MonitorsPublished on Oct 17, 2014
The issue of migrant workers was one of the important topics for discussion when the Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha visited Myanmar on his first official visit on 9-10 October.
Cross-border migration to Thailand
< class="heading1">Analysis

The issue of migrant workers was one of the important topics for discussion when the Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha visited Myanmar on his first official visit on 9-10 October. Since 1992, the people crossing over to Thailand for work have made Thailand the largest destination for Myanmarese workers.

The Thai PM’s visit follows the ’Koh Tao murder case’, in which two Myanmarese nationals were arrested. Myanmar expressed its displeasure to Thai Junta leader-turned-politician, Chan-o-Cha, about his handling of migrant workers’ issues.

The murder brought to the fore Thai policies towards Myanmarese workers. It also exposed Myanmar’s failure to ensure facilities for its overseas workers, who number more than four million.

Workers’ migration

Cross-border migration of people from Myanmar to Thailand has been taking place for several decades. It started in the Eighties, when armed ethnic groups fighting the Union government in Myanmar sought refuge in Thailand. Then, the borders were porous and little attention was given to the flow of people crossing the borders. The year 1992 can be said to be the turning-point as far as cross-border migration is concerned, when Myanmarese started entering Thailand for economic reasons. The next two decades have seen more than two million Myanmarese workers in Thailand, almost two-thirds of Myanmar’s overseas labour.

Myanmar’s transition to a quasi-civilian run State and opening of its economy could have augmented perception about the country internationally. However, it has failed to stop people on the lookout of better work opportunities. Migrant labour continues to work in agriculture, construction, fisheries and domestic work in Thailand.

Thailand so far has been welcoming unskilled Myanmarese labour to the country, but studies say that the latter have found their way onto semi-skilled work like manufacturing, services and sales and transport sectors.

Vulnerability exposed

The ’Koh Tao murder case’ has brought to the fore the vulnerability of overseas Myanmar workers. The arrest of Myanmarese nationals in their late-teens for the murder of two British tourists has become an important issue in bilateral relations at the highest levels.

With rights groups and the media calling for an independent investigation, apprehending the use of Myanmar nationals as scapegoats, the murder case has turned controversial. Even the UK is involved in the fray. Though, the Thai authorities have defended the arrests with an alibi of strong evidence, the gullibility of Myanmar’s migrant workers remains exposed.

The workers are also said to have been living in precarious conditions with poor access to health and housing. Myanmarese labourers are also officially denied skill development, making them vulnerable to take to hazardous and illicit work.

Thailand has already put in place a national registration programme for foreign nationals working in Thailand and many in Myanmar fear that the aim is to repatriate Myanmar’s workers in Thailand.

Bringing them back

Investments and trade in Myanmar have seen an upswing since 2011, when the Thein Sein government announced democratic and economic reforms. Work opportunities have also increased many-fold, for both skilled and unskilled labour. Myanmar stands a chance to get back some of the Thai-based labour to work at home.

Many Myanmarese workers living abroad have expressed their desire to return home and the government needs to cash in on their desire by formulating a policy for attracting them.. However, it is not an easy task and would also take time.

Meanwhile, Myanmar also needs to protect its workers living in Thailand and other countries. It needs to negotiate that the country hosting them, must undertake skill development and create opportunities for the workers to grow.

Myanmar could benefit from such workers’ services once those living abroad, make their way home. The country also needs to reach agreements with countries for legal assistance to all its nationals living in other countries.

Myanmar can push Thailand to pursue the ’Koh Tao murder case’, exclusively on the basis of evidence. It must also try and create international pressure on Thailand to do justice inthe case.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nepal: Preparing for the SAARC Summit

Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury

Nepal has completed almost all preparatory works for hosting the 18th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to be held in Kathmandu from November 26-27. The theme of the Summit is "Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity". The dates of the Summit have been finalised in consultation with the member-States of SAARC.

The country is hosting the SAARC Summit after an interval of 12 years and this is the third time Nepal will host the Summit after 1997 and 2002. Heads of Governments of eight member-nations of SAARC -- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- along with nine observers, comprising Australia, China, European Union, Iran, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mauritius, Myanmar and the US, will attend the Summit.

