MonitorsPublished on Jul 17, 2015
Recently security agencies arrested 12 activists of the banned militant organisation Harkatul Jihad in Bangladesh. These arrests revealed that the group was preparing merger with the South Asia chapter of the international militant organisation Al-Qaeda.
Bangladesh: Huji, Al-Qaeda nexus cause for concern
< class="heading1">Analysis

Recently security agencies arrested 12 activists of the banned militant organisation Harkatul Jihad in Bangladesh. These arrests revealed that the group was preparing merger with the South Asia chapter of the international militant organisation Al-Qaeda. This came as a major surprise not only in Bangladesh but also in South Asia. Among the arrestees Maulana Mainul Islam is claimed to be coordinator of Al Quada in Bangladesh. Huji had acquired huge arms and ammunition for joining Al Qaeda and had planned to carry out country wide bomb blasts to declare the merger.

Al Qaeda named its South Asian chapter as Al Qaeda in India Subcontinent (AQIS) and declared its presence in September 2014. The main objective of AQIS is to carry out jihad in many countries, including India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan in 2014. Since then, there have been attempts by this group to establish its roots in Bangladesh and had spoken about the issues which matter to the radical groups in Bangladesh. For instance- AQIS had been critical of Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh and termed it to be anti Islamic. Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina’s government has taken strict action against militancy and has banned many militant organisations. These actions are not been taken well by various radical organisations. AQIS comment indicated its support to such organisations.

Not the first time

It is not for the first time that Al Qaeda’s links in Bangladesh has been discovered. For a long time, there were whispers about Al Qaeda’s contacts in Bangladesh. Some reports have suggested that a group of Al Qaeda men of foreign origin had visited Bangladesh in 2005 but they left the country quietly. It is for the first time the security agencies have been able to garner proof of the AQIS contact with some native groups.

Huji’s merger with Al Qaeda is very natural. Founders of Huji-B, the veterans of the Afghan jihad, formed the group drawing inspiration from Osama Bin Ladan in 1992. Since that, this group is known to have maintained close links with Al Qaeda. Also, the two groups share the same ideology of establishing the Caliphate through Jihad, making partnership easier.

This purported merger could have been a win-win for both the groups. Huji, once having a colossal presence in the country with around 25000 cadre base and organising terrorist attacks, is now facing an existential crisis due to harsh counter terror measures by the government. The group has been significantly neutralised. They hardly been able to carry out any major incident of terror after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came to power in 2009. So, the move for merger could have been aimed at activating terror modules. For AQIS, this gives a readymade ground to launch its operation.

Liberal society

Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country with a liberal society and there is general dislike for radical values in the country. However, in the age of globalisation where there is enhanced linkages across the globe, it is very difficult for the society to remain averse to the rising tide of radicalisation which affected various countries across the globe. Bangladesh is not any exception. Although the number could be small, some in the country are getting influenced by the propaganda of such groups and international linkages becomes a motivation to join them. Hence, it is cause of worry.

Considering Huji’s links in other countries in the region, especially in India, these developments should be taken seriously. Huji has significant presence in the bordering states of West Bengal and Assam and also been responsible to some militant activities inside India, like the bomb blast at Bardwan in West Bengal in 2014. For a peaceful Bangladesh and also South Asia, it will be prudent the countries in the region to monitor these groups closely.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan: Trans-border crime becoming a worry

Mihir Bhonsale

Open borders with Nepal and Bhutan has been a characteristic of India’s special relations with her Himalayan neighbours beginning in the 1950s. Strengthening of connectivity in the last decade between the three countries has increased the volume of trade and facilitated movement of people in the belt. However, the spurt in trans-border crime in the region has become a cause of concern.

Cases of human-trafficking have increased since the devastating Nepal earthquake that rocked the country in April this year. There has been a spurt of cases of trafficking for domestic labour and flesh trade.

According to a UNICEF report of 2014, around 7,000 Nepali women and children are trafficked every year. These trafficked women and children are subjected to hard labour and most of them are sexually exploited.

