MonitorsPublished on Nov 21, 2014
Civil wars are drawn-out conflicts, often lasting up to a decade or even longer before a political settlement is reached. Pakistan's military campaign against Pashtun militants, variously allied to the Afghan Taliban, the al-Qaeda, and often fighting for localised interests has stretched into its 12th year.
Collateral damage, sovereignty, and differentiated resentment
< class="heading1">Analysis

Civil wars are drawn-out conflicts, often lasting up to a decade or even longer before a political settlement is reached. Pakistan’s military campaign against Pashtun militants, variously allied to the Afghan Taliban, the al-Qaeda, and often fighting for localised interests has stretched into its 12th year. Even though Government’s stated policy against the principal insurgent conglomeration -- the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan -- is based on the Three D’s, Development, Dialogue, and Deterrence, its decade-long counter-insurgency strategy hinges on the use of military force against rebel held territories.

So far, the Government has launched episodic operations in each of the seven units of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), besides three large scale offensives in Swat valley. While each military campaign has been shaped by both local and domestic, and not to speak of international, contexts, several generalisations can be drawn out. Pakistan’s latest anti-militancy efforts are in the form of the Zarb-e-Azb operation being carried out in North Waziristan region against foreign and local terrorists.

First, most operations have been preceded by large-scale, albeit localised, migration. In the case of Zarb-e-Azb, which was launched in June 2014, over 900,000 displaced civilians were registered by mid-July. Second, unlike other conflicts like Kashmir, Punjab, and Balochistan, where State intervention occurred during the incipient stages of the insurgency, Pakistan tends to engage militarily after the insurgent movement has built a strong organisation and also established a kind of ’sovereign control’ over its region of influence.

International interference

Third, much of counter-insurgency, especially its initial phase, resembles conventional war. Air strikes, area-weapons like artillery are generously used and large division-level operations conducted. These have produced significant civilian casualties even though the true extent of it remains disputed owing to the difficulties of independent verification. Fourth, insurgency in the tribal areas has also been the site of international interference, both by trans-national non-State terrorist organisations like the al-Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and also by the US.

Al-Qaeda has been responsible for unprecedented civilian deaths throughout Pakistan. The US, on the other hand, has carried out a hardly-covert program of drones, pilotless aircrafts that operate from bases in Afghanistan that constantly fly over insurgent controlled areas and fire missiles without Pakistan’s authorisation or knowledge, often killing civilians simply by virtue of their proximity to suspected insurgents.

Until 2013, 369 drone strikes were carried out by the US in Pakistan. It is hardly surprising that Pakistan’s state and society has been reluctant to take ownership of counterinsurgency; public support wanes in crucial periods, perception of the threat posed by the TTP continues to be disputed, and when the threat is realised, the contours of state response is hotly debated.

Civilian casualties

The sharp differences notwithstanding, public opinion seems to be constant over one particular aspect of counte-rinsurgency. Civilian casualties caused by US controlled drones are detested by the military, the civilian government, civil society, and the affected population alike, and understandably so.

Large-scale violence produced by the Pakistani military, paramilitaries, and police, on the other hand, is routinely pushed aside as ’collateral damage’, the inevitable damage that occurs as a result of the fog of war in civil conflicts. The strategy of turning against rebels allied to Afghan rebels routinely eulogised as resistance fighters is contested, but the manner in which such military operations are conducted hardly elicits public debate. Why?

Rhetoric and sentiments

Several factors account for this apparent anomaly in public perception of wartime civilian deaths. First, while public opinion is generally averse to civilian casualties, its salience is sharpened when it violates Pakistan’s sovereignty. In the process, several criticisms are congealed into a single narrative - that the war is imposed on the country, the Taliban are misguided youth whose terror is a reaction against State violence, Pakistan is fighting a war that it does not need and is hurting its economy, and that Pakistan’s foreign policy is no longer autonomous but is rather dictated by the US.

Drone-strikes accentuate such arguments and consolidate them into a singular discourse. In other words, criticism against civilian deaths caused by drones masks the entire gamut of issues plaguing US-Pakistan relations, and particularly the counter-terrorism cooperation.

Within the rhetoric and sentiments of nationalism, micro-dynamics play a part too. Turning to the technology of war, the threat of violence posed by drones is markedly different from the conventional assaults launched by the Pakistan military from time to time. Military operations generally mark the beginning of state response and succeed in driving most of the insurgents away even if their stated objective is to kill them.

