MonitorsPublished on Aug 07, 2015
Nepal and China celebrated 1 August as the anniversary day of 60 years of establishment of their diplomatic relations. President Ram Baran Yadav and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages on the occasion of the 60th anniversary.
Nepal: Celebrating the bonhomie with China
< class="heading1">Analysis

Nepal and China celebrated 1 August as the anniversary day of 60 years of establishment of their diplomatic relations. President Ram Baran Yadav and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages on the occasion of the 60th anniversary. Similarly, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also exchanged congratulatory messages on the occasion.

While celebrating the day, President Yadav stated that the five principles of peaceful co-existence provide a strong foundation for bilateral ties and that Nepal respects the One China policy. He added that Nepalis hold the Chinese people in high esteem as true and trusted friends. While expressing his happiness at China’s impressive socio-economic progress over the last six decades, the President expressed his best wishes for continued progress and prosperity of the friendly people of China, according to a press communiqué released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the eve of the day.

Prime Minister Koirala stressed that Nepal and China remain ’ideal neighbours’ and have been working closely on issues of common interest at regional and international forums. Further he added that China is Nepal’s ’trustworthy neighbour’, ’an intimate friend’ and ’a reliable development partner’. Appreciating Chinese assistance in its development efforts especially Chinese humanitarian support in the aftermath of Nepal’s earthquake Koirala expressed his hope that Nepal would benefit from China’s phenomenal progress and prosperity.

On the other side the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in an exclusive interview opined that, since China and Nepal formally established diplomatic relations in 1955, tremendous changes have taken place in the international situation and in the two countries as well. Nonetheless, China-Nepal relations remain smooth and stable as a model of good-neighborliness and friendship. This is because China has always persisted in the equality of all nations, large and small, and respected Nepal’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and its development road chosen independently; Nepal has also firmly supported China’s position on issues concerning China’s core interests.

’One-China’ policy

A ’walkathon’ (walking marathon) was organised in Kathmandu to recall jthe diplomatic journey with China, which started on 1 August 1955. Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, Chief Secretary LilamaniPaudyal and Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai jointly inaugurated the ’walkathon’ organized by Nepal Chamber of Commerce. The ’walkathon’ began from the premises of Nepal Academy in Kamaladi and passed through Ghantaghar-Ratna Park-New Road and ended at Basantapur durbar square. The Foreign Minister along with the executive committee members of the Chamber, foreign ministry officials, Chinese citizens in Nepal for work and business, officials of the Chinese embassy and journalists walked on this occasion. Both the countries planned several activities and programmes throughout the year on both sides.

On 1 August 1955 representatives from the two countries concluded their six-day negotiations in Kathmandu and released a joint statement to formally establish a bilateral relationship, entailing, among others, the exchanging of ambassadors. In 1956, Nepal recognised Tibet as a part of China acknowledging the ’One-China policy’.

In 1960, then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai visited Nepal to formalise the treaty of peace and friendship with Nepal’s first elected Prime Minister BP Koirala. Ever since, there have been many high-level exchanges between the two countries. The bilateral relationship has evolved with the changing times, but the fundamentals have largely remained the same: Nepal respecting the ’One-China’ policy and China assisting Nepal in its socio-economic development.

’Great Quake’ and afterwards

China’s influence in Asia has increased remarkably over the past decade. Analysis and debates concerning China’s rise is focused almost entirely on the economic and military aspects of its growing power. Yet soft power is increasingly recognized as the essential components of it. Besides increase in its steaming economic growth and military strengthening, the reinforcing of China’s soft power has been crucial in expanding the country’s regional influence.

In this context, Nepal holds strategic interest for China’s security and larger South Asia policy-objectives. For Chinese perspective, peace and tranquility along its south-western border is especially important as it shares a large stretch of its border with India, with whom it has had lingering border disputes. Nepal thus plays a pivotal role in China’s regional geo-political priorities, and the bilateral relationship between Nepal and China today reflects not just China’s border concerns but encompasses its larger goals in the region.

