MonitorsPublished on Oct 31, 2014
New Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fulfilled his promise of signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the U.S. and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the NATO within 24 hours of taking office.
Afghanistan: Insurgency on the rise amidst international troop-drawdown
< class="heading1">Analysis

New Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fulfilled his promise of signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the U.S. and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the NATO within 24 hours of taking office. The controversial deal, which will allow 9,800 US and at least 2,000 NATO troops to remain in Afghanistan after December 31,was signed by the National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar, US Ambassador James B. Cunningham and NATO Ambassador to Afghanistan Maurits R Jochems.

The residual forces will train and mentor the Afghan National Forces and not take part in combative activities, except for the American Special Forces which will be involved in counter-terrorism operations. The deal not only promises training the military personnel but also provides for a considerable amount of financial aid in military and development. The annual military funding in Afghanistan is three times the government’s revenue and thus, external financial aid is indispensable to sustain the presence of well-equipped Afghan security forces.

The territories which were once under the control of the biggest insurgent force, the Taliban, and had witnessed the ousting of the insurgents through the international security forces’ extensive combative operations, are experiencing a rise in insurgent activities as the foreign troops begin to vacate. The Afghanistan government’s claim that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have managed to contain the Taliban offensives on their own seems misleading as the group has managed to achieve major gains not just in the southern province of Helmand, which was a Taliban stronghold earlier, but also in Uruzgan and Kunduz, the central and the northern provinces, respectively.

Highest opium-producer

The already volatile Helmand province has been witness to a sustained fight between the Taliban militants and the Afghan forces (which includes the soldiers and the police) after the western troops left in May. Musa Qala and Sangin are the two main districts which came under a heavy Taliban offensive, resulting in high military and civilian casualties. The militants have started coming out in large groups and openly attacking the ground forces as the need to launch covert attacks is no longer felt in the absence of International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) air support. It is of crucial importance for the Taliban to establish control over this province because it shares the border with Pakistan and produces the highest amount of opium which helps in providing financial support to the insurgent movement.

The Taliban offensive in the province of Kunduz is more intense as according to the local officials, two districts are almost entirely under the Taliban rule. The incessant shelling by the Afghan forces in the Chahar Dara, Dasht-e-Archi and Imam Sahib districts have led to numerous civilian deaths this summer. In the Taliban run parallel government system in Kunduz, the schools remain opened including the girls’ schools and there is no objection to the international development projects. These trends make the rise of the Taliban very evident and point towards an upsurge in its efforts to reclaim the territories that it lost to the Afghan government after it was driven out by the international troops.

The insurgents are gathering strength in the Gizab district in Uruzgan, where a civilian revolt was supported by the American and Australian special forces in 2010, to oust the Taliban rulers. The Taliban militants have cut off the roads to the district capital and are preventing students from going to schools and threatening the locals not to cooperate with the government. The situation in Gizab highlights the inadequacy of the national army, which has only two functioning helicopters for three provinces including Uruzgan. The way the events have unfolded in Gizab demonstrates the unpalatable fact that after the complete drawdown of the foreign combatants, Afghanistan might face serious internal security challenges.

The signing of the security agreements with the US and NATO has reduced the chances of a possible negotiation between the new government and the Taliban to a great extent. Moreover, the Taliban has completely rejected the new Unity Government Pact as a ’US sham’. In the current scenario, it seems unlikely that the efforts by the government to bring the Taliban to the talking table would succeed. The ground situation in various provinces clearly shows that the militants are rapidly capturing the territories vacated by the Western troops and in doing so they are causing very high casualties. The Taliban is likely to go on a stronger offensive when all the foreign combatants leave the Afghan soil. Thus, the Ghani-led Unity Government is faced with the crucial task of coming up with a clear and effective strategy to deal with this serious problem of rising insurgency.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan: Significance of the Indian President’s visit

Mihir Bhonsale

President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan on November 7 would be fourth such visit by an Indian Head of State and the second after the revision of the 1949 India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty.

