MonitorsPublished on Sep 30, 2011
The Indian polity appears to be in a state of drift as the established political parties, oblivious to the problems of the country and its people, are currently engaged in game of power.The political class, as a whole losing credibility, is being widely perceived as "loud mouths",
India: Drifting polity and clueless leaders?
< class="heading1">Analysis

The Indian polity appears to be in a state of drift as the established political parties, oblivious to the problems of the country and its people, are currently engaged in game of power.The political class, as a whole losing credibility, is being widely perceived as "loud mouths", giving irresponsible statements which only add to already existing cynicism. The gap between promise and performance is increasing with every passing day. The ruling parties appear to be busy finding ways to cling to power and those sitting in the Opposition groping for a credible strategy to rupture the delicate balance of power to oust the incumbent. Trust in spoken words and promises hasall but disappeared.

At the Centre, the Government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is facing scores of allegations of financial scams and scandals. Legal battles are going on in courts. But even before final verdicts are pronounced by different courts, the Government stands discredited if one followed media headlines. Both the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the opposition are constantly engaged in seemingly never-ending blame game without realising that the country was expecting a credible response from the political class to the scores of challenges facing the nation and its people. In this kind of environment, governance invariably suffers and policy regime gets weakened as was reflected in the monsoon session of Parliament which ended on September 8 without conducting much business. In the process, the credibility of the political system, established political parties and their leaders is eroding very fast as was clearly evident in the popular response to the civil society movement of social activist Anna Hazare in August this year.

The war of words got intensified when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, returning from his UN visit, raised an accusing finger at the Opposition, saying that there was a campaign under way" to destabilise our polity". Referring to the 2-G spectrum scam in particular, he said: "The issues on which the United Progressive Alliance Government is now being judged date back to 2006 or so, after which the people have voted in support of our performance (in 2009)?This is why I suspect that there is some other agenda at work."

The principal Opposition party, namely, theBharatiyaJanata Party (BJP), came strongly against the Prime Minister’s contention that they were trying to destabilise his Government, saying any collapse of the ruling regime would take place due to weight of its own contradictions. The strategy of the BJP appears to be to weaken the UPA coalition by attempting to drive a wedge between the Congress and its allies. At the same time, the main Opposition party is also trying to attack some of the key colleagues of the Prime Minister by creating doubts on their integrity to further aggravate the crisis. Even genuine differences of opinion on policy issues are being described as contentious, and thus are being interpreted as conflict of interest between ministries and alliance partners. There is an urgent need to differentiate between policy disagreements and personality issues. The former need not be construed as acts of corruption, but the media managers of the coalition leader is not doing enough to get their message across to the people. Or, they sound as hollow as the leadership.

In the o-going game of scoring debating points, the big question is who is gaining and who is losing. The people, particularly the middle class, are getting increasingly disillusioned with the response of the political class, which is unable to arrive at a consensus on any single issue of national importance. The problem with the political class seems to be that they continue to live in the past. Their political tools are out-dated and their strategies appear to be totally out of sync with the changing times. While the Opposition across the world in general and in South Asia in particular strongly believes in the 19thcentury political logic of opposing for the sake of opposing, the ruling parties are convinced that the political adversary is out to dislodge them from power. A model of cooperation and consensual approach to issues and problems is missing in their action and discourse.

The BJP Leader of the Opposition in the LokSabha (people’s chamber of the Indian Parliament) SushmaSwaraj did concede some aspects of the problem. "Each morning the (BJP) core parliamentary committee meets and takes a decision whether to allow Parliament to function that day", she said. Next day that was on August 11, 2011, she came out with yet another revelation saying that the BJP Parliamentary Party was "under pressure" from various State units to take up their issues in Parliament and get it adjourned to make an impact. She said: "Often State leaders come to me saying they want Parliament adjourned for four days and I tell them we can do it for one day or two. But how can we stall for four days? They simply do not understand."

Speaking at the Institute of South Asia Studies in Singapore this month, Swaraj again came out with another gem when she referred to her party’s conviction in "bi-partisanship" which is supposed to have strengthened the Indian democracy and Indian political system in addressing central issues of national importance. If this approach was being followed in last three years then possibly, the course of Indian politics may have been different but then the BJP alone cannot be held responsible for the present mess as the entire political class would have to share the blame in varying proportions.

