MonitorsPublished on Jun 19, 2015
On June 14, the British newspaper, Times London, broke the story about issuing of British travel documents, on the recommendation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in 2014,
India: Lalitgate: First major test for Modi government
< class="heading1">Analysis

On June 14, the British newspaper, Times London, broke the story about issuing of British travel documents, on the recommendation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in 2014, to high-profile socialite and a Cricket Czar, Lalit Modi, whose Indian passport was cancelled by the government in 2010 on the charges of money laundering and violation of foreign exchange rules.

This news story created a storm in country’s politics with the ruling coalition and the opposition trading charges and counter charges holding each other guilty for the act, but the case is proving to be the first major test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s credibility in the public eyes.

Cricket is one of the most popular games in India and is often described as the "religion" of the young and old. There is a very close relationship if not nexus between the world of cricket and politics. There exists a heady cocktail of game and politics in India. Rise and involvement of Lalit Modi in cricket has all the elements and ingredients of a Hollywood or Bollywood thriller. It has money, entertainment, dirty politics and cinema. One would not be surprised that one day when full details of the entire episode begin to tumble out into open, sex may also be discovered.

A majority of the 27 units that make up the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) are controlled by powerful politicians having different political affiliation and ideologies. Some of the prominent political leaders who are associated or have been associated with the politics of cricket include Nationalist Congress Party chief and three times chief minister of Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, former UPA ministers Rajeev Shukla, Jyotiraditya Scindia, BJP Lok Sabha MP Anurag Thakur and many others.

The BCCI had earned revenues of Rs 3621.94 crore in 2012-13 and had made a profit of Rs 319.11 crore which makes it the richest cricketing body in the world. No other sport body or organisation is as rich as the BCCI which makes an attractive turf for politics and politicians.

Big league of game & money

First, some details of the case-cum-scam-cum-scandal which is being headlined as "Modigate" or "Lalitgate". In 2004, Lalit Modi was elected the President of the Rajasthan Cricket Association which became the stepping stone for his rise in the administration of the game of cricket. By virtue of being the head of a state unit, he had joined the big league of game and money.

In 2005, Lalit Modi figured in power struggle that led to the ouster of the cricket supremo and chief of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Jagmohan Dalmiya from the BCCI. In the BCCI elections, Dalmiya was defeated by Sharad Pawar. Modi had sided with Pawar to help defeat Dalmiya and end his long hold on the BCCI. In return, Pawar made him the BCCI vice president.

Coming from a rich business family background and having strong commercial sense, it is said that Modi soon increased the BCCI revenues seven-fold between 2005 and 2008. Around this time, Modi conceived the idea of holding the Indian Premier League (IPL), a league based around the shorter version of the game Twenty20 cricket where each team is limited to batting 20 overs. Corporate world was roped in as different business and industrial leaders and entities bought commercial interest in participating teams in the IPL matches. These corporate and business entities either had partial stakes in the teams or fully owned playing elevens.

Advertising money flowed in and the annual IPL event became a show window of glamour and glitz. Modi also engineered the IPL move to South Africa in 2009 after the dates of tournament came into conflict with the dates of Indian general elections and the then Home Minister P Chidambaram refused to commit security to the tournament. In short, Modi’s stars rose rapidly in the cricket firmament. At the same time, Modi came under sharp focus as jealousies rose.

In 2010, Modi oversaw the bidding process and the creation of two new teams for the IPL. Pune and Kochi were declared the two new franchises. At the peak of his power, Modi’s tweet declaring the stakeholders of the Kochi IPL team became the beginning of his fall from the height at which he had managed to reach through his skills, cunning and conning. His tweet, about the stake of Sunanda Puskar, allegedly breached the confidentiality of the agreements and this resulted in the resignation of the Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor. It is well known that Tharoor married Sunanda later.

This brought out the rift in the BCCI and as the struggle intensified, Modi was suspended as the chairman and commissioner of the IPL in April 2010. The tussle took many political and legal turns but eventually ended in his ban from the BCCI in September 2013. His banning and banishment from the BCCI came after a three member committee, which included now Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Jyotiraditya Scindia, a former minister in the UPA government, found him guilty of several charges in its report.