Subsequent phases of counterinsurgency involve continuous deployment of troops and occasional raids and arrests, but the bulk of the actual violence is concentrated in the initial phase of counterinsurgency. Indeed, this template is noticed in all counterinsurgencies conducted by armies steeped in training for conventional war. Drones on the other hand, fly continuous, around the clock, over regions of Taliban control.

The constant sight and sound of armed drones flying overhead have caused untold stress and mental anxiety among the tribes people, forcing an otherwise stoic community to seek psychological therapy to cope with the constant fear of death. In a telling testimony last year, fourteen year old Zubair Ur Rehman told the US Congress, "I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I like gray skies; the drones cannot fly when the skies are gray."

Collective cost

While drones are usually viewed as intelligence-gathering and precision-strike weapons, their utility in imposing a collective cost on villages who either harbour insurgents and do not rise against them out of legitimate security concerns has evaded the scrutiny of analysts so far. Under such harsh circumstances, stronger resentment against drones when compared to harsh but time-bound military operations conducted by the army is entirely understandable.

Writing on an entirely different conflict, Ashutosh Varshney had remarked evocatively, "Human beings both think and average citizen knows only one truth, the felt truth, the emotional truth". Whether seen from the national or the rational perspective, differentiated public response against wartime civilian deaths at both the local and the national levels does not posed a discrepancy after all.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sri Lanka: Deep-sea fishing the only way-out to end TN row?

N Sathiya Moorthy

With Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordering freedom for five Tamil Nadu fishers, sentenced to death in a drug-smuggling case, it’s time that the concerned governments in India looked at ways -- and the means -- to avoid the recurrence of such unsavoury episodes. ’Deep-sea fishing’ for southern Tamil Nadu fishers affected by constant arrests at the hands of Sri Lanka Navy personnel in the latter’s waters (and acknowledged as such by the exclusively-competent Government at the Centre in India) seems to be the only way out.

Without having to go into the merits of the present case, the arrest, et al, it is time alternative sources of fishing for TN fishers in the impacted region(s) need to be pursued with greater vigour than already. That way, deep-sea fishing’ as the alternative has start-up advantages. One, since Budget-2011, the Tamil Nadu Government has acknowledged it as either an alternative, or additional source of fishing - without clarifying which and what. Since granting a 25 percent subsidy for conversion of existing bottom-trawlers to deep-sea vessels at the time, the State Government’s Budget-2014 has doubled the figure to 50 percent, since.

Then State Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, in her detailed memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at their first meeting, on the State’s various demands, sought Rs 2000-crore (approx) from the Centre, for ’vessel conversion’ and attendant on-shore facilitation. This, as also subsequent letters to PM Modi from Chief Ministers Jayalalithaa and succesor O Panneerselvam, have underscored the pending ’deep-sea’ demand of the State Government, at every turn.

Two, fishers along the southern Tamil Nadu coastline across the Palk Strait in particular acknowledge the absence of fish resources in the near-waters. It’s also a well understood fact that TN fishers crossing into waters acknowledged by the Government of India as belonging to Sri Lanka, do not stop with fishing in the ’shared’ Palk Strait.

Going after shallow-water shrimp for the export market, they could be seen fishing closer to the Sri Lankan coastline in the Tamil-exclusive Northern Province, with the naked eye. Their bottom-trawlers and other gears banned in Sri Lanka - and the ban enforced effectively for all fishers, too -- has put paid to the revival of the post-war Tamil fishers in that country.

Mandated duty and more

Three, without harassment and wanton killing, if proved, the arrest of Tamil Nadu fishers in Sri Lankan waters also falls within their Navy’s mandated call of duty. The Centre, as the competent authority, having repeatedly acknowledged the IMBL, drawn up under the ’Katchchativu Accords’ of 1974 and 1976, both in Parliament and courts nearer home, there can be no justification under the international law for the TN fishers to continue with their habit of decades, possibly not centuries. In those centuries, more than Indian fishers in their small vessels, it might be coastal TN mariners working on the merchantman, who might have settled down on the Sri Lankan coast temporarily - or, permanently. If nothing else, there was no shortage of fish at the time in what has now been demarcated as ’Indian waters’ at the time, for Indian fishers to get closer to what was still Sri Lankan coast.

Whether there was any demarcated IMBL at the time did/does not matter to the submisison. Nor were any cold-storage and other preservation methods known in those distant times, for now claiming rights over ’historic waters’ and ’traditional fishing’. Whether such claims would stand the test of international law needs to be ascertained in a full measure.

