MonitorsPublished on Jun 13, 2014
Myanmar's unsettled scores on the border front once again took an ugly turn when its border guards police exchanged crossfire with its Bangladesh counterpart for three days from 28 May. A Bangladesh border guard personnel was said to be killed.
Myanmar:  Niggling border with Bangladesh
< class="heading1">Analysis

Myanmar’s unsettled scores on the border front once again took an ugly turn when its border guards police exchanged crossfire with its Bangladesh counterpart for three days from 28 May. A Bangladesh border guard personnel was said to be killed.

This untoward incident soured relations between the two countries and diplomatic channels took their course in diffusing the tension. Bangladesh had issued a red-alert on the border following the incidents.

Dhaka curtly summoned Myanmar’s envoy to Dhaka and protested what it claimed to be an unprovoked killing of one the nation’s armed forces personnel. Myanmar however denied Bangladesh’s allegations and instead blamed it on militants trying to enter the Maungdaw township of Myanmar.

Unsettled border

The 271-km long border that the two countries share has for long been the source of escalating tension between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Unlike the recent settlement of the maritime boundary between the two countries, following a verdict of the International Court of Justice, the land border with Bangladesh remains a matter of contention. The land border remains almost completely un-demarcated despite land boundary agreements in 1966, 1980, and 1998.

Bangladesh has alleged time and again, Myanmar’s provocation on the border front. In 2009 Myanmarese authorities suddenly started erecting barbed-wire fencing along the border, mostly alongside the Naaf River which it held was to contain terrorist activities, curb smuggling and drug- trafficking etc. across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border area.

Myanmar’s persistent complaint has been that Dhaka continues to aid anti-Myanmar elements from its soil. A common accusation of Myanmar is that Bangladesh is allowing its soil for activities of Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), an outlawed outfit in Myanmar. However, claims of spurt of activities of RSO on Bangladesh’s soil in the recent past have been doubted by many.

An un-demarcated border has time and again led to border clashes when states concerned attempt to enforce territorial control. Also, this border remains unpatrolled and the movement of people across it is hardly monitored.

Guarding on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border is difficult because of the difficult terrain. The difficult hilly terrain in the east, there are few border outposts and the state is largely absent. Bangladesh has complained that 100 km of this border remain not only undemarcated but also unprotected because there are no border outposts at all.

Diplomatic log-jam

Myanmar is said to have played the diplomatic card for diffusing the Bangladesh dispute. Following the 28 May incident, a statement of the Myanmar’s President Office, said that the fatal clash between the armies of the two neighbours is being resolved through diplomatic channels.

Bangladesh has been keen to engage in a diplomatic dialogue, however flag meetings between the border guards of the two countries is all that has materialized till now. In absence of diplomatic talks on border cooperation, both Myanmar and Bangladesh have continued to blame each other for escalating tension on the border.

Repatriation of refugees from Myanmar living in Bangladesh and Myanmar’s denial to recognise and arrange for their resettlement in Myanmar, have been a nagging issue between the two countries. More so, Myanmar blames Bangladesh for creating trouble in the Muslim minority dominated townships of Maugdaw in Rakhine state.

The 2012 violence against religious minorities in Myanmar has segregated the Rakine state on the Myanmar side of the border on religious grounds. Bangladesh has since 1970s been burdened by the influx of Rohingya Muslims.

The agreement reached by Bangladesh and Myanmar after the 28 May incident, vowed to strengthen border security and combat "illegal armed groups and criminals. However, solutions to Bangladesh-Myanmar border cannot be short-sighted.

Towards better cooperation

Unless the two countries evolve a comprehensive mechanism border cooperation, the diplomatic log-jam is set to continue. The border dispute is the creation of the colonial past that the two countries inherit and for making any headway on adopting measures commensurate with present day realities would demand dialogue at the highest level. The 1980’s agreements were especially targeted towards curbing opium trafficking from Myanmar into Bangladesh. The agreements need to go beyond transnational security concerns to border demarcation and joint patrolling measures to halt clashes in the future.

With all eyes set on the BCIM Economic Corridor which is likely to increase economic cooperation in the sub-region many-fold, resolving the border dispute between the two major stakeholders in the regional grouping is of paramount importance. Both, India and China could take lead in urging Bangladesh and Myanmar to solve the border issue amicably.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nepal: Reinforcing and diversifying defence ties with India

Pratnashree Basu

In a move that further strengthens and cements ties, India and Nepal have finalised a major military deal in earlier in June. The deal, which is being touted as the first of its kind in almost nine years, signals the first indication of the nature of bilateral relationship that the new government in Delhi is envisioning.