Subsequently, Modi was charged with several cases of money laundering, financial irregularities and other cases. Now these cases in various stages of investigation and prosecution. His passport was cancelled after he left India for the United Kingdom where he has been staying since.

Irrespective of the outcome of the cases against him, Lalit Modi appears to be playing a crucial role in settlement of political scores.

Bringing back the focus on the present, the news paper story, its subsequent follow-ups and further revelations have brought two women politicians into the centre of the storm -- Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Union Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. Both these leaders are said to have helped Modi to get travel papers from the British government.

Opposition gets handle

This case has given the opposition a good handle to beat the Modi government. It is demanding the resignation of these women leaders. The issue has raised many questions on the claims of probity and transparency of the Prime Minister as both leaders have refused to quit.

Raje has had a long relationship with Lalit Modi. During her first stint as the chief minister of Rajasthan in 2003-2008, Modi is said to have enjoyed her patronage and they are understood to be partners in many business deals. Incidentally, Modi’s rise in the world of cricket coincides with the period in which she was the chief minister.

What is worth taking note of is the fact that while Sushma Swaraj has received support from not only the government ministers, the BJP and its mentor organization, namely the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS), in the case of Vasundhara Raje, the government and the party took some time before deciding to support her. There were even reports that Raje would have to fight on her own, as she does not have a good rapport with the Prime Minister.

Now, with the government and party supporting both Swaraj and Raje, the Lalitgate seems destined to take its toll when the Parliament begins the monsoon session next month. It is quite difficult to predict the shape of things to come now, but, however, it is likely to result in the sacrifice of one or two leaders as the opposition has threatened not to allow functioning of the Houses if the ’guilty’ leaders were not removed. The question is who will pay the ultimate price.

Irrespective of the final outcome, there is no doubt that the Modi government is confronted with a major challenge to its authority and credibility in public perception.

(Dr. Satish Misra is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pakistan: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Zuber Singh

The long-awaited expansion of economic cooperation between China and Pakistan was finally announced during President Xi Jinping’s visit in April this year. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), originally envisaged by Premier Le Keqiang in 2013, has finally taken off.

The CPEC will be the largest ever investment by a foreign nation in Pakistan. It promises to substantially bolster Pakistan’s economy through a $46 billion investment - almost 1/5 of the country’s GDP -towards the construction of a network of roads, railways, and pipelines from Gwadar to Xinjiang. Pakistan now has an immense opportunity to improve the current state of its economy.

Better infrastructure

China has promised to build $15.5 billion worth of coal, wind, solar, and hydroelectric power stations that are expected to be operational by 2017 and supply a total of 10,400 MW of energy to the National Power Grid.

Furthermore, it gives the country an opportunity to improve infrastructure in the war-affected provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which have historically faced an infrastructural imbalance against Punjab and Sindh.

The western corridor, through Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, would not only connect Pakistan to Central Asia, but also improve the connectivity of these two restive provinces with other regions of the country. The proposed corridor is expected to be an all-weather route unaffected by fog. The abundance of mineral resources along the corridor is an additional advantage. It will also be in China’s interest to have the western route, the shortest path from China to Gwadar - 2,500 km, built first as it would foster development in Xinjiang.

For Pakistan, the CPEC’s success will ultimately be determined by the increase in productivity and exports. There is a constant threat of the country’s Balance of Payments being disrupted by an increase in imports - especially from China - that would incur liabilities in foreign exchange. However, the currency swap agreement which will allow Pakistan to pay in Rupees instead of Yuan or the American dollar may help bolster their economy along with the use of local labour and local procurement of resources.

Besides these commercial and economic implications, there are certain political and strategic implications as well. The development of the western corridor, as noted earlier, could improve security in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. An increase in economic activity in a region threatened by militant activity may foster social development and discourage the youth from joining local militant groups.

Furthermore, it is also in China’s interest to develop the western corridor as, historically, it has had multiple issues with the Uighur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang. There is a belief in Beijing that infrastructural development in the area could also improve its relations with the region. China is also seeking to undermine the Uighur militants. These militants have developed links with the Pakistani Taliban and are reported to operate from parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Agency. China would hope that its investments in the region could also compel Pakistan to play a more constructive role and take stronger measures in curbing terrorism in the region.

