MonitorsPublished on Aug 05, 2011
India-Bangladesh relations got a major boost following Home Minister P Chidambaram's visit to Dhaka in July this year. The visit, described by Chidambaram as constructive, infused optimism about the resolution of some of the bilateral issues like border during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's scheduled visit to India in September this year.
Chidambaram's visit improves India's image
< class="heading1">Analysis

India-Bangladesh relations got a major boost following Home Minister P Chidambaram’s visit to Dhaka in July this year. The visit, described by Chidambaram as constructive, infused optimism about the resolution of some of the bilateral issues like border during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s scheduled visit to India in September this year.

The Home Minister’s visit, which was seen as a preparatory to Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit, provided an opportunity to the two neighbouring countries to review the state of existing cooperation in areas of security and border management. During Chidambaram’s visit, he met top leaders, including Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni. But the most significant was his meeting with his counterpart, Sahara Khatun. The two Home Ministers elaborately discussed issues like red-corner notice from Interpol, smuggling of arms, ammunition and explosives, smuggling of narcotics and other illicit drugs, human-trafficking, repatriation of prisoners and border management.

The visit raised speculation about signing of an agreement on border issues during Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit as Chidambaram said that the two countries have made substantial progress on this issue. During the visit, the two sides enlightened each other about the progress made till date. India and Bangladesh share over 4000 km of border, of which around 6.5 km have not been demarcated. They also have a total 162 enclaves in each other’s territory. During Sheikh Hasina’s visit earlier, the two countries decided to resolve the border issues. As a follow-up, the Joint Boundary Working Group met in November in 2010 and decided to undertake a joint border survey. Chidambaram also said that the survey of population in the 162 enclaves was under progress, for a tangible solution to be found.

The visit also played a major role in lifting the image of India among the people of Bangladesh, which was dented substantially following Dr Manmohan Singh’s off-the -record comment made in June that 25 per cent of the people of Bangladesh were anti-India. During his stay, Chidambaram praised Bangladesh for the cooperation in addressing India’s security concerns. His words helped create a positive feeling among the people about India.

One important aspect of the visit was Bangladesh seeking India’s help to find the killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first President of Bangladesh. Some of the killers were suspected to be hiding in India to evade death penalty. Sheikh Mujubir Rahman, along with most of his family members, was killed by a group of army officers on August 15, 1975. The court convicted 12 army officers and awarded them death penalty. Unfortunately, most of these officers are absconding. Assuring help, Chidambaram requested Bangladesh to provide more information.

The most significant and immediate outcome of the visit was the signing of the Joint Border Management Plan. The deal signed by the Directors-General of India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) is aimed at enhancing the quality of border management and check cross-border terrorism, especially to stop smuggling of drugs, arms and human-trafficking along the border areas of the two neighbours.

The agreement was widely appreciated in Bangladesh and the expectation is that it will help to check incidents of shootings by border guards. The issue of border killings has become a point of contention between the two countries. Since the border is porous, it has become an ideal ground for cross-border crimes. The border guards of both the countries often open fire to stop such crimes. Since there are human settlements very close to the international border, on many occasions innocent people were also affected. There is loss of lives on both sides of border. But the media in Bangladesh highlights only the death of Bangladeshi nationals, not Indians. They also do not distinguish between criminals and innocent civilians. This in turn generates antagonism towards India. Bangladesh has been raising this issue almost in every forum. This time too, the issue was raised by Bangladesh Home Minister Sahara Khatun.

In response, Chidambaram said that the BSF has been instructed to maintain restraint at the border and that the personnel can open fire only in self-defence. The declaration has been received positively in Bangladesh and is seen as a major step in winning people’s confidence. In fact, a recent study by a Bangladesh think-tank suggests that except for the border-killings, most Bangladeshi youth do not have much ill-feeling towards India.