Equally important, even with a favourable order, if at all, could Indian fishers fish in safety in somebody else’s waters remains a question. Should they come in physical contact with their Sri Lankan Tamil counterparts (more than the SLN initially), then what should law-enforcement agencies in that country, do about it? Needless to recall that both during earlier rounds of ’Eelam Wars’ and also the early part of the famed but failed cease-fire period (2002-2006), the LTTE had ’arrested’ Tamil Nadu fishers for ’poaching’ in the waters under their control. The sentiments remain.

It was all a product of bottom-trawling introduced (only) in the Sixties with Norwegian assistance, for Government of India to increase export-earnings from every sector in a big way, without the purponents nearer home studying the long-term consequences. The Government of India that had funded bottom-trawling then would have to now finance deep-sea fishing too, and not just in the shared and troubled waters of the Palk Strait. It’s more so, considering that that the 12-crore strong fishing community (both inland and coastal), accounting for 10 percent of the nation’s population, has remained neglected and mostly un-suppported by successive governments and their political leaderships and partners alike, and at all levels.

Concurrent List

’Fisheries’ comes under the Concurrent List of the Constitution. Despite having a 7000-long coastline (the longest of them falling under PM Modi’s Gujarat State), his leadership belieed pre-poll hopes of his creating a separate Fisheries Ministry, to mend to the maritime interests of the nation, going beyond strategic and internal security concerns. Traditionally, ’Fisheries’ has remained an addended department of the Union Agriculture Ministry, with no Cabinet Minister holding the post ever expressing any views or concerns about the pllight of any section of fishers, inland or coastline, anywere in the country.

The Tamil Nadu Government’s proposition for encouraging deep-sea fishing in the troubled waters with Sri Lanka, and demand for Central funding throws up both an opportunity and challenge for the Centre. They also have to be construed as the State Government’s acknowledgement of an identified solution. They also imply that the State Government would work with the Centre in implementing/enforcing the decision on the ground, in consultation and cooperation with the fishers in the affected areas.

What is required then is for the Centre to study the State Government’s proposal, seek clarifications and come up with a detailed implementation process, if the former is found agreeable. The implementation paper will naturally have to include such elements as financing conversion/purchase of deep-sea vessels and the required gears, training in deep-sea fishing and knowledge of deep-sea fishes that have overseas marketability in particular, cold-storage facilities, marketing techniques, etc.

Needless to point out, various agencies of the Union Fisheries Department and also the Fisheries Ministry in the State(s) may have the required data and also the niche-area experts and resources to undertake further and specific studies, if and if only found required. What will then be required is the political will and persuasive skills of the Centre - which has been found lacking all along in the past decade and more - for taking the State Government along, convincingly and through constant and continuous engagement at all levels, if required at the highest levels, too.

Convinced of ’innocence’

Such a need arises out a visible lack of comprehensive knowledge of issues involved in the fishing row, all across Tamil Nadu and at various strata of polity and policy-making, policy-research, etc. Nowhere else was this ignorance more visible than the political discourse and media debates on the fate of the five condemned fishermen. Not only was there no appreciation of the continuing success of India’s quiet diplomacy ever since the fishers’ problem hit the roof years ago, there were even condemnation and insinuations against incumbent Government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as was against the predecessor Manmohan Singh dispensation.

Indian diplomats, both in Delhi and Colombo, seemed to have clearly understood the gravity of the situation almost from the day the five fishers were arrested on drug-smuggling charge in 2011. They had also obviously studied the Sri Lankan law in the matter, the way forward and the way out. Throughout the period, until the freedom for five was granted by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his birthday on 19 November, India also seemed aware when to take up the matter, how and where. If they have waited until now, it has paid off. Even while freeing the five Indian fishers, officials in Colombo have clarified that the same facility would not be available to their three Sri Lankan Tamil counterparts, condemned to death along with them.

In contrast, any rushed affair could have proved counter-productive, and also blotted the Indian diplomat’s copy-book. Yet, throughout the arrest and trial, the Government of India, independently and supported by the Tamil Nadu Government, has maintaied the ’innocence’ of the five fishers. Clearly, both governments in India would have done a background check of the five, before standing its ground. If nothing else, the two governments in the country were convinced about the innocence of the five. That also meant that their responsibility to seek and obtain freedom for the five was greater than any time otherwise.

Emotional issue

Going by media coverage of the domestic reaction to a Colombo court’s sentencing of the five Indian fishers to death, along with their three purported co-accused, in Tamil Nadu, the conclusion is inescapable that through the past years since 2001, when the arrests were effected, those commenting on the issue in the State had not studied the case in any detail. It was an emotional issue for the family of the five fishers, and also the community, but the rest in the State also felt it that way (and naturally so) - but left it that way.

