MonitorsPublished on Nov 04, 2011
The ongoing security transition is critical to the success of the peace process in Afghanistan. As part of the US 2014 plan, the NATO forces are to hand over the responsibility of security of the country to the Afghan security forces, district by district.
Lingering Doubts over Security Transition
< class="heading1">Analysis

The ongoing security transition is critical to the success of the peace process in Afghanistan. As part of the US 2014 plan, the NATO forces are to hand over the responsibility of security of the country to the Afghan security forces, district by district. Several districts today are being secured by the Afghan security forces, largely trained and armed by the Western countries.

Although the peace process has been hit hard by the recent assassination of former Afghan President and head of the High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani, the security transition has not been aborted. The transition has been successfully implemented in the provincial capitals of Herat, Helmand, Laghman, and Balkh, in addition to the provinces of Bamiyan, Panjshir, and Kabul. These areas are understood to be relatively free of militants and have a heavy presence of NATO military presence.

Despite this success, recent incidents involving the Afghan security forces, both the army and police, and assessments made by NATO raise disturbing questions about the quality of recruitment, training and leadership as well as the overall operational capability of the security forces to challenge the much stronger and experienced militant groups, some operating with the support of State military and intelligence agency of Pakistan.

An NATO assessment of April 2011 showed that only one Afghan Army was capable of independent action. No police unit was considered capable of taking on the responsibility of security independently. Majority of the Afghan security forces remain highly dependent on the Western forces for logistics, planning and even for operations.

Although in terms of the size, there has been an impressive improvement in the Afghan Security Force. Set up in 2002, the force today has over 160,000 men and is expected to reach the level of 240,000 men by the end of 2014. The persistent problem has been the quality of men and officers being recruited and that of training. Some estimates put the literacy levels of the troops to be merely 14 per cent and that of the officers even less at 10 per cent! Although an extensive literacy programme has been put in place, the prospects of making a sizeable number of men and officers literate before 2014 remain daunting.

Serious training lacunae have been noticed among the Afghan troops during the actual combat situations. The Afghan soldiers have been witnessed pointing their American-issued M-16 rifles in the rough direction of the incoming small-arms fire and pulling their triggers without putting rifle sights to their eyes. The soldiers have also been found to be hiding in ditches rather than using the cover to return fire or defend the ground. On some occasions, soldiers have been sent to combat zones even during the training. These training limitations along with the killing of three Australian trainers by an Afghan recruit highlight major deficiencies in the short, and hasty, training programmes being implemented.

The high rate of desertions and the possibility of men and officers helping the militants against the NATO forces only add to the doubts about the capability of the Afghan security forces. One in every four soldiers quit the army during the 12-month period ending September 2009. The US Department for Defence writes off 2000 soldiers and officers every month. Drug addiction and thieving are other major problems that hamper training and operations of the Afghan security forces.

Given the enormity of these problems, and the complexity of the situation in Afghanistan, the transition process is likely to be severely hampered in the coming days.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Vows of commitment by the Turkish prime minister and Prince Aga Khan

In a recent development, the Turkish prime minister has said that his nation would send experts to Afghanistan to assist in mining extraction. Speaking at a meeting held before the tripartite meeting in Istanbul, Mr Gul had mentioned that Turkish mining companies are interested in exploring options in the region and would send a delegation to meet with the Afghan Ministry of Mines later this year.

Mr. Gul also mentioned his nation’s cooperation in assisting with the development of medical students at the Kabul University. The meeting concluded with an agreement on the need for improvement of ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan and a joint commitment to fight militancy.

In a ceremony attended by officials of Afghanistan and Tajikistan, including the president of Tajikistan Mr. Imam Ali Rakhmanov, his highness prince Aga Khan inaugurated the construction of a new bridge, at the Tajik - Afghan border. In an earlier meeting with President Karzai, Prince Karim Aga Khan vowed a long term commitment towards the Aga Khan foundation in the reconstruction of the health, education, cultural sectors within the Afghan nation.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Outlook Afghanistan, November 2, 2011; Sugar, November 2, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Growing confidence in Afghan Security Forces

In a recent disclosure made by, Gen. Zahir Azimi spokesperson for the ministry of defence, the NATO led coalition forces would move from a combat to a supporting role after the 2014 deadline. He also went on to mention that the current transition is being carried out successfully and the afghan security forces would control most of the nation’s security very soon. Even though in analyst circles there is scepticism on the ability of the afghan security forces President Hamid Karzai is sure that by the end of the year, at least half of the region would be under Afghan State Security Forces control. It is likely that the second round of security transition would be announced by the mid of November and completed by the middle of next year. Mr. Karzai also mentioned that no peace will be possible until the militant Taliban movement is pacified. Referring to Pakistan as a key partner in the process of negotiation with the Taliban Mr. Karzai showed confidence in the National Security Forces to provide security in the region.