Turkey too has also shown interest to be an observer in the Summit. However, because of the existing moratorium on the admission of new observers, which was taken by the member-States at the 15th SAARC Summit, it will not be possible.

Nepal has embarked on a NPR 180-million plan to renovate and beautify the capital city for the upcoming Summit. The Summit will be preceded by the 36th session of the SAARC Council of Ministers on 25 November, the 41st session of the Standing Committee on 23-24 November and the 46th session of the Programming Committee on 22 November.

The Heads of State or Government will lead the delegations of the member-States to the Summit. Similarly, the Ministers for Foreign/External Affairs, the Foreign Secretaries and the Joint Secretaries of the Ministry of Foreign/External Affairs of the member-States will lead their respective delegations to the sessions of the Council of Ministers, Standing Committee and Programming Committee respectively.

The draft of summit declaration is almost finalised by the Nepali side and the Foreign Ministry is set to hand it over to the SAARC Secretariat by end of this week. The Secretariat will circulate the draft among member-States for their comments.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, has already shared the substantive content of the proposed declaration with his counterparts during the meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers on the sideline of the 69th UN General Assembly in New York and he has started visiting member-States for inviting them to participate in the Summit.

Security not an issue

The Ministry of Home Affairs has said all necessary security arrangements have been made for the Summit. Home Ministry spokesperson Laxmi Prasad Dhakal has said that, "security is not an issue for the Summit; our security systems are fully prepared and there is nothing to be worried about".

However, a national daily recently talked about possible attacks led by international terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda and Indian Mujahedeen (IM) in the capital and other important cities of Nepal. According to the report, the Indian government had informed Nepali authorities about the possible attempts through a letter, dated 24 September, stating that some VIPs of Nepal and Indian embassy officials were also targets.

The Embassy of India in Kathmandu refused to provide an official response on the issue. The Nepalese Home Ministry too declined to comment. The Nepal Police authorities also kept mum on since the government has asked the police administration not to make any comment on the same.

However, foreign affairs experts opine that the exchange of information between neighbouring countries is a positive thing, which should be used to the host country’s advantage. Special security measures have been taken for the Summit in the Kathmandu valley and in Janakpur and Lumbini due to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to the latter cities during his stay in Nepal, Home Ministry sources said.

As an additional measure for SAARC, the Nepal Police has tightened security in the Kathmandu entry-points. The police administration has asked travellers to keep necessary identification papers with them.

Modi-Koirala talks

Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala held talks with Indian PM Narendra Modi in New York on the sidelines of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly. The meeting was largely focused on the preparations for the SAARC Summit and the status of the implementation of agreements and understanding reached during Modi’s visit to Nepal in the first week of August, in furtherance of his ’neighbourhood first’ policy.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress on the programmes as agreed in August, Nepal’s Permanent Mission in New York said in a statement. Modi reiterated India’s support to Nepal’s constitution writing and peace process.

As Prime Minister Modi concludes the next leg of his neighbourhood bonhomie with a visit to Nepal, the world busies itself scrutinising the possible bilateral implications ? not between India and Nepal, but between India and China.

Mr Modi promised the tiny Himalayan nation ’H-I-T’ -- highways, "infoways" and "transways" as the primary areas of bilateral cooperation. It is also a region where China has been increasing its influence through aid and investment in infrastructure, energy, the military and much more.

Holding 2.27 percent of the world water resources with 6,000 rivers, Nepal is the second richest country in inland water resources ? a potential that the two Asian giants are ogling to exploit with the generation of hydroelectric power. While India is starving for more electricity ? a need Nepal could quench with its water resource reserve -- China faces a serious water resource crunch due to acute water pollution which its government fears may impact food production and hence economic growth.

Nepal, on the other hand, has abundant water supply but does not have enough resources to invest in generating hydro-electric power. So far it has installed only about 600 MW against an estimated 42,000 MW hydro-electric potential.

Certainly a ripe area for investment! No wonder then the country has recently called for increased FDI from South Asian nations, including India, in its hydro-electric sector to fulfil its domestic needs and even explore the possibilities of exporting power.

