MonitorsPublished on Aug 09, 2013
India has been unequivocally telling all the senior leaders of Nepal who visited New Delhi since April this year that they should work together for the long-term peace, stability and development of the country.
Nepal: Generate consensus, hold polls, says Delhi
< class="heading1">Analysis

India has been unequivocally telling all the senior leaders of Nepal who visited New Delhi since April this year that they should work together for the long-term peace, stability and development of the country. Although India meted out quite different treatment to different leaders of Nepal, the message to all of them was clear: the Nepali political class must work to generate the much-need consensus and hold polls at the earliest.

Four senior leaders have visited Nepal since the beginning of this year. While the Chairman of United CPN (Maoist) Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda came to India first in April end, high-level official visits followed thereafter. India invited senior Nepali Congress (NC) leader and former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and senior CPN-UML leader and former PM Madhav Kumar Nepal. President of the NC, Sushil Koirala, wrapped up his six-day visit on August 9.

All leaders met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior leaders of ruling and opposition parties in India. The concerned authorities in India urged them to hold fresh elections to the constituent assembly as planned for November 19. PM Singh assured all logistical help and other support for successful conclusion of the polls. Not to forget, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had made a day-long visit to Nepal in July and pressed for timely polls.

However, it must be noted that Delhi planned and meted out different treatment to different leaders who came to India, thereby giving a lot of room for introspection on India’s current Nepal policy. First, while the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, met Deuba, Koirala and Nepal, she did not entertain the Maoist chief. It sent out a message that the ruling Congress party is not totally confident that Maoists as a reliable partner in Nepal, although India has engaged with the Maoists since the signing of the 12-point agreement in 2005. New Delhi had brokered the coming together of the then rebel party and the seven-party alliance led by the NC. But by isolating Prachanda now, Delhi gave a strong message that the Nepali Maoists are not to be trusted entirely.

Prachanda spoke of trilateral cooperation among India, Nepal and China and EM Khurshid turned it down stating that such a mechanism was "too early" to contemplate. India considers Nepal its traditional sphere of influence and is yet not ready to take a backward step. India is also sceptical of the large presence of the Chinese companies of late in Nepal.

On the other hand, the NC leaders received a more warm welcome. Koirala was given state honour, taken to Gandhi samadhi and Mrs Gandhi told him to "take the lead" in Nepali polity. Besides recalling historical ties between the two Congress parties, she urged Koirala to lead the country towards prosperity and peace in order to strengthen democracy. By expressing her disappointment at the failure to draft a democratic constitution in Nepal, she said that early elections is the right solution in Nepal.

As for bilateral ties, Deuba’s visit was more successful than the others. He was not only able to secure Indian nod for various infrastructure project along the border region, he successfully raised the issue of joint-cooperation in the hydro-power sector in Nepal. He lobbied for building bridges and roads in his constituency, Dadeldhura district which shares border with India, and pointed at the need to resolve local problems. India was receptive to his idea of building mega hydro-projects as all past agreements between the two neighbours have either proved controversial or have been lost in the pages of history due to misunderstandings. Deuba could now well be seen as a prominent figure in Nepal to push for Indo-Nepal water cooperation.

Both Deuba and Madhav Nepal interacted with the larger research community and media of New Delhi. While Deuba laid emphasis on harnessing Nepal’s hydro-power potential, Nepal spoke of collaboration in promoting cultural tourism. He advocated a "Lumbini circuit" of Buddhist tourism sites ning India and Nepal, which would attract millions of Buddhist pilgrims. Nepal said he was for two different circuits, one for India, touching Buddhist spots of Sarnath, Bodh Gaya and another one in Nepal, touching Lumbini, the "maternal house" of the Buddha, Kapilavastu, his "father’s house", and other sites. His remarks were important given the fact that last year, in November, an MoU was inked between a committee set up by the Nepal government and a Hong Kong-based NGO to transform Lumbini into a "Mecca for Buddhists". The Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation (APEC) Foundation was to pump in investment worth $3 to $5 billion to develop infrastructure at Lumbini.

There was yet another important side with relevance to India’s foreign policy that came up during these visits. All leaders were flown to one or the other states bordering Nepal, especially Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Five Indian states share open border with Nepal. The Nepali politicians held parleys with chief ministers and discussed many issues of bilateral concern like early floods, cross-border crime, illegal activities like printing of counterfeit currencies and smuggling of goods. It showed that the states are becoming important in foreign policy discourse with neighbours. Earlier, Nepali leaders were seldom frisked to Bihar or UP to talk on bilateral issues. But the importance now bestowed upon the states clearly indicate that they will be dominant role in framing foreign policy vis-a-vis smaller Indian neighbours like Nepal.

However, much will depend on the political course in Nepal in coming days. Although the political leaders of major four political parties of Nepal did assure India that the elections will be held in November, there are rooms for doubts. The Mohan Baidya led CPN (Maoist) and other smaller political parties have vowed to derail the present process in Nepal. Their current demands are formation of a political government, dismantling of the High Level Political Mechanism (comprising of four major parties), among others. For this, they are pressing for resignation of Khil-Raj Regmi government at the earliest.

