MonitorsPublished on Nov 08, 2013
As Nepal is set to go to polls on 19 November, the political scenario in the country is turning increasingly foggy. Technically, the people of Nepal should be looking forward to the polls and the prospect of a new Constitution.
Nepal: Preparing for CA polls
< class="heading1">Analysis

As Nepal is set to go to polls on 19 November, the political scenario in the country is turning increasingly foggy. Technically, the people of Nepal should be looking forward to the polls and the prospect of a new Constitution. One of the most important tasks of a constitution is empowering the people who come under its purview. A constitution gives citizens the right to be a part of the governance as well as the governing forces and, hence, ensures that the country runs on the foundations of a system that is empowering as well as accountable.

In the politically tumultuous recent history of the country, several voices have been fighting to be heard. The most important voices in terms of political parties have been the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), CPN-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML), the Nepali Congress (NC) and factions of the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP). While in the Constituent Assembly polls held in 2008 the Maoist party had a clear majority, this time around it is unclear if the Maoist party would be as successful. The failure of the previous body to deliver its mandate has added to the pressure that the new body will face. In addition, the new body will also have to undertake the delicate task of negotiating an atmosphere which is characterised by powerful divisions among the parties and growing disillusionment among the people.

A winner either with a clear majority or even with a high number of seats, which can comfortably form the next government, would have several advantages. In terms of the domestic sphere, such a possibility would mean renewed hope as far as the drafting of a constitution is concerned. It would also be a step towards achieving a consensus for the election of the head of the government. Moreover, it would contribute to curbing the existing discontent among the people and, hopefully, among the parties as well. Internationally, a constitution and a government would mean a sense of stability in foreign relations. It would also be a marker for neighbouring countries like India to form a reference point for refocusing on bilateral relations. India has been urging for the formation of a constituent assembly for quite some time. Most importantly, both internationally as well as domestically, the formation and acceptance of a constitution would mean progress towards some stability and some respite for Nepalese politics for the first time in over two decades.

But there are many reasons to be sceptical about the polls as well. First, there is very little common ground among each of the political parties. While this in itself is nothing unnatural, it is a point of concern when the differences are extremely divisive to the point that it is difficult to determine whether parties may align together in case of no clear majority. Second a major possibility casting a shadow over the polls is the threat of ’zero-vote.’ The CPN-Maoist led by Mohan Baidya is actively promoting a ’zero-vote’ area around Thawang with support from the UCPN (Maoist) cadres and even local people of the area.

Poll-related violence and clashes have escalated recently. Amidst all this, news of the polls being postponed from November 19 is also doing rounds. The main reason apparently to have room for the 33 party alliance led by the CPN-M, with Regmi, the current de facto Prime Minister announcing that while the government was on its part ready to hold elections, it was the "duty of the contesting parties to create circumstances favourable for polling". His concern is based on the fact that polls without the CPN-M alliance might lead to fresh grounds of conflict. Meanwhile, CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, who is contesting the elections, cautioned against any delay in holding the polls in favour of any party.

If these incidents are anything to go by, the contesting parties would be increasingly at odds. The following week thus stands to be of vital significance. A successful poll would bring together different parties to the table for drafting the constitution a second time. In the absence of such a scenario what course of action Nepalese politics takes, would be important for the people of Nepal and the future of the country.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pakistan : An end to Gen Kayani’s tenure

Taruni Kumar

Gen Ashfaq Kayani, current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in Pakistan is nearing the end of his tenure, which adds up to six years. His term at the helm will be remembered by his distinct pro-democracy stance, which is unusual in a country that has seen generals actively hampering the democratic process. He faced internal subversion as well as a bitter relationship with India, Afghanistan, the US and much of the rest of the world during his tenure. But he faced these challenges with a notable calm and rationality.

Gen Kayani commanded the army in its fight against the Pakistan Taliban for six years. He was the first to identify the internal threat in Pakistan as being more significant than any external threat. When he assumed control of the army, the security forces, especially the Frontier Corps, were plagued by high rates of desertion in tribal areas, particularly from soldiers who opposed fighting other Muslims. Kayani took control at a time when the army was demoralised and fatigued in battle and unduly involved in politics.

The General pursued a hands-on approach with the deployed troops. He made regular visits to the front lines in the regions with ongoing military operations against the Taliban. He even spent the Eid holidays with deployed personnel in Swat and South Waziristan. These efforts helped boost the flagging morale of the exhausted army. Under his guidance, thousands of Baloch youth joined the army, reducing their isolation and easing the pressure being exerted in Balochistan.

