MonitorsPublished on Jul 24, 2015
For a nation celebrating the golden jubilee of the country's Independence, Maldives has been at sixes and sevens through the previous year. And for a people who have taken politics and democracy with all its dynamism and vibrancy,
Maldives: How independent is Independence?
< class="heading1">Analysis

For a nation celebrating the golden jubilee of the country’s Independence, Maldives has been at sixes and sevens through the previous year. And for a people who have taken politics and democracy with all its dynamism and vibrancy, the events and developments of the last week should have been nerve-shattering for its pace - and not for all the right reasons.

The week preceding the 26 July Independence Day fete marked aspects of societal-change that Maldives is now caught in. If it has taken the ’Democracy vs Development’ discourse to a new high, with an element of globalisation/internationalisation thrown in for effect, it’s not without reason. It’s a reflection of a global competition of the kind, of which Maldives became a part, with the advent of multi-party elections under the fought-for Constitution of 2008.

The week also saw the national discourse taking to the inevitable divisions that development demands and democracy entails. It was thus that the nation’s 85-member Parliament was divided across party lines (read: Opposition) when it voted in the overseas land ownership law. Outside, it found expression in the ruing Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), which had stood strongly behind President Abdulla Yameen, divided.

Party founder-chair and the nation’s longest-serving President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, sounded the bugle of caution against the new law, saying it could lead to compromising the nation’s sovereignty and security. It fell on deaf ears. The reference by the official sections of the Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had mentioned China by name, and said that the new Bill was aimed at granting Chinese military bases in Maldives, after the nation had signed in for China’s Maritime Silk Route (MSR) project, also under President Yameen.

Dual position

However, MDP ’dissidents’ who had voted for the Bill defended their decision, but with a rider that sounded as innovative as it was argumentative. Former Speaker Abdulla Shahid, tracing his political origins elsewhere, tweeted that their vote was linked to the Government’s promise to free party leader and ex-President, Mohammed Nasheed, and 1,400 other ’political prisoners’ but it did not keep its part of the deal.

The question would still arise why the MDP dissidents did not consult the party’s parliamentary group leader, Ibrahim ’Ibu’ Solih, who was also the sole authorised negotiator with the Government on its ’political demands’ of the previous months. The division became clear when the MDP issued a ’free whip’ lest the party should split and weaken further in Parliament at the very least.

The MDP’s ’dual position’ on the land ownership law contrasted with the clear, three-line whip it had issued for all party MPs voting in favour of the Second Constitution Amendment, leading to the impeachment of Vice-President Mohammed Jameel Ahmed and also the later-day clearance for successor-nominee and Tourism Minister, Ahmed Adheeb.

The present political turmoil in the Indian Ocean archipelago owes to the character of the successive leaderships and the times in which they have lived. In a way, it had started with President Gayoom’s 30 long years of what at best could be dubbed ’guided democracy’ - where the emphasis was more on development with the democratic voices being ’heard’ only in the choice and spread of education and health-care as the immediate need of the nation’s thinly-distributed insular population.

The innovative model of ’resort tourism’, supported by airline travel, thought of by another ’benevolent autocrat’ in first President, Ibrahim Nasir, provided a successful economic model for subsiding the ’development spending’ of the time. With education, development and overseas interaction of the common folks came urge and surge for more democracy - or, as much democracy as development. Nasheed was the right man at the right time and for the right cause.

The emergence of President Yameen, a former Finance Minister under half-brother Gayoom and with his known proclivity towards economic issues and development could not have waited. It also meant that democracy was here to stay, whoever and whatever the matter, and ’development’ needed to be reworked and fast-tracked to the times, when the democracy-driven aspirations, particularly of the numerously-strong younger generation needed to be met with equal force and speed.

The existence, emergence and spread of religious radicalisation and fundamentalist militancy, over which a tiny nation such as Maldives had no control, also required that development and employment knocked at the door-steps of Maldivian youth. If the pro-democracy movement -- which had outright and out-spoken support from the ’democratic West’, both before and after initiation in what otherwise too was a ’modern Islamic State’ but with a centuries-old history of one-man rule - had got it wrong, it was in dubbing every other party and leader in the country as a sympathiser/supporter of ’religious fundamentalist’ or ’fanatics’.

It also meant that democracy in a way would have to give space/way for development, if the suspected youth population were not to stray away. Incidentally, one of the fast-tracked moves for parliamentary initiatives in the days closer to the Independence Day golden jubilee, redefined ’terrorism’ in the country, and prescribed severe punishment for ’religious militancy’ and greater powers for the investigation agencies.