That the new government in India is looking to solidify ties with all neighbouring countries has been made clear from the very beginning. The deal was passed in a meeting held between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries, and encompasses the assistance requested by the Nepal Army in 2013 for supply of arms.

As per the deal signed, Nepal is to receive arms and non-lethal equipments with a supply value of which stands at around Rs. 1100 crore initially. In addition to joint exercises, military educational exchanges and the supply of equipment, the new deal expands on the range and scope of military engagement.

Significance of the deal

The deal is significant in two broad respects. First and the more manifest reason is the fact that India is investing an augmented level of trust in Nepal. This trust translates into sending a message to Nepal that while India already provides a lot of assistance to the former in the sectors of infrastructure, health, education and so on, it seeks to boost political ties.

This is also a show of trust because after over a decade of persistent and tumultuous political environment, Nepal is set to work out a new Constitution and is being led by a democratically-elected government. India was one of the countries which had suspended military relations with Nepal in the wake of the imposition of emergency rule by King Gyanendra.

But after fears of the Maoists insurgency getting out of hand increased, India had renewed military ties in 2005 and had since then, supplied a large array of arms and equipment to Nepal. The move did ultimately go a long way in contributing to the weakening of the insurgents and a slow and painful path towards re-establishing order in the country.

Hence, after a new government was instated in Nepal late last year, there has been a bout of hope among countries in the region which could now formulate functional relations with Nepal. That the Indian government has invested faith in the future of Nepal is evident with the signing of the defence deal with the investment being in terms of deepening ties as much as it is about financial help.

The second reason for the military deal being important is the increasingly imminent scenario of the northern neighbour of Nepal having progressively more scope for influencing the latter. While this possibility is not that novel, there is a marked vigour in which China tends to work to secure its goals and a Nepal that is friendlier than it already is with China, is certainly not in the best interest of India.

While the capability of financial assistance that India has to offer is limited, and certainly much less of what China can probably offer, India is trying to diversify the nature of assistance provided. This should be a welcome move for Nepal.

The two countries now stand at an important juncture and the scope of the regional equation will largely depend on how they maintain and manoeuvre their relations. While foreign policies do not necessarily alter in a substantive manner with the changing of the guard, the approaches taken in the maintenance of foreign policies do.

(The writer is a Junior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Kolkatta Chapter)

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Warm welcome for Suu Kyi at TIA

Myanmar Opposition leader and democracy icon Aang San Suu Kyi has arrived Kathmandu on a four-day official visit to Nepal. Nobel Peace laureate Su Kyi, who is scheduled to participate in a function being organized jointly by B P Memorial Trust and BP Thought Academy to mark the birth centenary of BP Koirala, was welcomed by Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Mahesh Acharya at the Tribhuvan International Airport.

Suu Kyi, however, denied making any comment on her Nepal visit before media present at the airport. As a chief guest of the function scheduled for Saturday, Su Kyi will deliver keynote speech on the theme -- Relevance of Social Democracy. She will also address lawmakers in parliament at 4 pm on Saturday. Suu Kyi is scheduled to call on Prime Minister Koirala today.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru, 13 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Panel submits Petroleum Act recommendation

A 11-member parliamentary committee formed to recommend possible areas of reforms at the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and country´s petroleum sector has submitted its report to the parliament with recommendations to formulate a Petroleum Act at the earliest.

The committee was formed in April after opposition parties obstructed parliament proceedings, and various student unions and the public took their protest to the streets following the government´s decision to raise the prices of petroleum products.

The report has also suggested that the government buy petroleum products (petrol, diesel and kerosene) from its sole supplier -- Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) -- by weight instead of directly measuring the volume in oil tankers.

Other suggestions put forth in the reports includes a provision to import petroleum products from third countries; encouraging and creation of provisions for the private sector to be involved in the petroleum business; increasing of storage capacity to address the increasing demand; stepping ahead toward an auto price mechanism, fully automated receiving and delivery system in all depots; and reducing of administrative expenses, among others.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 13 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi meets Nepal MP, promises visit soon

In another sign that the new Indian government’s foreign policy will give importance to its neighbours, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met a visiting member of Nepal’s constituent assembly, Amresh Kumar Singh, on June 12 at his residence, to discuss bilateral relations.

Modi assured Singh he would visit Nepal soon. The PM promised to strengthen economic co-operation and enquired about the political situation in Kathmandu, including the role of the Maoists.