But back home, there is some dissatisfaction, especially in the North-Eastern States. People have expressed resentment over Chidambaram not raising the issue of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) not accepting illegal Bangladeshis judicially detected by the Foreigners Tribunals in Assam for their illegal entry. Many in Assam feel that Chidambaram has rather virtually paved the way for more infiltration of Bangladeshis into Assam by directing the Border Security Force (BSF) not to fire at people crossing the India-Bangladesh border.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ready to handover ULFA leader

Home Minister Sahara Khatun this week expressed the Government’s intention to hand over detained leader of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), Anup Chetia, to India. Ms Khatun said that it had to be done through the correct legal procedure, which has already been set in motion.

Chetia was arrested in Dhaka on December 21, 1997 along with his two associates on the charge of illegal possession of foreign currencies and a satellite phone, convicted and imprisoned.
< class="text11verdana">Source: New Age, August 5, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BNP protest after Eid

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is making preparations for an all-out movement against the Government after Eid-ul-Fitr. Keeping this in mind, the party is working on finding new allies, mobilising local units and front organisations.

To attract mass support, it is focusing on issues like price rise, power, gas and water shortage. However, the primary focus is on the demand for the restoration of the provision of the caretaker government, which was introduced in 1996 to ensure fair elections, by mobilizing public opinion against the 15th amendment to the Constitution.

Senior BNP leaders claimed that the party had decided to wage a full-fledged movement after Eid to overthrow the government. However, they were yet to decide on the pattern of the agitation. Some members of the party are in support of demonstrations, rallies and road marches. The party leaders also said that tough programmes such as general strikes would be announced if the situation so warrants.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, August 1, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Trade with Myanmar to be increased

The Joint Trade Commission of Bangladesh and Myanmar has agreed to increase bilateral trade by strengthening border transactions. The trade between the two neighboring countries is likely to increase to $500 million from $160 million now.

The meeting of the Joint Trade Commission took place in Myanmar’s city of Nay Pyi Taw on July 21-22. At the meeting, the two sides also discussed issues like border trade, minimising the trade gap between them, facilitation and promotion of trade of agricultural products, food grains and other products under private sector initiative.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has urged Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to invest in agriculture in that country. The Myanmar Government has informed that it is also ready to give long-term lease of land to Bangladeshi entrepreneurs for agricultural purposes.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, August 3, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese firm to supply 20 commuter trains

Bangladesh Railway signed an agreement with a Chinese company this week to procure some 20 commuter trains at a cost of US$ 58.31 million.

Bangladesh Railway director general Abu Taher and China’s Tangshan Railway Vehicle Co Ltd Deputy managing director Jhen Daew inked the deal on behalf of their respective sides.
< class="text11verdana">Source: New Age, August 5, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian company to train youth

Gammon India, a construction company building the 7,500-m long cylindrical headrace tunnel for the 1,200-MW Punatsangchu power project, will train 300 Bhutanese youth every year.

The youth, who completed training from vocational institutes, and those with basic education, will be trained in the field of hydro-power and other construction activities. The youth will receive training in Gammon India’s construction sites and the training institute in Mysore for three to six months for five years.

In a memorandum of understanding signed between the officials from Labour Ministry and Gammon India yesterday, it stated that, while Gammon India will provide free trainings, the Government would have to bear the expenses for stipend and travel allowances for the trainees.

Labour and Human Resource Secretary Pema Wangda said, in training Bhutanese youth, Gammon India would be assisting the ministry to train the youth in hydropower projects.

Gammon will also adopt one vocational institute in the country, and make it an institute to provide training on skills required in hydro-power projects. There are about four major Indian construction companies in Bhutan, Gammon India, Hindustan, Larsen and Toubro and Jaiprakash Associates.

While the Labour Ministry has already started training 181 youth since last December with Larsen and Toubro, negotiations are going on with Hindustan Construction company.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 03, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Protest over carbon tax on Europe flights

Come January, your airfare to London will cost ?6 (Rs 380) more, thanks to a new carbon tax the European Union (EU) has decided to levy on the aviation sector. This tax will cost India $1 billion (Rs 4,500 crore) a year and with China and the US, will help Europe make a neat $ 10 billion a year.