It was thus that in television talk-shows, newspaper analyses and pollitical reactions, no one including talk-show hosts, had the least knowledge of the Sri Lankan law on the grant of presidential pardon. Familiar only with the Indian law, if at all, they had concluded that the President Rajapaksa’s offer to pardon them if the Indian High Commission (IHC) withdrew the pending appeal against the conviction of the five, was aimed at ’fooling’ India ’one more time’.

What they had not bothered to know - even by just the click of their computer mouse - was that the Sri Lankan law provided for the President granting pardon to those sentenced to death at every stage after seeking the opinion of the nation’s Attorney-General (who has a greater role to play under the Constitution than his Indian counterpart). It implied that there cannot be any pending case on the matter, including appeals against original conviction.

It was thus that a political/media debate ensued in Tamil Nadu on the days Sri Lanka’s Upcountry Tamil politicians, Prabha Ganesan and Senthil Thondaman, both from the Government camp, spread the message that presidential pardon was posisble if the Indian High Commission withdrew the appeals. If still the IHC had filed the appeals, it was obvious that political commitments to the end were still not forthcoming, and the accused could not miss the deadline for preferring appeals against their conviction.

There were other faux pas of the kind, again borne out of emotions clouding ignorance on the Tamil Nadu media. Without being challenged or corrected by Tamil TV talk-show hosts, some guests even alleged that President Rajapaksa had worked overtime to have the ’Colombo High Court’ hear the case directly and sentence the five TN fishers to death. They had again equated the ’high court’ under the Sri Lankan scheme to the one in India. But the Sri Lankan ’high court’ is equivallent to India’s ’sessions court’. So when it came to appealing against the conviction, the IHC moved the ’Court of Appeals’ in Sri Lanka - which can loosely be compared to the high court in India.

Healing-time, permanent solution

The ignorance was so much that some in Tamil Nadu even quesionted the wisdom the IHC hiring a ’president’s counsel’ in Sri Lanka to represent the convicted fishers at the appeals stage. Again, they did not know that a ’president’s counsel’ in Sri Lanka was/is not equivallent to the counsel of President (Rajapaksa or any other), but was a counterpart to the court-elevated ’Senior Counsel/Senior Advocate’ in India and ’Queen’s Counsel’ in the UK, from where the two erstwhile British colonies had inherited many laws and courtroom practices.

That way even those believed knowledgeable proposed as a half way-out, the Indian fishers being transferred to Indian prisons to serve out their term in an Indian court. They did not obviously know that such a course would have been available only to those handed down only prison terms, not death sentence. Even that would have become possible only all sources of appeals had been exhausted before Sri Lankan courts. Even more important was the fact that the Sri Lankan constitutional provision provided for the President to ’pardon’ death-convicts, not commute their sentence to one of life imprisonment or any other jail-term.

That way, for the Centre to let the fishers’ row fester from episode to episode, without allowing for healing-time and a permanent solution, could make the issue more complex and complicated than already. Better or worse still, for the political leadership in the State representing the ruling party at the Centre, to join the ’who-has-done-it’ claims/counter-claims race, without putting the nation’s overall greater concrens at the top, can complicate the matter for them all in future - as and when unending expectations and the unkept promises begin hitting them on the face, as was with their predecessors.

(The writer is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter)

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Security cooperation with Pakistan

During the visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Pakistan, the two countries pledged to work together towards peace, stability and prosperity in the region and attempt to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. President Ghani also spoke about the significance of Pakistan in Afghanistan’s Foreign Policy and the need to undertake joint projects such as Central Asia-South Asia Regional Energy and Trade (CASA) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline projects that could help improve the bilateral ties between the two countries.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Pakistan, Afghanistan leaders pledge security cooperation", Times of India, 15 November 2014; "Pakistan important pillar of Afghan foreign policy: Afghan president", Business Standard, 16 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Taliban’s urban attacks on the rise

According to the National Directorate of Security, the Taliban’s attacks on Kabul and other major cities have witnessed an increase of nearly 68 percent this year. This has been seen as a deliberate strategy of the insurgents to shift their focus from the rural parts of Afghanistan to the major urban centres.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Taliban Focus Attacks on Cities: NDS", Tolo News, 19 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India hands over dossier to Bangladesh on terror plots

India has handed Bangladesh a list of 11 men suspected of plotting attacks including one targeting its prime minister and the two countries firmed up security cooperation against Islamist militants.

The move followed after Indian security officials discovered the plot against Sheikh Hasinain October this year after two members of a banned Bangladesh group were killed in an explosion while making bombs in India’s West Bengal state close to the border from Bangladesh.