Overseas pro-democracy voices that had riled act of terror all along however also had a word of caution for Maldives, not to by-pass constitutional guarantees on freedom of speech, expression and organisation. Independent of their views on the Yameen presidency now or the Gayoom leadership in the past, public opinion was seemingly steering towards suggestions/demands for law placing ’reasonable restrictions’ on those freedom, lest the ’hard-fought’ freedom could dissipate into street-level anarchy.

Academically at the very least, the present-day Maldivian predicament owes to the initial enthusiasm for defining/re-defining Maldivian democracy in international context when the larger society might not have been wholly prepared for it. The democratic-divide, if it could be called so, was complete when it became clear in election after election that there was still a sizable number of ’political conservatives’ as there were ’neo-liberals’ - and neither side represented the whole spectrum of similar views and the ’dissent’ was based mainly on personalities rather than political philosophies.

It’s this politics of personalities, couched in terms of political philosophies - the reverse is also true, but only to a relatively limited extent - which has been at the centre of Maldivian national discourse just now. If someone says that there is no discourse worth the name just now, he is not wide off the mark. He is tuned to ’neo-liberal’ morals and methods and less towards the traditions of Maldivian ’democracy’ as it had existed for most part of the twentieth century, as well. ’Democratic transition’ required time, yes - but how much it could be could not have been predicted, either.

It is this democratic dilemma of contemporary Maldives that is also at the centre of the nation’s ’external agenda’. If non-god, irreligious communist philosophies could not have found ready purchase with the elected democratic leadership of a nation, supposed to be sensitive to the sentiments of the local population than the neo-liberals, the reverse has proved to be truer in reality. When the MDP and the rest of the pro-democracy groups were thus sensitive towards continuing with ’Islam’ as the sole religion of Maldives under the modern-day 2008 Constitution, the Yameen leadership could invite ’communist’ China in a very big way, in the name of development and employment-generation, no questions asked.

If in a way, Maldives has not escaped the inevitable existential developmental paradigm, or paradigm-shift, in the post-Cold War era, it has also found an equal expression in the geo-strategic context, as has been the case elsewhere, too, particularly in the immediate Indian Ocean neighbourhood. It’s thus that the MDP, while talking in terms of a Chinese military base in Maldives under the new land law (which confers ownership rights on big-ticket investors, whatever the so-called conditions), faced opposition from within when President Nasheed’s regime signed a military-centric ACSA (Acquisition and Cross-Services Agreement) with the US. In due course, the US also sought to upgrade it into SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement), conferring powers for the American military personnel to carry arms and be governed exclusively by American laws on foreign territory. On the reverse side, the Gayoom-Yameen leadership, which had opposed India’s GMR deal involving the nation’s only international airport, in the name of religion and sovereignty, is now divided at best, when it comes to China.

What should have applied to the Nasheed presidency on the ’GMR issue’ should apply to the Yameen Government, too - and vice versa. If the Yameen leadership now wants the nation and the world to believe it on the Chinese base question - it has promptly denied accusations on this score - it should have granted the very same benefit of doubt to the Nasheed leadership in its time. If the MDP is now playing politics on ’sovereignty’ issue, then the Opposition group that had taken the GMR issue to the streets and of which Yameen was a part, too could not escape similar charges, and with retrospective effect, so to say.

On the domestic front, again, the Government might find itself in knots all over again, now that national celebrations are behind the nation, and public perceptions of promises made to the MDP in particular on the Nasheed release could come to haunt its conscience as never before. The Government has already denied MDP claims of a deal linking Nasheed’s freedom to the party’s support, to ensure a two-thirds majority for a host of legislative measures, over the last week to the jubilee fete. When the chickens come home to roost, that’s when one should stop counting the chickens before the eggs had hatched.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pakistan: Peace-keeping and beyond

Zuber Singh

Pakistan’s contribution to the United Nations has largely gone unnoticed in the global community, apart from it being the largest contributor to the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. Pakistan achieved a unanimous vote at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to gain admission into the UN General Assembly (UNGA) under UNSC Resolution 29 on 12 August 1947.

At present, Pakistan has a Permanent Mission to the UN headed by Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon in New York. Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, an iconic figure at the UN for the liberation of Libya and rights for Palestine, served as the Vice-President of the International Court of Justice from 1958-1961, and President for the UNGA from 1962-1964.