Mukherjee’s visit, which follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in May this year, shows how important Bhutan has become for New Delhi, especially from a strategic point of view. Exchanges at the highest level have intensified since 2008 when the relations were redefined to suit Bhutan’s growing aspirations of emerging out of the shadow of India.

Bhutan, now having an elected government, is never the same as the days when close ties were maintained between then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the third King Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck. New Delhi has maintained its closeness with the royal family of Bhutan and in 2014, the first foreign guests, New Delhi hosted were the King and Queen of Bhutan. But times have changed, so also the function of the monarchy in Bhutan.

Constitutional monarchy

India has been quick to realise the changes taking place in Bhutan since 2008. The revision of the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty had already contemporised relations and had bought the countries on a more equal footing. The defining change was that Bhutan earned the right to manage external relations.

Elections in the country soon followed and common Bhutanese exerted adult franchise for the first time in the General Elections in 2008. India, the world’s largest democracy was quick to recognise the country on its inauguration to a parliamentary democracy and extend support.

President Pratibha Devisinh Patil became the first Indian President to visit Bhutan in November 2008 after the revised treaty, unfurling diplomatic relations at the highest level. Then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his tenure also visited Bhutan twice, initiating cooperation in hydro-power and trade, besides giving huge grants in aid.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit this year signalled Bhutan’s importance to India strategically. Modi made Bhutan the first foreign country of visit after he became Prime Minister. Over and above the rekindling of ties between the two countries, Prime Minister Modi’s choice of Bhutan exhibited New Delhi’s strategy in the neighbourhood, especially in times of the growing influence of China.

India’s Bhutan policy

PM Modi’s visit not only exhibited a steely resolve by New Delhi in special ties with Bhutan, but also was a reply to critics who refute South Asia, a geo-political space largely inherited from the administrative boundaries of the ’British Raj’. A symbolism was at work when Prime Minister Modi sent this message down to Bhutan’s special relationship with India.

With development aid and cooperation to Bhutan to continue, India seems to have perhaps underlined the strategic importance of Bhutan, especially with China in mind. Early this year, New Delhi appointed former Secretary (East Asia) at the Ministry of External Affairs, Gautam Bambawale, well known as India’s China man, as Ambassador to Bhutan.

Strategic importance also precedes India-Bhutan cooperation in hydro-power generation. Since the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty outlined mutuality as the pillar-guide for future relations, hydro-power has remained the sole area of mutual interest to the two countries. The Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh is said to have over 30,000 MW of hydro-power capacity and New Delhi is resolved to tapping it. Yet, cooperation in hydro-power sector cannot be the sole motive guiding India-Bhutan relations. Much to India’s fear, China is engaging with Bhutan, whose shared border is disputed.

Bhutan, over and above, possibly remains India’s only friendly neighbour, whose stability and friendly policies towards India can help the latter resurrect its position in South Asia. However, Bhutan’s populace has increasingly become a key determinant force in deciding the policies of the government, increasingly facing flak for its pro-India alignment.

President, Mukherjee’s visit hence is in line with India’s promotion of government-to-government ties, which have assumed significance in a Bhutan of the 21st century -- tiny, land-locked yet significant, located s it is between two Asian giants, China and India.

(The writer is a Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Kolkata).

