MonitorsPublished on Jan 11, 2016
South Asia Weekly| Volume IX; Issue 2
India: Challenges to Modi’s Pakistan policy Satish Misra The Pakistan policy of the BJP-led NDA government has been inconsistent and has been wildly swinging between hope and despair from the time it assumed charge on 26 May, 2014 under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On 25 December, 2015, the Prime Minister, on his way back home from his visit to Russia and Afghanistan, decided to break his journey at Lahore to greet his Pakistani counterpart Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, ostensibly to greet him on his birthday. The move has imparted further momentum to the evolving bilateral dynamics which had begun in Paris when the two had met briefly at the UN-sponsored Climate conference on 30 November and was followed up with a meeting between the national security advisors of the two countris in Bangkok in the first week of December. Modi’s impromptu Lahore visit had an element of surprise and was hailed across the political establishment with few exceptions but within a week of his meeting in Lahore, a terrorist attack with active support from covert Pakistani military establishment at the Indian air force base in Pathankot, roughly 30 km away from the international border between the two countries, has thrown serious challenges to the NDA’s government’s policy towards its western neighbour. Lacks policy A close look at the Pakistan policy of the 20-month-old Modi government reveals that it lacks a well-thought-out strategy and an action plan. The policy is full contradictions. To begin with, the Modi government threw a surprise at the nation and the world when it extended invitation to heads or executive heads of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to the swearing-in ceremony of his and his council of ministers. With this single stroke, the new government, which had not even  taken over the reins of power in real terms, had sent a positive message to not only India’s neighbourhood but to all foreign capitals that the Modi government was ready to do business without compromising vital national interests. Strong signal By accepting the new government’s invitation, Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif gave a strong signal that Islamabad was ready to move ahead. Sharif came and talks were held both at the delegation level as well as one-to-one. It was announced after the meeting that foreign secretaries will meet to see what needs to be done and what can be done. Though Indian officials claimed that Modi had made no commitment on Pakistan’s call for resumption of the stalled bilateral dialogue on all issues, including Kashmir, there were enough indications that the two leaders had principally agreed to resume talks and had left the two foreign secretaries to sort out the details. But hopes were short lived as one incident after another continued to bedevil. Modi and Sharif even avoided meeting each other in New York during the General Assembly session. A meeting at the SAARC summit in Kathmandu turned out to be a mere photo opportunity. The Modi government had become captive of its own rhetoric which the BJP leaders, including Modi, had indulged while performing the role of the opposition. During the campaigning of the general elections, the BJP leaders had promised strong action against Pakistan for its anti-India acts. The dilemma that the Modi government faced was that if it did not take strong steps against various anti-India incidents created with direct or indirect support of Islamabad, then the NDA dispensation would be perceived as weak in the eyes of its core constituency, apart from becoming the object of ridicule of the Opposition. “It is my firm conviction that all outstanding issues can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence”, Modi said in his letter to his counterpart on March 23 (Pakistan Day) raising a flicker of hope again. Mellowing down          The Prime Minister’s statement was interpreted as a mellowing down of the tough stance on dialogue with Pakistan as the NDA government in August 2014 had cancelled Foreign Secretary level talks after the Pakistani High Commissioner had met Hurriyat separatist leaders ahead of the talks despite call from India not go ahead with it. After a lapse of seven months, the Modi government had decided to resume dialogue under the garb of the Foreign Secretary’s “SAARC Yatra”. Modi’s letter to Sharif was the continuation of the same policy decision. New Delhi had decided not to make meetings between Hurriyat leaders and the Pakistani High Commissioner an issue. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visited Islamabad and held delegation level talks with his Pakistani counterpart but then again there was no progress. The two prime ministers met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit on July 10 in the Russian town Ufa which was billed as a breaking of the logjam that had come to define the mutual ties. Going back Even before Modi could return from his foreign trip, Islamabad had begun to go back on its own words stated in the joint statement. Pakistan Premier’s advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, had said on July 13 that “no dialogue will take place with India unless the Kashmir issue was included in the agenda”. The proposed talks between the national security advisors of the two countries were cancelled on August 24. Islamabad has “nukes” and “India can’t play the bully”, Aziz said. Ceasefire violations, terrorist attacks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur and verbal triumphalism from both sides had contributed to worsening of the atmosphere. It was proved once again that what the two prime ministers were proposing was being disposed by forces which were against improvement of relations between two nuclear weapon states in South Asia. The fate of Modi’s Lahore initiative is still not clear though there are signs that the two governments in general and two prime ministers in particular are trying to keep the show going by sending signals that bilateral relationship can’t be permitted to remain hostage to acts of terror. Elements of consistency and continuation in the Pakistan policy are becoming visible. There seems to be a change in the ruling party’s rhetoric too which has replaced their earlier stand of “talks and terror can’t go together” to “talks on terror”. There are flickers of hope, however weak they may appear at present. (The writer is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)
Maldives: China ‘Friendship Bridge’ may help bolster Yameen popularity N Sathiya Moorthy Apart from meeting the population’s needs, the year-end launch of work on the sea-bridge connecting Maldives’ over-crowded capital city Male with the reclamation-island of Hulhulumale can help bolster the popularity of President Abdulla Yameen. More importantly, it would be a standing proof to the increasing developmental ties between Maldives and China, which may become increasingly difficult for any future government to undo, whatever the reason and justification. Given the ‘Nasheed imprisonment’ and other allegations/cases of human rights violations, Yameen can do with a morale-boosting diversion ahead of the 2018 presidential polls. Given his own development-orientation as a political leader, it could improve his standing within and outside the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), founded and headed by half-brother former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. It could also have a ripple-effect on his international acceptance -– or, so goes the political calculation, if not calculus, ahead of his 2018 re-election bid. All this does not mean that the ‘China-Maldives Friendship Bridge’, as has been named, does not have utility value for Maldives and Maldivians. There is already an urgent need for a mass-transport corridor between Male, housing a third of the nation’s 350,000 population, and Hulhumale, reclaimed as a satellite town, with a housing capacity for 100,000. With Hulhumale already linked to the airport-island of Hulhule, the new 1.39-km bridge, when completed in June 2018, may also have immediate political relevance, ahead of Yameen’s re-election bid in November that year, though that’s incidental, at best. Launching the work on the $ 200-m bridge (down from Maldives’ estimated $ 300-m) along with Chinese Vice-Commerce Minister Gao Yan, Yameen linked it to his Government’s centralisation plans. It is unclear if he was referring only to the ‘population consolidation’ plans of successive governments, since that of half-brother former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Or, was Yameen also referring to re-centralisation of elected political administration after pro-democratisation 2008 Constitution provided for decentralised, elected administration? In recent months, the Yameen administration has slashed funding for islands and atolls-based local councils, citing non-viability and fiscal-crunch as the reasons -– and justifiably so. If Yameen’s ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), founded by Gayoom, has not given the ‘decentralisation’ plan enough time to prove or disprove itself, it also owes to the authorship of rival Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and its control over major urban local councils , including Male and southern Addu. ‘Free trade’ talks Almost coinciding with the launch of the bridge-work, but independent of the same, was the commencement of China-Maldives negotiations for a ‘Free Trade Agreement’ (FTA). At present, neighbouring India has ensured free flow of goods and services to Maldives. India has also exempted both Maldives and Bhutan from all export-bans that it might impose, particularly on agricultural products in times of domestic shortages. Yameen’s Maldives is also looking away from the stagnating ‘resort tourism’ sector for economic growth. Special Economic Zones (SEZ) sounds attractive just now. ‘Outright sale’ of uninhabited islands to industrial promoters (local and overseas) for setting up job-creating SEZs instead of letting them out on long-term lease for resort-business, is the promised pattern. The leadership has not explained how it would not completely surrender Maldives’ ‘sovereignty’, when in particular foreign entities fronting for their government