At the moment, no single party is on the ascendency and the contest is wide open, as for as the next parliamentary polls, due in 2014 in the normal course. The coming months would set the tone as no single political formation is yet ready to take the electoral plunge.While it is true that political parties are not yet ready to go for a fresh mandate form the people but atmosphere is building up for snap polls to the LokSabha, early on. The Assembly elections in States such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Manipur and Uttarakhandthrough next year will set the pace for the next general elections.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bid to boost investments with China

China and India are slated to boost economic cooperation and mutual trust through dialogue as bilateral trade surges, officials said Monday at the one-day first meeting of China-India Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) in Beijing. The two countries face similar problems as they undergo rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, said Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner.

The SED, which is partly aimed at boosting mutual trust, will enhance cooperation between China and India in various fields and help the two countries find solutions to common problems, Zhang said. This will help promote the long-term economic development of the two economies and will have a profound impact on people in China and India, Zhang said. Closer cooperation will not only benefit the two countries, but also help improve the power and confidence of all developing countries, he said.

The first-ever SED took place in Beijing on September 26-27. The Indian side was led by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, and the Chinese side by Zhang Ping. The Indian delegation included representatives of the Planning Commission, Ministries of Railways, Water Resources, External Affairs, Power, New and Renewable Energy and the Departments of Commerce, Information Technology and Industrial Policy and Promotion.

The decision to conduct a SED was taken during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December last year. Discussions during the first strategic dialogue will focus on plan formulation and implementation in India and China, the global economic outlook, efficient use of water resources, energy efficiency & pricing, and potential cooperation in the Railways sector.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, September 24, 2011,, September 28, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Trade with Pakistan set to double

India and Pakistan have agreed to double trade to $ 3 billion in three years by normalising bilateral business relations, but Pakistan did not commit to a time-line for ending its non-discriminatory trade regime with India.

Commerce Minister from both countries met in New Delhi on Wednesday and decided to liberalise terms for issuing business visas soon, by allowing multiple entry to more than one city. The two also decided to work on allowing investments from each other’s countries and encouraging joint ventures.

Meanwhile, the State Bank of Pakistan and Reserve Bank of India are mulling over opening of commercial bank branches in each other. Country.The concept of reciprocal facility for opening bank branches to facilitate business activity was discussed when DrSubirVithalGokaran, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India called on Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Federal Minister for Commerce, during the latter’s official visit to India.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Economic Times, September 29, 2011., September 29, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Trade with Myanmar to double

Seeking to expand their economic cooperation and broad-base their trade basket, India and Myanmar on Tuesday agreed to set a $3 billion trade target to be achieved by 2015 from the existing $1.5 billion.

This was decided at fourth meeting of Joint Trade Commission which was attended by the Union Commerce Minister, Anand Sharma, and the Myanmar’s Minister of Commerce, U. Win Myint.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, September 28, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Funds sought for emerging nations

Pushing for a special focus on global funding for infrastructure in emerging markets, India has called for making additional resources available to the World Bank and the regional development banks to meet the large requirements of developing nations.

"While we appreciate the need to focus on stability issues, additional resources for MDBs (Multilateral Development Banks) are also necessary for sustaining growth in developing countries and rebalancing global demand," Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here.

He was participating in a discussion on Development Agenda (Infrastructure and Food Security) for G-20 Development and Finance Ministers’ Meeting here on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"At present very little funding is available with MDBs relative to the large requirements of EMDCs (Emerging Markets and Developing Countries)," Mukherjee said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Tribune, September 26, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM stresses close ties with Iran, Statehood for Palestine

A day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad triggered a US-led Western walkout from the UN General Assembly with a combative speech Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met him in a reiteration of the close ties between the two countries.

"The previously planned meeting basically focused on our bilateral relationship," Indian Foreign Secretary RanjanMathai told reporters in New York, when asked if the meeting with President Ahmadinejad coupled with Indian support for Palestine would have an impact on New Delhi’s ties with Washington.

