MonitorsPublished on Jun 26, 2015
Aung San Suu Kyi's five-day official visit to China is a beckon of changing times. The Myanmarese Opposition leader and Noble Laureate surprised all when news of her going to China on an official visit was public.
Myanmar: Chinese calculations behind Suu Kyi's visit
< class="heading1">Analysis

Aung San Suu Kyi’s five-day official visit to China is a beckon of changing times. The Myanmarese Opposition leader and Noble Laureate surprised all when news of her going to China on an official visit was public.

Less than half-a-decade ago, such a visit of Suu Kyi would have been a hyperbole considering Beijing’s robust state-to-state relations, known as Pauk-Phaw. However, distraught relations between the Junta-led government in Myanmar and China since Thein Sein government assumed power has forced a rethink to Beijing’s keeping too many eggs in one basket.

’Head of State’ welcome

On receiving the prized guest on 10 June, China left no stone unturned in wooing Aung San Suu Kyi since she landed in Beijing. She was accorded a welcome that usually heads of state are given.

President, Xi Jinping in his meeting with the opposition leader according to Chinese state run news agency Xinhua, hoped that irrespective of the domestic situation in Myanmar, the latter would take a consistent and positive position on relations.

Suu Kyi responded by saying that her party valued its friendship with China’s ruling Communist party and admired its achievements. Myanmar and China were neighbours and "neighbours cannot be selected," Suu Kyi added.

Media speculations about Suu Kyi’s visit to China were cast right from 2013. However, such reports were rubbished by Suu Kyi’s party. Meanwhile, NLD, MPs made their way to several delegations sent to China. Now, it was their leader’s turn.

After having received invitations from Chinese semi-governmental entities, Suu Kyi was awaiting for an official invitation. In December last year her spokesperson said that she was still negotiating an official visit to China with Chinese officials.

Signs of change

The Chinese aversion to the Thein Sein government is real. The Thein Sein’s government’s ’Look West’ policy has angered Beijing. Starting from the suspension of Myitsone Dam in 2011 the Junta has given clear signals of change in the relations between the two countries. With the West putting an end to sanctions on Myanmar, the latter has sensed an opportunity of curtailing its over-dependence on China.

Beijing sensed an opportunity when Suu Kyi, the chairperson of the government-appointed review committee on the controversial Chinese company operated Letpadaung Copper mine was allowed to function, even after violating land acquisition and environmental norms.

Though, the Chinese company’s share of 51 percent company got a blow as a consequence of the redrawing of the contract, a Myanmar military-backed company Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd also saw a reduced share. Suu Kyi has focussed her energies on taking the military head-on.

In no unclear terms has Suu Kyi confronted the Junta government in the former pariah state. She has in her visits to Western countries criticised the limitedness of reform. Ahead of the Obama’s visit to Myanmar, she complained of the lack of reforms in the country.

Also, it is almost certain that she would not be able to run for the President’s post in the general elections to be held later this year. But, still Beijing has dared to invite her at the cost of angering the Burmese Junta.

Strategy reversal

By courting Suu Kyi, Chinese strategy towards Myanmar stands reversed. China since 1988 has pursued a policy of not-interfering with the domestic affairs of Myanmar. China pursued state-to-state relations at a time when Myanmar stood isolated from the West due to its brutal crushing of democracy movement.

Beijing has woken up to the reality of the multi-party system in Myanmar. China has again appeared to patronise the armed ethnic groups to continue their war against the government. In the Burmese military’s recent tussle with the Kokang rebels, China’s hand in supporting the rebels was suspected.

China has huge stake in Myanmar, trade and investment in infrastructure, oil and gas projects and hydropower have increased significantly in the recent times. Yet, since the drafting of the new constitution and general elections in 2010, Chinese investments have nose-dived.

Global recession has hit China too and the latter would do all in its capacity to protect and ensure that dividends from Myanmar continue unhampered, forcing Beijing a rethink on their Myanmar policy.

Suu Kyi coming to terms with the changing times has made her a statesman inept in realism from a democracy crusader jailed for over two decades for fighting the military rule. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to China shows the changing relation between China and Myanmar.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maldives: Climbdown by President, Opposition MDP?