Domestic opposition

Despite there being a general consensus favouring the CPEC, the deal has met some domestic opposition. For instance, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has had serious concerns over the route of the economic corridor. The leader of the National Assembly and the PPP, Syed Khurshid Shah, has stated that the opposition parties have failed to comprehend the current government’s stance regarding the CPEC route, as per the All Parties’ Conference held on May 13, 2015.

According to the opposition in Islamabad, the current government is prioritising the formation of the eastern route of the corridor. Sindh and Punjab, through which the eastern corridor will pass, already have a wide network of railroads and railways, and face a lesser security threat than Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, making it easier for new infrastructural development to take place. However, there are concerns that prioritising the eastern corridor would result in the eastern route creating its own economic interest groups who may try to prevent the formation of the western corridor once the eastern part is operational.

Chronic problems of militancy, separatism, and official corruption in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa make it difficult to foster development. It is also difficult to transport resources necessary for the construction of the corridor to the undeveloped regions of the two provinces. The governments of the two provinces are seeking to empower local tribal institutions and make the populations a stakeholder in infrastructural development projects.

In addition to this, recent problems have come up with Ilyas Bilour of the Awami National Party stating that the government has not been adhering to the terms discussed at the All Parties’ Meeting in May this year.

Mohammad Ishaq Dar, the current Finance Minister of Pakistan, recently announced an allocation of Rs 39.5 billion for the development of the western route of the economic corridor. Conversely, the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) reflected otherwise. The government allocated Rs 126 billion for the eastern route of the economic corridor while only a mere Rs 20 billion was allocated towards the western front, thus violating the terms agreed upon during the All Parties’ Conference. As a result, the Senate standing committee on finance and revenue has issued a priority investigation into the alleged violations of the terms of the All Parties’ Conference by the government.

Besides the debate regarding whether the western or the eastern route of the economic corridor be prioritised, there is a lack of transparency regarding the distribution of revenue among the federal and provincial governments. This, in turn, has lead to further disagreements between the government and the opposition in Islamabad.

Time to shine

China and Pakistan have shared decades of good relations. With the physical work on the economic corridor to begin shortly, the CPEC could be the latest development reflecting the potential of the China-Pakistan relations.

The Chinese investments could play a part in revitalizing the Pakistani economy. However, in order to do this, it would need to tackle its bureaucratic problems and initiate economic reforms that could inspire social and industrial development in provinces other than Punjab and Sindh.

(The writer is a Research Intern at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Peace talks in Norway

The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that an official six-member delegation was in Oslo this week to meet with the Taliban peace envoys. The delegation was headed by Mohammed Mohaqiq, the second deputy of chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and also included the Deputy Foreign Minister Hikmat Khalil Karzai. However, the deputy presidential spokesman, later in the week, denied that this meeting was meant to be preliminary talks. Instead, the delegation and the Taliban representatives spoke about peace and conflict in general. The denial from the Presidential Palace comes as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, against the back drop of mounting violence, claimed in his Ramazan message to the country that Kabul would respond to war with war.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "We Will Respond to War With War: Ghani", Tolo News, 18 June 2015; "Afghan Government Rejects Peace Talks with Taliban in Norway", Tolo News, 17 June 2015; "Taliban, Government Peace Delegations Hold Talks in Norway", Tolo News, 15 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Taliban warning to ISIS

In an open letter published on the Afghan Taliban’s website, the group has warned the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to not take any actions that could provoke them. The Taliban claim that only "jihad" carried out under their name in Afghanistan is acceptable. The letter also urged ISIS to work for the unity of the opposition.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Taliban in a letter warn Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi not to make any decision that prompts Islamic Emirate’s reaction", Khaama Press, 16 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ban on night raids lifted

