MonitorsPublished on Dec 31, 2010
Bangladesh needs to be commended for its efforts in fighting the rightwing militancy. The anti-militancy drive initiated by the Awami League Government in 2009 was further intensified in 2010
Bangladesh's fight against militancy continues
< class="heading1">Analysis

Bangladesh needs to be commended for its efforts in fighting the rightwing militancy. The anti-militancy drive initiated by the Awami League Government in 2009 was further intensified in 2010 and resulted in substantial decline in the incidents. According to available data, the country witnessed a total of 56 fatalities, including 48 militants, four civilians and three security personnel in 2010, in 49 incidents involving death, compared to 87 fatalities including 81 militants and six civilians, in 68 incidents in the previous year.1

In 2010, the security forces attained significant success in taming right-wing militancy in the country. Several top leaders and cadres of various militant organisations, including the banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkatul Jihad (HuJi), were arrested. The most prominent catch, however, was that of JMB Chief Saidur Rahman, who was arrested in May. The arrest exposed the clandestine link between the country's influential religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami and the militant groups. During the investigation Saidur not only parted with important information about the group's activities but also claimed that he was a former amir of the Jamaat-e-Islamiin Habiganj district. The JMB chief also claimed to have had connections with the top leadership of Jamaat. As may be noted, 43 JMB and nine Harkatul Jihad militants were arrested in 2010, against 101 and 11 respectively in 2009.2

To rein in militancy, the Government also pulled suckles on the quarters of those who are believed to be supporting militancy from behind. In July, the police arrested Dhaka University teacher, Syed GolamMaula, the alleged coordinator of Bangladesh operations for the outlawed Islamist outfit Hizbut-Tahrir. The Hizb is known for its close proximity with Al-Qaeda. The organisation is claimed to be fast gaining popularity among the country's educated youth. The Hizbut-Tahirir's ideology corresponds with the thoughts propounded by such other organisations -- of transforming the country into a 'shariah state'. Interestingly, in April, nearly 3000 non-governmental organisations were also banned, suspecting militant linkages. Realizing that the untapped flow of finances was a stimulus for growth of militancy, the Government expressed plans to re-haul the money laws of the country to bring down the financial network of extremist groups.

In another development, in conformity with the electoral promise of the Awami League, the Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instituted a 'War Crime Tribunal' in March, to try out the 'criminals' from the 1971 'War of Liberation'. The tribunal was a long-standing desire of the people, and is likely to cause a major blow to right-wing politics of the country. In turn, this has inherent implications for militancy. In June, top leaders of Jamaat including its chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary-general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed were arrested. Crackdown on the Jamaat has made the party weak, and it has lost the clout which it used to enjoy as a partner in the erstwhile Government of Bangladesh National Party chief Begum Khaleda Zia (2001-06). Hence, the party is in no position to continue with its support to militancy. In fact, whispering is on that if charges against Jamaat leaders are proved, then they might even lose their voting rights.

Besides, the country also demanded appreciation for its cooperation towards India. During Sheikh Hasina's visit to India in January it reiterated its stand of not allowing its territory to forces inimical to India. During the visit it also signed three major agreements ? respectively for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, transfer of sentenced persons, and combating international terrorism, organised crimes and illicit drug-trafficking. However, the country's contribution in dealing with insurgency in India's north-eastern States needs to be recognized most. It was cooperation from Bangladesh that facilitated the arrest of many leaders of various insurgent groups of the region like Ranjan Daimary, chief of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland.

The success attained by Bangladesh in curbing militancy is significant but this is not time for being contented; a lot more needs to be achieved. There are undercurrents and any leniency will result in reversal of the scenario.

Dr Joyeeta Bhattacharjee is Associate Fellow in the Observer Research Foundation

1 AnshumanBehera, "Banagldesh Steady Progress", South AsiaIntellligenceReview , December 27 20010. 2 ibid < class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ULFA arms recovered

Border Guards Bangladesh has recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition, including mines and grenades, from remote jungles in Bakakura village ofJhinaidaha sub-division in Sherpur district. The recovered arms are believed to be of the United Liberation Force of Assam (ULFA).

Earlier in December, the security forces also recovered 13000 rounds of ammunition, also believed to be that of ULFA. The security forces believe that ULFA cadres might have left behind these weapons when they abandoned their hideouts in the country, fearing action against them. The Awami League Government had acted against anti-India groups who were operating from that country's soil.
Source: The Daily Jugantor (Bengali), December 27, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Navy to get submarine

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has unveiled her Government's plan of including submarine with base facility in Bangladesh Navy by 2019, to build it as an effective 'deterrent force'. Shiekh Hasina has also spoken about the Government's intention to induct new helicopters to upgrade the naval aviation wing.