Kayani tried to generate support for direct confrontation with the Pakistani Taliban especially in 2009 when the Taliban overran the Swat region in the northern parts of the country. They advanced to within 97 kilometres of the capital city of Islamabad. In May, the army launched a counterinsurgency operation, driving the Taliban back and allowing most of the people who had been displaced by the conflict to return to their homes within a short of time. The Taliban, however, continues as a force to be reckoned with.

Downturn from the peak

By 2010, his popularity had reached its peak, but 2011 saw a distinct downturn in public opinion. A CIA contractor was arrested and subsequently acquitted for the killing of two Pakistanis. There was also an American-NATO airstrike on the Salala border post of the Pakistan Army resulting in the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers. The three year extension granted to him had also damaged his reputation causing dissatisfaction amongst other senior generals whose career trajectory was negatively affected.

But the most damaging event of 2011 was an operation conducted by the USA in Abbottabad, which led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. This severely hurt the reputation of the Pakistan Army drawing heavy criticism from the younger officers and the political class of the country. There seemed only two available analyses of the situation ? either the army had been complicit in Osama bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan or it had been oblivious to it. The latter was an admission of gross incompetence.

The US-Pakistan relationship hit an all time low after the operation, which were subsequently worsened by the Salala airstrike. In response to the Salala incident, General Kayani took the decision to block NATO’s supply routes to Afghanistan. Eventually, the USA had to publicly apologise which helped restore Kayani’s stature, but only to a limited degree.

Afghan peace process

Gen Kayani played an important role in keeping Pakistan actively involved in and extending full support to the Afghanistan peace process. He declared many times that Pakistan’s interests and concerns must be respected in Afghanistan and defended the country’s position on the issues with its neighbour. He often stated that the process should be Afghan-led and pushed for the release of Afghan Taliban prisoners to speed up the dialogue.

Despite the violence that erupted on the India-Pakistan borders, causing further deterioration in the bilateral relationship, Kayani expressed support for opening discussions with India. But, this encouragement wasn’t supported by any obvious change in the army’s stance towards India.

General Kayani’s greatest achievement would be his active separation of the army from politics. Despite the numerous challenges faced by Pakistan during his term, the General never attempted to take over in a military coup despite the rumours that arose after the Abbottabad operation. He emphasised that he wished to maintain the role of the armed forces as was already defined in the country’s laws. His extension as COAS, however, affected this democratic appearance.

Gen Kayani helped strengthen the democratic process in Pakistan but at the same time did not allow the political establishment to sideline the army’s significance. His successor will have to work under a civilian government that either lacks the will to fight against the militants or puts greater store by dialogue than military action. In any case, one hopes that he will follow in the General’s footsteps and not see the role of the military as superseding the role of the civilian government.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Fazlullah, new Taliban chief

The militant group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has chosen Mullah Fazlullah, also known as "Mullah Radio" as its new leader after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone attack. Fazlullah was behind the attack on the teenage schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai.

The organisation which represents dozens of militant groups has announced that it will take revenge for the death of Mehsud. They have said that they will orchestrate a wave of attacks against the Pakistani government as well as the armed forces. They will target security forces, government installations, political leaders and police. But they have also said that they will not target civilians, bazaars or public places.

In addition to the attacks, the TTP has also announced that there will be no more peace talks as the new leader does not see the Pakistan government as an authority and believes that it is under US control. The TTP believes that the Pakistan government supports the American drone strikes and has complete information about them.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, 7 November 2013; Dawn, 8 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US defends Mehsud killing

A US law-maker defended the drone strike that killed a Pakistani Taliban leader and said that it would keep American troops safe.

The Pakistan government has denounced the killing. It has stated that it was an attempt by the United States to interfere with the peace talks between the militants and the Pakistan government.

Pakistani officials have said that they will review the relationship between Islamabad and Washington. Some politicians have also called for blocking of US supply lines into Afghanistan.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Reuters, 3 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Musharraf granted bail

A Pakistan court has granted bail to former President Pervez Musharraf in the Red Mosque case. This judgment has brought him closer to a possible release after over six months of house arrest. He is not expected to leave the country at present.

The Taliban have threatened to kill Musharraf because he allied Pakistan with Washington in the War on Terror after 9/11.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Nation, 4 November 2013

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Produce evidence on war-crimes charges: Gota

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has said that the UK-based LTTE rump had been engaged in an expensive project to embarrass Sri Lanka ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) next week.