It is not the money but the intention of rich nations behind the tax that has irked emerging economies like India and China, which see it as the beginning of a regressive regime for imposing taxes on developing nations to fight climate change, instead for paying for it themselves.

The UN convention of climate change says rich countries have to pay for any action to reduce carbon emissions in the developing world but so far, they have failed to meet their commitment.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, July 30, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak-centric fake currency to be raised

India will in October approach a global inter-governmental body -- Financial Action Task Force (FATF) -- asking it to treat the issue of ’fake currency notes’ as an instrument of ’terror funding’.

New Delhi will back its demand by presenting an exhaustive paper at the global forum, highlighting how Pakistan-based terrorist organizations have been using fake Indian currency notes (FICN) routes to fund their operations in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country for long.

"We have already sounded the FATF about our apprehensions and requested it to put the subject on its agenda for discussion in its meeting in October," said an official, who is privy to this plan.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Times of India, July 31, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Call to make Tibet core issue in India-China talks

India should consider Tibet as one of the core issues in its discussions with China, Lobsang Sangay, prime minister-designate of Tibet’s government-in-exile, has said.

"Politically, it is a humble request on our part that India consider Tibet as one of the core issues between India and China," Sangay, said only days before assuming charge as prime minister on August 8.

He said without the presence of the Chinese army in Tibet, India had a very peaceful border for a long time. "Now with an assertive Chinese military on the borders and in the sea, many Indians are realising the importance of Tibet, which we have been arguing for years," he said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Economic Times, July 31, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China wants more aircraft carriers

A serving Chinese military general is citing India’s capabilities in his efforts to urge the government to have more than one aircraft-carrier. Gen Luo Yuan, a senior researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences, said China needs at least three aircraft-carriers to defend its interests in the face of neighbors developing their capabilities.

"If we consider our neighbors, India will have three aircraft-carriers by 2014 and Japan will have three carriers by 2014," the Beijing News quoted him as saying. "So I think the number (for China) should not be less than three so we can defend our rights and our maritime interests effectively."
< class="text11verdana">Source: Times of India, July 31, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Crude payments with Iran solved

After threatening to snap oil supplies, Iran on Sunday said a payment row over crude exports to India has been resolved after Indian refiners began paying for the oil they buy through a Turkish bank. The Iranian Oil Ministry’s website, SHANA, quoted National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) Managing Director Ahmed Qaleban as saying that "the problem of Indian payments for imported oil from Iran has been solved".

Both India and Iran are learnt to have finalised settlement of dues through a Turkish bank arrangement, officials said. Earlier the news came that the US was in talks with India over the issue of payment of billions of dollars in oil bills to Iran by New Delhi without being affected by American sanctions. "We are working with Indians to resolve the situation. There are, we believe, options available that will help them do that that would not trigger sanctions", State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

"But beyond that, I can’t really comment," he said replying to a question about India planning to pay billions of dollars to Iran in unpaid crude oil purchases through Turkey."I’m just saying we’re discussing options with India that will help resolve it," he said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Hindustan Times, The Hindu, August 1, 2011,, July 30, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New FS pushes for talks with Pakistan

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, who assumed office on Monday, said he has been mandated to pursue ’’substantive dialogue’’ with Pakistan and underlined that constructive cooperation in the immediate neighbourhood would be one of his key priorities.

Mathai, who succeeds Nirupama Rao, India’s next ambassador to the US, said continuity would be the watchword during his tenure and stressed that building "cooperative and strong relationships with all the major global players" would be amongst his key priorities.

"The Foreign Secretary is as much an institution as an individual," Mathai told reporters here after joining his office in South Block in the morning.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Deccan Herald, August 1, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">CEPA with Japan

Indian professionals and producers of textiles, pharmaceuticals and a number of other goods are set to make strong gains as India and Japan begin to implement a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) from Monday.