During the Tripartite meeting in Istanbul, Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan have agreed on a memorandum of understanding which has been signed by the chiefs of staff of the three nations to conduct joint military exercises. The first exercise would be held in turkey next year and provide an opportunity to share experience and participate in a training cooperation programme. The programme would provide military officers education on combating terrorism and dealing with emergency situations in urban areas. The three nations participating in the tripartite meeting also inked a protocol on training co operation. Afghanistan and Pakistan have also agreed to set up a joint ministerial commission to investigate the assassination of Ex Afghan president Rabbani.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Khaama, November 2, 2011; Outlook Afghanistan, November 03, 2011; DPA worldwide, November 02, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">29 Nations pledge support at the Istanbul conference

The recent meeting in Istanbul bought together 29 nations and several international agencies that have committed to Afghanistan their full support and assistance and have jointly declared to cooperate in various fields. The theme of the conference was ’Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan: Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia’. The understanding that Afghanistan suffers from many problems and none of them can be wholly tackled by Afghanistan alone provided the primary focus. Foreign ministers of both Turkey and Afghanistan thanked the participating nations for their commitment in helping Afghanistan over come issues like drug and human trafficking, capacity building and counter terrorism but reminded the 11 ministers and 10 other international participants that more work is still to be done in the field. Commitments were also made in the fields of preferential trade agreements, building cross border bridges, developing regional energy networks and removing hate references from school curricula. The meeting ended with a joint commitment by those attending to meet once a year and evaluate the progress being made on the various issues at the ground level. The next meeting would be held in Kabul in June 2012.

Mr Karzai mentioned that combating terrorism and violence still remains the primary objective of the Afghan nation, without a successful solution in tackling terrorism; peace would remain elusive in Afghanistan. The United States was not a signatory to the Istanbul process but attended it in a supporting role and was satisfied with the idea of regional cooperation in addressing the current terrorism problem in Afghanistan.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Outlook Afghanistan, November 03, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Decrease in the no of refugees returning from Pakistan

The United Nations agency on refugees released its latest figures which state that the no of refugees returning from Pakistan has dropped this year as compared to last year. The total no of refugees returning back to Afghanistan this year were 60,000; 43000 came from Pakistan and 17000 from Iran. The no of refugees returning from Iran has almost doubled this year; the reason for this surge of Afghan refugees from Iran has been economic. The Iranian president has ordered the subsidies on food and other basic goods including fuel to be reduced, which has led to a spike in inflation. The UNHCR argues that the reason for the decline in the no of refugees returning from Pakistan can be traced to the insurgent conflict that has been crippling Afghanistan for the last 10 years. This together with a change in focus of the Taliban that has moved the insurgency from the south of Afghanistan to its eastern frontier, near Kabul, is argued by the agency as an important factor in checking the flow of refugees back into Afghanistan. The refugees predominantly hail from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan and have been living in that region for the last decade in order to escape civil war in their own country.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Sugar, October 30, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Japan provides $670 million for Padma Bridge construction

PM Sheikh Hasina remarked to the newly appointed Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Shiro Sadoshima that construction of the Padma Bridge is key to the country’s overall development, which will link Dhaka with the south western region of the country.

Hasina acknowledged and thanked the Japanese government for providing $ 670 million for the construction of the Padma Bridge, a water treatment plant in Khulna and a variety of SME projects. The Japanese Ambassador emphasized that Japan was a trusted partner of Bangladesh and would cooperate to the fullest extent for the implementation of all its developmental efforts.
< class="text11verdana">Source: ,, November 4th, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bangladesh-Denmark trade 30% record high

The total export from Bangladesh to Denmark in the first eight months of this year from was Taka 1,824crore it being 30 % higher than the same period in 2010.

Danish businesses have reached a level of confidence regarding Bangladeshi potential and are engaging more and more with native companies.

"Bangladesh and Denmark business relations are on the verge of a record upswing once again and making 2011 a successful year of trade," Svend Olling, Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh. He also added that the goal of Bangladesh becoming a middle income country would be reached with ease and much faster if every political force in the country united to solve the energy crisis, reduce corruption and red-tapism while also investing in the essential physical infrastructure.

Danish companies are engaged with Bangladeshi

companies in several sectors like IT, pharmaceuticals,

maritime, dairy, agriculture as well as renewable energy.
< class="text11verdana">Source: , November 1st, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">CPD: Bangladeshi economy at critical risk

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) claimed that the national economy is in a critical situation. The aspects that are at specific and great risk include energy subsidy, inflation, rising government’s borrowing from banking system, downward trend in foreign fund’s inflow and the apprehension of a second global economic crisis. Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, research fellow of CPD advocated that the projected 7 percent GDP growth of the current fiscal year would be unlikely to achieve. The overall rate of inflation, driven by food price, has already exceeded 12 percent, highest in the South Asian region. He also said that if the global economy goes into another crisis revival would be extremely difficult, with Bangladesh being badly affected as well.

The suggested way out is the gradual rationalisation of electricity and petroleum prices along with controls on the government’s borrowing from the banking system.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, Nov 4th, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bangladesh-Russia sign landmark nuclear energy deal

Bangladesh has signed a landmark inter-governmental agreement with Russia to install the country’s first ever nuclear power plant to produce 2,000 megawatt electricity in north-western Rooppur. "As per the agreement, the parties shall assure the transfer of materials, technologies, equipment and services for implementation of joint programmes in the field of the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," the framework agreement read. Under the deal "Russia will supply nuclear fuel for the entire life of the plant," said Kirienko, a former Russian prime minister. He added that as the project will be under the IAEA control, "it will meet all IAEA requirements".

