MonitorsPublished on Sep 12, 2014
In an ambitious legislative move aimed at attracting big-time investments spread across the archipelago, the Maldivian Government of President Abdulla Yameen has got the Parliament to pass a new law for setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
Maldives: SEZs are here but concerns remain
< class="heading1">Analysis

In an ambitious legislative move aimed at attracting big-time investments spread across the archipelago, the Maldivian Government of President Abdulla Yameen has got the Parliament to pass a new law for setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The law received the presidential assent recently, and "regulates the classification, establishment, management, investment, and incentives to developers and investors of independent business zones".

Approved by the People’s Majlis, or Parliament, with six out of 245 amendments proposed from the floor accepted, the Bill was passed with a majority of 60 votes in the 85-member House. The Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had proposed over 200 amendments to the Bill. Yet, it was the decision of the Jumhooree Party (JP), founded by billionaire-politician Gasim Ibrahim, to support the Government that made political headlines. With this, the poll-time ally of President Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) may have commenced negotiations to re-work the damaged relations, if not rejoin the ruling coalition.

Hopes for reviving and re-directing the economy through the SEZs comes after close to a decade of political instability, which started with the pro-democracy movement. It refused to go away even after the advent of multi-party democracy and the election of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) nominee Mohammed ’Anni’ Nasheed as the nation’s first President in a multiple-candidate election.

Worse still, the unforgettable ’GMR fiasco’ involving the tumultuous course faced by a big-time Indian investor on the Male international airport modernisation still has the potential to rattle overseas investors. It is not about who was right or who was wrong on the induction of the Indian infrastructure major and the subsequent cancellation of the contract, or if GMR had done ’political due diligence’ as President Yameen put it once in recent weeks. It’s about the ability of the Maldivian Government to inspire confidence in foreign investors that political changes in the country would not affect either their investments, or contractual terms, or the overall investment climate.

’Legal safe-haven’ on ’fifth-gear’

It’s in this context that President Yameen has claimed that SEZs, when created, would provide a legal safe-haven for investors. "Parties willing to invest billions of dollars rise the question of how long a period they would be allowed to obtain land for...We do not even get the opportunity to sit down and hold discussions with such major investors. We have now created the legal environment needed to attract major investments," the Haveeru quoted him as saying.

With the law in place, the Government lost no time in setting up the SEZ Investment Board, headed by Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb and Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed as Deputy Chairman, for clearing proposals. The Government sought to silence criticism by arguing that the appointment of Cabinet Ministers on the Board did not violate constitutional provisions as they were not occupying any new ’office of profit’. It could not have been otherwise either, as the very purpose of the creation of the SEZs and the setting up of the Board was to fast-track investment decisions.

Minister Adheeb claimed that the work on the SEZs was on the ’fifth gear’, and the idea was to commence practical work within November. The scheme provides for SEZ zones to be sanctioned for developers, who would then bring in individual investors, as each project may require. "The law mentions different types of SEZ. We will evaluate areas and develop the type of SEZ most suitable and with the most potential to each area. We will assign SEZ in line with investment proposals we get. We will give priorities to companies proposing the largest investments to infrastructure," Minister Adheeb was quoted as saying. As he pointed out, the SEZ Act empowers the board to establish offshore finance zones, industrial park zones and ports zones, and also to grant incentives.

Soft-pedalling Chinese plans

According to Minister Adheeb, companies had sent investment proposals large enough to build sea-ports and airports. The list included major Chinese corporations, the Minister said. However, he did not seem to have clarified if these were the same Chinese investors who had evinced interest in Maldives at the Singapore road-show, inaugurated by President Yameen, earlier this year.

Needless to point out that the repeated mention of China on the investment and industry fronts have caused eyebrows to rise inside the country and outside. It seems to be in continuance, or as an alternative to unilateral Chinese proposal for a comprehensive development of an entire atoll on its terms when President Nasheed was in office. Reportedly hesitant to say ’No’ initially, the Government at the time seemed to have soft-pedalled the Chinese move after a time. Security concerns, both from within and outside the Government and Maldives, were said to be among the causes.