The trafficked women and children find themselves as modern-day slaves. The 2013 Global Slavery Index alarmingly put Nepal as fifth among 162 nations surveyed. UNICEF report said that the first earthquake in 1988 more than 15,000 children lived in child care homes in Nepal, but more than 8 among 10 of them had at least 1 living parent.

Following the devastating April earthquake that claimed more than 8,000 lives, the UN has raised the alarm again. Indian and foreign media have reported several mind boggling cases of trafficked women.

Disguised as aid-givers

Cases of traffickers disguised as aid-givers in the remote parts of quake-hit Nepal were reported by the media. Traffickers from the bordering Indian state of Uttar Pradesh that is a transit for the trafficked from Nepal has also got active.

Bhutan has emerged as a destination for human trafficking. The first case of trafficking in 2007 was reported, when a Bhutanese woman was taken to the Indian town of Siliguri and forced to work as a domestic help.

Since, then the Bhutanese NGO’s and media have reported on several cases of trafficking in persons. According to a recent report in the Times of India, Bhutan has emerged as a centre for human trafficking.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime held a workshop in the border town of Siliguri in May this year where Bhutanese officials were present besides NGOs. The officers of the Sashatra Seema Bal, the Indian security agency that guard the Indo-Bhutan border also participated in discussion.

The said report in Times of India gave credence to increase in the trafficking and migrant smuggling cases since the Nepal earthquake. Bhutan officials have denied reports of increase in the number of trafficking cases.

The bordering towns of Samdrup Jonkar and Phuntsholing have been thriving centers where trafficked women and children from Bhutan as well as India are taken to; besides the capital city Thimphu. Trafficked persons are also sent to India where they are forced into hard labour and flesh trade. Sometimes, trafficked people from Bhutan are also sent to Nepal.

Drug trafficking and use

Trafficking of controlled substances like cannabis has also been on the rise in the past few years. Studies indicate a two-way smuggling is on lately, through the India-Bhutan and India-Nepal borders.

There is a demand for Nepalese and Bhutanese cannabis and a corresponding demand for codeine based pharmaceutical preparations as well as a low-grade heroin in Nepal and Bhutan. The happiness pursuant Bhutan saw a spurt in drug related offences of years.

The Royal Bhutan Police carried out a major operation last year to crack-down on trafficking of controlled substances in a bid to free Bhutan of drugs. Still the problem persists, as Kuensel reported the police as saying although crime rates were reported to have declined by almost 16 percent from the previous year, 2014 saw a 30 percent increase in cases involving possession of controlled substances, and a 10 percent increase in its illegal transaction.

Youth made up 60 percent of the 950 people that were arrested in connection of drugs in the last year. The Bhutan police have expressed worry as drugs have assumed the status of birthday gifts. Bhutan is hence become a source of as well as a destination for the controlled substances.

Flip-side of connectivity

First, Nepal and then, Bhutan have taken the democracy path in the 21st century, opening a new chapter of their relations with India. Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal also known as BBIN countries recently signed the Motor Vehicles Framework Agreement allowing movement of motor vehicles to transport goods and people. Connectivity prospects have been strengthened attracting more trade and investment in the region but porous borders have also led to a substantial increase in organized crime.

Arrests of terrorist leaders Lashkar-e-Taiba operative, Abdul Karim Tunda and Indian Mujahideen co-founder, Yasin Bhatkal from the Indo-Nepal border by the Indian forces has already alarmed on the porosity of the border.

Besides, terrorists, North-east Indian militants, have also seen borders with Nepal and Bhutan. Trans-border crimes that include terrorism, trafficking- human as well as controlled substances and economic offences have increased at an alarming rate. India has already intensified intelligence operations on the Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Nepal borders.

