MonitorsPublished on May 29, 2015
Nepal is still grieving the loss of life and property caused by the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks. The epicentre of the devastating earthquake, measuring 7.9 on Richter scale, was Lamjung, around 77 km northwest of Kathmandu.
Nepal: Aftermath of April 25 earthquake
< class="heading1">Analysis

Nepal is still grieving the loss of life and property caused by the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks. The epicentre of the devastating earthquake, measuring 7.9 on Richter scale, was Lamjung, around 77 km northwest of Kathmandu. According to the official estimate, at least 8000 persons lost their lives, with more than 14,000 wounded and nearly 6,00,000 houses destroyed.

How the government will mobilize the much-needed support for providing relief and shelter has become a major concern of common people now. The lack of coordination among the three leading political parties of the Himalayan nation - the Nepali Congress, Communist party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) (CPN-UML) and Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) - has slowed down the process of relief and rehabilitation to the victims in the remote areas of the fourteen worst-affected districts. Several aid groups, humanitarian needs and search-and-rescue workers, the United States, China and India have extended their assistance to Nepal. The disaster-struck Nepal has also received help from countries across South Asia including Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Operation Maitri

Immediately after the earthquake, India sent 187 tonnes of supplies, including 50 tonnes of water, 22 tonnes of food and two tonnes of medicine. Around 300 disaster-relief troops reached Kathmandu soon after the earthquake and trucks loaded with supplies travelled by land from India’s eastern region to Nepal’s rural areas.

Indian planes were the first to land in Kathmandu with water, food, earth-moving equipment, tents, blankets, mobile hospitals, specialized rescue teams and specialized manpower to help restore electricity supply. Increasingly, as the country’s only major airport in Kathmandu got crowded with flights from other nations, India started moving most of its relief materials by road to Nepal.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) of India attempted to reach the wrecked villages and hamlets lying in inaccessible and remote parts beyond Kathmandu. Indian military helicopters conducted reconnaissance flights. What they report about the extent of the devastation is said to be pretty grim.

The senior officials in the Indian embassy in Kathmandu were of the opinion that, the emphasis in the first 72 hours after the April 25 earthquake was primarily on rescue. Immediately, 700 officers of the NDRF were dispatched to Nepal to rescue people.

"India has been prompt in relief and rescue operations in natural calamity-hit Nepal since day one and has been playing the role of a big brother." This is how Ambassador-designate of Nepal to India, Deep Kumar Upadhyay described India’s role and thanked the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh for launching "such a large-scale round the clock relief work".

Disaster diplomacy?

India’s timely leadership action in aid of Nepal prompted global speculation on whether the effort is part of a disaster diplomacy, a race with China, as China also extended its helping hands in devastation-affected Nepal. In this context, the comment of S Jaishankar, India’s Foreign Secretary is noteworthy. In an interview with CNN, he argued that, India’s assistance should not be characterised as "diplomacy". He opined that Nepal had faced a monumental tragedy, and India had a capability to respond.

Yet, some experts argue that, disaster aid to Nepalese victims serves as the latest tussle between the two regional powerhouses. The Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed that, China was willing to offer all necessary disaster assistance to the Nepalese side. A 62-member disaster response unit accompanied by six search-and-rescue dogs was immediately dispatched to Nepal along with 20.5 tons of aid.

It may be noted in this context that, in 2014, China had emerged as Nepal’s biggest investor. China was awarded with a $1.6 billion government contract for a hydro-electric power project that would be commissioned to China’s Three Gorges International Corp - a sign that the relationship between the two nations is becoming more intimate. Therefore, China’s urge to help Nepal was quite understandable. India is naturally concerned with this.

On the other hand, India has also come closer to Nepal. Last year, Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Nepal in seventeen years, and also offered a loan of $1 billion to help build the infrastructure and to finance a hydro-electric power project. Nepal currently produces just 600 Megawatts of power and suffers regular power cuts. The fact is that, both India and China recognize this vulnerability and view energy diplomacy as a way to strengthen relationships with Nepal.

