MonitorsPublished on Jul 31, 2015
The twenty-four days long Monsoon session of Parliament, which began on July 21, looks like facing a total washout as the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Congress-led opposition seem to be in no mood to relent from their respective publically stated positions.
India: Parliament session facing washout?
< class="heading1">Analysis

The twenty-four days long Monsoon session of Parliament, which began on July 21, looks like facing a total washout as the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Congress-led opposition seem to be in no mood to relent from their respective publically stated positions.

Both the NDA as well as the Congress-led opposition are going through some motions to claim their righteousness without meaning it.

The opposition is demanding the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia for their alleged involvement in the Lalitgate scam. The opposition is also demanding the stepping down of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan for his alleged role in the Vyapam scandal in which scores of deaths of people related with the scam are believed to have taken place.

Deadlock in Parliament is continuing. Half of the scheduled session is over and not a single of many crucial bills have been debated, discussed or passed by the two houses of Parliament as the government is not willing to accept the opposition demands.

Though as usual the government and the opposition are holding each other responsible for the impasse, the fact remains that the nation is watching the role reversal between the Congress-led UPA and the BJP-led NDA.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan called an all-party meeting July 30 to try to resolve the deadlock but nothing came out of the meeting as the opposition stuck to its demand of resignations of a central minister and two chief ministers.

Though the Government through Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured the Speaker that it would initiate a dialogue with the Opposition to break the deadlock, it seems highly unlikely that it would happen because of obvious political constraints and compulsions of the ruling combine.

At the end of the meeting, the Speaker sought to make clear that her limited objective was to ensure that MPs do not storm the well of the House or display placards. She told party leaders that such demonstrations reflected badly on the MPs, particularly as school children were often present in the Visitors’ Gallery. However, she conceded that this was not unprecedented.

Taste of own medicine

The NDA, in power now, is facing the taste of its own medicine with which it treated the then UPA government to gain popular support and discredit the government of the day during its days on the opposition benches.

While the NDA in opposition had succeeded in forcing the UPA to drop three of its ministers -- Ashwani Kumar, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Shashi Thraoor -- and Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on the basis of allegations, the Modi government is not willing to force any of its ministers or chief ministers.

At that point of time, the BJP leaders, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, used to say that disruptions are the legitimate weapons of the opposition, being part and parcel of the democratic process. The BJP leaders then used to argue that the main responsibility of running the Parliament was that of the government.

But now tables have been turned and the BJP-led government is facing almost similar situation as it prevailed in the UPA-II regime, but it is not willing to follow its own spoken word. The Modi government, from all available accounts, has decided to counter the opposition challenge with aggression and offence.

The Modi government seems to be determined to face the opposition as it fears that dropping of any of its minister or chief minister would adversely impact the outcome of the assembly elections in Bihar which are expected to be held in the next three months.

Acceptance of guilt?

Making any minister resign would be popularly perceived as acceptance of the guilt and would seriously erode the claim that the BJP was incorruptible. The Prime Minister has more than once stressed that he does now allow corruption but now if Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh chief minister along with the External Affairs Minister are made to go, then it would be an admission that the BJP is no different.

In this background, the party’s strategists and policy planners have decided to follow the dictum that aggression is the best form of defence and the ministers and party spokespersons have been attacking the opposition for their failure in the Congress ruled and other opposition ruled states.

The party’s strategy is essentially focussed on the coming assembly elections in Bihar which is very crucial for both Modi and the BJP.

After its electoral mauling in the Delhi assembly election in February this year at the hands of the Aam Admi Party (AAP), the BJP is going to face its first electoral test in Bihar where the elections are slated to be held in the next three months.

While the defeat in Delhi, where the BJP could win only three seats in a 70-member house, eroded the myth on the invincibility of the Prime Minister, a failure of the party, which is ruling at the Centre, to form a government in Bihar would prove to be a serious blow to the credibility and authority of Modi-Shah combine.

The electoral battle in Bihar is going to be tough in the face of a combined challenge coming from the four-party combine. The BJP with its allies is going to fight against the RJD, JD (U), the Congress and the NCP with some smaller parties on its side.