The pact seeks to abolish import duties on most products, increase access for Indian professionals and contractual service suppliers to the Japanese market and liberalise investment rules.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Economic Times, August 1, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Exports rise by 46.45 per cent

India’s merchandise exports in June climbed 46.45% from a year earlier to $29.2 billion, provisional data issued Monday by the Ministry of Commerce show. The Government didn’t give any reasons for the growth in exports.

Imports jumped 42.46 per cent to $36.87 billion, largely due to a rise in non-oil imports, which were up 47.8 per cent at $26.69 billion. Oil imports in June increased 30.09% to $10.18 billion.

India’s trade deficit widened to $7.66 billion in June from $5.93 billion a year earlier, the data showed.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 1, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sonia Gandhi overseas for surgery

Congress president and ruling UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi underwent surgery abroad for an undisclosed medical condition and could be out of for two to three weeks. She has entrusted a group of four senior leaders, including Defence Minister A K Antony and her son Rahul Gandhi, who also holds the party general secretary post, to run the "day to day party affairs".
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu, August 5, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Dollar crisis can be solved by accepting the rufiyya

Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz has said the dollar-shortage crisis can be solved only by accepting ruffiya as the legal tender. Inaz said that 51 per cent people still used foreign currency as their legal tender. He said that it is important that these people change their foreign currencies to ruffiya through licensed money changers.

Inaz said that though all of their earnings are not changed to ruffiya, they must change 50 per cent of their earnings to local currency."If this 51 per cent people do not use the local currency, ruffiya, as their legal tender then the dollar-shortage crisis will never be solved," he said.

The Minister said that discussions are being held with Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) to formulate regulations to ensure that all transactions are carried out in ruffiya.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru, August 03, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Law to help private ownership of land

Parliament began a debate on amendments proposed to the Land Act of 2002 to allow citizens to use land as a commercial asset. Presenting the draft legislation on behalf of the Government, MP Abdul Gafoor Moosa explained that the amendments would allow land to be bought and sold as privately-owned assets.

The proposed law would introduce procedures for individuals and married couples to register state-owned land as personal property, Gafoor continued, which would provide "necessary security and protection for everyone." The Government would also be legally empowered to seize plots that remain unused for five years, said Gafoor, while the current 15 per cent tax on estate sales would be abolished.

"So those who want to mortgage land will know the value of their land and be able to mortgage it easily," he said, adding that a new authority would be set up as a part of the civil service and answerable to a Cabinet Minister.

Opposition MPs argued against the amendment, saying it went against the spirit of the Decentralisation Act, which conferred land ownership on the Provincial Councils. Among them, DQP member Riyaz Rasheed alleged that the Government recently awarded a plot in Male’ to India for a new embassy building in exchange for "buying a few MPs for MDP."
< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, August 3, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Safe passage for Sri Lankan fishermen

Maldives and Sri Lanka have signed a new agreement to facilitate Sri Lankan vessels to cross the Maldivian Territorial waters when traveling to the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of External Affairs said.

The maritime agreement was signed in the light of Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister of External Affairs, Neomal Perera’s recent visit to Maldives in which several agreements pertaining to Prisoner Exchange and Maldives-Sri Lanka cooperation were signed.

Minister Perera said that the Maldives-Lanka Maritime Agreement will enable Sri Lankan fishermen to journey to the Arabian Sea via Maldivian waters rather than taking a longer route.

"If our Embassy in Maldives is informed 48 hours in advance, then arrangements could be made for them to travel through Maldives. This would save time and fuel costs for Sri Lankan vessels traveling to the Arabian Sea," he said.

Based on the agreement, Sri Lankan fishermen have the option of communicating from the harbour prior to departure or via UHF radio frequency while at sea or even by sending a Fax or E-mail 48 hours in advance to the Sri Lankan Mission in Maldives in order to ensure safe passage.

