MonitorsPublished on Feb 09, 2012
Recent announcements detailing the probability of an early NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan are not realistic, given the ground realities in the country. Lt-Col Daniel Davis in his article 'Truth lies and Afghanistan' speaks of a misleading picture presented by US leaders.
Doubts over a successful security transition
< class="heading1">Analysis

Recent announcements detailing the probability of an early NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan are not realistic, given the ground realities in the country. Lt-Col Daniel Davis in his article ’Truth lies and Afghanistan’ speaks of a misleading picture presented by US leaders and the absence of success at every level in Afghanistan. This is in stark contrast to the image of a steady security transition that is reported by the US and Afghan officials along, and is accompanied by a wake-up call to the American leadership to understand the ground realities that are affecting their troops.

To allow for a withdrawal of NATO forces, a successful transition of security responsibility to the Afghan security forces (ASF) is important. A successful transition can only take place once the ASF can fight the Taliban and render it incapable of violence. This, according to Davis, is unlikely, given the current status of the ASF. He backs his observations with evidence gathered during his latest tour of duty in Afghanistan and it includes various interviews with US soldiers, Afghan military personnel, civilians and tribal leaders. Davis noted that NATO forces had been unable to control the Taliban insurgency even though they have made gains in the preceding years in certain regions. These gains would unlikely be held with the withdrawal of international forces in the coming years.

His experience in the country suggests that the Afghan security forces are inefficient and incapable of undertaking the security responsibility. This has been backed by the cultural advisor to the US regional commander in Kunar who while speaking with Davis stated that the ASF was incapable of handling the fight against the Taliban. The Taliban have used terror tactics against Afghan national police (ANP) ranks. This has left the Taliban with a free run of certain Provinces as the Afghan forces fear leaving the checkpoints and engaging them. Col Davis mentions a deep disgust shown by US soldiers towards the Afghan security establishment. He has listed several instances where there seems to be an unwritten agreement between the Taliban and ASF that they would leave each other alone. This is contrary to the intended objective of the ANP and marks a contradiction to official’s reports from Kabul.

Not only is the state of the ASF worrisome but the US lower echelon’s morale is also at a new low. Pessimism in the US ranks has grown over increasing casualties and the prospect of fighting a losing war. Senior enlisted US soldiers have mentioned the ignorance of US commanders to ground realities. From these details there emerges a clear distinction on the ground situation and the official statements of the US officials in Kabul and Washington. With a clearer picture emerging from Col Davis article, it seems unlikely that a complete successful security transition would keep the Taliban away.

While the state of the ASF emerges as an important fact ignored by international observers, the fast forwarding of troop withdrawals suggested earlier this year is detrimental to the overall cause of stability in the country. The deaths of four French troops at the hands of an Afghan soldier ignited a debate on an early withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. French President Nicholas Sarkozy was adamant on the departure of French troops by 2013. Given the proximity of the French presidential election and growing public sentiment against the war in Afghanistan, President Sarkozy seems to have manoeuvred to strengthen his re-election bid. This action could have far reaching ramification given a similar situation in the US with the upcoming presidential election of 2012. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta announced the possibility of a US withdrawal by mid-2013. Further sowing panic in the ASF establishment.

Strong evidence points at an early exit, even though NATO has issued statements to the contrary. It is likely that political pressure and financial stress would override any and all misgivings. In the wake of this reality the status of the ASF along with their inability to fight the Taliban can only be concluded as detrimental to the stability of Afghanistan. The US and their allies must continue their commitment in order to help establish a stable and peaceful country.

(The writer is a Research Intern at the Observer Research Foundation)

< class="heading1">Analysis

State of politics in Bangladesh

Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

A feeling of despair against the existing political parties is increasing in Bangladesh and the political culture, which was largely confrontational, has hardly changed. Such signs are not good news for a democracy struggling to strengthen its roots in the country.