Men killed were suspected to be members of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh who were using India as a safe haven to plan the attacks.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India hands dossier to Bangladesh on terror plots",, 19 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nation at high terror-risk

Bangladesh is at risk of higher levels of terrorism, according to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report. The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a Sydney-based non-profit research organisation, published the report yesterday, calculating various political, social and violence factors to determine the risk. Bangladesh ranks 23rd among 162 nations in the GTI. Iraq was the country most affected by terrorism, while Zambia is placed last on the list.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladesh at high terror risk", The Daily Star, 19 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India approves 303 SDPs

India has approved 303 Small Development Projects (SDP) for Bhutan worth Nu 4.55 billion. The projects include 46 projects in the first batch of SDP for the 11th plan. The projects were approved in the second Bhutan-India SDP committee meeting held in Thimphu on 19 November.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "GoI approves 303 SDPs", Kuensel, 20 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Austria clears projects

The Austrian government has committed Nu 173 million for 3 new projects in energy, environment and tourism that are in line with the 11th plan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : The Austrian government has committed Nu 173 million for 3 new projects in energy, environment and tourism that are in line with the 11th plan. Kuensel, 19 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Societal norms cause violence: Queen

The Queen of Bhutan, Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, has highlighted the urgency to eliminate violence against women and girls at the opening of the ministerial segment of the Beijing+20 review in Bangkok, Thailand.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Societal norms, main cause for violence against women and girls" Kuensel Online, 20 November


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi delivers important addresses in Australia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Australian Parliament and the G20 summit during his tour to East Asia, which included visits to Myanmar and Fiji as well. Addressing Parliament in Canberra, Modi reiterated that Australia was ’at the centre of our thoughts’.

Earlier, Modi addressed the G-20 summit where he called for greater cooperation to retrieve black money stored in foreign tax havens, and urged foreign leaders to invest in India’s burgeoning environment-conscious industries. Modi also spoke to separate gatherings of the Indian diaspora and the local business community.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Modi says Australia at centre of our thoughts, Abbott calls India ’emerging superpower’", The Times of India, 18 November 2014; "PM Narendra Modi raises black money issue at G20 Summit", The Economic Times, 18 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC removes CBI chief from 2G probe

The Supreme Court directed Ranjit Sinha, director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) ’not to interfere’ in the investigation of the 2G spectrum scandal which the premier agency has been monitoring since the scam broke out in 2009. The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu, and M B Lokur and A K Sikri, described accusations that Sinha had met with some of the accused in the case as ’prima facie credible’.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Supreme Court orders CBI chief Ranjit Sinha ’not to interfere’ in 2G scam probe", The Indian Express, 21 November 2014; "Court raps Sinha for damaging CBI’s reputation", The Hindu, 20 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sri Lanka releases fishermen on death row

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has used his discretionary powers to free five Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu, convicted on allegations of smuggling drugs into the country. The Indian High Commission in Colombo officially thanked President Rajapaksa for his ’humanitarian gesture’.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Sri Lanka releases five Indian fishermen on death row after Rajapaksa pardon", The Indian Express, 20 November 2014; "Fishermen freed by Sri Lanka return home today", The Hindu, 21 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Lone criticised for meeting Modi

Jammu and Kashmir separatist leader turned mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress was quick to criticise the ruling BJP at the Centre for ’joining hands with separatists’. Lone’s political rivals in the Valley, in turn, rebuked him for holding parleys with a ’Hindu nationalist’ party that wants to further dilute the State’s autonomy.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: Sajjad’s wife defends his meet with PM Modi", India Today, 19 November 2014; "Storm in a teacup", Greater Kashmir, 18 November 2014; "I need not take lessons from NC, PDP: Lone", The Hindu, 11 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cabinet clears power supply scheme

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government on Thursday approved an outlay of Rs.43,033 crore to fund an ambitious initiative to supply electricity through separate feeders for agricultural and rural domestic consumption, aimed at providing round-the-clock power to village households.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana launch approved", Business Standard, 21 November 2014; "Govt approves funds for power sector push", Livemint, 21 November 2014; "Cabinet approves power supply scheme", Deccan Herald, 21 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">5.4 pc growth predicted

Projecting India’s growth at 5.4 percent this fiscal and 6.6 percent the year after, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Wednesday said only structural reforms can raise it to 8 percent and beyond.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "OECD pegs India’s growth at 5.4 percent this fiscal, urges more reforms", Business Standard, 19 November 2014; "OECD says reforms key to putting India on strong growth path, raises forecast", Livemint, 19 November 2014; "Indian economy showing signs of a turnaround: OECD" , The Hindu, 19 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">WTO food security issue resolved