During Minister Neomal Perera’s visit, the Maldivian Government had agreed to release seven multi-day fishing trawlers taken into custody when they entered Maldivian waters illegally. Previously, the Maldivian Government released several Sri Lankan fishermen who were arrested under suspicion of illegally entering and poaching in Maldivian territorial waters.

A senior official from Sri Lanka’s Ministry of External Affairs said that Sri Lankan fishermen who get caught poaching will be severely dealt with. He added that currently Maldives and Sri Lanka are working together in order to strengthen maritime security in the region.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru, August 05, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM puts action plan on the table

Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal today initiated discussions on the 11-point action plan that his office has prepared to take the peace and constitution writing processes through.

The Prime Minister’s Office maintains that the action plan will set the stage for a national consensus government. The proposal implicitly proposes extending the tenure of the Constituent Assembly till November 30, but warns that the prime minister will step down if the parties failed to reach an agreement by August 13. The Constitutional Committee will prepare the first draft of the constitution by August 27, according to the action plan.

Regrouping Maoist ex-combatants prior to August 31, ipso facto bringing the weapons under the state control and issuing the constitution by November 30 are among the key points. The draft suggests taking integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants hand in hand and re-formulating a concrete work plan to ensure that the new constitution is issued by November 30. The proposal also floats the idea of forming three consensus governments led in turn by the big three parties, each assigned with specific tasks.

The Khanal group is unhappy about the way a section of CPN-UML leaders ? former Prime Minisetr Madhav Kumar Nepal and standing committee member and Khanal’s bête noire K P Oli ? are posturing against executive head’s prerogatives to induct ministers to his Cabinet. Sources at PMO said even Nepal as the Prime Minister had shaken up his Cabinet as many as 10 times without consulting the party.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Himalayan Times, August 1, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Interference unintentional, says India

Jayant Prasad, India’s Ambassador nominee to Nepal, has said that Indian interference in Nepali politics was "unintentional..."In reality, India never had any intention to interfere in Nepal’s political matters."

Jayant Prasad, who is scheduled to arrive in Kathmandu in the third week of August, met with visiting Nepalese journalists in New Delhi. "While Chinese are good at doing things quietly, Indians, on the other hand, believe in creating unnecessary hullabaloo much ahead and thus at the end they are left empty-handed which at times is associated with suspicion of the very Indian intent," commented Prasad.

Rajan Sharma of the Rajdhani daily earlier wrote, "Jayant’s priority is to mend relations between the two countries. He will be bringing with him a special goodwill package."
< class="text11verdana">Source: Telegraph Nepal, August

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Secy quits over Chinese project

Expressing serious dissatisfaction over mounting pressure and unilateral decisions coming from Minister for Federal Affairs, Constituent Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture Khagendra Prasad Prasai, Culture Secretary Modraj Dotel on Thursday tendered his resignation.

"I felt that someone is trying to curtail my personal freedom through unnecessary pressure," admitted Secretary Dotel to the Republica, adding, "So, I tendered my resignation. I am feeling absolute relief after tendering my resignation at the Prime Minister´s Office (PMO)."

According to a source, Minister Prasai has long been pressuring Dotel to sign a final document to pave the way for a Chinese NGO -- Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and Exchange Foundation-- to launch a three-billion dollar project in Lumbini.

However, Secretary Dotel has been refusing to allow the Chinese NGO to initiate the project, citing issues of national sovereignty, security and sensitivity, and also pointing out how the agreement was signed at Beijing, without informing the Nepalese Government officially.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 5

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MoST drafting nuclear law

The Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) has initiated the process of formulating nuclear law for the country, which is expected to widen the use of nuclear technology that is so far limited here to a few experiments and health-related activities.

Enactment of the law is being pushed mainly to pave the way for supervising and regularising nuclear technology/energy-based activities, including licensing and inspections.