However, it is good that, the Chinese have officially showed their willingness to work together with India in reconstructing the disaster-hit Nepal. It is now time to realize for the Government of Nepal that, the neighbours’ competitive help would mean little without the host government’s clear-cut policy of relief and rehabilitation.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pakistan: Operation Zarb-e-Azb, between success and feasibility

Sridhar Ramaswamy

Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a joint military offensive conducted by the Pakistan army against various militant groups such as the Haqqani network, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other such groups. The operation was launched by Pakistan in June 2014 in North Waziristan to renew its efforts against militancy after the attack on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.

The operation has garnered political and public support to combat militancy in the country. The military operations were further intensified after a series of gruesome attacks on civilian targets, with the most prominent one being the killing of more than 100 school children in Peshawar.

Success in North Waziristan

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently claimed the operation was a success in North Waziristan and that terrorism has been eliminated with the environment now peaceful in the region. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif went on to say the armed forces have gained magnificent achievements during the operation. He also said that the success achieved in the military offensive has created a favourable political atmosphere in the country against terrorism in the tribal belt. General Raheel went on to add that the war against terrorism is being fought for the future generations.

With the model a success in the region of North Waziristan, there is a demand from different sections that this model be adopted in other urban centres as well. The environment was becoming more conducive for political optimisation towards a sustainable and meaningful closure of military efforts to end militancy in the country. The armed forces further got a shot in the arm to spread its operations in the country after the recent military air raids killed 13 militants in Waziristan along with at least five terrorist hideouts destroyed in the process. Further appreciation from other countries for Pakistan’s efforts in cracking down against terrorism in the region seemed to vindicate this stand of replicating this model in other parts of the country.

Feasibility

The success of the military operations like most large scale operations, have come with a huge financial strain. According to some media reports, the Pakistan Senate was told that the Zarb-e-Azb has so far cost close to Rs. 1.44 trillion to the national kitty. The Senate chairman said he had no objection to constituting a parliamentary committee after a tribal senator had said there is a need to form a parliamentary panel to review the overall security situation and uplift schemes in the area.

With the need to raise funds for the war against the terror outfits, the government is likely to levy an income tax surcharge on individuals with high incomes in the budget for the fiscal year of 2016. This was, according to some of the officials at the finance ministry, the proposal for a surcharge discussed during a meeting of senior finance officials in the government which was chaired by the Finance Minister. The surcharge is expected to be around 5% to 10% of the tax owed by the individuals under the higher tax bracket.

An independent Tax Reforms Commission that was constituted by the government is said to have given a proposal on similar lines in its report that was given to the government. According to the report, the commission proposed to collect a higher income contributor surcharge to support the military operation and fight against terrorism for a period of three years. This did not obviously go down well with industrialists and trade bodies, who expressed their displeasure publicly.

Considering that the macroeconomic indicators of Pakistan are showing signs of improvement at the moment, the overburdening of the existing tax payers instead of broadening the tax base could have negative consequences economically.

Road ahead sustainable?

The COAS expressed his concerns that the political leadership was reluctant to expand Zarb-e-Azb to the other urban centres of the country, which according to him could cost the country heavily and the achievements by the armed forces may go wasted. While Pakistan has the legal and moral reasons to levy the surcharge for the operation, it would further burden the exchequer of the country and could create other problems for the country. With the need to prove to the world it is serious in combating terror, along with expanding the operations in other parts of the country and sustaining the war with strained finances, Nawaz Sharif has some very difficult decisions to make for the long run.

(The writer is a Research Intern at the Observer Research Foundation)

< class="heading1">Country Reports

Afghanistan

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ISI-NDS deal to be reviewed

Amidst growing criticism against the MoU signed earlier this month between the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan government is set to review this pact. The NDS issued a statement claiming that a five-step process has been initiated to make the pact more legitimate and practical.

The panel of experts chosen to review the pact are directly answerable to the Afghan President. The Lower House of the Afghan Parliament had summoned the country’s National Security Advisor and the Director of the NDS this week to answer questions about the pact.



Parliament also warned that it would invalidate the MoU if its conditions were not met. The ongoing debate over this deal has compelled President Ashraf Ghani and the Afghan High Peace Council to cancel its trip to Qatar next week.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Govt To Review Controversial NDS-ISI MoU", Tolo News, 24 May 2015; "Security Leaders Called to Answer for MoU With Pakistan", Tolo News, 24 May 2015; "Afghan parliament warns to invalidate NDS-ISI MoU if conditions not met", Khaama Press, 24 May 2015; "Ghani’s Trip to Qatar Cancelled Amid Debate Over NDS-ISI MoU", Tolo News, 28 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt, Taliban meet in China

Media reports this week suggested a secret meeting between Afghan government and Taliban representatives was held in the Chinese city of Urumqi. Kabul was represented by Mohammad Stanakzai and the Taliban by Mullah Jalil, Mullah Abdul Razaq and Mullah Hassan Rahmani, all of whom served in the Taliban government in the 1990s.