N Sathiya Moorthy

In what looks like a positive development after months of political impasse, the Government of President Abdulla Yameen has allowed the transfer of jailed Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader, Mohammed ’Anni’ Nasheed, to ’house-arrest for three days ahead of a medical check-up, but extended it to two months almost immediately and without assigning reason. As if in turn, the MDP too climbed down on the insistence for Nasheed to be a part of the party’s negotiations - and surprisingly backed a government legislation, fixing a 30-65 year age-limit for the office of the President and Vice-President.

Like the MDP, the Jumhooree Party (JP) Opposition too supported the constitutional amendment on age-limit after party leader and past presidential aspirant Gasim Ibrahim, turning 65 by the 2018 poll-time and facing corporate bankruptcy over non-payment of $ 90-m in revenue-recovery, declared his decision not to seek the high office again. With the result, the long-rumoured and hurriedly-tabled age-law was passed by a 78-2 vote in the 85-member Parliament.

President Yameen reportedly wants Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb as Vice-President, after ’impeaching’ Dr Mohammed Jameel Ahmed, before he left for overseas medical attention. The impeachment, which too requires two-third vote like the constitutional amendment before it, is riven with possibilities, depending on how the MDP and/or JP leaderships’ directive to their members. On an earlier occasion, when the Government required two-thirds majority to reduce the number of Supreme Court Judges from seven to five, the Yameen leadership had split the JP parliamentary group, without the MPs actually crossing over to his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

Another round for Yameen

With the controversial constitutional amendment in his bag, President Yameen may have won yet another round comprehensively against his united Opposition rivals nearer home. Apart from a seeming climb-down by the MDP and Nasheed, three Opposition leaders, including jailed MDP Chairperson, Ali Waheed, who was later granted bail by the courts, and two from the JP, had ’left’ the country for the UK, reportedly for seeking political asylum, thus not to return home in the foreseeable future.

Against this, the religion-centric Adhaalath Party (AP) seems to have been left out of the ’deal-making’, with its leader, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, continuing in prison, facing ’terrorism charges’ after leading the three-party, combined Opposition protest on May Day, when cadre-mobs attacked at least two police officers violenty, as became visible in the social media visuals. Imran and the AP used to promote the cause of JP’s Gasim and that of sacked Defence Minister Col Ahmed Nazim, who was jailed for possessing illegal weapons and plotting a coup, reportedly while in office.

Interestingly, against a four-man negotiations team originally named by the JP - its members are among those who have since left the country - and the AP, five, including Imran Abdulla, the MDP, which is a party full of second-line leaders, has decided to go solo. It has since named a Nasheed confidant and MDP parliamentary group leader, Ibrahim, ’Ibu’ Solih as its sole negotiator, thereby possibly indicating the subterranean disquiet rocking the nation’s largest party, particularly after the poor cadre/supporter showing at the third of the joint Opposition rallies in Male, on 12 June, demanding Nasheed’s freedom, among others.

’Constructive engagement’

Even while scaling down Nasheed’s imprisonment to one of house-arrest -- another penalty available still under the local laws, as is ’banishment’, akin to a distant past - and later extending it, and also replacing the Vice-President of his choice with another just now, President Yameen spoke to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on phone, and sought assistance in addressing governance issues. This was accompanied/followed by a Foreign Ministry statement, wherein the ’"government assured its commitment to ’constructive engagement’ with international partners and ’structured political dialogue’ with opposition parties in a conciliatory shift in policy".

Earlier, his Government had appointed a consultancy firm in which Cherie Blair, wife of Tony Blair, in turn the three-time Labour Prime Minister of the UK, for advice in the matter. The MDP came down heavily on Cherie Blair, but the perception of its subsequent kow-towing of the Yameen leadership, took the wind out of further criticism, when it became known that Omnia’s work included defence of the Government on the Nasheed arrest, trial and imprisonment, in international fora.

In a chicken-and-egg situation, it is unclear if the MDP decisions were influenced by the poor 12 June showing or the other way round. Independent of the charges of State violence and threats to protestors, the MDP leadership should have also been aware of the greater efforts that need to be taken to revive cadre morale for future agitations, after the party had got used to gathering huge crowds at short notice and without much effort, over the past decade or so.

