South Asia Weekly | Volume IX; Issue 13

    Source: Maithripala Sirisena/Flickr

    ANALYSIS

    Sri Lanka: No accountability yet on ‘accountability’?

    By N. Sathiya Moorthy

    Repeating himself with consistent periodicity for the n+1 time after his UNGA assertion to the contrary, President Maithripala Sirisena has ruled out ‘foreign judges’ for UNHRC-mandates ‘accountability probe’, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka. While possibly targeting predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa camp within the SLFP, of which he is the chairperson, he still asked local judges to be independent and impartial, yet his overall approach could seemingly upset his PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s UNP apple-cart and/or their Government for National Unity (GNU).

    Sirisena found a prompt echo in centre-right ‘Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist’ JHU alliance Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, as always, while another unabashed backer in Cabinet spokesperson and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne was/is away in Singapore for medical treatment. Ranwaka again said, ‘hands off war-heroes’, but has not clarified if his former presidential boss Mahinda Rajapaksa counted as one – and to what extent and end.

    Another former and SLFP veteran, President Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga, CBK, as chairperson of the government’s Office of Unity and National Reconciliation (ONUR), has lauded the ‘eradication of terrorism’ (by the Rajapaksa regime), but has criticised the ‘politically-motivated’ derailment of post-war reconciliation – for which she has indicated ‘truth finding’ is a prerequisite of sorts.

    On the UNP side, PM Wickremesinghe, not long ago, questioned the ‘independence’ and ‘credibility’ of the nation’s Judiciary, attributing it to ‘politicisation’, purportedly and near-exclusively under the Rajapaksa regime. In the US earlier this year, his UNP Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera sought to reassure the international community on ‘international probe’. But their new-found UNP MP and Minister, war-time army commander, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, seems to be singing different tunes at different times, but within a short span.

    In a Parliament intervention as Regional Development Minister, Fonseka sort of blamed the controversial ‘white flag episode’, possibly among other alleged ‘war crimes’, on the Rajapaksas, and implied that he was ‘kept away’ from key decisions. At a news conference within days, Fonseka said the Rajapaksas were not involved in ‘battle-field decisions’. He was away in China and then President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Jordan during the crucial last days of the war, but Fonseka did not name acting defence minister Sirisena and/or then defence secretary, Gota R, as among those who possibly took decisions.

    Yet, Fonseka also gave dates and timings to argue that he was still in the air back home, but Mahinda R was already back, when LTTE Prabhakaran was killed. He still disagreed with the Darusman Report for UN chief Ban Ki-moon, which fixed the number of Tamil war-victims at 40,000. He also discounted the theory that Pottu Amman did not die in the Nandikadal battle-field and was living in India, pointing out that the LTTE intelligence chief was wanted in the country for the Rajiv Gandhi assassination.

    Credibility at stake

    The confusing and contradicting signals and details, if they are any, emanating from different sections of the government, could put Sri Lanka’s credibility at stake, all over again. The Rajapaksa regime spoke in one voice, yet the international community felt that the government was shifting the self-fixed goal-posts often and without justifiable reason(s). The Maithri-Ranil government seems to be speaking in different voice(s), and the addition of Fonseka, that too, to the UNP fold, compounds the internal contradictions even more.

    Two, the UNHRC resolutions since 2012 have derived from the Darusman Report and who knows, Pottu Amman’s fate too could be probed, whether by local or international judges. Fonseka, among others, could become a witness and more before a quasi-judicial or wholly judicial forum, domestic or international, if formed.

    The Maithri-Ranil duo cannot be ignorant of the possibilities, and hence they could be seen as being non-serious about the UNHRC commitments and resolutions. Like the Rajapaksa leadership earlier, they cannot be seen as taking refuge in purported ‘Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist’ revivalism – and blame it this time on him. After his news conference, the Maithiri-Ranil duo seems to have rewarded Fonseka with additional departments under his ministerial care.

    Whither India

    The Tamil-exclusive TNA, the officially-recognised Opposition in the present Parliament, had backed Fonseka (2010) and Sirisena (2015) presidential polls, against incumbent Mahinda R. Their demands and claims on ‘accountability probes’ could become politically burdensome after a point. Having opposed Rajapaksa’s PSC (parliamentary select committee) route to political solution, the TNA has now tamely accepted a much larger and more complex CA (constituent assembly) path.