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Afghanistan, China sign four agreements

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited China this week in his first official trip abroad as President. During this visit, the two countries signed four agreements concerning trade and commerce relations, bilateral economic ties, humanitarian aid and travel permits for public servants. In a meeting between Dr Ghani and Chinese President Xi Jinping, China also pledged support of USD 327 million in aid to Afghanistan through 2017. The two countries also agreed to enhance intelligence sharing to fight drug trafficking and other cross-border issues. Dr Ghani also emphasised the importance of the silk road and a direct transport link with China. In response, the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) has said Afghanistan is ready to coordinate with China on the construction of the road, which will follow the ancient Silk Road trading route.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Afghanistan, China Sign Four Agreements", Tolo News, 28 October 2014; "China pledge $327 million aid to Afghanistan through 2017", Khaama Press, 28 October 2014; "Afghanistan Ready to Construct Wakhan-China Road: MoPW", Tolo News, 29 October 2014; "Ghani Delivers Speech in Beijing on Silk Road, Regional Cooperation", Tolo News, 29 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Karzai’s request for arms from India put on hold

Dr Ashraf Ghani has decided to put his predecessor Hamid Karzai’s request for arms from India on hold. The decision to freeze the request is reported to be motivated by the fear that greater Indian military aid could worsen Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Upset with delay, Kabul shelves request for arms aid from Delhi", The Indian Express, 30 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Britain ends combat role

Britain formally ended its combat mission in Afghanistan this week, handing over its final base in Helmand province to the Afghan security forces. A total of 453 British soldiers have died in combat in Afghanistan so far.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "UK formally ends combat mission in Afghanistan", CNN, 26 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Worst country for investment in Asia’

The World Bank, in a recent report, has labelled Afghanistan as the worst country for investment in Asia and the seventh worst country in the world. The report cites security threats, corruption, lack of reform and declining international aid as some of the most fundamental factors behind Afghanistan’s fragile investment climate.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "World Bank Labels Afghanistan Worst Country for Investment in Asia", Tolo News, 30 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Jamaat chief sentenced to death

The International War Crimes Tribunal, trying those accused of killing thousands of their countrymen alongside the Pakistani armed forces in Bangladesh’s ’War of Independence’ in 1971, has sentenced Motiur Rahman Nizami, 71, the ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami, to death for the crimes unleashed in the name of Al-Badr Bahini, a group that he had founded at the time. While the Jamaat protested on the streets across the country, the European Union (EU) and the Amnesty International (AI) from overseas too have joined issue - inviting quick counter from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Death for death designer", The Daily Star, 30 October 2014; "Prosecution elated; defence terms it unjust", The Daily Star, 30 October 2014; "Why acquitted of 8 charges", The Daily Star, 30 October 2014; "Jamaat-Shibir activists go on rampage", The Independent, 30 October 2014; "Exams hartal-hit", The Daily Star, 31 October 2014; "EU calls for commuting death penalty", The Independent, 30 October 2014; "PM raps EU, Amnesty for criticising Nizami verdict",, 31 October 2014; "Pakistan Jamaat threatens Hasina, asks Islamabad to act against Bangladesh",, 30 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Living on extended life: Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, reacting to reports of the Indian intelligence agencies uncovering a plot by Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) to assassinate her, said that she had nothing to worry about. "I am living on extended life," she said, and offered to share all JMB-related information with India.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Dhaka sharing info with Delhi on JMB: PM", The Daily Star, 31 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cold-days over in US ties?

With the host flagging the issue at the third US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue in Washington, the cold that had crept into the bilateral relations after Washington claimed that the 5 January elections were not democratic, seems to be ending.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "US ice melting?", The Daily Star, 31 October 2014; "US-Bangladesh engage in ’constructive’ dialogue",, 29 October 2014; "US supports Bangladesh’s war crimes trial",, 30 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Mob-lynching over cattle-theft?