Singh added he had reiterated Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s invitation to Modi to come to Nepal since no Indian PM has paid a bilateral visit to the country for the past 17 years.

PM Modi, it is learnt, asked about the state of the Constitution-writing process in Nepal. Singh briefed him on the debates around federalism, the key contentious issue in Nepal at the moment, and the demands of the Madhesi people of the plains.

While the Nepali media has been rife with speculation over whether the BJP-led government would push for a reversal of secularism and revival of Hindu rashtra in the country, the subject did not come up for discussion at Thursday’s meeting.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Hindustan Times, 12 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">CA debates land? citizenship? rights

Constituent Assembly members continued discussions on fundamental rights and directive principle of the state in a meeting of the constitution-drafting body. The issues of land acquisition and compensation, provision of citizenship certificate and fundamental rights dominated today’s discussions.

Most CA members said right to food security, education, health and employment should be included in the new constitution as ’fundamental rights’ of citizens. They also aired views on citizenship but were divided according to their respective party lines.

Unified CPN-Maoist CA members said land exceeding the specified ceiling must be acquired by the state without compensation. CA members of Madhes-based parties spoke against land ceiling and land acquisition without compensation. NC and CPN-UML are also against land acquisition without the provision of compensation.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Himalayan Times, 12 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Major arms deal with India

India and Nepal have closed a large military deal that includes supply of a large cache of lethal weapons. The deal, only one of its kind in the last nine years, has got its final clearance at a meet between external affairs ministers of both the countries on June 9. A

ccording to a communique issued by Indian embassy at Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, India-Nepal defense ties include military educational exchanges, joint exercises, and supplies of military stores and equipment, as required by Nepal.

Following the successful completion of integration of former Maoists combatants into the Nepal Army (NA) and the decision of the Government of Nepal to resume imports of stores and equipment for NA, the materials, as identified in the meet of Bilateral Consultative Group on Security Issues, will be supplied to Nepal over the coming months. As learnt, the immediate supply portion under the deal will be of worth around Rs 1100 crore.

The deal includes more than 26,000 weapons of various kinds including several thousand Indian-made Insas rifles, more than 11 million rounds of ammunitions, bomb disposal equipment and explosives for training purpose.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Economic Times, 10 June 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak Taliban vows more violence

The attack in Pakistan’s biggest city airport Jinnah International Airport which begin around Sunday mid night and raged until Monday morning, which killed 24 persons, including 10 militants of Tehreek-e-Taliban.

This assault raises concern about Pakistan’s shaky security situation in and around the airport premises. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group take the complete responsibility of the attack and claim it as a revenge for its late leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike in November.

The Karachi airport attack is seen against the backdrop of a major split in the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). The leadership has been given into the hands of Mullah Fazlullah, a non-Mehsud from Swat region. On late Sunday around 10 gunmen disguised as policemen entered into a section of airport where a terminal for VIP Flights, hajj pilgrims and cargos is located.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Nation, 9 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Realigning operational strategy

At a high level meeting of political leaders and military on national security with Prime Minister Nawab Sharif decided to tackle terrorists with iron hands and bring about some structural changes in the operations against the militants both in tribal and major cities.

The meeting reviewed the overall law and order situation in the country but no details of the operational changes were shared. Federal Defence minister Kh Asif and ISI DG Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam missed this important meeting.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Nation, 11 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Six killed in year’s first drone strike

The first US drone strike in Pakistan this year killed at least four militants on northwest tribal district. The missiles hit a vehicle and a compound in Dargarh Mandi village in North Waziristan which is considered a stronghold for the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network.

The US had offered its assistance in investigating the siege, through it is not yet clear whether Pakistan accepted the offer.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, 12 June 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UNHRC probe: UNP wants changes in govt resolution

The UNP has said that its participation in next week’s debate on a resolution to be moved by the government seeking parliamentary approval to call on the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) not to proceed with a war crimes probe against the Sri Lankan military would depend on the acceptance of an amendment it was planning to move.

Chief Opposition Whip John Ameratunga said that the UNP’s involvement in the debate on the government’s motion would depend on its amendment being entertained. Asked what the amendment would be, he replied that the exact wording of it would be decided on by the UNP parliamentary group which would be meeting on Tuesday morning.

Some tough questions including the failure of the Rajapaksa government to consult the legislature before and after the UNHRC adopted the resolution against Sri Lanka in March this year would be raised, informed sources said. "They are trying to shift the blame for their lack of foresight and diplomatic skills on to the legislature."