Kashmir Dispute

After the end of the British rule in India that led to the formation of Pakistan, one of the major land disputes between Pakistan and India remained the princely State of Jammu and Kashmir - as it does today. As a result, both nations decided to approach the United Nations in order to resolve the dispute.

As events unfolded, Jammu and Kashmir merged with India by choice and after much deliberation within. However, as per the UN Resolution of 13 August 1948, a plebiscite would be held in the state in order to give the state the right to self-determination and decide whether it would opt to be a part of the union of India or Pakistan. The resolution also pre-conditioned a plebiscite of the kind to Pakistan withdrawing entirely from what’s now known as ’Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’ (PoK). However, even while reminding the world community about the UN resolution on plebiscite, Pakistan seldom mentions that it has enjoined PoK as a part of the larger nation, with elected representatives both to the national assembly or parliament, also for a provincial administration, overseen from Islamabad as with any other Province in the country.

In order to make sure that both India and Pakistan retreated their military forces from the state, the UN ordered the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to oversee the retreat of both forces. However, as per their reports, both sides failed to adhere to the UN Resolution as India failed to hold a plebiscite in the state while Pakistan failed to retreat its forces, and the issue remained unresolved.

Issues remain regarding the status of the UNMOGIP in Jammu and Kashmir. India argues that the mandate of UNMOGIP lapsed after the signing of the Simla Agreement in 1972, which defined the Line of Control in Kashmir, as the mandate predates the Simla Agreement. India continues to limit the activity of the UNMOGIP on its side of the Line of Control, however the UN Secretary General maintains the continuity of the UNMOGIP since no resolution has been passed in the UNSC in order to terminate it and the UN continues to closely observe the situation in the strenuous region.

Situation in Afghanistan

The Geneva Agreement of April 1988 marked a significant change in Pakistan’s role in the international community. In Geneva, a settlement was reached - regarding the situation in Afghanistan, between Pakistan and Afghanistan with the US and USSR serving as guarantors. The agreement between the two countries resulted in the revival of bilateral relations, with both parties guaranteeing not to intervene in the domestic situation in Afghanistan and a return of Afghan refugees.

As a result, the UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 622 on 20 September, 1988 that established the United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan, along with 50 military officers, which marked a symbolic role played by Pakistan at the United Nations. The situation in Afghanistan brought to light one of Pakistan’s first major roles at the UN which involved several major countries, such as the US, Soviet Union, and China. The backing given to Pakistan by China at the UN regarding the situation in Afghanistan marked a significant shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy towards China, after which China was perceived as the regional counterweight to the US and NATO hegemony in the region.

Peace-keeping troops

With more than hundred countries contributing their troops towards the United Nations Peacekeeping forces, Pakistan certainly deserves a greater role at the UN after being the largest contributor to the Peacekeeping forces with over 8,000 troops.

Pakistani troops have played a pivotal role at the UN peacekeeping missions, including complex and challenging missions in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, Haiti, and Liberia.

The country’s first significant contribution came during the deployment of the peacekeeping forces to Congo in August 1960, after UNSC Resolution 143, where Pakistan contributed 400 troops. During the Congo crisis, where multiple political upheavals and civil wars took place during the cold war, Pakistan provided crucial logistical support for the movement of troops with the Pakistani Army Supply Corps (ASC) organising the entire operation.

Following this, Pakistan’s contribution to the UN peacekeeping forces became of vital importance. In 1993 Pakistan deployed its troops to Haiti where the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) was present during the 1991 coup and military rule. The infantry battalion from Pakistan (PAKBAT) brought stabilisation to Cap-Haïtien, a region that faced an extremely volatile security situation and was the epi-centre of political restlessness.

PAKBAT played a vital role in ensuring that free and fair elections are held uninterrupted and distributed food to the impoverished people of Haiti, even from their own ration quotas. Furthermore, PAKBAT forces helped provide remote areas with water by helping NGOs and providing them with security while installing water pumps.

However, one of the country’s largest contributions was in 1999 when Pakistan deployed 5,000 troops to Sierra Leone to become the largest contributor to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone. During the Sierra Leone Civil War, Pakistan administered the crucial disarmament process while the Revolutionary United Front tried to overthrow the Joseph Momoh government. SajjadAkram, from Pakistan, served as the Force Commander and the Chief Military Observer from October 2003 to September 2005, showcasing Pakistan’s importance in the UN peacekeeping missions.