agencies could be in the race. China is the suspect and favourite just now. In a way, these were all among the follow-up decisions flowing from the first-ever Maldives visit of a Chinese leader, of President Xi Jinping,  in 2014. Yameen had also visited China twice in six weeks around the time, where again, the two nations tied up loose ends on the future of developmental cooperation. Ahead of his two China visits, Yameen had begun his first full year in office, to visit India twice, and included Japan, too, early on – the first Maldivian leader to visit the long-time development partner from the East. After the Xi, Yameen visits, Maldives became the first nation to sign up for China’s ‘Maritime Silk Route’ (MSR) during Xi’s visit. It is another matter that not much has been heard of the same not only in the bilateral context, even otherwise in China’s larger economic and/or geo-strategic contexts, if any. Whether it has anything to do with the dip in Chinese economy since, or only meant as a nostalgically-named cover for China’s naval ambitions, particularly in the Indian Ocean Region, too is unclear since. Of equal significance, and more so in the neighbourhood Indian context, is China’s funding and construction of a second runway at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), on Hulhule island.  The ‘second runway’ had kicked off a controversy of its own as a part of the larger ‘GMR row’ involving the Indian infrastructure major, when Yameen and the PPM were in the Opposition. Rival Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and President Mohammed ‘Anni’ Nasheed were in office at the time. Apart from raising ‘sovereignty’ issues over handing over the nation’s only international airport to an ‘outsider’, the PPM-supported ‘Quit Nasheed’, ‘December 23’ civil society movement had flagged the absence of substantial space provision for a second runway in the GMR development plan as among their grouses. Maritime ‘chicken-neck’ There is no denying in any or all of these, India’s concerns, small and/or big. Taking a leaf out of its own post-Cold War global readjustment viz the US, India is readily resigned to the reality of neighbourhood nations, small and economically weak as they inherently are, to seeking and accepting large-scale developmental aid from nations that have deep pockets. Just now, China is the nation for them all to go, considering. Constantly looking up for large-scale FDI still in almost every sector, including Defence, India is alive to the reality of other nations in the neighbourhood too having to fast-track their development, too. There is also an unsaid acknowledgement that there is only so much that the present-day Indian economy can support the rest in terms of development investments just now – despite deep-seated and genuinely-felt sentiments in this regard. India’s concerns, be it in the case of Maldives, Sri Lanka or other neighbours, is about their opening up to traditionally adversarial anti-India nations, on the geo-strategic and internal security fronts. ‘Geo-strategic’ in terms of India’s larger concerns, and ‘internal security’ in the case of both India and the host-neighbour, be it Maldives or others. There is general acknowledgement that Maldives, like all but the Pakistani neighbour, falls within the ‘traditional Indian sphere of influence’ and reach. Translated, it means that India is the bulwark of regional and national security for those nations, if and if only called upon to do so. In turn, these nations, smaller and less-equipped as they may be to face off a larger nation, its navy and air force, are also the ‘first line of defence’ in the Indian Ocean in particular. Maldives thus is what a land-based ‘chicken-neck’ serves larger nations like India in the security and geo-strategic context. If not Sri Lanka per se, Maldives serves as a maritime buffer-zone for India, in the strategic security context. Hence, neutrality by these nations to begin with, and a clear India-sympathetic (though not India-supportive) approach from them becomes a sine quo non for India to serve them on a quid pro quo basis – whenever and wherever India’s political voice and diplomatic manoeuvrability on their behalf became necessary. Or, so would it seem in a theoretical construct, as well. It’s hence the ‘China factor’ in India-Maldives relations, too. (The writer is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Chennai)
