MonitorsPublished on Aug 30, 2014
Amidst claims by the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) that the auditing process is in its final stages, there was hope that the presidential elections will be concluded sooner rather than later.
Afghanistan: Challenges for the National Unity Govt
< class="heading1">Analysis

Amidst claims by the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) that the auditing process is in its final stages, there was hope that the presidential elections will be concluded sooner rather than later. However, the decision of both candidates to walk out of the process -- Dr Abdullah Abdullah as a sign of protest and Dr Ashraf Ghani on the request of the UN -- has once again raised questions about the credibility of the process and created roadblocks for a quick and timely resolution to the process.

The auditing process is just one part of the story. There seems to be no consensus between the two candidates -- Dr Abdullah and Dr Ghani -- regarding the formation of the government of national unity. This is a requirement as per the deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry in July. This commitment was reiterated in August, once again through the intervention of Mr Kerry, who convinced the two candidates to sign a framework agreement for achieving this.

As per the arrangement, the losing candidate will be appointed as the Chief of the Executive Council, a position which will eventually be recognised as that of the prime minister by 2016 following a constitutional amendment. The supporters of the losing candidate will also have to be allotted government posts and ministries.

Afghanistan has a chequered history as far as such arrangements are concerned. In the 1990s as well, at the height of the Afghan Civil War, intervention by an external power - in this case Pakistan - had brought the different warring factions together. The 1992 Peshawar Accords and the 1993 Islamabad Accords had both provided for a coalition government with provisions for the position of both prime minister and president. However, both accords were short lived. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who was offered the position of prime minister, refused to adhere to the terms of the agreement as he perceived his position to be subordinate to that of the president and disagreed with the other factions regarding the allocation of key ministries.

The constant squabbling among the officials of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan and the numerous coups that came to define the Communist rule in the 1970s and 1980s further strengthens this view.

The failures of the past arrangements to bring about a coalition government may provide a lesson for the present. The durability of this agreement would be contingent to a large extent on the manner in which the power is distributed between the two positions. While the structure of the political system at present dictates that the posts of president and the chief executive cannot be at par with each other, it is important to ensure that the position of the chief executive is not reduced to a merely ceremonial post.

Moreover, accommodation of the supporters of the losing candidates - many of whom are local powerbrokers or warlords - into the unity government is yet another problem that will have to be addressed.

Factoring these contentious issues into the final agreement is going to be a huge challenge. This is highlighted by the different interpretations of the deal by the two candidates. Dr Ghani has already declared that the deal does not imply the existence of dual authority in the country following the elections and that the chief executive will only serve "at the discretion of the president". Dr Abdullah’s representatives, on the other hand, have been demanding greater authority for the post of the chief executive and a more-or-less equitable distribution of the government ministries.

It is no surprise then that very little progress has been made in the negotiations that are presently underway between the representatives of the two teams. Dr Abdullah’s spokesman claimed that despite attempts to "narrow the differences down and find some common ground" an agreement could not be reached. Similar sentiments have been echoed from Dr Ghani’s camp as well.

Apart from problems at the negotiation level, how this arrangement between the two candidates is likely to be perceived is also critical. A number of analysts have criticised this deal as being "extra constitutional", against the ethos of democracy and an example of convenient "deal-making" as it ensures that even the losing candidate will have a considerable degree of power and influence in the next government. It remains to be seen whether the Afghan populace in general also views this arrangement and consequently the next government through a similar prism. A lack of legitimacy of the new leadership in Kabul in the eyes of the Afghan public could pose potential problems for it at a time when it is confronted with a number of other challenges.

Similarly, how the intervention of the US is viewed is also worth considering. This is not the first time that the US has been forced to intervene to break a political stalemate in the country. In fact, the presidency of the incumbent Hamid Karzai itself was possible as a result of the pressure exerted by the US on the supporters of King Zahir Shah and the Northern Alliance - the role played by Iran in this regard can also not be discounted - to accept Mr Karzai, not the most obvious candidate for the post at the time. This has contributed largely to the perception of Mr Karzai as a western stooge - an impression that he has sought to dispel regularly by adopting an aggressive tone against the US.