India and the US have resolved differences over public stockholding of foodgrains with the US agreeing to an indefinite "peace clause" pending a permanent settlement—a development that makes possible the most significant global deal since the 1990s.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India, US resolve WTO food security row", Livemint, 13 November 2014; "India-U.S. deal paves the way for global trade pact", The Hindu, 13 November 2014; "As PM Narendra Modi heads to G20, India and US announce WTO deal", Indian Express, 13 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Fiscal responsibility law ’unworkable’

In a letter to the Speaker when Parliament was discussing Budget-2015, Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad has said that the nation’s economic situation did not permit the Government to comply with some provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Some Articles in FR Act cannot be complied with, says Finance Minister", Haveeru Online, 20 November 2014; "Finance Minister: Development projects not possible if independent institutions’ budgets are increased", SunOnline, 20 November 2014; "Exports decrease by 48 percent, imports increase by four percent", SunOnline,November 15, 2014; "Government submits revenue raising bills to parliament", Minivan News, 16 November 2014; "MMA advises against new taxes, urges consistency", Haveeru Online, 20 November 2014; "Funds allocated for councils in next year’s budget lower than 2014, says LGA", Minivan News, 20 November 2014; "Commonwealth’s stand is the reason for the recent damages to Maldives- President", Miadhu, 17 November 2014; "Maldivian businesses have an investment capacity of USD 620 Mn", Haveeru Online, 16 November 2014; "Gasim Ibrahim requests a US$ 3 billion loan assistance", Miadhu, 19 November 2014; IMF: Budget is appropriate, we support for Green Tax", SunOnline, 21 November 2014; "Ministry puts five islands up for bidding", Haveeru Online, 20 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Yameen vows to end criminal violence

At a Male rally to celebrate the completion of his first year in office, President Abdula Yameen has declared that his government would come down heavily on violent crimes and eradicate it completely. It follows the recent spurt in street-violence, which the police attributed to ’Male gangs’ and sought to put them down and Parliament began debating possible restrictions on the constitutional rights now available to those arrested from cooperating with the investigators.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Yameen pledges to end violent crime at ’Successful 365 Days’ rally", Minivan News, 21 November 2014; "MPs debate restricting constitutional rights after arrest", Minivan News, 20 November 2014; "Islamic laws should be implemented to curb crime rate- Ibrahim Hassan", Miadhu, 20 November 2014; "PG withdraws disobedience to order charges against home minister", Minivan News, 20 November 2014; "Court orders arrest of 55 Thinadhoo arson suspects", SunOnline, November 20, 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Defence Minister for China

Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim is away in China, to attend the Xiangshan Forum-2014. He will also meet his Chinese counterpart during the visit.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Defense Minister pays official visit to China", Haveeru Online, 20 November 2014; "Chinese govt. to donate 200,000 LED lights", Haveeru Online, 18 November 201411/24/2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Army, Kachins clash

Twenty are feared dead killed and another 40 injured were in a clash between 66 infantary battalion of the army and KIA battalion 26 near Moungnaung village of Indawgyi division, Mohnyin township of Kachin on 19 November.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "One Killed, Two Wounded In Fresh Fight Between KIA And The Govt Army", Eleven Myanmar, 20 November 2014; "Myanmar army attack kills over 20 Kachin fighters", Mizzima, 20 November 2014; "KIA accuses Tatmadaw of shelling academy, killing 20", The Myanmar Times, 20 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Arakanese settlements in Rohingya areas

The Arakan State Parliament has approved the proposal to create new villages for Arakanese settlers in the Rohingya populated areas of Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships. This was decided in the regional parliamentary session held on 19 November.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "State govt approves Arakanese settlements in Buthidaung, Maungdaw", Democratic Voice of Burma, 20 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Suu Kyi helpless in reforms push

Leader of the Opposition and democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi, has admitted that she is unable to force through the constitutional changes that would allow her to run for presidency in the 2015 elections. Suu Kyi has also called Parliament Speaker, Shwe Mann’s time-table unrealistic.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Is Suu Kyi accepting defeat?", Democratic Voice of Burma, 19 December 2014; "NLD admits cannot win fight to change constitution", Mizzima, 19 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parties adamant in Constitution-change

Sticking to their positions, the ruling party and the opposition have adopted wait and see approach as deadlock continues to cripple constitution drafting process.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Constitution drafting process: Parties adamant as deadlock continues",, 21 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian PM cancels visit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cancelled his visit to Janakpur, Lumbini and Mustang in Nepal after UCPN-Maoist and a section of Madheshi parties protested against his scheduled programmes in Janakpur.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : : "Modi’s Janakpur Visit Cancelled", The Himalayan, 20 November 2014; "Modi cancels Janakpur visit", My Republica, 21 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Alarming deaths in Malaysia