The two leaders did not discuss Palestinian President Mahoud Abbas’s speech making a historic bid for UN membership for an independent State of Palestine, but they both "reiterated their support for the Palestinian attempt to seek membership of UN," he said.

In fact, during this meeting between the two leaders after a long time, Manmohan Singh accepted in principle Ahmadinejad’s renewed invitation to visit Iran. The dates of the Prime Minister’s visit are to be worked out, but LokSabha speaker Meira Kumar will be visiting shortly, Mathai said.

Addressing UNGA, Singh also repeated India’s strong support to Palestine’s demand for full membership of the UN as a State. "India is steadfast in its support for the Palestinian people’s struggle for a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognizable borders side by side and at peace with Israel. We look forward to welcoming Palestine as an equal member of the United Nations," he said.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, September 24, 2011, The Times of India, September 25, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Greater role for SCO-Plus in Afghanistan

With the assassination of Afghanistan’s chief peace negotiator BurhanuddinRabbani, India is hoping that its Russia-backed desire of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) getting itself involved as a grouping would gain traction.

The SCO Regional Forum, whose members and observers essentially enclose Afghanistan, would be an effective means of addressing some of Afghanistan’s problems if it treated observers (such as India, Iran and Pakistan) and special invitees (Afghanistan) on an equal footing, said government sources here.

"That is a good regional platform," they said of the grouping that extends a helping hand to Afghanistan, nurtures little ill will towards Iran and Pakistan and has a greater interest in stabilising the country than the West since the flow of drugs and militants from Af-Pak region directly affects their well-being.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, September 25, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Prithvi-II, Agni-II tested

India tested a short-range nuclear-capable missile along its eastern coast on Monday, an official said, as part of the nation’s efforts to build up its atomic deterrent. The trial of surface-to-surface Prithvi-II missile was carried out from a range in the state of Orissa.

Earlier, India also tested Agni-II missile.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, September 26, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Adhaalath Party quits MDP front

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party decided last night to break off its coalition agreement with the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), after the party’s consultation council voted 32 to 2 to approve a resolution to leave the government. With this, Adhaalath becomes the last major party to quit the ’WatanEdey’ coalition - formed to rally against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the second round run-off of the 2008 presidential election.

The resolution on terminating the coalition agreement signed with the ruling party on June 30, 2009 states that the Government ignored Adhaalath’s "sincere advice and suggestion" while the party was forced to stage street protests "to put a stop to serious matters related to the country’s religion and sovereignty."Among the 28 main points noted in the resolution included rising inflation under the current administration, refusal to reimburse deducted amounts from civil servants salaries, failure to alleviate the persisting dollar shortage, appointing unqualified "activists" to manage Government corporations and insufficient measures against corruption in the government.

The Adhaalath Party claimed that the Government was "making secret deals with Israel in the name of the people and pursuing relations with Israel to an extent that threatens the nation’s independence and sovereignty." It has accused the Government of agreeing to "let Israel influence the country’s education curriculum."

Among Government decisions strongly contested by the party, the resolution also referred to a proposal to make Dhivehi and Islam optional subjects in higher secondary education and reclaiming a plot awarded to the Islamic College (Kulliya).The final eight points meanwhile include the use of force against protesting parents of Arabiyya students, senior government diplomats expressing concern with Maldivian students going to Arabic or Islamic countries for studies, publishing regulations allowing sale of alcohol to non-Muslims in inhabited islands, insufficient cooperation with the Islamic Ministry’s efforts to close down brothels.

Former President of Adhaalath Party, the State Minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Hussein Rasheed Ahmed has said that there is no good reason for him to abandon the responsibilities of his post in the current government.In his reply to the letter of Adhaalath Party urging him to resign from the Government due to the party’s decision to break away from thecoalition, Hussein Rasheed said that his post in the Government has national and religious responsibilities upon him. He said that there exists no good reason for him to just abandon these responsibilities.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Miadhu, September 27, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Dhunyawants PPM tie-up

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), spearheaded byfFormer President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has said that it is likely that the party might establish good relations with Adhaalath Party (AP) which broke away from the government coalition recently. Addressing a news conference held at the non-permanent office of PPM, Gayoom’s daughter, DhunyaMaumoon said that the belief of Adhaalath Party was similar to that of PPM. She said that the two parties are going in the same direction and it is probable that both the parties establish good relations.