The Taliban are yet to issue a statement about this agreement. However, they have already denounced - on multiple occasions - the electoral process as a "waste of time" and an unrepresentative process in which all decisions are being taken by the US, and not the Afghan people. Its public declarations so far have given a clear indication to the fact that it is unlikely to accept President Karzai’s successor as a legitimate ruler. The American role in the formation of the unity government could possibly be used by the insurgent group to further denounce the new leadership.

The agreement between the two candidates to form a government of national unity made it possible at that time to move beyond the political impasse that was threatening to derail the electoral process indefinitely. It has also instilled a certain amount of hope that the two leaders working together could ensure a slightly more decentralised, broad-based and cooperative government as compared to its predecessor. However, there exist a number of potential problems with this model, which if not addressed appropriately can create a number of challenges in the long-term.

(The writer is an Associate Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi)

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bangladesh: BSF-BGB talks for smoothening border cooperation

Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Discussions between two neighbours not only help reduce many misunderstandings but also contribute in resolving problems. India has already established bilateral interactive mechanisms to discuss its border problems with its neighbours. Amongst them, the one with Bangladesh is considered to be one of the most successful. Most significant is the interaction at the level of the Director General (DG) of India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard’s Bangladesh (BGB). The DGs of BSF and BGB meet twice a year; the most recent meeting took place in August 2014 in New Delhi.

In the recent meeting, Major General Aziz Ahmed, DG of BGB led a 20 member Bangladesh delegation to India. The Indian delegation was led by DK Pathak. The meeting was the 39th round of consultations between the chief commanders of the two countries border guards and the two sides discussed their respective concerns. Issues raised by Bangladesh included casualties at the border, smuggling of arms and ammunition and contraband narcotics. Issues that concerned India were the existence of international insurgent groups (IIG) in Bangladesh - India has handed over a list of 71 camps of IIGs active in Bangladesh - use of the country as a transit for smuggling fake Indian currency to India and illegal cross border movement of people.

India-Bangladesh cooperation on border management has improved significantly in the past few years and much of the credit goes to these consultations; many of the measures that contributed in strengthening the cooperation actually emerged from these meetings. This includes, the agreement on the non-use of lethal weapons by the BSF signed in 2011. This was a major step because it addressed the issue of casualties at the border, which was a highly contentious issue in Bangladesh. Use on non-lethal weapon by the BSF substantially reduced the number of deaths at the border.

The present meeting also suggested some important steps to enhance bilateral cooperation. An important outcome was DGs of BSF and BGB agreeing to implement the Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) in letter and spirit to curb trans-border crimes. Also, they also agreed for vulnerability mapping of the border after every six month. India and Bangladesh had signed an agreement on CBMP to have effective control over the cross border illegal activities and crimes and to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border. The implementation of the CBMP has significantly reduced the cross border crimes like smuggling of cattle, arms and narcotics a fact recognised also by the DGs of both BSF and BGB. However, to achieve further success in curtailing cross border crimes and illegal activities there is a need for increased vigil at the border and the implementation of the CBMP will certainly be helpful in addressing these issues and contribute in transforming the border areas into a zone of peace.

Besides, the two sides agreed to continue close cooperation in areas on intelligence sharing, especially, information obtained from the capture of smuggled weapons. This is likely to benefit both countries. The problem needs to be addressed jointly in order to reduce the arms smuggling at the border.

Also, the meeting helped the two sides to agree on several Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) including joint exercises between BSF and BGB for better border management, inter-force shooting competition, joint seminar on border management, more joint Retreat Ceremonies, Joint Training of personnel from both border guarding forces. Certainly, these measures are welcoming steps as it will develop understanding among the BSF and BGB personnel which will encourage them to work more closely in the years to come.

Meanwhile, DG BGB’s denial of the illegal migration taking place from Bangladesh to India was a disappointment. Interestingly, he described the issue to be instances of border crossing. But, this remark by DG BGB did not dampen the spirit to strengthen cooperation. In the joint statement issued after the meeting both the sides agreed to take effective steps to prevent human trafficking and illegal movement of people. It was agreed to increase joint patrolling at the border.

DG BSF’s assurance for expeditious and fair trial of the death of Felani was also a positive. Death of Fenali, a teenager who died at the border, was frequently highlighted by the Bangladesh media and it accused the BSF for her death. DG BSF’s assurance showcases India’s sincerity in addressing Bangladesh’s grievances and also forwarding remedial steps that might hamper growth of cooperation. Bangladesh also seems to be aware of the concerns of India mainly the use of its territory by anti-India groups. Responding to India’s concerns DG BGB informed that his country does not allow its soil to be used by any entity or element hostile to any country.