    Either, they too are keeping fingers crossed, or want to run with the hare and hunt with the hound – or, both, as on most occasions in the past.  This way, a political resolution could become as much complex as a domestically-implemented process on ‘accountability probe’. As always, the Sinhala-led government and the moderate Tamil leadership can once again blame each other, the wind weather and everything else other than the self, which alone might have to be blamed for most parts – and also convince the world, even if partly, partially and momentarily so.

    Neighbouring India seems to be breathing relatively easy just now on this score, as Sri Lankans are engaged, dis-engaged or re-engaged among them, in various permutations and cancellation. The TNA could suddenly begin ‘discovering/re-discovering’ the selectively ignored guardianship of ‘mother India’. The international community too could begin to pressure India, possibly for the first time after the 2012 UNHRC resolution period. It could become more and immediate, should the TNA come under pressure from within.

    Secondly, Sirisena even seemingly losing further hold on the SLFP in particular, whether on this count or others, could pressure India into arguing the Sri Lankan government’s case with the TNA and the international community – as it did for the Rajapaksa regime, up to a point. Jointly and severally, partners in the GNU would see the virtues of the Indian ‘relative’, but for differing domestic reasons and compulsions.

    A third possibility is about a wilful Sri Lankan decision, where the probe and power-devolution are left hanging, as under Rajapaksa and/or others before him. That again could leave a huge question-mark before India, (from) among Sri Lanka’s neighbourhood friends.

    It may be a coincidence, and even wide off the mark. Like other Sri Lankan critics of India on this count, the TNA seems ready for testing the waters after a gap (when they did not really want India, but only the ‘US and the international community’), by taking up the ‘environmental hazards’ of India-funded/executed Sampur coal-based power-plant in the Eastern Province with a substantial Tamil population.

    The TNA’s reservations to the bilateral development project during the war years under the Rajapaksa regime was confined, first to the site-choice and later to the rehabilitation of evacuees. In political terms, the TNA opposition comes when the Ranil-led government seems keen on taking forward the project after the unexplained but well anticipated sluggishness through the Rajapaksa regime, which however had signed the agreement for the purpose.

    On the ‘ethnic issue’ and attendant accountability concerns, India ended up voting for a ‘diluted’ UNHRC resolution in 2012, when the US-led West yielded as much for its support, if only to convince other fence-sitter voting-nations at the UNHRC. When they had the numbers otherwise, as in 2014, the US almost came to ignoring the Indian friend, partner, ally or whoever. In 2015 at UNHRC, none wanted anyone as the new Sri Lankan government went on board with the West and the rest. That may not be the case again – again, and again.

    Rajapaksa bogey

    It’s time that the Maithri-Ranil put their collective and independent houses in order. They cannot (continue to) sing different tunes, and to different constituencies, and conclude that other constituencies are neither hearing, nor listening. The government’s honeymoon with the voter having ended, and the TNA too remains clueless about the next step(s) of self and others, the Rajapaksa bogey can work only up to a point – for all of them, jointly and severally.

    If the government leadership continues to think that fixing the Rajapaksas in non-war charges of corruption and nepotism would keep the voter-mood happy, from now on it might be confined to the traditional UNP constituency, which alone could not win last year’s twin polls against the Rajapaksa camp and/or charisma. They would have to stand together, yes, to fight off Rajapaksas.

    It is still not enough that they stick together only viz the Rajapaksas, as if that’s the only issue before the Sri Lankan people, and their friends in the international community. After the Rajapaksa experience(s), loss of credibility by and for this government, particularly without a broad and purposeful Tamil endorsement, could mean loss of global credibility and standing of the Sri Lankan State. Parties and personalities would not count in context, either way, and after a point. Politics (alone) would count – and it comes in every denominator – internal, external and what not!

    The writer is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Chennai.

    Pakistan: The Musharraf deal

    By Kriti Shah

    img-mushOn March 18, former Pakistan President Parvez Musharraf slipped out of the country to Dubai reportedly for “medical reasons”. This was a day after Musharraf’s name was removed from the country’s ‘exit control list’ (ECL) that had banned him from international travel since April 2013, after being  accused of a number of a crimes, including treason. While the news brought about a sense of alarm in the country as to how the most powerful can escape the law, it has brought about a familiar sense of discomfort with the realisation about the power and influence the military continues to exert on the civilian government and all aspects of decision-making in the country.