Bihar, where caste plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of electoral battle, would determine the future course of the country’s politics. That is why business in the ongoing Monsoon session Parliament has taken a back seat with elections in Bihar assuming more significance.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Myanmar: The logger impasse and beyond

Mihir Bhonsale

The government has freed 155 Chinese loggers, who were sentenced for life for illegal logging in Northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, easing tensions with China. President U Thein Sein gave amnesty to 200 foreigners besides nearly 7,000 political prisoners ahead of the general elections in November.

Earlier, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had issued a reproach on the sentence awarded to its nationals. Myanmar government’s amnesty within a week of the sentence suggests of the buckling down under impending Chinese ire, but a larger equation with the ethnic minorities sitting on the vast natural resources is shaping polices.

Relations with China

The Thein Sein government has not had the best of the relations with China. The sentencing of Chinese loggers came after the Kokang crisis this year, where thousands were reported to have fled to China, after the military engaged in a tussle with armed rebel group TNAA.

The crackdown on illegal logging activity began in January this year and hundreds of people were arrested and were charged by courts. Some amongst the ones to be charged were Chinese nationals. Logging in the resource rich Northern states like Kachin have been going on for decades.

No one expected that the judiciary would award life sentence to over 155 loggers. But the court did exactly this, ruffling relations with China, whose foreign ministry asked the Myanmar government to consider all factors and properly handle the case.

It needs to be said that the military was mobilised for the crackdown on illegal logging activities and if it had it been the Kachin State government or its enforcement agencies, a similar result to that done by the Army would have been doubted. So, there was a purpose behind such a crackdown on logging.

Conflict in Kachin state

The Thein Sein government is streamlining its environmental laws, in the wake of the depleting natural resources. The military arrests of loggers in the Kachin state were with a similar intention. However, another factor seems to be at work here, i.e. the government’s relation with Kachin rebels.

The government has had strained relations with the Kachin rebels. There was a breach of the 17-year-old cease-fire between the Kachins and the Junta in 2011. Since then, the military has tried to corner the rebels by capturing the areas held by rebels and secure areas around lucrative energy projects being developed with the help of China.

Reports of the air-force conducting raids in the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) strongholds, on trucks carrying timber, have been reported as recent as in April this year. The ban on timber and crackdown on logging in January was meant to break the KIA economy, by cutting its revenues they made by logging.

In a situation where the army is in a combat mode for over 4 years, enforcement on any outlawed activity is a predictable outcome. The cease-fire accord with armed rebel groups not imminent, conflicts are likely to escalate over the control of natural resources.

Bad precedent

China has set a bad precedent by interfering with the Burmese law of the land. This necessitated action against the Chinese nationals deterring them to exploit timber in the future. But, Chinese nationalism does not let down its expatriates, even when they are involved in spurious activities. This goes on to show the implicit role of the Chinese government in logging activities in Myanmar.

China is the world’s largest importer and consumer of wood-based products and a key processing hub and accounts for half of all the trade in illegal wood-based products, according to Chatam House. The developing countries, India, China and South Korea, are emerging markets who eased the pressure on China put by ’progressive’ countries like the US and Europe, Chatam House says.

China’s relations with Myanmar, known as Pauk-Phaw, hinge on Chinese economic interests in Myanmar and any disruption in the same is likely to further affect the relations between the two countries. The loggers impasse has demonstrated it once again.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Mullah Omar dead

Reports emerged this week claiming that the Supreme Commander of the Taliban, Mullah Omar had died two years ago. There is, however, still a lack of clarity on how or where he died. This was subsequently confirmed by the Afghan government and the Taliban itself. In a meeting held by the senior leadership council of the insurgent group, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was declared as the new leader of the group. The appointment of Mullah Mansoor, however, has caused a lot of resentment among a number of senior Taliban leaders.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Ghani’s Office Confirms Death of Mullah Omar", Tolo News, 29 July 2015; "Senior Taliban Members Oppose Mansour as New Leader", Tolo News, 31 July 2015; "Taliban formally confirms Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death", Khaama Press, 30 July 2015; "Mullah Mansour an ISI Appointment: Taliban Quetta Shura", Tolo News, 31 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Haqqaani leader dead

Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of the Haqqani Network, a terrorist organisation affiliated with the Afghan Taliban reportedly died last year, as per reports that emerged this week. Details about the actual cause of his death are still not known. His son, Sirajuddin Haqqani has been leading the organisation for the last few years.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Haqqani Network leader Jalaluddin Haqqani has died", Khaama Press, 31 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Peace talks suspended

Following the announcement of Mullah Omar’s death, the second round of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban that were scheduled to be held this past week were postponed. Pakistan’s Foreign Office claimed that the Taliban had requested for the talks to be postponed.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Taliban postpones second round of peace talks due to Mullah Omar’s death", Khaama Press, 30 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BNP leader to be hanged

The Supreme Court this week upheld the death sentence for an influential opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader SalauddinQuader Chowdhury for his role in mass killings during the independence war against Pakistan in 1971.Chowdhury was convicted in 2013 on nine of 23 charges, including four counts of genocide. He was found guilty of aiding and ordering the killings of at least 200 people, mostly minority Hindus, in the south eastern Chittagong region. He was later elected as the region’s representative to parliament six times.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladesh upholds death penalty for opposition leader for 1971 war crimes", US, 29 July 2015; "DEATH for big town’s big devil", The Daily Star, 30 July 2015; "Salahuddin’s Case Chronology", The Daily Star, 30 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">JMB activists arrested

Security agencies this week arrested 8 activists of banned militant organisation Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). JBM activates were conspiring to assert their strength by attacking on prison van to snatch its jailed chief Maulana Saidur Rahman, intelligence agencies claim. JMB was banned in 2005 after it carried a country-wide bomb blast. Founders of the groups - Shayakh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai - were hanged in 2007.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "JMB chief’s son, 7 others arrested", Dhaka Tribune, 29 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sundarbans tiger vanishing

The tiger population in Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, has sharply declined to 106 from 440 in 2004. This was revealed after tiger census 2015. Unchecked wildlife poaching is considered to be major reason for the fall in number of tiger. According to the tiger census conducted by the government in 2004, the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans was a home to 440 tigers.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Sundarbans tiger population rapidly falls to 106: Census", The Independent, 28 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Forced labour, sex-trafficking

US government’s Trafficking in Persons Report of described Bangladesh as primarily a source, and, to a lesser extent, a transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. The report claims that Bangladeshi men and women who migrate willingly to work in the Middle East, East Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States subsequently face conditions indicative of forced labour. The report observes that Bangladesh government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking however, it is making significant efforts to do so.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladesh a source of forced labour, sex trafficking", ProthomAlo, 28 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Japan for greater ties

At a meeting between Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Kazuyuki Nakane and State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Japanese minister informed about his country’s satisfaction over the growing ties the two countries. He also reiterated its commitment to take the relationship to a new height. The meeting was held in Male on Monday on the sidelines of the ’Golden Jubilee Celebration of the Independence of Maldives’.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Japan reaffirms to take ties with BD to new height", The Daily Star, 29 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China offers deep-sea port

Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Ma Mingqiang said that government should take quick steps to build a deep sea port for the country’s economic development and promoting international trade. Chinese Ambassador was also categorical about his country’s interest in joining the initiative. He made these observations during an interaction with journalists this week in Dhaka.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladesh should build deep sea port soon: Chinese ambassador", PrathomAlo, 28 July 2015
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rs. 1,000-crore for Indian rail-link

The Indian government has allocated Rs. 1,000 crore ($ 153 million), for the construction of a 15.6-km rail link from Agartala in the eastern Indian state of Tripura to Akhaura in Bangladesh. The money will be used for laying rail tracks to connect rail links with Bangladesh through the North East.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India allocates Rs 1,000cr", The Daily Star, 28 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Home to 103 tigers: Report

Bhutan has 103 tigers roaming in the wild according to the National Tiger Survey report launched on 29 July. The figure is significant increase from 1998 when a similar survey had put their figure to 75.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bhutan home to 103 Tigers", Kuensel, 30 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NTB’s impede trade