Officials at the MoST said it would help the country properly manage radioactive substances and also strengthen relations with international agencies like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO). The MoST drafted a Nuclear Bill following suggestions from IAEA and has sent it to the ministries concerned for their suggestions.

Secretary at MoST Dr Ram Hari Aryal said, "At present there is no mechanism to find out in what amounts radio-active material is coming into the country and going out from here." He said the law will make it mandatory to monitor such activities closely.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 1, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Zardari clears air on provinces

Farhatullah Babar, spokesman of the President Asif Ali Zardari said that the President would not be announcing the creation of another Province in Punjab on Pakistan’s Independence Day, August 14.

"President Zardari cannot make any such announcement unless a resolution is passed by the Provincial Assembly concerned by a two-thirds majority," said Babar. "The President has no powers to announce any Province on his own."

Former Law Minister Babar Awan, had earlier said that the "people of Saraiki areas will be given the greatest news in the history of Pakistan during Ramazan." Apparently, despite opposition from the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) or PML (N) the ruling party in Punjab, the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) or PML (Q) had supported the idea.

However, creation of a new province in Punjab is likely to face very strong resistance and will not exactly be a cakewalk for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to get the resolution passed in the provincial assembly.

The demand for separate Provinces has been raised in the areas of Saraiki, Hazara and Bahawalpur for a long time now.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Dawn, August 05, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Call for army deployment in Karachi

Altaf Hussain, chief of the Karachi based party Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP) called for army intervention in Karachi to restore peace in the city.

In a telephonic address from London, Hussain insisted that the army should be deployed in Karachi and strict action should be taken against people disturbing peace in Karachi and parts of Sindh.

He wanted the Sindh Government to take effective measures to end violence in the city and appealed to the senior leadership of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to stop supporting the Lyari gang and other criminal land mafia in Karachi.

The ANP on the other hand put forth a proposal to deployment the army in Sindh, during the National Assembly Session on 3 August 2011. Haji Ghulam Bilour, Federal Minister for Railways, said that the army should be deployed for a month in Karachi so as to de-weaponise the city.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, August 04, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Plans to tax NATO trucks

The Government is planning to levy special taxes on NATO/ISAF trucks that use Pakistani territory to enter Afghanistan. For this purpose it is planning to open two check posts at Torkham in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Taftan in Balochistan Province. Although the Parliamentary Committee recommended the issue of levying special taxes on NATO/ISAF containers, it got a cold response from the Government earlier.

Pakistan has reportedly been incurring a loss of US$ 83 million every year due to truckloads that damage the National Highways network. According to a report by the Senate Standing Committee, NATO containers have caused losses worth Rs 122 billion to the roads of Pakistan. This figure is equivalent to 19 per cent of the total expenditure on repair and maintenance of roads and infrastructure.

The Public Accounts Committee had asked for imposition of such a tax two months ago, as the strain on Pakistani roads has been tremendous. It also recommended collection of revenue from NATO/ISAF that take supplies from Afghanistan. Around 256 containers pass through Torkham to Afghanistan daily.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Nation, August 05, 2011

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TNA sets out conditions for continuation of talks

The TNA has said that they would not agree to set a date for the next round of talks with the government and that their willingness to continue participation in discussions with the government would be conditional, UPFA MP Sajin Vas de Gunawardane said in a statement.

After a meeting between the TNA delegation and the Government delegation, Gunawardane, who is the Secretary of the Committee, said that the TNA had put forward three conditions and insisted that, within a period of 10 days, the government delegation should inform the TNA in writing of its position on the following matters: (1). The structure of governance, (2). The subjects and functions allocated to the central government and the provincial councils and (3) Issues pertaining to fiscal and financial devolution.

"It will be observed that these three areas, taken in combination, encompass almost the entirety of the Issues involved in the discussions between the SLFP, the main political party of the government and the TNA. It is certainly not possible, nor is it consistent with the national interest, to make a final pronouncement on all these crucial issues, hastily and without wider consultation, at this stage," said Mr. Gunawardane.