Soon after the ninth parliamentary elections in December 2008, the expectation was that politics in the country will have a new beginning. The reason for such a belief flowed from the realisation that the confrontational nature of politics that led the country to a state of chaos resulting in the cancellation of the parliamentary elections in 2007 and the induction of a military-backed caretaker government that ruled the country for two years. The popular feeling was that the political parties would withdraw themselves from confrontational politics and would engage in healthy competition, focussing more on issues important to the country going above party lines. Also, there was a wish that the country would move towards a society where there will be equal opportunities for all, in areas such as admission into education institutions, government jobs, appointments to high positions, business, etc, irrespective of an individual’s inclination to any party.

It is now three years since the parliamentary elections took place, but the current state of politics does not paint a good picture. Incidents of political violence are increasing. In January this year five persons died in political clashes. The infamous hartals(street protest) are becoming more frequent, crippling the daily life of the common man. Educational institutions are not spared as student wings affiliated to rival political parties clash on the campus, converting them into virtual battlefields for exhorting supremacy.

The ruling Awami League has been held responsible for this situation. The party is accused of failing the people’s aspirations. The popular feeling is that the Awami League instead of working for strengthening the democracy has focused more on fulfilling its self-interests. The major argument forwarded in this regard is the abolition of the caretaker government system instituted in 1996 to ensure free and fair elections.

The majority perceives that the abolition of the caretaker government was unnecessary. Ruther it has given an issue to the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to target the ruling party. The BNP has declined to accept abolition of the caretaker system. It has threatened not to participate in the election unless the caretaker system is resorted.

The Awami League, however, argues that the abolition of the caretaker system has become necessary to strengthen democracy as the past experience has shown that this system could also be manipulated to grab power. In 2007 a military-backed caretaker government took over power in the name of overseeing the election and ruled the country for more than two years. The Awami League wants to hold the 2014 parliamentary elections under a democratically-elected government but the BNP is adamant on the return of the caretaker government. This situation only makes the future of the politics uncertain. At the same time, it would question the legitimacy of the next election if the BNP stayed away.

Other major allegation against the Awami League is of politicising the various arms of the administration by appointing persons with an inclination towards the ruling party. The perception among the people is that to get work done, one has to be affiliated to a political party. Complaints about corruption are also becoming louder. Today feeling is that the ruling party is no different from its rival BNP, which was infamous for corruption.

People are equally disgusted with the BNP. The Opposition, instead of playing a constructive role, was reluctant even to participate in parliamentary proceedings and discuss issues of importance. Instead, it was busy in propaganda against the Government and finding every opportunity to launch protests which only creates difficulties for common people. Initially, the Opposition protest activities could not make much impact on the street. But as the election is nearing, such protests are becoming violent as the ruling Awami League has started to launch counter-rallies many times on the same day. In January, the police had to pass an order banning all agitations in Dhaka to avoid confrontations among rival political parties.

The trends suggest politics in Bangladesh is likely to become more volatile as the country moves closer to parliamentary election.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Opposition leaders voice concern

Leader of the Change and Hope Coalition Dr Abdullah Abdullah has voiced his criticism of the peace process. He said the political parties and civil society are not participants to the reconciliation process and the peace talks should not take place in secret. Members of Parliament have warned the importance of taking strict measures to prevent a catastrophe in the country after the withdrawal of western forces. The national coalition warned the inability of the Afghan security forces to maintain security after 2014.

Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yosuf Raza Gilani during his visit to Qatar, stated that his country would support the Afghan-led talks with the Taliban. This statement was welcomed by the Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesperson, JananMusazai who mentioned that he looked forward to an honest role being played by Pakistan in the talks. Prime Minister Gilani also mentioned the need for cooperation in ending the violence in Afghanistan as it also threatened Pakistan.

The Afghan spokesperson also stated the importance of better understanding between the Afghan and Qatar Governments in order to facilitate the Taliban’s Qatar office. He stated that talks were in their initial stages and more needed to be accomplished before peace talks could begin.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Outlook Afghanistan, February 6, 8, 2012; Ariana News, February 8, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NATO committed to 2014 deadline

During a high-power NATO meeting that was intended to review the security situation in Afghanistan a joint statement reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to the Lisbon goals.