Dhunya said that the PPM also hopes to establish good relations with Adhaalath Party considering the fact that Adhaalath Party is a party of religious scholars.

Former President Gayoom’s daughter also said that the decision of Adhaalath Party to break away from the MDP Government is a good step taken by the party. She said that PPM believes that Adhaalath Party is a sincere party working and striving to safeguard the nationality and religion of the country.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Miadhu, September 29, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">DRP leader texts resignation

The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has criticised the party’s former Secretary- General Mohamed Nimal for the "irresponsible" manner of his departure to join the incipient Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).DRP Media Coordinator Ali Solihtold newspaper Haveeru that Nimal was appointed to the post under an agreement signed three months ago.

"Resigning through an SMS alone will not do," he said. "He has to hand over the tasks he was given. I believe he should have discussed with party leaders about the tasks before taking a decision."

Nimal, who contested unsuccessfully for the Maafanu-South council seat of Male’ City, was appointed secretary general of DRP on July 1 after the resignation of Abdul RasheedNafiz.Nimal said he quit the DRP because he was "convinced that PPM has the capacity to win the next presidential election among all the opposition parties. I saw the determination of all the senior members involved in creating the party to win the presidential election. PPM can save the people from this Government."
< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, September 30, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM seeks a Marshall Plan

Prime Minister Dr BaburamBhattaraihas appealed to the international community for a comprehensive development package to rebuild and reconstruct post-conflict countries, including Nepal.Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, he also said that the goodwill and support from the international community is a must to institutionalise peace, equity and prosperity in Nepal.

"We need a ’new Marshall Plan’ for rebuilding and reconstruction of the post-conflict countries," the Prime Minister said, adding, "Lip-service and symbolic support are not enough." He told the world leaders that his Government is fully committed to concluding the peace process and Constitution-drafting at the earliest and ensuring inclusive multi-party democracy. Expressing Nepal’s commitment to human rights, the Prime Minister promised the UN General Assembly to build and strengthen the National Human Rights Commission as a true custodian of human rights in Nepal.

Backing demands for full-fledged membership for Palestine and calling for an expansion of the UN Security Council, Bhattarai said, "Reform must address all the international issues such as representation as well as transparency and accountability in the working methods of the Security Council."

Expressing concern over the effect of climate change on Nepal, the Prime Minister urged the industrialised countries to bear greater responsibilities to mitigate the effects of climate change on the Himalayas.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, September 2, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">19 killed in plane-crash

A 9N AEK-B190 Beechcraft of Buddha Air crashed into Kotdanda hill of Bishankhunarayan-2, Lalitpur district, Nepal at 5,400 feet leaving all 19 on board dead. The victims comprised 10 Indians, three Americans, a Japanese, and two Nepali nationals, apart from three Nepali crew members. While 18 died on the spot, NiranjanKarmacharya, a passenger who was rescued alive by locals from the wreckage, died in the course of treatment at B&B Hospital.

The aircraft had left Kathmandu at 6:49 am for a mountain flight on Sunday, . It was returning to Kathmandu following zero visibility of Mt Everest when it lost contact with the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) tower at 7:31 am and then crashed. According to Air Traffic Controls at the TIA, the aircraft flew two additional miles south of the airport and was at the wrong elevation for that point. This led to the crash.

The aircraft’s black box, or Flight Data Recorder, has been recovered from the crash site. The government has formed a three-member committee led by Rajesh Raj Dali, former director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, to probe the crash.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, September 25.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Islamic Sangh leader shot

General Secretary of Islamic Sangh Nepal Faizal Ahmad, 35, was killed in a broad daylight shooting near Tri-Chandra College in Ghantaghar, Kathmandu.According to eye witness accounts, other people were also walking on the street when the incident took place on a rainy day.

Two men who came on a motorbike shot Ahmad when he was returning to his rented house inNaya Bazaar after the afternoon prayers in the mosque located at Ghantaghar. He was shot in the head, neck and chest, and was rushed to Bir hospital by students of Tri-Chandra College. Doctors declared him dead soon after arrival in the hospital. Unconfirmed reports said that the assailants had brandished their pistols when people tried to help Ahmad.