If the dissident voices are not heard, there are doubts if the elections could be violence-free and free and fair for all. It is urgent that the political actors of Nepal address the demands of the agitating parties. For this, India has rightly told every leader who has visited New Delhi that negotiation is the way forward. As Koirala concluded his India visit on Friday, the next one week is thus going to be vital for Nepali politics.

(The writer is an Associate Fellow at Observer Research Foundation)

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pakistan : Back to square one on India front?

Aniqa Mortuza

Much of the hope for an early resumption of official level talks between India and Pakistan banked solely on the slated meeting between the two Prime Ministers in September on the sidelines of the UN summit. But the Jalalabad attack on the Indian consulate and the killing of five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control have jeopardised the possibility of the New York tête-à-tête. This could mean both the countries missing yet another opportunity to put the engagement back on the rails.

The India-Pakistan relations over recent weeks, and since 1 July especially, have been tense and dramatic. With the killing of five Indian soldiers, the issue of the disputed Line of Control has come to the forefront once again, fuelling mutual hostilities. Given to sensationalism, the media in both the countries were quick to put a jingoistic spin on the incident without caring to probe the details, whittling down whatever little progress the bilateral relationship showed since the coming of Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister. It will be naïve to put the entire blame on the media for the fracas. Successive governments in the two countries have failed to negotiate a mutually agreeable terms of engagement for the betterment of own people, and the region as a whole. Historical legacies have outweighed pragmatism in both the countries, leaving the bilateral relationship hostage to myriads of events.

The LoC incident is one such incident. It is an unfortunate incident and should not have taken place at a time when both the countries are struggling to find a common ground to address some very complex political issues and strengthen the relationship through economic cooperation. The Indian government’s flip-flop on the incident, with the Defence Minister changing the statements twice in two days, was illustrative of poor management of the situation. India’s accusation has been denied by Pakistan. Prime Minister Sharif, in fact, has appealed for calm and a ceasefire agreement for the next 10 years. Sharif’s statements have been reflective of serious intent in pursuing a dialogue agenda with India. India needs to respond to the overtures without getting carried away by the media frenzy.

Lot many things are changing in Pakistan, including attitude towards India. What seems to be at the heart of this policy shift is this understanding that Pakistan needs to move forward. The general Pakistani opinion is said to be more tolerant of the state engaging with India. This may in fact be the result of an increasing and predominant young population under 30, educated and in need to seeing a future for themselves in Pakistan, and not abroad. Sharif has certainly been more forthcoming and keen to improve relations, not only with India but also with the US and China having met with leaders of both states in recent weeks. But he has only been in office since early June, and he has a handful of problems to attend to, and all of them on priority basis.

Prime Minister Sharif is keen on engaging with India. He made this clear during his election speeches and on taking over as the Prime Minister. He sent his special envoy to New Delhi last month to work out the contours of the dialogue and was keenly looking forward to meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York. India, on the other hand, even before the LoC incident, was lukewarm to the idea of an early resumption of the dialogue. Although there is no great hurry to fix a date for the official level talks, New Delhi must respond to Prime Minister Sharif’s overtures and get on with the meeting in New York.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Five Indian soldiers killed

In recent border clashes, the Indian Government has accused Pakistani soldiers of crossing the Line of Control (Loc) on the Kashmir border and killing five Indian soldiers. Six Indian soldiers about 450 meters from the LoC were ambushed on Tuesday and five were shot dead. This has been said to be the worst attack since the 2003 ceasefire agreement. This has caused outcry in India with the Indian public forcing the government respond harshly to the killings.

Such accusations by the Indian government have been denied by Islamabad. Nawaz Sharif, however, has responded to the situation by calling for a restoration of the cease-fire along the border. Sharif will be meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Sing next month, so it is crucial that tensions are eased before then.

Critics of the Indian government, mainly from opposition party BJP have accused the government of being too soft.

Nawaz Sharif has responded to the situation by calling for the cease-fire agreement to be restored and to return to the status quo. But LoC incident has caused retaliation from the youth wing of the ruling Congress party, who on 7 August attacked the Pakistani High Commission. The US State Department made a statement urging the two states to engage in further dialogue.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Reuters, 8 August, 2013. Dawn, 9 August, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US consulate withdraws staff from Lahore

The US State Department issued an order for non-essential staff to withdraw from the US consulate in Lahore, on 9 August. The warning was also issued to US travellers, urging them not to enter Pakistan. The US government has become aware of potential terrorist threats to the US consul and American citizens.

The closure of Lahore consulate comes as part of series of closures of US offices in the Middle East. It has been said that the closure of the Lahore office is a result of a specific threat in Lahore, but it seems that this could be linked with other closure similar to Yemen. US embassy spokeswoman in Islamabad said that closure was not related to the 19 diplomatic missions that had recently closed in the Middle East and Africa. Last month, in Lahore a bomb attacks killed five and injured dozens.