The present meeting has opened many opportunities. It is now duty of the two countries to implement the outcomes.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Candidates withdraw from audit

The audit process was halted once again this week after Dr Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from the process claiming that its demands for determining the invalidation criteria were not accepted. Subsequently, Dr Ashraf Ghani’s representatives also withdrew from the process and the audit had to be carried out in the absence of observers from both camps. Reports earlier in the week had suggested that both candidates continued to disagree on the nature of the unity government.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: : "Election audit process continues in absence of candidate observers", Khaama Press, 28 August 2014;"Presidential vote audit once again halted", Khaama Press, 27 August 2014;"Abdullah’s Team Warns Boycotting Election Process", Tolo News, 26 August 2014; "Candidates Disagree on Roles in National Unity Government", Tolo News, 24 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Results to be announced by 10 Sep.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Jan Kubis claimed that the final results of the elections will be announced on 10 September. The UN Mission in Afghanistan had also requested that the inauguration of the new president be pushed back by a month to ensure the completion of the audit process. This comes in the midst of reports that President Hamid Karzai is ready to leave the Presidential Palace and has issued statements claiming that the new Afghan president will be able to attend the NATO summit on 4 September.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Afghanistan vote audit to conclude on 10th of September, says Kubis", Khaama Press, 28 August 2014; "Karzai Assures NATO New Afghan President Will Attend Summit", Tolo News, 27 August 2014; "President Karzai packs up to leave ARG presidential palace", Khaama Press, 28 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New ISAF commander appointed

US Army Gen. John F. Campbell assumed command of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force this past week. Gen Campbell will be the last ISAF commander in Afghanistan as the US and NATO prepare to withdraw the bulk of the foreign troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Last ISAF commander takes charge in Afghanistan", Khaama Press, 27 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Afghanistan to call on UN to stop cross-border attacks

The Afghan government is expected to submit a list of recommendations to the UN on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting in September with the aim of garnering international support that could help halt cross-border attacks from Pakistan. These reports come amidst accusations by the National Directorate of Security that the ISI is carrying out the war against Afghanistan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "ISI Accused of Leading Attacks in Afghanistan", Tolo News, 27 August 2014; "Afghanistan to Call on UN to Help Stop Pakistani Rocket Attacks", Tolo News, 27 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nuristan HPC chief shot dead

Haji Abdul Halim, the Afghan High Peace Council chief for Nuristan province was shot dead in Kabul by unknown gunmen. No group, including the Taliban have claimed responsibility so far.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Nuristan high peace council chief shot dead in capital Kabul", Khaama Press, 29 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Opposition to protest impeachment of judges

The government’s plan to empower the parliament to impeach Supreme Court Judges led to tensions in Bangladesh. Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has announced country wide protests against the bill. BNP alleges that with this move the ruling Awami League wants to establish its full control over the judiciary. Meanwhile, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has hinted at revoking the National Broadcast Policy, a controversial policy described to curtail independence of the media and Parliament’s powers to sack Supreme Court judges once her party returns to power.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "BNP announces fresh programme",Dhaka Tribune, 26 August 2014; "No law of ’illegitimate govt’ will last, says Khaleda", The Independent, 26 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Body formed to identify sources of militant financing

A high-power committee led by Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu was constituted to stop militant financing. The committee will track down sources of militant financing and coordinate the activities of the government in this regard. One of the major objectives of the committee will be to monitor how the Islamic or Shariah-based banks and insurance companies spend their profits and corporate social responsibility funds. The financial reports of the NGOs, working mainly in the Chittagong Hill tracks region, will also come under the scanner. Earlier the government has formed committee entrusted to deal with the issue was formed in 2009.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Body formed to identify sources of militant financing", Dhaka Tribune, 26 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">V K Singh visits Bangladesh

In a move to strengthen the bilateral relationship, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh visited Bangladesh. In his two-day long visit he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign MinisterAbul Hassan Mahmood Ali and also participated in a major business conclave organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Dhaka.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Modi govt renews pledge to deepen trade links with Saarc" The Daily Star, 25 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian company wins major power contract