The domestic developments of the past days, starting with the 12 June poor-showing, may have left the pro-Nasheed sections of the international community, (read: West) confused and more, after they had gone all out, charging the Yameen leadership with ’political vendetta’, manipulating the judiciary and worse. With the MDP, however, since talking about a favourable order from the UN subsidiary on ’arbitrary detentions’ and also moving the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Nasheed’s detention, it remains to be seen how and how far would the West want to go with them, and against the incumbent Government in Male.

Speaking for itself, but possibly as a member of the Commonwealth and the larger Western political alliance, Canada was highly critical of the Yameen Government at the UNHRC meeting at Geneva - only to be rebuffed in equally strong terms by Maldivian Foreign Minister and Yameen’s half-niece, Dunya Maumoon. When early on, the Commonwealth had condemned Nasheed’s arrest, Dunya for the second time in three years - earlier as Foreign Minister under President Waheed - said that if push came to shove, Maldives would not think twice to quit the organisation.

Points to ponder

It is too early to conclude if the current initiatives, particularly involving the Yameen leadership and the MDP, would come up with political solutions to problems, which are mostly personality-centric, all-round. The Maldivian democratic experience has exposed inconsistencies of the kind in which the front-runner in the first round of national-level presidential polls lost in the ultimate, second, run-off round, both in 2008 and 2013.

There are thus points to ponder over the agenda for political negotiations though the MDP had not set out any when it commenced the anti-Yameen protests in a huff and hurry in December 2014 - points that include the wisdom of shifting from a presidential form of government to the Westminster form of parliamentary democracy. Most of it had been aired at the height of the power-transfer in 2012, but it did not receive any enthusiastic response from the MDP, which was more focussed on having incumbent Waheed sacked and President Nasheed restored, both in form and content.

In other South Asian and Third World democracies, an umbrella organisation at Independence splintered in slow and steady paces and phases, preparing the nation for ’coalition politics’ of stable or unstable kind, over a period. Given that one-man ’Republic’ came long before multi-party democracy, coalition at birth in 2008 became inevitable. The constitutional scheme did not take that into account, and an ’adversarial Parliament’ viz the Executive still remains a possibility, despite the current situation, as against the one that President Nasheed faced during 2009-12 period.

Another pertains to the elected President on both occasions having lost faith in his vice-presidential nominee, a person of their respective choice, half-way through, thus adding unanticipated complexities to the emergence of democratic dynamism. The Maldivian experience also includes too many ’Independent Institutions’ under the Constitution, and working at cross-purposes, owing mainly to personality-driven, ideological reasons.

While Judiciary has become a favourite whipping-boy of the MDP and the international community owing possibly to motivated campaign, there is however a need to marry the ranks of qualified lawyers and Judges from western universities, and those ’illiterate’ ones, who are otherwise products of the Islamic Shariat, often from recognised madrasas and religious universities, elsewhere.

Sushma meets Ban

Even as President Yameen has talked to the UN chief for assistance to address constitutional issues, and his Government has appointed Omnia Consultancies reportedly for the purpose, the MDP, as is its wont, has called for an Indian being named the ’facilitator’. According to local media reports, when India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj met Ban at the UN at the International Yoga Day inaugural, Maldives too came up for discussion.

The MDP suggestion/expectation can cut either ways, given that sections in the Maldivian Government and polity have different views on the subject, the ’China factor’ being only one of them. Whoever the facilitator or whoever is the negotiator, further progress can be made, if and only when there is greater clarity on the course of Nasheed’s clemency plea after the Yameen leadership clarified that the former would have exhaust all judicial options before approaching the Executive. Nasheed may face a July deadline if any clemency now would have to still clear him to contest the presidential polls, three years hence in 2018.

For now, however, the MDP-JP support for the age-law and Gasim’s retirement plans may have made Maldives a two-party nation for all practical purposes, that too after the Election Commission, in 2013, had set a 10,000 minimum membership for registering political parties, up from the original 3,000. Nasheed had predicted a two-party nation after the 2009 parliamentary polls that his MDP had lost, in the absence of a continuing coalition from the presidential polls only months earlier.

