MonitorsPublished on Jan 04, 2013
Pakistan Army recently declared adopting a new doctrine of war fighting, termed sub-conventional warfare, in its policy document, the Green Book. The book, published at regular intervals, is a manual of new doctrines and guidelines which the GHQ distributes among senior military officials.
Examining Pakistan Army's new doctrine
< class="heading1">Analysis

Pakistan Army recently declared adopting a new doctrine of war fighting, termed sub-conventional warfare, in its policy document, the Green Book. The book, published at regular intervals, is a manual of new doctrines and guidelines which the GHQ distributes among senior military officials.

The latest one, a 200-page volume, has an additional new chapter on Sub-Conventional Warfare. The chapter outlines the threats faced by Pakistan and lists ’home-grown militancy’ as the biggest threat to national security. This is a clear shift, at least in terms of articulating a doctrine, from the past where threats from India has been tagged as the most serious. The Army spokesperson expanded on the addition by pointing out that "Sub-conventional threat is a reality and is a part of a threat matrix faced by our country".

Questions on the doctrine are inevitable. The first one is the most obvious: What compelled the army to go public? The Green Book is a confidential document and its contents have rarely been made public. There have been occasional references in some academic books and articles published in few military journals. The wider publication of at least a small part of the said Green Book therefore requires a closer examination.

There is no doubt that home-grown militancy and terrorist threat to Pakistan has grown considerably in the past five years. Given the turbulent situation in Afghanistan, the violence is likely to spike further in the coming days.

The trajectory of terrorist violence in Pakistan can be traced to July 2007 when the army launched a controversial military operation in Islamabad’s pro-Taliban Lal Masjid. The short operation left a few hundred young men and women sheltered inside the mosque and madrasa complex dead. Most of the dead were from the Pashtun-dominated tribal areas and the erstwhile Frontier areas.

What followed was a series of ceaseless revenge attacks, targeting the military and intelligence personnel and installations. Since then, according to some estimates, over 30000 persons, a large number of them security personnel, have died in an orgy of violence that has engulfed much of Pakistan.

The killings and attacks spiked with the formation of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in December 2007. TTP, a loose conglomeration of different extremist and insurgent groups operating out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, have been targeting the security forces ever since then. In fact, some of the major terrorist attacks, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, were carried out by TTP. TTP has, in the past five years, grown in capability and reach, attacking highly secure military targets in Punjab, including the Mehran naval base, GHQ in Rawalpindi and Kamra air base. TTP has also created a network of support cells in different parts of Pakistan, including Punjab and Sindh.

It is the military’s denial of the threat in the incumbency years of TTP has brought the situation to the present juncture. The military first chose to ignore the emergence of this threat and when terrorist groups occupied larger territories in ’settled areas’ like Swat, it reacted with a greater force than required with disastrous consequences. It took several months for the military to clear Swat and nearby areas.

The policy of denial in great measure was influenced by its traditional duplicitous policy it has followed in terms of using terrorist proxies as instruments of state policy. The army, till recently, opted to ride two boats at the same time with inevitable consequences to its own authority and capability besides creating an existential threat to the very idea of Pakistan.

The doctrine, made public in the new year, is therefore an attempt to obfuscate the past mistakes and create public support for a possible hard military option against TTP and its allies in Waziristan. A military offensive inside Pakistan is both politically suicidal and militarily counter-productive. Pakistan is going in for a general elections early this year and no political party is willing to come out in the open to support any military operation in the tribal areas. In operational terms, only a major military offensive with air and heavy artillery support can produce any favourable outcome. There is also a greater possibility of the offensive going astray or prolonging for a longer period, forcing the military to commit its resources and attention in Waziristan while events would be unfolding with alarming rapidity in the nearby Afghanistan.

The army has also not made any moves to ease its operational readiness on the eastern front with India. About 60 to 70 per cent of the military personnel on active duty are posted on the Indian border while about 100,000 are deployed along the border with Afghanistan. Without moving troops from the Indian border, there is no way the army could think of launching a military operation inside Waziristan anytime soon.

It is quite apparent that unless Pakistan Army makes two decisive moves in the near future, the newly declared doctrine will remain a publicity exercise than a real game changer. The army must first give up its policy of using terror instruments and eschew making distinctions between different sets of terrorist groups. It must also support and sustain the peace dialogue with India and a credible way forward would be to initiate serious military-to-military level talks with the objective of reducing tensions on the Line of Control and International Border with India. Since there are no such indications, as of now, the doctrine will remain merely an intent, an instrument of public diplomacy.

(Wilson John is a Senior Fellow with Observer Research Foundation)

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sri Lanka: ’Return of the Natives’, from India?

N Sathiya Moorthy

During a recent visit to New Delhi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Antonio Guterres, told ’The Hindu’: "India with its history, culture, traditions, is today an example of generosity in the way it has opened its borders to all people who have come looking for safety and sanctuary. There are Tibetans, Afghans, Myanmarese in India and it has maintained an open-door policy for all. India has a generous approach in relationship to all people and a proof of that is the granting of long term visas and work permits to refugees. We consider India a more reliable partner in the world to guarantee that people who need help will find a place. And more importantly at a time when there are so many closed borders in the world, and many people have been refused protection, India has been generous.?

Antonio Guterres, the former Prime Minister of Portugal, should know as nation after nation in the western hemisphere are closing their doors to refugees from others, mostly the South and Third World nations, where war and violence, national disasters and unstable State structures, have contributed to burgeoning numbers of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and also refugees seeking asylum, physical and/or political, elsewhere. There are as many stories of people wanting to manipulate the inherent generosity of existing systems in other nations as there are stories of State-sponsored political exclusion and physical violence in their countries of origin.