However, security agencies alone cannot help curb the trans-border crime. More concerted efforts at the highest levels as well as on the civil society level are needed. The UNDOC has an important role. Experiences of countries which have had some success in controlling crime are also needed.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Mullah Omar backs peace talks

Mullah Omar in his statement released on the occasion of Eid backed the idea of holding peace talks claiming that peaceful interactions with enemies were sanctioned by Islam. The statement claimed that peace talks were the most legitimate way of ending the illegal occupation of the foreign forces. There was no direct reference to the talks that took place in Pakistan last week. However, the statement made it clear that the group is not renouncing its armed jihad against the Afghan government or the international military coalition. It also called upon the other fighters to maintain a united stance against their opponents with Mullah Omar.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Taliban leader Mullah Omar backs Afghanistan peace talks", BBC News, 15 July 2015; "Eid Felicitation Message of Amir-ul-Momineen, Mulla Mohammad Umar Mujahid", Voice of Jihad, 15 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Next Taliban talks in three weeks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during his visit to the eastern Afghanistan province of Khost declared that the next round of peace talks with the Taliban will take place within the next three weeks. He called upon the Taliban to bring a list of their concerns and demands to the next round of talks. Earlier in the week, President Ghani had declared that the direct talks with Taliban were the biggest achievement over the past 14 years.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Ghani in Khost: Next Talks with Taliban in Three Weeks", Tolo News, 15 July 2015; "Direct Talks with Taliban Biggest Achievement in 14 Years: Ghani", Tolo News, 12 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ghani, Karzai meet

President Ashraf Ghani and his predecessor, Hamid Karzai met this week to settle their differences. Even the Afghan Senate had urged the present government to meet with Mr Karzai to settle any dispute. This was the first meeting between the two leaders since President Ghani assumed office in September last year. President Ghani is reported to have shared details about his government’s strategy for the future and assured Mr Karzai that he would not take any steps that would harm the national sovereignty and interests. He also pledged to provide Mr Karzai details of the MoU for signed between Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence as soon as they were finalised. Earlier in the week Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah criticised Mr Karzai’s government blaming it for the corrupt system that has been inherited by the present government.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Ghani and Karzai Meet to Settle Disagreements", Tolo News, 15 July 2015; "Senate Asks NUG Leaders, Karzai to End Rivalry", Tolo News, 14 July 2015; "NUG Inherited Corrupt System: Abdullah", Tolo News, 13 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cabinet reshuffled

Adding three new ministers, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expanded her Cabinet in the week. Three new faces are- Chittagong city Awami League leader and former MP Nurul Islam BSc, cultural personality Tarana Halim MP, and Lalmonirhat-2 lawmaker Nuruzzaman Ahmed. Meanwhile, two state ministers—state minister for home affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and state minister of science and technology Yeafesh Osman—were promoted to the rank of ministers.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Cabinet reshuffled", The Independent, 15 July 2015 10 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Life expectancy up

Bangladeshis are living three years more than their ancestors. The average life expectancy in Bangladesh has increased by around three years, from 67.2 years in 2009 to 70.4 years in 2013, according to a Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics study.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Life expectancy up by 3 years", Dhaka Tribune, 15 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese envoy meets PM

The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Le Yucheng called on Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay on 17 July during his visit to Thimphu. Tobgay said that such high level visits provide opportunity for Bhutan and China to exchange views on issues of mutual interest.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Chinese Ambassador calls on PM", Bhutan Observer, 17 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Irregularities unearthed

The Royal Audit Authority unearthed irregularities to the tune of Nu179 million ngultrum with the Dungsam Cement Corporation Limited, mostly in violation of laws and rules, the annual audit report 2014 revealed.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "RAA unearths Nu 179M irregularities in Dungsam Cement", Kuensel, 10 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ufa decisions hold amidst firing

Heavy firing from the Pakistani side taking place just five days after Indian and Pakistan Prime Ministers met in Russian city of Ufa, serious questions have been raised on the process - but for the moment, New Delhi said that Ufa decisions still remain valid. Concerns have also been raised about a surge in terrorists’ infiltration along International border and Line of Control.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : After Ufa hopes, flare-up on border, The Hindu, 17 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi in Jammu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Jammu last Friday to attend the centenary celebrations of former Congress stalwart and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley’s father-in-law, the late Girdhari Lal Dogra. Modi is also expected to announce a Rs 70,000 crore package for state. The visit came with the backdrop of several infiltration attempts from across the border.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : PM Narendra Modi in Jammu, likely to announce massive Rs 70,000 crore package for state, India Today, 17 July 2015; ; There should be no untouchability in politics, says PM Modi in Jammu, The Hindustan Times, 17 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Boeing-Tata defence deal