Power sector cooperation between India and Bangladesh deepened further after state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) signed an agreement with Indian private sector giant Larsen and Toubro Limited to construct a 225 MW combined cycle dual fuel power plant at Shikalbaha in Chittagong. The cost of this project is worth $200 million. This is a major power plant that will be built by an Indian private sector company. Earlier, most of the initiatives in the power sector cooperation had been from India government, like the proposed 1300mega watt thermal power plant to be constructed by India’s state of NTPC. Meanwhile, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid informed that Indian companies have expressed interest in investing Bangladesh.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Indian company awarded $200 million power plant deal", Dhaka Tribune, 25 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan King asks students to be nation-builders

Bhutan King JigmeKhesar Namgyal Wangchuk called on students to strive to become nation builders. He gave this message while addressing a group of 2,315 graduates before the closing ceremony of the national graduate orientation programme (NGOP).

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bhutan king calls on students to be nation builders", Kuensel Online, 23 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan asks Japan for power-tillers

In an official consultation held in New Delhi recently, Bhutan has asked for 1,450 power tillers from Japan. Besides reviewing and assessing current Japanese-assisted projects in Bhutan, an official request for the power tillers was also submitted to the Japanese government.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Bhutan makes official request to Japan for 1,450 power tillers", Kuensel Online, 27 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan’s business centre opens

The Business Opportunity and Investment Centre (BOiC) was inaugurated in Thimphu on Prime Minister, TsheringTobgay and Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, GautamBambawale. The centre aims to establish 6,500 small and cottage industries in the country.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : : "BOiC opens to business", Kuensel Online, 28 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Skirmishes escalate along the India-Pakistan border

Cease-fire violations across in the International Border (IB) in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir escalated over the week with both sides using higher caliber weapons and targeting civilian areas in addition to border outposts. The shelling has forced 8000 villagers in Jammu to migrate after a six year old boy and his father were killed in shelling. Four Pakistani civilians have died as well. The firings, which started around mid-August increased in intensity as both sides resorted to 81-mm mortars which are meant to target larger areas as against the more frequently used small arms. Commanders of the Border Security Force and the Pakistani Rangers held a 45-minute long flag meeting, which failed to stop the firings.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Border villagers evacuated in Jammu", The Telegraph, 24 August 2014; "Pakistan targets two border out posts in Jammu", The Hindu, 22 August 2014; "Skirmishes Put Feeling of Wartime on India-Pakistan Border", The New York Times, 28 August 2014; "No breakthrough at India-Pakistan flag meeting", The Hindu, 28 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM launches Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, an ambitious programme on financial inclusion to cover about 7.5 crore unbanked households in the country was launched by Prime Minister Modi. The PM has also stated that the target of opening 7.5 crore bank accounts is to be completed by 26th January, 2015.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "PM ’Jan Dhan’ Yojana launched; 1.5 crore bank accounts opened in a day" The Economic Times, 29 August 2014; " Jan DhanYojana gets off to strong start, beats targets on Day 1", Business Standard, 29 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Q1 Growth for 2014-15 estimated at 5.7 per cent

Growth in GDP at factor cost at constant (2004-05) prices (real GDP) for the first quarter (Q1) of 2014-15 is estimated to be 5.7 per cent as against 4.7 per cent in Q1 of 2013-14. The growth rate for the financial year 2013-14 was 4.7 per cent. At the sectoral level, the growth rate is 3.8 per cent for agriculture and allied sectors, 4.2 per cent for industry sector and 6.8 per cent for services sector in Q1 of 2014-15. This growth was 4.0 per cent, (-) 0.4 per cent and 7.2 per cent respectively for these sectors in Q1 of 2013-14.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Q1 GDP growth at 5.7% versus 4.6% QoQ; hits 2.5-year high", The Economic Times, 29 August 2014; "Economy grows 5.7%, clocks fastest growth in 2 yrs", The Hindustan Times, 29 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Supreme Court declares coal block allocations illegal