Many western nations have schemes and systems in place as much to delineate ’economic migrants’ ultimately seeking citizenship status, as different from refugee status, using conditions back home as perceived justification, as there are those that these nations offer to those in real need of external care and political asylum. Such constructs have often varied with the vagaries of the job market in the West is often unacknowledged. Or, so it would seem. Not in India, and when it comes to refugees, from whichever country they come from. For India and Indians, ’vasu-deva-kudumbaham’, or the ’world is one family’, is not an empty slogan in Sanskrit.

Voluntary repatriation

In comparison, the case of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India, housed in the south Indian State of Tamil Nadu, should also be the story of India’s open-door policy and generosity about which the UN official had spoken about in New Delhi, after meetings with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, among others. It has also been very well documented and researched over the past several years when up to 250,000 Sri Lankan Tamils had sought and got asylum in Tamil Nadu, at its peak in the Eighties. Today, around 67,000 refugees from Sri Lanka are housed in 112 Government-run camps in the State. Apart from them, half nearly half those numbers are staying outside the camps, and on their own volition. They have the wherewithal to do so.

The changing figures over the decades have a story to tell about the repatriation of these refugees to their native lands. Like most other peoples across the world, the Sri Lankan Tamils, at least of the generation preceding the ethnic war in that country, were wedded to their lands and other earthy and earthly possessions. A hard working, agriculture community that they traditionally had been, the advent of modern education and employment in the Government services, pre-Independence, did not deter their culture-driven emotional and physical identification and linkages with the land of their origin and that in their possession.

This, over the three-plus decades of war, also meant that most of them would want to return home at the first signs of the war abating in their native towns and villages back in Sri Lanka. Others however have remained in the camps, and from time to time. There have been reports of some or many of them wanting to go back home. Nothing much however has happened on that score, particularly after the conclusion of the decisive ’Eelam War IV’ in Sri Lanka. These are people different from their brethren who planned their exit to far-away lands in the West, with possible intention and definite decisions since, not to return home, now or ever. Their children, born in those distant lands, do not know how home looked like, for them to think of returning there for good.

Talking about the reverse-migration or repatriation of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in the Government-run camps in India, Antonio Guterrers told The Hindu: "The number of people going back to Sri Lanka has decreased substantially in the recent past. We need to look into what are the obstacles and how the two Governments of India and Sri Lanka, working together can improve the conditions and create opportunities for the voluntary repatriation of the people. Voluntary is the key word here.?

In the same vein and answering another question, Antonio Guterres had this to say of the Sri Lankan Government’s efforts to facilitate their early return: "More needs to be done by the governments of the country of origin, to create conditions for people to feel comfortable about considering the possibility of returning. It has to do with the living conditions, work, education, health, property and security. These are all key questions that need to be addressed for the voluntary repatriation of the people. It is very important that the governments of the country of origin do everything possible to re-establish the confidence of people. And I hope it will be also possible in the near future to intensify the voluntary repatriation of the Tamils into Sri Lanka.?

Only voluntary repatriation

What is often less understood outside - and seldom brought out, too - is the fact that the Government of India is not in the habit of forcing refugees to leave the shores, or creating conditions for them to choose that course, if and when in the assessment of governments like that in New Delhi, conditions may have been created in the country of origin to return home. When India says it has to be ’voluntary repatriation’, it means voluntary repatriation. This was so when after the 2002 ceasefire agreement in Sri Lanka, some camp inmates in Tamil Nadu wanted to return home. So did some of them wanted to return after the conclusion of ’Eelam War IV’.

For Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, going beyond the umbilical cord relations with Tamil Nadu, the language that they both speak has an adage that the south Indian State can be proud of. Translated, the proverb, ’Vanthaarai vazha-vaikkum-Thamizhagam’ means that Tamil Nadu welcomed all those who come to the State (with hope and aspiration) with open arms (and heart) and let/help them prosper. To date, the competitive nature of pan-Tamil politics in the State takes pride in continuing to prove the proverb right.

On the issue of ’voluntary repatriation’, the case of the ’Bangladeshi refugees’ still scattered around India, should be a case in point. They arrived in hordes, stayed back in hundreds of thousands even after the ’Liberation War’ in that country had ended as far back as 1971. Today, most of them are ’economic refugees’, and their numbers have only been growing over the past decade and more. If there was a problem of refugees altering the domestic demographic composition in any area, State or region, India has treated it more as a domestic issue of the country, and not forcing them to exit. The years-long ’Assam agitation’ in the Eighties was all about the Bangladeshi refugees who stayed back in the north-eastern State long after the ’Bangladesh War’ had ended.

The fact is that many of these Bangladesh refugee have got themselves enrolled in the State as voters, using the weak links in Indian policy, polity and bureaucracy at all levels, as if their voter-identity then, and the voter-identity card since, is proof of their having acquired Indian citizenship. And when zealots in the western Maharashtra State wanted them out of the local labour market, in the eastern West Bengal, the State Government would stop the motorcade carrying these refugees to the Bangladesh borders, en route, and ’free’ them, too. That is as far as politics too goes in the cause of refugees.

No electoral tags attached

Nothing would explain the open-mindedness of the Tamil Nadu population to the Sri Lankan refugees than their attitude towards them at the height of the ’Rajiv Gandhi assassination’. The whole State was shocked and hurt when the former Prime Minister, on an election campaign for his possible return to power, was gunned down on its soil. The fact that the LTTE was behind it did open their eyes to a facet of the ethnic war and violence in Sri Lanka, but that did not influence them in any way to shun the innocent Tamils in their midst, equitably distributed across the districts, in camps that cropped up without question whenever the refugee numbers shot up.