India has since handed over to the Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB) authorities the bodies of three Bangladeshi nationals, who were allegedly lynched to death by local-mobs after they were found to be ’cattle-lifters’ from across the border.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India hands over bodies of ’cattle lifters’ to Bangladesh",, 30 October 2014; "Dhaka to lodge protest with Delhi",The Independent, 30 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Improves rank for doing business

Bhutan was ranked 125 by the World Bank released Doing Business 2015 report, an improvement from its earlier rank of 141.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bhutan’s rank rises in Ease of Doing Business Index", Kuensel Online, 31 October 2014, "Bhutan ranks 125 in ease of doing business", Bhutan Broadcasting Service, 31 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan to offer consultative services

In the next five years Bhutan would be in a position of offering consultative services in hydro-power, comparable to developed nations, Druk Green Power Corporation MD, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Another bold hydropower dream", Kuensel Online, 31 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Thimphu to host meteorology meet

Bhutan will host the Seventh SAARC Meteorological Meet, it was announced on the sidelines of a seminar on meteorology and climate held in the city.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Seventh SAARC metereological meet in Thimphu", Kuensel Online, 30 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Fadnavis is new Maharashtra CM

Moving ahead with the process of forming a government in Maharashtra, Bharatiya Janata Party elected Devendra Fadnavis as the new chief minister of Maharashtra. The name of Fadnavis, state BJP president, was proposed by Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly Eknath Khadse.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Devendra Fadnavis elected leader of Maharashtra BJP Legislature", DNA, 28 October 2014; "BJP makes it official: Devendra Fadnavis to be the next Maharashtra CM", First Post, 28 October 2014; "BJP legislators elect Devendra Fadnavis as new CM of Maharashtra", Economic Times, 28 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC seeks details on foreign bank accounts

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the government to disclose the names of those holding accounts in foreign banks, as made known by the respective governments, in a sealed envelope by Wednesday. A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justices Ranjana Desai and Madan B. Lokur rejected the argument of Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi for a modification of the order directing disclosure of all the names.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Black money: Supreme Court orders Centre to reveal all names by tomorrow", The Times of India, 28 October 2014; "Black money: Government reveals eight more names to apex court", The Indian Express, 28 October 2014; "SC orders govt. to submit all black money names today", The Hindu, 28 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Revised GST bill for Parliament

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said the revised Constitution Amendment Bill to roll out GST would be introduced in the forthcoming Winter Session of Parliament. He also said the first "tranche" of compensation to states for their revenue loss arising due to phasing out of Central Sales Tax (CST) may also be taken up in the Winter Session.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Revised GST Bill in Winter Session: Jaitley", The Hindu, 21 October 2014; "Revised GST Bill in Winter Session: FM", The New Indian Express, 22 October 2014; "GST bill to be tabled in winter session", The Telegraph, 21 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Move to end State’s coal monopoly

A 27-page ordinance published on the Coal Ministry’s website may call an end to the public sector’s monopoly on coal production, stating that a company or joint venture "may carry on coal mining operations in India, in any form either for own consumption, sale or for any other purpose". The government plans to put up coal mines for bidding by private steel, power and cement companies and introduce changes in the law to enable commercial mining in the future, signalling its intent to fully open the sector to private players.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "India eyes end to state coal monopoly", The Financial Times, 23 October 2014; "Coal blocks to be e-auctioned to private firms", Hindustan Times, 20 October 2014; "PM Narendra Modi takes first bite at coal to end India’s power mess", The Times of India, 22 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Oil demand rises by 3 pc in September

Oil consumption in September at 12.3 million tonnes is 2.9% higher than 11.95 million tonnes from a year ago. India’s oil consumption rose nearly three per cent in September, while diesel sales fell for the second time this financial year.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India’s oil demand rises 3% in September", Livemint, 21 October 2014; "India’s oil demand rises 3% in September", Business Standard, 22 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PPM claims huge membership

President Abdulla Yameen’s ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has claimed a high 65,000 membership a day after the Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) claimed to have submitted 50,000 signed membership forms to the Election Commission.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "PPM claims membership pushes past 65,000", Haveeru Online, 27 October 2014; "New applications push MDP membership over 50,000", Haveeru Online, 26 October 2014; "PPM has fulfilled many pledges in manifesto, says Tourism Minister Adeeb", Minivan News, 28 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MDP criticised over ’HRCM trial’