The nuclear deal is part of Bangladesh’s efforts to diversify its energy sources, although it will be of little immediate use to the industrial sector going through regular burnouts or to half of the nationals who do not have access to electricity. Critics also apprehend that Bangladesh will become dependent on Russia, developing a "diplomatic handicap in changing global politics and economics".
< class="text11verdana">Source: , November 5th , 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pakistani company to set up textile industry in Comilla

Soorty Textile (BD) Limited, a Pakistani company is going to set up a readymade garment industry in Comilla Export Processing Zone. The company will invest $ 22.527 million to set up their unit, creating employment opportunities for 8,000 Bangladeshi people.
< class="text11verdana">Source: , November 1st, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Queen mother to grace NID convocation

For the first time in the 50 year old history of the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad a foreigner, Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, the Queen Mother of Bhutan is coming as a guest. The convocation, slated to take place on December 5, will confer degrees to around 200 students from under graduate and post-graduate courses.
< class="text11verdana">Source: DNA, November, 2, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Man detained for defamation

A man in his early 3os was detained by the police in Thimpu for posting malicious opinions repeatedly against an official in Geephu in one of the online forums. He was apprehended on the basis of a written complaint accusing him of making unsubstantiated defamatory remarks under a fictitious name. The man himself confessed of posting defamatory comments and the case has been forwarded to the Sarpang Dzongkhag court.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, November 3, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rule or Rollback?

The retention criteria regarding the transfer of teachers who have been teaching for more than 18 years in urban Bhutan has created some controversy. The teachers feel that no one will be willing to leave their present post and a quick conclusion has been made that the new criteria are intended to retain them in Thimphu, Paro and Phuentsholing. Some believe these criteria’s won’t be effective as they could be manipulated, begged and even bought. The education ministry officials at present seem to scratching their head just for the transfer to happen, notwithstanding how it could be made. This rule has been intended to avoid overcrowding of teachers in urban places and lack in the rural areas. In 2010 at least 36 teachers were excess in Thimphu whereas in 2009 there were about 30 rural schools being managed by a teacher single handedly. The official say this should not be viewed as a punishment to the experienced teachers but as an opportunity to interact with students from rural area and build up a strong teacher student relationship.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, November, 3, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India may consider Euro-zone financing: Pranab Mukherjee

India could consider supporting extra financing for the euro zone if European policymakers make a credible assessment of its solvency problems; Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told newsperson on Wednesday.

"Our assessment of the situation is ’let them make a credible assessment of the solvency issue, try to sort out those problems, and thereafter supplementary financing could be considered," Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee did not reply when asked if India would consider buying European Financial Stability Facility bonds for the first time.

The host of this week’s summit of G20 leaders in Cannes, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been trying to coax big emerging nations such as China into throwing the euro zone a financial lifeline by investing in an expanding bailout fund.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, November 2, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India plans ’world most dangerous railroad’ from Afghanistan to Iran

India is planning to build what could be the world’s most dangerous railroad from Afghanistan’s mineral rich heartland to an Iranian port on the Arabian Sea in attempt to open a new trade route and reduce Kabul’s dependence on Pakistan.

Details of the new plan emerged on the eve of the Istanbul conference on security and economic development in Afghanistan in the run-up to the planned withdrawal of American troops in 2014.

Washington has urged India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to co-operate in creating a new ’Silk Road’ of trade ties to break the current suspicion which mars political relations and restricts potential trade.

India expects American hostility to its plan, however, because it will bolster Iran’s sea capability by developing a major port at Chabahar on the southern tip of the country facing out over the Gulf of Oman.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, November 2, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Joint development of rare earth minerals with Japan to be accelerated

The foreign ministers of Japan and India agreed Saturday at a meeting in Tokyo to accelerate a joint development of rare earth mineral deposits in the South Asian country.

Koichiro Gemba and his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna also confirmed they would move forward stalled talks on a civilian nuclear cooperation pact at a joint news conference after their meeting.

"The two countries will move ahead with a joint development," of rare earth deposits in India, said Gemba, quoted by Jiji Press, in line with an accord reached last year when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Japan.

Japan has looked to diversify rare earth supplies for its high-tech industries -- ranging from computer components to hybrid cars -- as China, which controls more than 90 percent of global supply, has tightened its export quotas.

Gemba also said the two countries "will move forward talks on the civilian nuclear cooperation pact while paying consideration to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation," according to Jiji.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, October 29, 2011,, October 31, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Japan close to export nuclear technology to India and Vietnam

Nearly eight months after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, Japan is resuming steps it hopes will lead to exports of commercial nuclear technology to India and Vietnam, even as Japan itself is scaling back the use of nuclear energy at home.

On Saturday, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and his Indian counterpart, S.M. Krishna agreed to move ahead with talks toward a civilian nuclear power agreement?a precondition that would enable Tokyo to export nuclear power plant technology to the South Asian nation.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, will likely discuss nuclear power cooperation when they meet Monday, a government official said. Japan has already signed off on talks toward a nuclear power pact with Vietnam, but the parliamentary approval needed to ratify the agreement has been put on hold.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, October 31, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Defence cooperation with Japan to be stepped up

India and Japan will increase bilateral military engagement with both sides deciding to step up defence cooperation. Defence Minister A.K. Antony described the move as one geared towards peace and prosperity of the region.