If in the early months of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, the Governments at the Centre and in the State found it necessary to provide police security to the camps, apprehending revengeful attacks on the hapless refugees, sooner than later, the inmates too drew the limits to the generosity of the host population, with which they had taken time getting accustomed to. Today, under the rules and regulations governing their presence in Tamil Nadu and India, these inmates are allowed to stay away from the camps for a substantial length of time, for genuine reasons of education and employment, medical care or social commitments like attending weddings and funerals of relatives or friends.

That way, both for marrying off daughters and the funeral of their dead, the refugees get substantial financial aid from the State Government. As is customary in Tamil Nadu, the first female child in any refugee family gets four grams of gold (for ’thali’ or ’mangalsutra’) and ’ 50,000 at the time of wedding. For the rest of the girl children in the family, the cash aid would be ’ 25,000. The four-gram gold offer remains. Likewise, the ’female child protection scheme’ provides for the Government to deposit ’ 50,000 (for a single girl child) and ’ 25,000 each for two female children. The scheme however comes with a tag. It seeks to encourage the refugees to adopt the small-family norm and to ensure education for their girls. . It used to be ’ 2500 for funeral expenses and has been doubled in recent years.

In a State that is conscious of the ’social commitment’ of the Government, which otherwise gets dubbed as election-driven ’populist measures’, successive administrations have only added to the long list of existing aid and assistance to the refugees by including more, every passing year. There may be exceptions but the norm in Tamil Nadu today is that whatever ’social security schemes’ that are on offer to the local population get extended to the inmates of Sri Lankan Tamil refugee camps. None of the refugees is a voter in India, for successive Governments in the State to entice them with even more, and expect them to vote for the party in power. It’s borne out of genuine humanitarian concerns and interests, possibly strengthened by the ’umbilical cord’ relations, which also means that they all speak the same lingo.

It is thus that refugee families have been getting ’cash gifts’ every month (’ 1000 for the head of the family, ’ 750 for each elder and ’ 400 each for children below 12), dry rations (20 kg free rice and the rest at ’ 0.57 per kg on a stratified scale of consumption for grown-ups and children), kerosene and other items of cooking at subsidised rates, free clothing every year (including blankets for senior citizens every two years), cooking utensils every two years, ’ 12,000 cash aid each for women for two pregnancies, monthly old age pension of ’ 1,000 each (applicable to widows and destitute women and the differently-abled), free school education (with free uniforms and bicycles in higher classes), professional college admissions under the single-window scheme for the ’General’ category, and scholarship for children (however limited the amount be, compared to the costs).

To encourage women to eek out honest and honourable living, sewing machines are given free to the qualified among the refugees. The women self-help groups that are a success story outside the camps have also been introduced inside the camps. For good reasons, women are acknowledged as ’head of the family’ for all purposes of the cash doles, lest the men should divert those monies to drinking. Where there are special programmes, as outlined already, they address the demands of an embedded community that could not shirk its cultural mores. Hence, the Tamil Nadu Government assistance for weddings and funerals, and social security for their women, which joint families used to provide in a bygone era but no more.

Power-cuts, not for ’em

As coincidence would have it, when much of Tamil Nadu has been facing very long hours of power-cut for years now, the staggered programme does not cover the camps. What more, when there is already talk of voluntary repatriation of the refugees to native Sri Lanka, successive State Governments have been competing with each other to ensure that their old dwellings and surroundings are as habitable and as hospitable as they can be. In the post-war era, funds were earmarked for attending to repairs to the houses in the camps, and to relay/improve the drainage system.

The hygiene system in the Tamil Nadu camps may not be the best but they are not as bad as the ’floating toilets’ which alone UN agencies and other INGOs insisted that the Sri Lankan Government should have in the newly-built, post-war IDP camps in the country. Three years down the line, they are happy that the IDP camps are shut, but are unhappy that enough has not been done for the IDPs -- and, now for the refugees to make a voluntary choice to return home. Thereby hangs another tale.

It did not stop there, either. In what is possibly a unique experiment in refugee-rehabilitation programme across nations, and seas, the Tamil Nadu Government, with the support of the Centre and cooperation from the Sri Lankan State, facilitated crash courses in the refugee camps for inmates to appear for their O-level examinations under the Sri Lankan scheme, on a couple of occasions. The scheme was coordinated by OfFER, the Sri Lankan Tamil refugee NGO, and was implemented at the height of ’Eelam War-IV’, if only to prepare voluntary repartees at the end of the war to equip them for higher education in their native land.

What should be even more interesting was that Sri Lankan teachers in various examination subjects stayed near some of the camps in Tamil Nadu for three or four months, to impart knowledge to those students. Likewise, Education Department officials from Sri Lanka camped in the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai for a couple of weeks or so, to conduct these examinations at a common centre for all qualified refugee children, to a common time-table and question-paper as they were back home.

At the height of the war, and even thereafter, there have been murmurs of protests in some of the camps, less about the conditions inside the camps than those outside - including perceptions of what they are back home in Sri Lanka. Where protests were held, the State and Central Government in India have looked at them with sympathy (where they involved camp improvements) and empathy, ensuring however that the inmates’ perceptions on ’Eelam War IV’ did not come in the way of their continuance in India causing concerns on the law and order front in particular.