U.S. aircraft manufacturing firm Boeing said on will be joining hands with the Indian firm Tata Advanced Systems Ltd to work together on manufacturing aerospace and defense equipment including unmanned aerial vehicles. New Delhi is trying to encourage more companies to manufacture in India and boost skilled employment, particularly in defense. Tata Advanced Systems owned by conglomerate Tata Sons already works with Airbus Group and Lockheed Martin.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Boeing joins forces with Tata to build aerospace kit, Reuters, 15 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Better defence ties with Myanmar

India on Thursday decided to assist modernisation of Myanmar’s Army and Navy to upgrade military to military cooperation to the next level, nearly a month after joint operations targeted insurgents along 1640-km-long land boundary. This is a significant development amid slide in Sino-Myanmar ties.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : India to help modernise Myanmar Army and Navy to broad-base defence partnership , The Economic Times, 17 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">More reforms in FDI

India simplified foreign investment regulations by integrating different categories. Foreign Direct Investment, foreign portfolio investment, and investments by Non Resident Indians will now fall under the same category. As a result, banks will be able to raise the percentage of foreign-sourced capital to 74 percent.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Govt eases foreign investment rules, banks likely to gain most", The Hindustan Times, 17 July 2015; "Nod to composite cap on foreign investment", Business Standard, 17 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Hanging on schedule

Police officials began preparations for carrying out the death sentence of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, convicted for this role in the serial blasts in Mumbai which had killed 257 people in 12 March 1993. Memon’s second review petition before the Supreme Court is expected to be heard on 21 July.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Yakub Memon moves apex court to escape death sentence in 1993 serial bomb blast case", The Economic Times, 16 July 2015; "Mumbai cops told to be alert for Yakub Memon’s execution", Hindustan Times, 16 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nasheed release likely

After the rescheduled third round of political negotiations with the Government, Opposition MDP’s sole representative, Ibrahim ’Ibu’ Solih indicated that freedom for party leader and former President, Mohammed Nasheed, may happen ahead of the nation’s Golden Jubilee celebrations on 26 July. Home Minister Umar Naseer, present at the post-talks media meet, was hedgy but did not deny Ibu’s claim.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Freedom for ex president on the horizon, suggests MDP", Minivan News, 13 July 2015; "’Maldives has no political prisoners’ says Home Minister", Haveeru Online, 13 July 2015; "President’s office minister Abdulla Ameen resigns", Minivan News, 13 July 2015; "Qasim Ibrahim returns to Maldives", Miadhu, 13 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No differences: Gayoom

In the midst of media speculation about a rift in Maldives’ ’First Family’, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has denied rumous of a difference with incumbent half-brother, Abdulla Yameen, over the choice of a vice-president to replace Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, facing imminent impeachment.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "’No preference for Vice President’; Gayoom refutes rumours", Haveeru Online, 11 July 2015; "Former President Gayoom departs to Oman as President’s envoy", SunOnline, 13 July 2015; "Abdulla Hameed treated at ADK after stroke", Haveeru Online, 13 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian food festival

The Indian High Commission organized an Indian food festival in Male, as a part of the celebrations marking the golden jubilee of diplomatic relations between the two Indian Ocean, South Asian neighbours.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India-Maldives golden jubilee celebrated with food festival", Haveeru Online, 11 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Soldiers recovered

Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB) said that the two members of the Myanmar Army have been recovered after search operations were carried on from 5 July to 14 July. However, who abducted them is still not known, the BGB Director General, Maj. Gen. Aziz Ahmed said.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Abducted Myanmar soldiers recovered in Bangladesh", Mizzima, 16 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Joint team for border