Now, such concerns may revolve around the possibility of China converting any island/atoll-property into a near-exclusive Chinese resort for Chinese tourists, or exclusive Chinese industrial units with only Chinese labour. According to security analysts, the possibilities, both internally and externally, are many. Given the geo-strategic locale of Maldives, the near-simultaneous American interest in wanting to upgrade the recently-signed ACSA (Acquisition and Cross-Services Agreement) into SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) not long after too is believed to have been necessitated by the Chinese proposal of the time.

Wait-and-watch approach

It is here neighbouring countries like India, if not Sri Lanka per se, too may have issues. Needless to point out, the Indian concerns would continue to revolve around Chinese investors. While not opposed to Chinese investors or investments proper or even contest them remotely in terms of facilitating growth and neighbourhood of individual ’sovereign’ nations in the immediate neighbourhood, India would still be wary of the motives and methods of the Chinese institutions that actually get involved.

To that extent, India is - and should be - equally concerned about ’friendly nations’ like the US too seeking to make fresh forays into its ’traditional areas of influence’ and security concerns, however shared those concerns maybe. India may hence continue to adopt a ’wait-and-watch’ approach of ’cautious optimism’ viz expected Chinese investments and involvement in Maldives’ SEZ projects.

External security concerns flowing from SEZ does not stop with those of India’s. Nor are they exclusive to SEZs. Successive Maldivian Governments, including the incumbent, have publicly expressed concern about terror groups from outside the country taking advantage of the tourism-driven visa regime and forex-mechanisms. There is acknowledgement of the fact that such terror initiatives (including those of the Pakistani ISI, but not stopping with it, particularly in recent weeks and months) might involve the use of Maldivian territory to target friendly and dependable neighbours like India and Sri Lanka.

All this, even while terrorists try and ’recruit’ locals for their purposes, for ’operations’ outside the country just now - but could be well within the country, in the months and years to come. While there have not been many reports of terrorists targeting Maldives or its neighbours per se using Maldivian territory, individual Maldivians have been known to have participated in self-styled jihadists’ war on the US-NATO forces along the Af-Pak border in the past, and died in the ongoing civil war in distant Syria, as well.

Employment & employability

Going beyond security concerns, either of the Indian neighbour or locals, the Maldivian Government cannot afford to overlook the reality of engaging Chinese firms in economic activities on employment opportunities that could create more jobs locally but without benefitting the locals. Marketing the concept of SEZ to fellow-Maldivians, Government leaders, starting with President Yameen, have been talking about the large-scale scope of employment opportunities for their nation’s youth. But Chinese investors - most of them public sector firms - are known to come with Chinese employees for all posts, big and small. Recent Maldivian experiences with China-funded housing schemes would bear testimony.

In a nation where youth constitute 50 percent of the population, and their frustrations in the face of high incidence of unemployment and perceptions of under-employment had contributed in a big way to ’pro-democracy protests’ in the past, it is saying a lot. Worse still, the high incidence of crime, and also higher incidence of drug-abuse and divorce (both inter-linked) are also attributed to lack of employment and employability.

It is in this context, the Chinese investors’ proclivity to work with their own labour in foreign lands - and possible indifference to help local employees improve their skills - could become a political/electoral issue in Maldives in the years to come. This would still be independent of the overall economic prosperity that SEZs might otherwise bring in - exclusive Chinese or otherwise.

Such a scenario could replicate the advent of resort-tourism three decades ago. While it improved the nation’s economy and that of individual domestic investors manifold, the common man found costs shooting up, and expectations and needs expanding even more. While welcome initially, all political parties, including incumbent Government leaders, say that the resultant imbalance has necessitated the unsustainable subsidies regime - starting with a high percentage of government jobs on relatively high salaries/wages, but not stopping with it.

For all this, however, it cannot be gainsaid, increasing national discourse on the SEZ, if directed properly, has the potential to divert Maldivian national attention and engagement with political issues of the pro-democracy kind to bread-and-butter concerns involving jobs, family incomes and price-rise. If the campaign is successful, people will be voting on economic issues, rather than politics-driven issues of democracy.

Even otherwise, 10 years and a generation after multi-party democracy arrived in Maldives in 2008, it remains to be seen if it would be the main issue in the next national elections in 2018. If SEZs and other economic initiatives of this Government are able to take it away from the national political agenda of the past decade is thus the question that the nation and its friends outside, sociologists and pollsters would all be looking for.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Myanmar: 51.4 million strong, yet fragmented

Mihir Bhonsale

The provisional results for the census put the total population of the Union of Myanmar at 51.4 million, 9 million short of the official estimates of 60 million. However, 51.4 million is a figure to reckon with for a South East Asian country, if only the country was united to reap the benefits of its large demographic size.