’Guided democracy’ with a two-party scheme has also been always touted as among the main reasons for the success of the West, its democracy model and also economy. A lot in the case of contemporary Maldives would also depend on the possibilities of Nasheed being able to contest the 2018 presidential polls, and incumbent Yameen’s own ambitions and schemes in this and related matters.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Attack on Parliament

Seven Taliban militants attacked the Afghan Parliament in Kabul on 22 June. The raid took place amid the appointment proceeding of the new defence minister. All seven militants were gunned down by Afghan police leaving the parliamentarians unaffected. The attack has been widely condemned by the international community including Pakistan. However, National Directorate of Security chief Haseeb Sidiqi claims that the attack was carried out by Haqqani terrorist network with the support from ISI which led to the killing of 5 civilians and left 30 others wounded.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Kabul Police: attack on Parliament over, all attackers killed", Khaama Press , 22 June 2015; "Terrorist attack on Afghan Parliament widely condemned", Khaama Press, 22 June 2015; "NDS says ISI was behind recent Kabul attack", Khaama Press , 24 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ANSF retakes Kunduz district

Afghan Security forces launched an offensive on 22 June and recaptured the Char Dara district of Kunduz Province which had fallen to Taliban hands just days before. However, conflicting reports have emerged that some parts still remain under the control of Taliban. The ANSF will soon launch another operation in Dasht-e-Archi district which was taken over by the Taliban earlier this week.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Afghan Security retake Char Dara district from Taliban", Khaama Press, 23 June 2015; "Security in North -at a glance", Tolo News , 25 June 2015; "Military operation to launch in Dasht-e-Archi District", Tolo News, 24 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak facilitation for talks

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s National Security advisor for foreign affairs announced on 23 June that Pakistan will facilitate a dialogue between Afghan government and Taliban in the coming week. The location is yet to be disclosed. But, this week’s attack on the Afghan Parliament raises questions over the future of peace talks between the two. Aziz further stated that Pakistan has an effective role to play in bringing about Peace in Afghanistan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Pakistan: Afghan government and Taliban to meet in a week", Tolo News, 23 June 2015; "Pakistan: Afghan government, Taliban representative meeting in a week", Khaama Press, 23 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NATO, US support to continue

During the NATO ministerial in Brussels this week, US Secretary of Defence assured that US and NATO will continue the ’Resolute Support Mission’ along with training and assistance to support the Afghan Security post December 2016. The meeting was attended by Afghan Defence Minister Masoom Stanikzai who further announced that NATO will assist in enhancing the capabilities of the Afghan Air Force.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "NATO AND US committed to long term support for Afghan forces : Carter", Khaama Press, 25 June 2015; "NATO agreed to help enhance the Afghan Air Force capabilities", Khaama Press, 25 June 2015; "NATO Defence Ministers meet in Brussels, reaffirm commitment to Afghanistan", Tolo News, 24 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt asked to push for a new UN tax body

Development specialists have urged the government to propose for a new United Nations body on tax management. They suggested that the government should raise the issue at an UN conference at Addis Ababa on13-16 July. Development specialists made the demand at a conference in Dhaka

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Govt asked to push for a new UN tax body", Dhaka Tribune, 25 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Forex reserves cross $25b

Country’s foreign currency reserves reached a new height as it crossed $25 billion. The reserve of $25.02 billion is enough to meet the country’s import bills for more than seven months. Forex reserves are growing consistently since February this year. In February it touched $23-billion and in April it was $24 billion.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Forex reserves cross $25b", The Daily Star, 26 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Militants arrested

Two activists of newly formed militant outfit "Bangladesh Jihadi Group" were arrested from the capital Dhaka. Security officials also recovered arms and immunisations from the militants. Police informed that the militant outfit was established according to instructions from Maulana Abdur Rauf, a top leader of the banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Huji).

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "2 ’militants’ held in city", The Daily Star, 26 June 2015; "Militant leader wanted to fight poverty with jihad", The Daily Star, 26 June 2015; "Militants recruiting rich patrons to meet fund crunch ", Dhaka Tribune, 24 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">$132m to join China-led bank

To become member of China proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Bangladesh initially will have to pay $132.1 million. China proposed formation of the bank in 2013 to fund various infrastructure projects.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladesh to pay $132m initially to join China-led bank", The Daily Star, 22 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese firm to built tunnel

A Chinese firm will construct a two-lane tunnel underneath the Karnaphuli River. The tunnel a major infrastructure project of the ruling Awami league government is expected to improve the Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar connectivity. There is also a plan to connect the project with the Asian Highway Network, enabling road links with Myanmar and India. The tunnel will be constructed with soft loans from China.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Chinese firm to get work of the Karnaphuli tunnel", The Daily Star, 24 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Economy recovering: PM

