justice C V Wigneswaran, is said to be upset over 33 Provincial Council members of the party from the North and the East, seeking the expansion of the UNHRC probem, dating back to all governments since 1974.

    For information more see : "Call for expanded UN probe divides TNA ahead of party convention", The Island, 20 August 2014; "TNA asks UN to probe atrocities under SLFP, UNP govts since 1974", The Island, 19 August 2014

    UN to intervene in asylum-seekers case?

    UN agencies like the UNHCR and some human rights organizations are considering to intervene in the ongoing case in an Australian court, relating to 157 Tamil-asylum seekers, mostly of Sri Lankan origin, who had set sail from the Indian coastal town of Puducherry.

    "UN likely to intervene in Tamil asylum-seeker case", Daily Mirror Online, 21 August 2014

    ’Islamic terrorism is a threat’

    In a US Government defence publication, Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that Islamic terrorism is a threat to Sri Lanka.

    For more information see : "Islamic terrorism threat to SL: Gotabaya", Daily Mirror Online, 22 August 2014

    Swamy speaks at defence seminar-2014

    As in the third edition in 2013, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy spoke at the Sri Lanka Defence Seminar-2014, held in Colombo from 18-20 August. Military experts and academics from 54 countries participated and/or spoke at the seminar, under the seminar theme, "Sri Lanka: Challenges to a Rising Nation".

    For information more see : "Defence Seminar 2014 commenced with the participation of senior military personnel and defence attaches", The Island, 19 August 2014

    Primary Documentation

    Afghanistan

    India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi Congratulates President Karzai for the Independence Day of Afghanistan, Office of the President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 17 August 2014

    Briefing by the National Security Council on the role of Pakistan in supporting militiamen on Afghan soil, Office of the President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 17 August 2014

    Bangladesh

    Transcript of remarks by US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan Mozana at the opening ceremony of Bangladesh Disaster Response and Exchange at Dhaka, The US Department of State, 18 August 2014

    Bhutan

    Press Release of 9th Japan-Bhutan Consultation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan, 21 August 2014

    India

    Opening remarks by External Affairs Minister at the First India-League of Arab States Media Symposium, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 21 August 2014

    3rd India- Regional Economic Communities (RECs) Meeting, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 20 August 2014

    Joint Statement on meeting between Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law of the Republic of Singapore, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 16 August 2014

    Myanmar

    Press Release on President, Thein Sein’s attendance on the first day of the four-mounthly union cabinet meeting President Office of The Republic of The Union of Myanmar, 21 August 2014

    Nepal

    Press Release on the visit of H. E. the Minister of Human Resources of Malaysia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal, 21 August 2014

    Press Release on Nepal-UK Consultation Mechanism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal, 20 August 2014

    Press Release on the relief assistance from the Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the PR of China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal, 20 August 2014

    Pakistan

    Importance of Pakistan-Afghanistan security cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 21 August 2014

    Reaction to Cancellation of FS Level Talks by India, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 18 August 2014

    Most of the detained Pakistanis released in Libya, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 18 August 2014

    509 stranded Pakistanis evacuated from Libya by special PIA flight – more flights to be sent, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 15 August 2014

    Sri Lanka

    Text of ’Sri Lanka’s National Security’ by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Sri Lanka, 19 August 2014

    Bibliography

    Afghanistan

    Micheal Kugelman, "Why Afghanistan Should be Worried About Pakistan’s Political Crisis", Foreign Policy, 20 August 2014

    Martin van Bijlert, "Solving audit problems by creating new ones", Afghanistan Analysts’ Network, 19 August 2014

    Matthew Rosenberg, "Amid Election Impasse, Calls in Afghanistan for an Interim Government", The New York Times, 18 August 2014

    Mohd. Sayed Madadi, "Afghanistan’s Missing Political Will", Foreign Policy, 18 August 2014

    Bangladesh

    Enayet Rasul Bhuyian, "Playing the great game with India and China", The Independent, 20 August 2014

    Muhammad Zamir, "Reducing rural poverty in Bangladesh through micro credit", The Independent, 19 August 2014

    Sudhesh Giriyan, "Channelising remittances for socio-economic development" The Independent, 16 August 2014

    Bhutan

    "Resources in the Red", Kuensel Online, 19 August 2014

    India

    Jean Drèze, "Learning from NREGA", The Hindu, 22 August 2014

    Shekhar Gupta, "India has its first leader who’s unapologetic about being of the social and political Right", India Today, 21 August 2014

    Prem Shankar Jha, "An inept Pakistan policy: Modi government commits big mistake by cancelling talks and cutting Hurriyat out", The Times of India, 21 August 2014

    Pradeep Chhibber, Rahul Verma, "The appeal of the problem solver", The Indian Express, 21 August 2014

    C. Raja Mohan, "No table for three", The Indian Express, 21 August 2014

    Srinath Raghavan, "The foreign policy report card", The Hindu, 20 August 2014

    Manu Joseph, "An Experiment With Socialism Finally Ends", The New York Times, 20 August 2014

    Nepal

    Andrew Bancombe, "Nepal honours chronicler of Himalayan mountaineering Elizabeth Hawley by naming peak after her", The Independent, 22 August 2014

    Bhim Udas, "Emulate Nepal: Message from Red Fort", The Himalayan Times, 21 August 2014

    Bibek Bhandari "No life for a child: The grim reality of Nepal’s child laborers", CNN, 15 August 2014

    Pakistan

    C. Raja Mohan "No table for three", The Indian Express, 21 August 2014

    Mani Shankar Aiyar, "Being a bully", The Indian Express, 20 August 2014

    Tahir ul Qadri, "My vision for a democratic Pakistan", CNN, 20 August 2014

    Grahame Lucas, "Opinion: Bleak outlook for India-Pakistan relations", DW, 19 August 2014

    Interviews

    Anahita Mukherji, "Military pushing Imran Khan – Nawaz govt too weak for talks: Husain Haqqani", The Times of India, 22 August 2014

    Sri Lanka

    Jayantha Dhanapala and Savitri Gunasekere, "Eroding a Constitution", Daily Mirror, 18 August 2014

    Jehan Perera "Opposition cooperation necessary for credibility in tackling international probe", The Island, 18 August 2014

    Interviews

    "Executive supplants Parliament", Daily Mirror, 20 August 2014

    Contributors:
    Afghanistan: Aryaman Bhatnagar;
    Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharje;
    Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale
    India: Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti, ManmathGoel and Niharika Betkerur;
    Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
    Nepal: Pratnashree Basu;
    Pakistan: Taruni Kumar

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