Once the country achieved greater economic advancement, further steps will be taken to turn the Navy into an effective and strong tri-dimensional force, the Prime Minister said. She expressed a desire to build Bangladesh Navy as a modern and well-equipped force in the future so that it could boldly resist illegal trespass by foreign ships into Bangladesh territory and to stop smuggling through the sea.
Source:, December 29, 2010


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">GSLV launch fails, rocket explodes

In a serious setback to India's space programme, one of the ISRO's (Indian Space Research Organisation) communication satellites aboard a Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) exploded mid-air, less than a minute after lift off from the spaceport in Sriharikota and fell into the sea.

The setback was for India's ambitions of entering the market for heavy satellite launches as GSLV-F06 rocket carrying 2130 kg communication satellite exploded in mid-air. If the mission would have been successful then India would have been knocking at the doors of five nations elite club who have the capability of putting heavy satellite in the orbit.

The communication satellite, built at Rs 125 crore, was meant to replace the INSAT-3E that was sent up in 2003.
Source: The Hindu, December 26, 2010, The Indian Express, December 26, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Payment route shut for Iran oil imports

The Reserve Bank of India has reportedly barred companies from using the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) to process account transactions for oil and base imports -- a decision that is likely to hit at Indian energy imports from Iran.

It is reported that the decision was taken under US pressure.
Source: The Hindu, December 30, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BJP insists on JPC probe

Even as the stalemate over the opposition's demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the alleged 2-G spectrum allocation scam continues, there were reports about serious differences with the main opposition party, the BJP, over the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC), which is headed by former Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, should accept Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's open offer to appear before it.

The BJP made serious efforts to bridge the existing differences within the party over the issue and in this connection party president Nitin Gadkari met Dr Joshi, who later said that he was fully supportive of the JPC demand.

For her part, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar promised to continue the talks to resolve the deadlock over the smooth functioning of the budget session, due from February after the winter session was lost to Opposition protests. She met the leaders of the ruling Congress and BJP-NDA again, to end the impasse over the JPC issue but the Opposition remained steadfast on their demand.
Source: The Hindu, December 27, 28 29, 30, 31, 2010; The Times of India, December 28-29, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Growing opposition to Jaitapurn-power plant?

The opposition to the proposed nuclear power project at Jaitapur in Maharashtra appears to be growing even as Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh ruled out a review of the environmental approval granted to the project.

One of the first nuclear power projects cleared after the lifting international sanctions against India, the Jaitapur plant is apparently facing opposition from local people. Even the Opposition parties, which had opposed the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement under the UPA-I Government at the Centre, seem to be behind the anti-nuclear plant sentiments.
Source: The Hindu, December 30, 2010, The Indian Express, December 29-30, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Telangana Committee submits report

The five-member committee headed by retired Justice B N Sri Krishna has submitted its recommendations on the demand for carving out a separate Telangana State out of Andhra Pradesh, to the Centre.

Accepting the report a day ahead of the December 31 deadline, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram promised to call a meeting of all recognized political parties in Andhra Pradesh as early as January 6, to discuss the committee report, before going public with the details.

The 'Telangana issue' is a ticklish affair, in political and constitutional terms with consequences on the law and order and socio-economic fronts.
Source: The Hindu, December 31, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Krishna Water Tribunal award announced

Fixing quotas for withdrawal of water by riparian states, the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal has allocated the maximum share to Andhra Pradesh but allowed upper riparian Karnataka to increase storage level of the controversial Almatti dam, from 519.6 m to 524.26 m.

The award will be valid until May 2050 and can be reviewed or revised by a competent authority or tribunal later.
Source: The Indian Express, December 31, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Visa-on-arrival to four more countries

The Government of India has decided to grant visa-on-arrival to citizens of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam and on arrival at any of the four designated international airports-New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, on a fee of $ 60 or its equivalent in Indian rupees, an official statement said on December 30, 2010.
Source: The Indian Express, December 31, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President asks predecessor to stay out, or...

President Mohamed Nasheed has warned that it would not be wise for Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, his predecessor, to return to the country for campaigning purposes after publicly announcing that he had given up on his political career.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)website reported that Nasheed had heard that Gayoom was returning to the Maldives for local elections campaigning and warned that "it might cause history to return", potentially endangering the former leader's safety.