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay expressed confidence in the economy’s recovery while releasing the ’State of the Tsa-Wa-Sum’ annual report. The economy, he said, has grown more than three times to 6.8 percent in 2014. He also presented trade, housing and commercial loans, foreign currency, and other economic data to support the claim.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "PM Says Economy Recovering And Bouncing Back", The Bhutanese, 22 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">18th most peaceful country

Bhutan was judged to be simultaneously peaceful and less well-off in two separate rankings. The Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index ranked Bhutan 18th more peaceful country on account of high spending on containing violence and ’societal safety’. The Gallup-Healthways Global Wellbeing Index, on the other hand, ranked the country better only to Afghanistan in state of well-being, on criterion like motivation, social relationships, financial security, community strength, and physical health.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bhutan: Peaceful but lacks wellbeing", Kuensel Online, 26 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Korea donates film equipment

The Korean International Cooperation Agency gave Nu 6.8 million grant to the Bhutan Film Association on 25 June to develop the 1000-member strong film industry who have been struggling with increasing rates of job attrition. The grant is in the form of different filming and screening equipment.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Korea donates Nu 6.8M worth of film equipment to Bhutan", Kuensel Online, 26 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Yoga diplomacy

More than 170 joined India in celebrating World Yoga Day. The celebrations in India led by Prime Minter Modi created two world records with the yoga performance at Rajpath: The record for largest yoga class, with 35,985 people, and the record for most nationalities participating in a single yoga event -- 84.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "UN’s Decision to Mark Yoga Day Shows India’s Soft Power: Sushma Swaraj", NDTV, 22 June 2015; "PM Modi seeks to turn yoga record on its head as India stretches soft power", The Times of India, 21 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pilgrim route through China

The India-China trade route through Nathu La pass in Sikkim, saw the opening of a second route for Indian pilgrims bound for Kailash Mansarovar. Rajya Sabha member Tarun Vijay led the first batch of 43 pilgrims. The opening up of this route is being hailed by officials of both countries as a deepening of societal ties and soft power.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "New Kailash route boosts people-to-people ties", The Hindu, 23 June 2015; "’Made in India’ making big splash in Chinese border town", Business Standard, 22 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US flags human rights abuses

A US government report has stated there are human rights abuse by police and security force in India. These abuses include extra-judicial killings, torture, and rape. The report tabled by Secretary of State John Kerry stated that widespread corruption contributed to ineffective responses to crime, including those against women and members of scheduled castes or tribes; and societal violence based on gender, religious affiliation, and caste or tribe.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Significant rights abuses by Indian security forces: US report", The Times of India, 26 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Defence deal with S Korea

South Korea’s Kangnam Corp has emerged as a key contender to produce 12 minesweepers along with Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL). The South Korean side has faced disappointment at a two-day convention for South Korean Defence and Marine component manufacturers and Indian firms in Goa. The event was largely ignored by both the central and state government.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "South Korean delegation ’disappointed’ with defence minister, Goa CM for not attending marine manufacturers investment event", The Times of India, 26 June 2015; "South Korea’s Kangnam Corp key contender for MCMV tender", Business Standard, 25 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pressure on Raje to quit

The more the Opposition increased pressure on ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on the Lalit Modi controversy, the more firmly they were digging in their heels. Despite her affidavit in support of Modi’s UK immigration application became public, the BJP has come out in support of the embattled CM.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Lalit Modi row: ’Nobody in the government is tainted,’ says Arun Jaitley", The Indian Express, 25th June, 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">APP’s people-friendly agenda

Amidst the battles with the lieutenant governor and the Delhi Police, the Arvind Kejriwal government on Thursday presented its first budget. Aimed at bringing back into focus a people-friendly agenda, FM Manish Sisodia paid special attention to education, health and transport in what he referred to as a Swaraj budget.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Delhi: AAP govt presents ’poor people’s budget’ ", The Indian Express, 26 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Trouble for ’Make in India’

Global mobile phone players such as Foxconn that have committed to manufacture in India may have to rethink their plans with a vital 11.5 percent excise duty concession now removed. Those importing mobile phones into the country will end up paying the same duty as those manufacturing them domestically.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Why mobile manufacturers may shy away from Make in India plan", The Financial Express, 26 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Funds only for ’Smart City’