At least 166 migrant Nepalis workers have died in Malaysia in the last four and a half months, according to the Nepal Embassy in Kaula Lumpur. This revelation has raised an alarm over East Asia’s second largest economy.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "9 Nepalis die each week in Malaysia: Embassy",, 21 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TTP targets MQM camp-attack

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for an attack on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Orangi Town area that wounded at least 20 people including members of Sindh Assembly.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Taliban claim responsibility for attack on MQM camp", The Nation, 22 November 2014; "MQM MPAs among at least 20 injured in Karachi grenade attack", Dawn, 22 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Russian role sought for Afghan peace

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has said that after the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, security will be a bigger challenge for Afghanistan and Pakistan wants Russian engagement in the Afghan peace process.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Pakistan wants Russian engagement in Afghan peace process", Dawn, 22 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Polls not before 2018: PM

In response to the demands by the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that general elections will not be held before 2018, when alone it is due.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Nawaz dismisses elections before 2018", Dawn, 23 November 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Minister Maithripala takes on MR in 8 Jan poll

Health Minister and ruling SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena sprang a ’surprise’ by declaring himself as the ’common Opposition candidate’ to take on President Mahinda Rajapaksa in snap polls, called by the later and now fixed for 8 January 2014.

At the news conference, he called for the purpose, Sirisena promised to end the Executive Presidency scheme within 100 days of assuming office, if elected to power, and named main Opposition UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as his prime minister nominee.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : Maithripala promises to scrap presidency within 100 days", The Island, 22 November 2014; "This may be my last state function: Maithripala", Daily Mirror Online, 21 November 2014; "UPFA press conference becomes warm without Minister Sirisena", Ceylon Today, 21 November 2014; "Are you the common candidate?-Maithripala asked", Daily Mirror Online, 20 November 2014; "MR can win third term no matter who challenged him - UPFA", The Island, 22 November 2014; "SLFP?dissidents stripped of portfolios", The Island, 22 November 2014; "Presidential poll Jan. 8; Nominations on Dec. 8", Daily Mirror Online, 21 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MR orders fresh poll for presidency

Ending weeks of speculation, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has singed the required prolamation for holding presidential polls close to two years before the conclusion of his second, six-year term.

The Constitution traditionally provided for the incumbent to order fresh polls any time after he had completed four years in office, but the new term would commence only at the usual conclusion of the previous one.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, passed by the Rajapaksa government after his re-election in 2010, also provides for the incumbent seeking more than two terms, which in his case has since been upheld by the Supreme Court.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Presidential poll announced: Both sides predict crossovers", The Island, 21 November 2014; "Elections Chief to set date for poll", The Island, 21 November 2014; "Speaker unable to get copy of SC opinion", The Island, 20 November 2014; "Presidential Election : We are not discussing a Common Candidate - JVP", The Island, 19 November 2014; "Ranil to be picked as UNP candidate today", Ceylon Today, 21 November 2014; "Navin says If Karu is nominated, I will have to support him", Ceylon Today, 20 November 2014; "JHU gives up ministerial posts but remains in UPFA", The Island, 19 November 2014; "JHU move won’t upset presidential campaign -GL", The Island, November 18, 2014; "UPFA MP Wasantha joins UNP", Daily Mirror Online, 20 November 2014; "Prof. Wijesinha strikes discordant note", The Island, 21 November 2014; "Athuraliye Rathana Thera seeks protection", Ceylon Today, 20 November 2014; "Joint Opposition Front to be formed on Friday", The Island, November 20, 2014; "PM: MR will welcome Pope Francis soon after securing a third term", The Island, 20 November 2014; "BBS to field national candidate", Daily Mirror Online, 18 November 2014; "Ranil is the best out of those touted for the common candidacy, says BBS"; Ceylon Today, 18 November 2014; "Up-country Tamil parties pledge support to President", The Island, 18 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Norway funded LTTE, says President

Addressing a public rally in the run-up to advancing the presidnetial polls by nearly two years, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that Norway as the peace-facilitator had funded the LTTE. Without losing much time, then Norwegian Foreign Minister Eric Solheim said that President Rajapksa was lying when he himself was scheduled to give evidence before the UNHRC probe on war-related ’accountability issues’ in Sri Lanka.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "MR alleges Norway funded LTTE", Daily Mirror Online, 15 November 2014; "Rajapaksa lies about me-Solheim", Daily Mirror Online, 16 November 2014