    The former president and one-time army chief is facing charges of treason for ousting then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (now back in power) in a 1999 coup and for alleged involvement in the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Considering the severity of the cases against him, it is surprising that that the Supreme Court cleared him for international travel, instead of issuing fresh orders to continue the restriction.

    Although the Nawaz Sharif administration had the constitutional power to re-impose the restriction, it did not do so, leading one to question the role army chief, Gen Raheel Sharif, may have had been in saving his former mentor.  His brother Shabbir Sharif (who died in the 1971 Bangladesh war) was said to be close to Musharraf, leading the latter to guide and mentor Raheel at every stage of his career, promoting him to the rank of major-general before resigning as president in 2008. While it is difficult to establish with any certainty, Gen Sharif’s sense of gratitude may have been behind his purportyedly getting the Nawaz Sharif government to shelve Musharraf’s treason trial of 2013, and facilitating his overseas travel now.

    Not accountable

    Whether Raheel Sharif was behind the push to let Musharraf go, one cannot determine with surety. However, given the closeness between the two, and the military’s dominance in all aspects of the nation’s political life, one can deduce a possible connection. By allowing Musharraf to leave the country, Raheel Sharif has without a doubt added to his stature and popularity amongst the troops by demonstrating the power of a military chief above all, including the law. While bringing Musharraf to trial would definitely set a precedent that no one can escape the hands of the law, Raheel Sharif may have shattered that narrative by ensuring that the military, its officers and especially its chief, is not held accountable by civilian institutions.

    The precarious balance of civil-military relations in Pakistan has once again found itself titling towards the later, with the military increasingly stepping into areas of governance, that are democratically set out for the elected civilian government. In an interview to DW, Kamran Murtaza, the former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, said that “the court had ruled that the decision to impose or lift the ban would ultimately be decided by the central government. Therefore, it was (Nawaz) Sharif’s decision and responsibility”. Some reports state, that Nawaz Sharif, was unable to resist the military’s pressure in this matter. Nonetheless, it demonstrates the fear of the government of irking the military and its generals by detaining their former chief.

    A help for the PM

    The departure of Musharraf could also help Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N. By allowing the former army chief to leave the country, Sharif has demonstrated two important things. One, that he does not consider Musharraf to be a threat to him or his party in anyway. Two, that he is a leader who follows the military’s bidding. While this may lead him to be considered weak in the eyes of the international community, PM Sharif knows from experience, that within the country, it is vital to have good relations with the military.

    Therefore by allowing Musharraf to leave under the pretence of Supreme Court orders, he has brought himself close to Raheel Sharif, with the public perceiving him to be a man who can deliver. It therefore not weaken Sharif amidst his political opponents, only strengthens his perception as a leader who works well with the military.

    The civil-military matrix in Pakistan is a complex one, with each rising above each other on occasion. However, time and time again, the men in khaki demonstrate who holds the reins of the government. With the Prime Minster outsourcing matters of national security policy to the armed forces and Pakistan’s National Defence University, playing an increasing role in drafting security policy, Pakistan’s civilian institutions are continuously weakened.

    In addition, the continued existence of the national reconciliation ordinance (NRO), the deal through which Musharraf left the country and political leaders from the Pakistan People’s Party and the Muttahida Quami Movement exit the country escaping accountability, needs to be changed so that political deals between accused civilians and the government cease.

    While Musharraf will nonetheless, be thanking the Pakistan the military for its support and confidence in him, it remains to be seen what the future holds for him and its trial. While Nawaz Sharif had risked considerable political capital at the start of his term, declaring that he would bring Musharraf to justice, it cost him an expensive dharna that was backed by the military. Although he scraped through the crisis, it is unlikely that he will push for a trial anymore.

    The military lurks like a hawk in both Islamabad and Rawalpindi, ready to defend its institution and poke holes in the tapestry of civilian ones. Nawaz Sharif, will find himself boxed into a tight corner once again, if he wakes the sleeping bear that is Raheel Sharif. In the meantime, Musharraf can rest easy, knowing his protégé is the army chief, and therefore has his back, come what may.

    Kriti Shah is a Research Assistant at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

    COUNTRY REPORTS

    Afghanistan

    US fights IS

    The United States has intensified its air campaign in Afghanistan as the Islamic State widened its reach in the country, according to a report by the New York Times on 18 March. According to Air Force data, the United States conducted three times as many strikes in January and February this year as it did in the same period last year. The increase in strikes follows a decision by U.S. President Barack Obama to grant more leeway for strikes on the Islamic State in Afghanistan. The rate of strikes is the highest since 2013.