Country Reports Afghanistan Indian consulate attacked The Indian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif was attacked on 3 January, leading to a 25 hour siege that ended late in the night on January 4, with the deaths of all attackers. Security services were able to prevent the attackers from breaching the Indian consulate, and Indian officials report that no consular staff were injured. One member of Afghanistan’s security forces was reportedly killed in the incident and nine people were injured. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. For more information, see: Indian Consulate Siege Ends After 25 Hours”, TOLO News, 4 January 2016 Kabul bombed For the third time in two days, Kabul was hit by a suicide bomb attack, when an attacker detonated his explosive vest at a police checkpoint near the city’s diplomatic quarter on Tuesday night. No casualties are reported. The attack on January 6 was preceded by a bombing on 5 January that killed two people and wounded 36 others near Kabul’s airport and another blast near the airport on the same morning that only killed the attacker. For more information, see: Kabul Jolted By Yet Another Blast”, TOLO News, 5 January 2016 US soldier killed Two wounded American service members and the body of one American soldier, who was killed in fighting near the city of Marjah in Helmand province, were evacuated by helicopter, U.S. officials said on 6 January. Col. Mike Lawhorn, a military spokesman, stated: "all casualties have been evacuated." The soldiers had been part of a joint U.S.-Afghan Special Operations operation in the area on 5 January. An initial evacuation effort was waved off when the two rescue helicopters came under fire. Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook stated: “One of those waved off after taking fire and returned safely to its base,” continuing “The second landed safely, but sustained damage to its rotor blades after it apparently struck a wall. For more information, see: US soldier killed in Afghanistan”, CNN, 6 January 2016 Bangladesh  No reversal verdict Supreme Court upheld Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami's death verdict forwarded by International Crime Tribunal set up to trial of criminals of 1971 liberation war. Nizami is accused of siding with the Pakistan army during the war carrying out atrocities on the people of Bangladesh. For more information see: “Death stays for Death Designer”, The Daily Star, 7 January 2016; “Happy, yet not happy enough”, The Daily Star, 7 December 2016 $13-14 billion for power-sector State minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid informed that the government plans to generate 24,000 MW of electricity by 2021.  He further added that the country will see $13-14 billion investment in next 5 years in the power sector. The minister made these revelation at the inaugural function of the 4th International Conference on the Developments in Renewable Energy Technology (ICDRET 2016), organized by an university (UIU) in capital Dhaka this week. For more information see“$13-14bn to be invested in power sector: Nasrul Hamid”, The Financial Express, 8 January 2016 Cooperation to fight terror Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia have expressed their firm resolve to cooperate in the fight against terrorism and extremism through meaningful cooperation. The two countries discussed this during Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali’s visit to Riyadh this week. For more information see:  “Dhaka, Riyadh to cooperate in fighting terror”, The Daily Star, 8 January 2016 Indian investments up Foreign direct investment outflow from India to Bangladesh increased 161pc, from $26 mn to $68 mn between 2011 and 2014, says KPMG, a consulting firm. Some of the major investments proposals from Indian companies include Reliance Power's $3 billion plan to set up a 3,000 mw power unit, based on imported liquefied natural gas, and Gujarat-based Adani Group plan to invest $2.5 bn in building a 1,600 Mw coal-fired power plant in Bangladesh. For more information see: India investments to Bangladesh increase 161pc in three years”, The Financial Express, 7 January 2015 Bhutan PM arrives in Kolkata Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay arrived in Kolkata on January 6 to attend the West Bengal Global Business Summit. Tobgay was received by the West Bengal’s finance minister Amit Mitra and other government officials at the airport. He visited the Asiatic Society in the city later in the day. For more information see: “PM arrives in Kolkata”, Bhutan Broadcasting Service, 6 January 2016 Job agency suspended The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources suspended the Global Recruitment Overseas Employment Agency for six months. The agency was found to have sent 5 Bhutanese nationals to work in Russia without the approval from the ministry. The candidates were later deported back as they were not guaranteed employment in Russia. For more information see: “Overseas recruitment agency suspended”, Bhutan Broadcasting Service, 7 January 2016 Electric car policy The World Bank in its study on electric vehicles in Bhutan has assessed the implications of three case scenarios. Bhutan’s ambition to introduce 1,000 electric vehicles a year would tantamount to replacing 6,000 fuel cars with electric vehicles by 2020. For more information see: “Answers to EV policy”, Kuensel, 7 January 2016 India J & K CM passes away Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has died aged 79 in Delhi – Sayeed is credited with having crafted an ‘impossible’ alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), helping it share power for the first time in the Muslim majority state. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed breathed his last at AIIMS remaining on ventilator for the past few days. For more information see:Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, 79, dies in Delhi after brief illness; Jammu and Kashmir in mourning”, The Financial Express, 7 January 2016 Orders for 36 Rafale  The Indian Air Force's quest for a Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) is finally over with the Indian government confirming the order for 36 Rafale jets with the French government. According to sources, documents for the government-to-government deal were delivered by New Delhi to Paris on the New Year's Eve, and the agreement is on the same lines as that for the Mirage 2000 aircraft signed in the early 1980s. IAF will buy all the Rafale aircraft from Dassault, the French aircraft builder and integrator, in a flyaway condition. For more information see:India Confirms Order Of 36 Rafale Jets In Defence Deal With France”, NDTV, 5 January 2016 Jaish chief oversaw the terror attacks India has identified the four handlers of Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), who were in touch with the six terrorists who stormed the Pathankot airbase early on January 1.India has shared the telephone numbers and the identity of the handlers with Pakistan and has asked it to act on these individuals, a senior government official said.Those identified by the Indian agencies are JeM founder Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar, Ashfaq Ahmed and Kashim Jaan, the official said. For more information see:Jaish chief oversaw operation: India”, The Hindu, 8 January 2016 Boost for Navy's firepower Adding to Indian Navy's firepower, INS Kadmatt, the second ship of Project 28 (P28) class anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvettes, was commissioned on Thursday. With the changing power dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region, INS Kadmatt will augment the mobility, reach and flexibility of Indian Navy. For more information see:Boost for Indian Navy's firepower: INS Kadmatt, anti-submarine warfare corvette, commissioned”, The Economic Times, 7 January 2015 OIA Ministry merged The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) has been brought under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) following a request made by Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Sushma Swaraj in a series of tweets on Thursday stated, "As Minister for External Affairs & Overseas Indian Affairs , I realized that Substantial work of MOIA is done through our missions abroad. For more information see:Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs merged with MEA: Sushma Sawaraj”, DNA, 7 January 2016 Maldives ‘Black-listing’ denied The Maldives Government has denied that Immigration authorities at the airport in neighbouring Sri Lankan capital of Colombo had black-listed Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon and her brother and ruling PPM parliamentarian Faris Maumoon, and detained them for over an hour. Earlier reports claimed that the two had been ‘black-listed’ by mistake. For more information, see: “Maldives says SL didn't blacklist top diplomat, MP”, Haveeru Online, 4 January 2016; “SL 'blacklists' top Maldives diplomat, MP”, Haveeru Online, 3 January 2016; “Dunya: Maldivians have no difficulty obtaining German Visa”, SunOnline, 5 January 2016 Nasheed’s kin quizzed The police have quizzed the Dr Ibrahim Nashid, brother of former President Mohammed Nasheed, about the identity of the ‘ Correctional Service officer’, who had reportedly delivered a letter, converting the latter’s court-ordered 13-year prison-term into one of permanent house-arrest. For more information: “Maldives police quiz Nasheed's brother over commutation doc delivery man”, Haveeru Online, 6 January 2016; ”Ousted chair lambasts Maldives opposition leader for family influence in party”, Haveeru Online, 6 January 2016; “Maldives ex-VP sees capital for first time after arrest”, Haveeru Online, 6 January 2016 Myanmar Parliament meet in February The new parliament, the country’s second legislature will convene on February 1. The MP’s have been asked to register on 25 and 26 January, said an announcement signed by the incumbent speaker, Shwe Mann. The country elected new lawmakers in November last year. For more information see: “Burma’s new parliament to convene in February”, Democratic Voice of Burma, 6 January 2016; “New MP’s set for February 1 opening”, Eleven, 6 January 2016 New visa regulations Immigration ministry has announced a set of new visa regulations effective from January 7, clarifying visa options for short and long-time visitors. The new guidelines outlines 12 types of single-entry visas, detailing how and when each document can be obtained. For more information see: “Immigration Ministry Outlines New Visa Regulations”, The Irrawaddy, 7 January 2016 Talks over five points The Union Peace Conference that is set to hold the political dialogue is set to discuss five topics. The five-point agenda items include political issues, economic issues and social issues, security and land and natural resources between January12 and 16. For more information see:Five issues to be discussed at the Union Peace Conference”, Mizzima, 7 January 2016 Nepal Clemency denied The Supreme Court on January 7 ruled that murder convict Balkrishna Dhungel, a UCPN (Maoist) leader, cannot