Pakistani miliatants have been very active in the past few months, and attacks have been prominent since Nawaz Sharif took office in early June. Pakistan is troubled with many terrorist organisation including Al-Qaeda, Pakistani Taliban and sectarian groups like Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Reuters, 9 August, 2013.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Gunmen open fire after Eid prayers

In the Balochistan capital, Quetta, 10 persons were killed when four gun-men started shooting worshippers as they came out of Eid-ul-Fitr prayers on 9 August. The bullets also hit the car of a former Pakistan People’s Party minister, Ali Madad Jantak who was a target but survived the attack. The shootings came a day after a suicide bomb attack killed 38 people in a funeral of a police officer, and injured 50 in the same city. No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Quetta is familiar to sectarian violence and militant activities. Many terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operate in the area, as well as separatist groups. Earlier on in the week, 6 August, the separatist group the Baloch Liberation Army shot dead 13 bus passengers south-east of Quetta.

< class="text11verdana">Source: BBC, 9 August, 2013.

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Candidates to commit on unitary State

All those contesting the first Northern Provincial Council polls have to furnish a letter reiterating their commitment to the unitary status of the country in accordance with the ’Seventh Schedule’ of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, the Election Secretariat has said. The Sixth Amendment was introduced on August 8, 1983 in the wake of the outbreak of Eelam War I.

Deputy Elections Commissioner M. M. Mohamed said that the ’Seventh Schedule’ was applicable to all elections, including the presidential polls. Each contestant had to reaffirm that he/she will uphold and defend the Constitution and won’t directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.

Mohamed said that nominations of seven candidates of an Independent group contesting from Kilinochchi district were rejected on the basis that the document bearing the ’Seventh Schedule of the Constitution was not clearly signed by one candidate who had lost his index finger due to the war.

Three disabled war victims and four others who had their nominations to contest the Northern Provincial Councils rejected, have complained to the Court of Appeal that the aforesaid rejection by the Returning Officer for Kilinochchi was mala fide and arbitrary.

The Deputy Elections Commissioner said it was unfortunate that nominations of entire group had to be rejected due to a mistake on the part of one candidate. Additional Elections Commissioner U. Amaradasa told The Island that whatever the circumstances, all candidates would have to fulfil the obligations in accordance with the ’Seventh Schedule.’

Responding to a query by The Island, Elections Chief Mahinda Deshapriya said that all political parties including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) had to accept the ’Seventh Schedule.’ Although the Northerners would be voting at provincial council polls for the first time in September, the ’Seventh Schedule’ had applied to all elections for over two decades.

< class="text11verdana">Source:The Island, 8 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Weliweriya priest says army went on rampage

Parish priest of Weliweriya, Rev. Fr. Lakpriya Nonis, has said that there were gunshots embedded in a concrete post and a wall of his church. Fr. Lakpriya said: "MP Sudarshani Fernandopulle visited the church yesterday (6) and inquired what had actually happened last Thursday. So, we told her how people had been attacked even after they had run into the church and the adjacent convent premises to seek refuge."

Condemning the army’s conduct and the way people had been targeted with live bullets and assaulted with poles, the priest added that the assistant parish priest and five other priests who were there at the time had been shocked as soldiers scolded them in raw filth. About 15 soldiers armed with assault rifles and poles had stormed the church and convent premises and attacked the people hiding there, Fr. Nonis said. A sister had also been held at gunpoint when she tried to save the people, he said.

The Parish priest said that the government should be held responsible for the conduct of the army, attacking civilians and insulting the clergy with obscene words. Therefore, an impartial investigation should be held and the wrongdoers brought to book, he said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island, 8 August 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian consulate in Jalalabad attacked

The Indian consulate in Jalalabad was targeted by a suicide bomber this week. Although, there were no Indian casualties, nine people were killed and another 22 were injured. Nangarhar police chief Mohammad Sharif Amin said a bomber detonated a car packed with explosives outside the consulate and an adjacent mosque. The consulate was the intended target, he said, but most casualties were from the mosque.

The attack followed a worldwide travel alert issued by the United States the previous week, saying that al-Qaida could be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. The United States has ordered the closure of 21 embassies and consulates on Sunday, including its Kabul mission.

Following the attack, the Indian Foreign Ministry announced that such attacks would not affect New Delhi’s continuous efforts and contribution directed towards the reconstruction process of Afghanistan. Investigations carried out by Kabul and New Delhi revealed that the attack near the Indian Consulate had been designed on other side of the Afghan border.

The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack, but Pakistani insurgents have been blamed for the incident.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Times of India, 3 August 2013, Tolo News, 4 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Mullah Omar dismisses 2014 elections

The Supreme Leader of the Taliban Mullah Omar dismissed the upcoming Presidential elections in Afghanistan, and called it "a waste of time". Mullah Omar in a statement said, "As to the deceiving drama under the name of elections 2014, our pious people will not tire themselves out, nor will they participate in it."

He further added, "Our pious and Mujahid people know that selection, de facto, takes place in Washington. These nominal rulers are not elected through the ballots of the people. Rather they are selected as per the discretion of Washington! Participation in such elections is only a waste of time, nothing more". He also stressed that the Taliban were not interested in monopolising power in Afghanistan, but wanted to liberate the country from foreign occupation and pave the way for an all-inclusive Afghan government based on Islamic principles.