The founder of Al- Hera Education, who was originally from Inaruwa district, had been working for the promotion of Islamic education and culture in Nepal over the past few years.The murder that took place just a few metres from Rani Pokhari branch of metropolitan police has raised serious questions on the security situation in the Valley. Police claimed that they have clues of the shooters and have been trying their best to nab them. Security has been tightened in the valley after the incident.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, September 26.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China praised for support

Following the pressure that the US has been piling pressure on Pakistan and accusing it of having links with militant groups, Pakistan Government officials have been massing praises on China. The civilian leadership as well as the military expressed their appreciation for China’s support and made the point clear to U.S that Pakistan had other friends that they could count on.

Prime Minister YousufRazaGilani, in an interview, mentioned that any unilateral military operation without the support of its Pakistan counterpart would be a clear violation of his country’s sovereignty. He clearly stated that the negative messaging was disturbing his people. Simultaneously, Gilani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik showed strong support for Beijing and vowed to attack Chinese militants hiding and training with the Al-Qaeda and other extremist network.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to counteract the efforts made by Pakistan, exclaimed that China is a "committed partner and friend," in a greeting sent to Beijing ahead of its National Day celebrations.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, 27, 28, 30 September, 2011;, 28 September, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India backs EU waiver

As part of strengthening the peace process, India has expressed it support for EU waiver package in WTO for Pakistan after a meeting between Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma in New Delhi. In order to deepen economic engagement a decision to double the bilateral trade from $2.7 billion to $6 billion within the next three years and to open another border post has been taken. It is after more than three and half decades that a Pakistani minister has visited India. An MOU has also been signed between the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and India’s Trade Promotion Organisation.

The waiver was originally sought by the EU for unilateral trade concessions for Pakistan to provide relief for 2010 floods. The local industry, particularly textile, was pleasantly surprised and considered the decisions taken by Pakistan and India a success of economic diplomacy of the democratic government in a difficult global environment.

In a similar gesture, Pakistan Foreign Minister HinaRabbaniKhar called out to India for the resolution of all disputes through a dialogue process that would be uninterrupted and uninterruptible.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, 28, 29, 30 September, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Agency to address water issues

A new agency called the Pakistan Trans-border Water Organisation (PTWO) was set up by Prime Minister YousufRazaGilani, in order to address the problems and issues related to the construction of dams and water sector projects by upper riparian countries, India and Afghanistan. It will also bring about measures to protect Pakistan’s water rights on rivers flowing from the above mentioned countries.

It will be working as an attached agency to the Water and Power Ministry, and will also coordinate with other institutions like the ministries of foreign affairs, law and environment, chief engineer of Pakistan army, etc when required while initiating policies.

The PTWO was established due to a growing anxiety about the increasing Indian desire to construct more than two dozen water sector projects on Indus, Jhelum and Chenab and also due to alleged reports of India having offered help to Afghanistan to develop dams on the tributaries and on main river Kabul
< class="text11verdana">Source:, September 27, 2011.

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ban admits lapse in communication

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, during a meeting with President MahindaRajapaksa, had acknowledged that there had been a lapse in communication between the two sides, and agreed to leave this behind and move forward with the essential aspects of reconciliation, a spokesman for the President said.

At their meeting in the UN headquarters, the Secretary-General raised the issue of the emergency regulations. He was told that emergency regulations had been lifted entirely but the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) had to be retained due to practical necessities such as the need to continue the proscription of the LTTE.

When the question of the military presence in the north was raised, President Rajapaksa said that relatively few troops remained in the north and they had been deployed mainly for infrastructure development, particularly since there was a lack of civilian labour in the area.