The three Taliban figures are said to enjoy close relations with the Pakistan military establishment, who allegedly facilitated this meeting. The Taliban and Kabul, however, issued statements claiming that such a meeting had not been authorised. Afghan lawmakers and political analysts were quick to criticise the secretive nature of such meetings claiming that only a more transparent peace process would serve the interests of the country.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Taliban and Afghan Peace Officials Have Secret Talks in China", The New York Times, 25 May 2015; "Analysts Criticize Secretive Peace Process", Tolo News, 25 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak asks Taliban to shun violence

In what could possibly be a significant move, the Pakistan military establishment is said to have called upon the Afghan Taliban to end its violent spring offensive. Pakistan delivered this message to the top Taliban leadership through intermediaries.

The Taliban were warned that they may have to face severe consequences if they did not call off their spring offensive. In the meanwhile, Pakistan has once again called upon Afghanistan to hand over the leader of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Mullah Fazlullah, who is said to be operating from the eastern provinces of Afghanistan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Spring offensive in Afghanistan: Pakistan warns Taliban to shun violence - or else", The Express Tribune, 25 May 2015; "Pakistan asks Afghanistan for TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah", Khaama Press, 28 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt turns to militias for help

Concerns were raised in the Parliament this week about reports of Kabul arming private militias and turning to former warlords to resist the Taliban offensive in the northern parts of the country. It is feared that such measures would affect the stability of the country in the long-term and create additional hassles for the government. Such reports, however, were rejected by the Ministry of Interior. It claimed that while it supported the anti-Taliban uprisings throughout the country, it was not arming the local citizens.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "MPs Concerned Over Claims Govt Arming Civilians", Tolo News, 25 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Taliban gains in Uruzgan province

At least 50 police check posts in the south-eastern Afghan province of Uruzgan are said to have been captured by the Taliban. A senator from the province also claimed that a number of Afghan National Police personnel stationed at these posts committed suicide out of fear of being taken hostage by the Taliban. As many as 37 security personnel from the province are also said to have defected to the insurgents.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Taliban Capture 50 Security Force Posts InUruzgan", Tolo News, 28 May 2015; "37 Afghan Security Force Members Switch Sides, Join Taliban in Uruzgan", Tolo News, 28 May 2015

Bangladesh

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cabinet ratifies LBA protocol

The cabinet ratified the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between Bangladesh and India for implementing it. The LBA, also referred as the Indira-Mujib agreement, was signed on May 1974 for exchanging certain enclaves between the two countries but not implemented as it was pending to be ratified by Indian parliament. Bangladesh’s move followed after Indian parliament ratified the agreement earlier this month.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Cabinet ratifies protocol to implement LBA", The Independent, The Independent, 26 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">IS members held

Security agencies have arrested two members of Islamic State (ISIS) from the capital Dhaka. The IS members were recruiting operatives for the militant outfit to fight in Syria and Iraq. They have already selected 20 members who were ready to go to these war torn nations to join IS. Interestingly, among the two arrestees on is a senior executive of a multinational company and possess higher degree in Engineering from a foreign university

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Police in Bangladesh capture two IS members", The Daily Star, 25 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ansarullah Bangla banned

The home ministry has banned Islamist outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) for its militant activities. The group accused on killings of secular bloggers. However, apprehension is the ban will have little impact unless its operatives are arrested and their activities checked.

The government faced criticism after it failed to prevent attack on bloggers who were critical of the group’s ideology. ABT is sixth Islamist outfit to be outlawed for militant and anti-state activities in the country.

The other banned groups are Hizbut-Tahrir, Jama’atulMujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Bangladesh chapter of Harkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji), Jagrata Muslim Janata of Bangladesh and Shahadat-e Al-Hikma.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladesh govt bans Islamist outfit Ansarullah Bangla team for anti-state activities", The Daily Star, 26 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese Vice-Premier meets President

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong visited the country as a mark of celebrating 40 years of China-Bangladesh friendship. During her visit she met various leaders, including President Abdul Hamid.