Maritime security, anti-piracy measures, freedom of navigation and maintaining the security of Sea Lanes of Communication to facilitate unhindered trade by the sea routes was some of the issues that dominated the India-Japan Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday night.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony and his Japanese counterpart Yasuo Ichikawa recognised the importance of sea lanes and decided to ’actively pursue consultations and cooperation in the field of maritime security both bilaterally and in association with all other countries in the region’, Defence Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar, who accompanied the delegation said here on Thursday.

A joint air exercise is also planned for the next year.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, November 3, 2011, Indian Express, November 4, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Border talks with China in November

With India’s energy exploitation bid in the South China Sea threatening to cast a fresh shadow on bilateral ties, India and China will hold the 15th round of boundary talks in New Delhi next month that could also see the sealing of a joint border mechanism between them.

The Special Representatives of India and China will meet November 28 to 29, according to highly placed sources. The two sides have been in touch for some time over the dates but the scheduling was proving to be difficult.

The talks will now take place after a likely meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Nov 18-19 East Asia summit in Bali, Indonesia.

China’s State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who is Beijing’s special representative, will come to Delhi for talks with Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.

The two countries will focus on firming up a framework for resolving their decades-old boundary dispute, the second and crucial stage that could form the basis for the final demarcation of the boundary and territorial give-and-take implicit in any final deal.

Despite the perception in strategic circles that the 14 rounds of talks so far have not made much headway, the Indian side believes there has been incremental progress. It would be unrealistic to expect any dramatic breakthrough soon given the political sensitivity of the issue, a government source said.

The two sides are also fast-tracking a joint border mechanism with a view to sealing it during the visit of China’s state councillor in November.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, October 29, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Three million tones extra LNG sought from Qatar

India is seeking an extra three million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per year from Qatar for its Dahej plant and Dabhol project under long-term contracts, an industry source said on Friday.

Qatar, the world’s top LNG exporter, currently supplies 7.5 million tonnes of LNG a year to India under a long term contract.

"We want supplies to begin from 2013 in long-term deals of 20-25 years. Spot and short-term contracts we can manage," the source said on condition of anonymity.

The Dahej plant, operated by state-owned by Petronet LNG , has capacity for 10 million tonnes per year and this should rise to 15 million tonnes per year by end-2015.

The Dabhol LNG terminal should be commissioned by March and will have capacity of 5 million tonnes per year. It will be operated by a venture of state-owned companies GAIL India.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Economic Times, October 28, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Xinjiang leader coming next week

India is reaching out to China’s restive province of Xinjiang. Nur Bekri, chairman of Xinjiang province, will make his first visit to India early next week with a business delegation that is primarily aimed at assessing Indian interest in China’s north-western province - both politically and economically.

Bekri will meet Vice-president Hamid Ansari and other ministers and also address a CII business meeting. He will visit the Taj Mahal and travel to Mumbai. The interest in Bekri’s visit stems from the unique position that Xinjiang occupies in China. The Muslim-majority Uighur population, which has, at various times, opposed the Han Chinese domination in Xinjiang, the only place where extremist Islamic radical groups have targeted the Chinese state.

On December 9, Chinese General Ma Xiaotian will hold the annual defence dialogue with Indian defence secretary: a sign that in this sector, Sino-India ties are back to a more normal level. Bilateral defence ties had gone through a rocky patch, when India cut off defence ties with China after the latter refused a visa to the Indian Northern area commander last year.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, October 30, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Xinjiang leader coming next week

India is reaching out to China’s restive province of Xinjiang. Nur Bekri, chairman of Xinjiang province, will make his first visit to India early next week with a business delegation that is primarily aimed at assessing Indian interest in China’s north-western province - both politically and economically.

Bekri will meet Vice-president Hamid Ansari and other ministers and also address a CII business meeting. He will visit the Taj Mahal and travel to Mumbai. The interest in Bekri’s visit stems from the unique position that Xinjiang occupies in China. The Muslim-majority Uighur population, which has, at various times, opposed the Han Chinese domination in Xinjiang, the only place where extremist Islamic radical groups have targeted the Chinese state.

On December 9, Chinese General Ma Xiaotian will hold the annual defence dialogue with Indian defence secretary: a sign that in this sector, Sino-India ties are back to a more normal level. Bilateral defence ties had gone through a rocky patch, when India cut off defence ties with China after the latter refused a visa to the Indian Northern area commander last year.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, October 30, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">After an absence, India back at Turkey talks on Afghanistan

After last year’s snub when Turkey did not invite India to the international conference on Afghanistan, external affairs minister SM Krishna will be flying to Istanbul next week for this year’s conference, where he will highlight India’s role in nation building in Afghanistan.

The key conference on Afghanistan will be held in Istanbul on November 2.

The US-backed conference will deliberate on reconciliation efforts and security in Afghanistan after the US and NATO drawdown in 2014. The conference’s previous edition, in January 2010, had run into a controversy after India was omitted from the list of invitees by Turkey, allegedly at the insistence of Pakistan.