Only infrastructure projects, with larger public benefit, will get central assistance in the ’smart city’ scheme. Each city can get Rs 100 crore of central funds annually for five years; the rest will be financed through other sources. However, no time frame has been provided for completion of the project.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Central fund only for infra projects in smart cities; no timeframe yet", Business Standard, 26 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nasheed in house-arrest, Solih sole negotiator

President Abdulla Yameen has ordered the transfer of jailed MDP leader Mohammed Nasheed to house-arrest for two months after beginning with a three-day reprieve, and the party, too, reacted positively to the gesture by not insisting on his being part of the negotiations team with the Government. It has since named MDP parliamentary group leader, Ibrahim ’Ibu’ Solih as the sole negotiator.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Nasheed’s house arrest extended, opposition backs age-limits for presidency", Minivan News, 24 June 2015; "MDP agrees to begin talks without Nasheed", Minivan News, 25 June 2015; "Nasheed will be proven innocent by September’", Haveeru Online, 25 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt seeks conciliation

In a conciliatory policy-shift, the Government of President Abdulla Yameen has sought a policy-shift towards reconciliation efforts on the nation’s political front, and has sought international engagement in the matter. President Yameen too talked to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in this regard.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Government seeks international engagement in conciliatory policy shift, Minivan News, 25 June 2015; "President asks UN for help to resolve political crisis",, Minivan News, 24 June 2015; "UN chief and Indian Minister discuss Maldives", Haveeru Online 24 June 2015; "UK PM is first head of government to call for Nasheed’s release", Minivan News, 25 June 2015; "Ali Waheed, Ameen and Sobah in London to meet with Conservative Party", Haveeru Online, 24 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Age-law passed, Jameel to be ’impeached’

In a surprise move, the Opposition MDP and AP voted with the Government to amend the Constitution, prescribing a 30-65 age-limit for contesting the presidency and the vice-presidency. The 78-2 vote in the 85-member Parliament gave a clean two-thirds majority for the required constitutional amendment. The Treasury Bench has since initiated impeachment proceedings against Vice-President, Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, before President Abdulla Yameen nominates Transport Minister Ahmed Adeeb, 33, for the post.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Majlis amends constitution, sets new age-limits for presidency", Minivan News, 24 June 2015; MP Sujaau: The target is to make Adheeb the Vice President before "July 26", SunOnline, 24 June 2015; "PPM MP threatens to impeach vice-president Jameel", Minivan News, 26 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Military’s role still on

Myanmar’s Parliament has voted against a bill seeking amendments to the constitution. The bill sought to reduce the benchmark for votes on some amendments, which effectively grants veto power to an unelected military contingent. In a secret ballot vote attended by 583 lawmakers, 67 percent voted in favour, just shy of the 75-plus minimum required for passage.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Parliament Votes Against Constitution Reform, Reserves Military Veto", The Irrawaddy, 25 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Clashes in Hpakant

Burma Army troops have boosted their presence in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township amid renewed fighting in the jade-rich northern town. The recent military buildup also follows a bomb blast in Hpakant on June 17 which injured two police officers. Two other explosions were reported on the same night.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Military Presence Grows in Hpakant Amid Further Clashes", The Irrawaddy, 25 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ceasefire broken

The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) has alleged that Burmese government forces have continued attacks on rebel positions in the Kokang region, despite the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire earlier this month.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Artillery assaults continue, say Kokang rebels", DVB, 26 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">$ 4.4-b for reconstruction

The International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction concluded in the capital on June 25, with donors pledging more than US$ 4.4 billion to help in reconstruction of Nepal. The International community has showed immense support to Nepal’s effort to resettle people displaced by the earthquake rebuild damaged infrastructures.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Govt told to focus on specific sectors, maintain transparency", Republica, 26 June 2015; "India announces $1 billion aid for rebuilding Nepal", The Economic Times, 26 June 2015; "ADB okays $200m in immediate aid", eKantipur, 26 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Budget session from 30 June

Following the recommendation from the government, President Ram Baran Yadav has summoned the budget session of the parliament from June 30. The government plans to hold pre-budget discussions during the first days of the session and the president will present the plans and policies of the government.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Budget session from June 30", Republica, 26 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian transit treaty amended