The latest exercise was conducted in March-April this year and the provisional results were declared on 30 August. Myanmar has conducted a census after a gap of more than 30 years, with the last being conducted in 1983 under the military rule. This time around a quasi-civilian government with the help of UNFPA conducted the exercise in 11 million households across the country.

Response from Ethnic groups

The officially recognised 135 ethnic sub-groups, except the Kachin and the Kayin were said to be enumerated by the census. Rohingyas, mainly concentrated in the northern Rakhine state of Myanmar were yet again left out of the census and the government estimated their population to be over 1 million.

The ethnic groups expressed resentment over the questionnaire used for the census, which they accused reinforced the Bamar bias in denying their identity. The ethnic groups also claimed that they were not taken into confidence in chalking out the enumeration exercise.

The Kachin Independence Organization boycotted the census and hence 27,000 villages remained inaccessible to the enumerators. The government also had to rely on Kayin National Union (KNU) for the census data.

The government refused to enlist a category- ’Rohingyas’ in the census. They stuck to the term ’Bengalis’ which the government uses officially for identifying the Rohingyas. The continuance of the policy of persecution against the Rohingyas, has been a long-standing problem in Myanmar and the census confirmed the bias.

The ethnic groups and opposition parties want the final census data out before the 2015 Elections. The final data, however, can be expected in May 2015 and a report by November 2015, the government has said. The government has made it clear that they would not risk such a scenario where publication of the final census findings trigger resumption of conflict in the country.

With granting more autonomy to states being considered in the constitutional review underway in the country, the total composition of the ethnic groups would be detrimental to shaping the state-union government relations of the future.

Falling short

The government has come up with an explanation that the census could not enumerate people staying outside the country, mainly migrant workers and students, hence the census figure falls short of the official estimates.

The trend is still short of a 5 million people, and has consequences on a country emerging as a frontier market and a new destination for investment. IMF representatives have already sounded that the companies are reassessing their ambitions in the frontier market. The new investments which the quasi-civilian government is courting might also be affected due to the census findings.

Myanmar’s consumer market has now shrunk, which is not much when compared to other Asian countries, but the census figure shows outside businesses that Myanmar is quite an attractive place to invest.

The government has also highlighted the higher purchasing power capacity, a finding of the census as a driving force for investments in the country. The census has also found the higher population of female to male, something rare for a South East Asian country.

Looking ahead

The provisional census data gives a sense of Myanmar’s long unknown population, but it has also omitted key indicators, including the total composition of the ethnic groups that live in it, choosing instead to release such data in May of next year, around the time of the next general elections.

Considering that census figures are key to planning of the economy, Myanmar has completed the task fairly well. For now, the data collected would prove to be useful in planning and prioritising developmental work in the Least Developed Country. However, to benefit from its demographic size the country would need to prioritize national integration, to take along the many ethnicities which are central to the success of Myanmar in the times to come.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Results to be announced next week

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan announced that it would announce the results for the Afghan Presidential Elections by next week. The IEC announced that they would release the results regardless of the political stalemate between the two candidates.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "IEC to Announce Final Results Next Week", Tolo News, 11 September 2014; "IEC to Announce Results regardless of Deal between Candidates" Tolo News, 8 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Political process has entered deadlock’

Claiming that there was no legitimacy in the entire political process, Dr Abdullah Abdullah claimed that the political process had entered a deadlock. He claimed that his team were the winners and he would not accept the result of the audit. Negotiations between the two candidates failed yet again to achieve a breakthrough. Even the UN Secretary General called upon the two candidates to quickly resolve the deadlock.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Political Process Has Entered Deadlock: Abdullah", Tolo News, 8 September 2014; "Abdullah says his team will not accept the election result", Khaama Press, 8 September 2014;"UN Secretary-General calls Afghan candidates to push unity government deal", Khaama Press, 12 September 2014; "Talks over unity government once again fails" Khaama Press, 12 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian Foreign Minister in Afghanistan

The Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj during her visit to Kabul this week reiterated India’s commitment to stand by Afghanistan post-2014 and support the new leader in Kabul. The two countries agreed to intensify cooperation in areas like security, defence and reconstruction work in the war-torn country.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "India, Afghanistan to intensify security, defence cooperation", The Economic Times, 10 September 2014; "Afghanistan to remain India’s ally: Karzai", Pajhwok, 10 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Karzai claims terrorist bases outside Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai during the SCO Summit claimed that safe havens for terrorist groups causing havoc in the region were located outside Afghanistan. Earlier in the week, the Helmand police chief had issued a statement claiming that the Pakistan government paid 4000 Afghanis per day to the Taliban to fight against the ANSF.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Terrorism safe havens located outside Afghanistan, Karzai tells SCO summit", Khaama Press, 12 September 2014;


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Visit of Japanese Prime Minister

Bangladesh-Japan relations got a major boost following the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. PM Abe in his 24 hour long visit met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The visit resulted in a joint statement that outlined future economic, security and cultural cooperation between the two countries. Besides, Bangladesh as a goodwill gesture announced withdrawal of Bangladesh’s candidature for the non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in support of Japan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Dhaka sacrifices UNSC candidacy for Tokyo", The Independent, 7 September 2014; "Japanese investors upbe", The Independent, 7 September 2014; "No give-and-take policy: Japan", The Independent, 7 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Navy asks for Tk 14,000 crore to strengthen force

Bangladesh Navy has sought Tk14000crore for transforming it into a three-dimensional force to ensure security of its 1, 18,813 square kilometre of sea territory. In this context the Navy chief submitted the plan to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently, and sought funds within eight years. Allocation of funds will help Navy to purchase submarines, war ships and helicopters, and set up naval bases.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Navy seeks Tk 14,000crore to strengthen force", The Independent, 9 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Agencies asked to unearth source of militant financing

In a major initiative to counter militancy the government has asked all its law enforcement agencies and Bangladesh Bank to dig up the sources of the financing for the Islamist militant outfits active in the country. The directive was given at the first meeting of the task force held this week. A 17-member task force was constituted on August 20 this year to strengthen coordination between different agencies working to trace the source of militant funding. The groups are claimed to be involved in drug peddling, human trafficking, gold and arms smuggling to collect money

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Agencies asked to unearth source of militant financing", Dhaka Tribune, 12 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India and Bhutan to hold development talks

Bhutan and India would hold the 3rd round of development cooperation talks for the 11th Five Year Plan during which Indian aid of INR 45 billion would be discussed and 50 proposed projects would be reviewed. The two countries also decided to expedite joint projects.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "India, Bhutan to hold 3rd round of development talks on Thursday", The Indian Express, 10 September 2014; "India, Bhutan to speed up mutually agreed projects",, 11 September 2014;

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan to generate wind power

The country’s 600 kilowatt pilot wind power project at Rubessa, Wangdue is likely to be ready by February 2016, generating 1.21 million units of energy and earning a revenue of about Nu 2.5 a year.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "First wind power project to generate 600 KW", Kuensel Online, 11 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan poverty reduced by half

A joint study by the National Statistics Bureau and World Bank has said that from 2007 to 2012, the poverty in Bhutan was reduced by half from 25 percent to 12.7 percent. The report also projected that the multidimensional poverty rate would stand below 10 percent in 2018.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Poverty slashed by half?extreme poverty slashed by 2036", < Kuensel Online 12 September 2016


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Massive floods strain relief effort in Kashmir

Relief efforts struggled to cope with the most severe floods in Jammu and Kashmir in more than a century. Continuous rainfall over the last week caused a breach in the Jhelum embankment and inundated large parts of valley, including capital Srinagar. 450 people have died, 220 in Srinagar alone. Relief agencies, the Army, Air Force, National Disaster Response Force, and local volunteers have rescued 1.3 lakh people so far. Prime Minister Modi declared the floods a ’national level disaster’, promising continued support to the state government. Though water levels have receded, experts fear that lack of sanitation, clean water, and medical supplies could lead to epidemic.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Centre takes charge of relief operations in J&K as Omar govt goes ’missing’", The Times of India, 12 September 2014; G Vishnu and Riyaz Wani, "How the deluge drowned an administration" Tehelka, 11 September 2014; "Jammu and Kashmir Floods: Communication and Connectivity the Biggest Challenge, Says Army Chief", NDTV, 10 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Government approves disinvestment in key public sector companies