The last conference was attended by Afghanistan, Pakistan, UK, US, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and others.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, October 30, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Safer nuclear plants powered by Thorium planned

India has announced plans for a prototype nuclear power plant that uses an innovative "safer" fuel.

Officials are currently selecting a site for the reactor, which would be the first of its kind, using thorium for the bulk of its fuel instead of uranium ? the fuel for conventional reactors. They plan to have the plant up and running by the end of the decade.

The development of workable and large-scale thorium reactors has for decades been a dream for nuclear engineers, while for environmentalists it has become a major hope as an alternative to fossil fuels. Proponents say the fuel has considerable advantages over uranium. Thorium is more abundant and exploiting it does not involve release of large quantities of carbon dioxide, making it less dangerous for the climate than fossil fuels like coal and oil.

In a rare interview, Ratan Kumar Sinha, the director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, told the Guardian that his team is finalising the site for construction of the new large-scale experimental reactor, while at the same time conducting "confirmatory tests" on the design.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, November 1, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Coal India to quicken search for overseas mines as domestic outputs drops

Coal India Limited (COAL), facing a drop in output for the first time in more than a decade, is accelerating its search for overseas assets after talks with Massey Energy Co. and Peabody Energy Corp. failed.

Delays in land acquisitions and environmental clearances to develop projects have hindered efforts by the world’s biggest producer of the fuel to boost production, Chairman N.C. Jha said in a phone interview. The government last month allowed state- run Coal India, which has $9.1 billion of cash, to buy unlisted overseas companies.

"The government approval allows us to move faster," Jha said. "We have to try every possible option including acquisitions to meet supply commitments. We’re still struggling to meet our production targets."

Production at Coal India, which mines more than 80 percent of the country’s coal, dropped 5 percent in the first six months of the year because of heavy rains and a one-day strike. Should full-year production decline, it would be the company’s first since at least 1998, Jha said.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, November 3, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rice diplomacy with Indonesia planned

Rice seems to have emerged as a favourite diplomatic tool for India to build strong ties with its east- and south-Asian neighbours.

The commodity is the staple diet for most people in countries like Indonesia, Thailand and also neighbouring country Bangladesh.

Months after India okayed export of 300,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh at a standard price of Rs 20,000 per tonne on a diplomatic basis, the government has once again showed its keenness to export rice under the same channel, this time to Indonesia.

A delegation from Indonesia called on the food minister on Wednesday to press for exports of rice to meet its domestic shortage.

Just like the previous time, this time too, the consent to export rice has come days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Bali to participate in the East Asia and the India-ASEAN summit. The Prime Minister will be embarking on Indonesia-Singapore trip from November 17 to 20.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Business Standard, November 4, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Yamin, former Chairman of STO Mokum denies charges of US$800 million illegal oil trade

Parliamentary Leader of newly formed political party PPM and MP for Mulaku has denied his involvement in the alleged illegal oil trade worth US$ 800 million by State Trading Organisation Mokum of which Yamin was Chairman. Yamin told the National Security Committee of the People’s Majlis which was questioning him that he was not involved in the illegal oil trade or any other illegal trade when he was Chairman. He also emphasised that he had not taken any company documents and retorted that instead it was the police that had entered and taken documents of the STO Singapore office without possessing a court order.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, November 4, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maldives misses UNESCO vote for Palestinian membership

The Maldives delegation to the 36th UNESCO General Conference was forced to return without participating in a vote to grant full membership to Palestine.

President Mohamed Nasheed expressed regret that Maldives could not vote for Palestine as it went onto to get a full membership in UNESCO. He added that he had instructed the Minister of Education Shifa Mohamed to inform UNESCO and other concerned authorities to consider that Maldives wanted to vote, and to consider it as a vote Maldives had given.

Press Secretary to the President, Mohamed Zuhair said that the delegation was unaware of a vote when they attended the bi-annual meeting of the agency and cited difficulties in extending their stay as the reason for Maldives absence. The resolution was adopted with 107 countries voting in favour, 14 voting against and 52 abstaining.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, November 1, 2011; MIADHU, November 4, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Loosing up: Media and Prisoners

The Government of Myanmar has announced in October that it plans to release more than 6,300 prisoners as part of its reforms initiative. At present it is not clear as to the nature and background of the individual who are expected to be released and how many of them will be political prisoners.

Human rights groups, dissident organisations and analysts welcomed the move, but continue to be sceptical about the reformers that the isolated state has initiated in recent times. This move is not perceived to be reflective of any fundamental changes in the way the military junta policies.

At the same time the government has also eased up the restriction imposed upon the media. When compared to the past journalists are free to post online articles without prior government approval, as was the case till recently. This is accompanied by the fact the people have not access to online publication from western media houses including dissident publication that were in the past blocked by the government since they were concerned to critical of the junta. This change in the restrictive policies has resulted in the countries 350-plus independent news publication criticising the government on policies. The most notable of such criticism that was widely written about was on the mass amnesty to an estimated 200 political prisoners.