Rajapaksa was reacting to representatives of three organisations, namely the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), British Tamil Forum (BTF) and Tamils against Genocide meeting British Prime?Minister David Cameron on Thursday (07) to pressure Britain to boycott the 23rd CHOGM summit in Colombo.

London-based sources told The Island that having met Premier Cameron and some of his top aides, all three organisations expressed disappointment that the UK leader would go ahead with the planned visit. The Queen would be represented by Prince Charles at the Colombo summit.

Sources said that some of those who had been demonstrating outside No 10 Downing Street, in support of the boycott call, carried LTTE flags. The LTTE also organised a hunger strike.

Noting that the LTTE had re-launched a Channel 4 documentary, which alleged that the then General Officer Commanding (GoC) 58 Division Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva executed surrendering LTTE cadres, on the Vanni front at his behest, the Defence Secretary told The Island that the report was based on two eyewitnesses whom the television described as men attached to the 58 Division.

The Defence Secretary said: "Channel 4 released the report in July 2011. If the British outfit is sure of its sources let them be produced before judicial authorities in the UK or some other country in Europe. Otherwise, their identities can be revealed in Geneva or The Hague. If they are not prepared to substantiate such allegations, they should shut up."

Rajapaksa pointed out that a three-member Panel of Experts (PoE) which investigated accountability issues in Sri Lanka, too, recommended that the identity of its sources should remain confidential till 2031. The PoE appointed by UNSG Ban Ki-moon released its report on March 31, 2011. The PoE also recommended that the revelation of their identities even in 2031 should be subject to the approval of the UN.

The Defence Secretary challenged the British media outfit to produce those claiming to have witnessed large scale atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan military before international judicial authorities without further delay. Recollecting the PoE claim that it had received hundreds of submissions from Sri Lankans regarding atrocities on the Vanni front, in addition to two eyewitnesses whose identities were known to Channel 4, the Defence Secretary challenged them to justify war crimes allegations.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SL Navy in Indian exercise

Sri Lanka Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessel, SLNS Sagara participates in the joint maritime fleet exercise, ’SLINEX 2013’, conducted in the seas off Goa in India from November 4-8.

The joint exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability and exchanging professional knowledge. It provides the opportunity for both navies to rehearse the concept of joint naval operations and enhance own skills, the navy headquarters said.

Indian Navy’s frigate, INS Teg and 02 FACs along with a Chetak helicopter are scheduled to take part.It also said, SLINEX 2013 focuses on non-traditional threats that include maritime terrorism. As such maritime interdiction operations, Visit Board Search and Seize (VBSS) operations, Search and Rescue (SAR) demonstrations, asymmetric threat exercises and helicopter operations will figure prominent in the 05-day exercise.

Director-General Operation of the Sri Lanka Navy, Rear-Admiral Neil Rosayro participates as the senior officer representing Sri Lanka and he is joined by Defence Advisor to the Sri Lankan High Commission in India, Capt U S Senevirathna, it added.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, 5 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Navy denies Indian media reports

While categorically denying Indian mews media reports, the Sri Lanka Navy said that 30 Indian fishermen were arrested within the framework of existing international maritime law and handed over to the Fisheries Inspector of Jaffna.

Indian Media reported that two Indian fishermen have been killed in a chase by the Sri Lankan Navy. "As a recognized force protecting the territorial waters of Sri Lanka we have arrested 30 fishermen and handed them over to the relevant authorities. We categorically deny all other allegations and reports," Navy Spokesman Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya said.

He said that the fishermen were poaching within Sri Lankan territorial waters and had crossed the international maritime boundary.

The Daily Mirror earlier reported that several thousands of Indian boats arrived each day into Sri Lankan waters and ’bottom trawl’ destroying the entirety of the marine resources of the country.

Fishermen in Delft, Kanksanthurai, Kalpitiya, Mannar, Pesalai, and Thalaimannar told the Daily Mirror that fishermen in their thousands approached as close as 500 m from the shore of the Lankan coast and engaged in poaching.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, 5 November 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Keep transit lines open’

The NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen this week urged Pakistan to keep the supply lines to Afghanistan via Pakistan open. Such a statement was necessitated by the reaction within Pakistan to the drone strike that led to the killing of the TTP Chief, Hakimullah Mehsud.

The Pakistan government, along with the mainstream political parties, condemned the drone strike claiming that it had jeopardised the nascent peace talks with the insurgents. The Imran Khan-led Tehreek-I Insaf Pakistan (PTI) threatened to shut off the NATO supply lines in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and helped pass a resolution to that effect in the KP Assembly.