Chief of the Army Staff of Afghanistan Gen. Qadam Shah Shaheem has lifted the ban on night raids that had been imposed by former President Hamid Karzai. Gen. Shaheem also declared that soldiers who use heavy weaponry against insurgents will no longer be persecuted.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Afghan Army Chief Lifts Night Raid and Heavy Weapons Ban", Tolo News, 14 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Khaleda criticises India policy

Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief Begum Khaleda Zia this week criticised government for the various agreements signed with India during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit earlier this month. Expressing her apprehensions about the various connectivity agreements signed during the visit, Zia observed that such moves are against country’s interest. Meanwhile, her party accused the ruling Awami league government of sacrificing country’s interest by not raising the Teesta issue during Indian Prime Minister’s visit. Although BNP’s apprehension about India is famous, but the belief was that the party is trying to change its thinking. Such comments surprised many in Bangladesh.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Khaleda critical of connectivity deals", The Daily Star, 15 June 2015-06-15; "Govt sacrificing country’s interest to cling to power: BNP", The Independent, 14 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">In ISIS, Al-Qaeda radar: US envoy

US Ambassador to Dhaka Marcia S Bernicat said Bangladesh was ’very publicly’ under the radar of ISIS and Al Qaeda. Responding to a question on whether the move to boost regional connectivity in South Asia and South East Asia will also facilitate the movement of terrorists, Ambassador observed that terrorist or the transnational criminals are already enjoying this facility as they don’t believe in borders or sovereignty. They have developed a highly successful business model. She made such comments in a seminar at Dhaka.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladesh under radar of ISIS, Al-Qaeda: US envoy", New Age, 15 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Graft charge against Khaleda

The High Court in Dhaka this week cleared the way for trial to resume a corruption case against former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. The court also ordered the BNP chief to surrender before the trial court within two months after its verdict reaches the trial court.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Graft Charge Against Khaleda", The Daily Star, 19 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Firing from Myanmar

In an incident of cross border firing with Myanmar border guards a personal of Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) was wounded and another is being held by Myanmar troops. BGB officials informed that the shoot-out was "the outcome of a total misunderstanding". The area where the shoot-out occurred is famous for being prone to smuggling. Meanwhile, government has summoned the Myanmar ambassador and lodged a protest over the firing on Bangladesh paramilitary force and abduction of a BGB man.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Myanmar envoy summoned over firing at BGB men", The Daily Star, 18 June 2015; "Bangladesh and Myanmar border troops exchange fire", Myanmar Times, 18 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Progress remarkable: PM

Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay presented state of nation report, an annual report on the performance of the government till date, on 16 June. He focused his talk on the achieving self-reliance. Tobgay said that Bhutan has achieved remarkable progress in all spheres in a few decades.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Govt. will continue to work in earnest: PM", Kuensel, 17 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No air-link with China

Bhutan has refuted claim of a Chinese website that an agreement has been reached with Sichuan Airlines to launch a Chengdu- Kathmandu- Paro flight. The national airline Druk Air and Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority dismissed the news-report by an aviation news-website

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "News report of Bhutan-China air link dismissed", Kuensel, 19 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Yoga day to be observed

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Gautam Bambawale would practice Yoga to mark the International Yoga Day on 21 June. The Indian Embassy in Thimphu and the Royal Institute of Management will hold a mega session on the ancient Indian practice.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "International Yoga day to be observed on Sunday", Kuensel, 19 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rafale deal gets closer to finalisation

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit India in the next 2-3 months as the two countries work towards finalising the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets. The Indian government has set up a committee headed by Air Marshal SBP Sinha who is undertaking the government-to-government negotiations with France for procurement of Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Rafale deal: French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to visit India again, The Economic Times, 17 June 2015; Rafale jet sale to India could be concluded in 2-3 months - French minister, Reuters, 16 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi phones Sharif

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to Pakistan by calling Nawaz Sharif on the occasion of the holy month of Ramzan. While no formal proposal has been tabled, the leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization Summit (SCO) in Ufa in Russia next month.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : After PM Modi’s phone call to Sharif, Pakistan wants ’peaceful relationship’ and resumption of ’talks’ with India, CNN-IBN, 18 June 2015; Modi-Sharif talks on the cards during SCO summit next month, The Times of India, 18 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Tri-lateral security with US, Israel