"Sometimes when former Presidents leave the country and then return to Maldives, a very regrettable fate has occurred," he said addressing Gayoom directly from a public platform, "But still if you are speaking of returning to politics, again, it is more likely to see the history of the Maldives to return," he said. "It is not what any of us would wish to see." Other media reports claimed that President Nasheed had referred to 'assassinations' in the place of 'regrettable fate', cited by the MDP website.

As was to be expected, the Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), of which Gayoom is the Supreme Leader, criticized President Nasheed, saying that the latter was afraid of campaigning by his predecessor influencing the results of the upcoming local government elections. Earlier reports had quoted rebel DRP vice-president Nazeer claiming that Gayoom, now in Malaysia, was not unwilling to consider candidacy for presidency in elections that are due in 2013.

Joining the criticism of President Nasheed on the issue was the fundamentalist ally Adhalath Party, which does not have any members in Parliament but has Ministers in the Government.
Source: Minivan News, December 29, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parliament delays decision on MPs' pay-hike

MPs "have not taken pay increases", Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim has said, despite the Rf 20,000 hikes for MPs included in the 2011 budget, since approved by Parliament. It requires further clearance by Parliament, or the Majlis, he said. Nazim anticipates that the proposals, considered a possible means of improving Parliament's "productivity", would come under review in March after the recess.

Acting Finance Minister Mahmood Razee said all amendments to the budget passed by the Opposition-controlled Parliament would ideally fulfill the Government's commitment to keep the budget at about Rf12.37bn for 2011.These commitments are also focused on trying to ensure a budget deficit of around 16 per cent, which has been sought in an attempt to appease institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which suspended finance to the country earlier this year over concerns about it living beyond its means.

However, Nazim, who also serves as Deputy Leader of the opposition People's Alliance (PA) party, rebuked the optimism shown by the acting finance Minister. He added that concerns remained among some "opposition and independent MPs" over a lack of detail in the budget, such as in the funding of enterprises like the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC).
Source: Minivan News, December 30, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ex-MDP chief floats new party

The former Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) president, Dr Mohamed Munawwar, appears set to helm a new political party after submitting 3258 names to the Elections Commission for registration, Miadhuhas reported.

Under the name of the Maldives Reform Movement, Dr Munawwar has claimed the new party is expected to be represented by young Maldivians, adding that no "famous" political figures have yet to join with him.

Elections Commissioner Fuad Thaufeeq said that time would be needed to process and verify the 3258 names it had been presented, Miadhu added. Under Commission regulations, a party must have 3000 available members to be considered for official registration.
Source: Minivan News, December 30, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NC, UML agreed on a rotational system for government-formation

The Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN (UML) have accepted a consensus government with rotational leadership, after months of deadlock that did not spare prime ministerial vote in the Constituent Assembly for 15 times in a row. The Unified CPN (Maoist) party has said that it was ready for a rotational system only if it gets to lead the government first. However, the NC and UML are adamant that they will not accept the Maoist leadership till the army integration and rehabilitation is completed, and the cantonments emptied.

It is also reported that during a public programme, caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said that "he (Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal) did not agree even when we proposed (Ram Chandra) Paudel as prime minister for one month and then Dahal". Rotational system seems to be best suited for forming the government in the present circumstances because the possibility of forming a consensus government at this juncture appears to be highly unlikely.
Source:, December 26, 2010, ekantipur, December 30, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">High-level task force term expires

The term of the seven-member, high-level task force headed by Maoists' Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, or 'Prachanda', ended this week after solving some contentious constitutional issues. The 27 political parties in the country have agreed to take the committee's place by conducting joint meetings at regular intervals to resolve the legal questions that have come up during the formulation of the new Constitution.

Out of the original outstanding issues totaling 200, only 83 remain to be resolved. At their meeting during the week, the 27parties decided to endorse Prachanda's decision, to refer to the Constitutional Committee for a final decision on the forms of government. Similarly, the meeting also approved another decision taken by the taskforce, on the forms of legislature ? bicameral at the Centre and unicameral in the States.
Source:, December 30

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India denies training Nepali Maoists

India has provided training to the Nepali Maoists and have a role in a royal palace massacre, alleged yet to be published book 'Maile dekheko Durbar'('The Palace as I saw it') by a former senior military officer at the erstwhile royal palace, Gen Bibek Shah. In his book, Shah has contended India actively trained Nepal's Maoist guerrillas. He claimed that the nexus came to light when an armed police team went to Chakrata in India's Uttarakhand State to receive arms-training from the Indian authorities and learned that an earlier group, apparently Maoists, had also been trained there.