In the meanwhile, reports also suggest that representatives have held talks with the Afghan government in a bid to jump start peace talks that were stalled following the shuting down of the Taliban office in Doha. The two sides have secretly met in an attempt to agree on conditions for formal talks.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Khaama Press, 6 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Iran

During the visit of Afghan president Hamid Karzai to Tehran, Iran and Afghanistan signed a Strategic Cooperation Agreement (SCA).

According to the statement released by the Afghan President’s office, both the countries will cooperate with each other to maintain security, strengthen relationship, ensure regional stability and expand economic ties. With the signing of the SCA, military organisations of both the countries have agreed to improve their military ties as well.

The agreement makes the following declarations: (1) Cooperation and sharing of experiences in the field of military training; (2) Cooperate to fight insurgency and organised crimes; (3) provide assistance while launching military operations; (4) cooperation and coordination between the intelligence organs of Afghanistan and Iran to fight insurgency; (5) expansion of trade and commerce; (6) facilitation of tourism and trade between the two countries; (7) Trilateral cooperation between the High Secretariat of National Security of Iran, Advisor Office of National Security of Afghanistan, and Secretariat of National Security of India and Russia.

Additionally, both sides have agreed on setting up a consultative office in Kabul and Tehran to deal with diplomatic issues concerning the two nations. The SCA will be valid for five years from the date of signing.

Following the signing of the agreement, a number of political parties in Afghanistan came out with statements condemning the SCA stating that it would ruin Afghanistan’s relations with the West. The SCA is being viewed within Afghanistan as Karzai’s attempt to pressurise the US into signing the Bilateral Security Agreement. Some other political parties also criticised the SCA for not touching upon the problems faced by refugees in Iran or mentioning any possible solutions to resolve that problem.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Tolo News, 5 August 2013, Tolo News, 7 August 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Supreme Court rejects Jamaat’s plea against ban

Religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami faced a major setback as the Supreme Court this week rejected its plea against a high court decision that declared the party illegal and barred it from contesting future polls.

Court argued that there was no merit in the stay petition and the petitioner’s lawyer did not place any argument in support of it. However, it is not end of Jamaat politics as the party still has option of moving a regular appeal before the Appellate Division against the verdict after it gets its full text.

It can be recalled that the high court had scrapped the Jamaat’s registration with the Election Commission (EC) and disqualified it from contesting future polls following a writ petition saying its charter breached the secular constitution.

< class="text11verdana">Source:The Times of India, 7 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No change in Grameen Bank structure

Finance Minister AMA Muhith this week categorically said that the government would not bring any changes to the current structure of Grameen Bank, the microfinance leader. Minister made this claim in response to a question -whether the government has any intentions to secure majority share in the microcredit organisation founded by Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank. The Minister informed that the government has 25 percent share in the Bank, and insisted that it would remain the same. It can be recalled that Prof Yunus had claimed that the government is planning to increase its share in the bank.

The Minister also said that he has not yet received the final report of the Grameen Bank Commission, which the government set up in May 2012 to review the operations of the bank and the associated organisations founded by Prof Yunus, and to make recommendations about their future structure. He also informed that the committee was asked to submit a report in three months of its formation. But it is yet to turn in the report.

The commission drew widespread criticism at home and abroad after it made suggestions in its interim report and also in letters to the participants of a proposed workshop. It planned to recommend that the bank be restructured in a way that would give the government a controlling stake in it.

< class="text11verdana">Source:The Daily Star, 8 August 8 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India’s ONGC to get three blocks

India’s public sector oil-and-gas behemoth ONGC is on way to be given three shallow gas blocks in Bangladesh for exploration. That includes Bangladesh’s first discovered offshore gas field Kutubdia, in September. The production sharing contract is likely to be signed in September but an initial agreement on the blocks may be done this month. ONGC Videsh , a subsidiary of ONGC, will be awarded blocks SS-04 and SS-09 as the company was the sole bidder. It will also have the right to explore Bangladesh’s first discovered offshore gas field, Kutubdia. The gas field was discovered in 1977 and has recoverable reserves of around 45.5 billion cubic feet, according to Petrobangla estimates.

Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company will have a 10 per cent carried interest stake in all the three blocks. The area of these blocks ranges from 4,463 sq km to 7,692 sq km at water depths of 3-200 metres.

Apart from ONGC and US-based ConocoPhillips all global majors that were keen during the pre-bidding stage had backed out of the bidding, citing lack of incentives to cover the offshore investment risks.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 7 August 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian NSA to visit the country

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon will head for Thimphu along with Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh to prepare the ground for new Tshering Tobgay’s first visit to India after becoming Prime Minister of Bhutan. Soon after taking over as Foreign Secretary last week, Ms. Singh had said Thimphu would be her first foreign destination, symbolising the importance India attached to its immediate neighbourhood, especially Bhutan.

On August 8, Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, V P Haran met the new Speaker of Bhutanese National Assembly, Jigme Zangpo and discussed areas of co-operation between Parliaments of the two countries.