Chinese Vice Premier informed that her country will assist Bangladesh in achieving the present government’s two targets—Vision-2021 to graduate to a middle-income nation and Vision-2041 to become a developed country

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladeshis to get 100 more scholarships to China annually", The Daily Star, 26 May 2015; "China to help Bangladesh achieve development goals", The Independent, 26 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bus-routes deal with India

Bangladesh and India are likely to finalise an agreement on bus services between the two neighbouring countries for five new routes including Agartala - Kolkata via Dhaka. The decision on a deal for bus services was taken at a meeting held at the Prime Minister’s (PM) Office with Economic Affairs adviser to PM, Dr Mashiur Rahman in the chair on May 15.

Officials of the Road Transport and Bridge ministry informed that both sides are eager to ink the deal during Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi’s visit to Dhaka next month. The five new routes include those proposed by both sides. While India has proposed the Shillong-Dhaka-Guwahati and the Agartala-Akhaura-Kolkata routes, Bangladesh wants to operationalise the Khulna-Jessore-Kolkata, Rajshahi/Chapainawabganj-Maldah/Murshidabad and the Dinajpur/Panchagarh-Shiliguri routes.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Deal on 5 bus routes with India likely", The Independent, 18 May 2015

Bhutan

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian preference sought

Bhutan has requested India to give preference to ferro-silicon from the country in view of the stiff competition from industries in China and Vietnam. This matter was discussed in the trade and transit talks between the two countries held on 25 May.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indo-Bhutan trade transcends diplomatic ties", Kuensel, 26 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Council questions hydropower policy

The National Council has asked the government, what alternative they have to the inability to generate 10,000 MW by 2020. The Council sought clarification after the Economic Affairs Ministry said that the said target was not achievable.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Council questions hydropower policy", Kuensel, 28 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Policy for private sector in key areas

The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ draft Public Private Partnership policy paves the way for the government to partner with private sector in providing infrastructure and development. This is how the government hopes to overcome twin economic challenges, weak condition of the private sector and limited resources to provide infrastructure and services.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Draft Public Private Partnership Policy Invites Private Sector To Provide Infrastructure And Services", Kuensel, 25 May 2015

India

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM celebrates one-year in office

NarendraModi wrote letters to the nation on the occasion of completing one year in office. The letters highlight new initiatives, major accomplishments and the roadmap ahead. The focus was on reviving the economy and controlling corruption. Finance Minister ArunJaitley cited economic indicators like falling current account and fiscal deficits to reinstate his government’s achievements.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Transcript of the Prime Minister’s interview to PTI", Press Trust of India, 28 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Increasing demand for rate-cut

Ahead of the Reserve Bank of India’s policy meeting next week, there is a growing demand to cut interest rate by 0.25 per cent. This is primarily due to the sluggish growth of the economy and falling inflation. Besides, industrial production has not increased at the expected pace and exports fell for the fifth month in a row.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India hungry for rate cut despite economic growth seen outstripping China", The Economic Times, 29 May 2015; "Monetary Policy & Markets: Over to RaghuramRajan for higher returns", The Financial Express, 29 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">GDP growth expected to slow

As per Moody’s Analytics, India’s economic growth rate is expected to fall from 7.5 percent to 7.2 percent in the January-March quarter. During the last quarter, trade deficit widened, exports fell and India experienced mixed global demand. Moody’s also questioned the revised GDP data, terming it as ’dubious’.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "GDP growth to slow to 7.2% in the March quarter: Moody’s", Live Mint, 28 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Heat wave kills more than 1800

Severe heat wave over the last two weeks have caused more than 1800 deaths, more than four times the number of people killed during the 2014 Kashmir floods. Persistent high temperatures have led to water shortages, dehydration, and heat stroke. Farmers, construction workers, and the elderly have been worst affected.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India’s heat wave tests water supply; death toll over 1,800", The Times of India, 29 May 2015;"India’s scorcher: What’s behind the heat wave and when will it end?",CNN, 29 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parrikar’s comment draws flak