The US Congress has passed a bill expanding the scope of the Intelligence Authorization Act 2016. The amendment requires the Director of National Intelligence to table a report on the possibilities in the growing national security co-operation amongst the three countries. It comes as a precursor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel possibly in October.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : US lawmakers press for closer ties with India, Israel, The Times of India, 19 June 1015; US Congress passes bill seeking increased intelligence cooperation with India, Israel, First Post, 17 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MoUs with Tanzania

Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete visiting India signed a number of Memorandum of Understanding’s with India. he MoUs signed included a loan agreement between Exim Bank and Tanzanian government on a line of credit for US $268.35 million for extension of a pipeline project and cooperation in the field of hydrology, tourism and agriculture & counter-terrorism.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : India offers Tanzania expertise in natural gas sector, Daily News & Analysis, 19 June 2015 ; Tanzania invites Indian investment in agri, other sectors, The Economic Times, 19 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Violence costs $340 billion

Internal violence costs the national economy $341.7 billion annually, or 4.7 percent of the GDP, according to the Global Peace Index report released by the Institute for Economics and Peace. India performed poorly in the cross national study, ranking 143 out of 162 countries. Among South Asian countries, India ranked better only to war-affected Pakistan and Afghanistan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India at bottom of peace index", The Times of India, 18 June 2015; "Violence cost India’s economy $342 bn in 2014", The Hindu, 17 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">RBI issues 30-year bond

The Reserve Bank of India issued a 30-year bond on 19 June to boost funds for infrastructure projects. The widespread practice of states issuing long-term bonds is known to enhance security among other lenders, in turn, encouraging them to follow suit. The bond, however, received less favourable ratings when compared to similarly placed countries like Brazil.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "RBI introduces a new 30-year government bond", The Economic Times, 15 June 2015; "RBI’s New 30-year Bond Issuance to Offer a Benchmark to Corporates for Long-Term Funding-Ind-Ra", Business Standard, 18 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Exports continue to fall

Exports fell by 20.2 percent in comparison to May 2014, marking the six month trend in falling exports, according to data released by the commerce ministry. Concurrently, imports fell by 16.5 percent as well owing to reduced demand for gold, reducing trade deficit to a three month low.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indirect tax collection up 37% in May", NDTV, 16 June 2015; "Trade deficit at 3-month low, exports fall 20.2%", The Economic Times, 17 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nasheed seeks clemency, but...

Jailed former President Mohammed Nasheed has since appealled to incumbent Abdulla Yameen for clemency, but has been told to exhaut the appeals process before seeking one.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "President Nasheed has been told his sentence cannot be lightened without completing the appeal process", SunOnline, 18 June 2015; "Madives: Ex-President Mohammed Nasheed appeals for clemency", First Post, 17 June 2015; "MDP announces mass protest for 50th Independence Day", Haveeru Online, 14 June 2015; "Gasim to retire from politics", Haveeru Online, 17 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Review HRCM verdict, SC told

The UN has since asked the Supreme Court to review the verdict holding the statuory Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) report to the UNHRC as ’unlawful’.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "UN calls on Supreme Court to reconsider verdict against HRCM", Sunonline, 19 June 2015; "Supreme Court verdict against HRCM ’an act of reprisal,’ says UN experts", Minivan News, 19 June 2015; "Supreme Court renders human rights watchdog toothless", Minivan News, 16 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Blairs take up Govt work

A London-based consultancy firm with Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has signed in as consultants for the Maldivian Government, on improving institutional structures. The Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said that it was ’disgusted’ with the Blaire act.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Blairs take on President Yameen as client", Minivan News, 17 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No amendment bill now

A bill presented last week containing amendments to Burma’s constitution, even if approved by the Parliament, will come into effect after the upcoming elections, the Joint Bill Committee said on 17 June.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "No amendment bill till new parliament, MPs told", Democratic Voice of Burma, 18 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nagaland calls for curfew