NATO spokesperson Dominic Medley stated that NATO forces would continue to remain in the country after 2014. He added that they would continue to support the Afghan security forces and undertake military operations when necessary and that NATO strategy in Afghanistan would be confirmed during the Chicago conference in may 2012. Gen Jacobson, said that ISAF would try to limit civilian casualties during operations, after latest figures released by UNAMA’s report state that there was an increase of 8% in civilian deaths.

The US has announced its intention to keep Special Forces in Afghanistan mid of 2013. This strategy is aimed at preventing the insurgents from gaining ground while also providing training to Afghan forces.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Ariana News, February 7, 2012; Khaama, February 3, 5, 6, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM asserts sea-rights

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that the neighbouring India and Myanmar had to accept the rights of Bangladesh in the sea. Hasina further added Bangladesh would establish its rights in the Bay of Bengal as far as the sediments of Bangladeshi rivers travelled to. She claimed that Bangladesh had submitted the necessary papers to the Commission on the Limits on the Continental Shelf for its claim over an extended continental shelf up to 460 nautical miles from the baseline. Hasina was hopeful that Bangladesh’s claims will be accepted in the international court and Bangladesh would get more areas in the bay than that of its landmass.

The Awami League-led Government had started negotiations with Myanmar and India after assuming office in 2009 to settle the dispute over demarcation of the maritime boundary. Dhaka went to the UN court as demarcation of its maritime boundary over-lapped with those of its two neighbours after the bilateral negotiations failed with Myanmar and India.

Bangladesh completed the hearing on maritime disputes in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg of Germany with Myanmar in 2011 and the court is likely to deliver its verdict in March. Disputes with India remain pending with a UN arbitration court. The hearing is to be concluded by 2014.
< class="text11verdana">Source: New Age, February 9, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New Election Commissioner named

Amidst political turmoil, President Zillur Rahman has appointed a new five-member Election Commission with Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, a former Government Secretary, as the Chief Election Commissioner. The other new Election Commissioners are Mohammad Abu Hafiz, a former additional secretary; Mohammad Abdul Mobarrak, a former Joint Secretary to the Government, Brig-Gen (retd) Mohammad Zabed Ali, and Mohammad Shahnewaz, a former District and Sessions judge. The new Election Commission (EC) will be in office for five-year tenure, and will hold the next parliamentary election scheduled for early 2014.

The main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has rejected the new EC saying the party will not take part in the next election under the new commission as "it was formed illegally". However, the ruling Awami League (AL) welcomed it terming the appointments as a milestone for democracy.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, February 9, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cattle-smugglers kill Indian guard

An Indian border guard died this week after he was attacked by cattle smugglers. Constable Sartaj Singh and his team were patrolling the border along the Indian State of West Bengal when they were attacked. Another guard was injured although not seriously and is said to be recovering. Cattle-smuggling is rampant along the long and porous border - especially the stretch in West Bengal.

Cattle-smugglers attacking Indian border guards have become quite frequent at the India-Bangladesh border. There have been around 52 incidents of assault on BSF personnel in south Bengal in the past year. Unfortunately such incidents are hardly highlighted in the media, both in India and Bangladesh. Contrarily, Bangladesh regularly accuses BSF of abusing Bangladeshi citizens at the border. The Chairman of Bangladesh Human Rights Commission said recently that the country would approach the UN to look into incidents of BSF killing Bangladeshi citizen.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, February 7, 2012, ProthomAlo (Bengali), February 9, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Export-ban lifted again

The Government of India has exempted Bhutan from ban on exports of essential commodities. This decision was taken after the Indian Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles, Anand Sharma met Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, the Minister for Economic Affairs of Bhutan, where the latter expressed his nation’s concern on the ban imposed by New Delhi.

As a result of the Indian decision, commodities like milk powder, wheat, edible oil, pulses and non-basmati rice can be freely exported to Bhutan.

Incidentally both the Ministers reviewed the progress being made in developing 10,000-MW of hydropower capacity in Bhutan by 2020.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, February 6, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">High Tax Collection

The collection of Corporate Income Tax (CIT) almost doubled when compared with the previous year, 2010-11. The revenue saw a growth rate of about 92 per cent for the fiscal year 2010-11. The CIT collection was over 360 million ngultrum, while it was over 180 million ngultrum in the previous year.