At present, Pakistani forces are deployed in Congo, as part of the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), to administer peace after the end of the Second Congo War in 2003; Liberia, to monitor a ceasefire agreement following the resignation of Charles Taylor as President after the Second Liberian Civil War; Burundi, to ensure the adherence of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement after the Burundi Civil War; Côte d’Ivoire, to facilitate the implementation of the peace agreements signed by Ivorian parties after the Civil War; and Sudan, to ensure the adherence of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the Sudanese government and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement following the end of the Second Sudanese Civil War in 2005.

Current stance

On Thursday, 2 July, 2015 Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, gave guidelines to Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, on how Pakistan needs to make its efforts at the UN more meaningful. Sharif spoke about the need for the nation to ensure that its opinions on matters pertaining to peace, security, and development need to be addressed and considered more seriously.

Sharif would be addressing the UN General Assembly in September 2015, during the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations, where he would highlight Pakistan’s foreign policies and national priorities. After a briefing by Dr MaleehaLodhi, Sharif would also be seeking to gain support for Pakistan’s views regarding the Post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and South-South cooperation, the need for developing countries to exchange resources, technology, and knowledge to foster growth.

A meeting on gender equality and women empowerment at the UNGA would be attended by Sharif while Pakistan would also be hosting the Special Summit to approve SDGs and the peacekeeping summit at the United Nations.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sino-Pak guarantee for peace?

Government officials in Pakistan and China have claimed that the two countries are willing to become guarantors of a possible peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The insurgents had reportedly declared that they would agree to a ceasefire if Islamabad and Beijing would agree to act as guarantors. The next round of talks is expected to take place in China in the coming weeks.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Afghan peace deal: Islamabad, Beijing ready to become ’guarantors’", The Express Tribune, 22 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Concern over Pak shelling

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan was summoned this week by the Deputy Foreign Minister, Hikmat Karzai to express his country’s concerns over the recent incidents of cross-border shelling by Pakistan. During the meeting, Mr Karzai called such attacks a violation of sovereignty and integrity and urged Pakistan to put an end to such incidents.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Afghan Foreign Ministry Summons Pakistani Ambassador Over Shelling", Tolo News, 23 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Support for US presence

The Afghan Ministry of Defence spokesman this week emphasised on the importance of continued financial and military assistance for the Afghan forces to battle the threat posed by the insurgents. Such a reaffirmation comes just a day after a spokesman for the US military forces stated that the pace of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is yet to be determined and a final decision to that effect will be taken only after a holistic assessment of the capabilities of the Afghan military forces.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Embattled MoD Expresses Support For Continued U.S. Presence in Afghanistan", Tolo News, 23 July 2015; "Pace Of 2016 U.S Withdrawal From Afghanistan Not Determined: Spokesman", Tolo News, 22 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BNP opposes Indian river-link

Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) expressed its concern over India’s move to implement the river linking project and urged government to take strong action against it. BNP’s reaction was in response to some reports published in Indian media that India is going to start the river linking project by setting up dams in trans-boundary rivers. The party opined that though, it is a personal issue of India but Bangladesh’s rivers will be affected by the project.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Take steps against India’s river linking project: BNP", The Daily Star, 22 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">155 repatriated from Myanmar

Myanmar repatriated 155 Bangladeshi people who were rescued from the sea on 29 May on their way to Malaysia illegally. The Myanmar authorities handed them over to Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) personnel after a short meeting.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Nine minors among 155 repatriated from Myanmar", Dhaka Tribune, 23 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India disburses full grant

Keeping its promise India has disbursed the entire $200 million grant in aid for construction of the Padma Bridge, country’s largest infrastructure project. The last instalment of $50 million was given to Bangladesh in June this year. India had announced $ 1 billion line of credit to Bangladesh during former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in 2011. Later $200 million was declared as grant in aid out of this $1 billion.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India disburses full $200 million grant it had pledged for Padma Bridge",, 16 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Exchange of enclave

Officials of India and Bangladesh met this week to discuss modalities for exchange of the land boundary agreement. The process for exchange of enclaves is scheduled to begin on 31st July and joint enumeration had been completed only on 16th July. There are 162 enclaves between India (111) and Bangladesh (51) and 51000 people are living there. No one from the 51 enclaves in Indian Territory wants to come to Bangladesh while 979 residents of the 111 enclaves inside Bangladesh want to migrate to India. India and Bangladesh signed an agreement in 1974 to resolve all the boundary dispute between the two countries but the agreement was not implemented as ratification of it was pending in the Indian parliament. In May this year the agreement was ratified by India.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indo-Bangla officials discuss land issue", The Daily Star, 24 July 2015; "Only 979 want to leave for India", The Daily Star, 21 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cabinet reshuffle