Defence Minister ManoharParrikar’s recent comment that terrorists should be used to target their former colleagues drew criticism in separate quarters. Analysts in Delhi and Srinagar condemned the use for former militants on account of past history of wanton excesses against civilians. Islamabad interpreted the statement as official recognition of sponsoring rebels in Balochistan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Haunted by reign of terror, Ex-Ikhwanis decry Parrikar call", The Hindu, 24 May 2015;"Remember the Ikhwan? Parrikar’s ’kanta se kantanikalna’ approach to terrorism is a terrible idea", First Post, 22 Mya 2015; "Advance normalisation, not prospects for conflict", The Express Tribune (Pakistan), 26 May 2015; "Pakistan slams Minister’s statement", The Hindu, 24 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM launches DD Kisan

The Prime Minister launched India’s first television channel dedicated solely to farmers. The medium will provide regular updates to farmers regarding weather changes, global markets, innovations, and progressive farmer techniques. Modi believes that the channel will act as a source of inspiration to increase food grain productivity, enabling India to become self-sufficient in pulses and oilseeds.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Modi launches ’DD Kisan’ channel, pushes for farmers’ growth", First Post, 26 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Army orders Dhanush artillery guns

The army will receive 114 indigenously designed Dhanush artillery guns in the next three years. The 155-mm, 45-calibre gun is an upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors system, and recently passed field tests in Sikkim. The army is believed to be impressed by Dhanush and is likely to order another 481 guns.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Army to get 114 Dhanush guns in three years", The Hindu, 24 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Tripura withdraws AFSPA

Tripura withdrew the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act on 27 May. AFSPA was enforced in 1997 in response to increased violence by the National Liberation Front of Tripura. The decision was welcomed by the incumbent Community Party of India, former Home Minister P Chidambaram, and activists in Kashmir where AFSPA generates widespread resentment.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Lifting of AFSPA in Tripura hailed as victory for sanity", The Times of India, 28 May 2015; "Explained: Tripura junks the controversial AFSPA, where do the other states in Northeast stand?", The Indian Express, 29 May 2015; "AFSPA removed in Tripura after 18 years: Why it was enforced and why it’s gone now", First Post, 28 May 2015

Maldives

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ali Waheed, Imran freed

As if it had the government’s nod and to facilitate their participation in the talks proposed by President Abdulla Yameen with the Opposition, Maldivian courts have since freed jailed MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed and AP leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla. The Government however negative MDP’s proposal for party leader and former President Mohammed Nasheed from participating in the talks, saying he had been convicted and sentenced by a criminal court.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Court releases Sheikh Imran with travel ban", Minivan News, 28 May 2015; "High Court rules to transfer Imran to house arrest", Haveeru Online , May 27, 2015; "MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed has been released", Minivan News , 24, May 2015; "Convicted ex-defence minister returns after treatment", Minivan News, 24 May 2015; "MDP proposes imprisoned ex-president to represent party in talks", Minivan News, 24 May 2015; "Government rejects request to include Imran in dialogue", Haveeru Online, 27 May 2015; "Government rejects ex-president as MDP representative in talks", Minivan News, 25 May 2015; "No obstacle for Nasheed’s involvement in talks, says MDP", Minivan News, 28 May 2015; ""Nasheed’s involvement shows MDP is not earnest about negotiations"", Haveeru Online, 25 May 2015; "Lawyers ’entertaining’ Nasheed during daily visits, complains home minister", Minivan News, 25 May 2015; "HRCM calls on opposition parties to make good use of invitation for dialogue",SunOnline, 25 May 2015; "Talks should involve all parties, suggests British High Commissioner", Minivan News, 26 May 2015; "Tannock: Commonwealth should suspend Maldives until Nasheed is released", Haveeru Online, 27 May 2015; "Dhunya: It is distressing that external actors continue to provide support to radical elements", SunOnline, 28 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Opposition rally on 12 June

After the moderately-successful combined Opposition rallies of 27 February and 1 May, the parties have called for a third protest rally in capital Male, on 12 June, in the name of ’Maldivians against tyranny’. If the JP and the AP were named chief organisers in the past, the MDP is taking the lead this time.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Imran: Don’t want to overthrow the government and gain a presidency", SunOnline, 29 May 2015; "President urges soldiers to stay clear of politics", Minivan News, 27 May 2015; ""Will not send army officers to arrest people": President Yameen"", Miadhu, 30 May 2015; "Honour, Dignity and Sovereignty of the nation is dependent ýon the diligent efforts of the Maldivian Military - President ýYameen", Miadhu, 28 May 2015;

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No change of VP

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb has ruled out his becoming Vice-President, replacing allegedly estranged incumbent, Ahmed Jaleel Mohammed, after a ruling PPM parliamentarian re-introduced a Bill, fixing a 30-65 age-limit for the nation’s two top posts.