India and Myanmar have agreed to send a joint delegation to the Nagaland border region to understand the situation on the border. This was decided when Foreign Affairs Minister, U Wunna Maung Lwin met with Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "India, Myanmar agree on a border visit following raid against Naga rebels", Myanmar Times, 17 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ethnic armies promise peace

The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) has vowed that ethnic armed groups will not disturb the upcoming General Elections to be held on 8 November. Nai Hongsa, deputy chairman of the UNFC said this on 15 July.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Ethnic armies vow to keep peace during election", Democratic Voice of Burma, 16 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">CA receives feedback

The Constituent Assembly (CA) secretariat has received altogether 4,214 suggestions on the draft constitution from various parts of the country and abroad as of July 16. Meanwhile, CA members are scheduled to visit electoral constituencies to learn about people’s opinion on the draft constitution starting Friday. Public hearings on new constitution will be conducted on July 20-21 across the country.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "CA receives feedback from 4,214 people", Republica, 17 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maoist alliance opposes trade route

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist) led alliance has opposed a Sino-Indian move to use as a trade route a disputed chunk of territory located in western Nepal. The party stated its objections in letters addressed to Prime Ministers Sushil Koirala of Nepal and Narendra Modi of India as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "33-party alliance demonstrates against Lipulek agreement", Republica, 16 July 2015; "Nepal Maoists Oppose India-China Trade Route", The Indian Express, 10 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Quake-survivors upset

Two months after massive twin earthquakes killed 8,897 people in Nepal, nearly three million survivors, many in mountainous, hard-to-reach areas, still needed shelter, food and basic medical care as the yearly monsoon bore down on the Himalayan nation, the U.N. said in a report released last week. The report said that while government-led recovery was "scaling up", there are still 2.8 million people that needed urgent help.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Frustration grows among Nepal quake survivors as monsoon swamps camps", Reuters, 9 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Plea to life travel advisories

Seeking to revive its tourism industry, on July 15 other countries were asked to lift their travel advisories following the devastating earthquakes that killed nearly 9,000 people. Speaking at a programme tourism minister Kripasur Sherpa asked various countries to lift travel advisory for their nationals as it would discourage the visitors wishing to visit Nepal.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Quake-hit Nepal appeals foreign governments to lift travel advisory", The Times of India, 15 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Eid remission granted for prisoners

Prisoners serving life-sentences have been granted a remission of three months on the occasion of Eid-ul-fitr upon a request by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, however, the ones convicted of heinous crimes: murder, rape, espionage, treason, kidnapping, and terrorism have been excluded. Furthermore, prisoners belonging to a different demography and gender have been granted a different remission based on the category they belong to.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "President grants Eid remission for prisoners", Dawn, 16 July 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MQM blames Zardari

Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has accused former President Asif Zardari of deceiving him and having a "deal with the army". In addition to this, Altaf has claimed that Zardari and the Sindh government are equally to blame for the injustices towards MQM and the Muhajirs, and have looted the country.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Altaf accuses Zardari of deceiving him", Dawn, 17 July 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian ’spy drone’ shot down

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media wing, the army shot down an Indian spy drone along the Line of Control in Bhimber, Azad Kashmir. The ’spy drone’ that was used for aerial photography violated the Pakistani airspace and the terms agreed upon in 1991, according to the ISPR. As a result, the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan had been summoned to the Foreign Office on Thursday.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Pakistan military shoots down Indian ’spy drone’", Dawn, 16 July 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Hostility on the border

After the military shot down an Indian ’spy’ drone near the Line of Control in Azad Kashmir, three people were killed and five more were injured in a cross-border firing initiated by India’s Border Security Force, as per the Inter-Services Public Relations (Military Media Wing). However, Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah has claimed that Pakistan is willing to discuss issues with India and "peace and tranquillity on the LOC is in the interest of both sides".

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Cross-border attacks: Pakistan to press for peace despite Indian hostility", The Express Tribune, 17 July 2015; "India, Pakistan trade blame as border exchanges kill 5", Washington Post, July 16 2015.