Despite the change of heart journalist are vary of the government as they fear that the state could change its policies at will. In addition to this a number of issues are still beyond the foray of the media. Most notable of these are any criticism of the Senior Gen. Than Shwe and Western style investigative journalism.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, 11 October 2011;, 15 October 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Entertaining the outside world

Indonesia which is at present is the Chair of the 10 member ASEAN regional grouping has now pitched Myanmar to take over the post once Jakarta’s tenure comes to an end. Myanmar a member in the regional grouping since 1997 had relinquished the chance to head the block five years ago in 2006. This was done as a result of international pressure since Myanmar’s refused to bowing down to the demands of the international community’s.

The visiting Foreign Minister of Indonesia Marty Natalegawa had urged Myanmar to lead ASEAN with its turn came. At the same time the Minister had also applied to the international community including the United States and the European Union to relax their sanction and embargos against Myanmar.

As chair of ASEAN, Myanmar would be required to speak on behalf of the bloc, host scores of meetings including the East Asia Summit which includes the United States. The Chair country would also have to engage and interact with other countries and regional blocs like the United States and the European Union.

On the other hand the United States’ envoy to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell visited the country for the second time in two months. Derek Mitchell visit is aimed at furthering the US’s strategic interests in the region and also to engage the South East Asian country on core issues like democracy and human rights.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, 25 October 2011;, 30 October 2011;, 31 October 2011;, 1 November 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parties come together for peace deal

Sign seven-point agreement

In a rare show of political consensus, major political parties of Nepal on Tuesday set aside their differences and signed a historic seven-point deal on management of ex-Maoist combatants and on concluding the peace process. The deal was signed despite objection from the Mohan Baidya faction of the Maoist party.

This is the most important breakthrough in the home-grown peace process after the signing of the epoch-making Comprehensive Peace Agreement on November 21, 2006.

The peace process had remained largely stalled for the past five years as parties could not agree on the modality of integration and rehabilitation of ex-Maoist fighters.

As per the deal reached at PM’s residence in Baluwatar, the much-awaited categorisation of over 19,000 ex-combatants will be completed by November 23. Under the process, the ex-combatants will be segregated in three groups -- those to be integrated, rehabilitated and those to be given retirement.

The parties will also in the meantime work simultaneously for forming a national consensus government while expediting works on the peace process and constitution drafting.

6,500 combatants to be integrated

Under the deal, the parties have agreed to integrate up to 6,500 ex-combatants into the Nepal Army by setting up a separate directorate in the army. The directorate will comprise 65 percent personnel from government security agencies and the remaining 35 percent from the Maoist army. Such a directorate will have non-combative mandate for development, security of forests, industries, and management of calamity.

Earlier, the Maoist party had demanded that 8,000 to 10,000 combatants should be integrated, which was four thousand more than what the Nepali Congress had insisted. Similarly, the Maoist party had sought combative mandate for the proposed directorate but NC and CPN-UML were opposed to it.

But the Maoist party finally agreed to give up its position and agreed on a non-combative role for the directorate. However, the agreement has not spelled out the nature of the mandate as combative or non-combative.

Under the deal, the ex-combatants will be integrated as per the standard norms of the national army on individual basis but flexibility will be maintained regarding the norms relating to age, education and marital status. The Maoists had been insisting for long for relaxation of the standard norms and for bulk integration.

The Maoist party has also compromised on rank harmonisation issue. Though the Maoists have long demanded that their army should be allowed to lead the directorate, the agreement is silent in this regard.

The agreement further states that the ranks of the to-be-integrated ex-combatants will be determined as per the set standard of the national army. And, harmonisation will be done in such a way that it will not affect career development of the incumbent rank and file of the national army.

In exchange for the Maoist compromise, NC and CPN-UML have also given up their earlier position on rehabilitation package. As per the agreement, those ex-combatants opting for rehabilitation will be given a package between Nepali Rs 600,000 to Rs 900,000 depending on their service time in the Maoist army. Under this scheme, high ranking Maoist combatants will get Rs 800,000, and others will get Rs 700,000, Rs 600,000 and Rs 500,000, respectively, depending on their ranks, in two tranches.

Paramilitary structure of YCL to be dissolved

The Maoist party has also agreed with other parties to dissolve the paramilitary structure of the Young Communist League. Similarly, all the seized properties will be returned to rightful owners by November 23 along with due compensation.

High-level political mechanism

The parties have also agreed to form a high-level political mechanism to conclude the peace process and constitution drafting.

Similarly, the parties have also agreed to immediately form a group of experts on state restructuring. Such a group will have a month’s time and constitution drafting will be started after one month.

The parties have also agreed to expedite works on finalising transitional mechanisms.

Baidya registers dissent

Taking strong exception to the peace deal, Maoist radical faction has stated that the agreement violates the party’s basic principles and commitment made to the people during the "People>s War".

Party Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya, who leads the hard-line camp, stated that he would not accept the agreement which he argued is against the interests of the people.

"We are strongly against the spirit of the agreement," said Baidya after the meeting. Baidya, party General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa, and party Secretary CP Gajurel too have objected to the seven-point deal. "We will not abide by the agreement," Thapa told media persons after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Dahal held a meeting of the party office bearers to convince the party radicals, but to no avail. Instead they registered a note of dissent against the party decision.