Foreign minister, LyonpoRinzinDorji has been replaced by the minister for Home and Cultural Affairs LyonpoDamchoDorji. The new Home Minister will be the Bongo-ChaphaChukha Member of Parliament DawaGyeltsen. RinzinDorji was removed following the Lhakhang Karpo case.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Foreign Minister Removed From Cabinet And Replaced By Home Minister AsChukha MP Becomes New Home Minister", The Bhutanese, 21 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Marijuana seized

The police is still searching for 44-year-old man involved in the illegal transaction of controlled substance. The suspect is said to have left marijuana weighing 200 kg with a local farmer who was arrested on 30 June.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Six sacks of Marijuana seized", Kuensel, 23 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New HIV cases

Bhutan detected four new HIV cases every month between 1 December 2014 and June this year. A total of 29 cases of people living with HIV were detected including an 18-month old child.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "29 HIV Positives detected in seven months", Kuensel, 24 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Subs to be upgraded

Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering has announced the signing of a multi-crore agreement with Russia-based JSC Ship Repairing Centre Zvyozdochka for medium refits and life certification of eight EKM 877 submarines in India. The indicative value of work proposed to be undertaken by the proposed JV is approximately Rs 11,000 crore.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Pipavav joins hands with Russia’s JSC to refit submarines", The Times of India, 21 July 2015; PipavavDefence inks pact with Russian firm", The Hindu, 21 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Worry over China slow-down

The slow-down in China is more worrisome to many Indian and American multinationals compared to the Greece crisis, a research by ASSOCHAM said. India is affected as some of the big firms which had announced mega-investments in the steel, aluminum, copper and other metals, are revisiting their plans in the wake of sharp erosion in demand, prices and profitability.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "China, not Greece, is keeping India Inc worried, says ASSOCHAM report", The Economic Times, 23 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Scams stall Parliament

Parliament has witnessed a washout since the Monsoon session began on 21 July with Congress-led opposition aggressively pressing for ouster of External Affairs Minister SushmaSwaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister VasundharaRaje, as also Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, rejecting the government’s offer for a debate.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Congress rallies Opposition on ’no resignation, no discussion’ strategy", The Indian Express, 23 July, 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nitish to receive PM

The Prime Minister will flag off the Patna-Mumbai train and address a function of ICAR, inaugurate the Jagdishpur-Haldia gas pipeline, and address an NDA rally at Muzaffarpur. Kumar said he has seen invitation of Petroleum ministry’s gas pipeline function. "I have no qualm in attending any programme during the visit."

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Nitish Kumar to welcome PM Modi, attend programmes too if invited", TheIndian Express, 22 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Gold prices fall

At around $1,100 an ounce (oz), gold prices are near their five-year lows. The fall over the past few sessions has been triggered by comments by US Fed Chair, Janet Yellen indicating a possible hike in interest rates in 2015 given satisfactory growth in the US economy.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Gold prices already factoring in US Fed rate hike: World Gold Council", Business Standard, 23 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">GST decision soon

A select committee of the Rajya Sabha has observed that the standard Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate should be within 20%. This lower than the Revenue Neutral Rate (RNR) of around 27%, arrived at by the sub-panel of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on GST, earlier.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Rajya Sabha panel for up to 20% GST rate; Congress wants it within 18%", Business Standard, 23 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Land ownership on FDI

In a controversial move, the People’s Majlis has cleared a Bill, conferring ownership rights on foreign investors putting in $ 1 billion and reclaiming 70 percent area in islands where they intended setting up their projects. The Opposition was divided on the issue while former President and ruling PPM leader, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, sought a national referendum - which President Abdulla Yameen, his half-brother, ignored.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Majlis approves foreign freeholds in second amendment to constitution", Minivan News, 22 July 2015; "Amendments raise fear of Chinese military expansion in the Maldives", Minivan News, 22 July 2015; "Second amendment on foreign land ownership likely to pass", Minivan News, 22 July 2015; "Committee passes bill on investors owning land", Haveeru Online, 23 July 2015; "Spokesperson: President won’t reply to letters sent to him that has been shared with the media", Haveeru Online, 22 July 2015; "New laws would modernize economy and trade’ says Economic Minister", Haveeru Online, 22 July 2015; "Amendments to land ownership will bring many benefits: Qasim", Minivan News, 23 July 2015; "No threat to independence of Indian Ocean: President", Miadhu, 24 July 2015; "President ratifies land ownership bill", Haveeru Online, 23 July 2015; "Gayoom’s call for referendum on foreign freeholds dismissed", Minivan News, 23 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Adheeb VP, Jameel impeached