The original Bill, withdrawn at the instance of the PPM, had fixed a 65-year upper-limit, thus ruling out the likes of former President Gayoom and JP leader Gasim Ibrahim, but the lowering of the minimum by five years to 30 years covered Minister Adeeb, whose now 33 years of age.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "New bill seeks to change age for qualification as president, vice president", SunOnline, 25 May 2015; "Tourism minister dismisses rumors of new VP appointment", Minivan News, 28 May 2015; "Supreme Court seizes file on Nasheed’s resignation case submitted by Dhiyana", SunOnline, 28 May 2015; "Foreign ministry recalls high commissioner to Malaysia", Minivan News, 27 May 2015

Myanmar

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ULFA commander here?

Banned Indian militant outfit United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) commander, Paresh Barua is said to be in Myanmar. This claim was made by Assam Director-General of Police Khagen Sarma according to a newspaper report.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "ULFA Commander in Myanmar", Mizzima, 29 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Military truth out on TV

A military-owned TV channel has begun airing a documentary series on the Kokang conflict, starting 27 May. The documentary claimed that the government army stabilised the Kokang conflict of the North-eastern Shan state between the military and the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Military TV to reveal the truth about Kokang conflict", Democratic Voice of Burma, 27 May 2015; "Military Stabilised Kokang, Says Military-Made Movie", The Irrawaddy, 28 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US’ first priority

The US has said that rescuing thousands of migrants adrift in Southeast Asian seas is the first priority, ahead of the important official meeting to resolve the migrant crisis in Bangkok. The meeting would be attended by 17 ASEAN countries along with U.S and Switzerland.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Rescues first priority for US as migrant summit begins", Democratic Voice of Burma, 29 May 2015

Nepal

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Trafficking on the rise along the border

The government has banned children from travelling without parents or approved guardians in an unprecedented move to deter human traffickers who authorities fear are targeting vulnerable families after last month’s devastating earthquake. International adoption of children from Nepal would also not be permitted for the next three months.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Police step up vigilto prevent child trafficking post quake", Republica, 27 May 2015; "Nepal moves to protect children from traffickers after quake", Hindustan Times, 26 May 2015; "Massive spurt in trafficking along Nepal border" The Times of India, 24 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Amnesty for 541 prisoners

A meeting of Council of Ministers on May 28 decided to recommend amnesty to the inmates, who were jailed for crimes other than the 13 listed heinous crimes and have already served 50 per cent of their jail terms. The amnesty would be declared on Friday on the occasion of the Republic Day.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Govt recommends amnesty for 541 inmates", Republica, 28 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India offers relief procedures

India on May 26 said it has put in place a simplified procedure to expedite and facilitate transit clearances of relief supplies to Nepal which is still reeling under the impact of the massive devastation caused by two earthquakes. The decision came after India received several requests from governments and global relief organisations for facilitating the movement of relief materials to Nepal.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal earthquake: India simplifies relief supply procedure" The Economic Times, 26 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parties want leadership change

The major political parties have largely agreed to form a national consensus government to overcome from the national crisis emerged after the April 25 earthquake, and to complete the long-delayed constitution writing process. But they remain divided over the issue of government leadership, presently held by Nepali Congress (NC).