The custom officials of Bhutan and Bangladesh brain-stormed over the removal Non-Tariff Barriers (NBT) on 27 July in Thimphu. Among, the NBT’s discussed was the 5 percent import duty on Gypsum from Bhutan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Non-tarrif Barriers impede Bhutan-Bangladesh trade", Kuensel, 28 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Plea for regional tourist policy

The Tourism industry has called for a policy in place for regional tourists. There has been a drastic increase in the number of tourist arrivals in the country. Tourism stakeholders raised the issue with the government recently expressing the need for a proper strategy on management and maximising benefits of regional tourists.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Tourism industry asks for a policy on regional tourists", Kuensel, 29 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rafale deal: Issues remain

The Rafale deal, rescued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited France in April, has hit a government air pocket. India’s insistence that France spend 50% of the value of deal in Indian defence sector and pricing issues have meant that India and France have missed the July target of finalising the agreement on purchasing 36 fighter jets.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Rafale deal: Pricing issues, India’s insistence on 50% local spending lead to missing of July target", The Economic Times, 31 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Land-swap with Bangladesh

Bangladesh and India will finally swap tiny islands of land, ending one of the world’s most difficult border disputes that has kept thousands of people in stateless limbo for almost 70 years. Under the agreement finalised in June, the "islands" will effectively cease to exist, as each country will assume sovereignty over all enclaves in its territory.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Historic land swap between India and Bangladesh after 70 years tonight", IBNLIVE, 31 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak troops continue violation

An Army jawan was shot dead by Pakistani sniper in Poonch district along the Line of Control as troops of the neighbouring country continued targeting Indian positions in the region tonight using mortar shells. Official figures reveal that there have been 199 ceasefire violations from January 1 to June 30 2015 in which two soldiers and two civilians were killed.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Pak troops continue ceasefire violation; Army jawan killed"; The Business Standard, 30 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Gurdaspur terror attack

In the first such strike in Punjab in eight years, three suspected Pakistan-based terrorists attacked a passenger bus and stormed a police station in Dinanagar early Monday, killing seven persons including an SP, before being gunned down after a 12-hour fire-fight. Terrorists were carrying two GPS systems and hand grenades.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "7 killed in Gurdaspur terror strike after 12-hour fire-fight", The Indian Express, 28 July, 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">P-notes crackdown

The Special Investigative Team’s (SIT’s) recommendation of stricter norms for participatory notes (P-notes), to check the flow of unaccounted money, is likely to be viewed negatively by the market. P-notes’ holdings in equity, debt and derivatives is Rs. 2.75 lakh crore, or 11.53 per cent of overall FPI holdings.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "P-note crackdown may weigh heavy on markets", Business Standard, 27 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Kalam passes away

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam, who came to be known as ’People’s President’, died on Monday after he collapsed during a lecture at the IIM in Shillong. Kalam, was confirmed dead more than two hours after he was wheeled into the ICU of Bethany hospital at around 6.30 pm.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "End of an era: ’Missile man’ APJ Abdul Kalam passes away after cardiac arrest in Shillong" ,FirstPost, 28 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Economy & sovereignty: Yameen

Addressing the official Golden Jubilee celebrations of Maldives on 26 July, President Abdulla Yameen said that economic independence was key to ensuring the nation’s sovereignty. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena attended the celebrations along with senior ministers and officials from other nations, including India’s Health Minister J P Nadda.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Economic independence key to sovereignty: President", Miadhu, 27 July 2015; "Economic and internal stability required for maintaining independence: Dr. Waheed", Miadhu, 27 July 2015; "Presidents Nasir and Maumoon receives the Honorary Shield of 50th Independence", SunOnline, 26 July 2015; "China, India, UK congratulate Maldives on Golden Jubilee of Independence", Minivan News, 26 July 2015; "Sri Lankan President Srisena arrives in Malé", Minivan News, 26 July 2015; "India will support Maldives in developing Health Sector: Minister Nadda", Miadhu, 27 July 2015; "Health Ministers of India and Maldives hold meeting", Miadhu, 27 July 2015; "Chinese delegation meets President Yameen", Minivan News, 27 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Concern over quit-call