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved reducing the government’s share in three key public sector units - the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), Coal India (CIL), and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). The Committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has decided to disinvest 11.36 percent paid up equity capital out of its shareholding of 85.96 percent in NHPC, 10 percent out of 89.65 percent in CIL, and five percent out of 68.94 percent in ONGC though the offer for sale scheme. This is expected to raise revenue worth Rs 43,800 crore and contribute towards the government’s goal of reducing state fiscal deficit to 4.1 percent.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Govt clears Coal India, ONGC, NHPC share sales", Live Mint, 10 September 2014; "The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approves Disinvestment of NHPC, Coal India and ONGC out of Government of India shareholding", Business Standard, 10 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Aam Aadmi Party exposes BJP’s attempts to engineer defection

Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal released a video in which BJP’s Delhi state vice-president Sher Singh Dagar appears to provoke AAP’s Dinesh Mohaniya to defect by offering a bribe. Subsequently, the party petitioned Governor Najeeb Jung to withdraw his earlier decision to recommend that the BJP be invited to form government by virtue of it being the single largest party in elections held in late 2013. AAP has also written to President Pranab Mukherjee to dissolve the Assembly and order fresh polls.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Arrest BJP’s Dagar: AAP tells Bassi", The Times of India, 12 September 2014; "’BJP Was in Touch With 15 AAP Legislators’: Arvind Kejriwal’s New Allegation", NDTV, 9 September 2014; "AAP goes to police chief, seeks FIR against Dagar", The Indian Express, 12 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UP police files charge sheet against Amit Shah

The Uttar Pradesh police filed a charge sheet against BJP President Amit Shah for delivering a hate speech during general elections on 10 September. The local court based in Muzaffarnagar, however, refused to entertain the charge sheet on grounds of technical irregularities. The police, according to the court, did not follow the protocol of arresting the accused before filing the charge sheet. During an election rally in April, Shah had called upon the Jat community to extract revenge for loses in riots with the Muslim community. He was subsequently banned from campaigning in the state by the Election Commission.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "BJP president Amit Shah charged in Muzaffarnagar hate speech case" The Times of India, 10 September 2014; "BJP President Amit Shah Chargesheeted for April Speech", NDTV, 10 September 2014; "Court refuses to take cognisance of charge sheet against Amit Shah", The Hindu, 11 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">German Foreign Minister visits India

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited India and held meetings with Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on 8 September. The talks focused on trade, investment, technology, and renewable energy. Germany is India’s largest European trading partner and 8th largest foreign direct investor. Steinmeier is also believed to have urged India to reconsider its earlier decision against buying the Eurofighter aircraft, built in part by Germany. He visited several projects involving German support during his visit, including a Delhi Metro construction site and a public school. The visit lays the ground work ahead of next year’s visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visits Metro, says ’impressed’ by political will, The Economic Times, 7 September 2014; "German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier meets Modi", India Today, 8 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India and ASEAN sign FTA

India signed the free trade agreement (FTA) in services and investments with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), two years after the discussions on the pact concluded. The agreement is expected to result in freer movement of professionals and further open up opportunities for investments.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "India signs FTA in services, investments with ASEAN", Indian Express, 9 September 2014; India signs FTA in services, investments with ASEAN", The Economic Times, 9 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan-India Development Cooperation

India and Bhutan today agreed to speed up the implementation of the mutually agreed projects in Bhutan during the third round of the Bhutan-India development Cooperation Talks to review the Indian assistance of INR 45 billion for Bhutan’s 11th Five Year Plan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India, Bhutan to speed up mutually agreed projects", Business Standard, 11 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Census-boycott threat

The Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has threatend to boycott the national census, if the Government failed to locate journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, missing for over a month now.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "MDP warns of a census boycott if authorities fail to find missing journalist", Minivan News, 11 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Health’ under President’s care

In a fresh move, President Abdulla Yameen will be personally overseeing Health, one of the key sectors of Government administration in Maldives. (After his taking over office, President Yameen had entrusted the Health sector to the overall care of Vice-President, Dr Mohammed Jameel Ahmed, with a Cabinet Minister otherwise in-charge).