Official sources confirmed a Bhutanese Foreign Ministry statement about Mr. Menon joining Ms. Singh for the first high-level India-Bhutan talks after bilateral ties were blemished by India’s withdrawal of subsidy on cooking gas and kerosene right in the middle of Bhutan’s general elections.

Besides meeting new Foreign Minister Rinzin Dorje, Mr. Menon and Ms. Singh will interact with Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Pema Gyamtsho, who was Agriculture Minister in the previous government.

Ms. Singh had chosen to close the chapter by calling the one-month subsidy suspension an "unfortunate technical lapse." But the impression that some irritant of a strategic nature had cropped up between the two countries appeared difficult to dispel though this visit will see both sides focussing on bilateral business, including a new fund-raising model for the massive hydroelectricity projects being planned in Bhutan.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, 9 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India treating Bhutan as a ’protectorate’

The recent withdrawal of subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene to Bhutan, since revived, has raised the hackles in China, with a state-run daily saying India will not allow Bhutan to freely engage with it.

"The withdrawal of subsidies before Bhutan’s elections reflected that India never gives up its power politics where it doesn’t need to", an article written by a scholar from a state-run think tank in the ruling Communist Party of China’s mouthpiece Global Times has said.

"India won’t allow Bhutan to freely engage in diplomacy with China and solve the border issue," Liu Zengyi, a research fellow at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies said in his article titled, "New Delhi sees Bhutan as little more than potential protectorate".

"Besides, India will continue its stance on the Sino-Indian border dispute and strengthen its strategic posture", it said, referring to last year’s attempts by China and Bhutan to establish diplomatic relations.

"Due to the Indian influence on Bhutan’s elections, the wish of depending on democracy to maintain the sovereignty of Bhutan’s royal family and its political elites has become a failure", the article published in the Chinese tabloid known for its hard-line views said.

The article alleged that Indian Ambassador to Bhutan V P Haran followed a "carrot-and-stick" policy and "played a big role" in the victory of the opposition Peace and Democratic Party (PDP) over the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT).

"Critics stated that the timing of India’s subsidy withdrawal suggested it wanted to influence Bhutan’s election results. Why did India, which is proud of being the largest democratic country in the world, venture to interfere in Bhutan’s elections"? Liu’s article asked.

India restored the supply of subsidized gas to Bhutan from August 1, a month after it was halted. The article also stated that New Delhi was concerned over the strategic threat posed by China to the Siliguri corridor.

< class="text11verdana">Source:The Hindu, 4 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Top Tibetan monk under scanner

For the last many years, three luxury vehicles bearing registration number of Bhutan are being plied in Himachal Pradesh by high-profile monk Tai Situ Rinpoche in complete violation of the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) of 1988. Describing it as a threat, Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) has now directed Himachal Pradesh Government to take steps to avoid misuse of these vehicles in India by the Tibetan monk.

The high profile monk, the third highest ranking monk of Kagyu sect, is considered as the mentor of 17th Karmapa Ogyene Trinley Dorje. Recently, on the directions of MHA, the state government had imposed restriction on foreigners visiting Palpung Sherabling monastery of Tai Situ Ripoche. Following the directions of MHA, the state government had brought the foreigners visiting Palpung Sherbaling monastery at Bhattu village of Kangra district under the ambit of Protected Area Permit.

With this, the MHA has once again approached Himachal Pradesh government on the issue of Bhutan-registered vehicles being used by the high ranking Tibetan monk. In a letter to state chief secretary Sudripta Roy, MHA director (NE) J P N Singh said that inputs received from reliable sources indicated plans by Tai Situ Rinpoche in Himachal Pradesh to use Bhutan registered vehicles on Indian roads in contravention of MVA.

"Clandestine entry and use of Bhutan-registered vehicles in India has the potential for misuse, which is not in our security interest. The state government may, therefore, take cognizance of the fact and may like to take up the matter at the appropriate level to avoid misuse of these vehicles in India by Tibetans," the MHA letter received by state government on August 2 said.

< class="text11verdana">Source:The Times of India, 6 August 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Five Indian soldiers killed

Five Indian soldiers were killed and one injured in an audacious cross-border strike by a band Pakistani terrorists and soldiers in the Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir early on Tuesday, almost seven months after a jawan was beheaded and another gunned down in a similar raid a few kilometres away.

At midnight, a group of six soldiers left Cheetah Post on a patrol along the Indian side of Line of Control (LoC), 180 km southwest of Srinagar. Barely an hour into the patrol, the group was ambushed by 20 heavily armed men, many of who were wearing Pakistani army fatigues.

Meanwhile the Army said Tuesday’s attack was a "likely consequence" of the Pakistan Army’s "frustration over the "successful elimination" of "19 hardcore terrorists" in the past two months.

There could, however, be a more direct link to an encounter that took place in Kupwara last week, in which five alleged terrorists were killed by Army personnel, according to intelligence sources.

Last week, reports in the Pakistani media said four "Kashmiri men" had been "kidnapped" from the Neelam valley in PoK by Indian Army personnel on July 28. The reports, which described the men as "herb gatherers", alleged the Indian special forces had crossed the border and carried out the "kidnapping". The Indian Army denied the report.