Bridge between Asian giants

But there is more to it than just scrambling for water resources. Nepal has China to its north and India to its south, which makes it not only a strategic trade gateway for both countries, but also a key component of border security for the two Asian giants.

China for long has claimed India’s north-east border state of Arunachal Pradesh as its own. It is now planning to extend a railway in Tibet from Lhasa to Tibet’s second city, Shigatse, by 2020. The line would touch the borders of Nepal, Bhutan and India. This has led many to ask is South Asia in for another bout of fierce competition leading to a possible conflict between China and India ? or, can Nepal be a bridge for greater cooperation between the two Asian economies.

Furthering his ’neighbourhood first’ policy at the UN< Prime Minister Modi held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Nepal and Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, and also Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and discussed matters of common concern, including terrorism, while affirming his commitment to make SAARC a strong regional block.

Modi told Koirala that he was looking forward to visit Nepal and said he would like to go to Janakpur and Lumbini, the birthplaces of Sita and Lord Buddha, respectively. The Prime Minister also enquired about the status of bilateral projects he had announced during his Nepal trip.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Syed Akbaruddin, said that Modi in his meetings with the three neighbourhood leaders discussed various other issues of common concerns for the SAARC bloc and reiterated his commitment to ’neighbours first’ policy.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Karzai to remain "special friend" of India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), has said that former Afghan President Hamid Karzai will always remain a "special friend" of India.

He hailed Karzai’s efforts to strengthen bilateral relations between India and Afghanistan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Hamid Karzai to remain a "special friend" of India: Modi", Khaama Press, 18 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Turkish President arrives

The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has arrived in Afghanistan to meet with his Afghan counterpart Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and other high-level government officials.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in Afghanistan", Khaama Press, 18 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sartaj Aziz to visit Afghanistan

Pakistan’s National Security Advisor (NSA), Sartaj Aziz will be visiting Afghanistan to meet with Afghan officials for talks on bilateral and regional issues as the special envoy of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Sartaj Aziz to visit Afghanistan as Pakistan’s special envoy", Khaama Press, 18 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM Hasina calls for brightening country’s image

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the expatriate Bangladeshis to direct efforts towards brightening the country’s image and strengthening the economy of Bangladesh.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "PM: Work for brightening country image", Dhaka Tribune, 18 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Gold seized at Dhaka Airport

A man in possession of 64 gold bars worth Tk3.75 crore was arrested by Customs Intelligence officials at Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "7.5kg gold seized at Dhaka Airport", Prothom Alo, 18 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rescued from Thai jungle

89 abducted Bangladeshis have been rescued after being shipped to Thailand to be sold as slaves according to a BBC report.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladeshi "slaves" rescued from jungle in Thailand" Prothom Alo, 18 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Women uninterested in contesting elections

More than 70 percent of women in the country expressed no-interest in appearing as candidates for future political elections, finds out a survey conducted by the Election Commission of Bhutan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "70% of Bhutanese women not interested to contest elections", The Bhutanese Expression, 15 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Biological corridor poses challenges

The recent demarcation of the biological corridor in Nganglam has not only affected the Rinchenthang township plan but has also left three water reservoir tanks worth Nu 20.5M idle for the last two years.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Collateral Damage of Biological Corridor", Kuensel Online, 17 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Villages Plan to Build Bridge

With the bridge over Pachu (river) yet to complete, people from five villages in Lokchina gewog, Chukha have constructed a temporary wooden bridge yesterday to connect to Phuentsholing town.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Five Lokchina Villages take Initiative to Build Bridge", Kuensel Online, 15 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">$4 million for Gaza’s reconstruction

India pledged Rs 24.5 crore for Gaza’s reconstruction during the Cairo International Conference where a total of Rs 33200 crore ($5.4 billion) was committed by 75 countries and international organisations. The aid promise exceeds the Rs 24600 crore ($4 billion) that the National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan drafted by the Palestinian Authority’s for Gaza estimated will require to rebuild Gaza following Israel’s punitive strikes in July 2014. India was represented by Sandeep Kumar, Join Secretary, West Asia and North Africa at the Ministry of External Affairs.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India offers $4 million for Gaza reconstruction", The Times of India, 13 October 2014; "India pledges $4 million for Gaza reconstruction", The Indian Express, 14 October 2014;