The Supreme Court declared allocation of coal blocks made by the central government since 1993 as "illegal and arbitrary". Whether the 218 blocks, 190 of which were allotted during the UPA administration, will be scrapped or not will be decided at a further hearing on 1 September. The court elaborated that the allocation were made in an "ad hoc and casual" manner, which "denied a level playing field, health competition, and equitable treatment" in the sector. Further, it pointed out that the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act of 1973 prevents state governments or public sector undertakings to mine for commercial purposes. The ruling also bars Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPs) from commercial exploitation. The landmark judgement is likely to lead to an overhaul of the mineral resource extraction process.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Supreme Court declares all coal allocations since 1993 as ’illegal’", The Times of India, 25 August 2014; "Supreme Court terms all coal block allocations since 1992 illegal", The Indian Express, 26 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi begins five day visit to Japan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a five day visit to Japan on 30 August. The visit assumes significance as it is his first foreign visit, outside of South Asia. He is scheduled to hold a summit meeting with his counterpart Shinzo Abe and enhance the Strategic and Global Partnership. Key areas in which negotiations will take place include defence, civilian nuclear power, rare earth minerals, and infrastructure, including PM’s plans of building smart cities on the lines of Kyoto where his visit commenced. Negotiations over a proposed civilian nuclear deal, along the lines of the 2008 deal with the US, have stalled over Japan’s insistence on tougher safeguards and a commitment against nuclear tests in the future.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nuclear cooperation, defence, trade on agenda for Modi’s trip to Japan", The Indian Express, 27 August 2014; "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Japan visit may not seal civil nuclear deal", NDTV, 20 August 2014; The Economic Times, 30 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sushma Swaraj visits Vietnam

Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister, concluded a three-day visit to Vietnam, holding discussions on maritime security, resolution of territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, security, and bilateral trade. Vietnam has shown interest in purchasing naval weaponry, especially the BrahMos cruise missiles. The two sides sought to increase quantum of trade in textile, pharmaceuticals and agriculture. The focus of the visit, however, remained on Hanoi’s territorial dispute with China over the South China Sea, a crucial maritime navigation route and site of oil and gas resources. While India maintains that it is not a party to the dispute, it is not unaffected by its eventual outcome either. Vietnam recently renewed India’s lease for two oil blocks in the disputed sea, dispute China’s warning against ’interference of outside actors’.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Sushma Swaraj arrives in Vietnam on three-day visit", The Hindu, 24 August 2014; "Sushma Swaraj in Hanoi, India examining Vietnam’s South China Sea oil blocks offer", The Times of India, 25 August 2014; "Sushma’s Vietnam visit expected to bolster trade ties", The Hindu, 22 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Army loses third soldier in Kashmir

One army soldier was killed and another sustained injuries in an ongoing operation against insurgents who had infiltrated into the Kupwara district of northern Kashmir from across the Line of Control. Six rebels and three troops have been killed in the three week long operation so far. According to the army, infiltration attempts have increased in recent months. They add that a large group of rebels succeeded in infiltrating across the de facto border, leading to the major operation. In a related incident, the Rashtriya Rifles, the primary counterinsurgency agency in Kashmir, discovered an arms cache from a militant hideout in the same district.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Jawan killed in Kashmir encounter", The Hindu, 30 August 2014; "Four terrorists, two soldiers killed in Kashmir gunfights", 24 August 2014, India Today; "4 militants, 2 jawans killed in Jammu and Kashmir encounters", Daily News and Analysis, 25 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Inquiries regarding Australian coal build up ahead of SC verdict

After the Supreme Court judgement to cancel coal block allocations, Australia’s mineral rich state Queensland has witnessed a spurt in enquiries on coal mines. Amid an acute shortage of India’s principal fuel, many Indian companies are looking to step up their imports.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Australia gets coal purchase inquiries from India", Livemint, 29 August 2014; "Aussies get Indian coal inquiries", The Asian Age, 30 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Great potential for India-Afghanistan trade

According to the Afghanistan Ambassador to India Shaida Mohammad Abdali, India Afghanistan trade can reach USD 3 billion up from USD 600 million in a short time, if all bilateral trade agreements and planned investments become operational.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Indo-Afghan trade volume can reach $3 billion in few years: Envoy", Business Standard, 28 August 2014; "Indo-Afghan trade volume can reach $3 billion in few years: Shaida Mohammad Abdali", The Economic Times, 28 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SEZ Bill will facilitate investment: Yameen

Talking to newsmen at the Male airport, President Abdulla Yameen said that the passage of SEZ Bill by Parliament will facilitate investments in Maldives.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "President: Efforts to facilitate investors’ arrival will begin once SEZ Bill is ratified", SunOnline, 28 August 2014; "Legal safe haven created for investors: President" Haveeru Online, 28 August 2014; "MDP submits over 300 amendments to SEZ bill", Minivan News, 25 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Dunya blames IS for tarnishing Islam’s image