    For more information, see: U.S. Steps Up Airstrikes Against ISIS After It Gains Territory in Afghanistan, The New York Times, March 18, 2016

    NATO chief apologises

    On 22 March, Gen. John Nicholson, the new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, issued an apology to the families of those killed in an air strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz last year. Gen. Nicholson and his wife traveled to Kunduz to meet with local officials and family members of the victims.

    For more information, see: U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Apologises for Bombing of Hospital, The New York Times, March 22, 2016

    30 Turkey denies asylum  

    On 23 March, Amnesty International accused Turkey of forcibly returning approximately 30 asylum seekers to Afghanistan. Last week, the European Union and Turkey signed a controversial migration agreement that was intended to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for financial compensation to Turkey.

    For more information, see: Amnesty says 30 Afghans forcibly returned from Turkey”, Reuters, March 23, 2016

    12-year-old suicide bomber surrenders

    A 12-year-old child suicide bomber surrendered to police in Nangarhar province, according to Afghan officials on 23 March. The officials alleged that the child was a resident of the Wazirbagh area of Peshawar and trained for two years in suicide bombing at a Pakistani seminary.

    For more information, see: Child suicide bomber surrenders to Nangarhar police”, Pajhwok News, March 23, 2016

    Bangladesh 

    Polling ‘peaceful’

    The first phase of elections of the Union Parishad (UP), country’s the lowest tier of the local government body, was held this week. Around 117 unions went to polls in the first phase.  There were claims of violence and more them 10 people died.

    For more information see: “10 killed in UP violence”, The Daily Star, 23 March 2016 ;“Acceptable, peaceful CEC on UP polls “, The Daily Star, 23 March 2016; “Violence Rocks Local Elections in Bangladesh, Killing 13”, Abc.go.com, 24 March 2016 ; “Apprehensions over UP polls in very 1st phase”, Prothom ALo, March 22, 2016; “BNP, ruling allies fear unfair UP elections”, Prothom Alo, March 21, 2016

    Khaleda released BNP’s ‘Vision 2030’

    Behum Khaleda Zia, Chairperson of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has outlined a new vision for Bangladesh in her speech at the party’s national council. Besides, she called the people to start a movement to topple the Awami League government. She informed that her party’s next electoral manifesto would be based on this ‘Vision 2030.’

    For more information see:  “Khaleda Zia announces BNP’s ‘Vision 2030’ in its Sixth National Council”, BDnew24.com, March 19, 2016

    Free healthcare for poor

    For the first time the government launched a health protection scheme to ensure healthcare for the poor.  The project titled Shasthyo Suroksha Karmashuchi (SSK), the government will initially provide health cards to one lakh extreme poor households.

    For more information see:  “Free healthcare for the poor”, The Daily Star, March 25, 2016

    Submarines to be inducted

    Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina this week informed that two submarines will be inducted into Bangladesh Navy this year. This will be first time that Navy will receive submarines with aim to aim of transforming it into a three-dimensional force. This week also three new warships were commissioned to Bangladesh Navy.

    For more information see:  “Navy to get two subs this year”, The Daily Star, March 20, 2016

    Modi hails bilateral ties

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi  said India and Bangladesh is a ‘classic case’ of showcasing to the world how two neighbouring countries can cooperate with each other for mutual gains.“The two countries have set an example (before the world) how to maintain relations with neighbours and which could be a path for the implementation of the inter-dependent world,” he said.

    For more information see: “Dhaka, New Delhi set exemplary relations”, The Independent, March 24, 2016

    Bhutan

    India okays higher cost

    The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to the Revised Cost Estimate (RCE) of Rs. 4020.63 crore for the ongoing 720 MW Mangadechhu Hydroelectric Project (HEP) in Bhutan.

    For more information see: “Revised Cost Estimate of the Mangadechhu Hydroelectric Project in Bhutan”, Business Standard, March 23, 2016

    New airlines

    A private Bangladeshi airline, US-Bangla Airlines has proposed to operate between Paro and Dhaka. US-Bangla Airlines is a subsidiary of US-Bangla Group, a business conglomerate in Bangladesh. The airline operates a fleet of 3 DASH 8-Q400, which are 76-seater twin turbo-propellor aircraft.