China seems keen to deepen its economic ties with Nepal. Its commitment to bolstering the relationship was seen recently after the 25 April ’Great Quake’. Besides sending teams of rescue experts, medical personnel and relief supplies to Nepal in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, China has also pledged to continue providing help in the future. It is notew2orthy that China will give Nepal around US$500 million of grant assistance between 2016 and 2018. It has been reported that the money will be allotted within five major areas like infrastructure, livelihood, cultural-site renovations, disaster preparedness and health. The help should go a long way in getting Nepal back on track.

According to recent media reports, China has sent troops to Nepal to repair a highway, which has been blocked by landslide. Upon receiving an emergency aid request from the Nepalese government, China’s State Council and Central Military Commission decided to dispatch 100 armed police officers for the China-Nepal Highway repair, the Xinhua news agency reported.

It is to be noted here that until recently, China had not sent troops overseas expect to assist UN peace mission. But the situation has been changing with natural disasters in the neighbourhood. The presence of Chinese military was seen during river floods in Pakistan in recent years. Chinese armed police had taken part in the Nepal earthquake relief activities in April and May.

Moreover, an estimated 2,000 Nepalis are currently working in various cities in Tibet, including Lhasa, Ninchi and Shigatse. A media report reveals that there is a huge demand for Nepali workers in Tibet due to low travel cost, suitable climate and cultural affinity with Tibetan people.

It takes one and a half day journey by bus from Khasa, a Chinese town bordering Nepal, to reach Lhasa. Unlike Nepali workers in the Gulf, those working in Lhasa can return home every year during winter as hotels are closed due to heavy snow.

All these recent trends signify that Nepal has become an important neighbor in approaches of China’s soft power strategy on promoting Chinese culture, providing economic aids, and advocating a peaceful development.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sri Lanka: What India can do at UNHRC?

N Sathiya Moorthy

Independent of who wins the 17 August parliamentary polls in Sri Lanka, the nation would be coming under immediate international pressure on the war-time ’accountability issues’ at UNHRC. It could be more - or, less - dependent on what the UNHRC probe report, held back by six months after the presidential polls, will have to say, and who is elected to power in Sri Lanka, and how the post-poll government wants to look at things.

Unless the UNHRC Council were to vote against the tabling of the report in the September session - which seems remote -- for all practical purposes, the process could not be postponed indefinitely. Such a course could hit at the bottom of the very process. The ’international community’ would also come under increasing pressure from domestic HR groups in individual nations and also the vociferous Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora, comprising a noticeable section in the domestic electoral constituencies. It’s anybody’s guess what the ’official’ line - or, the line of the officialdom - in Sri Lanka would be, in preparation to the UNHRC session, and what the political touch would be, post-poll. Without reference to the post-poll government, Sri Lanka cannot be seen as letting down either the nation’s armed forces - either as individuals or at higher command levels - or the political and administrative leaderships of the times.

Better or worse still, the new government cannot be seen as letting down the ’victimised’ Tamil community, either. It could alienate them more than already, and the Diaspora will find new reasons not to ’trust’ the international community, either. It could create more problems for Sri Lanka in particular and the international community, otherwise. The latter’s credibility could take a further beating, after it has suffered enough on the Afghan and Iraq fronts, among others.

’Regime-change’ and ’independent’ probe

The problem lies elsewhere. Hoping for a ’regime-change’ through the domestic democratic process, the international community at the same time pursued the ’independent’ probe, as desired by powerful members of the UN scheme, like the US. When both came through almost at the same time, they are unable to make the ’mis-match’ work. Whether they would have been able to proceed with the findings in the probe-report even if the ’regime-change’ did not happen through the 8 January presidential polls is an academic question that they would still have to ponder.

The expectation/anticipation is that the probe report could hit the Sri Lankan State apparatus(-es) in the knuckles and come down strongly also on the decimated LTTE. Anything short of it would have become argumentative, both within and outside the nation, but even a ’strong and impartial’ report would not help resolve the problems. It can instead create confusion in the global ranks, where already there are internal queries about the wisdom of such interference -- and hence inference.