Referring to Dahal and Bhattarai, Thapa claimed that some party leaders by signing the deal have proved themselves to be the "stooges of reactionaries".

Reacting to Baidya’s comments on the deal, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that he appreciates Baidya’s statement that the latter would abide by the principle of "democratic centralism."

"You have heard him (Baidya) saying that he would abide by the principle of democratic centralism and that the party unity would remain intact," Dahal has said.

The Baidya faction had demanded integration of 10,000 PLA personnel into the proposed NA directorate, PLA´s leadership of the directorate, and unit-wise entry of the PLA into the directorate, among other things.

They have termed the agreement as the dissolution of the PLA and not its integration into the state security forces as agreed in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Republica, Kantipur, November 2, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Arrest warrant issued

An arrest warrant has been issued by the judicial magistrate in Quetta for the former President Pervez Musharraf and former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz for the killing of the Baloch tribal chieftan Nawab Akbar Bugti. Musharraf and Aziz were President and Prime Minister, respectively, when an army raid in August 2006 killed Bugti.

Musharraf who lives in a self-imposed exile in London and Dubai was issued a warrant earlier this year over failing to provide adequate security to the ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, thereby, leading to her assassination.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, October 29, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President Zardari accused of corruption

Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan held one of the most massive rallies that Pakistan has witnessed in the last two decades for transparent governance. During the meeting he said that if politicians do not declare their assets then the PTI would set up a commission to prepare a list of politicians and their assets and give it to the court for further actions. He said that he would never use the Army against its own people nor beg for help as Jinnah would never have done so. He attributed most of the problems that the country was facing to corruption. He said, "Pakistan is losing over Rs3, 000 billion a year in tax corruption. If it can be tapped, the country does not need foreign aid. Once the government wins the confidence of people, economic woes would simply go away."

In a similar instance, the Pakistan Muslim League-N asked President Asif Ali Zardari to tender his resignations accusing him of corruption and economic mismanagement. He said, "Resign and return looted national wealth. Otherwise, my comrades will hang you upside down at Bhati Chowk."

However, there was no unity amongst the opposition as PML-N information secretary Mushahidullah Khan said that there was nothing new in the speech of the PTI chief and that Khan had an agenda to spoil PML-Ns vote bank.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, November, 29, 31, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chief Justice probes into railways corruption

Chief Justice Iftikar Mohammad Chaudhry ordered Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq to assist Railway Chairman Javed Ahmed in preparing a report on corrupt emplyees to the National Accountability Bureau. He said that the nation was suffering as the railway system had become inefficient. He said the most disturbing factor was that even minor repairs were not done and that the electricity wires meant for trains were being stolen for other use. He said the following about the inefficiency of the railways: "Ninety metric tons of silver worth millions was sold for mere Rs28, 000 as scrap, while a light bulb worth Rs60 is being purchased at Rs400, whereas absence of maintenance turned expensive locomotives into junk one by one, besides a Grade-18 officer, a blue-eyed boy of the railways minister, is promoted to hold a Grade-20 post of secretary purchase."

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani addressed in order to address the issue met the railway high ups in Islamabad and said that Pakistan Railways would be restructured. He said that he would personally preside over a meeting every month to review the programme for the improvisation of the railways. A rehabilitation of 96 locomotives at a cost of P.Rs6.1 billion was also in row.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, November, 1, 3, 4, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Relations with India

The issue of granting India the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status has been steeped in controversy. The issue is important mainly due to the expected meet of the Prime Ministers of both the nations at the SAARC summit in Maldives.

Along with this decision on MFN status, Pakistan government announced that trade relations would be normalised with India. According to the World Bank if relations are stabilised and barriers lifted annual trade would increase to $9 billion from $1 billion.

High level meetings were convened at the Foreign office to review the renewed dialogue process. The meeting consisted of both the civil and military representatives.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, November, 2, 3, 4, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Turkey hosted trilateral summit

Since assassination of Afghan peace negotiator Rabbani, Afghanistan and Pakistan were not in talking terms. However, they held their first talks at Turkey in a conference. Presidents Hamid Karzai and Asif Ali Zardari met along with Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Chiefs of army, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani of Pakistan, General Sher Mohammad Karimi of Afghanistan and their Turkish counterparts held separate meetings. This trilateral conference is to be followed by a regional conference in Afghanistan. U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to cancel her trip owing to ill health of her mother.

Three agreements were signed during the trilateral summit. First, a currency Swap between Pakistan and Turkey, which was signed by Governor of State Bank of Pakistan Yaseen Anwar and Governor Central Bank of Turkey Dr Erdem Basci on behalf of their respective countries. Second, joint military training and exercises between the militaries of Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan which was signed by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani from Pakistan, General Necdet Ozal from Turkey and General Shah Muhammad Kairimi from Afghanistan. Third, training cooperation signed between Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Turkish Interior Minister Idress Naeem Shaheen and Afghan Interior Minister Bismillah Khan Muhammadi.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, November, 2, 201, Tribune, November, 1, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Abbas takes charge as new Karachi Commander

Vice Admiral Abbas Raza took charge as Commander Karachi and would be in charge of all the Pakistan Navy units and establishments ashore at Karachi.