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Negotiations with Canada on nuclear energy

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met with Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird to extend the India-Canada Strategic Dialogue. The talks focused on nuclear energy. Canada’s Cameco and the Department of Atomic Energy are designing commercial contracts for sale of Uranium to Indian power plants, it was revealed. The two countries also decided to host a workshop on nuclear security that will be attended by fifteen countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Canada’s expertise in 750 megawatt grade nuclear plants aligns well with India’s plans to upgrade its plants, and the two countries may pursue joint research in future.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "India, Canada clinch nuclear deal in record time", "India, Canada clinch nuclear deal in record time", "Transcript of Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson", Ministry of External Affairs, 15 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Import duties on Chinese goods

India may impose duties against Chinese imports to remedy the growing trade deficit. Imports from Chinese exceed Indian exports by more than three times, leading to a trade deficit of about $36 billion. Amitabh Kant, Secretary Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion termed the deficit as unsustainable and added that instead of exporting finished goods from China to India, Chinese companies are welcome to set up manufacturing plants in India to cater to the Indian market.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "India may impose safeguard tax to check Chinese imports: DIPP", IBN Live, 13 October 2014;"India may impose safeguard tax to check Chinese imports: DIPP", The Economic Times, 13 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Upgrading roadways in Arunachal

India is planning to build a 1,800 km long road to improve connectivity between Arunachal Pradesh and the rest of the country. Minister of Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju explained the project’s goal to curb migration out of the North-East by improving conditions and economic opportunity. An industrial corridor is also planned along the route to create jobs and development. The development, however, is bound to raise suspicion. Roads constitute a crucial element of state capacity, and the project’s aim will no doubt be scrutinised by China that considers Arunachal Pradesh to be a disputed territory. In fact, Chinese Foreign Ministry urged India to maintain the status quo till a final settlement is reached. Irrespective, the road building project will face significant challenges owing to harsh terrain and climate conditions and is estimated to cost over Rs 40,000 crore.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "India to build 1800-km highway along China border in Arunachal", The Indian Express, 16 October 2014; "Centre planning road along McMohan line in Arunachal", The Times of India, 14 October 2014; "China expresses concern about Indian border road plan", Reuters, 15 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM launches village development scheme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) to promote rural development. According to the project, every Member of Parliament will ’adopt’ three village and work towards its development. Parliamentarians cannot select their native villages and must choose villages that have a population of 1,000-3000 in hilly terrain and another 3000-5000 in plains. Modi urged members of various state legislative assemblies to join the project as well. Active participation of both Parliament and state assembly members, he argued, will lead to the up-gradation of nearly 10,000 villages by the time the government’s term ends in 2019.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "PM Modi Launches Village Development Project" NDTV, 11 October 2014; "MPs’ adopt-a-village scheme launched" The Indian Express, 12 October 2014; "Modi launches village adoption scheme for MPs", The Hindu, 11 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ISIS flag shows up in Kashmir

The raising of the flag of the terrorist organisation Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by a protestor in Srinagar after Eid prayers elicited contrasting reactions from security officials and the state’s Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. General Officer commanding of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt Gen Subrata Saha, described ISIS as a potent threat, especially in wake of recent success in Syria and Iraq that has increased its appeal. Abdullah played down the incident, explaining, "no ISIS group has been identified so far in the valley. The flag was waved by some idiots... Unfortunately, some channels have tried to make an issue out of this and drag me into this as if we are not doing anything about it". His thoughts were seconded by former Chief Minister and leader of Peoples Democratic Party Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "ISIS flag in Kashmir valley worries Army", The Economic Times, 16 October 2014; "IS flags in Kashmir a security concern", Hindustan Times, 14 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Arvind Subramanian appointed Chief Economic Adviser

Former IMF economist Arvind Subramanian was appointed Chief Economic Advisor in the Finance Ministry and Rajasthan Chief Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi is the new Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Arvind Subramanian appointed Chief Economic Adviser to Modi government", The Economic Times, 16 October 2014; "Arvind Subramanian appointed India’s new CEA", Hindustan Times, 16 October 2014; "Modi’s new Budget team in place: Arvind Subramanian is Chief Economic Advisor" Indian Express, 18 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Potato imports to rein prices