be granted clemency and reiterated its previous order issued in 2010 to imprison him. The former Maoist lawmaker was found guilty of killing Ujjan Kumar Shrestha of Okhaldhunga in 1998. The bench has noted that Dhungel never surrendered as per the SC order and that the process to implement the verdict was never carried out. For more information, see: “Apex court denies clemency to murder convict DhungelThe Kathmandu Post, 8 January 2016; “No presidential clemency for Bal Krishna Dhungel: SCRepublica, 7 January 2016 Statute-change mooted Lawmakers of around a dozen political parties, including the Nepali Congress and the UCPN (Maoist), have registered proposals seeking revisions in Constitution Amendment Bill in line with the demands forwarded by the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha. A total of 103 lawmakers from different parties registered 24 proposals, seeking amendments to three Articles to ensure proportional inclusive representation and delineation of electoral constituencies prioritising population. For more information, see: Constitution amendment: 103 lawmakers register 24 revision proposalsThe Kathmandu Post, 8 January 2016; “With piles of proposals, amendment set to be prolongedRepublica, 8 January 2016 Tariff not waived The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has directed Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) not to implement Electricity Tariff Fixation Commission's decision to waive premium tariff being levied on industries, hospitals and other firms that are enjoying uninterrupted power supply. NEA had started slapping 100 percent premium on tariff rate for 135 firms and organizations, which are getting uninterrupted power supply through dedicated feeders, from mid-July last year. For more information, see: PAC tells NEA not to waive premium tariff”, Republica, 8 January 2016; “Panel plans 18pc hike in power tariff”, The Kathmandu Post, 8 January 2016 Pakistan Bangladesh diplomat expelled On January 6, Pakistan asked Bangladesh to withdraw Moushumi Rahman, one of its senior diplomats, from his posting in Islamabad within 48 hours. Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque stated: “The political counsellor and head of chancery in Islamabad has been given till Thursday to leave the country.” The expulsion comes after Pakistan removed one of its diplomats from Bangladesh following accusations of spying. For more information, see: Pakistan expels Bangladesh diplomat as ‘spy’ row escalates”, The Express Tribune, 6 January 2016 Neighbourhood tensions Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir arrived in Pakistan on January 7 to meet with senior Pakistani officials. Recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are expected to be a central topic of discussion, with Pakistan being eager to calm tensions between a historic ally and the western neighbour. Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, stated: “Pakistan has called for resolution of differences through peaceful means in the larger interest of Muslim unity in these challenging times.” Al-Jubeir is also expected to share details of Saudi Arabia’s new anti-terrorism alliance, which according to initial reports included Pakistan without the knowledge of Pakistani officials. For more information, see: Saudi foreign minister visits Pakistan as Iran tensions deepen”, Reuters, 7 January 2016 TTP men arrested in Karachi On January 6, Pakistan arrested four members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan accused of plotting a suicide attack in Karachi. The suspects were identified as Hanif alia Nadeem Kala, Ashraf alias Bholoo, Rehmat, and Shahid. Police recovered 1kg of explosive material during the arrests. For more information, see: Four TTP men planning suicide attack arrested in Karachi’s DHA: police”, Dawn, 6 January 2016 Special marines for Gwadar On January 5, the Pakistan Navy reported that it was stepping up security at Gwadar port, including deploying a special marine battalion to ensure protection for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which is anchored by the port. The spokesman commented: “A special Marine Battalion has been raised for security of Gwadar, Chinese engineers and delegates visiting the port.” The CPEC project links Gwadar with western China through 3,000 kilometers of rail and roadways For more information, see: CPEC: Pakistan Navy ramps up security at Gwadar”, Dawn, 5 January 2016 Sri Lanka Not ‘in haste’ on special courts President Maithripala Sirisena has reiterated that the Government would not take any haste on the international commitment to set up ‘special courts’ on war-time ‘accountability issues’. First, the Government had to ‘evaluate’ on what had happened during the war, and then decide on the necessity for ‘subsequent steps’, he told The Hindu in an exclusive interview. For more information, see: “‘Will not act in haste on special court’: President”, Daily Mirror Online, 4 January 2016; “President pledges land for 100,000 war victims”, The Island, 5 January 2016; “Country will remain unitary; NE won’t be re-merged – govt.”, The Island, 6 January 2016;  “Dinesh: Unitary State, place of Buddhism omitted