Ending speculation of the previous months, Parliament confirmed Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb as Vice-President, after which President Abdulla Yameen swore him in. Earlier, Parliament had voted out incumbent Vice-President Mohammed Jameel Ahmed, now away in the UK< after the Opposition MDP and JP had voted with the ruling PPM-led alliance, in absentia, after his lawyer was denied permission to present his case, instead.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Ahmed Adheeb takes oath for Vice Presidency", Minivan News, 23 July 2015; "Majlis votes overwhelming ’Yes’ to Adeeb", Minivan News, 22 July 2015; "Adeeb successfully rose to all the challenges: Nihan", Miadhu, 23 July 2015; "Tourism Ministry assigned to Vice President", Miadhu, 24 July 2015; "Parliament impeaches Vice President Dr Jameel in absentia", Minivan News, 21 July 2015; "MDP puts out a three-line whip to remove the Vice President", SunOnline, 20 July 2015; "Vice president’s lawyer barred from impeachment proceedings", Minivan News, 20 July 2015; "Parliament: Vice President has to answer to the Parliament, not a lawyer", SunOnline, 20 July 2015; "Parliament passes amendment to allow one-hour debate on VP nomination", SunOnline, 20 June 2015; "My life was under threat, says former vice president", Minivan News, 21 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PG to appeal Nasheed’s case

Possibly in line with the commitment made by the Yameen Government to his MDP during political negotiations, the Prosecutor-General has said that it would appeal former President Mohammed Nasheed’s conviction in the ’Judge Abdulla terrorism case’, under penal law powers that it enjoyed. It was however independently accompanied by Nasheed defence’s claims that his temporary house-arrest has been converted into a permanent one for the 13 years of his sentence, without the Government making good of its promise to free him and 1400 other political prisoners.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "PG to appeal former president’s terrorism conviction", Minivan News, 24 July 2016; "Government tight-lipped over rumors of a pardon for Nasheed", Minivan News, 23 July 2015; "Nasheed to serve remaining part of sentence in house arrest", SunOnline, 21 July 2015; "Opposition in talks with government to alter jail sentence", Haveeru Online, 21 July 2015; "Ex president’s lawyer denied work visa", Minivan News, 20 July 2015; "Sheikh Imran moved to Maafushi Prison", SunOnline, 24 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sirisena for I-Day jubilee

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was the only Head of State and Government to confirm attendance at the golden jubilee celebrations of Maldivian Independence, on 26 July. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif cancelled his trip over heavy floods in his nation, and India was to be represented by Health Minister J P Jidda after PM Modi had cancelled his March visit and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was possibly required to be in Delhi if and when Parliament discussed the ’Lalit-gate scam’ in which her name has found a mention.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Only one head of state to attend Maldives independence celebrations", Minivan News, 23 July 2015; "Nawaz Sharif cancels visit, President turns to Sirisena", Haveeru Online, 23 July 2015; "PPM MPs slam Commonwealth ’bullying’ as opposition MPs warn against isolation", Minivan News, 21 July 2015; "President requests Majlis counsel on leaving Commonwealth", Minivan News, 19 July 2015; "VP: Leaving Commonwealth would have a negative impact on economy", SunOnline, 20 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese ire on logging arrests

Beijing on 23 July hit out at long jail sentences handed to more than 150 Chinese nationals for logging in Myanmar. This follows the Myanmar government’s crackdown on illegal forest activities in the northern Kachinstate, that borders China.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "China ire as Myanmar jails scores for illegal logging", Mizzima, 23 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Boat people returned

Myanmar sent back 155 migrants back to Bangladesh on 23 July, more than a month after rescuing them from a boat stranded at sea. Bangladesh had agreed to take by the 155, all judged to be economic migrants after a rigorous process to verify their nationality.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "155 boatpeople returned to Bangladesh", Democratic Voice of Burma, 23 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Visa deal with Thailand

Myanmar and Thailand are all set to sign the visa exemption agreement, that would come into effect from 27 August in the airports of both the countries.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Thailand, Burma to Ink Visa Exemption Deal Next Week", The Irrawaddy, 23 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maoist strike hits nation

Normal life across the country including Kathmandu Valley has been affected due to the general strike called by Netra Bikram Chand-led CPN Maoist on 24 July. Markets, schools, colleges, business enterprises remained closed. Chand-led Maoist organized today’s banda protesting the India-China bilateral agreement over Lipu Lekh--a piece of land in Nepal bordering the two neighboring countries.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "CPN Maoist’s banda affects life across the country", Republica, 24 July 2015; "CPN (M)-called banda effective without presence of cadres", Republica, 24 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Annapurna circuit reopened

Nepal reopened its most popular trekking trail to tourists on 23 July after international experts said it was safe, three months after two devastating earthquakes led the government to close most hiking routes. Miyamoto International, a California-based structural engineering company, said in a report that quake-related damage in the Annapurna region "was very limited".