The killing of Indian soldiers figured prominently in two houses of Parliament as media reportedly the issue extensively. Defence Minister A K Antony came under lot flak from the opposition parties as well as from some constituents of the ruling UPA coalition government.

Hours after Parliament proceedings were disrupted over statement made by Mr Antony on the killing, senior BJP leaders lodged a ’strong protest’ with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the manner in which the entire issue has been handled.

On Thursday, Mr Antony amended his statement of Wednesday on the killing of five Indian soldiers saying that "It is now clear that specialist troops of the Pakistani Army were involved in the attack when a group from Pakistan occupied Kashmir crossed the LoC and killed our brave jawans... We all know that nothing happens from Pakistan side of LoC without support, assistance, facilitation and often, direct involvement of the Pakistani Army".

Though Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif expressed sadness over the bloodletting on the border but did not respond to the Indian charge of active involvement by the Pakistani Army.

Significantly, after meeting with his Foreign Ministry officials in Islamabad, Mr Sharif was very clear that he was looking forward to his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York later next month.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, The Indian Express, August 7-9, 203

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Demarche’ served on Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam was summoned to the South Block on Wednesday and a formal démarche made against the large number of Indian fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan custody for periods up to two months.

The demarche reflected India’s exasperation over the absence of any movement on the release of the fishermen despite several high-level interventions.

It was also pointed out that the delay in their release not only deprives them of their livelihood but also causes anxiety to their family members. Currently there are 114 Indian fishermen and 21 fishing boats in Sri Lankan custody.

An official source pointed out that the demarche follows the issue being previously raised with Sri Lankan Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa during his visit to New Delhi in July and by National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon during his Sri Lanka visit the same month. And while the demarche was being served in New Delhi, Indian High Commissioner Yash Sinha raised the matter formally with the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry in Colombo on Wednesday.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, 8 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Centre says can’t give super powers to CBI

The government on Friday rejected most of the CBI’s demands for making it an autonomous investigating agency, contending that "authority without accountability will be draconian," particularly for the investigating agency which, like the police, had the power to arrest, seize and raid besides keeping the accused in confinement.

"In fact, there have been instances in the past where allegations of extortion and bribery leading to coloured investigation have emerged against some CBI officials. An external Accountability Commission would only help in furthering the integrity of investigation," the Centre said in affidavit filed in the Supreme Court.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Tribune, 3 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Telangana storm hits Congress

In ominous signs for the Congress, which endorsed statehood for Telangana, eight party MPs from the State today resigned protesting against the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh. Four Cabinet ministers too offered to quit, but were persuaded by the party leadership to stay put "in the larger interest of the Congress".

The party made it clear that the matter of resignations "would be settled" and indicated there was no going back on Telangana as had happened in 2009 when a spate of resignations from party leaders from Andhra had forced the Congress to step back.

Shoot-at-sight orders were issued in central Assam’s Karbi Anglong district as large-scale arson by Statehood supporters continued in different parts of the Hill district and also on the outskirts of Diphu where curfew has been clamped and the Army staged a flag march. Supporters of the movement for a separate Bodoland snapped the rail link between the North-east and the rest of India on Friday.

Meanwhile, demands for new states are coming up on almost daily basis. India may have at least 50 states in future if demands for new states are to be conceded as the home ministry has received representations for creation of more than 20 states.

The demands for separate states have come from across the country -- for Kukiland in Manipur to Kongu Nadu in Tamil Nadu, for Kamatapur in North Bengal to Tulu Nadu in Karnataka.

However, except Uttar Pradesh, which during the Mayawati-led BSP government proposed to create four states dividing the country’s most populous state, no state government had given any recommendation for carving out a new state.

< class="text11verdana">Source:The Tribune, 3 August 2013, Hindustan Times, 4 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China eyes UP to expand India business

After Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, China is eyeing Uttar Pradesh to do business. It proposes to set up an industrial park in the state and has shortlisted six cities-Kanpur, Allahabad (Naini), Lucknow, Moradabad, Noida, Greater Noida and Khurja-as possible destinations.

The project, with a special focus on electronics, would be developed with mutual support and the Chinese embassy has already written to the UP State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) seeking 400 acres of land.

The proposal was discussed at length during External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Beijing in May, and is now gathering momentum.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Hindustan Times, 5 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Food Bill tabled amid uproar

The much talked about, ambitious and historical bill to replace the National Food Security Ordinance 2013 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday amid strong objections raised by the AIADMK and the DMK.

Introducing the bill, even as Seemandhra members created an uproar over Telangana and BJP members raised slogans on the killing of jawans in Kashmir, Minister for Food and Public Distribution K V Thomas claimed the "National Food Security Bill 2013" did not infringe on the States’ rights.

"It protects the Constitution....there is nothing against the federal system. The Bill will enable the people to get food as the right. This is the first time in the world, food is given as a right."

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, 8 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Raghuram Rajan to be next RBI Governor

Chief Economic Adviser Raghuram Govind Rajan was on Tuesday appointed as Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for three years.

He will take over from D Subarao who demits office on September 4.