The Sri Lankan side read the verbatim the minutes kept during the meeting held in 2010 when they last met, and said that the assurances on the Ban-appointed three-member panel on accountability issues relating to ’Eelam War IV’ had no investigative power, had not been kept. President Rajapaksa also brought to the attention of the Secretary-General, the fact that the so-called Darusman report had been conveyed to Commissioner of Human Rights NaviPillay without first informing the Sri Lankan Mission in New York or the Government of SriLanka. The president had expressed his dissatisfaction at this breach of protocol, absence of due process and procedure which also undermined the credibility of the UN system. The secretary general’s team had acknowledged that there had been a lapse in communication, and both sides agreed to leave this behind and to move forward with the essential aspects of reconciliation.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, September 25, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">LTTE legality questioned

The Sri Lankan Government has said that in spite of accusing its military of massacring as many as 40,000 civilians, the LTTE had had to depend on an LTTE cadre, Vatsala Devi to move the US judiciary against President MahindaRajapaksa and Ambassador Shavendra Silva, former General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the celebrated 58 Division, over war crimes relating to the death of a hardcore terrorist, Thambirajah Ramesh. The LTTE couldn’t still find an ordinary family to pursue its destabilisation project, the Defence Ministry said.

Ramesh’s wife, Devi, now based in South Africa, figured in both civil cases. In the first case, Devi filed a case through one-time LTTE negotiator US citizen VisvanathanRudrakumaran, a New York based attorney-at-law against President Rajapaksa, while she teamed up with SeetharamSivam, described as the legal representative of his father believed to have been killed in an SLA artillery strike on Puthukudirippu in 2009, to move court against Maj. Gen. Silva.

The Army Headquarters in Colombo said that Devi had been an active LTTE cadre when she married Thambirajah Ramesh, who later rose to the rank of ’Colonel’ in the LTTE. Ramesh was the brother-in-law of Sea Tiger commander ThillayampalanSivaneshanalias’Col’ Soosai. Government sources said they would reveal atrocities committed by Ramesh and the involvement of his wife, Devi in terrorism.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island, Colombo, September 25, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Police and land powers not needed, say CMs

The Chief Ministers of Provincial Councils have resolved that police and land powers are no longer required for the provincial councils to discharge their duties, provided they are given sufficient funds to carry out development work. The decision has been taken at a time when there is a debate on the need to devolve powers to the provinces, particularly the north and the east.

Central Province Chief Minister SarathEkanayake who was elected the chairman of the Chief Ministers Forum told Daily Mirror that they had not discussed the devolution of police and land powers at the forum meeting held in Embiliptiiya over the weekend and only passed a resolution requesting the central government to allocate funds which the provincial councils are entitled to, without any restrictions, so that the development work planned by them could be carried out effectively. "We don’t care about land and police powers as long as we have sufficient funds to carry out development work in the provinces," he said.

The resolution of the Chief Ministers’ Forum follows the Finance Commission’s recommendations that the Central Government had a bigger say in the development work carried out by the Provincial Councils. In Section 3.2 of the report, which was presented to Parliament recently, it said a results-based planning framework forthe Provinces had been introduced by the Finance Commission to realise the government’s vision at the provincial level by influencing the planning processes of the Provinces.

It was reported that Eastern Province Chief Minister SivanesathuraiChandrakanthan, who had called for full devolution of power, including police and land powers for the Councils, some time ago, did not attend the conference.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, September 26, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US military trainees by March

Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, Commander of NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan, said in a teleconference that 800 US military training personnel will reach Afghanistan by March next year.

The current situation in the Afghan army seems dismal as only two out of the 128 Afghan army battalions were self-operational, he went on to say that most of the recruits were illiterate, but this was being changed through a programme to introduce literacy teachers. Some 3100 have thus far been introduced which has helped in the literacy levels among the army and the police. Approximately 3000 trainees are undergoing training and certification, to provide them the necessary skills for logistics, maintenance, medical and intelligence support. The objective is to make the afghan army sel- operational by 2014.

The Afghan army is predicted to grow to some 352,000 by the year 2012.
< class="text11verdana">Source:,, 28 September 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Looking across the borders

In a recent meeting between the delegation from the Afghan Ministry of Mines at the Turkmen Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, the parties agreed on a no of economic and technical issues in respect of the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) construction project, and its rapid implementation.

The 1,730-km TAIP gas pipeline will have a capacity of 33 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, and would travel from the Dauletabad fields in Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, Pakistan and will end at the town of Fazilka on the India - Pakistan border.This project is seen as a rival to the Iran peace pipeline and is highly favoured by the Western nations.