The North-east Indian state of Nagaland requested the state government to impose a curfew along the 3 KM boundary with Myanmar. According to Assam Rifles (North) a red alert has been sounded and heavy-counter insurgency measures undertaken by the Indian security forces.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nagaland requests curfew along border with Myanmar", Myanmar Times, 19 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Suu Kyi calls reform ’total illusion’

In a rare interview The Washington Post, Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi said that the country’s democratic transition could be a ’total illusion’. Speaking over the phone, she spoke on a host of topics from Sino-Burmese relations to Rohingya statelessness.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Suu Kyi Worries that Reform is a ’Total Illusion", The Irrawaddy, 18 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">WFP food substandard

The rice distributed to earthquake survivors by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Laprak VDC of Gorkha has been found to be rotten. The incident came to light after Shree Bahadur Gurung, a local, shared the images of the substandard rice on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "WFP rice for Gorkha rotten", eKantipur, 19 June 2015; "Govt still mum", Republica, 18 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Panel directs equal relief

Parliament’s Special National Committee for Disaster Management, Monitoring and Direction has directed the government to provide same amount of relief to the families whose kin went missing or died in the April earthquake. The subcommittee has suggested the relocation of various settlements and the resumption of transportation service in quake-hit districts.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "House panel for equal relief for dead, missing", Republica, 18 June 2015; "Provide relief for families of missing people", eKantipur, 19 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">CDC wants disputes resolved

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) of the Constituent Assembly (CA) has forwarded the list of disputes in constitution writing to a taskforce comprising members of the committee and asked it to prepare an integrated draft of new constitution and submit it to the full committee within a week.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Drafting committee gives taskforce a week to resolve disputes", Republica, 18 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">113 Indian fishermen freed

India decided to release Pakistani fishermen languishing in its prisons so they could head home for Ramazan, following a phone conversation between Prime Ministers Sharif and Modi. This effort has been reciprocated by Pakistan as they release 113 Indian fishermen who will be deported to India through the Wagah Border.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "113 Indian fishermen released from Malir prison after Sharif-Modi call", Dawn, 19 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Deal for Russian helicopters

Russian arms exporter, Rosoboronexport and the Russian Foreign Ministry have confirmed that a draft proposal has been given to Pakistan regarding the delivery of four Mi-35 gunships. Pakistan, which currently has several Mi-17 helicopters from the US for use against militants may purchase Mi-35 gunships of its own.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Russia ready to sell four Mi-35M combat helicopters to Pakistan: report", The Express Tribune, 18 June 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">$500-m aid from Bank

The World Bank and Pakistan, on Thursday, signed an accord that gives Pakistan $500 million to spur economic development, accelerate growth, and create jobs. Ambassador Dixon, World Bank Vice President for South Asia said that the growing interest of foreign investors, such as China, was a major cause for the World Bank investment. Pakistan may see another investment worth $500 million from the World Bank in September this year for energy reforms.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "World Bank, Pakistan sign $500m credit to support growth", The Express Tribune, 19 June 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Kerry talks to Sharif on India ties

The US State Department has once again urged India and Pakistan to improve their relations, reduce tensions, and resume talks with each other. US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to President Nawaz Sharif and reiterated the importance of dialogue between India and Pakistan is critical in advancing peace, security, and stability in South Asia.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "US stresses need for improvement in India-Pakistan ties on all issues", Dawn, 19 June 2015.

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No SLFP ticket for Rajapaksa

As SLFP-UPFA leader, President Maithripala Sirisena has declined parliamentary poll nomination for predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa, Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne has said.

Rajitha also ruled out post-poll ’National List’ nomination for Rajapaksa, thus signalling possibilities of a vertical split in the SLFP-UPFA even as rival UNP, partnering a’national government’ with the Sirisena faction of the former has reiterated its decision to contest the parliamentary polls on its own.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see :

"MS refuses MR nomination?Parliamentary polls?. National List seat also ruled out", The Island, 18 June 2015; "Wave of support for Mahinda far bigger than ever before - UPFA", The Island, 18 June 2015; "Maithri says Mahinda won’t be UPFA’s PM candidate?MR will go it alone at polls", The Island, 17 June 2015; "Maithri wants unity in SLFP", Daily Mirror Online, 15 June 2015; "MR riding artificial wave - Ranil", The Island, 17 June 2015; "Several UPFA constituents ask President to appoint Chamal as interim PM", The Island, 18 June 2015; "UNP to go it alone at general election", Daily Mirror Online, 19 June 2015; "SLFP faults UNP for failing to manage economy", The Island, 17 June 2015; "No-faith debate on PM July third week: SLFP", Daily Mirror Online, 17 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">20-A notified