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "UML, Maoist want change in govt leadership", eKantipur, 29 May 2015

Pakistan

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TTP is India’s proxy: Govt

Minister for Defence, Khawaja Asif said Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was fighting as India’s proxy against Pakistan. He alleged that there is a nexus between the intelligence agencies of India and terrorists operating in Pakistan. He also said Balochistan province was facing Indian sponsored unrest.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "TTP fighting against Pakistan as India’s proxy: Defence Minister", Geo TV, 26 May, 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nnuclear, strategic talks with US

Pakistan and the US are expected to hold key talks on nuclear non-proliferation and strategic stability in Washington D.C next week. The Foreign Secretary of Pakistan will lead the senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Strategic Plans Divisions at these talks. The dialogue is expected to be a comprehensive one with both countries sharing their perspectives on nuclear non-proliferation and other strategic issues.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : US, Pakistan to hold nuclear, strategic talks next week" Dawn, 27 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Axact CEO arrested

Axact CEO Ahmad Shaikh was taken into custody from his office for indulging in one of the biggest ever fake degree frauds in Pakistan. He has been booked under sections related to money-laundering and cyber crimes. A New York Times report had accused Axact of running a parallel accreditation system online as well.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Axact CEO taken into custody", The Nation, 27 May, 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China Corridor cleared

A specially convened all-parties conference gave the government a go ahead on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project after arriving at a consensus. Thanking the national political leadership for their support, he said a national parliamentary committee would also be set up for oversight of projects under the CPEC to address reservations, if any. He also thanked the other political parties for joining him on an issue of national importance and praised the current era of politics saying they all stood together for development, progress and strengthening of democracy.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "APC reaches consensus on economic corridor route", Daily Times, 29 May, 2015

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MS’ ’No’ to MR

At a meeting with fellow leaders of the SLFP-UPFA combine that he heads, President Maithripala Sirisena ruled out parliamentary ticket for predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa, to facilitate his possible elevation as Prime Minister.

Alliance leaders however said that they will have a ’major role’ for Rajapaksa in the campaign for the upcoming parliamentary polls, and also ruled out any for another former President Chandrika Bandaranaiyke-Kumaratunga, saying that she had retired from active politics over 10 years ago.

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

"MS rules out nomination for MR", Daily Mirror Online, 29 May 2015; "UPFA decides on major role for Mahinda", The Island, 28 May 2015; "Mahinda will lose privileges if he contests General Election - Rajitha *Cabinet sub Committee to further study electoral reforms proposals", The Island, 28 May 2015; "Five UPFA Ministers appointed", Daily Mirror Online, 29 May 2015; "Dissolve Parliament immediately: UNP to Maithri", Daily Mirror Online, 29 May 2015; "Govt. & Opposition agree on 10-member Constitutional Council", The Island, 23 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese project back?

The Government has appointed a committee of secretaries, headed by the Prime Minister’s Secretary, to help rectify lapses in the stalled, multi-billion Colombo Port City Project involving a Chinese company, Cabinet Spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne has said.

On another front, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for a report on all Central Bank transactions under the previous government, it is learnt.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Colombo Port City Project to continue after rectification of procedural shortcomings", The Island, 28 May 2015; "China calls for `pragmatic cooperation’ with Sri Lanka at meeting with Ranil.... Buddhist delegation from China meets President Sirisena", The Island, 23 May 2015; "PM orders comprehensive report on CB transactions under previous regime", The Island, 25 May 2015; "Rs. 2,700 billion loss by Treasury bonds issue from 2012 to 2014 - Rani....Another Rs. 2,883 bn. obtained outside tender procedures", The Island, 23 May 2015; "Rs.2.7 trillion Treasury Bond probe to begin on Tuesday...Treasury Secretary to be summoned first", The Island, 23 May 2015

Primary Documentation

India

"Text of PM’s letter to the people", The Prime Minister’s official website, 26 May 2015

"Text of PM’s letter to the people on economic issues", The Prime Minister’s official website, 26 May 2015

"PM interacts with officers of PMO, on the occasion of first anniversary of his Government", The Prime Minister’s official website, 26 May 2015

"Text of PM’s address at launching ceremony of DD Kisan Channel", The Prime Minister’s official website, 26 May 2015

Myanmar

Myanmar’s view and efforts on Migrants and Boat People, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 May 2015

Nepal

Press Release issued by the Embassy of Nepal, Bangkok, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25 May 2015

Press Release issued by the Embassy of Nepal, Dhaka, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25 May 2015

Press Release on the Interaction Programme, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 24 May 2015

Bibliography

Afghanistan

Reports

Kate Clark, "Stanakzai Goes from Peace to War: For Afghanistan, finally a defence minister?", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 28 May 2015

Nathan Hodge, "Militias in Afghanistan Play Increasingly Important Role in Fight Against Taliban", The Wall Street Journal, 25 May 2015