Colombo District UNP leader, Ravi Karunanayake MP said that the UNP agreed with the government’s position that the security forces had not committed any war crimes."So what is there to hide behind a resolution calling on the UNHRC not to conduct an inquiry," he queried.

When motions trying to stall the investigation process are adopted, the world would think that there was something to hide, he said, adding "Unless, of course, the decision makers are seeking cover for actions. Our job is to protect the security forces, sovereignty and integrity of the nation and not to cover up for politicians whose actions have resulted in Sri Lanka being crucified and humiliated internationally."

Earlier, at a special meeting, parliamentary party leaders decided to take up a motion submitted by nine UPFA members against holding a UNHRC investigation against Sri Lanka for debate on June 17 and 18. Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody when contacted by The Island said that the motion would be debated for two days and if the members call for a division a vote would be taken up at 6 pm on June 18.

The motion reads that "Parliament resolves that the investigation to be conducted against Sri Lanka by the UNHCR should not be carried out on the ground that such a course of action is detrimental to the process of reconciliation and peace and that it erodes the sovereignty, dignity and stature of Sri Lanka."

Opposition party leaders said that they needed to add amendments to the motion. JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake handed over a set of amendments. Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga said that his party’s proposed amendments would be handed over prior to debate.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island 13 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Court orders regulation of animal sacrifice

Mallakam courts Magistrate Joy Mahil Mahadevan has ordered regulating the ritual of animal sacrifices in Hindu temples all over Sri Lanka.

In the case relating to the Kownawatte Narasimha Vairavar Temple located at Karikampanai, Keerimalai in the Vali North, the court directed the temple authorities to follow strict procedures set out in the Butchers Ordinance and Prevention Cruelty to Animals Ordinance.

Though in 1951, a Commission had recommended a ban on animal sacrifices, successive governments have failed to bring in suitable legislation to ban the rituals of Animal Slaughter in Hindu Temples.

In the absence of a specific law to ban, Mallakam Magistrate has referred extensively to the August 2013 decision of the Court of Appeal, where a three-Judge Bench has set the tone.

The Mallakam Magistrate explicitly stated that the priest of the Hindu temple must obtain a license under Section 4 of the Butchers Ordinance to kill animals defined in Section 2 of the Butchers Ordinance.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Asian Tribune, 12 June 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Huge haul of heroin, explosives

The Police Special Task Force (STF) on Wednesday seized 85 kg of heroin with a street value of more than Rs. 680 million when they took into custody a hybrid car with two suspects on the Biyagama Road in Kelaniya.

Police said the stock was the largest heroin haul seized in the country while being transported over land.

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said the STF carried out the raid after employing decoys for about three months following a tip-off.

Police identified the two suspects taken into custody as Selvathurai Ravikumar and Selvathurai Suntharaj from Maradana and Kotahena and as brothers.

SSP Rohana said the main suspect who had apparently provided the heroin stock in the hybrid car to the arrested brothers is to be taken into custody and investigations are underway to nab him.

In a separate incident, a lorry driver was taken into custody in Anuradhapura Town while he was allegedly transporting 10 kg of explosives, 500 detonators and 40 metres of fuse cord.

The explosives were being transported to Trincomalee and had been hidden underneath the seat adjacent to the driver’s seat of the lorry. However the owner-driver was said to have declined to reveal the purpose for which the explosives were being transported.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island 12 June 2014, Daily Mirror Online 13 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Japan interested in anti-terrorism skills

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force Admiral Katsutosi Kawano has said the Japanese Navy would like to learn from Sri Lanka’s experiences with anti-terrorism operations when he called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at President’s House in Anuradhapura.

Admiral Kawano held discussions on enhanced operations between the two countries in the areas of maritime security and other maritime sectors.The visiting Admiral further expressed Japan’s interest in Sri Lanka’s ports, noting that "Sri Lanka is at the centre of the Indian Ocean".

Admiral Kawano said he would also like to explore opportunities at the Hambantota Port, especially given its 17-metre depth and its proximity to the world’s busiest East-West Shipping Lane. Welcoming Japan’s interest, President Rajapaksa encouraged the Admiral to visit the port.

In the past one and half years, 15 Japanese naval ships have called at the Colombo Port.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online 12 June 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Abdul Qayum Karzai endorses Ghani

In the week leading up to the second round of elections, incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother, Abdul Qayum Karzai, and a number of his team members endorsed presidential candidate Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.

Mr Qayum Karzi, who was initially a presidential candidate himself, had withdrawn his nomination before the commencement of the first round of voting and announced his support for Mr Zalmai Rassoul.