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sirisena says no to Rajapaksa for primeministership

In a hard-hitting television address to the nation, President Maithripala Sirisena declared that he would not appoint defeated predecessor Mahinda Rajpaaksa as prime minister, even if their SLFP-UPFA combine won the 17 August parliamentary polls. The President vowed to uphold his mandate for good governance, and promised to remain neutral during campaign time.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see :

"’I won’t appoint Mahinda PM’ - President.. will remain impartial at forthcoming election", The Island, 14 July 2015; "President to appoint UPFA election committee", The Island, 14 July 2015; "Court halts SLFP CC meetings", Daily Mirror Online, 15 July 2015; "SLFP counters MS; declares MR as campaign leader?Mahinda confers with UPFA leaders at SLFP hq", The Island, 15 July 2015; "MR appointed UPFA election operations committee head", The Island, 15 July 2015; "UNP hails stand taken by President on polls", Colombo Gazette, 16 July 2015 "Polls chief stops telecast of President’s special speech", The Island, 16 July 2015; "Three SLFP Dy. Ministers quit over President’s speech", The Island, 16July 2015; "Sivajilingham pits himself against Mahinda at Kurunegala", Asian Tribune, 15 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UNP forms poll alliance

With all but the TNA, JVP and Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party from the 8 January presidential polls on its side, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) has floated the ’United National Front for Good Governance’ (UNFGG), for the 17 August parliamentary elections.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Presidential election victors regroup for parliamentary polls", The Island, July 11, 2015; "PM: Return of Rajapaksa regime won’t be allowed", The Island, 12 July 2015; ; "Be cruel to be kind: Keep Mahinda out - Ranil", Daily Mirror Online, 14 July 2015; "Rauff wants Ranil as Premier of a stable govt.", The Island, 12 July 2015; "UNP obtains order halting publicising COPE report on bond issue", The Island, 16 July 2015; "Nimal: UNP will be taught a lesson for taking people for a ride", The Island, 12 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Buddhist monks in fray

In all, a total of 36 majority Sinhala-Buddhist monks are in the fray for the 17 August parliamentary polls.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "36 monks contesting election", Ceylon Today, 14 July 2015; "BJP calls for unity among party leaders", Daily Mirror Online, 15 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No alliances in North

Notwithstanding the presence of the UNP-led United National Front for Good Governance (UNPGG) in the fray, the majority Tamil National Alliance (TNA), and traditional rival EPDP, in alliance with the SLFP-UPFA in the past, are contesting parliamentary polls in the North, on their own. Though TNA itself is not split, a new outfit, ’Crusaders for Democracy’ (CFD), a splinter Tamil group with pro-LTTE leanings, is in fray in the Jaffna district, alone.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "TNA and EPDP battle on their own", Ceylon Today, 15 July 2015; "Ex-LTTErs to contest Jaffna", Daily Mirror Online, 14 July 2015; "All Police Stations in Jaffna would be shut down - UNP Candidate Vijayakala", Asian Tribune, 13 July 2015; "Kindelpitiya abandons Field Marshal for TULF", The Island, 16 July 2015

Primary Documentation


Eid Felicitation Message of Amir-ul-Momineen, Mulla Mohammad Umar Mujahid, Voice of Jihad, 15 July 2015

How to achieve sustainable peace in the country?, Voice of Jihad, 14 July 2015


Ambassadors of EU and Slovenia bid farewell, Cabinet Secretariat, 15 July 2015


Discussions are underway to hand over 165 verified Bangladeshi nationals who are given temporary shelters at Taung Pyo (Letwe₹) on 22 July 2015, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 16 July 2015


Afghan Ambassador Called to Foreign Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3 July 2015.