In a statement condemning the widespread human rights abuses of the ’Islamic State’ in Iraq, Foreign Minister DunyaMaumoon, said that its actions have tarnished the world’s perception of Islam.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Foreign Minister: IS has tarnished the world’s perception of Islam", SunOnline, 28 August 2014; IS defies Islamic values: Foreign Minister", Haveeru Online, 28 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Gaza Fund’ handed over

At a function in Male, an agreement was signed for handing over MVR 29 million ($ 1.91 m) collected for the ’Gaza Fund’ across Maldives.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : :"Agreement signed regarding handover of MVR 29 million received by Gaza fund", SunOnline,28 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Military aircraft sighted

The Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) is investigating with help from neighbouring countries, the identity of foreign military aircraft that had been seen violating the nation’s airspace.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Military aircrafts infiltrating Maldivian airspace: Civil Aviation", Haveeru Online, 28 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Myanmar not happy with Indian Cos

Nay Pyi Taw has expressed unhappiness over the Indian companies, ’Window-shopping attitude,’ pointing at the lack-lusture Indian investment in Myanmar. The Union Information Minister of Myanmar, Ye Htut said that Indian companies are not investing as much as Myanmar had expected.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Myanmar unhappy with India’s window-shopping attitude", Business Standard, 27 August 2014; "Trade with Myanmar expected to grow", The Financial Express, 28 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Two ethnic groups to sign national ceasefire

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) from eastern Shan State will sign the nationwide ceasefire deal that the government and armed ethnic groups plan to complete this year. President TheinSein, met the representatives of the two rebel outfits on 25 August on which the rebels decided to sign the ceasefire this year.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "UWSA and NDAA to sign nationwide ceasefire deal", Eleven Myanmar, 27 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New parties would not contest elections, to be dissolved

The Election Commission (EC) of Myanmar has said that new parties have to contest a minimum of three seats or face dissolution, said the Director of Election Commission said ThaungHliang. According to the EC there are 66 registered political parties in Myanmar.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "New Parties not contesting election could be dissolves, says EC", Democratic Voice of Burma, 27 August 2014; "New parties must contest by-election or face de-registration, says UEC", Mizzima, 27 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Nepal’s Constitution’ to be the name of the new Constitution

The Constitutional-Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee meeting held on August 22 agreed on naming the new constitution as ´Nepal´s Constitution´. Consensus was also reached on incorporating the subjects of fundamental rights, human rights, press freedom, multiparty system, rule of law and periodic election in the constitution´s preamble.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : New constitution to be named ’Nepal’s Constitution’", Republica, 28 August 2014; "Constitution through consensus, say parties", Republica, 23 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Opposition parties plan to obstruct house session

Leader of the opposition Pushpa Kamal Dahal has warned that the House session would be obstructed if the government failed to implement the four-point agreement signed between major parties on December 24, 2013. Earlier, a meeting of Federal Republican Alliance had decided to serve a 24-hour ultimatum to the government to implement the four-point agreement signed with them, which includes formation of a High Level Political Committee.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Opposition parties to obstruct Parliament, The Himalayan Times, 26 August 2014; "NC-UML ignoring oppn", eKantipur, 27 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">GMR consortium of India and Nepal to sign agreement soon

Nepal and the GMR Consortium of India are likely to ink first Power Development Agreement (PDA) between the two countries next month, a senior official said today. All necessary preparations have been completed for signing the PDA between Nepal government and the GMR around mid-September.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Nepal and GMR Consortium of India likely to sign Power Development Agreement soon", The Economic Times, 26 August 2014; "Panel for signing PDA with GMR", eKantipur, 25 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ex-militants returning via Nepal

India’s Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), deployed along the border with Nepal, has told the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that former militants using the route to come back from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) are being funded by banned outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Hizb funding return of ex-militants via Nepal route, SSB tells MHA", The Indian Express, 28 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nawaz Sharif: Army sought permission for involvement