This increase is largely attributed to better performance of the private corporate units. Similarly, the collection from the Business Income Tax (BIT) saw an increase of over 56 per cent. The BIT collection this year was over Nu 110 million. According to the latest national revenue report, the increase in the BIT is attributed to the increase in the number of business units in the country.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, February 2, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC scraps ’illegal’ 2G sale

Declaring the allocation of 2G spectrum by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government as "illegal" and an example of the arbitrary exercise of power, the Supreme Court on Thursday cancelled all 122 telecom licenses allotted on or after January 10, 2008 to 11 companies during the tenure of former Telecom Minister A Raja.

Holding that spectrum was a natural resource, the court said natural resources "are vested with the Government as a matter of trust in the name of people of India and it is the solemn duty of the state to protect the national interest, and natural resource must always be used in the interests of the country and not private interests".
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, February 3, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Greater need for FDI

When Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, flew to Chicago recently to address a group of American executives, it was to deliver an urgent message: India is still open for business. Usually a cautious speaker who offers only vague promises, Mukherjee eagerly promoted specific new deals from New Delhi, where the national government has become alarmed by the sudden slowdown of India’s economy.

He listed pro-business policies his Government recently approved or soon would: foreign individuals could invest directly in the Indian stock market; overseas specialty retailers like Gap could open wholly owned stores in the country, and bigger retailers like Walmart would soon be admitted. And though Mukherjee did not cite it, he could just as easily have mentioned a proposal the cabinet is considering to let foreign airlines buy as much as a 49 percent stake in India’s airlines.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, February 7, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Trade gap widens

India’s trade deficit in January widened to $14.7 billion from December’s $12.7 billion after narrowing in the previous two months, as imports rose at double the pace of export growth, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar has said. The deficit had touched a four-year high of $19.6 billion in October.

"January’s trade deficit is large but I would not get too worried about the number," Mr. Khullar said at a news conference. He expects the trade deficit to narrow over the next two months.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, February 9, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">British aid to continue

Prime Minister David Cameron has re-affirmed Britain’s decision to continue its aid programme to India, amidst a row sparked by some ruling Conservative MPs demanding an end to it, and reports that India did not need it.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said, "We have reviewed our aid commitments to India. We continue to think it is right to stick to those aid commitments. We continue to provide aid to India, but we focus it on the three poorest states."
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, February 7, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Iran gives ONGC a month

Iran has given a one-month ultimatum to an Indian consortium over the development of a gas field whose delay by India has been attributed to western pressure, the semi-official Fars news agency has reported.

Tension between Iran and the West rose last month when Washington and the European Union imposed the toughest sanctions yet on Iran in a bid to curb its nuclear programme. "Iran has given a one-month ultimatum to India over its decision on participating in the development of Farzad-B gas field," Fars quoted an unnamed oil official as saying.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, February 6, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Better ties with Seychelles

Seychelles President James Michel met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss ways in which to strengthen bilateral cooperation, as well as improve regional security.

The President was on a working visit to India, accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean Paul Adam; Ambassador Waven William and the Vice- Chancellor of the University of Seychelles, RolphPayet.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, February 2, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nasheed quits, claims ’mutiny’ as the cause

In a surprise TV appearance along with his Cabinet colleagues, President Mohammed Nasheed announced his resignation on Tuesday, leading to Vice-President Mohammed Waheed Hassan being sworn-in to the post later in the day, as mandated in the Constitution.

Initial reports said that some policemen, and may be army personnel too, had joined Opposition protests demanding President Nasheed’s resignation. However, a day later, Nasheed told a rally of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that he was forced to resign by some army personnel and called it a ’coup’. He declared that his successor was a part of the conspiracy, wanted him to quit and order fresh presidential polls in two months.

Denying the charge, President Waheed declared that he would work a ’national unity government’ and would not hold presidential polls before they become due in October 2013, and conceded a Nasheed demand, backed by nations such as Germany, the UK and the US to a lesser extent, for an independent probe into the circumstances if the resignation. With street-violence in which MDP cadres engaged the security forces, President Waheed made two early appoints to the Cabinet, that of the Ministers of Home and Defence -- with normalcy returning to the streets only hours after they had erupted.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, Haveeru Online, February 7-10, 2010.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India, US recognise new Govt

In a move that was not wholly unexpected, India recognised President Waheed Hassan only hours after he was sworn into office, only hours after the latter quit office under circumstances that were not clear. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also spoke to President Waheed after the latter called him, to thank him for his congratulatory message.