"We do not think that the ultimatum delivered to the government by the TNA, which is tantamount to the attitude portrayed by the LTTE, is at all helpful or constructive for the purpose of carrying forward in a structured and methodical way a process which can reach a positive outcome only if it has the widest possible support among the public. It is this objective which the government has tried to achieve in its sustained discussions with varying shades of political opinion during the last few months," he said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, August 05, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New report will counter LTTE claims: Gotabaya

Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that the false claims and allegations made by the Tamil Diaspora and the LTTE international network would be laid to rest with the release of the Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis report.

"The country is rebuilding now, democracy has spread to all parts. Sri Lanka has a 30-year gap to cover. But the Tamil Diaspora is still working to drag Sri Lanka into the past. The most recent example is the video aired last week on Channel 4 in Britain. It features two men who are supposed to be army officers. Neither are they shown on screen, nor are their voices heard for even a few seconds", he said.

"Fernando is one of the commonest names while Sasrutha is hardly ever heard of. The voice-over made on behalf of this pair alleges that war crimes took place during the last days of the humanitarian operation. However, absolutely no evidence is given to back up these allegations, nor is there any proof that these so-called Army officers are even genuine people," Mr. Rajapaksa said.

"These people making this claim are not eyewitnesses to anything, what they are saying is pure fabrication", Mr. Rajapaksa said. "The only officers Maj-Gen Shavendra de Silva will give instructions to will be Brigade Commanders and Commanding Officers. None of these officers have left Sri Lanka. Who, then, are these shadowy figures that Channel 4 claims to have unearthed? What is their credibility?" Mr Rajapaksa asked.

"We are protecting the families of Soosai and Thamilselvan. Soosai’s family was caught when they attempted to flee the country. We are taking care of them now. We took good care of Prabhakaran’s parents as well," he said. "The Mullaitivu Government Agent (GA) had 300,000 registered civilians and at the end of the war it was 294,000. The rest, most of them LTTE cadres were killed during confrontations with the security forces and some of them managed to flee to Canada and India."

Mr. Rajapaksa said many people were living on Christmas Island, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia. But we did not have sufficient evidence or information to identify them.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, August 01, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">End emergency soon: India

External Affairs Minister of India S.M. Krishna, in a special statement made in Lok Sabha, has said that he stressed, during a meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart, the need for the early withdrawal of the emergency regulations and investigations into allegations of human rights violations in the country. In a suo moto statement, Minister Krishna said that the end of the long conflict in Sri Lanka had also raised questions relating to the conduct of the war.

"We have, in this context, noted a report issued by a panel of experts constituted by the UN Secretary-General on accountability in Sri Lanka. There have also been public reactions to the telecast of the ’Channel 4’ documentary entitled ’Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’. The Minister however said: "Presently, our focus should be on the welfare and wellbeing of Tamils in Sri Lanka."

He stressed that the rehabilitation and rebuilding of these people should be of the highest and most immediate priority. "A just and fair settlement of the political problem is of utmost importance. I have, nonetheless, stressed to my Sri Lankan counterpart, the need for an early withdrawal of emergency regulations, investigations into allegations of human rights violations, restoration of normalcy in affected areas and redress of humanitarian concerns of affected families.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, August 03, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India cannot cut off trade ties with SL: PM

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has said India cannot either restrict or cut off its trade ties with Sri Lanka to exert pressure on the island’s government to mitigate the sufferings of the displaced Tamils there.

He conveyed this to MDMK leader Vaiko from Tamil Nadu when the latter called on him on Tuesday to demand that India undertake some drastic measures to force Sri Lanka to resettle and rehabilitate the Tamils who were displaced from the Jaffna peninsula during the ethnic war that ended in May 2009.