"I feel confident that the Pakistani authorities will maintain opened supply routes and transit routes because it is in Pakistan’s own interest to contribute positively to stability and security in the region," Rasmussen said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Pajhwok, 4 November 2013; Tolo News, 5 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">$ 5-m stolen from Finance Ministry

Officials in the Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan claimed this week that around US$ 5 million were stolen from the bank accounts of the ministry.

A spokesman for the Finance Ministry, Abdul Qadir Jilani said two employees were arrested in this regard and have been introduced to attorney general office for further investigation.

According to reports, the stolen cash were withdrawn using 38 forged cheques by an employee of the finance ministry.

This comes as a female employee of a private bank, Azizi Bank transferred US$ 1.1 million to a relative’s bank account outside Afghanistan and managed to flee the country. The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) released an online wanted post of Shokofa Salehi, however there are still no reports regarding her whereabouts.

The alleged theft by the Azizi Bank and Ministry of Finance employees highlights the deep corruption in Afghanistan’s banking sector and government institutions.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Denmark to continue aid

The Government of Denmark has pledged US$100 million in annual aid to Afghanistan for a period of five years. The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Christian Friis Bach announced the aid package during his meeting with Helmand Governor Mohammad Naeem.

Bach said the major portion of the aid would be spent towards education, police, agriculture sector and women’s rights projects in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Governor Naeem lauded Denmark’s cooperation with Afghanistan and expressed the country’s gratitude for Denmark’s support for the past 12 years.

On his unannounced visit, Bach visited an agriculture exhibition in southern Helmand province and vowed to support the agriculture sector of Helmand province.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Wadsam, 6 November 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Death to 152 for BDR?carnage

In a landmark verdict a special tribunal in Dhaka this week delivered death penalty to 152 people, including a deputy assistant director of the now-defunct Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), and life imprisonment to 161 others accused in the country’s largest-ever case of killings, which occurred at the Pilkhana headquarters of the paramilitary force in February 2009. Two political leaders - ward-level leader of the ruling Awami League Torab Ali and former Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) parliamentarian Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu - got life terms for their role in the BDR massacre.

The court also awarded life imprisonment to 161 and rigorous imprisonment, ranging from three to 10 years, to 262. It acquitted 271 persons accused in the BDR carnage case. A total of 74 people, including 57 top and mid-ranking army officers, were killed during the February 25-26 massacre in 2009.

This was the first incident in the country, even in the world, that a court has awarded the death penalty to 152 people in a single case.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, 6 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Jamaat can’t contest polls’

Putting an end to all speculations the Election Commission (EC) this week declared that the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, influential religious political, cannot participate in the coming parliamentary poll. This is the first time that the EC has broken its silence over the much-debated issue of Jamaat’s participation in the forth coming election. EC decision is fallout of the High Court verdict earlier this year that declared the party’s registration as invalid since the party’s charter does not correspond with the Constitution of the country.

According to the EC, a number of clauses in Jamaat’s charter call for establishing the rule of Islam, which is in conflict with the country’s charter.

On January 27, 2009, the High Court issued a rule upon the EC, following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) writ petition seeking proscription of the Islamic party, to explain why the registration of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami as a political party should not be declared to have been done unlawfully. In February 2010, the Supreme Court barred the use of religion in politics by restoring the original Constitution of 1972.

Although Jammat has amended its constitution five times, including its aim and objectives and some other provisions, it does not conform to the country’s charter and Representation of the People Order (RPO).

Protesting EC’s decision Jamaat said that it is unconstitutional, illogical and politically motivated.

Jamaat is a major ally of the leading opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party. This declaration will have implication in the election politics of the country.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, 8 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Better place to live?

A major survey determining prosperity has revealed that Bangladesh is a better place to live than India. According to the study, Legatum Prosperity Index 2013, Bangladesh fares better than India when it comes to the "joy of everyday life," and "the prospect of being able to build an even better life in future." The study ranks Bangladesh 103rd out of 142 countries. India is ranked 106th.

The study says that in Bangladesh, people live 3.4 years longer than their Indian counterparts; fewer are undernourished, less death in infancy and greater access to sanitation. However, India is ahead of Bangladesh in health, safety and security, and personal freedom. In categories such as education and governance as well Bangladesh is ahead of India.

The report gave a morale boost to the people of the country as it is facing bad publicity following the garment factory collapse in April this year that caused more than 1000 lives and repeated shutdown by political parties creating inconvenience to daily lives.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, 2 November 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India asked to speed up projects

Terming India as a ’partner’, Bhutan has said it should expedite the development of a few more hydro projects in the next couple of years and invited Indian companies to explore the possibility of investments.