For the first time ever, the government will import potatoes to boost domestic availability and check prices of the key kitchen item. Potatoe prices have shown a rising trend during the recent weeks and the commodity is being retailed at Rs.35-40 per kg in the national capital.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Govt to import potatoes to curb rising prices", Livemint, 16 October 2014; "Govt to import potatoes to rein in shooting prices", Financial Express, 17 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Expenditure-cut now, debt-repayment later

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad has announced 20 percent expenditure-cuts this year to contain budget deficit without delaying salary payments. Separately, he has also promised to settle all outstanding bills by next year-end.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Government announces expenditure cuts to curb ballooning budget deficit", Minivan News, 12 October 2014; "Finance Minister: Outstanding bills will be settled by end of next year" SunOnline, 15 October 2014; "Exports increase by 17 percent for September 2014", SunOnline, October 14, 2014; "Economy showing signs of failure: Nasheed", Haveeru Online, 12 October 2014.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bid to end gangs

The Government, in consultation with various agencies, is working on amending the Ant-Gang Act, to end gangs menace, Home Minister Umar Naseer has said.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Reforms to Act will "shackle" gangs: Home Minister", Haveeru Online, 12 October 2014; "Gang members paid to disrupt MDP gathering: MDP", Haveeru Online, 14 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Third-party overthrow’?

With President Abdulla Yameen condemning the attack on the house where Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader Mohammed Nasheed was staying while on a tour of Addu Atoll, the latter has said that if the Government was thus not behind the stone-pelting incident, then a ’third party’ was involved and it could have the potential to ’overthrow’ the government, too.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Government may be overthrown by third party: Nasheed" Haveeru Online, 12 October 2014; "Tourism Minister: Opposition leader inciting violence in the country", SunOnline, 15 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinas for nation-wise ceasefire

A leader of the Chin National Front (CNF) is calling on both sides of the peace talks between armed ethnic groups and the Union government to remove obstacles hindering their movement towards a nationwide ceasefire deal.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nationwide ceasefire still within reach", Eleven Myanmar, 14 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ethnic parties for statute-change

Ethnic political parties support amending Section 436 of the Constitution and if the amendment to Section 59 (f) is to be decided in Union Parliament, which party backs will be known, a member of the Constitutional Amendment Committee told Eleven Media. Section 59(f) blocks anyone whose spouse or children are foreign citizens from becoming president while Section 436 plays a more important part in changes to other clauses of the whole Constitution.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Ethnic parties back amending most controversial section of Myanmar’s constitution", Eleven Myanmar, 13 October 2014; "Ethnic parties merge plans for political peace talks" Mizzima, 17 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New women’s party founded

A group of politically minded women in Mon State have formed a party to contest general elections in 2015, with the express goal of securing more seats for women in both houses of Burma’s Parliament. The Women’s Party was founded on the principle of gender equality and aims to increase female representation in politics.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "New Political Party Aims to Put Burma’s Women in Power", The Irrawaddy, 16 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Presidential polls to follow new statute

In a meeting, the major three political parties have agreed to hold elections for the offices of the President and Vice-President within one month of the promulgation of the new Constitution and bring the property-related issue under the purview of directive principles of the state.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Elections for Prez, Veep within one month of promulgation of statute", Republica, 17 October 2014; "New Prez? Veep within a month of new statute" The Himalayan Times, 13 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Panel to seek agreement on poll process

A meeting of the Constitutional-Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (CPDCC) on Thursday decided to seek an agreement on the voting process to settle disputed issues in the constitution-drafting if the political consensus was not possible to hammer out the matters.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "CPDCC to seek agreement on voting process if no consensus", Republica, 16 October 2014; "CPDCC toiling at last hour? likely to suggest voting", The Himalayan Times, 17 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ethnicity-based federalism gets a fresh start