At 50, by far one of the youngest to become RBI Governor, Dr Rajan, who is credited to have correctly predicted the 2008 financial crisis, is set to take over the mantle of the central bank at a time when the economy is faced with a multi-pronged crisis of high consumer price inflation, industrial slowdown, a free fall of the rupee and a widening current account deficit (CAD).

The announcement came on a day when sensex tanked 449 points and rupee hit one of the lowest levels of Rs 61.80 against a dollar.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, 7 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New company law passed

Parliament on Thursday passed the Companies Bill, 2012, after a wait of almost two decades, replacing the 58-year old legislation with radical changes and ushering in more transparency in corporate functioning.

The bill, on one hand, introduces new concepts like class-action suit, independent director, one-person company and auditors’ rotation, while on the other, it strengthens the monitoring of corporate by empowering fraud investigation unit. The new bill also requires companies to spend 2 per cent of their average profit in the last three years towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.

< class="text11verdana">Source:The Indian Express, 9 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">RBI unveils new steps to stabilise Re

The Reserve Bank of India on Thursday introduced its third round of measures to make rupee scarce by announcing out-of-turn auctions of Rs 22,000 crore worth government bonds every Monday. The central bank’s statement came even as interest rates showed signs of easing with government bonds recording their first weekly gain in nine weeks.

Earlier in the day, the RBI announced that it would transfer a record surplus of Rs 33,010 crore to the government, an increase of 106% over 15,010 crore in the previous year. The central bank generates its surplus largely from intervention in foreign exchange and money markets. RBI’s profits are usually the highest during period of high volatility.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, 9 August 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President for not letting campaign cause discord

President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has appealed to the public not to allow competitive campaigns for the presidential elections to fuel discord among the people.

In his address to the people on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, President Waheed urged all parties to adhere to the principles of democracy and to show the world that the Maldives respects democratic principles. The President also reaffirmed his commitment to ensure a free, fair and transparent election this year.

President also urged the people to strengthen their unity and solidarity by cooperating with each other and showing compassion to one another.

< class="text11verdana">Source:Haveeru Online, 6 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ilyas Ibrahim backs Gasim

Brother-in-law of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and former Minister, Ilyas Ibrahim, has decided to support Jumhooree Party presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim and his running mate Dr. Hassan Saeed in the September 7presidential elections.

Ilyas Ibrahim participated in a high-level meeting of the "Jumhooree Coalition",the first such an appearance since his leaving his brother-in-law’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) last month.

Others who attended the meeting included the two candidates, another PPM defector and former interim deputy leader of the party Umar Naseer, Vice President of the religiously conservative Adhaalath Party, Dr. Mauroof Hussain. Ilyas will soon start an official role in the "Jumhooree Coalition" campaign, it was announced later.

< class="text11verdana">Source:Sun Online, 6 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">International partners want MDP to win: Nasheed

Most of Maldives’ international partners want Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to win the upcoming the presidential elections, party’s presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed claimed on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters after arriving in Male from his visit to India and Saudi Arabia for Umrah pilgrimage, Nasheed said friendly nations acknowledge that MDP policies are designed to ensure progress and development for the Maldives.

In that regard, he alleged that ties with other nations have been undermined due to poor management of multilateral relations by the incumbent government.

According to Nasheed, neighbour India is ready to assist Maldives in its development. After the elections, India has promised to resolve the difficulties faced by Maldives in obtaining construction gravel and to relax the now tightened visa rules for Maldives, he said. India has also promised financial assistance as budget support for the Maldives, Nasheed added.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru Online, 6 August 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US updates sanctions on gem import

The United States updated sanctions on Myanmar to maintain a ban on importing rubies and jade amid a relaxation of curbs on U.S. trade with the Southeast Asian nation, American officials said.

President Barack Obama’s executive order continues a gradual lifting sanctions aimed at encouraging political and economic reforms since the military government that had run the country also known as Burma for five decades stepped aside in 2011.

"The administration is maintaining restrictions on specific activities and actors that contribute to human rights abuses or undermine Burma’s democratic reform process," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said in a statement.

The U.S. ban on imports of Myanmar jade and rubies remains in place because of concerns that the mining of those gems benefits military figures and shadowy businessmen and fuels corruption and human rights abuses in ethnic minority regions that have been theaters of armed conflict for decades.

"We want to encourage responsible trade and investment in Burma, and at the same time we want to continue to target ... those sectors and entities and individuals that we consider to be problematic," said a U.S. official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Reuters, 8 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Resurvey of India border sought

All major political parties and various social organisations today demanded immediate halt of the ongoing construction of fencing along the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur until a proper re-survey of the borderline is done.

Spokesman of the ’Committee on Protection of Land in Border Fencing’ (CPLBF) Brojendra Ningombam said they had submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh yesterday demanding immediate intervention of the state government in the present construction of border fencing as it would affect more than forty villages in state’s Chandel and Ukhrul district.

Ningombam demanded a joint re-survey of the borderline particularly near the border town of Moreh in Chandel district by Indian and Myanmar authorities and fix the boundary of Manipur and Myanmar based on historical documents adding that representatives of the committee who included village chiefs of the border areas should be invited to join the demarcation of the international borderline.