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) of President Abdulla Yameen has criticised the Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for moving international organisations over the Supreme Court trying the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) for contempt of court.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "PPM slams MDP and international community’s attempts to influence HRCM treason trial", Minivan News, 26 October 2014; "President Yameen, the world is watching you", warns Australian senator", Minivan News, 29 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’No’ to Majlis’ probe on missing journo

The National Security Committee of Parliament has declined to accept a petition, reportedly signed by 5,000 Maldivians for a probe into the missing of journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla some weeks ago. The committee said that its mandate did not cover probe into such disappearances.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : " Majlis National Security Committee rejects Rilwan petition", Haveeru Online, 28 October 2014; " Missing journalist’s family accuses police of negligence, files complaint", Minivan News, 29 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maldivian couple joins ISIS

A couple from Maldives have informed family back home that they are now in Syria, in the ISIS. This was after a Maldivian youth reported that he had taken his mother, wife and sister with him to join the jihadi group.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : " Fuvahmulah couple the latest to travel to ISIS territory for jihad", Minivan News, 30 October 2014; " President makes creative arts optional after pressure from religious conservatives", Minivan News, 28 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt staff asked to work honestly

Defence Minister Mohammed Nazim has said that government employees have to work honestly, and always need not have to carry out all orders of politicians. His advice, at a conference organised by the Civil Services Commission (CVC) coincided with the Opposition MDP’s charge against the police for colluding with illegal tree-fellers.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : " Civil servants don’t have to obey every order by politicians: Minister Nazim", Haveeru Online, 28 October 2014; " Nasheed thanks Home Minister for request to investigate alleged police involvement in cutting down trees", Haveeru Online, 29 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Dhosti’ exercise with India, Sri Lanka

Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim launched the joined naval exercises with India and Sri Lanka, under the tri-nation ’Dhosti’ programme. The exercises are held every two years, in one of the countries in turn.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : " Minister Nazim launches trilateral navy exercises, ’Dhosti’", Haveeru Online, 29 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President’s calls reconciliation-meet

Myanmar President Thein Sein has invited a host of top functionaries, including Leader of the Opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi, for talks on ’political reconciliation’ at his residence on Friday. Besides those present would be, Suu Kyi, parliamentary speaker Thura U Shwe Mann, military commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Union Election Commission chair U Tin Aye and the chairs of the National Unity, National Democratic Force, Shan National League for Democracy and Shan National Democratic parties.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Political Talks to take place in President’s House", The Myanmar Times, 30 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Budget doubles for border security

The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked for double the amount required last year for beefing security on Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh. The ministry has asked for US $ 36 billion to reinforce barriers and install CCTV cameras on the border.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Budget Doubles to Beef up Barriers along Border with Bangladesh", Eleven Myanmar, 30 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">At the bottom in doing business rank

Myanmar earned the 177th spot in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2015 report and with the exception of Afghanistan the lowest ranked Asian country. It narrowly escaped being named as among the top 10 most difficult places to do business.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Myanmar near bottom of doing business report", Myanmar Times, 31 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Alliance concludes without alternatives

The 22-party-alliance led by the UCPN (Maoist) has concluded that a new constitution drafting process could not go ahead beyond the consensus process.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Twenty two -party alliance concludes no alternatives of consensus", Republica, 31 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Gadkari for infra summit

Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin JairamGadkari will deliver the inaugural speech in the first ever Nepal Infrastructure Summit-2014 in Kathmandu November 11.The summit, organised by the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), will be held here Nov 11-12 with more than 400 investors, policy makers, government officials, architects and engineers participating.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : Gadkari to Attend Nepal Infrastructure Summit", The New Indian Express, 31 October 2014; ;"Nepal Infra Summit 2014 slated for Nov 11-12 eKantipur, 31 Octber 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India wants Delhi-Kathmandu bus service