Whether the US and the rest would be able to carry the UNHRC vote either on the tabling of the report, or later on its findings, is a question that needs to be asked. There may be a sigh of relief even among the ’unbroken’ western ranks if either or both votes are not taken. That too comes with consequences, both short and long-terms, not only for the American leadership of the ’western, liberal’ group but also the UN process, which is already under severe strain.

It may be too early for anyone to think or talk in terms of a nation like Sri Lanka challenging - or, having to challenge - the authority of the UN system, but global strategists should not overlook similar possibilities, from elsewhere, in the future. Already, the UN-based, US-authored global fiscal system is under severe pressure, both from within and outside. The creation of the BRICS Bank is only a starting-point. In the relatively smaller grouping of Commonwealth, a smaller nation like Maldives is threatening to walk-out, citing ’international interference’ in what essentially is an ’internal affair’ of that nation - or, as the present-day rulers perceive it.

Indian dilemma(s)

As an influential and voting neighbourhood member in the UNHRC, India faces multiple dilemmas over the Sri Lankan ’accountability issues’ this time round, more than over the past years and occasions. Since Sri Lanka came under the UNHRC voting-scheme in 2012, the incumbent Rajapaksa leadership was uncompromising in not negotiating with the international community. As reports indicated, it did not make things easier for India, which the Sri Lankan dispensation wanted to vote on its side, no questions asked or answered.

It’s even more difficult now for India to decipher the Sri Lankan mood and methods with less than a month available to the post-poll government in that country to decipher the global mood and their UNHRC methods. The last time round, the larger Indian neighbour might not have had a script. Today, Sri Lanka itself does not seem to have one - or, at least one that friends of the nation could hold as valid, post-poll and begin working on it internally, before giving it a final shape in its time.

The Indian dilemma does not end there. The ’Tamil cause’ in Sri Lanka is equally close to the Indian heart - and more so, politics. The nation cannot escape its ’responsibilities’, as some Tamil and HR groups in the two countries would say. Others of the ilk argue that India cannot escape its own ’accountability’ on the Sri Lankan ’war crimes’ front - starting with the ’IPKF era’, as they would like to have.

It is the kind of environment in which the erstwhile Manmohan Singh government, dependent on its southern Tamil Nadu allies for a parliamentary majority, had battled with in shaping its Sri Lanka-related UNHRC policy. The Indian abstention from the ’probe vote’ in 2014, preceded by pro-vote with the West in 2012 and 2013, did not go down well with the Sri Lankan State and Establishment, going beyond the political leadership of the time.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s staying away from the Colombo Commonwealth summit was possibly the proverbial last straw. There are those who argue that the greater Sri Lankan tilt towards China than already began there, as the latter did not have ’ground realities’ of the Indian kind to compete with in shaping its Sri Lanka/HR policy. Even the Sri Lankan clearance for the berthing of Chinese submarines closer to Indian waters became unavoidable, when sought, after the unquestionable Chinese support for the nation at UN and UNHRC since 2011.

They also argue that in neighbourhood terms, India (too) cannot have the cake and eat it too, as they are being accused by sections of the Indian strategic community. In this context, they also claim that a favourable Indian vote for Sri Lanka at UNHRC-2011 would have changed the entire course. There are also those in India who say that the West nearly over-looked India in subsequent years when it found the vote would be on their side, with or without India.

Confusion, confounded?

The Indian confusion might have been confounded for the Modi Government after the Prime Minister, breaking protocol, called on Tamil Nadu’s reigning Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at her Poes Garden residence in Chennai on Friday. The CM’s memorandum to the visiting PM referred to the ’Sri Lankan Tamil issue’ in equally strong terms as it had done a year ago, when she called on Modi for the first time after assuming office.