Similarly, in a recent meeting between the Afghan Commerce and Industry Ministry, and the Kazakhstan Emergency Situation Ministry, the parties have mutually agreed on a trade agreement that would increase trade ties between their nations.The agreement was centred on the import of wheat and flour by predominantly the private sector in Afghanistan, while promises were also made to look into the import of 500,000 tons of fuel from Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan on the other hand has already allocated $50 million for the training of Afghan Government officials. Furthermore it is understood that both nations are working towards the completion of a rail link that would smoothen transportation between their borders.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Outlook Afghanistan, September 26, 2011, Outlook Afghanistan, 28 September 2011,

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US to put Haqqani network on terror list

The most recent act of violence targeted against foreign occupation forces in Afghanistan led to the death of a CIA contractor and wounding of another individual, when an Afghan working for the US Government opened fire on them in the premises of the CIA office in Afghanistan on the evening of September 25.

Meanwhile, the US has moved to list the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization, even though most of the individual Haqqani leaders have already been named as terrorists. This action comes amidst the growing evidence of Haqqani perpetrated acts of violence against the international/American forces in Afghanistan. Earlier the Americans had not considered such a step because they felt that it would jeopardize the peace process. Now with this latest ruling on the Haqqani network the Americans wish to crack down on the organization as a whole.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Newsday, September 26, 2011, / Daily Outlook Afghanistan, September 29, 2011,

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt revenue up

The Afghan Government revenue has witnessed an increase of 28 per cent in the last six months as compared to the corresponding period last year. The official revenue stood at $46 billion up from $36 billion. 50% of the income this year has come in the form of custom duty and taxes. The IMF, the World Bank and the Afghan Government have set revenue targets at $93 billion while expectations on total collections are higher.

Revenue from the western Afghan province of Herat has seen a 45per cent rise as compared to the corresponding period last year. The assessment is that the rise in revenue can be traced to proper implementation of tax and customs collection. This justifies the fact that efficiency of the Government has improved.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Outlook Afghanistan, 26 September 2011, / Outlook Afghanistan, 27 September 2011,

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Next polls under Election Commission

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinahas said that the next general elections will be held under the supervision of the Election Commission and all political parties will also participate in the polls. "The government won’t intervene in anything of the elections," Ms Hasina added.

Ms.Hasina said it is a fact that her party Awami League had waged movement for the caretaker form of government, but all have subsequently seen the nation’s "weird experience" of the system.

The Prime Minister further added that after the first caretaker government,(1996) there was a military coup, and in 2001, the then caretaker government had removed 13 pro-liberation secretaries from their posts before the completion of the advisory councils. "And the nation had to pay for two years after the last caretaker government took office," Ms.Hasina said.

Meanwhile, Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia had warned the government that her party and allies will allow no general election without the caretaker government system reinstated. Addressing a grand rally organised by the BNP-led four-party alliance, Ms Zia said, "A caretaker government and a neutral election commission are a must for acceptable polls. In the absence of those, we won’t take part in the election." The opposition will also foil attempts to hold parliamentary polls participated by only Awami League and Ershad’sJatiya Party, she added. "Such an election won’t be accepted by anyone at home or abroad."

At the rally, the first by the four-party alliance since December 2008, Khaleda announced road marches towards three divisional headquarters and rallies in five districts to press home the demand for reinstatement of the caretaker system.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Bangladesh Today September 26, 2011/ The Daily Star, September 28, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sheikh Hasina’s peace model

In the United Nation GenralAssambly, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proposed a six-point multi-dimensional peace model.

Ms.Hasina’s peace model included the eradication of poverty and hunger, reduction of inequality, mitigation of deprivation, an end to exclusion of people from the process of development, overall human progress and, very importantly, elimination of terrorism are the very issues which exercise minds across the spectrum all over the world today.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily star, September 26, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BNP rejects War Crime Tribunal

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s rejected International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) as it claimed ICT to be partial. Ms. Zia further demanded release of the top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami held for war crimes. BNP’s rejection of ICT underlines fresh political challenges to their trial.