Visiting Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has expressed concern over emerging Maldivian view to quit the organization.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Commonwealth expresses concern over membership withdrawal", Haveeru Online, 30 July 2015; "Parliament will work to protect independence, sovereignty", Miadhu, 31 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt not keeping word: MDP

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said that by not freeing former President Mohammed Nasheed ahead of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the nation’s Independence, the Yameen leadership has gone back on its commitment for party-support on other issues, earlier.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "MDP cries foul over government refusal to honour deal", Minivan News, 25 July 2015; "Nasheed appeals for complete sentence overturun", Haveeru Online, 30 July 2015; "’Nasheed appeal will not hinder talks’ says President’s Office", Minivan News, 27 July 2015; "Home Minister: I did not agree to release President Nasheed", SunOnline, 25 July 2015; "Shahid: I voted for the amendment of foreign ownership of land with sincerity", SunOnline, 25 July 2015; "Opposition MP Didi returns to Malé", Minivan News, 25 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Political prisoners freed

The government released 6,966 prisoners on 30 July, in a general amnesty to political prisoners. This move came just before the general elections that are scheduled in November.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Burma Frees Thousands of Prisoners in Advance of Polls", The Irrawaddy, 30 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Meeting fruitful: Modi

Meeting with Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing was ’fruitful’, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi wrote on his website. Hlaing who met Modi on 30 July was reported to have called India as a ’reliable development partner’ for Burma and that he considers the relations with India to be very important.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Meeting with Min Aung Hlaing ’frutiful’: PM Modi", Democratic Voice of Burma, 30 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Panel to select feedback inputs

The Constitutional Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (CPDCC) of the Constituent Assembly on Thursday tasked top leaders of major four political parties to pick inputs from suggestions collected during public feedback campaign for inclusion in the draft constitution. The team of the top leaders will present its report to a full committee meeting of the CDPCC.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Top leaders to pick inputs from public feedback" Republica, 30 July 2015; "Five-member panel to speed up draft revision", eKantipur, 31 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Secularism’ may be dropped

The key term of ’secularism’ may be dropped in Nepal’s new Constitution as it is not considered "appropriate" by many people, according to top Nepali leaders. UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Prachanda said today that the term ’secularism’ is not an appropriate one and it would be replaced by a suitable term in the new Constitution.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal may remove ’secularism’ from new Constitution", The Economic Times, 27 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Animal sacrifice banned

In a significant move that will save the lives of millions of animals, the practice of sacrifice has been banned at Nepal’s Gadhimai festival, the world’s biggest animal sacrifice event held every five years. The temple trust announced its decision on Tuesday and urged all devotees not to bring animals to the festival, a religious practice that had been continuing for the last 300 years.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal’s 300-year-old Gadhimai festival bans animal sacrifice" Firstpost, 29 July 2015; "Nepal temple bans animal sacrifice", The Times of India, 29 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Alert on Indian border

A high alert has been sounded at the border posts in Pithoragarh and Champawat districts, having a 241 km long border with Nepal, in the wake of a terror attack in Gurdaspur district of Punjab today."We have sounded an alert in the district and at all the border posts along the porous India-Nepal border, keeping in mind the possibility of terrorists sneaking in from Nepal border into Indian territory.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Alert sounded along India-Nepal border", The Times of India, 27 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Landslides in four districts

At least 35 people were killed in landslides that swept away houses at different places in Kaski, Myagdi, Baglung and Chitwan districts, Thursday. The highest death toll is in Kaski, where 30 people were killed. Likewise, three people were killed in Myagdi and one each in Baglung and Chitwan, according to Nepal Police.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Landslides in 4 districts leave 35 dead", Republica, 30 July 2015; "Landslides, floods kill 34" eKantipur, 31 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Blame-game over Gurdaspur

The tragic incident that occurred in Gurdaspur this week has led to India accusing Pakistan for the attack. After Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, told the parliament that the attacks were caused by cross-border militants from Pakistan, the Pakistani officials have caused the accusations as a "threat to peace and stability in the region".