Exchange of List of Prisoners between Pakistan and India, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1 July 2015




"Talking to the Taliban", The Economist, 13 July 2015

Sune Engel Rasmussen, "Hamid Karzai seen as increasing threat to Afghanistan’s political stability", The Guardian, 12 July 2015

Opinion Pieces

Anand Arni and Pranay Kotasthane, "India, and the Taliban’s changing dynamics", The Hindu, 17 July 2015

Massoumeh Torfeh, "The pursuit of peace in Afghanistan", Al Jazeera, 16 July 2015

Samimullah Arif, " Threats Abounding in Afghanistan", Foreign Policy, 15 July 2015

Michael Kugelman, "No matter how you slice it, there can be no peace in Afghanistan", The Express Tribune, 15 July 2015

Rustam Shah Mohmand, "Kabul-Taliban talks: a breakthrough", The Express Tribune, 14 July 2015

S Mudassir Ali Shah, "Peace parleys", Dawn, 14 July 2015

Thomas Ruttig, "Copper and Peace: Afghanistan’s China dilemma", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 11 July 2015


Book Reviews

Local Governance in Bangladesh: Policy and Strategy Framework by Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Talukdar, The Daily Star, 13 July 2015

Opinion Pieces

Taj Hashmi, "Arabisation of Bangladesh :An Asset, Liability or Threat?", The Daily Star, 14 July 2015

Biru Paksha Paul, "When is Bangladesh’s next graduation?", The Daily Star, 15 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

"To right a wronged system", Kuensel, 15 July 2015

"For a collective decision", Kuensel, 17 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Nalanda is a syndrome, The Indian Express, 14 July 2015

Amartya Sen, Conversations with Tavleen Singh and Pratap Mehta, The Indian Express, 15 July 2015

Parthasarathi Shome, Is there economics in the 2015 Land Acquisition Bill?, Business Standard, 14July 2015

Sapna Agarwal, Why end of season sales is a huge success, Live Mint, 13 July 2015

C. Raja Mohan, How the Iran nuke deal gives India room in the Greater Middle East, The Indian Express, 15 July 2015

C. Raja Mohan, The Great Game Folio: Modi’s Pak Pivot, The Indian Express, 14 July 2015

Darshana M Baruah, Vietnam and America, 40 years on, The Business Standard, 11 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Devyani Srivastava, "Special laws must not pre-empt general criminal law", Minivan News, 18 July 2015

Hussein Shamem, "New penal code comes into effect! A truly historic moment", Minivan News, 16 July 2015

Mohammed Hameed, "Will the new anti-terror bill deter Maldivian ’jihadists’?", Minivan News, 14 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Nicholas Farrelly, "Can Myanmar benefit from the China Plan?" Myanmar Times, 13 July 2015

Melissa Crouch, "Why constitutional review is needed", Myanmar Times, 15 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Kanak Mani Dixit, ’Dust to Dust’, eKantipur, 17 July 2015

Mahabir Paudyal, ’Country is theirs’, Republica, 15 June 2015

Chandra Prasad Luitel, ’Mized Bag’, Republica, 15 July 2015

Maina Dhital, ’Trilateral Corridor’, eKantipur, 17 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

I A Rehman, "Not by force alone", Dawn, 16 July 2015.

Zahid Hussain, "The looming IS threat", Dawn, 14 July 2015.

Ali Rauf Jaswal, "The Turkish elections: augmenting polarisation",The Express Tribune, 17 July 2015.

Rafia Zakaria, "Ramazan of 1947, and now", Dawn, 3 July 2015.

Faisal Bari, "Separate but equal?", Dawn, 17 July 2015.

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Harim Peiris, "President repudiates Rajapaksa as UPFA prepares or a second defeat", The Island, 17 July 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Sirisena, the man to watch - and match?", South Asia Monitor, 16 July 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Security Sri Lanka from super-power rivalry", Samakalam, 15 July 2015

K Godage, "Strategic studies and our national security", Daily Mirror Online, 14 July 2015

Jehan Perera, "Changed circumstances favour good governance coalition", The Island, 14 July 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Dogs, crows and parliamentary polls", The Sunday Leader, 12 July 2015

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan : Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh : Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan & Myanmar : Mihir Bhonsale;
India: : Shubh Soni and Pushan Das;
Maldives & Sri Lanka : N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal : Pratnashree Basu ;
Pakistan : Zuber Singh

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