This announcement comes two weeks after another brother of Mr Karzai, Mahmood Karzai had endorsed Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

The main team members of losing candidate Qutbuddin Helal also announced their support for Dr Abdullah. However, it is not yet known, which candidate Mr Helal himself will support.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Tolo News, 8 June 2014 & 11 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak rejects links to attempts on Abdullah

The Pakistan Foreign Office issued a statement this week rejecting allegations of its involvement in an assassination attempt on Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the leading candidate in the Afghan Presidential Elections. Last week, Dr Abdullah’s campaign motorcade was hit by two blasts, include one suicide bombing, which had led to the death of 12 people.

"Pakistan is deeply disappointed by such allegations because they serve to vitiate the positive environment created between the two countries through constructive efforts over the past months," Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said.

National Directorate of Security (NDS) spokesman Abdul Hasib Sediqi claimed that initial investigations that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), had hand in the attack and that the attack was planned in Peshawar.

Later in the week, NDS also claimed that Pakistan was seeking a role for the Taliban in a power-sharing arrangement in the Afghan government post-2014.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, 9 June 2014; Khaama Press, 13 June 2014; Pajhwok, 10 June 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Five pacts with China during Hasina visit

Bangladesh China relationship got a major boost following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to China. The Prime Minister was in China for a six-day official visit beginning from 6 June and she returned on 11 June.

Sheikh Hasina began her visit by attending inauguration of second China-South Asia Expo in Kunming. During her stay at Kunming she also met Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang. She also visited Beijing and met many top leaders of the country including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinpin and Chairman of Chinese People’s Political consultative Conference Yu Zhengseng.

Meetings were held in an atmosphere of outmost warmth and cordial atmosphere and bilateral issues were discussed between leaders of the two countries.

The major outcome of the visit comprised the signing of five agreements between China and Bangladesh. The agreements are:

1) Agreement on economic and technical cooperation between two countries. Under this agreement China promised to give 3000 million reminbi yearly to Bangladesh.

2) Agreement on formation of a joint venture between China National Machaninery Import and Export Coorporation and North-West Power Generation Company Limited to set up 1,320 megawatt coal fired power plant.

3) Memorandum of Understanding on creation of a Chinese economic and investment zone in Chittagong.

4) Two Exchanges of Letters on the second batch of calamity rescue equipment and a feasibility study of flood prevention and management in Bangladesh.

5) A memorandum of understanding on the construction of a multilane tunnel under the Karnaphuli river.

During the visit Bangladesh sought Chinese funding for some of its mega infrastructure project like- Rajshahi Wasa Surface Water Treatment Plant, construction of the second railway/road bridge over Karnaphuli, construction of a new dual guage railway line from Chittagogn to Cox’s Bazar via Ramu ad Ramu to Gundum near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, and national ICT network for Bangladesh government (Phase III).

Bangladesh also sought Chinese support for setting up Eastern Refinery Unit-2 and Single Point Mooring Project. However, China only agreed to provide funding only two projects.

Meanwhile, the issue of trade gap was raised by Shiekh Hasina urged for duty free access of Bangladesh product. But no concrete response followed from the Chinese leaders. Again, before the visit Chinese side offered to give zero tarrif facility to 95 percent of Bangladeshi product going to China to get a more balance bilateral trade. However, Chin backed off at the last moment.

The issue of constructing of the $ 14-billion deep-sea port in Sonadia figured prominently in the discussion but no firm commitment was forthcoming from China. Prior to the visit expectation was that an agreement in this regard might be signed during Shiekh Hasina’s visit.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 6 &7 June, 2014; The Daily Star, 7, 9&11 June 2014; Dhaka Tribune, 8 June 2014; The Independent, 10 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Tension in Chittagong Hill Track

Tension in the Chittagong hill track intensified after 14 people, including women, were injured in a clash between indigenous people and members of police and the Border Gaurd Bangladesh (BGB) over construction of a helipad in Dighinala upazila in Khagrachhari district of Chittagong Hill Track (CHT).

The dispute began as BGB personnel tried to plant a flag where it proposed to set up a helipad and it was opposed by the indigenous people claiming that the land belonged to them.