There are two ’special camps’ exclusively for those that are identified with the LTTE, where acknowledged by all there is relatively high security for the inmates - as much to ensure that they are not targeted, as they do not end up targeting anyone else, Indian or Sri Lankan. Their protests are often political, and include demands for their reparation to the normal camps. The Government of course has schemes to review the case of individual inmates in these camps, to ensure that those that are cleared do not have to stay on there, eternally.

Europe-centric mindset yet?

It is the kind of attitude and mind-set that has instilled in the UNHCR staff in Delhi to title their website report on Antonio Guterres as ’Refugees in India share daily struggles with UNHCR chief’ when he himself had only good things to say about the Government of India’s policies and practices. After all, many of them have not approved of India still not signing the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 or enacting a domestic law for the purpose, both designed in the context of post-War Europe, where individualism reigned and a collective conscience needed to be injected from outside. They did not understand, hence provide for, India’s kind of ’history, traditions, culture? and generosity’.

Maybe, now that the UNHCR chief has acknowledged that things can be done differently and effectively outside of their template model, either it could approve them as such. Better still, agencies like the UNHCR could revisit their ’best practices regimen’ and revise their recommendations, rules and regulations for the whole world to follow, basing them on the unlearnt lessons from what they once used to consider as unlettered nations. In a manner of speaking, these nations are the ones that have shown that national traditions can do more than what notional regulations and conventions can achieve - and that not all nations required to be told as to what needed doing for the needy, when and how.

Yet, the website report too could not but be complimentary to the natural Indian commitment and efforts. "India is a refugee-friendly country despite the fact it has not signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and does not have a national refugee law. The fundamental human rights of refugees and asylum-seekers are protected by the Indian Constitution. They have access to health care and their children can go to school,"the UNHCR website report said.

"It is a special time in relations between UNHCR and the government,"it quoted Antonio Guterres as saying. What more, the report also acknowledges that "India is one of the few countries that is helping the Rohingya by keeping its borders open and allowing them to stay?, and that the UNHCR chief met not only refugees from Afghanistan and Myanmar, but also from distant Somalia during his two-day Delhi trip.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Courts rule void

The Court of Appeal yesterday said the steps that had been so far taken and would be taken by a Parliamentary Select Committee appointed under Standing Order 78A were prime facie void. The Court of Appeal read out the Supreme Court interpretation in respect of Article 107/3, where the apex court had said that Standing Orders were not law and that the PSC appointed under an Act of Parliament were legally sound.

The Supreme Court on January 1, 2013 declared that in a State ruled by a Constitution based on the rule of law, no Court, tribunal or other body, had authority to make a finding or a decision affecting the rights of a person, unless such Court, tribunal or body had the power conferred on it by law to make such finding or decision. Such legal power could be conferred on such a Court, tribunal or body only by an Act of Parliament, which was law and not by Standing Orders, which were not law, but rules made for the regulation of the orderly conduct and the affairs of the Parliament. The Supreme Court had said that Standing Orders were not law within the meaning of Article 170 of the Constitution, which defined what was meant by law.

A PSC appointed in term of Standing Order 78A, derived its power and authority solely from the said Standing Order, which was not law. Therefore the?PSC appointed under and in terms of Standing Order 78A had no legal power or authority to make a finding adversely affecting the legal rights of a judge, against whom the allegations made in the resolution, moved under Article 107/2, was the subject matter of its investigation. The power to make a valid finding after the investigation, in Article 107/3, could be conferred on a Court, tribunal or a body, only by law and by law alone, the Supreme Court said.

The parliament could impeach a judge of an apex Court, subsequent to the finding by a body appointed under an Act of law framed by Parliament, being guilty of misconduct. An address of Parliament was needed for the removal of a judge, the Supreme Court had said.

The Court of Appeal had referred to the Supreme Court, for interpretation, Article 107/3 and whether a PSC, appointed under Standing Order 78A could investigate allegations against the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake. The need for an interpretation arose during the hearing of a writ application, filed against the suitability of the Parliament Select Committee, appointed under a Standing Order to investigate the conduct of the Chief Justice.

Consequent to the aforesaid declaration and interpretation by the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal said that the proceedings against the Chief Justice, had been initiated by a PSC not established under the law. Therefore, the commencement of the proceedings and the furtherance of such proceedings were prima facie void.

Notice was issued on the respondents, the Speaker and the members of the PSC, returnable on Jan. 15, 2013. This was done as a legal obligation to hear all sides, the Court of Appeal said.

The interpretation was by Supreme Court Justices N. G. Amaratunga, K. Sripavan and P. Dep. The Court of Appeal Bench comprised Justices Anil Gooneratne and A. W. A. Salaam.

< class="text11verdana">< class="text11verdana">Source:

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">AG notified to assist court on CJ plea

The Court of Appeal yesterday notified the Attorney General to be present in Court on January 7, 2013, to assist it, during the hearing of the Writ Application filed by the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.

The petitioner has sought to have the decision of the Parliamentary Select Committee, against her, quashed by the Court. An intervention against the petition was refused, since it was not necessary as the AG would assist court.

The Bench comprised Justices S. Srikandarajah (President) Anil Gooneratne and A. W. A. Salaam. JVP member of the PSC Vijitha Herath was present in the court. TNA member R Sampanthan was represented by his counsel, M A Sumanthiran, also a party MP.

Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakody has since said that the two members could be hauled up before the Privileges Committee of Parliament for defying the directions of Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and of the PSC, not to respond to any court summons on the CJ matter already before the PSC.