Five detained Jamaat leaders, including its chief MotiurRahmanNizami, have been accused of committing crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971. Jamaat-e-Islami collaborated with the Pakistani occupation forces which killed three million people and raped two lakh women during the nine-month war.

Khaleda’s demand has made Jamaat leaders happy as they see it as a success in their efforts to come closer to the main opposition party and jointly wage anti-government street agitations, political analysts said. They said BNP’s latest stance will boost Jamaat’s morale and reinforce the allegation that the trial process is not neutral.

It can be recalled, BNP distanced itself from its main ally Jamaat since the debacle in the December 2008 parliamentary election. It had a lukewarm response when the government cracked down on the Jamaat leaders.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, September 29, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Tahrir seen as biggest threat

The militant outfit Hizbut-Tahrir is slowly gaining ground and is currently the strongest force in anti-state activities in Bangladesh. The outfit has been banned since 2009.

The organisation is very active on university campuses, has strong national and international links, and is standing strong at a time when other major Islamic outfits are suffering from leadership problems.

The views came at a launching ceremony of a study on The State of Terrorism in Bangladesh, 2009-10 by a major think tank of Bangladesh. While discussing the state of terrorism activities in the country, senior security officials, researchers, writers and diplomats agreed that Hizbut-Tahrir is a matter of big concern for the nation. "Of all the Islamic outfits, Hizbut-Tahrir is currently the biggest threat," said Col TM Jobaer, Director of National Security Intelligence (NSI)."The organisation is strong because it has a strong international agenda -- it wants to establish a Khilafat in many countries," he said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, September 27, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New gas ’found’

In a survey of national gas field has raised high hopes of finding an additional one trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas. This is a major development. Once tapped, this reserve would significantly help reduce the country’s perennial gas crisis.

Bangladesh has around 2-15tcf reserve of gas. At present, the country has a gas supply of about 2,000mmcf per day against the demand for 2,500mmcf, leading to a severe crisis in gas-fired power generation and gas-based industrial production. The shortfall has also affected domestic consumers.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, September 27, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Transhipment thru Ashuganj

Bangladesh has allowed India to use Ashuganj river port for the first time to tranship goods from Kolkata to Agartala under the 2010 inland water transit protocol. Shipping Secretary Abdul MannanHawlader said Indian goods were being transhipped under the existing transit protocol. The transshipment facility has been given to India on a trial basis in line with the existing protocol and no additional duty was imposed on the goods since those don’t fall under the category of imported products.

Seven Bangladeshi trucks carried 160 tonnes of steel sheets in the first consignment from Ashuganj river port to Akhaura land port. On September 27, an Indian ship carrying steel sheets reached Ashuganj river port from Khidirpur port in Kolkata.

On May 31, last year, Bangladesh and India amended the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, and included Ashuganj as the 5th port of call in Bangladesh and Shilghat as a port of call for Bangladesh goods on the Indian side.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, September 30, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Measures to tackle timber shortage

The crunch on timber that has affected several dzongkhangs has now hit Samdrupjongkhar. The eastern dzongkhag saw a huge surge in timber demand recently with contractors placing a collective demand of about 3,000 cft a month. The scenario is worse in Samdrupjongkhar because it is the only dzongkhag that does not have a Forest Management Unit and therefore has no source for timber extraction.

The cabinet has approved the guideline for import of timber submitted by the Department of Forest and Park Services (DoFPS) to solve the shortage of timber that the country is facing. The guidelines are to facilitate the unhindered movement of timber into the country and the also help maintain 60 percent of forest cover as required by the constitution.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, September 27, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Joint ventures for hydropower

It was decided by the empowered joint group, that the laws and regulations of Bhutan will be observed in the implementation of joint venture power projects.

The meeting that was held at New Delhi put an end to the contentions between the Indian public sector units (IPSUs) and Druk Green Power corporation. An MOU will b signed between the two sectors in October and it will finalise an agreement, draw up plan of actions, equity ownership, financing, board of directors, project viability, etc.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, September 28, 2011.

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan: Haripal Brar;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharje;
Bhutan and Pakistan: Aarya Venugopal;
India: Satish Misra;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N SathiyaMoorthy;

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.