The Government has after long last and repeated postponements gazetted the 20th Amendment draft on electoral reforms, after Cabinet approval. However, differences withing the ruling SLFP-UPFA arm of the ’National Government’ and with the minor and minority parties remain to be resolved before it could hope to muster the required two-thirds majority in Parliament, to become part of the Constitution.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Colombo notifies 20th Amendment", The Hindu, 18 June 2015; "UNP-SLMC scuttling 20A: Nimal", Daily Mirror Online, 17 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UN chief for transparency

In yet another annual report to the UNHRC, UN High Commissione rfor Human Rights has called upon Sri Lanka to develop a transparent process to develop credible mechanism for accountabilty ahead of attempting political reconciliation in the country.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "’Transparent process crucial for reconciliation’", Daily Mirror Online, 15 June 2015; "Obama to visit SL by year end", Daily Mirror Online, 17 June 2015; "Wijeyadasa: Domestic inquiry will be credible", Daily Mirror Online, 17 June 2015; "Eric Solheim back in SL affairs", Daily Mirror Online, 15 June 2015 "High level discussions held on reconciliation", Daily Mirror Online, 17 June 2015; "Mixed Reactions As Diaspora Is Roped In", The Sunday Leader, 14 June 2015; "Reveal secret detention camps, if any - GoSL", The Island, 17 June 2015; "UNP denies dismantling military camps in Jaffna by new govt.", The Island, 14 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Leaning less on China?

In an interview to a Japanese television ahead of visiting that country, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has said that Sri Lanka would lean less on China in terms of project-funding, etc, even as the Government reiterated that the $ 1.4-b Colombo Port City Project would be revived only based on environmental impact assessment (EIA).

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "SL to dilute dependence on China-Mangala", Daily Mirror Online, 19 June 2015; "Port City Project work to resume subject to EIA", The Island, 18 June 2015; "Two Chinese companies fund northern clean water drinking project", The Island, 18 June 2015; "UNP under fire for its wrong ’China policy’ ?..SLFP points to China-Pakistan Economic cooperation", The Island, 17 June 2015; "Pakistan committed to enhance regional connectivity in SAARC region - HC", The Island, June 17, 2015; "India-SL road link in the works: Union minister", Daily Mirror Online, 17 June 2015; "Recommencing Indo-Lanka ferry service under consideration", The Island, June 19 2015

Primary Documentation


Interview of the Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, H.E. Janan Mosazai, The Friday Times, 19 June 2015


Statement by Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP Hon’ble Foreign Minister At the Inaugural Session of the Workshop on Capacity Building for the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the Arms Trade Treaty, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 17 June 2015

"Honourable Speaker attends the 3rd China-South Asia Expo in Kunming", Ministry of External Affairs, 14 June 2015


The State of TSA-WA-SUM, Bhutan Cabinet Secretariat, 16 June



Daniel Carmon, Ambassador to India, Israel, ’Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Israel will be monumental’, The Hindu, 14 June 2015

Sitaram Yechury (General Secretary, CPI-M), "International Yoga Day: This asana is a Hindutva pose", Hindustan Times, 16 June 2015

L K Advani (former Deputy Prime Minister), "’Partition was British guilt. The Emergency is ours’: LK Advani", The Indian Express, 18 June 2015

Interview with Prashant Bhushan (former member of AAP), "As far as we are concerned, the Aam Aadmi Party chapter is over", Caravan, 19 June 2015

Press Releases

Prime Minister speaks to South Asian leaders ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, Ministry of External Affairs, 16 June 2015

State Visit of the President of United Republic of Tanzania to India, Ministry of External Affairs, 16 June 2015


Vice President Dr Sai Mauk Kham speaking at the meeting on hosting 7th CLMV Summit and 6th ACMECS Summit, Myanmar President Office, 17 June 2015


Press Release issued by the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations, New York on the occasion of the ’Day of Vesak’ (Buddha Jayanti), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 18 June 2015

Press Release issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on the news story entitled "2 Ministries in Turf War over Meet Preps" published in The Kathmandu Post today, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 16 June 2015


Statement by the Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs at the Extraordinary Session of the OIC Foreign Ministers on Situation in Yemen Jeddah, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 16 June 2015.