The government acquired the land for the BGB at Babuchhara in 1991. Fearing eviction, local indigenous people filed a writ petition with higher court against the move. Nearly 92 indigenous people who took refuge in the no-man’s-land bordering India in May returned home to Naraichhari Bazar in the district’s Dighinala upazila. The group had move to the no man’s-land as a reaction of the tension in CHT last month. They returned home after a flag meeting between the BGB and Border Security Force of India.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, 9 June & 11 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Six shot dead in Bay

In a worst ever incident of violence surrounding illegal trafficking of human, at least six people were killed and forty injured after traffickers fired bullets on a passengers of a trawler that was carrying 321 Bangladeshi nationals to Malaysia. The incident took place near St Martin’s Island in the Bay of Bengal.

The Bangladeshis were being trafficked to Malaysia by the 30-metre Thailand-made trawler, Bangladesh Coast Guard personnel said. Victims claimed that traffickers and their accomplices opened fire on the passengers as they protested against delay in taking the ship towards Malaysia.

The Coast Guard rescued 315 passengers.

To avoid such incidence in future government is planning to issue a circular on illegal immigration that will be sent to all the union parishads to create awareness among the people by the ministry.

The government is going to launch a mass awareness programme against illegal migration across the country to put a check on it, particularly on the sea route.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, 12 June 2014; Dhaka Tribune, 12 June 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Energy, trade and infra to top Modi’s agenda

Energy, infrastructure, rail connectivity, trade and investments will be high on Prime minister Narendra Modi’s agenda when he visits Bhutan on 15 June. The visit will provide an opportunity to discuss bilateral issues, including strengthening relations between the two sides.

Bhutan’s 11th five-year Plan, hydropower projects and an economic stimulus plan will also be discussed in the meeting. Though no big agreements are expected due to the short visit, Modi is likely to address a joint session of the Bhutanese Parliament and probably unveil an Indian aid-sponsored project.

India has agreed to build four new joint venture hydropower projects in Bhutan as the two governments agreed to closely coordinate on issues relating to their national security and interests.

The decision was taken when Modi met his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay in New Delhi during his swearing-in ceremony and agreed that India would build four new hydropower projects with a capacity to generate 2120 mw in Bhutan.

Modi will also call on the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The last prime ministerial visit from India to Bhutan was six years ago when former Prime minister Manmohan Singh visited the country in May 2008.

Bhutan shares a 605-km border with India and a 470-km border with China. Beijing is very keen on establishing full-fledged diplomatic relations with Bhutan and open an embassy in Thimphu.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Financial Express, 12 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Election officials visit India

A team led by the Chief Election Commissioner Dasho Kunzang Wangdi was in India to discuss with the Election Commission of India areas of cooperation such as Indo-Bhutan Joint training of electoral officers and possible funding of Electoral Training and Resource Centre for Bhutan.

The team visited the Parliament of India to witness the election of the Speaker and the introduction of Council of Ministers to Parliament by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The delegation were also in Nepal to discuss with the Election Commission of Nepal about preparations for the 5th Meeting of the Forum of Election Management Bodies of South Asia (FEMBoSa), which would be held in Nepal from October 31 to November 4.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel Online, 13 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MPs to get fatter pay

In amending the Parliamentary Entitlement Bill, the National Assembly endorsed a monthly salary of about Nu 123,000, inclusive of allowances to members of Parliament (MPs).

With the amended Bill passed on 11 June, parliamentarians could get the same pay as constitutional post holders, should it get the consent of Parliament. It endorsed that salary of MPs shall be equivalent to that of constitutional post holders.

MPs at present draw a monthly minimum salary of Nu 50,445. A constitutional post holder is paid Nu 63,000 a month. The government’s revision proposed Nu 65,930 for parliamentarians and Nu 75,160 for constitutional post holders.

If the Assembly’s endorsement is passed by Parliament, MPs’ monthly salary will start from Nu 75,160. A new pay scale and a monthly fuel allowance of Nu 8,000 were added to the parliamentarians’ entitlements.

Other endorsed entitlements include a 30 percent housing allowance on basic pay, Nu 2,000 telephone charges, Nu 8,505 driver’s allowance, fuel allowance of Nu 8,000, and a monthly vehicle maintenance allowance of Nu 7,000.

Lump sum amounts for purchase of mobile phones and vehicles, Nu 5,000 and Nu 1 million, respectively, could also come their way.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel Online, 12 June 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’China ready to work on all issues’

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a visit to India and met with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The two Ministers discussed all issues, including President, Vice-President and PM-level interactions between the two sides over the remaining part of the year as well as investments, including the setting up of an industrial park and infrastructure in India.

Vice-President Hamid Ansari is expected to go to Beijing for the 60th anniversary celebrations of ’Panchsheel’. Both sides also discussed counter-terrorism and Afghanistan as Wang appreciated India’s stand on recent terror attacks in China.