Janajati leaders associated with 53 political parties, Janajati associations and their sister wings have decided to launch a fresh protest demanding ethnicity based federalism.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Ethnicity-based federalism: Janajati leaders to start fresh stir", eKantipur, 17 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Resolving ’Kashmir issue’ vital to regional peace: Army

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen Raheel Sharif, has said that resolving the Kashmir issue is vital to peace in the region. He made the statement while addressing a passing-out parade held at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Resolving Kashmir issue vital to peace in region: Gen Raheel", The Express Tribune, 18 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt to resume talks with PAT

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given the go-ahead to resume talks with the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) but not with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The nod was given to key ministers at a high level meeting of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Govt decides to resume talks with PAT", The Express Tribune, 18 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM vows to boost maritime defence

At the inauguration ceremony of the new building of the Pakistan Naval War College (PNWC) in Lahore, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan would never compromise on its sovereignty and that the government would work towards strengthening Pakistan’s maritime defence.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Guardians of the sea: PM Nawaz vows to boost maritime defence", The Express Tribune, 18 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Six suspected militants killed

At least six militants were killed in Pakistan’s Khyber Agency as operation Khyber 1 entered its second day. According to official sources, security forces advancing in Sipah, Malikdinkhel and Akakhel areas clashed with militants.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Six suspected militants killed in Khyber Agency", Dawn, 18 October 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">LTTE ban ordered lifted in EU

The European Union court has quashed the 2006 order of member-nations to ban the LTTE, citing a ’technicality’. Even as the EU judges refused to de-freeze LTTE assets immediately and also indicated that a future ban could still be considered on merit, the Sri Lankan Government, in its initial reaction, has cautioned against the possible revival of coercive LTT ’tax-collection drive’ among the Sri Lankan (Tamil) Diaspora in these countries. Earlier, the Government re-introduced the ban on foreigners visiting the Tamil-majority Northern Province without prior security clearance.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "EU court lifts LTTE sanctions", Daily Mirror Online, 16 October 2014; "SL express concerns", Daily Mirror Online, 16 October 2014; "Take up GoSL ban on Diaspora with UN Security Council ? GTF tells UK", "Take up GoSL ban on Diaspora with UN Security Council ? GTF tells UK", "Restrictions on travel to North aimed at rigging presidential election ? UNP Govt. on a winning streak; no need for such methods — Mohan", The Island, 16 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President makes ’swap offer’ to ’separatists’

In a public speech in the northern Tamil town of Killinochchi, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the Executive Presidency could be abolished if the demand for a separate ’Tamil state’ is given up.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "MR: Give up Eelam; will give up Presidency", Daily Mirror Online, 12 October 2014; "NPC not cooperating, says Rajapaksa" The Hindu, 14 October 2014; "Foreigners need prior permission to visit North-Govt", Daily Mirror Online, 15 October 2014; "Claim your jewellery -Army tells Northern civilians", Daily Mirror Online, 15 October 2014; "MR reviving Eelam bogey to retain Executive Presidency? UNP", The Island, 14 October 2014; "MR should abolish Executive Presidency: TNA", Daily Mirror Online, 15 October 2014; "Wigneswaran seeks Delhi’s active role", The Hindu, 11 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Lot to learn from: India

Heading the Indian delegation for the second annual defence dialogue with Sri Lanka, Indian Defence Secretary R K Mathur said that his country has a lot to learn from the host on security-related matter.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India Has Lot to Learn from Sri Lanka: Defence Secretary", New Indian Express, 11 October 2014; "Gotabhaya to meet NSA in New Delhi", Daily Mirror Online, 17 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Borrowings not in budget: UNP

Opposition UNP parliamentarian and economist, Dr Harsha de Silva has charged the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa with hiding the borrowings of the various departments and institutions from the upcoming 2015 budget, to be presented to Parliament soon.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Govt. trying to hide borrowings: Harsha", Daily Mirror Online, 16 October 2014

Primary Documentation


"Afghanistan’s Political Transition", The International Crisis Group, 16 October 2014


Speech by the Hon’ble President during the Business Meeting at Finpro in Helsinki, Ministry of External Affairs, 16 October 2014

Address by President to the Parliament of Finland, Ministry of External Affairs, 16 October 2014