After 14 days of protests in Islamabad, the Pakistan military has become involved in the ongoing political crisis. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has told parliament that Tahir-ul Qadri and Imran Khan requested a meeting with General Raheel Sharif and that he gave permission for the army chief to talk with them and play the role of mediator. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan AwamiTehreek have denied making any such request of the Chief of Army Staff.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Islamabad sit-in updates: Nawaz says army sought his permission before meeting Imran, Qadri", The Express Tribune, 28 August 2014; "Cornered PML-N justifies army involvement in political crisis", Dawn, 29 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Two journalists killed in Quetta

Unknown gunmen opened fire at a news agency resulting in the death of a Bureau Chief, a report and an accountant in Quetta. A cameraman also sustained injuries in the attack. Bureau Chief Irshad Ahmed Mastoi was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Two journalists among three shot dead in Quetta", The News International, 28 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">JUI-F warns of long march against PTI

The JamiatUlema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has warned of a long march to Islamabad with 2.5 million madarsa students if the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) does not end its sit-in. The JUI-F leaders also demanded the arrest of Khan and other party leaders for violating the Red Zone in Islamabad.

"JUI-F supporters stage sit-in, warn of long march against PTI", The Express Tribune, 29 August 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi calls for ’mutual accommodation’

At his first meeting with a delegation of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the stake-holders in Sri Lanka to engage in a ’spirit of partnership and mutual accommodation’, to resolve the decades-old ethnic issue in the island-nation. This was followed by a TNA declaration in Colombo that the party was ready to resume talks with the Sri Lankan Government.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Modi’s advice to stakeholders in Sri Lanka: Engage Constructively", Asian Tribune, 23 August 2014; "TNA ready to resume talks with Govt", Daily Mirror Online, 28 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">For resolving fishers’ issue ’politically’

In an observation of far-reaching consequence, a three-Judge Bench of the Indian Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, has called for resolving the Tami Nadu fishermen’s issue with Sri Lanka ’politically’ and ’diplomatically’, without taking recourse to legal and judicial proceedings.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : :"Indian Supreme Court: Resolve the TN fishermen issue politically, diplomatically", Asian Tribune, 27 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US co does satellite survey of HSZ

At the behest of a British NGO, a private firm in the US is said to have carried out a satellite survey of the High Security Zone (HSZ) in the war-torn Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Indications are that the material will be used against the Sri Lankan Government at the pending UNHRC probe into ’accountability issues’ and ’war crimes’.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "US institution carries out satellite survey of Jaffna HSZ", The Island, 27 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Buy local, Tamil Diaspora told

In an appeal to the large Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora visiting home, the Jaffna Chamber of Commerce has asked them to buy gifts like jewellery for family members staying back in the country locally, as it would help boost local trade and industry.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Jaffna Chamber of Commerce beckons Tamil diaspora to buy local", The Island, 27 August 2014

Primary Documentation


Campbell Takes ISAF Command in Afghanistan, US Department of Defense, 26 August 2014

UN Press Statement on the Election Process, UNAMA, 26 August 2014

UN Press Statement welcoming Afghan electoral authorities’ first decisions on audit, UNAMA, 25 August 2014

President Karzai Bids Farewell to Outgoing NATO Commander in Afghanistan, Office of the President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 24 August 2014

Statement by President Karzai on the inauguration date of the new president, Office of the President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 23 August 2014


Joint Press Statement on "39th Border Co-ordination Conference between Director Generals of BSF and BGB held at New Delhi from 20th to 25th August 2014", High Commission of India, Dhaka, 24 August 2014


Press Release of Bhutan’s Ambassador to Maldives Aum Pema Choden presents credentials to the Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Royal Bhutanese Embassy Dhaka Bangladesh, 27 August 2014


PM raises concern for sickle cell anaemia patients during visit to stem cell research centre at Kyoto University, Press Information Bureau, Government of India, 30 August 2014

Press Note on Estimates of Gross Domestic Product for the First Quarter (April-June), 2014-15, Central Statistics Office, Ministry Of Statistics & Programme Implementation, Government Of India, 29 August 2014

Prime Minister’s Departure Statement ahead of his visit to Japan, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 29 August 2014 Text of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s address during the ceremony held to launch the ’Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’, Press Information Bureau, 28 August, 2014

Inaugural Address by External Affairs Minister at the 3rd Roundtable of ASEAN India Network of Think Tanks, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 25 August 2014