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Quake-hit Nepal reopens Annapurna circuit after experts give all clear", Reuters, 23 July 2015; "Annapurna Circuit is safe", eKantipur, 23 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">CA collects feed-back

The Constituent Assembly (CA) has received altogether 33,016 suggestions through various means of communications as the deadline for registering feedback on the draft constitution expired on the evening of 21 July.With this, the formal process for registering feedback has come to an end, though organizations or individuals may still submit their suggestions to the CA.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "CA concludes feedback collection", Republica, 23 July 2015;" Feedback collection sees huge public participation", eKantipur, 22 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Reconstruction aid from China

China has announced it is to immediately implement the reconstruction of the infrastructure damaged by the earthquake and to provide Rs. one billion in financial assistance for the same. Nepal’s northern neighbour declared this in the Joint Bilateral Meeting on Post Disaster Reconstruction Plan between the Government of Nepal and Government of People’s Republic of China held at the Ministry of Finance, on Thursday.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "China announces Rs. one billion reconstruction aid", Republica, 23 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">8 subs from China

On Thursday, 23 July, 2015 Pakistan and China agreed to the largest ever defence deal for China. According to sources, the deal would cost Pakistan between $4 billion and $5 billion, which Pakistan would be paying over four instalments and the submarines would be delivered in coming years.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Defence cooperation: Pakistan to buy eight submarines from China", The Express Tribune, 24 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ISI ’used’ Imran

Veteran politician Javed Hashmi has alleged the former chief of the Pakistani army, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani and former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) head, Gen Shuja Pasha, of having used the chairman of Tehreek-i-insaf, Imran Khan, for their vested interests and has demanded a court martial of these officers.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Verdict darkened Imran’s political future, says Hashmi", Dawn, 24 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">$337-m US aid on cards

Under the Coalition Support Fund, the Obama Administration would be providing a $337 million fund to Pakistan following Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Although Pakistan was hoping that the US would provide funds before 30 June, 2015, the US has provided Pakistan with $1.7 billion as CSF disbursements in the fiscal year 2015, compared to $675 million in fiscal 2014.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Military aid: US to make $337 million payment to Pakistan under CSF", The Express Tribune, 24 July 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Protection for Chinese engineers

The Pakistani government has ordered the local police to get 240 new recruits by August, 2015 in order to protect the Chinese engineers working at the Nandipur power plant. The Punjab government has assigned a Special Protection unit for the Chinese workers, however the recruitment process for new constables has not yet been initiated.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "240 cops for Chinese engineers’ protection", Dawn, 24 July 2015

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Political tsunami’ warned

President Maithripala Sirisena’s SLFP-UPFA leader, Dulla Alahapperuma has warned of a ’political tsunami’ in Sri Lanka if the former did not respect the people’s verdict. He was referring to President Sirisena’s declaration that he would not let predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa to return as prime minister even if the SLFP-UPFA won an absolute majority in the parliamentary polls.

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

"Dullas warns of political tsunami if people’s wish is not respected", The Island, 21 July 2015; "Mahinda camp accuses JVP of dirty tricks", The Island, 21 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Defence Secretary on national security

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that the present Government has given less priority to national security. Ahead of the parliamentary polls, he has also said that his life and that of his brother and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa were in danger.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: ""Govt. has given less priority for national security: Gota", Daily Mirror Online, 21 July 2015; "Gota claims his life is at risk", Ceylon Today, 22 Juyy 2015; "Three army personnel arrested in white van", Daily Mirror Online, 21 July 2015; "UPFA demands impartial probe?Arrest of soldiers in white van at Mirihana", The Island, 21 July 2015; "Ex-LTTE member arrested is a close aide of Prabhakaran", Colombo Gazette, 22 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Killed ISIS militant a Kandy local?