    For more information see: “Bangladeshi airline proposes to operate to Bhutan”, Kuensel, March 21, 2016

     India’s apex bank approves swap deal

    The Reserve Bank of India signed a multi currency swap agreement with Bhutan’s Royal Monetary Authority. Under the arrangement, Bhutan’s central banks can make withdrawals in US dollars, euros or Indian rupees in multiple tranches up to a maximum of US$ 100 million or its equivalent.

    For more information see: “RBI allows banks to adjust excess pension; signs swap deal with Bhutan”, The Economic Times, March 17, 2016

    India

    PM, Mehbooba talk          

    Efforts at government formation in Jammu and Kashmir seemed to have gained critical mass on Tuesday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti, a mere three days after a previously scheduled meeting between the two was called off.

    For more information see: “PM, Mehbooba talk, J&K govt. likely soon”, The Hindu, March 23, 2016

    ‘Make in India’ focus in defence  

    Manohar Parrikar’s ministry is finalizing the defence procurement policy that is likely to be released at the end of this month and a draft copy accessed by ET reveals heavy emphasis on involving the industry and a focus on enhancing the role of MSMEs.

    For more information see: “New defence policy: Emphasis on MSMEs, ‘Make in India’ focal point”, Economic Times, March 21, 2016

    Uber sues Ola

    In 2014, Uber was accused of gaming its rivals in the U.S. by booking bogus cab rides and cancelling them so as to create artificial demand thereby making it difficult for genuine users to book rides. The taxi-hailing app has sued its local rival, Ola, for allegedly following similar tactics.

    For more information see: Will Uber-Ola court battle bring transparency to their business in India?

    Maldives

    Airport development

    The government-owned Maldives Airports Company (MACL) is organising a public function in Male city on 6 April, to formally launch Chinese-funded development work, including a second runway, in the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), which was in the news earlier over the engagement and subsequent exit of the Indian infrastructure major, GMR. At the completion of the development works by end-2016, the existing international terminal would be converted into a full-fledged domestic terminal.

    For more information, see: “Maldives main airport development project to be inaugurated April 6”, Haveeru Online, 21 March 2016; “International terminal to change to domestic after new terminal completes”, SunOnline, March 1, 2016

    Nazim on medical leave

    Jailed former defence minister, Col Mohamed Nazim (retd), is away in Singapore on yet another spell of 21-day  ‘medical leave’ for eye-care, after the high court had confirmed his 11-year prison-term under terrorism law, for possessing illegal weapon and trying to topple president Abdulla Yameen.

    For more information, see: “Ex defence minister in Singapore on medical leave from prison”, Maldives Independent, 20 March 2016; “Maldives pres in Singapore on unofficial visit”, Haveeru Online, March 22, 2016

    Myanmar

    Suu Kyi angry on being interviewed by a Muslim

     A biographer claims Aung San Suu Kyi angrily complained about being interviewed by a Muslim BBC presenter who pressed her about violence against Rohingya Muslims. “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim,” the Nobel laureate reportedly said off air after a tense exchange with British-Pakistani news presenter Mishal Husain broadcast in October 2013, according to the biographer Peter Popham, in a media report on March 25.

    For more information see: “Biographer claims Suu Kyi angry at being interviewed by Muslim”, Mizzima, March 26, 2016

    NLD Patron put’s peace as the top priority

    Tin Oo, a founding member and patron of the soon-to-be-ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), has vowed that his party will focus on bringing peace to Burma. Speaking at an event to mark the 140th anniversary of the birth of literary and political icon Thakin Kodaw Hmaing, Tin Oo said that the people of Burma want peace, so that must be the NLD’s priority.

    For more information see: “Peace is our top priority, says NLD patron Tin Oo”, DVB, March 24, 2016

    Yangon stock exchange kicks off

    Following earlier delays, shares trading at the Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX) kicked off on March 25, debuting one week before a new government comes to power in Burma. The YSX officially launched in December, but shares since then had only been traded internally through dry-run testing.

    For more information see: “YSX Shares Trading Kicks Off With One Listing”, The Irrawaddy, March 25 2016

    Nepal

    Border cooperation required

    Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli stressed on the need of creating a broader cooperation model among the Asian nations that will enable free flow of ideas and create a win-win situation for all the nations with integrated and shared benefits in the region. Addressing the inaugural ceremony of 15th BOAO forum of Asia on March 24, Oli pressed on the shared growth of Asian countries.