"China is ready to work with our Indian friends for an even brighter future of our strategic and cooperative partnership," Wang said in an interview in a national newspaper. Wang acknowledged the border tensions, but said the two countries have "much more strategic consensus than differences and cooperation is our top priority." "The boundary question is indeed a difficult one, but with strong will and resolve, we will eventually find a solution," he said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Hindustan Times, 8 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Action plan on food price-rise: President

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will make welfare of the poor the centre-piece of his broad agenda of economic development, President Pranab Mukherjee told Parliament in his address.

Outlining the government’s priorities in his inaugural address to both Houses of Parliament, the President said India’s economy faced "extremely difficult" times and that there was a need to "urgently pursue" economic reforms, to create an enabling environment for growth to take off.

President Mukherjee said the government was ready with an action plan to deal with rising food prices if monsoon rains were subnormal this year, as was widely forecast. The new government tried to reach out to the minorities pledging to fulfil "aspirations with the involvement of all the 1.2 billion people of this country," but added that the poor should have the "first claim on development."

He unveiled the government’s broad plan to steer the economy out of its sticky slowdown by raising new China-style mega manufacturing hubs, opening up India’s lucrative defence sector to the private industry and overhauling the country’s tax structure. The government also vowed to ensure that every family had a good home with 24x7 power and water supplies by 2022.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Hindustan Times, 10 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt downsizing continues

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has disbanded four Cabinet committees, Cabinet Committee on Prices, the Cabinet Committee on the management of natural calamities, the Cabinet Committee on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) matters, and the Cabinet Committee on the Unique Identification Authority of India, as part of his attempt to streamline the decision-making process. The work handled by these panels will now be looked into by other Cabinet committees.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs will now look after the functions of the last three panels. The Cabinet Secretary has been asked to look after the functions of the committee on natural calamities. This will happen as the new Prime Minister reconstitutes the Cabinet Committee on Security, the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, and the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, besides the CCEA.

The decision to discontinue the four Cabinet committees is in keeping with Mr Modi’s resolve to provide "good governance with less government.’’ He had earlier abolished all the Group of Ministers (GoMs) and the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoMs), a legacy of the previous UPA government which was seen to be one of the main factors behind the policy paralysis that had affected its decision-making.

< class="text11verdana">Source: NDTV, 10 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Infosys gets new CEO

Infosys Ltd, India’s second-largest IT services exporter, said executive chairman N R Narayana Murthy and executive vice-chairman S Gopalakrishnan would step down on June 14. The company has named former SAP AG executive board member Vishal Sikka as Chief Executive Officer, the first time the company has not chosen one of its founders for the role. Sikka will take over from current Chief Executive S.D. Shibulal, one of the seven engineers who founded Infosys in 1981, on August 1, the company said.

Analysts and industry experts expect Sikka to help the company win business from his former customers at SAP and bring an innovation focus to the former IT industry bellwether, at a time when the industry is undergoing fundamental changes. Sikka’s strong connections with enterprise customers from his SAP days are expected to play a role.

Aside from just connections to global CEOs, Sikka is also expected to help Infosys makes its way in the changing landscape of the IT industry. The National Association for Software and Services Companies expects the industry’s revenue to reach $300 billion by 2020, growth that will have to come in from investments in intellectual property and new solutions around the cloud and analytics.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Economic Times, 12 June 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Court orders police to produce Minister Umar?

The Criminal Court has issued an order upon the police to arrest Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer in order to ensure his appearance in court, after he missed two hearings of a case filed against him by the State.

Sources said that this order was issued yesterday. Neither the police nor the court has however commented on the matter.

The State has filed a case against Umar stating that he disobeyed orders, after he encouraged protesters to use 50 ladders to break in to the headquarters of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) during a protest in 2010 against the government of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Two hearings have been cancelled after Umar failed to appear in court, as he was out of the country.

The Home Ministry has informed the court in a letter that Minister Umar is away on an official visit and will return on 16 June, before which he would be unable to attend court.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline 13 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Deadline unmet for standing committee members

The Select Committee of Parliament assigned with appointing members to Standing Committees has concluded its meeting with no agreement, while the deadline for completing the task had passed three days ago.

According to Article 111 of the Parliament Standing Orders, Standing Committee members must be appointed within two weeks of the inauguration of the People’s Majlis.

The delay is caused by two committees having more members than required. The issue can be resolved by Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) giving up two seats.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Jumhooree Party (JP), and Adhaalath Party have agreed to give up their seats in the committees with excess members.