India has agreed to Nepal’s request for allowing the movement of vehicles imported from a third country into Nepal through four border points by amending the bilateral Treaty of Transit. Nepal had requested India for the move citing the requirements of additional handling facilities, special carriers and equipment which added to the cost and time of clearance of vehicles from Kolkata port into Nepal.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal, India amend bilateral Treaty of Transit", The Economic Times, 22 June 2015; "Nepal, India amend bilateral Treaty of Transit", Business Standard, 22 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ISI involvement denied

The Foreign Ministry rejected the claims made by the Afghan Intelligence Agency that there was ISI involvement in the attack in Kabul earlier this week. Taliban has accepted the responsibility for the Parliament Attacks and Pakistan has reiterated its support towards Afghanistan claiming that "the enemies of Afghanistan are the enemies of Pakistan."

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Pakistan rejects Afghan claims of ISI involvement in parliament attack", The Express Tribune, 25 June 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">$-m aid to Nepal

Following the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction in Kathmandu this week, Pakistan has pledged $1mn in aid to Nepal for reconstruction and rehabilitation. Pakistan was one of the first nations to dispatch medical and search and rescue teams to Nepal after the calamity in April this year.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Russia ready to sell four Mi-35M combat helicopters to Pakistan: report", The Express Tribune, 25 June 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Heat wave in Karachi

The unexpected heat wave that began in Karachi, and other parts of Sindh, last week has killed almost 900 people in Karachi. A shortage of water and electricity has worsened the conditions in the region and has created a shortages of graveyards and morgues.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Deadly Heat", The Friday Times, 26 June 2015; "Heatwave eases, but still claims 105 lives", Dawn, 26 June 2015.

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parliament polls on 17 August

In a none-too-unexpected move, President Maithripala Sirisena has dissolved Parliament, and the Election Commissioner’s Department promptly announced fresh polls on 17 August, followed by the first session of the new Parliament on 1 September.

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

"Parliament dissolved?Election on Aug 17", The Island, 26 June 2015; "MS and MR deny rumour", The Island, 26 June 2015; "Parliament will be dissolved only after 20A is enacted - Rajitha", The Island, 25 June 2015; "Govt. desperate to have Parliament dissolved to scuttle COPE report on bond scam - UPFA?rebels", The Island, 25 June 2015; "MR says will contest only from SLFP", Daily Mirror Online, 26 June 2015; "Basil returns to parliament after six months", The Island, 27 June 2015; "SLMC does not regret helping defeat Mahinda?Rajitha not fit to be Cabinet Spokesman - Hakeem", The Island, 26 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Exercising with US, China

In a quirk of military engagements, the Sri Lanka Army is on a fortnight-long exchange-exercise with a visiting Chinese military team even as their naval counterparts are working off the Trincomalee seas with the elite American SEALS on a separate exercise.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "SL in simultaneous joint exercises with US SEALs and Chinese Army", Special Forces, Commandos, Dvora squadron and SBS share war-time experience", The Island, 23 June 2015; "SL to purchase new fighter-jets?", Daily Mirror Online, 22 June 2015 ; "SL a critical partner: US", Daily Mirror Online, 24 June 2015; "Port city project to start soon: Arjuna", Daily Mirror Online, 26 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Death for soldier for civilian killings

After a 13-year trial, the Colombo High Court has sentenced a sacked Staff Sergeant of the Sri Lanka Army, R M Sunil Ratnayake, to death for the brutal killing of eight Tamil civilians in Jaffna, and freed four other co-accused in the case.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "8 civilians murdered in Jaffna: Soldier sentenced to death", Daily Mirror Online, 25 June 2015; "US slams Lanka’s 2014 HR record", The Island, 26 June 2015; "GL wants meeting on US report on LTTE", Daily Mirror Online, 22 June 2015; "UNHRC says not funding diaspora festival", Daily Mirror Online, 23 June 2015

Primary Documentation


First Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) with Thailand held: Major Breakthrough in DFQF Market Access to Thailand , Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25 June2015


The State of TSA-WA-SUM, "State of the Tsa-Wa-Sum" (pdf), 19 June 2015


External Affairs Minister’s Statement on departure from Kathmandu, Nepal, Ministry of External Affairs, 25 June 2015

"International Yoga Day: This asana is a Hindutva pose", Ministry of External Affairs, 21 June 2015


Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Berlin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 26 June 2015

Press Release on the program on unveiling the Statue of Lord Buddha at UNESCO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 26 June 2015

Press Release issued by the Embassy of Nepal, Bangkok, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 22 June 2015


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Visit to Pakistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 22 June 2015.