    For more information, see:” PM Oli stresses on broader cooperation among Asian nations for shared benefitsThe Kathmandu Post,  March 24, 2016

    Transit treaty with China?

    Nepal and China have signed 10 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU), including the transit and transportation treaty, and exchanged letters on various areas of cooperation during Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s ongoing visit to the country. Oli embarked on his maiden official visit to China on March 20 at the invitation of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

    For more information, see:Nepal, China sign first ever transit treatyThe Statesman. 21 March 2016; “Nepal, China sign first ever transit treaty”, Business Standard. March 21 2016

    Madhesis meet Rae

    Leaders of the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) have held joint meeting with Indian envoy Ranjit Rae at Indian Embassy in Kathmandu on March 24. Madhesi leaders later told reporters that they did not discuss any political issues as the invitation was just for extending greetings on the occasion of Holi festival. On a different note, TMSP leader Raya further said that the UDMF has been working to intensify a nation-wide protest program after mid-April.

    For more information, see:Madhesi leaders meet Indian envoy, warn of stringent protests after mid-AprilRepublica.  March 24, 2016

    Pakistan

    Taliban denies Rasoul capture

    Mullah Mohammad Rasoul, the leader of a breakaway faction of the Afghan Taliban, is leading his fighters in Afghanistan, his deputy said on 22 March, contradicting three senior Taliban members who spoke to Reuters and two unnamed Taliban leaders quoted in Pakistan’s Express Tribune on 21 March

    For more information, see: Breakaway Taliban group denies its leaders detained in Pakistan”, Reuters, March 22, 2016

    Refugee deportation

    Arrested Pakistan’s Foreign Office stated on 23 March that 84 Pakistani nationals currently detained at the Moscow airport will likely be deported by 25 March. On 22 March, Russia deported 48 Pakistanis after a similar airport detention who were part of a group that was held after landing in the country for a business trip, but did not give any reason for detaining them, according to Pakistani Foreign Affairs spokesperson Nafees Zakaria.

    For more information, see: 84 Pakistanis held in Russia likely to be deported today: FO”, Dawn, March 21, 2016

    US ends probe against ex-diplomat

    The U.S. Justice Department has closed its espionage investigation into former U.S. diplomat Robin L. Raphel with no charges according to a statement by her lawyer on 21 March. In 2014, the FBI raided Raphel’s home suspecting her of spying for Pakistan. While the investigation was initiated by an intercepted conversation in which a Pakistani official suggested Pakistan was receiving secrets from Raphel, it quickly began to fall apart and was downgraded from espionage to less serious charges of keeping classified information at home. The Justice Department did not confirm whether the investigation had now been closed with no charges.

    For more information, see: U.S. Ends Spying Case Against Former Envoy”, The New York Times, March 21, 2016

    Sri Lanka

    No foreign judges: President

    At the National Law Conference, President Maithripala Sirisena reiterated that he will not allow international judges for war-crimes accountability probe. He said he had the fullest confidence in local judges and judicial administrators.

    For more information, see:President rules out foreign judges in war crimes probe”, Daily Mirror Online, 19 March 2016; “President won’t accept foreign judges under any circumstances..Judiciary told to ensure internal independence, impartiality”, The Island, March 20, 2016; “Hands off SL war heroes: Champika”, Daily Mirror Online, March 20, 2016

    Govt can’t be toppled: PM

    Obviously reacting to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Hyde Park statement, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the 19th annual conference of the SLMC partner in his government that no one can topple his government, and people should not get deceived by false statements of ‘conspirators’. Participating in the 19th annual conference of SLMC, a government partner, President Maithripala Sirisena said that they would push opponents to political wilderness and take the nation towards prosperity.

    For more information, see: “No one can topple this govt: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 20 March 2016; “Expulsion of rebels will speed up formation of new party –MR”, The Island, March 20, 2016; “J-op blames current economic woes on govt mismanagement”, The Island, March 21, 2016; “SLFP rebels’ priority immediate LG polls, GL highlights five key points for Jt. Opp campaign”, The Island, March 20, 2016

    PRIMARY DOCUMENTATION

    Bhutan

    Press Release

    Rules of Procedure for Treaty Making 2016, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 23, 2016

    Nepal

    Press Releases

    His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales called on the Right Honourable Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli at the latter’s official residence in Baluwatar today, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, March 19, 2016

    Press Release on Rt. Hon. Prime Minister’s visit to China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, March 20, 2016

    Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal on Right Hon’ble Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and his delegation arrived in Beijing today evening for an official visit to China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, March 20, 2016

    Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Beijing on Bilateral Talks, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, March 21, 2016

    Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Beijing on Nepal officially joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a dialogue partner, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, March 22, 2016

    Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Beijing on Call on to the Chinese President by Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, March 22, 2016

    Press Release on Terrorist Bomb Attacks on Different Places in Brussels, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, March 23, 2016

    Press Release on Rt. Hon’ble PM’s speech at the Renmin University, Beijing” Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, March 23, 2016

    BIBLIOGRAPHY

    Afghanistan

    Opinion pieces

    Najma Minhas, “China: Peacemaker in South Asia?”, Foreign Policy, March 23, 2016

    Kriti Shah, “Poppy Production: The Taliban’s Cash Cow”, The Diplomat, March 24, 2016

    Gerald F. Hyman, “Back into Afghanistan?”, The National Interest, March 25, 2016

    Bangladesh 

    Book Review

    Continual Quest for Knowing and Understanding Bangladesh”-book History of Bangladesh: A Subcontinental  Civilisation, author Abul Maal A Muhith, publisher University Press Limited, reviewed by Shahid Alam, The Daily Star, March 21, 2016

    Op-eds

    Joyeeta Bhattacharjee, “Access denied”, Business Line, March 22, 2016

    Bjorn Lomborg, “Fighting ultra poverty in Bangladesh”, Prothom ALo, March 22, 2016

    J.Weston Phippen, “The mystery of Bangladesh’s missing millions”, The Atlantic, March 24, 2016

    S N Rasul, “Mosque and state”, Dhaka Tribune, March 23, 2016

    Bhutan

    Editorial

    Kuensel, “Small step, giant leap into hydropower”, Kuensel, March 19, 2016

    Kuensel, “For a skilled workforce”, Kuensel, March 25, 2016

    India

    Opinion Pieces

    Subir Roy, “Diagnosing our ailing cities”, Business Standard, March 22, 2016

    Isher Judge Ahluwalia, “Cities at crossroads: Where water is safe to drink ”, Indian Express, March 23, 2016

    Gopalkrishna Gandhi, “Return to the revolutionary road”, The Hindu, March 23, 2016

    Maldives

    Opinion Pieces

    Shahindha Ismail, “Are we all going to kill Hummam?”, Dhivehi Sitee, March 26, 2016

    Azra Naseem, “CONI and Coup III: The legacy”, Maldives Independent, March 22, 2016

    Hawwa Lubna, “Islam, patriarchal discourse and gender-based violence in the Maldives”, Maldives Independent, March 20, 2016

    Myanmar

    Opinion Pieces

    Fiona Macgregor, “Myanmar’s new cabinet: national reconciliation without equality”, Myanmar Times, March 25, 2016

    Nepal

    Opinion Pieces

    Kumud Ghimire “Do it now”, Republica, March 2016

    Ram C Acharya,Neighbouring with the north”, The Kathmandu Post, March 24, 2016

    Editorials

    Republica “Rocky road”, Republica, March 23, 2016

    Pakistan

    Opinion Pieces

    Nilofar Ahmed, “Women’s dignity”, Dawn, March 25, 2016

    Khurram Husain, “Tides of terror”, Dawn, March 25, 2016

    Talat Masood, “The state of play in Pakistan-India relations”, The Express Tribune, March 22, 2016

    Sri Lanka

    Opinion Pieces

    M S M Ayub, “SLMC’s day of the jackal”, Daily Mirror Online, March 25, 2016

    Kelum Bandara, “Widening UPFA rift and MR-MS animosity”, Daily Mirror Online, March 24, 2016

    Sarah Mutz, “Sampur coal power plant: An environmental doom and gloom?”, Daily Mirror Online, March 23, 2016

    Ayesha Zuhair, “Radicalisation among Sri Lankan Muslims”, Daily Mirror Online, March 23, 2016

    Jehan Perera, “Single-minded leadership necessary for national reconciliation”, The Island, March 22, 2016

    N Sathiya Moorthy, “Tamils need to speak up, and in time”, The Sunday Leader, March 20, 2016

    CONTRIBUTORS

    Afghanistan and Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah

    Bangladesh: Dr. Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

    Bhutan and Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale

    India: Shubh Soni and Pushan Das

    Maldives and Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy

    Nepal: Dr. Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury and Sreeparna Banerjee

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