< class="text11verdana">< class="text11verdana">Source:


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Preconditions for Taliban office

The Afghan Government has set three preconditions for recognising an office ofthe Taliban in Qatar. The draft plan by the Government asks the Taliban to accept that they will negotiate with the Government, clearly identify their representatives and give the Afghan Government the right to close down the office when it deems necessary.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister, Zalmai Rasoul said "Unless the Taliban accepts that they’ll negotiate with the Government, there will be no office for them. It is dangerous to open an office when it is not clear whom we are negotiating with.?

Rassoul was summoned to the Lower House of Parliament to brief the members on the Taliban political office in Doha, as well as on the peace talks held in Paris and President Hamid Karzai’s visit to the US next week.

Rassoul also asked the High Peace Council (HPC) to provide information on individuals willing to participate in the peace process with the government on behalf of the Taliban through the Doha office.

< class="text11verdana">< class="text11verdana">Source:

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pakistan releases more prisoners

Pakistan released eight members of the Afghan Taliban in its attempt to push forward the peace process in Afghanistan.

The released members included the former justice minister under the Taliban rule, Nooruddin Turabi, and a former guard of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, Mohammad Azeem.

In what is seen as further indication of a rapprochement between the two countries, a high-level Afghan delegation is in Pakistan for talks about anti-terror cooperation between the two countries. Both sides reviewed investigation into last month’s suicide attack on Afghan intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid in Kabul, who was critically injured.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, January 3, 2013; Tolo News, January 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Incentives for investment

The Afghan Ministry of Finance has drafted a new bill that is said to encourage investments in Afghanistan. The finance ministry announced that companies that invest $1 million or more in 2013 will enjoy tax exemptions for 10 years and even receive free land to establish their businesses.

These incentives are part of a draft plan the Ministry of Finance is developing following a presidential order.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Outlook Afghanistan, January 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Air service to Badakshan

East Horizon Airlines, the latest addition to the list of cargo airlines in Afghanistan, has formally started flights to the remote north-eastern Badakhshan province. This is the first time in three years that a private airline company has launched direct flights to Badakhshan.

Only UN and military aircraft have been flying to Badakhshan for the past three years.

The carrier is also expected to move cargo from Kabul to smaller Afghan cities, which previously had to rely on the unpredictable trucking. The airline is later expected to expand its service network to the UAE, Western China and India.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Khaama Press, January 1, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Notice to PM for ’defamatory statement’

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was sent a legal notice for a "defamatory statement" against Tarique Rahman, the deputy chief of the main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), informed party sources said. The notice has been severed to Hasina, asking her to withdraw a recent "defamatory statement" against Tarique, and apologise.

Tarique is elder son of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia. He was arrested in March 2007 by the military-controlled caretaker Government on charges of amassing huge wealth during the previous BNP regime (2001-06). He went to London after obtaining bail and is now living there.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, January 2, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Border deaths to be probed

The Government is planning to investigate deaths of four nationals along the border with India in the week. Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir said that the Government will investigate the casualties. Appropriate action will be taken if it is found that they were killed deliberately, he added. Amalgir further said that the Government would also scrutinise if the existing agreements on frontier issues were violated by the Indian border guards, BSF.

Acting Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Sandeep Chakravarty regretted the incidents. He, however, said BSF often faced attacks causing such incidents of counter firing.

The issue of deaths of Bangladeshis appeared as a major agenda at the Home Secretary level meeting held in New Delhi two months ago. It needs to be recalled BSF men were issued non-lethal weapons at certain points of the over 4,000-km border to evade cross-border shootouts.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, January 3, 2013, New Age, January 3, 2013,, January 2, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Media banned from education meet

The media was not allowed to attend the three-day 16th Education Conference that was held in Phuentsholing, after the inaugural session.

The organisers of the conference took such a step after their experience last year where the media reported "negatively"and made wrong interpretations on issues that were discussed in the conference.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, January 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BKP, DNT registered as political parties

The Election Commission of Bhutan (EBC) has awarded the Certificate of Registration to Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP), as political parties aspiring to contest in the second parliamentary elections. Party members said that BKP’s main focus would be economic self-sufficiency and to promote sustainable consumption, social responsibility, equal opportunity, justice and spirituality. The BKP has also stressed "collective compassionate responsibility"and will not so much about individuals.

The other political parties that are in the run for the parliamentary elections are the People’s Democratic Party and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa, while the ECB after studying the documents submitted by another political party, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT). DNT submitted their application for registration as a political party with the ECB on December 10 and has been registered as a political party along with the BKP.

< class="text11verdana">Source:,, January 3, 2013,;, January 4, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Defence Secretary to visit China

With an aim to push military ties, a high-level delegation led by Indian Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma will visit China next month to discuss confidence-building measures.

The Defence Secretary will head a tri-Service delegation to China on January 14-15 as part of the fifth Annual Defence Dialogue, Ministry officials said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Asian Age, December 29, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">States adopt water policy

Despite strong objection by several States, the contentious proposal of the Union Water Resources Ministry to evolve a "broad over-arching national legal framework"of general principles on water would remain in the National Water Policy, which got the important consent of the States on Friday.

The Centre, however, assured it would consult states while formulating the legal framework and enacting a law on river basin management, another contentious proposal.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, December 29, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Russia delivers four MIG-29K fighters

MiG-29KUBs, Russian aircraft maker MiG has delivered four MiG-29K/KUB ship-borne fighters to the Indian Navy under a contract concluded in 2010, the company said.

With the delivery, MiG "has fulfilled all its obligations for 2012 stipulated in the 2010 contract with the Indian defence ministry", the company said in a statement.

In March 2010, Russia and India signed a $1.5-billion contract for the supply of 29 additional MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier-based fighter jets to New Delhi.