"What we are looking for in the next two to three years is to expedite the development of a few more hydro projects," said Sonam Kinga, chairperson of the National Council of Bhutan.

He also said his country also expects Indian companies to come to Bhutan and also see India’s interest in exploiting natural resources for their purposes. The Chairman of the Bhutan’s National Council said "this (hydro) is one project where irrespective of the size of both the country’s economies, mutual benifits can be harnessed through cooperation and this is a very successful project".

"We also expect that once power is produced and since there is a guaranteed need for power in India, it will give us the impetus for an accelerated economic development and it will also contribute in small but meaningful ways to India’s need for power," Kinga added.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Economic Times, 6 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cement plant to go on stream

Dungsam cement plant, which in a month’s time will begin selling its production in India and Bhutan, its officials reckon, will earn the country gross revenue of 6 billion INR annually.

Of the total produce, plant officials estimate that 85 percent would be sold to India and the remaining 15 percent in the domestic market. Dungsam cement managing director Dorji Norbu said the ratio would, however, depend on the market demand.

"If the demand is higher in India, the plant will sell more to India," he said. The projected gross revenue, plant officials said was based on assumption that the product would be sold at an ex-factory rate of Rs 4,400 a metric tonne.

The plant has a capacity to produce 1.36 million tonnes a year.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel Online, 6 November, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Double ’first’ at Kolkata airport

When Bhutan Airlines touches down at Kolkata airport later this month, not only will it be its maiden international flight, it will also be the first new carrier to arrive at Terminal 2 that opened to passengers eight months ago.

Bhutan Airlines commercial director Ugyen Tenzin said the airline will start daily flights on the Bangkok-Kolkata-Paro-Kolkata-Bangkok route later this month following a formality to be completed with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

"We are eager to begin services to Kolkata that is a evolving as an important market for tourist traffic to Bhutan," said Tenzin. At present, Jet Airways operates two daily flights to Bangkok while Thai Airways, Indigo Airlines and AirAsia have a daily operation.

On Kolkata-Paro sector, the only operator at present is Druk Air.

Lalit Mohan Khosla, vice-president of Bird Group, the carrier’s general sales agent in India, said the fares would be competitive. "Bhutan Airlines is a full-service carrier. So it will offer fares that are in sync with Thai and Jet," he said.

Khosla also informed that Bangladeshi private carrier Regent Airways that currently operates three flights from Kolkata to Chittagong will add a daily Dhaka connection from November 15. The GSA is also hopeful of Air China responding positively to their study favouring flight between Beijing and Kolkata.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, 8 November, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Near-perfect’ launch for Mars mission

In keeping with expectations, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) trusted workhorse, the PSLV rocket, delivered a perfect launch to India’s ambitions of reaching Mars by parking the Mangalyaan spacecraft precisely outside Earth.

The 43-minute launch aboard the PSLV C25 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, some 80 km from Chennai, saw the Mangalyaan spacecraft placed in an argument of perigee of 282.75 degrees which was considered necessary to enable the actual 400 million kilometre transition towards Mars on November 30.

It was a textbook launch for the Mangalyaan spacecraft - the 25th successful mission carried out by the PSLV rocket - and its progress through the 43-minute launch phase - the longest ever for a PSLV - went on cue, with the crucial third stage rockets firing at 33 minutes and the rocket initiating satellite separation at 43 minutes.

"The PSLV C 25 has placed the Mars Orbiter Mission very precisely in an elliptical orbit around Earth," ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan announced at Sriharikota minutes after satellite separation.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, 6 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">N-capable Agni-I missile launched

India successfully test fired its indigenously developed nuclear-capable surface-to-surface Agni-I missile from a military base in Odisha on November 8.

The missile, which can strike a target 700 kilometres away, was tested by the Strategic Force Command of the army from a facility on Wheeler Island near Dhamra in Bhadrak district, 170 kilometres from here.

"The test was successful. It was a textbook launch," test range director M.V.K.V. Prasad said.

The missile was launched from road mobile launcher system and reached the target point in the Bay of Bengal. It was tracked by radar, telemetry stations located along the coastline, he said.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 8 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">RBI opens doors for foreign banks

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan threw open the doors for mergers and acquisitions in the banking space as he delivered on the promised level-playing field for foreign banks such as Citigroup and Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp (HSBC).