Text of verdict made by Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice R M Lodga that termed coal block allocations made since 1993 as illegal, Supreme Court of India, 25 August 2014


Release of President U TheinSein with Ethnic armed group leaders, The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, 26 August 2014


Visit of Jan Kubis, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) for Afghanistan, to Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 27 August 2014

President’s Visit to Turkey on 28-29 August 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 28 August 2014



S. Reza Kazemi, "Will the ’Heart of Asia’ start beating? A review of the regional co-operation process", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 29 August 2014

Marc Grossman, "The Trans-Afghan Pipeline Initiative: No Pipe Dream" Yale Global Online, 28 August 2014

Shehzad H. Oazi and Erika Schaffer, "Afghanistan’s Troubled Economy", Foreign Policy, 28 August 2014

Paul D. Miller, "How Iraq Explains Why the U.S. Shouldn’t Leave Afghanistan", Foreign Policy, 25 August 2014

Nathan Hodge, "Financial Crisis Looming Over Afghanistan", The Wall Street Journal, 25 August 2014

MassoumehTorfeh, "Does Afghanistan need a unity government? Al Jazeera, 24 August 2014


Opinion Pieces

Nadeem Qadir, "Not-so-happy birthday", Dhaka Tribune, 29 August 2014


Mohammad Zahidul Islam Khan, "Paradox of state fragility: exploring the role of international structures in the context of Bangladesh", Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies, July 2014


"A feeble fourth estate", Kuensel Online, 23 August 2014



Daman Singh, Strictly Personal: Manmohan and Gursharan, New Delhi: Harper Collins, August 2014

Opinion Pieces

C. Rangarajan, "Needed, a Growth Commission", The Hindu, 28 August 2014

Shiv Visvanathan, "An ode to the Planning Commission", The Hindu, 26 August 2014

G P Joshi "Rethinking impunity", The Indian Express, 26 August 2014

Sanjaya Baru, "Modi’s red lines", The Indian Express, 25 August 2014

C. Raja Mohan, "Making friends with the middle", The Indian Express, 25 August 2014

Pranab Bardhan, "The labour reform myth", The Indian Express, 23 August 2014

Ashutosh Varshney, "The pragmatic PM?" The Indian Express, 22 August 2014


Maldives "#findmoyaameehaa", Minivan News, 23 August 2014


Portia Larlee, "What China Wants", Mizzima 24 August 2014


Jayraj Acharya, "Modi aftermath", Republica, 28 August 2014

Gopal Thapa, "Chasing shadows", eKantipur, 25 August 2014



"A Less Gloomy Mood in Pakistan: Sharif Gets High Marks, while Khan’s Ratings Drop", Pew Research Center, 27 August 2014

Opinion pieces

Raza Rumi,"Pakistan: Will instability topple democracy?" Al Jazeera, 28 August 2014

Mosharraf Zaidi, "The Pretender to Pakistan’s Throne", Foreign Policy, 28 August 2014

Toby Dalton, "Leadership Needed to Solve India-Pakistan Conflict", The Diplomat, 29 August 2014

Daniel Markey, "The National Security Implications of Pakistan’s Latest Political Crisis", Just Security, 27 August 2014

Ellen Barry and Salman Masood, "Skirmishes Put Feeling of Wartime on India-Pakistan Border", The New York Times, 27 August 2014

Husain Haqqani, "Pakistan’s Protests Risk Another Military Coup", The Wall Street Journal, 27 August 2014

Katharine Houreld, "How Pakistan’s Sharif stumbled into protests crisis", Reuters, 26 August 2014

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Lynn Ockersz, "The tortuous search for the definition of terror", The Island, 28 August 2014

G L Peiris, "External intervention brings devastation and anarchy", The Daily Mirror, 26 August 2014

GominDayasiri, "Can North rule Sri Lanka - Possible", The Daily Mirror, 26 August 2014

JehanPerera, "The claim that NGOs are a threat to national security", The Sunday Leader, 25 August 2014

AmbRavinathAriyasinghe, "Global challenges of post-war Sri Lanka", The Daily Mirror, 23 August 2014


Susidhar Fernando, "President Rajapaksa cannot contest for 3rd term, former CJ", Daily Mirror Online, 29 August 2014

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:
Afghanistan: Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale;
India: Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti, ManmathGoel;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal: Pratnashree Basu;
Pakistan: Taruni Kumar

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