Pakistan Condemns Attack on Afghan Parliament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 22 June 2015.

List of Support to Nepal, Prime Minister’s Office, 25 June 2015.

DG Strategic Plans Division (SPD) calls on PM, Prime Minister’s Office, 24 June 2015.




John C.K Daly, "Afghanistan’s Pipeline Nears Fruition", Silk Road Reporters, 25 June 2015.

Opinion Pieces

Praveen Swami, "In continuing Afghan violence, reflection of the war for its Throne of Blood", The Indian Express, 23 June 2015.

James L. Creighton, "Why Afghanistan needs Pakistan", The Diplomat, 22 June 2015.

Nathan Hodge, "Afghan Political Rivals Join Forces to Fight Militants", The Wall Street Journal, 25 June 2015.


Opinion Pieces

Shahnoor Wahid, "Is Myanmar the new gunslinger in town?", The Daily Star, 24 June 2015

Nazneen Ahmed, "Does the gender budget empower women?", Dhaka Tribune, 26 June 2015

T J, "Why India and Bangladesh have the world’s craziest border", The Economist, 24 June 2015

Natalie Obiko Pearson, "Japan Beating China in Race for Indian Ocean Deep-Sea Port", Bloomberg, 23 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Shane Wright, "Bhutan prepares for natural disasters through regional cooperation", Kuensel Online, 20 June 2015

"The Karpo verdict", Kuensel Online, 24 June 2015

"ACC’s Much Needed Clean Up In Phuentsholing", The Bhutanese, 22 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Vidisha Mishra, keeping peace in a war zone, The Pioneer, 26 June 2015

Rajdeep Sardesai, "As Lalit Modi row swirls, Indian political league has come alive", The Hindustan Times, 26 June 2015

P Manoj, "India set to further ease shipping rules as oil exporters step on gas", Live Mint, 26 June 2015

Ramchandra Guha, "It’s about the Dear Leader", The Indian Express, 24 June 2015

C Raja Mohan, Two-speed regionalism, The Indian Express, 24 June 2015

Dipti Jain, "Why cashless is the way to go", Live Mint, 23 June 2015

C Raja Mohan, Chinese Takeaway: Yoga Diplomacy, The Indian Express, 23 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Azim Zahir, "Whose pragmatism? Which principles?", Minivan News, 25 June 2015

Zaheena Rasheed, "Cutting a deal with the devil?", Minivan News, 24 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Fiona Macgregor, Call for headscarf ban is another attack on the rights of women, Myanmar Times, 26 June 2015

Sithu Aung Myint, The NLD duped again on constitution, Myanmar Times, 24 June 2015

Larry Jagan, Military set for reshuffle ahead of election, DVB, 19 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Nikhil Kumar, "Go Inside the Effort to Rebuild Nepal", TIME, 25 June 2015

Bibek Paudel,"What Nepal needs", Republica, 24 June 2015

Rajendra Mulmi, "Aid and Conflict", Republica, 24 June 2015

Kumud Rana, "No Easy Way Out", eKantipur, 26 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

SakibSherani, "Slaying the beast", Dawn, 26 June 2015.

TanujGarg, "Twitter Terrorist", The Express Tribune, 25 June 2015.

Syed Mohammad Ali, "Countering extremism through civil society", The Express Tribune, 26 June 2015.

I A Rehman, "Civil society’s rights", Dawn, 25 June 2015.

Jamshed M Kazi, "Women, leadership and the glass ceiling", The Express Tribune, 26 June 2015.

Imtiaz Bhatti, "Sindh’s institutional decay", Dawn, 26 June 2015.

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

R M B Senanayake, "Holding Ministers responsible for exercising power", The Island, 24 June 2015

Jehan Perera, "President’s dilemma about dissolving Parliament", The Island, 23 June 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "US report on LTTE a caution to India, too", South Asia Monitor, 25 June 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "To London for reconciliation?", The Sunday Leader, 21 June 2015

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

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

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