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "India, Pakistan spar over Gurdaspur attack", Dawn, 31 July 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">CPEC progresses

A sixth round of the Pakistan-China Strategic Dialogue regarding the highly anticipated China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was held on Thursday. Early and effective implementation of the project was a key priority for both sides. Aspects of bilateral relations were reviewed and plans for regional and global situations were discussed.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Sixth round of strategic dialogue held with China", Dawn, 31 July 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Firing at LoC

As reported by the Inter Services Public Relations, Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing at the LoC. Earlier this week, a civilian was severely injured during a firing carried out by the India Border Security Force (BSF) in the Chirkot sector. This time, there was firing on the Battal sector that was retaliated by the Pakistani forces.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "India resorts to unprovoked shelling on LoC", The Express Tribune, 31 July 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Disease in flood-hit areas

According to recent reports by various provincial health departments, a serious disease outbreak in Pakistan may be eminent. Punjab has reported 87 deaths from diseases in flood-hit areas alone. Most prominent illnesses have been dengue fever, diarrhoea, and eye and skin diseases.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Flood aftermath: Provinces start reporting disease outbreak", The Express Tribune, 30 July 2015

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No campaign by Northern CM

On return from a tour of Europe and North America, Northern Province Chief Minister, ex-Justice C V Wigneswaran, has issued a statement, distancing himself from his party, Tamil National Alliance’s (TNA) campaign for the 17 August parliamentary polls.

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

"I will not engage in political propaganda supporting TNA: CV", Daily Mirror Online, 31 July 2015; "Champika challenges MR to debate on bribing Tigers", Daily Mirror Online, 31 July 2015; "Action needed to meet LTTE threat, says GL", The Island, 27 July 2015; "UPFA asks UNP, JVP and JHU to reveal stance on TNA manifesto", The Island, 27 July 2015; "UNP insists it is for a united Sri Lanka", Colombo Gazette, 27 July 2015; "Federalism will lead to division of country - JVP", The Island, 27 July 2015; "LTTE leader Prabhakaran Awakened!", Asian Tribune, 26 July 2015; "TNA says US, India must play a stronger role", Colombo Gazette, 27 July 2015; "TNA Manifesto- Parliamentary Polls 17 August 2015", Colombo Telegraph, 25 July 2015; "UPFA says polls timed ahead of UN report", Colombo Gazette, 27 July 2015; "Missing Persons Commission appoints Investigative Team", The Island, 27 July 2015; "New report notes systemic persecution in Lanka", Colombo Guardian, 27 July 2015; "UNFGG will not let down 5.7mn voters voted for MR- PM", Daily Mirror Online, 27 July 2015; ""I don’t believe there is any agreement of the nature that the Channel 4 portrays"- Mahishini", Daily Mirror Online, 31 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Poll violence takes toll

Unidentified gunmen opened fire at an election rally of UNP Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s poll campaign meeting at Kotahena in Colombo, killing one person and injuring 13 others. Opposition SLFP-UPFA distanced itself from the incident, saying it was the result of a gang-war.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "One killed, 13 injured in shooting at Kotahena", Daily Mirror Online, 31 July 2015 ; "Underworld factions clashed in Kotahena: UPFA", Daily Mirror Online, 31 July 2015

Primary Documentation


Statement by the Leadership Council and family of the deceased regarding the passing away of Amir ul Mumineen Mulla Muhammad Omar Mujahid May Allah have mercy on him, Voice of Jihad, 31 July 2015

Declaration of the Leading Council of the Islamic Emirate regarding the appointment of new Amir (leader) of the Islamic Emirate, Voice of Jihad, 31 July 2015


"Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs attended the "Golden Jubilee Celebration of the Independence of Maldives"- Maldives to further boost ties with Bangladesh.", Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, 28 July 2015


Lyonchhen graced the ’Inagural of Fourth Meeting of SAARC Ministers on Poverty Alleviation’ as the Chief Guest, Cabinet Secretariat, 29 July 2015


Press Release about the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar’s official visit to Chiang Mai of Thailand, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 July 2015


Postponement of the Second Round of the Afghan Peace Talks, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 30 July 2015

Sixth Round of Pakistan-China Strategic Dialogue, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 30 July 2015




"Exclusive: Walkout at Taliban leadership meeting raises specter of split", Reuters, 31 July 2015