Following India was the US, which officially recognised the new Government, but Assistant Secretary of State, Robert Blake, who visited Maldives over the weekend, referred to President Nashee’s demand for a probe. However, Blake said that fresh elections had to wait as the existing schemes needed to be repaired, going by Nasheed’s own claims.

However, Germany and the UK sounded ambiguous, laying greater stress on Nasheed’s claim, and seeking an independent probe into his resignation.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, Haveeru Online, February 7-10, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Karen peace talks in Thailand

Railway Minister Aung Min led a Government delegation to the Thai town of Chiang Mai to meet with the representatives of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP). The talks were held on the February 5 and 6, when the two sides discussed the possibilities of a ceasefire. The other areas that were touched upon were the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons in the Karreni State and opening of a KNPP liaison office.

As per media reports, the two sides are expected to meet again in the capital city of the Kareni State, Loikaw in March, where it is hoped that a ceasefire agreement will be inked. This is expected to be accompanied by a redeployment of both Government troops and rebel fighters.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, February 6, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Thai FDI in oil and gas

PTT Exploration and Production Plc (PTTEP), a conglomerate from Thailand, is expected to sign an agreement that would allow it to explore for oil and natural gas in the PSC-G and EP 2 onshore blocks of Myanmar. PTTEP has already won the rights to develop two other blocks that cover over 13000 sq km. The Gulf of Martaban gas block has is being developed with an investment of $ 2 billion of and is expected to produce 300 m cubic feet of gas a day, by the end of this year.

This project is a joint venture with 80 per cent investment by PTTEP and the rest by the State-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise. The investment proportion will also determine the share of the produce.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, February 8, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Labour stir in Chinese factory

Thousands of workers of a Chinese-owned shoe factory went on a strike on February 6 after discovering that they would not be paid for an enforced five-day break to mark the Chinese New Year.

It was one of the many in the cities industrial districts. Most of them have been over wages and working conditions.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, February 7, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM withdraws land decision

Opposition parties on February 9 allowed Parliament to resume after 23 days of obstruction, following the Government’s decision to backtrack on legalising conflict-era land transactions. Prime Minister BaburamBhattarai addressed told the House that the Cabinet’s decision of January 12 was "no longer in existence."

The Government stopped short of calling it a withdrawal -- saying it in a convoluted language -- possibly to avoid drawing the ire of Maoist hardliners who had instructed Bhattarai and the party leadership to stick to the decision. The property transactions had been sanctioned by the parallel government operated by the Maoists during the insurgency.

The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML have been blocking parliamentary proceedings since January 17, demanding that the government scrap the decision. With the truce between the Government and the Opposition, political parties are likely to resume constructive engagement in the peace and Constitution-drafting processes in light of the fast approaching deadline of May 28.

However, with the withdrawal of the decision, enraged hardliners of the Unified CPN (Maoist) have demanded that the Prime Minister resign immediately. This has shaken the grounds of ’temporary unity’ in the party.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Hindustan Times, Ekantipur, TheHimalyan Times, February 10, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Citizenship for 100,000

In a move to address a major Madhesi demand, the Government has directed all the district administration offices to give citizenship certificates to the children of those who had acquired citizenship certificates by birth. Over a 100,000 people would benefit from the circular issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, following an amendment to the law in 2006.

The circular aims at meeting one of the clauses in the four-point agreement signed between the UCPN (Maoist) and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) in August, 2011, which related to resolving citizenship problems.

Though the circular has activated the legal provision, it is likely to invite political controversy as the decision was taken without consulting other political parties.
< class="text11verdana">Source: My Republica, February 7, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Handicraft exports up by 39 pc

The export of handicraft products has increased by 39.66 per cent during the first six months of the current fiscal year 2011-12. According to the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (FHAN), Nepal exported handicraft products worth N-Rs 2.08 billion during the first six months of the current fiscal year while the same stood at N-Rs 1.49 billion during the same period last fiscal year.