Primary Documentation


Press Release of Bhutan-India 2nd Small Development Project Committee Meeting, Bhutan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 November 2014


Prime Minister’s remarks at Pacific Island Leaders Meeting, Ministry of External Affairs, 19 November 2014

Prime Minister’s Address to the Fiji Parliament, Ministry of External Affairs, 19 November 2014

Remarks by Prime Minister to the Media after meeting with Prime Minister of Fiji, Ministry of External Affairs, 19 November 2014

Statement by Speaker of Lok Sabha at the Second meeting of the Preparatory Committee of the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments held in New York, Session on: Key challenges to world pea, Ministry of External Affairs, 18 November 2014

Prime Minister’s speech at the reception hosted by the Prime Minister of Australia,Ministry of External Affairs, 18 November 2014

Prime Minister’s Address to the Joint Session of the Australian Parliament, Ministry of External Affairs, 18 November 2014

Prime Minister’s statement to the media during his visit to Australia, Ministry of External Affairs, 18 November 2014


Press Release of President Thein Sein arrival back from Australia, Myanmar President’s Office, 18 November 2014


Press release of presentation of credentials, Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 November 2014


Pakistan Lodges Protest on Ceasefire Violation by India, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 21 November 2014

President Obama’s Telephone Call to the Prime Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 21 November 2014

Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 20th November 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 20 November 2014

Adviser Calls Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 20 November 2014

Foreign Minister of Tajikistan meets the Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 20 November 2014

Adviser’s interview with BBC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 18 November 2014

Pakistan and Afghanistan reaffirm resolve to transform bilateral relationship, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 15 November 2014

President Ashraf Ghani meets President Mamnoon Hussain, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 14 November 2014



Opinion Pieces

Jed Ober, "Stopgap Democracy", Foreign Affairs, 20 November 2014

Michael Kugelman, "What Indians Really Think about the Foreign Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan", Foreign Policy, 20 November 2014

Borhan Osman, "Messages in Chalk: ’Islamic State’ Haunting Afghanistan?", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 17 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, "Bangladesh Armed Forces: Challenges for the future", The Daily Star, 22 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Kuensel, "The consensual sex clause", Kuensel, 19 November 2014

Kuensel, "In the interest of herders", , Kuensel, 20 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Meera Srinivasan, "The ghosts of the colonial past", The Hindu, 21 November 2014

Michael Kugelman, "What Indians Really Think About the Foreign Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan", Foreign Policy, 20 November 2014

R R Palsokar, "Time for AFSPA to go", The Indian Express, 19 November 2014

Ashutosh Varshney, "Democracy’s pioneer", The Indian Express, 19 November 2014

Ragini Nayak , "Jawaharlal Nehru: a legacy revisited", The Hindu, 16 November 2014

Soutik Biswas, "India’s dark history of sterilisation", BBC, 14 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Kyaw Zwa Moe, "Obama’s Second Burma Visit Falls Flat", The Irrawaddy, 14 November 2014

Roger Milton, Roger Milton, The Myanmar Times, 19 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Republica, "Lost time", My Republica, 20 November 2014

Shankar Sharma, "Electricity trade could address our trade deficit with India",, 17 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Dr Mohammad Taqi, "Pakistan’s Afghan policy: arsonist or fireman?", Daily Times, 20 November 2014

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Kelum Bandara, "While opposition seeks its Presidential common candidate Parties leaving UPFA shakes Government’s Popularity", Daily Mirror Online, 20 November 2014

Gomin Dayasiri, "Mahinda Plus or Minus", Daily Mirror Online, 18 November 2014

Rajan Philips, "All set for third term, why not take a 99-year lease on government?", The Island, 15 November 2014

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Imagining a Muslim Eelam, an election buffer?", The Sunday Leader, 16 November 2014

Upul Joseph Fernando, "Will Mahinda’s ’Indian fishing’ trump-card boomerang?", Ceylon Today, 18 November 2014

D B S Jeyaraj, "JVP Leader and Revolutionary Rohana Wijeweera’s demise 25 years", Daily Mirror Online, 15 November 2014

Dr Jehan Perera, "It is not only the UN that the Government must answer to", The Sunday Leader, 16 November 2014

Vidya Abhayagunawardene, "SAARC Summit Should Discuss Disarmament", Daily Mirror Online, 20 November 2014

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Is Indian concerns on Chinese naval presence justified?",, 18 November 2014


"India needs more time to resolve the fishermen’s issue", Ceylon Today, 20 November 2014

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

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