Reports from the border town of Moreh and surrounding villages said if the ongoing construction of fencing by Border Roads Organisation was not stopped, not only parts of Manipur territory be ceded to Myanmar but not less than forty villages would be included in the neighbouring country.

Major political parties including Manipur People’s Party (MPP), CPI, JD (U), Trinamool Congress who had sent their representatives to the border villages to check the fencing demanded immediate halt of construction of border fencing until the settlement of the issue by both countries.

Chief Minister Ibobi Singh had earlier said the state government had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Press Trust of India, 3 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indonesia bomb linked to Rohingya riots

A senior official said Monday that an attack on a Buddhist temple in Indonesia’s capital was apparently aimed at avenging violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

The small explosion Sunday night near the front door of the Ekayana Grha Buddhist temple in West Jakarta injured one person and slightly damaged the structure while about 300 devotees were inside praying. Another low-explosive bomb placed near the back door emitted only smoke, while a third device inside the temple failed to go off.

Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali, who visited the scene Monday, said there was a written message on one device saying, "We respond to the screams of Rohingya." The attack was aimed at pitting Muslims against Buddhists, Ali said, adding he believes people from both faiths will not be stirred by such an act.

Indonesian Muslim militants angered over sectarian violence in Myanmar have threatened to attack Buddhists here. In May, two men were arrested for allegedly plotting to bomb the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta.

Chief of National Police, Detective Lt. Gen. Sutarman, said the terrorists may have shifted their targets from Christian churches to Buddhist temples, possibly triggered by the sectarian conflict in Myanmar.

< class="text11Verdana">Source:Associated Press, 5 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pro-democracy uprising anniversary

Thousands massed here on Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of a bloody crackdown on pro-democratic movement in Myanmar, a Thailand-based daily said.

Some 5,000 people gathered at a convention centre to witness a landmark ceremony recalling the huge 1988 student protests that were brutally crushed by the then-junta, Bangkok Post reported.

The event, attended by members of the opposition and ruling parties, diplomats and Buddhist monks, comes amid sweeping changes in Myanmar since the end of outright military dictatorship two years ago. Activists expressed jubilation at the scale of the event, but urged even more people to join in.

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now the Opposition Leader, was taking part in Thursday’s commemorations. She rose to prominence during the 1988 protests.

< class="text11verdana">Source: IANS, 8 August 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Koirala’s India visit

Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala visited India from August 4-9 at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. During his visit, he held meetings with PM Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, External; Affairs Minister, National Security Advisor, and leaders of opposition. Koiral also went to Bihar and UP and met with the respective chief ministers.

Besides holding talks on the gamut of bilateral relations, Koirala sought Indian support to Nepal’s constitution writing process. India has urged Koirala to take the lead role in ushering the country towards peace, prosperity and development. Indian leaders told Koirala that polls must be held on stipulated date in Nepal.

Koirala also visited the statue of late Nepali democrat and Congress leader B P Koirala in Patna and paid respect.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Republica, Kantipur, 4-9 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Baidya-led alliance wants poll put off

The agitating CPN-Maoist led alliance of 33 political parties has demanded the postponement of all election-related activities including the calendar of events announced earlier by the Election Commission (EC) for the polls scheduled for November 19.

The alliance that earlier snubbed two consecutive invitations for talks with the HLPC, put forth the demand to postpone the Constituent Assembly (CA) poll as part of 18 various demands it made to the HLPC on August 6. The poll was announced as per the 25-point ordinance for removing constitutional difficulties.

The alliance maintained that since their talks with the HLPC for reaching consensus had already started, all the activities of the EC, including its calendar of events for the November 19 poll and the activities of the Election Constituency Delineation Commission, should be put off and the election-related arrangements introduced as per the 25-point presidential ordinance annulled.

< class="text11Verdana">Source:, 7 August 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bird flu outbreaks in Kathmandu

Residents of Kathmandu Valley had the scare of their life after 32 outbreaks of bird flu were reported during the past 21 days since the beginning of Nepal’s fiscal year on July 16.

Chicken trade, which includes sale of chicken and poultry products, has been banned in the capital for one week starting from August 1. Thousands of chickens were culled while tons of eggs and feeds were destroyed.

On Sunday, Khil Raj Regmi, chairman of Interim Election Council, the de facto Nepal government, expressed worry over the spread of bird flu in the capital and instructed his health and agriculture ministers to bring the outbreak under control.

Poultry farmers and government officials have been blaming each other for the failure to control the H5N1 virus.

As of August 5, the government culled more than 120,000 heads of chicken worth at least $1 million in Kathmandu alone. The culling of sick chickens has been going on for the past three weeks.

The chicken farmers complained that the government paid them only one-third of their total investments. The Chicken Suppliers’ Association, on the other hand, has blamed the government for its inadequate and slow response to the outbreak of the flu epidemic.

The government, however, said it was due to the poultry farmers and suppliers that bird flu cases increased as never seen before.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Xinhua, 6 August 2013

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:
Pakistan: Aniqa Mortuza;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Afghanistan: Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh: Dr Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
India:Dr.Satish Misra;
Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah

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