India is pushing for a direct bus service between New Delhi and Kathmandu and is even keen to fund new road projects in areas including Janakpur where Ram Janaki temple is located. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Nepal on November 25 to attend the SAARC summit and is likely travel to the country via land route.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India pushes for Delhi to Kathmandu bus service", The Times of India, 31 October 2014; "Narendra Modi may travel to Nepal via land route to attend SAARC summit", The Economic Times, 29 October 2014; "Green Kathmandu’ campaign goes full swing", The Himalayan Times, 30 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nepal and Korea sign pact

Nepal and South Korea on Thursday signed a framework agreement to give legal foundation to the Korean grant assistance to Nepal.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Nepal, Korea sign grant pact eKantipur, 31 October 2014; Nepal, S Korea sign ’Framework Agreement for Grant Aid’" Republica, 30 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Pakistan will not contact India for talks’

Tariq Fatemi, special assistant to the Pakistan Prime Minister, announced this week that Pakistan will not approach India to start a dialogue with it after it had unilaterally called off the peace talks earlier this year. Mr Fatemi claimed that since India had called off the talks, it was its responsibility to reach out to Pakistan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Pakistan will not contact India for talks: top official", The Times of India 29 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’IS bigger threat than Taliban, al Qaeda’

Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain in a press conference claimed that the Islamic State (IS) posed a far graver threat to Pakistan than the Taliban or al Qaeda. He pointed to the sudden appearance of the IS flags in the country and the increasing defection of Taliban and al Qaeda members to the newer outfit as evidence of the IS’ growing influence in the country.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "IS bigger threat to Pakistan than Taliban, Al Qaeda: Altaf" Dawn, 31 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Textbooks rewritten to make them more Islamic

The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is said to be rewriting school text books in order to make them more Islamic. This has included the insertion of verses on jihad, removal of pictures of unveiled women and changing the material on recent history.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "KP rewrites textbooks to make them more Islamic", The Daily Times, 31 October 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Landslip claims over 200 people

Close to 200 people, including children and aged persons, have been reported missing after rains-triggered landslip buried their line-houses in the tea estate at Kosalanda in the hilly Badula district. The armed forces have moved in to assist in the rescue and relief operations even as President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the site and consoled bereaved families.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Over 150 buried alive; more mountains likely to collapse ", The Island, 30 October 2014; "Nearly 200 buried alive Hopes of finding survivors fade ", The Island, 31 October 2014; "Don’t exploit children as seen during tsunami: MR ", Daily Mirror Online, 30 October 2014; "Opposition lays the blame on govt. ", The Island, 30 October 2014; "India offers help to landslide victims ", Daily Mirror Online, 30 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President presents popular budget

With reports claiming that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would call fresh elections for the first half of January 2015, as Finance Minister, he presented a popular budget, addressing the demands and expectations of various sections of the society, even if not wholly.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Something for everybody Budget 2015 ", The Island, 24 October 2014; "Don’t ink MoU on oil supply: Tissa ", Daily Mirror Online, 28 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UNP bury the hatchet

The Opposition United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has declared that he was ready to face incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in presidential elections, whenever held, even as his deputy and one-time detractor, Sajith Premadasa has said that they have overcome the differences and he would work for Ranil’s victory.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Presidential Election: Ranil ready to face Mahinda ", The Island, 31 October 2014; "UNP fully supportive of pushing through JHU’s 19th Amendment — Ranil ", The Island, 25 October 2014; "Committee to study JHU proposals ", Daily Mirror Online, 28 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Death sentence for five TN fishers

The Colombo High Court has sentenced five fishermen from the south Indian State of Tamil Nadu and three Sri Lankans, allegedly for mid-sea drug-smuggling in 2011. Reacting to the verdict, Government of India said that ’due diligence’ showed they were innocent, and that India would take it up with Sri Lanka at legal, diplomatic and political levels.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Five Indians, 3 Lankans sentenced to death", The Island, 31 October 2014; "Death penalty to five Indians; India reacts ", Daily Mirror Online, 30 October 2014