Thankfully for the policy-maker in Delhi, there was no reference to the UNHRC vote in CM Jaya’s two memoranda to the PM. It’s unclear how and how far would the PM-CM meet and her memorandum would influence the voters in the Sinhala South and the Tamil North in Sri Lanka, but it would definitely be noticed by the political and Establishment leaderships, all across. The resultant confusion in Sri Lanka about India, and in India about the directions from the political leadership, too, could confound the policy-maker as he designs a course for the UNHRC session.

How India navigates that course remains to be watched - and would be watched carefully, more in Sri Lanka than possibly in India. For India-watchers, both inside the country and outside, it would also be their first major lesson on the Modi leadership prioritising constituency interests viz foreign policy prerogatives of the nation, where the ’Sri Lankan ethnic issue’ has as much a Sri Lankan Tamil component too for India as there is a domestic ’Tamil Nadu component’.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New Taliban leader is for fighting

The Taliban’s new leader Mullah Mansoor in his first audio message after being appointed as the head of the Taliban called for unity within the movement and vowed to continue the movement’s armed struggle till it could achieve its goal of establishing an Islamic State in Afghanistan. He also rejected claims that direct talks have been taking place between the Taliban representatives and the Afghan government.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "New Taliban Leader Mansour Rejects Peace Talks", Tolo News, 4 August 2015; "New Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor vows to fight on", DW, 1 August 2015; "New Taliban head calls for unity in first audio message", Al Jazeera, 1 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Taliban’s Doha head resigns

Mullah Mohammad Syed Tayyab Agha, the head of the Taliban’s Political Office in Doha and one of the chief interlocutors for the Taliban’s negotiations with the Afghan government, resigned this week following confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death and the appointment of Mullah Mansoor as his replacement. Mullah Agha claimed that keeping Mr Omar’s death a secret for more than two years was a "great historic mistake". His resignation comes in the midst of increasing reports about increasing rifts within the Taliban movement. A number of senior Taliban leaders have also held meetings in Pakistan to settle the dispute over Mr Mansoor’s appointment.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Taliban’s Chief Political Officer Resigns Over Replacement of Mullah Omar", Tolo News, 5 August 2015; "Tayyab Agha resigned as Taliban’s head of Qatar office", Khaama Press, 4 August 2015; "Taliban Hold Open Meetings in Pakistan to Discuss Leadership", Tolo News, 6 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Civilian casualties high

According to the latest report released by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), civilian casualties in Afghanistan have remained at a record high in the first half of 2015. According to the UNAMA record there were a total of 4921 civilian casualties, which marked a one percent increase in civilian casualties as compared to the first six months of 2014. 70 per cent of these casualties were caused by the militant activities, 16 % by the Pro-Government Forces and Pro-Government Militia and one % attributed to the International Forces.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "UN says civilian casualties remain at record high in Afghan war", Khaama Press, 5 August 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Addressing illegal migration

Bangladesh and Malaysia have agreed to work jointly to resolve the problem of irregular movement of people. The two countries discussed at length about the reason for the irregular movement of people because of persecution of Rohingya ethnic minority people in the Rakhaine state of Myanmar. The issues was discussed at a meeting between Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and his Malaysian counterpart Dato’ Anifah Haji Aman at Kuala Lumpur this week.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Dhaka, KL to address together irregular movement of people", Dhaka Tribune, 7 August 2015; " FM Mahmood Ali asks ARF to help Bangladesh control illegal migration by sea", Dhaka Tribune, 7 August 2015-08-07

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Graft case against Khaleda

The High Court this week ordered opposition BNP Khaleda Zia to face trial in a graft case dating back to 2007. The court rejected a petition by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Zia to quash the case, which was filed by a military-backed government, and ordered her to surrender to a trial court within two months. Begum Zia and 12 others are accused corruption while awarding contracts to an international firm to handle containers in state-owned depots.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladesh HC clears way for trial of BNP chief Khaleda Zia", The Daily Star, 6 august 2015; "Bangladesh court orders new graft trial for ex-PM Khaleda Zia", Zeenews, 5 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BSF may seek retrial