Speech by the Hon’ble President of India at the State Banquet hosted by the President of the Republic of Finland, Ministry of External Affairs, 15 October 2014

Address by the President at Helsinki City Hall, Helsinki, Ministry of External Affairs, 15 October 2014

President’s Speech at Plenary Session of the Joint Seminar on Business, Science and Technology held at Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), Oslo, Ministry of External Affairs, 14 October 2014

List of documents signed during the State Visit of Hon’ble President to Norway, Ministry of External Affairs, 14 October 2014

President’s speech at the State Banquet hosted by His Majesty, the King of Norway, Ministry of External Affairs, 13 October 2014

Ashutosh (AAP member), "The appropriation of Gandhi", The Indian Express, 13 October 2014

English rendering of PM’s address at the launch of Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, Prime Minister of India’s official website, 11 October 2014


Press Release on the visit to Bangladesh and Bhutan by Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, 14 October 2014

Press Release on Official Visit of Hon. Foreign Minister to Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Bhutan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, 12 October 2014


Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 17th October 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 17 October 2014

Adviser’s visit to Afghanistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 17 October 2014

Briefing to the Diplomatic Corps in Islamabad on Prevailing Situation on LoC and the Working Boundary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 14 October 2014

Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Briefs P-5 Ambassadors on LoC situation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 13 October 2014

Letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General from the Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 12 October 2014

PM Chairs NSC Meeting, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 11 October 2014



Opinion Pieces

Thomas Ruttig, "The Start into the Better Governance Marathon: Ghani’s First Days",, Afghanistan Analysts Network, 11 October 2014 Peter Beinart, "The Afghanistan Withdrawal: A Potential Disaster in the Making",, The Atlantic, 15 October 2014


Journal Articles

Deepshikha Shahi, "Arthashastra beyond Realpolitik: The ’Eclectic’ Face of Kautilya", Economic and Political Weekly, 11 October 2014

Opinion pieces

Brahma Chellaney, "Doctrine of graduated escalation", The Hindu, 15 October 2014,

Rajesh Rajagopalan, "Indo-Pak border skirmish: India needs to be firm & careful in its response", The Economic Times, 15 October 2014

Sanjay Kumar and Pranav Gupta, "Bold and alone in poll battle", The Hindu, 13 October 2014

Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar, "Don’t bribe Pakistan with gas when we need it more", The Economic Times, 12 October 2014

Taberez Ahmed Neyaz, "Poor marks for research", The Indian Express, 11 October 2014


Opinion pieces

Sithu Aung Myint, "Proportional voting benefits only USDP", The Myanmar Times, 13 October 2014

Than Htut Aung, "I will tell the real truth", Eleven Myanmar, 12 October 2014

Thein Myint, "We cannot be defeated", Eleven Myanmar, 10 October 2014


Opinion Pieces

Sapana Pradhan Malla, "Thin line" Republica, 16 October 2014

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Age of unreason", Republica, 15 October 2014

Shyam Sharma, "Politics of language" Republica, 15 October 2014


Opinion Pieces

Harsh V. Pant, "On Pakistan, Good Start by PM Modi", NDTV, 16 October 2014

Bina Shah, "A ’Homeland’ We Pakistanis Don’t Recognize", The New York Times, 15 October 2014

Khaled Ahmed, "Malala, despite Pakistan", The Indian Express, 14 October 2014

Mani Shankar Aiyar, "Mani-Talk: We Have Not Terrified the Pakistanis Into Submission", NDTV, 14 October 2014

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Muralidhar Rao , "Time to cement Indo-Lanka ties", New Indian Express, 16 October 2014

Kelum Bandara, "UPFA, UNP brace for presidential elections", Daily Mirror Online, 16 October 2014

Vishwamitra (1984), "The Opposition’s rush to commit hara-kiri", Daily Mirror Online, 15 October 2014

Jehan Perera, "Preparing for elections with carrot and stick", The Island, 14 October 2014

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Jaya judgment and after", The Sunday Leader, 12 October 2014

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

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.


Mihir Bhonsale

Mihir Bhonsale

Mihir Bhonsale was a Junior Fellow in the Strategic Studies Programme and Indian Neighbourhood Initiative of ORF.

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