The Select Committee has asked PPM and MDA to find a way to agree on the matter.

Earlier, the committee decided to give 59 seats in 12 Standing Committees to the government coalition (PPM and MDA), 39 seats to MDP, 23 seats to JP, 2 seats to Adhaalath Party, and one seat to the only independent member in Parliament.

Parliament has 13 standing committees. Procedures for assigning parties to the Security Services Committee have not been determined.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline 12 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Vice-President observes IGMH renovation

Vice-President Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed ‎visited Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IMGH) to observe its ‎renovation progress.

‎ During his visit, the Vice-President surveyed the extensive work ‎being undertaken to re-develop the hospital, and was briefed on the ‎construction project currently underway to build an additional wing of the ‎National Diagnostics Centre.

The Vice-President also discussed with senior ‎officials from I.G.M.H, efforts that could be undertaken to further improve ‎the public hospital.

‎ CEO of IGMH, Dr. Mohamed Habeeb said that three big projects are currently being carried out and the Vice President observed the works.

The projects include a 10-storey building under the financial assistance from India.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Miadhu 12 June 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Closer road connectivity with India

Myanmar has signalled its intent to resume talks on the proposal to start a bus service to India, reviving a long standing project to deepen ties between the two countries. A delegation from India, including officials from the ministry of road transport and highways and ministry of external affairs, is meeting officials from the government of Myanmar for starting the process of finalizing the agreement for the proposed bus service, said a road ministry official on condition of anonymity.

"We had sent our memorandum of understanding (MoU) and protocol for a passenger bus service for people-to-people contact a year back. The proposal went on the backburner. The resuming of talks is a welcome sign," the official said.

The bus service is proposed between Imphal and Mandalay. Currently there is no road traffic between India and Myanmar.

"This could be a game-changer as it will be a precursor for starting commercial activities between India and Myanmar on one hand and an enabler for signing ASEAN-India trade agreement on the other," the official added.

Another person familiar with the developments on the Indian side confirmed that the Indian delegation was reaching Myanmar for the meeting on 13 June.

"Protocol for operationalizing this MoU is to be finalized. The delegation is coming to Myanmar to finalize this protocol," said this person, also requesting anonymity. "The idea is to start the bus service as soon as possible."

< class="text11Verdana">Source:, 11 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Better border cooperation with B’desh after clash

Myanmar and Bangladeshi authorities on 12 June vowed to strengthen border security and combat "illegal armed groups and criminals" following clashes on their shared frontier that Dhaka said left one of its soldiers dead.

The neighbours said they would take measures to avoid a repeat of "untoward" incidents in May, which saw gunfire exchanged between both countries’ security forces, the Myanmar Police and Border Guard Bangladesh said in a joint statement.

The unrest comes amid Myanmar assertions that an insurgent group claiming links to the Rohingya Muslim minority had started to operate in the area. Waves of sectarian conflict two years ago in Rakhine state, on the Myanmar side of the border, left the region largely segregated on religious grounds.

Myanmar provided information about the activities of the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) "inside the territory of Bangladesh which are detrimental to peace and stability along the border areas," according to the statement.

Bangladesh also affirmed it "always shows zero tolerance on the issue of miscreants/illegal armed groups".

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 12 June 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Panel’s blow to Suu Kyi’s presidential hopes

The parliamentary committee guiding Myanmar’s constitutional amendment process has voted not to endorse changes to a controversial article that bars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency, a committee member has said.

The Constitutional Amendment Implementation Committee voted overwhelmingly to recommend retaining Article 59(F), the committee member from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

In a committee meeting on June 6, "only five members voted to amend it," the USDP law-maker said, adding that committee members from the military and the USDP persuaded others to reject any changes. "Since the majority of members voted not to amend it, the amendment of that article will not happen in this Parliament."

Of the 31-member committee, seven members are unelected military representatives, while 14 represent the USDP. Only two members are from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, while eight represent other political parties.

The committee will submit its final recommendations to the Union Parliament, where votes will be cast on the proposed constitutional changes.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Irrawaddy, The Himalayan Times, 13 June 2014

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:
Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale;
India: Niharika Betkerur & Dr Satish Mishra;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal: Pratnashree Basu;
Pakistan: Bhavya Pandey;
Afghanistan:Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharje

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.


Mihir Bhonsale

Mihir Bhonsale

Mihir Bhonsale was a Junior Fellow in the Strategic Studies Programme and Indian Neighbourhood Initiative of ORF.

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