India’s Border Security Force chief D K Pathak has said that his force will consider holding a fresh trial in ’Felani Khatun murder case’ if her family is not satisfied with the court verdict. Pathak made this comments during a meeting between the chiefs of border guards of two countries. Death of Felani, a 15-year-old girl, at the border in January 2011, got major publicity in Bangladesh and a controversy was raised about the role of the BSF

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "BSF will consider retrial of Felani murder case", Dhaka Tribune, 7 August 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Secretaries’ panel goes

The cabinet has dissolved the Committee of Secretaries (CoS), an institutional arrangement that was in place for the last 14 years. Cabinet Secretary, KinzangWangdi said that this would help avoid duplication of works and reduce unnecessary burden and demand of time on secretaries to the government.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Committee of Secretaries dissolved", Kuensel, 7 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India justifies higher cost

Abhay Thakur, Joint Secretary (North) of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, on his visit to the Punatsangchu Hydropower Project Authority-I said the revised cost of Nu 93.75 billion was justified. He said that the new costs are competitive and hoped that the projects complete on time.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India does not have excess energy, says external affairs secretary", Kuensel, 5 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Land scam’ for AG

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) recently forwarded a land scam case against the former Trongsa Lhab Dorji and his wife to the Office of the Attorney- General for prosecution. The land scam involves the illegal acquisition of 4.73 acres of land at Thumgang or ’view point’ in the capacity as Trongsa Dzongda.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Land Scam Of Former Trongsa DzongdaLhabDorji And Wife Forwarded By ACC To OAG", The Bhutanese, 3 August 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rs 2600-cr from defence exports

India has exported defence items worth over Rs 2,600 crore since 2010, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a written reply to a question on the export of defence items by India in Rajya Sabha. In 2013-14, the value of defence exports totalled 686.27 crore, which again dropped to Rs 669.88 crore in 2014-15.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Since 2010, India has exported Rs 2600 crore defence items: Manohar Parrikar", The Economic Times, 4 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Aid for flood-hit Myanmar

India has airlifted several tonnes of rice, noodles and medicines to Myanmar which has been severely affected by cyclone Komen. 12 regions and states of Myanmar have been severely hit by the cyclone, which has led to widespread floods and landslides in that country.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India airlifts food, medicines to flood-hit Myanmar", The Business Standard, 6 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Call to resolve South China dispute

As India seeks to give teeth to its Act East Policy, the government has asked parties involved in South China Sea (SCS) dispute to learn from the successful arbitration of India’s maritime territorial dispute with Bangladesh under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India asks China, others to resolve South China dispute under UNCLOS", The Times of India, 6 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak terrorist captured

Indian forces captured a Pakistani militant on Wednesday after a deadly attack on a military convoy in Udhampur area of Jammu & Kashmir. The ambush on the BSF convoy, killed at least two personnel and injuring eight others. A terrorist was also killed in the gun-battle.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indian forces capture Pakistani terrorist Usman Khan alive after hours of gunbattle in Udhampur, J&K", CNN-IBN, 5 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ISI behind Udhampur attack

J&K police has claimed terrorists involved in Udhampur attack were backed by Pakistan’s ISI. Asked about the route they took to cross over to J&K from Pakistan, the police said, "It is matter of investigation. Interrogation is being done by J&K Police. I cannot definitely say anything on that"

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Udhampur attackers backed by ISI, says J-K Police", The Indian Express, 7 August, 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Naga pact’ signed

India has taken a big step forward in ending the Naga insurgency by signing a framework agreement with the most prominent of the armed Naga groups, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah). However, not all the issues stand sorted out with many smaller groups not part of the process.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Breakthrough in Nagaland", The Hindu, 5 August, 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TN opposes GST

Government of Tamil Nadu has said that before the Constitutional Amendment Bill on GST is taken up, Centre should strive for a broad consensus on important issues and address apprehensions of states. Tamil Nadu is concerned about the revenue loss it is likely to cause.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Revenue loss under GST would be around Rs 9,270 cr for TN: Jayalalithaa", Business Standard, 7 August, 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India ready to help