RBI promised carrots if these convert into local subsidiaries, but stopped short of making it compulsory for big foreign banks to incorporate or list locally.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Economic Times, 7 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Military aid to Myanmar stepped up

From rocket launchers to Islander maritime patrol aircraft, war gaming software to counter-insurgency training, India is steadily stepping up military aid to Myanmar to counterbalance the deep strategic inroads made by China into that country.

During his ongoing visit to Myanmar, Army chief General Bikram Singh has held talks with President U Thein Sein, foreign minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, commander-in-chief of the defence services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, among others, to discuss measures to further bolster bilateral defence cooperation.

"Myanmar is very keen to expand its defence ties with India in terms of supply of military equipment and spares, training and border cooperation. The country has agreed to base an Indian Army Training Team on its soil, on the lines of what we have with Bhutan, Botswana and others, in the near future," said an official.

India is providing rocket launchers, mortars, rifles, radars, night-vision devices, Gypsies, bailey bridges, communication and Inmarsat sets as well as road construction equipment like dozers, tippers and soil compacters to the Myanmar armed forces.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, 2 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak asked for surety on gas pact

India has sought from Pakistan sovereign payment guarantees before it can sign a contract to export natural gas through a pipeline from Punjab.

State-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd plans to initially supply 5 million standard cubic metres per day of gas to Pakistan through a 110-kilometre pipeline from Jalandhar to international border near Atari.

But before GAIL enters into a gas supply contract with a Pakistani firm, New Delhi wants Pakistan to provide payment guarantees.

Five rounds of negotiations have been held between the two sides and it has been found technically feasible to export gas from Punjab into Lahore.

Besides sovereign guarantees, India wants sureties for three months payment and advance termination commitments, they said.

GAIL plans to import gas in its liquid form, called liquefied natural gas (LNG), on a port in Gujarat or Maharashtra. After converting this again into gaseous state, it is proposed to transport the gas through cross-country pipeline network to Jalandhar.

Pakistan wants to import gas from India to meet its rising energy deficit. Initially, it wants to take 1-1.5 million tonnes of LNG. This can run a power plant of up to 1,200 MW.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 2 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Triangular farm training

The United States and India have launched the third India-US-Africa triangular agricultural training programme at the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE).

This partnership supported by the US Government’s global hunger and food security initiative - Feed the Future - aims to improve agricultural productivity and support the market institutions in Kenya, Liberia, and Malawi.

About 180 African agricultural professionals will be trained over the next two years at MANAGE in Hyderabad and Chaudhury Charan Singh National Institute of Agricultural Marketing (NIAM) in Jaipur.

US Consul General in Hyderabad, Michael Mullins, said under the strategic partnership between the Governments of India and the United States to improve agricultural productivity in Africa, the triangular engagement will "leverage India’s experience, expertise, and resources, as well as share innovations and technologies to address food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty in the three African countries".

At the event, Mullins was joined by High Commissioner of the Republic of Malawi to India, Perks Ligoya; Joint Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture, Sanjeev Gupta (via videoconferencing); United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Mission Director, Kathryn Stevens; and Director General of MANAGE, Bandla Srinivas, according to a press release.

< class="text11verdana">Source: www.thehindubusinessline, 7 November 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">o efforts for a military council: MNDF

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has stated that no efforts are being made to establish a military council to take over the executive powers if a new President is not elected by November 11.

The statement followed the claims made by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate, former President Mohamed Nasheed, that MNDF was working to establish a military council to take over the executive powers of the Maldives if a new President is not elected on November 11.

MNDF Media Official, Col Abdurraheem, said that no efforts have been made or are being made to establish this military council. He said that there has not been made any discussions to make such a council either.

Nasheed claimed that he had received information that Chief of Defence Force MajoMaj-Gen Ahmed Shiyam had been discussing with different high ranking officers on establishing a military council. He said that many officers shared this information with him.

Col Abdurraheem said that he was not aware of such an effort and he does not know which officers made such a statement to Nasheed.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Miadhu, 7 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC case against Majlis’ resolution

The Supreme Court has accepted a petition, requesting to annul a resolution passed by the People’s Majlis, or Parliament. The resolution in question states that the Speaker of Parliament shall assume presidential powers in the event that there is no elected president by 11 November.

The case was filed to Supreme Court by lawyer Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, a national council member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in his personal capacity.

Waheed has requested Supreme Court to annul the resolution, which was passed by Parrliament on 27 October, with 39 votes in favour - by MPs of MDP and DRP.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had said in its ruling wherein it annulled the result of the first round of the presidential election held on 7 September that, in the event the country failed to elect a president by the constitutional deadline of November 11, the current presidential term will continue and that the incumbent president would continue in office until the process was completed.