Mujib Mashal, Joseph Goldstein and Jawad Sukhanyar, "Afghans Form Militias and Call on Warlords to Battle Taliban", The New York Times, 24 May 2015

Opinion Pieces

Syeda Mamoona Rubab, "A test of Kabul’s resolve", The Friday Times, 29 May 2015

Imtiaz Gul, "’Outrageous’ intelligence deal", The Express Tribune, 26 May 2015

Rasul Bakhsh Rais, "Changing course in Afghanistan",The Express Tribune, 26 May 2015

Massoumeh Torfeh, "Memo to Afghanistan: Don’t forget Russia", Al Jazeera,23 May 2015

Bangladesh

Opinion Pieces

Barrister Harunur Rashid, "China-Bangladesh: Strengthening partnership", The Daily Star, 26 May 2015

Wali-ur-Rahman, "Hasina Modi paradigm", Bangladesh Observer, 29 May 2015



Sylvia Szabo, "Deltas Drained: Dealing with population migration in Bangladesh", The Work Bank, 27 May 2015



Bhutan

Opinion Pieces

The Bhutanese, "Public Private Partnership", The Bhutanese, 25 May 2015

India

Opinion Pieces

Gabriele Parussini, "India’s Central Bank Expected to Cut Interest Rate Again", The Wall Street Journal, 28 May 2015

Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey, "One Year of Modigovt: Bure din for social sector", The Indian Express, 28 May 2015

Krishna Kumar, "Let us not essentialise the village", The Hindu, 27 May 2015

Shail Mayaram, "The Salafi war on Sufism", The Hindu, 27 May 2015

Gurmeet Kanwal, "#Modi1: Achhe din are here for the Indian armed forces", Daily O, 27 May 2015

Shashi Tharoor, "Here’s a Report Card on Modi’s First Year in Office", The Huffington Post, 26 May 2015

Ram Madhav (national general secretary of the BJP), "Fighting from the top", The Indian Express, 28 May 2015

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, "The elusive Modi", The Indian Express, 26 May 2015

Bruce Riedel, "One year of Modi Government: Us versus them", The Indian Express, 25 May 2015

Srinath Raghavan, "Why Ajit Doval Must Not Make Throwaway Comments on the China Border", The Wire, 24 May 2015

Ramachandra Guha, "General elections or elections of Generals?", Hindustan Times, 24 May 2015

Interview Yogendra Yadav, "Those who join us do so knowing AAP will take action against them", Asian Age, 24 May 2015

Maldives

Opinion Pieces

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Maldives: Stake-holders must go beyond checkmate and stalemate on Yameen’s initiative", www.orfonline.org, 25 May 2015

Isha Afeef, "Moved by Maldivian generosity", Minivan News, 23 May 2015

Myanmar

Opinion Pieces

Fiona Macgregor, "More women in parliament? Not likely", Myanmar Times, 29 May 2015

Khine Win, "Burma’s Looming Power Struggles", The Irrawaddy, 26 May 2015

Nepal

Opinion Pieces

Neelam Adhikari, "Terrible idea", Republica, 26 May 2015

Suman Prasad Sharma, "Building back better", Republica, 26 May 2015

Netra Prakash Bhandari,"Ripe for rebuilding", eKantipur, 29 May 2015

Chun Bahadur Gurung, "Failure to communicate" eKantipur, 29 May 2015

Pakistan

Opinion Pieces

Javid Husain, "RAW, terrorism and SAARC", The Nation, 26 May, 2015

Talat Masood, "Advance normalisation, not prospects for conflict", The Express Tribune, 26 May, 2015

Sakib Sherani, "Rethinking the budget", DAWN, 29 May, 2015

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Parakrama Jayasinghe, "Do we need Sampur power plant?", The Island, 27 May 2015

Dr Dayan Jayatilleke, "Mirroring a political generation and post-Independence Age", Daily Mirror Online, 26 May 2015

Jehan Perera, "Jaffna unrest had political dimensions too", The Island, 26 May 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Remembrance of Victory Day?", The Sunday Leader, 24 May 2015

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan : Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh : Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan & Myanmar : Mihir Bhonsale;
India: Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti and Shruti Gupta;
Maldives & Sri Lanka : N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal : Pratnashree Basu ;
Pakistan : Sridhar Ramaswamy

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