in new proposals”, Daily Mirror Online, 3 January 2016; “Norway seeks to renew political contact with SL”, Daily Mirror Online, 6 January 2016; “Gota frowns on TNA-Blair talks on accountability etc”, The Island, 6 January 2016; “Newly formed Tamil People’s Council to finalise constitutional reform proposals soon”, The Island, 4 January 2016;”Tamil People’s Council says it will not restrict membership”, The Island, January 4, 2016 Pak offers MNF status Visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called for Sri Lanka to benefit from the $ 46-billion Sino-Pakistan economic corridor. He also proposed a joint investment company and also mooted MNF status for Sri Lanka. For more information, see: “Prime Minister Sharif invites Sri Lanka to tap USD 46 bn. Pakistan-China Economic Corridor”, The Island, 6 January 2016; “Pakistan hopes for joint investment company”, Daily Mirror Online, 6 January 2016; “Ready to consider SL as the most favoured nation for trade: Sharif”, Daily Mirror Online, 5 January 2016; “GMOA tells Prez to delay inking of Indo-Lanka pact”, The  Island, 6 January 2016; “Postpone signing of agreement: GMOA”, Daily Mirror Online, 5 January 2016; “SL likely to sign FTA with US: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 5 January 2016 Primary Documentation Bhutan Press Releases Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay on official tour to Kolkata, Cabinet Secretariat, 6 January 2016 Myanmar Press Releases President’s 68th Anniversary Address, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 January 2016 Nepal Press ReleasesPress Release on Message of Condolence from Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Mr. K. P. Sharma Oli to His Excellency Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, today on the loss of precious lives in the terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase on 2nd January 2016”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 January 2016 “Press Release on recent attacks on the diplomatic missions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Iran”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 January 2016 “Press Release 7 January 2016Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 7 January 2016 Bibliography Afghanistan Opinion pieces Musa Khan Jalalzai, “Afghanistan: instead of better it got worse”, Daily Times, 5 January 2016 John Wight, “Spiral of despair”, The News, 4 January 2016 Bangladesh Opinion Pieces Taj Hashmi, “Politics, terrorism, and the state of denial”, The Daily Star, 4 January 2016
  1. Sakhawat Hussain, “Municipal Polls 2015: Losing faith in electoral processes”, The Daily Star, 6 January 2016
Shahedul Anam Khan, “Conditional rally, conditional politics and more”, The Daily Star, 7 January 2016 Bhutan Opinion Pieces Kuensel, “Securing the country from e-waste”, Kuensel, 4 January 2016 Kuensel, “Switching to electricity”, Kuensel, 7 January 2016 India Opinion Pieces C. Raja Mohan, Raja Mandala: Akhand Bharat and other stories, The Indian Express, 05 January 2016 Manoj Joshi, Manoj Joshi Column: Attacks won't stop, but neither can talks, Mid-Day, 05 January  2016 Maldives Opinion Pieces Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, To bolster rights at home, Maldives must speak up for human rights abroad”, Maldives Independent, 4 January 2016 Myanmar Opinion Pieces Nicholas Farrelly, “Freedom and independence at last”, Myanmar Times, 4 January 2016 Fiona Macgregor, “Abuse case highlights systematic failings”, Myanmar Times, 8 January 2016 Nepal EditorialBreaking barriers”, The Kathmandu Post, 8 January 2016 “Blank slate”, Republica, 6 January 2016 Opinion Pieces Chiranjibi Kafle “Shades of Sikkim”, The Kathmandu Post, 8 January 2016 Kalpana Jha, “Faux feminists”, Republica, 5 January 2016 Pakistan Opinion Pieces Dr Madiha Afzal, “On Trump, Islamophobia and hate speech”, The Express Tribune, 7 January 2016 Shaukat Qadir, “Modi’s change of heart”, The Express Tribune, 6 January 2016 Tanuj Garg, “Pathankot villains”, The Express Tribune, 6 January 2016 Nazish Brohi, “Corridor Echoes”, Dawn, 5 January 2016 Sri Lanka Opinion Pieces Kelum Bandara, “Joint Opposition to blunt the way to a new Constitution”, Daily Mirror Online, 8 January 2016 M S M Ayub, “Distributed responsibility counts in forming a new Constitution: Rhetoric on Tamil-Muslim unity alone won’t work”, Daily Mirror Online, 8 January 2016 Malinda Senaviratne, “A flag-mad Sri Lanka”, Daily Mirror Online, 8 January 2016 Prof G L Peiris, “Constitutional reform: Essential requirements of validity”, Daily Mirror Online, 6 January 2016 Dr Dayan Jayatilleke, “Scenario for 2016”, Daily Mirror Online, 6 January 2016 Jehan Perera, “Meeting expectations necessary to maintain support for reconciliation”, The Island, 5 January 2016 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Whither TNA? Whither CA?”, The Sunday Leader, 3 January 2016 Contributors: Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale India: Shubh Soni & Pushan Das Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy Nepal: Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury & Sreeparna Banerjee
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