Sami Yousafzai, "Up Close with the Taliban’s next King", The Daily Beast, 31 July 2015

Jon Lee Anderson, "The Ballad of Mullah Omar", 30 July 2015

Jason Burke, "Dead or alive? The story of the Taliban’s missing leader Mohammed Omar", The Guardian, 29 July 2015

Rahimullah Yusufzai, "Amid uncertainty over Mulla Omar’s fate....Power struggle flares up in Afghan Taliban movement", The News, 27 July 2015

Opinion Pieces

Rudra Chaudhuri, "Can IS Grow In India? What Mullah Omars Death Means" ,NDTV, 31 July 2015

Abbas Nasir, "The good and bad Taliban", Al Jazeera, 30 July 2015

Peter Bergen, "The man who wouldn’t hand over bin Laden to the U.S.", CNN, 30 July 2015


Book Review

Gresham’s Law Syndrome and Beyond:An Analysis of the Bangladesh Bureaucracy written by Akbar Ali Khan, The Daily Star, 27 July 2015


Muhammad Zamir, "Remittance growth related to human resources development", The Independent, 21 July 2015

SajeebWazed, "Bangladesh Joins the Knowledge Economy", The Diplomat, 30 July 2015

Shah Husain Imam, "A ceasefire between the battling Begums!",The Daily star, 31 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Kuensel, "Discovering happiness in Bhutan", Kuensel, 25 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

C. Raja Mohan, "The Great Game Folio: China’s Taliban", The Indian Express, 29 July 2015

Manoj Joshi, "Decoding What Lies Behind the Terrorist Attack in Punjab", The Wire, 27 July 2015

Pushan Das & Sylvia Mishra, "India’s Reluctance on Multilateral Naval Exercises", The Diplomat, 28 July 2015

G. Madhavan Nair, "Remembering APJ Abdul Kalam, the problem-solver" The Indian Express,29 July 2015

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, "There is a Precedent for Pranab Mukherjee to Grant Clemency to YakubMemon",, 29 July 2015

Rajesh Srivastava, "How traditional retailers can compete with e-commerce firms", Live Mint, 28 July 2015

AbheekBarua, "What should the MPC look like?", Business Standard, 28 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Land ownership bill, new cause for Indian concern", South Asia Monitor, 28 July 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "How independent is Independence?",, 28 July 2015

James Dauris, "The golden years, a golden celebration", Minivan News, 26 July 2015

Ismail Hamad Hamid, "On golden jubilee of Independence, Addu is silent", Minivan News, 26 July 2015

Hassan Mohamed, "A lingering longing for self-rule", Minivan News, 26 July 2015


Abdul Sattar Moosa Didi, "We could have done better", Minivan News, 26 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

KyawPhyoTha and Zarni Mann, "Questions Raised as Chinese Loggers Cut Loose", The Irrawaddy, 30 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Wang Yi, "Friend in the north", eKantipur, 31 July, 2015

Kanak Mani Dixit, "Our syndicate raj", eKantipur, 31 July, 2015

Basant Kumar Chaudhary, "The driving force", Republica, 29 July 2015

Rishi Iyengar, "Is It Really Safe to Go Trekking in Nepal Again?", TIME, 24 July, 2015


Opinion Pieces

I A Rehman, "Not proven guilty", Dawn, 30 July 2015

Dr Pervez Tahir, "Issues in US presidential elections", The Express Tribune, 31 July 2015

RafiaZakaria, "The terror of fighting terror", Dawn, 28 July 2015

TalatMasood, "Testing times for Imran Khan’s leadership", The Express Tribune, 29 July 2015

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

N Sathiya Moorthy, "TN initiative to de-congest Palk Bay fishing takes concrete shape",, 29 July 2015

Jehan Perera, "UPFA’s negative election will not win votes", The Island, 28 July 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Of revolution and counter-revolution", The Sunday Leader, 26 July 2015


Rauff Hakeem, "SLMC renews call for equal opportunities legislation", Daily Mirror Online, 30 July 2015

Sarath N Silva, "Mahinda ideal agent for good governance", The Island, 29 July 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 and Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhuri ;
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.