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "President Yameen to personally oversee health sector", Minivan News, 11 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No right to ’innocent passage’

In the light of reports emanating from Colombo that Sri Lanka might seek and obtain right to innocent passage through Maldivian seas for their fishing boats, the Fisheries Ministry in Male has denied granting permission for the purpose without prior authorisation.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Fisheries ministry denies granting permission for Sri Lankan vessels to cross Maldivian waters", Minivan News, 11 September 2014; "Maldives proposes to establish two sub-commissions with Sri Lanka", SunOnline, 11 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Jinping coming

Following up on the recent China visit of Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Yameen, and as part of his three-nation South Asia tour that includes India and Sri Lanka, Chinese President Jinping will be arriving at Male on Sunday, 14 September.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Chinese President to visit Maldives on Sunday", Haveeru Online, 10 September, 2014; "Bond of friendship between China and Maldives is very important- Foreign Minister", Miadhu, 12 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UEC scraps by-elections

The Union Election Commission has scrapped by-elections planned for later this year to fill vacant seats in the Parliament. UEC chairman, Tin Aye said on 7 September that the bye-elections had been scrapped for three reasons, with the main one being the financial burden they would impose on the government and small parties.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Election Commission scraps this year’s By-elections", Eleven Myanmar, 8 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Netherlands to help Burma manage water

The Dutch government announced a support of 3.9 million U.S. Dollars for managing Burma’s water projects on the last day of Burmese President, Thein Sein’s ten day European tour. The aid is not unconditional and hinges on the Thein Sein government involving all groups in the process of democracy building and protects the rights of minorities.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Netherlands to help Burma manage water", Democratic Voice of Burma, 10 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ethnic leaders discuss final ceasefire accord

The Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) a 16 member group of ethnic peace negotiators began their three day meeting in Chaing Mai to finalize the ceasefire accord which they are likely to present to the government by the end of September.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Ethnic leaders discuss final ceasefire accord", Democratic Voice of Burma, 10 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India-Nepal-China ties for peace, stability need to be enhanced

There is a need for greater trilateral cooperation and collaboration among India, China and Nepal for their prosperity and economic development as well as establishing regional peace and stability, said delegates attending a symposium organised by Nepal Institute of International and Strategic Studies.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Need to enhance India-Nepal-China ties for peace, stability, The Economic Times, 11 September 2014; Vision for New Nepal, The Himalayan Times, 11 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">National political conference on 16 September

A meeting of the taskforce held to finalize the date of the National Political Conference as demanded by the CPN-Maoist has agreed to hold the conference on September 16. The taskforce was assigned to finalize the date after a meeting of the four major parties held on Thursday had failed to forge agreement on the date of conference.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Nat’l political conference to be held on Sept 16 Republica, 12 September 2014; Parties agree to hold all-party meet on Sept 16, eKantipur, 12 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Taliban, AQ claim attack on Karachi navy dockyard

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for an attack on a naval dockyard that left an officer and three insurgents dead. TTP claimed that it had help from inside the naval force for the attack. Two days after the TTP claim, al Qaeda’s new South Asia branch claimed responsibility for the raid as well.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "New Al-Qaeda South Asia arm claims Karachi attack", The News International, 11 September 2014; "Taliban claim attack on Karachi navy dockyard", Dawn, 9 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Navy officials arrested in connection with dockyard attack

Pakistan Security forces have arrested three suspects from the Lak Pass area of Quetta while they were trying to flee to Afghanistan. They were allegedly involved in the attack on Karachi naval dockyard. The suspects are Navy officials and have been shifted to Karachi for further interrogation.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Three Navy men arrested from Quetta" The Nation, 12 September 2014; "Navy officials arrested in connection with dockyard attack", Dawn, 12 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Foreign Office rejects Indian spying claim; Chinese president visit delayed, not cancelled

The Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson has rejected the claim of India’s National Investigation Agency that it has arrested a Sri Lankan national who was allegedly spying for Pakistan. She also clarified that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Islamabad has been delayed and not cancelled because of the protests taking place in Islamabad.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "No Lankan spying for Pakistan, FO rejects Indian claim", The Nation, 12 September 2014; "Foreign Office refutes India’s claims of arresting Pakistani spy", The Express Tribune, 11 September 2014; "Chinese president visit delayed, not cancelled: FO", The Nation, 11 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Qadri condemns attack on Geo News

Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Tahirul Qadri has condemned the attack on the Geo News office and said that he has never said a word against Jang and Geo. He claimed that people belonging to the government had attacked the office of the television channel.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Qadri condemns attack on Geo News", The News International, 12 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Imran Khan: Two MNAs, policeman behind Tahira, Hendry murders

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTO) chief Imran Khan has alleged that two members of the National Assembly (MNA) and a policeman are behind the murder plots of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA Tahira Asif and National Party’s Member of Provincial Assembly Hendry Masih.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Two MNAs, cop behind Tahira, Hendry murders: Imran Khan", The News International, 11 September 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ready to talk to TNA, no external probe: President

In an interview to the Chennai-based daily, The Hindu, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that his Government was ready to talk to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and would continue with the on-going internal inquiry into ’accountability issues’, but not allow the proposed external investigation, as mandated by the UNHRC.

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

"We will not allow an external probe", The Hindu, 11 September 2014; "Global observer needed for talks with Sri Lankan government, says Sampanthan", The Hindu, 12 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Jaya writes to PM to be firm with Sri Lanka

In the wake of fresh detention of Tamil Nadu fishermen and their boats by the Sri Lanka Navy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to renew her call that the Centre send out a "firm, clear, unequivocal and unambiguous message" to the Sri Lanka.

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

"Jayalalithaa writes to Modi on seized boats", The Hindu, 12 September 2014; "Colombo stonewalling fishermen issue", The Hindu, 12 September 2014; The Hindu, 12 September 2014; "We will release fishermen, not trawlers" The Hindu, 11 September 2014; "Indian fishermen destroy environment: Rajapaksa", The Hindu, 11 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ITAK resolutions encourage separatism: Gota

Reacting to the 15-point resolution passed at the 15th conference of the ITAK leader of the multi-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at its three-day Vavuniya conference, Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that each of these resolution encouraged separatism, and a tangible campaign was needed to neutralise the threat.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Gotabhaya: ITAK resolutions meant to cause political turmoil", The Island, 12 September 2014; "Gota engages with NGOs", The Daily Mirror, 11 September 2014

Primary Documentation


External Affairs Minister’s speech at the inauguration of Flag Monument in Kabul Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 10 September 2014

External Affairs Minister’s speech at the inauguration of Chancery in Kabul, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 10 September 2014

Statement by President Hamid Karzai to commemorate Martyrs week, Office of the President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 9 September 2014


Joint Statement on the Outcome of the Official Visit of Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, to Bangladesh, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh, 6-7 September 2014


Joint Press Statement on 3rd Bhutan-India Development Cooperation Talks for the 11th Five Year Plan for Bhutan, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 11 September 2014


Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Joint Press Statement on 3rd Bhutan-India Development Cooperation Talks for the 11th Five Year Plan for Bhutan, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 11 September 2014

External Affairs Minister’s speech at the inauguration of Flag Monument in Kabul Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 10 September 2014

External Affairs Minister’s speech at the inauguration of Chancery in Kabul, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 10 September 2014

Remarks by Secretary (East) - On the occasion of the visit of ASEAN students under the ASEAN-India Students Exchange Programme, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 8 September 2014

Suhasini Haidar’s interview of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier ’Germany, India strategic partners with excellent economic relations’, The Hindu, 7 September 2014

Secretary (ER&DPA)’s address at the first Indian Ocean Dialogue held under the Indian Ocean Rim Association at Kochi Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 6 September 2014

Remarks by Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs & Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs at "Diaspora Engagement Meet" - Bahrain, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 6 September 2014


Press Release of Myanmar agreeing to the appointment of the new Ambassador of Malaysia in Myanmar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 September 20014

Press Release of President Thein Sein’s meeting with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, The Republic of Union of Myanmar, President’s Office, 11 September 2014


Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 11th September 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 11 September 2014

PR No. 34 PRESS RELEASE HIGH COMMISSIONER OF BANGLADESH CALLS ON MINISTER FOR IT & TELECOM MRS. ANUSHA RAHMAN, Press Information Department, Government of Pakistan, 11 September 2014

PR No. 19 PRESS RELEASE Afghanistan is vital for a prosperous Pakistan: Barjees Tahir Press Information Department, Government of Pakistan, 9 September 2014

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Response to Indian Prime Minister’s Letter, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 8 September 2014

Assistance to Flood Affectees in Kashmir, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 7 September 2014