On a day’s visit to Male, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told Vice-President Ahmed Adeeb, and others in the nation’s leadership that India would always help Maldives. In a return-visit, otherwise scheduled earlier, Maldives Foreign Secretary Ali Naseer Mohammed, carried President Yameen’s response to Indian PM Narendra Modi’s letter that Jaishankar carried, and reiterating the commitment that his nation would not do anything that would ’militarize’ the Indian Ocean.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Indian Foreign Secretary: India will always help the Maldives", Haveeru Online, 3 August 2015; "Indian Foreign Secretary calls on the Vice President", Miadhu, 3 August 2015; "In Letter, Maldives President Assures Indian PM Modi That Indian Ocean Will Remain Demilitarized", New Indian Express, 7 August 2015; "MDP welcomes VP Adeeb’s interview to ’The Hindu’", Miadhu, 3 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Political talks to be revived: President

The political negotiations between the Government and the political parties in the country will be revived soon, President Abdulla Yameen has said. In context, he also promised to assist imprisoned former President Mohammed Nasheed, now under house-arrest, at the appeals stage.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Government negotiations with political parties to start", Miadhu, 4 August 2015; "President vows to assist in Nasheed’s appeal", Haveeru Online, 5 August 2015; "Terror Bill is aimed at political figures: Riyaz", Miadhu, 4 August 2015; "Supreme Court moves to amend newly-enforced penal code", Haveeru Online, 4 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Oil-gas find

On return home from Germany after collecting the report on a free survey undertaken by a firm there, Fisheries Minister Mohamed Shainee said that there was evidence of oil or natural gas in Maldivian waters. However, no specifics were available, he clarified.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Survey finds oil, gas in Maldives", Haveeru Online, 2 August 2015; "Investment from developed nation essential to nation’s independence: President", Miadhu, 3 August 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Peace talks begin, amidst Kokang groups offer

Three armed ethnic groups who have been fighting the military since February this year have offered for ceasefire talks. The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA) said on 5 August that they were keen to negotiate.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "As talks begin, Kokang groups make fresh offer for peace", Myanmar Times, 7 August 2015; "Myanmar holds crunch peace talks before election", Mizzima, 7 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Floods claim 55 in Arakan

The government has put the death toll in the floods to 55, but locals say it might be higher. Official sources say that 85,000 people have been affected by the floods in the Rakhine state alone. Recent storm and floods in Arakan hit Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U and Minbya townships hardest.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Flood crisis: Arakan death toll rises to 55", Democratic Voice of Burma, 7 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt. signs Dawei deal with IDC again

The government has signed a concession agreement with a consortium of private developers including the Italian-Thai Development Corporation (IDC) for the Dawei Special Economic Zone, after two years since IDC withdrew from the project citing financial difficulties.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Government signs Dawei agreement with IDC- again", Myanmar Times, 7 August 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Passport for neutral gender

Nepal has placed itself among a handful of countries in the world to allow ’other’ as a gender category in passports. People from the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersexual) community hail this as a milestone in their movement.Manoj Shahi, who identifies self as Monica Shahi, will become the first person to bear a passport under the ’other’ category. The government has already prepared the passport.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal issues 3rd gender PP" eKantipur, 7 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parties agree on six provinces

Two months after major political forces signed a political deal agreeing to federate the country into eight provinces, top leaders from the same parties have now decided to reduce the number to six. The leaders this time have not only fixed the number but also drawn the boundaries of the proposed provinces, although disputes remain over three districts.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "4 major parties agree on 6 provinces", Republica, 6 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese soldiers repair highway

An emergency squad of Chinese soldiers has been sent to Nepal to repair a highway blocked by landslides, authorities said. China’s State Council and Central Military Commission decided to send 100 armed police officers on 1 August for the China-Nepal Highway repair after receiving an emergency aid request from the Nepalese government.The 943-km China-Nepal Highway connects Lhasa, capital of Tibet, with the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Chinese soldiers repair highway in Nepal", Business Standard, 2 August 2015; "Chinese armed police enters Nepal from Tibet to repair highway", The Economic Times, 1 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian loan for road construction