Based on the National Identity Card (NIC) details collected from the body of an ISIS militant killed in Syria, the Sri Lankan police have identified the dead as a local from Kandy. Further investigations are on.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Lankan ISIS militant: Police probe based on NIC", Daily Mirror Online, 21 July 2015; "Intelligence services probing reports of Lankan’s ISIS links - Deputy Foreign Minister", The Island, 21 July 2015; "Probe source of funding to Muslim extremists: BBS", Daily Mirror Online, 21 July 2015

Primary Documentation


Recommendations submitted to His Majesty the King on appointment and transfer of Cabinet Ministers, Cabinet Secretariat, 21 July 2015


Myanmar handed over 155 verified Bangladeshi nationals among those rescued by Myanmar Navy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 23 July 2015


Press Release on the Separate Courtesy Calls on the FM and FS by the three newly appointed ambassadors, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 23 July 2015

Press Release on Nepal’s Participation to the Third International Conference on FfD, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 17 July 2015




Joseph Goldstein, "Afghan Security Forces Struggle Just to Maintain Stalemate", The New York Times, 22 July 2015

Opinion Pieces

SyedaMamoonaRubab, "Kabul conundrum", The Friday Times, 24 July 2015

Naimat Khan, "The new face of terror", The Friday Times, 24 July 2015

DavoodMoradian, "Iran deal: A possible game-changer for Afghanistan", Al Jazeera, 22 July 2015

ArifRafiq, "The Taliban Comes to the Table: Could the Afghan War Finally Wind Down?", National Interest, 21 July 2015

Emily Winterbotham, "Afghanistan’s Peace Process: A Long Road Ahead", The Diplomat, 20 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Muhammad Yunus, "Towards building a new civilisation", The Daily Star, 21 July 2015

AhmedeHussain , " What Khaleda Did", The Daily Star, 23 July 2015

Sarath Kumara, "Japan competes with China over port investment in Bangladesh",, 22 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Curtis S. Chin, "Bhutan’s AIIB Decision: The costs & privileges of membership", Kuensel, 18 July 2015

Kuensel, "Back with a bang", Kuensel, 24 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

C. Raja Mohan, "10 yrs of Indo-US civil nuclear deal: Transformation of the bilateral relationship is the real big deal", The Indian Express, 20 July 2015

C. Raja Mohan, "Chinese Takeaway: Abe’s Defence", The Indian Express, 21 July 2015


Manoj Joshi, "Why it’s time for India to invest in Iran", Mid-Day, 21 July 2015

ArghyaSengupta, "An atonement gone too far?" The Hindu, 23 July 2015

Christophe Jaffrelot, "Who mainstreamed BJP?" The Indian Express, 21 July 2015

Nimesh Shah, "Greece takes a back seat, and Indian equities move to the front", Live Mint, 23 July 2015

RC Bhargava, "For ’Make in India’ to succeed, industry and labour cannot afford to be adversaries any longer", The Economic Times, 23 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Devyani Srivastava, "Special laws must not pre-empt general criminal law", Minivan News, 18 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

The Irrawaddy, "Please, General, Keep Your Promise", The Irrawaddy, 22 July 2015

Janelle Safin, "The election- free, fair and credible?", Myanmar Times, 23 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Shashi Tharoor, "India over China", eKantipur, 22 July 2015

NeelamAdhikar, "Path to Greatness", Republica, 22 July 2015

Himalaya Kharel, "Not just a ticket", eKantipur, 24 July 2015

Ram C. Acharya, "Life under Federalism", eKantipur, 23 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

I. A. Rehman, "A game-changing deal", Dawn, 23 July 2015.

Syed Mohammad Ali, "Detente with Iran", The Express Tribune, 24 July 2015.

Zubeida Mustafa, "Who pays the bill?", Dawn, 24 July 2015.

Hasnain Iqbal, "Deconstructing the myth of Zardari", The Express Tribune, 24 July 2015.

Asha’arRehman, "By popular choice", Dawn, 24 July 2015.

Zushan Ahmad Hashmi, "What Pakistan and Afghanistan mean to Australia", The Express Tribune, 24 July 2015

SakibSherani, "Productivity challenge", Dawn, 24 July 2015.

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Steve Creech, "Despite threats and assurances, an armada of trawlers, fish freely in Lankan waters", Daily Mirror Online, 22 July 2015

Gomin Dayasiri, "Talk of an enigma... Here is another election result", Daily Mirror Online, 22 July 2015

Jehan Perera, "De-railing former President’s comeback", The Island, 21 July 2015

Ranga Jayasuriya, "Even President seems to be voting for UNP...", Daily Mirror Online, 20 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

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