Vice Admiral Abbas Raza was commissioned to the Pakistan Navy in 1975. Prior to his appointment as Karachi commander, he was the commander of the Pakistan Fleet. Admiral Abbas specialises in naval communications and is a staff course alumnus of the Royal Navy Staff College, Greenwich, UK. He is a graduate of the National Defence University in Islamabad and has been decorated with the Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military).

He also served as the deputy commandant of the Pakistan Naval Academy, commanding officer of Frigate class ships, principal secretary to the chief of naval staff, , director-general of joint warfare and training, director-general of the Joint Staff Headquarters and the deputy chief of naval staff (operations).
< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, November 2, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Military to restrict Haqqanis’ movement

In what appears to a departure from existing policy, the Pakistan Army plans measures to restrict the Haqqani network’s movement at the Afghan border as part of an understanding reached with the US.

The decision of the military to not only restrict the movement of all militant groups, including the Afghan Taliban insurgents, but also deny them space within Pakistan’s borders was confirmed by atleast two senior security officials of the Pakistan military. However, officials refused to divulge details of the plan.

Earlier, Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik, currently engaged in the supervision of military operations in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had said "we will take action against the terrorists in our area and Nato and Afghanistan should also take action against them (terrorists) in their area across the border".

This departure from the security establishment’s years-old approach towards the Haqqanis did not mean the army would directly confront the group, which the country believed had a vital role in any future political dispensation in Afghanistan. The new border security measures are believed to be the result of a deal that was struck between Islamabad and Washington during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to Pakistan.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, October 29, 2011; The Express Tribune, November 2, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UN examines Syria-Pakistan nuke ties

UN investigators have identified a previously unknown complex in Syria that bolsters suspicions that the Syrian government worked with AQ Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, to acquire technology that could make nuclear arms.

Satellite images revealed a complex in the city of Al-Hasakah that appeared to match Khan’s designs for a uranium enrichment plant that were sold to Moammar Gahafi’s government in Libya. The unlikely coincidence in design suggests Syria may have been pursuing two routes to an atomic bomb: uranium as well as plutonium. IAEA investigators had already stated that a Syrian site bombed by Israeli warplanes in 2007 was a plutonium production reactor. The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency also has obtained correspondence between Khan and a Syrian government official, Muhidin Issa, who proposed scientific cooperation and a visit to Khan’s laboratories following Pakistan’s successful nuclear test in 1998.

Details of the Syria-Khan connection were provided to the AP by a senior diplomat with knowledge of IAEA investigations and a former U.N. investigator.
< class="text11verdana">Source: AP, November 1, 2011; Dawn, November 1, 2011.

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">37 private companies to be taken over with introduction of new Bill

The government will take over 37 ailing companies in an effort to revive them, if a new Bill is passed by the parliament. The bill, titled ’Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets’ will give the state the power to take over failing companies and to appoint suitable authorities to manage, control and administer these organisations.

These companies were privatised as part of the previous government’s efforts. The companies have fallen prey to a multitude of maladies including corruption, underutilisation of resources, mismanagement etc.

The opposition UNP has claimed the Bill to be unconstitutional and said that if passed, it would give the government authority to take over any company, while also hampering investments in future endeavours.

However, Cabinet Spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella alluded to the successful takeover of other industries like gas, insurance etc, which are now profitable ventures.

Some of the 37 companies that could be taken over include Sevanagala Sugar Industries Ltd. owned by Ampara district UNP organiser Daya Gamage, Ceylinco Leisure Properties Ltd., Charmers Granaries in Pettah, MACFA Apparel (Private) Ltd. etc.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, November 2-3, 2011; Daily News, November 2-3, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">249 govt. ventures suffer over Rs.19 billion losses

The Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has found that the 249 government owned enterprises it investigated incurred losses exceeding Rs.19 billion from 2007-2009.

Some of the loss-making enterprises investigated include Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), and the State Timber Corporation (STC).

In its report, COPE cite the appointment of unqualified people at top management positions due to political reasons, as well as faulty administrative and financial structures as cause for the decline of these enterprises.

COPE has completed its investigations and will hold its final meetings on November 14-15, and hopes to present its report to the parliament before the next Budget in order to encourage some reforms to avoid further losses. One of its recommendations will be to appoint qualified capable persons to the managerial posts in an effort to turn around the fortunes of these industries.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, October 3, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Russia-Lanka ties strengthen

Russia has donated four demining machines to Sri Lanka to accelerate the process in the island nation.

Ambassador Vladimir P Mikhaylov, representing the Russian Federation, handed over the equipment and spares including four MV4 machines worth Rs.302 million to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. The equipment will be most useful in the demining process in the North Province.

He said that Russia was committed to assisting Sri Lanka in its reconciliation and reconstruction efforts and lauded the state for its post war achievements so far.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily News, October 3, 2011.

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan: Haripal Brar;
Bangladesh: Sriya Coomer;
Bhutan: Shraddha Bhattarai;
India: Satish Misra;
Myanmar: Sripathi Narayan;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah;
Pakistan: Aarya Venugopal & Astik Sinha;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: Preeti John;

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.