India has said it would consider providing a new Line of Credit (LoC) to Nepal for the construction of a 76-km long fast track road. The Indian assurance of the soft loan came during the third bilateral LoC review meeting between the two sides. The fast track road would connect Kathmandu to the country’s south where a new international airport has been planned.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "India to consider providing new soft loan to Nepal for constructing road to Indian border", The Economic Times, 5 August 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Drone kills Taliban militants

As per military sources and security officials, a US drone attack in North Waziristan killed at least 5 Taliban militants. The drone operation was carried out in the LawraMandi village of DattaKhel in North Waziristan. The 2 missiles launched by the drone targeted a house that inhabited at least 5 suspected militants.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "US drone strike kills five ’militants’ in North Waziristan", Dawn, 7 August 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Dialogue with India sought

After the 22nd ministerial meeting of ASEAN Regional Forum in Kuala Lampur, Sartaj Aziz, the Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs, stated that Pakistan is seeking a long sought result oriented dialogue with India on all issues, including Kashmir. Aziz also reiterated his support towards the Afghanistan peace talks.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Pakistan wants result-oriented dialogue with India: Sartaj", The Express Tribune, 7 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Facts sought from India

After the Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s claims in Parliament that a suspected terrorist, Mohammad NaveedYakub alias Usman Khan, was a Pakistani national from Faisalabad, QaziKhalilullah, Foreign Office Spokesperson, has demanded the Indian government for their fact-sheet proving that he is, in fact, a Pakistani national.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Government asks India for fact-sheet on terror suspect", The Express Tribune, 7 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC seeks details on NGOs

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, instructed the provincial governments to submit detailed reports regarding various Non-governmental organisation present in their provinces and the sources of their funding. As per the National Action Plan, foreign funding of NGOs should be stopped but the governments are not working on this yet.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "SC directs provinces to submit details on NGOs and funding", The Express Tribune, 7 August 2015.

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UN aid only through Govt

Clarifying the official position following a UN announcement based on a meeting of senior officials with visiting Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mahishini Collone said that all such assistance to the war-affected Northern and Eastern Provinces could be undertaken only through the Government (in Colombo).

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

"UN assistance to NE only through Govt. Mahishini", Daily Mirror Online, 4 August 2015; "UN reiterates North must be involved in talks", Colombo Gazette, 6 August 2015; "Ranil promises to develop North", Daily Mirror Online, 2 August 2015; "Prabhakaran’s bodyguard in Lankan election fray", Daily Mirror Online, 2 August 2015; "TNA fueling hardliners with demand for federalism - JVP", Daily Mirror Online, 2 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Impeachment justified

In the first-ever interview to the renowned news TV group after he had come to power in 2005, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa told BBC Sinhala channel that the impeachment of then Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranaike was done as per constitutional provisions.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "MR defends impeachment of Shirani", Colombo Gazette, 6 August 2015; "MR to pull out of race if ...", The Island, 6 August 2015; "I am not scared of Hambantota- MR", Ceylon Today, 2 August 2015: "UPFA fears for MR’s safety, calls for enhanced security...’Prominent UNPers have attributed Friday’s attack to gang rivalry’", The Island, 2 August 2015; "CBK decides to bat for UNP-led UNFGG coalition", The Island, 2 August 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Palk bridge row

Ahead of 17 August parliamentary polls, the ’Sinhala nationalist’, Federation of National Organisations (FNO) has asked prime ministerial candidates of the two major electoral alliances to come up with their stand on the proposal of an Indian minister to a bridge connecting the two nations, across the Palk Strait. The FNO says if built, the bridge would facilitate the Indian ’annexation’ of Sri Lanka.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Bridge across Palk Strait: PM candidates urged to reveal stand before polls", The Island, 6 August 2015