Primary Documentation


Statement by President Ghani at the 4th Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, Office of the President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 31 October 2014


Press Release of Consultation Meeting between Royal Government of Bhutan and Commenwealth of Australia, Bhutan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 October 2014


Media Statements by Prime Minister of India and Prime Minister of Vietnam in New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs, 28 October 2014

PM’s statement at the joint press briefing with Prime Minister of Vietnam, H.E. Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung, website of the Prime Minister of India, 28 October 2014

Joint Statement on the state visit of Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to India, website of the Prime Minister of India, 28 October 2014


Press Release to ask special report on human rights, President’s Office of Myanmar, 30 October 2014


Press Release on the visit of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, 27 October 2014

Press Release on the visit of the Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, 27 October 2014




"China Media: Afghan Investment", BBC News, 29 October 2014

Opinion Pieces

Ankit Panda, "Afghanistan and China Open a New Chapter", The Diplomat, 29 October 2014

S Reza Kazemi, "On the Road through Beijing (and Kathmandu): The new Afghan leadership’s attempts to engage with Asia", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 29 October 2014

"Afghanistan’s Unending Addiction", The New York Times, 26 October 2014


Mahfuz Anam, "The meaning of Nizami’s verdict", The Daily Star, 31 October 2014

Shah Husain Imam, "Damned if you do, damned if you don’t!", The Daily Star, 31 October 2014

Shamim Ahmed, "Reflecting on 3rd US-Bangla Dialogue", The Daily Star, 31 October 2014

Ashis Biswas, "TMC’s unhealthy Opposition to Awami League",, 28 October 2014


"Making too much of a good thing", Kuensel Online, 31 October 2014


Sharat Sabharwal, "Behind India’s Pakistan Quandary", The Hindu, 31 October 2014

Salman Khurshid, "Modi, Moment, constitution", The Indian Express, 28 October 2014

Anil Padmanabhan, "New Rules in Lutyens’ Delhi", Livemint, 27 October 2014

Karan Thapar, "Mr. Modi’s forgotten that fortune favours the brave", Hindustan Times, 25 October 2014

Pankaj Mishra, "Modi’s Idea of India", New York Times, 24 October 2014


"Parliament, Budget and Public Debate", Eleven Myanmar, 30 October 2014

Sithu Aung Myint, "Kayin Groups: Reunification or Separation?", Myanmar Times, 27 October 2014


Yubaraj Ghimire, "China tells Nepal what to do", The Indian Express, 27 October 2014

Kamal Dev Bhattarai,"The Geopolitics of Nepal’s Federal Structure", The Diplomat, 27 October 2014

Bhagirath Basnet, "Poking their nose", Republica, 30 October 2014



"Resetting Pakistan’s Relations with Afghanistan", The International Crisis Group, 28 October 2014

Opinion Pieces

Imtiaz Gul, "What is our fundamental interest?" , The Friday Times, 31 October 2014

Ayesha Siddiqa, "The logic of deterrence", The Express Tribune, 30 October 2014

Talat Masood, "Modi’s hostility to Pakistan", The Express Tribune, 29 October 2014

Khaled Ahmed, "Less LoC, more FTA", The Indian Express, 25 October 2014

Sri Lanka

Lynn Ockersz, "Sri Lanka on a regional policy tight-rope", The Island, 30 October 2014

Kelum Bandara, "Lending agencies eager to give loans to Lanka" , Daily Mirror Online, 29 October 2014

Kamanthi Wickremesinghe & Sarah Muiz, "National Budget 2015: What we got...& what we expected", Daily Mirror Online, 28 October 2014

Rajan Philips, "End of innocence in Canada, Sri Lanka declared "unstoppable"", The Island, 26 October 2014

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Sri Lanka: Under-appreciation and more", The Sunday Leader, 26 October 2014 (Part I)

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

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