The ruling has been criticised by opposition MDP, with a motion being submitted to Parliament by MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor. This motion states that if the Speaker is unable to assume presidential powers, it facilitates for Deputy Speaker of the Parliament to take charge of the government. If the Deputy Speaker is indisposed, an MP elected by the parliament shall assume presidential powers.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, 7 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Paperwork for government handover finalised

Cabinet Secretary Dr Mohamed Nazeer has said that the administrative documents, required in the process of handing over powers to the new government, were finalised one and a half months ago by the Cabinet Secretariat.

Speaking at a meeting of the Parliament Committee on Oversight of the Government, Dr Nazeer said that this includes project summaries, updates and budgets.

"This includes budgets of government offices, summaries of all projects carried out by the government up until now, and future updates. It also includes details on staff, as well as the work of political staff and the work done by their departments," he said.

He said that three copies have been prepared, one each for the Ministry, the President, and the President’s Cabinet Secretary. "This has been done thoroughly," he said.

Dr Nazeer said that a Coordination Committee will be formed for the government handover, and that the Coordinator will facilitate a smooth process. He said that preparations have been made in anticipation of the short period available for the handover, due to election delays.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline, 7 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">EU withdraws GSP-Plus facility over religious freedom

Minister of Economic Development Ahmed Mohamed has said the European Union (EU) has excluded the Maldives from its Generalised System of Preference (GSP) Plus scheme, which allows developing country exporters to pay lower duties on their exports to the EU countries.

The Minister said the EU has refused to include the Maldives in its GSP Plus scheme citing reservations put forth by the Maldivian Government on certain treaties and conventions on the right to exercise freedom of religion in the Maldives.

Speaking at a press conference, Ahmed Mohamed said 22 EU countries were in favour of denying the facility to Maldives. "These issues are very technical and have numerous issues. One of the biggest factors they weigh in determining the eligibility of the GSP Plus scheme is how much a country complies and implements the 27 conventions signed and acceded by the country. Maldives has acceded to these 27 conventions," the Minister said.

He said the EU has informed the Government of their decision to reject the Maldives’ GSP-Plus application. "Today we’re forced to tell you, because of this, it is very likely that the Maldives be denied the GSP-Plus scheme for (the lack of) religious freedom, because they think it is an issue. It will not be untrue now to say that we wont get it. European Union has communicated this in writing, that they intend to reject Maldives’ application for the GSP Plus scheme," Economic Minister said.

Maldivian fish exporters are likely face losses when the GSP-Plus scheme expires by the end of the year, Ahmed Mohamed said, as the exporters will no longer have exemption of duty on fish products. The Government and exporters are trying to find new markets for the products, said the Minister, with some companies having already commenced fish exports to the US and China. Companies are also exploring to penetrate the Russian market, the Economic Minister said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline, 7 November 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Top supplier of meth, says UN

Seizures of crystal meth and methamphetamine pills reached record highs in East and Southeast Asia in 2012, with Myanmar retaining its status as a major supplier of the illicit drugs, the United Nations said.

In its annual report on amphetamine-type stimulants in the region, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said that methamphetamines were the primary or secondary drug of choice in 13 of the 15 Asia-Pacific countries surveyed.

A total of 227 million methamphetamine pills were seized in the region last year - a 59 percent increase from 142 million a year earlier, the report said. It marked a more than seven-fold increase from 2008.

Many of the pills were seized in China (102.2 million), followed by Thailand (95.3 million) and Myanmar (18.2 million), the UNODC report said. In Thailand, the haul was nearly double the amount seized in 2011 and the second-largest ever recorded.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Strait Times, 8 November, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ethnic armed revolutionary talks end

Talks between the Myanmar government and 16 armed rebel groups including the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) ended in the Kachin state capital Myitkyina without a breakthrough. The talks ended earlier than expected, according to reports from Myitkyina.

A major point of contention arose when the government side led by Lt. Gen. Myint Soe took issue with sections of the rebel groups’ proposals where they called themselves "ethnic armed revolutionary forces". The government side also didn’t like several of the rebel groups other suggestions about the role of armed ethnic groups in the country’s future. They responded with their own proposal that called on the armed groups to cease armed struggle.

Following the meeting both sides issued a statement which indicated that all parties had agreed to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement followed by a political dialogue. It remains unclear when exactly this nationwide ceasefire will come about. According to those who attended such a ceasefire will not happen in November as had been earlier predicted by the government backed Myanmar Peace Center. The next round of talk is expected to take place in Karen state sometime in December.