According to a statement issued by Vaiko, Dr Singh told him that any restrictions on economic ties with the island will only encourage China to displace India as Sri Lanka’s strategic and trading partner. Vaiko claimed that he told the Prime Minister: "In any case, China is already aiding the Sri Lankan naval forces to attack Indian fishermen, and is more of an ally of Pakistan than India."

Vaiko said he also took up with the prime minister the case of death row convict Perarivalan in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. He recalled that Nalini’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Perarivalan has already spent 20 years in prison, and his death sentence too should be commuted to life imprisonment. Dr Singh apparently agreed to ask the Home Ministry to look into the case. Vaiko also met Home Minister P Chidambaram.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island, Colombo, August 03, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">LS Speaker apologises to SL delegation

Embarrassed over AIADMK members shouting slogans against a visiting Parliamentary delegation from Sri Lanka, Speaker of the Lok Sabha Meira Kumar on Monday expressed anguish over the incident and offered her "sincere apologies" over the incident.

"The Speaker has expressed anguish and offered her sincere apologies to the visiting Lankan delegation over slogan shouted out by some Members of Parliament in the House when they were witnessing the proceedings of the Lok Sabha," a Lok Sabha Secretariat release said.

AIADMK members led by M Thambidurai were on their feet shouting slogans on the plight of Lankan Tamils as Kumar introduced the visitors. CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta asked Thambidurai and his party colleague P Lingam to take their seats.

She had made these remarks when the high-level delegation led by Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa called on her here. During the interaction, Kumar said the visit of the Sri Lankan Parliamentary delegation would create new avenues of cooperation between the two countries.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, August 02, 2011

Note: The nine-member Sri Lankan delegation included four Tamil-speaking members, including Minister Rishad Baiduddin, and Selvam Adaikalanathan of the TNA, which was in political talks with the Government on power-devolution and other issues.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sri Lankan pilgrims attacked in Chennai

As many as 84 Sri Lankan pilgrims came under attack in Chennai by goons describing themselves as ’black tigers,’ family members of the Sri Lankans said. The Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai had transferred the pilgrims to a hotel in a safe area. Three of the 84 had been injured.

The protesters had recognised the pilgrims as Sri Lankans and gone up and assaulted them and grabbed their bags and set fire to them. The Deputy High Commission had assured the victims that they would be sent back to Sri Lanka safely on Friday. The victims who are from Elpitiya had left for India on July 17 on a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya and were scheduled to return on August 5.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, August 05, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Taliban expresses interest in negotiated settlement

Recent statements by the Afghan Taliban, made on their Alemarah website have send signals that the insurgent group is interested in a negotiated settlement. This offers the West and the Afghan government some room for talk and reconciliation.

The Taliban has been insisting that NATO troops would have to leave Afghanistan before any meaningful negotiations can be held. This was despite the several rounds of talks between the Afghan government, NATO officials and the Taliban. However, the insurgent group has now agreed to talk with foreign troops on the ground and has cut down on its inflammatory tone.

The shift in Taliban’s position comes at a time when Afghan public opinion is highly sceptical about the success of the reconciliation process.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The New York Times, August 03, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ready to include Pakistan in Taliban dialogue

The Afghan Government has agreed to include Pakistan in the US-led dialogue with the Taliban in its attempt to move ahead with the National Reconciliation Process.

The spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan, Janan Musazai, said that Kabul needs "Pakistan’s urgent support and wants Islamabad to take practical steps in supporting the reconciliation process" in Afhanistan. The demand comes when the US has started to withdraw its troops from the war-torn country.

He added that issues concerning the location of Taliban chief Mullah Omar and other militant leaders are not an obstacle in the strengthening of ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We want to stabilise the law and order situation in Afghanistan within the next two years and before the complete withdrawal of foreign troops," he said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, August 05, 2011

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan & Pakistan: Avinash Paliwal;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
India: Satish Misra;
Nepal: Sripathi Narayanan;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N SathiyaMoorthy;

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