Primary Documentation


New Foreign Minister assumes office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2 August 2015


Union Minister U WunnaMaungLwin attends the 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and Related meetings, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 7 August 2015




Margherita Stancati and Habib Khan Totakhil, "Taliban Leadership Rift Seeps Down to Fighters", The Wall Street Journal, 3 August 2015

Opinion Pieces

AnatolLieven and Rudra Chaudhuri, "Seize Upon the Taliban Split", The New York Times, 6 August 2015

Jayant Prasad, "As the Taliban Fight Internal Divisions, Ashraf Ghani Needs a Plan B", The Wire, 5 August 2015

Ajai Shukla, "After Omar, power centre shifts in Afghanistan", Business Standard, 4 August 2015

C Raja Mohan, "After Mullah Omar", The Indian Express, 4 August 2015

Eilish O’Gara, "Why the New Taliban Leader Could Be a Disaster for Peace in Afghanistan", The Newsweek, 2 August 2015



SaleemulHuq, "Financing adaptation in the most vulnerable developing countries", The Daily Star, 7 August 2015

M Serajul Islam, "Teesta: A pawn on Mamata’s chess-board", Dhaka Tribune, 7 August 2015

Shannon K. O’Neil, "Where Did You Get That Dress?: Bangladesh Two Years on From Rana Plaza", Council of foreign affairs, 3 August 2015


Opinion Pieces

Kuensel, "Combating white collar crime", Kuensel, 6 August 2015


Opinion Pieces

C. Raja Mohan, "Raja-Mandala: After Mullah Omar",The Indian Express, 4 August 2015

Manoj Joshi, "The IS threat: India isn’t on the front line", Mid-Day, 4 August 2015

VikramSood, "The meaning of the Gurdaspur attacks",Mid-Day, 6 August 2015

PratapBhanu Mehta, "Loud but silent: Modi’s actions are opposite to the mythology surrounding him", The Indian Express, 7 August 2015

Sudha Pillai, "Slimming Down", The Indian Express, 7 August 2015

T.N. Ninan, "Land marked by policy distortions", Business Standard, 7 August, 2015


Opinion Pieces

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Did India read Maldives right?", The Wire, 3 August 2015


Opinion Pieces

Aung NaingOo, "The trouble with inclusiveness", Myanmar Times, 4 August 2015


Opinion Pieces

Maina Dhital, "Hollow Nationalism", eKantipur, 7 August 2015

Prakash Bom, "Perpetuating problems", eKantipur 6 August

MukeshKhanal, "Vision of the past", Republica, 5 August 2015

Bindesh Dahal, "Flawed document", Republica, 4 August 2015


Opinion Pieces

I A Rehman, "Wages of poor governance",Dawn, 6 August 2015

Syed Mohammad Ali, "Rethinking Pak-Saudi relations",The Express Tribune, 7 August 2015

Michael Kugelman, "Energy solutions", Dawn, 6 August 2015

Javeria Younus, "Gender bias in the criminal justice system", The Express Tribune, 7 August 2015

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Ven Galboda Gnanissara Thero, "Some thoughts before the elections", Daily Mirror Online, 7 August 2015

Kelum Bandara, "’Laws are to be broken’ seems to be the election theme", Daily Mirror Online, 7 August 2015

Dr Ranga Kalansooriya, "From hardline radicalism to moderate statesmanship", Daily Mirror Online, 7 August 2015

Jehan Perera, "Going beyond election manifestos in national interest", The Island, 3 August 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "If it is not decisive, it can be divisive", South Asia Monitor, 3 August 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Can LTTE win or lose elections one more time?", The Sunday Leader, 2 August 2015


Ranil Wickremesinghe, "Give me five years", Daily Mirror Online, 6 August 2015

Mahinda Rajapaksa, "My hands are clean...", Daily Mirror Online, 6 August 2015

Udaya Gammanpilla, "No President can appoint a prime minister without parliamentary majority", Daily Mirror Online, 5 August 2015

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

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

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