He also blamed India for assassinating the then King Birendra because his plans to modernize Nepalese Army were not liked by the Indian authorities. India wanted Nepal to buy their less sophisticated weapons while King Birendra had already done a deal with a German arms manufacturer.

Although, India and apparently Maoists, have consistently denied training Nepali Maoists during the armed conflict, the recent allegation has certainly open up a can of worms.
Source:, December 30, 2010, Hindustan Times, December 30, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">IMF extends loan period

IMF's loan program which was scheduled to end on December 31, 2010 has been granted a nine month extension until September 30, 2011. The extension has been provided to give the Pakistan authorities to complete the economic reforms program which includes the implementation of the Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST), correcting the course of the financial policy and amending the legislative framework of the financial structure.

Pakistan had received the last tranche of IMF's US$ 11.3 billion loan in May 2010.IMF has continually emphasized for the need to undertake the reforms and held back some portion of the loan but subsequently disbursed it given Pakistan precarious economic conditions after the July floods.

Analysts predict that if the reforms are not undertaken soon, Pakistan's fiscal deficit could exceed seven percent.
Source: Dawn, December 28, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President Zardari signs 19th Amendment Bill

President Asif Ali Zardari signed the 19th Amendment Bill, aimed at making the relation between the judiciary and the legislature more transparent and thus, reducing tensions between the two. According to the bill drafted by the 26 member Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms, parliament will now play a role in the appointment of top judicial posts. It also raises the number of senior judges in the Judicial Commission by four, besides increasing the membership of the parliamentary committee for the appointment of chief election commissioner to twelve.
Source: Dawn, January 1; Daily Times, January 2

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pakistan to contest lawsuit against ISI

Pakistan announced its decision to contest a lawsuit against its premier intelligence agency, the ISI on terrorism charges related to the Mumbai attack of 2008 in which American citizens were among the 164 people killed by Lashkar-e-Tayeeba (LeT) militants. Recently, victims of the US citizens killed during the attack filed a private lawsuit in which they accused, among other, ISI and its chief, Lt Gen Shuja Pasha of direct complicity in the attack. The government's decision to defend the ISI has been welcomed by leaders across the political spectrum in an apparent defiance of 'American interference' and in solidarity with an increasingly popular army. However, given the fact that the US government is not involved in the complaint, and that the lawsuit is likely to culminate as a mere legal exercise, Pakistan's decision to challenge the lawsuit and the subsequent show of camaraderie should be treated as grandstanding.
Source: Dawn, December 25; Daily Times, December 31

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UN panel needs prior clearance

The Government has clarified that the UN panel probing 'war crime' charges in Sri Lanka has been granted permission to enter Sri Lanka and testify before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), and not to carry out any investigations of its own. Media Minister Keheliya said that the UN panel members had earlier been denied visas because they had wanted to meet various persons, which if allowed would have been a violation of Sri Lanka's sovereignty.

"Anyone, including the Tamil Diaspora members, is welcome to testify before the LLRC. Acceptance or rejection of such evidence is the prerogative of the Commission," the Minister said, adding, Sri Lanka was a non-aligned country and will be guided by such a policy.
Source: The Island, Colombo, December 31, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Egg imports from India

The Minister of Cooperatives and Internal Trade Johnston Fernando is determined to bring down the price of an egg to SLR 11 and said that the Government will import five- million eggs per week for one month, from India, until the open market prices came down.

The first consignment of two-million eggs has arrived in the country, and is being sold at Rs. 12 at Lanka Sathosa, Coop City and Mini Coop City outlets. Minister Fernando further said that 500 tons of chicken too has arrived in the country from India and is being sold at Rs. 350 a kg.

The Cabinet has approved the import of 50 million eggs and 2500 kg of chicken from India in order to reduce the prices and shortage of eggs. The Government was determined to break the monopoly of the so-called "trade mafia" that controls the prices of these products in the local market, he said.

Minister Fernando said that the big onion prices have come down in the open market with wholesale traders importing the same from Pakistan. The ministry too has decided to import big onions from Pakistan, but the quantity has not yet been decided.
Source: The Island, Colombo, December 31, 2010

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
India: Satish Misra;
Nepal: Anjali Sharma;
Pakistan: Anjana Verma;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: Mr. N SathiyaMoorthy;

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.