The US alone imported handicraft products worth Rs 60.89 million while Germany imported goods worth Rs 19.30 million during this period. The US and European countries have remained major importers of Nepali handicraft products. Other importing countries include Japan and Canada.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Nepal News, February 8, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC suspends 28 MPs

The Supreme Court suspended 28 legislators that included three federal Ministers as they were elected through by-polls under an incomplete Election Commission. The Bench headed by Chief Justice Ifthikar Mohammad Chaudhry said that the decision would stand until the 20th Constitutional Amendment was passed in Parliament.

The matter was referred and also validated by the EC last year. However, the Apex Court rejected this decision and stressed on a constitutional amendment.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Times, February 7, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Economy at high risk: IMF

The economy was considered ’highly vulnerable’ with the widening fiscal deficit and slow growth by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF has advised the Government to cut down unnecessary spending and tighten its monetary policy.

The expected increase of the GDP to 3.4 per cent was not sufficient to provide employment to two million workers every year. Unless some serious measures were taken the pressure on the Rupee would not ease and therefore would place the economy at risk to both the internal and external shocks.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Times, February 7, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Committed gas pipeline: Zardari

President Asif Ali Zardari told Iranian Vice-President for International Affairs Ali Seedlou that the country was committed to complete the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project to help reduce the growing demand for energy.

He also said that Pakistan wanted pursue the projects of the 1000 MW Taftan-Quetta Power Transmission line the 100 MW Gwadar power supply and also import electricity. The Iranian Vice-President announced $100 million in assistance to those affected by the flood.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Times, February 8, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Al-Qaeda leader killed

BadrMansoor, Al-Qaeda chief and three other militants were killed in a US drone attack at Miranshah, North Waziristan. Mansoor was known for running training camps and sending trained fighters to Afghanistan.

He was also held responsible for many Karachi killings and the attack on the Ahmadi community that killed 100 people in 2010. According to intelligence officials he was the de facto leader of al-Qaeda in Pakistan’ after Ilyas Kashmiri was killed.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, February 9, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Banned outfits gaining strength

Banned terrorist organisations in and outside the country were gaining strength as there was an increase in the supply of financial assistance.

According to a leaked secret report of the Pakistan’ intelligence agencies, outfits such as Jaish-i-Mohammad andTehrik-i-Furqan, were operating through proxy bank accounts. Previously, the Government had frozen the accounts of 24 banned organisations. The Interior Ministry has issued an order to investigate any suspected accounts.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, February 4, 2012.

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Zardari for better trade ties

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has called for stepping up efforts to fully realise the potential of Free Trade Agreement with Sri Lanka and building a mutually beneficial economic and trade partnership to jack up the bilateral trade from current $375 million to $2 billion target in the next three years.

At a one-to-one meeting with his visiting Sri Lankan counterpart MahindaRajapaksa, Zardari called for further exploring the currency-swap agreement between the two countries, which, he said would provide huge incentives to business houses in both the countries to actively explore and enhance business linkages as they use local currencies for trade.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, February 10, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Somalia seeks help against piracy

With the need to prepare an international action plan to curb piracy on the high seas, Somalia has sought inputs from Sri Lanka on how it curbed the ’Sea Tiger’ menace, Minister RajithaSenarathne said in Parliament.

The Minister read out the letter written by the Puntland State Government in Somalia to the Defence Minister, pointing out how the presence of international navy ships in the Somali waters for this purpose was only a temporary solution, and they needed to set up a permanent mechanism, as early as possible.

Pirates take away $ 3 b each year, and the $ 300 m spent on the international naval force has not guaranteed the menace. Somalia has proposed to present a comprehensive plan acceptable not only to the international community but also to the people of Somalia and had decided to discuss the matter with the Sri Lanka Government on confidential basis, the letter said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, February 8, 2012.

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan: Haripal Brar;
Bhutan and Myanmar: Sripathi Narayan;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
India: Satish Misra;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah;
Pakistan: Aarya Venugopal;
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.