PM chairs meeting on enhancement of rail and road network, Prime Minister’s Office, 17 June 2015

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, 17 June 2015



Lucy Westcott, "Taliban Warns ISIS, Don’t Come to Afghanistan", Newsweek, 16 June 2015

Rod Nordland, "Karzai, Vowing That He’s Done, Discusses His Afghanistan Legacy", The New York Times, 15 June 2015

Opinion Pieces

James Dobbins and Carter Malkasian, "Time to Negotiate in Afghanistan: How to Talk to the Taliban", Foreign Affairs, July 2015

Shanthie Mariet D’ Souza, "NATO Drawdown From Afghanistan: Can Regional Cooperation Be A Game Changer", The Huffington Post, 19 June 2015

Borhan Osman, "Hamstrung by Translation: How to analyse Afghanistan in an Afghan language?", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 13 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Nausheen Khan, " We need our mangroves", Dhaka Tribune, 16 June 2015

Dr. Abdullah Shibli, "Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty and Bangladesh "The Daily Star, 16 June 2015

Commander Masudul Karim Siddique , "A well-defined maritime policy for a well-delineated maritime zone ",The Daily Star, 15 June 2015

Neelam Deo and Karan Pradhan, "Indian Foreign Policy: Bangladesh and Beyond", The Diplomat, 16 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Kuensel, "Win-win BBIN", Kuensel, 17 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Sylvia Mishra & Pushan Das, Vietnam and India-US Cooperation, The Diplomat, 10 June 2015

Ajai Sahni, Covert should remain covert, The Indian Express, 13 June 2015

Kanchi Gupta, India’s Modi to visit Israel: Putting speculation to rest, The Jerusalem Post, 14 June 2015

Sanjoy Narayan, "PM Modi needs more diplomats to make India a power that matters", Hindustan Times, 14 June 2015

Vivek Katju, How To Undo An Achievement, The Indian Express, 16 June 2015

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, "At risk, in Delhi", The Indian Express, 16 June 2015

Varghese K. George, "A blend of chalk and cheese", The Hindu, 18 June 2015


N Sathiya Moorthy, "Yameen blows hot and cold on Nasheed clemency?", South Asia Monitor, 19 June 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "And, Nasheed seeks clemency, now",, 18 June 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Yameen greets poor Opposition rally with China visit?", 17 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Jessica Muddit, "Equal Access", Mizzima, 17 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Sneha Pandey, "Disaster Tourism", Republica, 17 June 2015

Tika P. Dhakal, "The Right Deal",Republica, 17 June 2015

Neelam Adhikari, "Rogues and Roosters", Republica, 16 June 2015

Navin Singh Khadka, "Double Trouble", eKantipur, 19 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Faisal Bari, "Quality, Skills and Practice", Dawn, 19 June 2015

Asha’arRehman, "Beyond Zardari, before Zardari", Dawn, 19 June 2015

Syed Mohammad Ali, "The far reaches of the Corridor", The Express Tribune, 19 June 2015

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

G H Peiris, "Hanging on to Tigers tail?LTTE and drugs", The Island, 17 June 2015

Jehan Perera, "Back President Sirisena, who holds key to future good governance", The Island, 16 June 2015

Sumanasiri Linayage, "Is this Government democratic?", The Island, 16 June 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Maithri, meeting promises half-way?" The Sunday Leader, 14 June 2015

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan : Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh : Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan & Myanmar : Mihir Bhonsale;
India: : Shubh Soni and Pushan Das;
Maldives & Sri Lanka : N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal : Pratnashree Basu ;
Pakistan : Zuber Singh

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.