Last year, Russia fulfilled its 2004 contract with the Indian defence ministry, supplying the country with 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat

< class="text11verdana">Source:, December 29, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parliament session sought on women safety

As the debate heated up on stricter laws to deal with crime against women, the BJP today reiterated its demand to call a special session of Parliament. The suggestion has not found favour with the Left while the Congress has already rejected it.

A debate in Parliament would "certainly be able to tap upon the serious sense of distress and dismay which is sweeping across the country?, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Meanwhile, the body of the 23 year old gang-rape victim Nirbhaya, who lost her battle for life in Singapore yesterday, was consigned to flames here early today. Her body arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at 3.30 am today was received by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

In a related development, a chargesheet seeking the maximum death penalty for five of the Delhi gang-rape accused was filed by the Police before duty Metropolitan Magistrate Satya Malik Grover on Thursday.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Tribune, December 31, 2012, The Times of India, January 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Mistry takes charge of Tatas

No formal handing over or shaking of hands tool place at Bombay house, which marked the end to an illustrious 21-year term of Rata Tata as the chairman of Tata Sons.

While Tata chose to spend the day in Pune at various facilities of Tata Motors with his shop-floor colleagues, it was a usual working day for Cyrus Mistry who arrived in a Tata Manza to work as he prepares to take over as the new Chairman of the largest corporate house In India.

The Mistry family owns 18 per cent shares in the Tatas, and Cyrus is the first non-Tata Chairman of Tata Sons, picked for the job by an expert committee, at the initiative of Ratan Tata.

In his first communication to employees as chairman of Tata Group Cyrus Mistry said the Group would invest more than Rs 45,000 crores in various businesses in the next two years.

Mistry also mentioned that the company would expand its footprint in various global markets and lauded his predecessor, Ratan Tata’s contribution to the Group.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, December 29, 2013, Hindustan Times, January 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">15 Ministers in investment panel

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken 15 members of his 32-strong Cabinet on board on Wednesday to a panel to fast-track proposals worth at least ’1,000 crores each.

With general elections due in just over a year, Singh set up the inter-ministerial panel-the cabinet committee on investment (CCI)-despite initial resistance by a section of the UPA.

The CCI is empowered to review the procedures followed by ministries and departments while deciding approvals.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Hindustan Times, January 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Current Account Deficit hits record

India’s balance of payments returned to deficit in the July-September quarter as a surge in foreign investment was insufficient to bridge a record current-account gap, highlighting the fragile state of Asia’s third-largest economy even as the Government takes steps to curb its spending and boost growth.

Data published by the Reserve Bank of India on Monday showed the country’s current-account deficit widened to $22.3 billion, or 5.4 per cent of gross domestic product, in the July-September quarter, from $16.4 billion in the April-June period.

The previous record was $21.7 billion, in the January-March quarter of this year.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, December 31, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Manufacturing growth up

Indian manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in six months in December, a private survey showed, after the government overhauled policies to revive Asia’s third- largest economy.

The purchasing managers’ index rose to 54.7 from 53.7 in November, HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics said in a statement. A number above 50 indicates growth.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Government has stepped up efforts since September to lure more foreign investment, pare a budget deficit and spur exports. The central bank has signalled it may ease monetary policy in coming months as inflation cools, to boost an economy that the Finance Ministry predicts will expand at the weakest pace in a decade this fiscal year.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, January 2, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UN goals on poverty elusive

India is expected to miss the crucial UN Millennium Development Goals, including those related to reduction in poverty, hunger and infant mortality, according to a government report.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, January 2, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt mulls to cut gold imports

Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Wednesday that the Government, facing a widening current account deficit, was considering moves to raise the cost of gold imports, hinting that import duty on the yellow metal may be raised.

The current account deficit or CAD, which represents the difference between export earnings and import expenses net of cash payments and remittances, hit a record high of 5.4 per cent of the gross domestic product in the July-September quarter.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Hindustan Times, January 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’No fake medicines to Africa’

India has denied claims that it has exported large quantities of counterfeit medication to Africa, after the Guardian published a front-page expose’ on the phenomenon.

"No fake medicines have been sent from India to the continent of Africa," a spokesman for the ministry of external affairs in Delhi said.

The article cited experts and NGO reports as saying that up to a third of anti-malarial drugs in Uganda and Tanzania might be fake or substandard, and the majority of them were manufactured in China and India. The drugs look identical to real ones, and can only be distinguished with lab testing.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, January 2, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Unwell Indian prisoners may be released

Maldives Foreign Ministry on Thursday said the relevant authorities were engaged in efforts to finding a way within the contours of the law to release Indians detained in the country and are suffering from ill-health. The Government has constituted a committee to oversee the affairs of Indian prisoners in Maldives after New Delhi requested their release.

State Foreign Minister Hassan Saeed insisted that the decision to transfer Indian prisoners with medical problems is yet to be made. As the request has been made by the Indian Government to transfer Indian prisoners with medical problems jailed in Maldives to India, the Maldives will probe the cases of such inmates individually, according to Hassan.

According to the Foreign Ministry, at present 14 Indians, including one woman, were in Maldives prisons. Hassan added that 11 of the inmates were serving sentences for drug trafficking. "As India has made the request, we will first asses each case individually. The cases will be reviewed by a committee constituted by the President,"Hassan said.

The committee will comprise of officials from the relevant Maldivian authorities. Hassan explained that a decision will be made after discussions with the relevant authorities based on the recommendations of the committee. The Foreign Ministry also stressed that "it would not be easy"to release prisoners convicted for drug-trafficking.