Visit of Chinese President to Pakistan postponed - to be re-scheduled at an early date, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 6 September 2014

Sri Lanka

Text of the D.O. letter addressed by the Honble Chief Minister to the Honble Prime Minister on fishermen issues: Issued by the Government of Tamil Nadu, Government of Tamil Nadu, 11 September 2014



Ioannis Kosnikas, "The Only Choice Left for Afghanistan", Foreign Policy, 11 September 2014

Omar Samad, "Afghanistan: At Risk of a two-headed government?", Al Jazeera, 11 September 2014

Hashmat Moslih, "Afghanistan in the shadow of Ahmad Shah Massoud", Al Jazeera, 9 September 2014

Shaida M. Abdali, "Recommitting to a Shared Mission Against Terrorism", Foreign Policy, 8 September 2014

Jenny Nordberg, "The Afghan Girls Who Live as Boys", The Atlantic, 8 September 2014


Syed Fattahul Alim , "Turning dream of BIG-B into reality", The Daily Star, 8 September 2014

Mohammad Saber Ali, "Energy shortage and use of coal in Bangladesh", The Independent, 12 September 2014

Mujibul Haque, "Making use of China’s duty free offer", The Independent, 12 September 2014


"A noble initiative but Kuensel Online, 10 September 2014

"Educate people about social media", Kuensel Online, 11 September 2014


Rakesh Sood, "Strategic networking in the Indo-Pacific", The Hindu, 12 September 2014

Bernard Haykel, "A jihadi battle of brands", The Hindu, 11 September 2014

G Vishnu and Riyaz Wani, "How the deluge drowned an administration", Tehelka, Volume 11 Issue 38, 11 September 2014

Zubair A Dar, "The dam way", The Indian Express, 10 September 2014

Shashank Joshi, "A welcome record of failure", The Hindu, 10 September 2014

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, "Past is political", The Indian Express, 6 September 2014

Soutik Biswas, "The angry youth of Kashmir won’t accept al-Qaeda", BBC, 5 September 2014


Aishath Visam, "Comment: The Maldives Police Service - politicised or incompetent?" Minivan News, 11 September 2014


Belinda Cranston, "There’s hope yet for a Suu Kyi presidency", Myanmar Times, 9 September 2014


Biswas Baral, "Federalism fears", Republica, 11 September 2014

Ambika P. Adhikari, "NRNA experience", Republica, 10 September 2014

Sukhdev Shah, Sukhdev Shah, Republica, 9 September 2014

Roshan Sedhai, Roshan Sedhai, eKantipur, 8 September 2014


Madiha Afzal, "Pakistan needs a revolution", The Express Tribune, 11 September 2014

R Jagannathan, "Is permanent peace with Pakistan possible?", Money Control, 11 September 2014

Ali Ahmed, "Demystifying India’s Volte-Face on Pakistan", The Diplomat, 10 September 2014

Victor Mallet, "Population, not politics, threatens Pakistan", Financial Times, 10 September 2014

Yaroslav Trofimov, "Pakistan Leader’s Predicament Shows Power of ’Deep State’", The Wall Street Journal, 9 September 2014

S M Hali, "Opportunity Cost", Daily Times, 9 September 2014

Steven A. Zyck and Maryam Mohsin, "Pakistan’s democracy on the rocks", Open Democracy, 8 September 2014

Raza Rumi, "Pakistan’s Dueling Military Cultures", Foreign Policy, 8 September 2014

Ali Dayan Hasan, "Pakistani Democracy on Its Knees", The New York Times, 7 September 2014

Aftab Arif Siddiqui, "Naya Pakistan and Gwadar", The Express Tribune, 6 September 2014

Husain Haqqani, "Pakistan’s perennial crisis", The Hindu, 6 September 2014

Syed Mansoor Hussain, "Pakistan will survive", Daily Times, 6 September 2014

Sri Lanka

V Suryanarayan, "Next move on Lanka policy", New Indian Express, 10 September 2014

Jehan Perera, "Talks among govt., UN and TNA necessary to break deadlock", The Island, 8 September 2014

N Sathiya Moorthy, "At talks, where did they go wrong?", The Sunday Leader, 7 September 2014

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:
Afghanistan: Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharje;
Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale;
India: Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti, ManmathGoel;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal: Pratnashree Basu;
Pakistan: Taruni Kumar

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.