While India has tightened the free on arrival visa for Maldivians recently, New Delhi has put forward a list of requests to the Maldives Government. At a meeting with Maldivian Foreign Ministry officials on December 20, Indian High Commissioner to Maldives D M Mulay \ listed several issues faced by Indians in the country.

The list included issues such as Indians having to return back over insufficient visa requirements, over stay, the excessive fine on visa breaches, dependent visa and the unlawful seizing of passports of Indians working in the Maldives by employers.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru Online, January 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Medical visa issue with India resolved

The Foreign Ministry has stated that the issue of Indian medical visa has been resolved and the complaints related to India visa have ceased. State Foreign Minister Hassan Saeed said that there would be no queues now and that the issue had been resolved.

In an attempt to solve the long overnight queues outside the Indian High Commission, the Foreign Ministry had earlier announced that the token to obtain Indian visa would now be available from the Ministry.

The Foreign Ministry in a statement said that the contact details, Name, ID card number and the passport number need to be sent to 7794601 via SMS and that the messages to book queue numbers must be sent from 8.00 am to 12.00 pm each day.

Those booked for queue numbers will be notified of their token numbers in the order of the text messages received by the foreign ministry. Token numbers are handed over from 9.00 to 10.30 am.

"We inform them in the queue order via phone, to come tomorrow and that we would be handing over the token numbers. We inform them which number they have got,"Hassan said.

He said that the Foreign Ministry carried out the visa process systematically and that the visa forms can be processed within about 30 minutes when it is carried out in such a manner.

The Indian High Commission in Male had earlier announced that visa free travel facilities to India available to Maldivian citizens are valid for tourism purpose only and advised the public to obtain the appropriate visas before travelling to India.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru Online, January 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Crew threatens ’take over’ of ship over salaries

Six Maldivian crew members of ’Vaadhee Progress’, operated by Vaadhee Shipping, and their families have said that they have been threatened by Indian crew members on board for the past three months. A crew member said that the foreign nationals were unhappy due to the vessel crew not having been paid their salaries for one year.

He said that the foreign nationals believe that Maldivians are being paid their salaries while the foreigners are not, and that they had warned that the Maldivian captain of the vessel will be drowned if salaries are not paid by the end of tomorrow.

He said that the vessel is currently located far out in a harbour in Dubai, and that it is thus not easy for anyone to know the situation on-board. Furthermore, assault between the foreign nationals on a previous occasion had left one of them with a stab wound.

"We also haven’t received our salaries for as long as they haven’t received them. They are threatening us. They carry knives and iron bars. The last thing they said was that the captain will be drowned if the salaries are not paid by the end of tomorrow. We are scared, haven’t even been sleeping. The company has said that they have contacted the Coast Guard and the Police and they are looking into it. But we are still in the same situation. We have, sort of, been hijacked,"he said.

The crew comprised eight Indians, two Sri Lankans and six Maldivians.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru Online, January 3, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Japanese loan in the offing

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso has promised the President Thein Sein that Tokyo will provide ¥50 billion in fresh low-interest loans by March 2013 after writing off past debts of over a ¥500 billion by the end of January.

The loan, if extended, will be Japan’s first to Myanmar in 26 years. It is expected to include ¥20 billion for improving the infrastructure of an industrial park and ¥19 billion for upgrading an existing thermal power plant, according to a Japanese official.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, January 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India sets up farm centre

India has started building an advanced centre for agricultural research and education in Nay Pyi Taw to train agriculturists in the country. The centre is coming up in the Yezin University of Agriculture.

India would provide technical assistance, including laboratory equipment, and Indian experts would train post-graduate students of Myanmar. At present, nearly 200 post-graduate students are studying at the university.

To help promote the development of agriculture, India has also extended $10 million worth of farming equipment to Myanmar. The equipment includes 300 tractors, 150 threshers, 228 cultivators and 431 ploughs.

As of July 2012, India’s investment in Myanmar reached $273.5 million, ranking 13th in the line-up of foreign investors.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, January 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Aid from Indonesia

The Indonesian government plans to pledge $1 million in humanitarian aid to the state of Rakhine in Myanmar to help alleviate the sufferings of the Rohingnya ethnic group there said a statement made by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

The Minister is scheduled to visit Rakhine on January 7 at the invitation of the Myanmar’s Government. The aim of my visit is to directly observe what the situation is in the Rakhine State, while also dissecting the existing problems and challenges there.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, January 4, 2012


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Girl gang-raped in tea garden

A girl from Tehrathum district, who is currently living in Damak, was gang-raped by four boys -- three of them teenagers -- in a local tea garden on January 2.

The police arrested Sachin Bhattarai, 17, Sandip Darji, 18, and Ashish Darnal, 19, all of them from Damak Municipality-9, for allegedly raping the girl. They were made public at a press conference on January 3. Another accused is yet to be nabbed.

According to the police, the girl was with a friend, Birbal Khadka, 22, of Dhankuta, near Himalayan Tea Garden in Damak-9 on the evening of the incident when the four boys arrived there and forcibly took the girl into the garden by severely thrashing Khadka.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Republica, January 4, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Women call for swift action

Women activists intensified their demonstrations throughout the week in major parts of the capital obstructing traffic and shouting slogans outside the official residence of the Prime Minister in Baluwatar.

Two women were also injured in an intervention by the police during a demonstration in the capital on December 31. Former Parliamentarian Sushila Nepal sustained injury to her chest and Shanti Shrestha to her hands as the police used force to prevent the mass from gathering at the main road at Bhadrakali.

The protest rally was led by All-Nepal Women’s Association to pressure the Government to take prompt action against perpetrators of the recent cases of violence against women.

Following continuous media coverage of the cases related to Sita Rai, Saraswati Subedi and Siba Hasmi, among others, and massive protest programmes and sit-ins before his residence, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has directed the security officials to investigate the cases and book the perpetrators.

While Rai was robbed and allegedly raped by airport officials, Subedi of Dhading district was allegedly murdered at a house in Anamnagar, and Hasmi of Bardiya distirct was burnt to death.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Republica, December 31, 2012, Kantipur, January 1, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Army official held in UK for torture

A Nepal Army (NA) officer has been arrested in the UK on suspicion of involvement in torture during the decade-long Maoist conflict.

Reports said that police from a special unit of the Metropolitan Police Service arrested NA Colonel Kumar Lama in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, on January 3. Lama is suspected of torturing a detainee in Nepal in 2005, when the Maoist insurgency was at its peak.

Lama had reached London some two weeks ago after completing his term with the UN Peace Keeping Mission in Sudan, to meet his wife, who lives there.

< class="text11verdana">Source: BBC, January 3, Republica, January 4, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">EC heading for a vacuum

The Election Commission (EC) is set to go the way all other constitutional bodies are headed, with two of its remaining commissioners retiring on January 10. The leadership crisis at the EC responsible for conducting elections is likely to cast a shadow on plans to hold fresh Constituent Assembly polls in April-May.

Of the EC’s five-member board, three have already retired while the remaining two commissioners - Acting chief Dolakh Bahadur Gurung and commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav - will be retiring next week.

The EC has set a January 9 deadline for the Bhattarai-led government to clear all hurdles, including appointments of the commissioners, if elections are to be held as scheduled.

The Government had forwarded an ordinance concerning appointments at constitutional bodies, including the EC, at the end of July. However, the Office of the President put the ordinance on hold, stating that political consensus was required before its promulgation.

The Government’s earlier plan to hold elections on November 22 was deferred after the Office of the President put the poll ordinance on hold and the opposition parties refused to participate in the elections. Opposition parties, including the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, are still firm about not participating in the elections without the Bhattarai-led government being replaced by a national consensus one.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Kathmandu Post, January 2, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Yunus at CNI AGM

The Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), an umbrella organisation of county’s medium and large-scale industries from manufacturing as well as service sector, invited Nobel laureate Prof Mohammed Yunus as the guest of honour in its 10th Annual General Meeting (AGM), which was held in Kathmandu on December 21-23, 2012.

Prof Yunus, who is a pioneer of micro finance and social business, landed in Kathmandu on December 21 along with his team and representatives from Bangladeshi micro finance and business organisations. During his visit, he addressed various programmes on ’Social Business and Micro Finance’ and ’Social Business and Youth’ at the Tribhuvan University.

< class="text11verdana">Source:


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Taliban strongman killed in drone attack

A U.S. drone strike killed a key Taliban warlord, his deputy and eight others in northwest Pakistan, intelligence sources and tribal leaders said Thursday, deaths that could substantially alter the power balance and tribal dynamics in the Taliban heartland of the two Waziristan agencies.

Mullah Nazir, a member of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe in South Waziristan was just last month wounded in an attack reportedly perpetrated by his Taliban rivals of the Mehsud faction. He had also survived an earlier drone attack. He allegedly lost his life together with his deputy Ratta Khan and several other militants in the attack near the provincial capital of Wana.

Nazir who preferred attacks on NATO forces rather than the Pakistani state had entered in non-aggression pacts with the Pakistani military in 2007 and during the military operation in 2009, making him a "good"Taliban in the eyes of the army. He was aligned with another so called "good Taliban?, Hafeez Gul Bahadur of North Waziristan, with whom he shares tribal connections and a rivalry with the Anti-State Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Long-standing tribal feuds with the neighbouring tribe of the Mehsuds, of who a large part of the TTP is made up, led up to the expulsion of Mehsud tribals from his territory in December. Earlier he had been noted for the eviction of foreign militants from his area.

Salahuddin Ayubi, a close associate and military commander has apparently been appointed as successor. Officials and analysts alike wonder whether he will continue his late predecessor’s policies.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Reuters, 2 January 2013; Express Tribune 2 January 2013, The Nation, 4 January 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PPP leader for talks with Taliban

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has mooted an autonomous jirga for early and meaningful negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban. The proposal was made at a PPP convention held in Ghallanai, Mohmand Agency on Thursday.

The FATA unit president of PPP and former federal Minister Malik Waris Khan Afridi said the Government needs to follow the US policy of starting negotiations with the Taliban before they withdraw their troops from Afghanistan.

"It is necessary for the Government to hold talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and a tribal jirga for this purpose can prove to be useful,"Afridi added. The jirga, he further argued, should be given the powers of implementing a verdict in letter and spirit for restoration of durable peace in the region.

According to news reports, the security establishment has ruled out a ceasefire with the Taliban, but is waiting for the political leadership to decide on whether to launch a military offensive to target TTP sanctuaries or hold negotiations.

The six past peace deals with the Pakistani Taliban were for the most part short-lived and fell far behind expectations.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Express Tribune, 4 January 2013

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan: Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh: Dr.Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan and Myanmar: Sripathi Narayan;
India:Dr.Satish Misra;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah;
Pakistan: Matthias Vollhardt;

Pajhwok, January 2, 2013, Tolo News, January 2, 2013
The Island, January 3, 2013
The Island, January 3, 2013
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