Despite the fact that talks ended in disagreement over something as basic as how the rebel groups refer to themselves, UN Burma envoy Vijay Nambiar praised the talks which he attended as an observer. "The meeting in Myitkyina was the first meeting between the combined Ethnic Armed Organizations and the Government in decades and as such represents a significant move forward in the national reconciliation process," said Nambiar.

"The fact that such a meeting could take place within the country testifies to the distance that the government and ethnic armed groups have traversed since the beginning of the reform process in Myanmar," Nambiar’s statement said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kachin News Group, 7 November, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Suu Kyi opposes delay

Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi claimed this week that a one month delay in submitting a parliamentary report on constitutional review is unacceptable on principle.

"I don’t know whether there is a firm reason for the delay. I only found out about the delay this morning. I don’t want to make a comment unless I know the details. Speaking on principle, I think it is important for parliament’s committees or commissions to finish what they have planned within a time frame," said Suu Kyi.

The parliamentary committee to review the constitution initially planned to collect public suggestions on the constitution for its amendment by November 15, then submit a report to the Union Parliament by December 31.

However, it has now been decided that there will be a one month delay for the report’s submission to parliament on the grounds that there is not enough time to discuss the public suggestions and that this period coincides with the SEA Games that Myanmar is hosting in December.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Eleven Myanmar, 7 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">70 missing after boat-capsize

A boat carrying almost 70 Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing sectarian tensions capsized this week off Myanmar’s coast, police said, leaving dozens missing in treacherous seas.

The boat was believed to be taking the Rohingya from Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine to Malaysia, where thousands of members of the Muslim minority have sought sanctuary since violent clashes with Buddhists erupted last year.

"Altogether 66 people -- 38 men and 28 women -- were on board when the boat capsized," a police official in Rakhine said, adding six survivors had been found in the Bay of Bengal.

The missing are thought to have been IDPs (internally displaced persons) from the area around the state capital Sittwe.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Myanmar Times, 5 November 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt head asks parties to behave

With speculation about the November 19 election being put off in order to "accommodate" the 33-party alliance led by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists being rife, Chief Justice-cum-electoral government head Khil Raj Regmi Monday said the government "was ready on its part" to hold elections as scheduled, but wanted contesting parties to demonstrate conduct conducive to polling.

Regmi’s remarks reflect disapproval of the conduct of certain major political parties as they have clashed with rival groups during the campaign. Regmi summoned a short-notice meeting of top leaders of the key political parties in the wake of the National Security Council secretariat, through its routine report recently, warning the government that a poll without the 33-party alliance may push the country again into fresh conflict.

The electoral government chief said while the government has made all the necessary preparations, pro-poll political parties "must show their character" conducive to polling. Regmi assured that the government will take stern security measures to ward off any violence, but it was equally the "duty of the contesting parties to create circumstances favourable for polling".

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, 5 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Warning against poll postponement

Senior CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, who is contesting the Constituent Assembly elections from Kathmandu Constituency No-2 and Rautahat Constituency No-1, warned against a conspiracy to postpone the elections.

He said the election would be held at any cost and would not be deferred simply because some of the parties so desired. He said the country would be ruined and nationalism would be further weakened if this election was further deferred. But he did not identify which of the parties wanted the election to be deferred when there were hardly two weeks left for the polls. He hoped that the new constitution would be drafted within one year as the major parties are likely to win a two-third majority in the upcoming election.

He also asked the Mohan Baidhya-led CPN-Maoist not to create any disturbances during electioneering. He said that even those parties that oppose the polls will have a say in the constitution-drafting process. He claimed that conspiracies were being hatched to disrupt the election and, if possible, to defer it as the people’s wave was in his party’s favour. He also stressed the need to hold local bodies’ election by April next year if his party won majority CA election.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Himalayan Times, 2 November 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Tightening the border for CA polls

A joint meeting of Nepali and Indian security and administrative officials has decided to adopt special security measures across the open and porous border between the two neighbours in view of the November 19 Constituent Assembly (CA) election. The border coordination meeting held at the bordering Indian city of Raxaul discussed way to tackle the possible security threat to the election in Nepal due to the porous border.

According to the Nepali officials, both sides agreed to coordinate to ensure free and fair election in Nepal. The meeting also decided to seal the border from 5 am to 5 pm on the day of election. The Nepali side was led by Parsa Chief District Officer Kailash Kumar Bajimaya while the Indian side was led by Sridhar C, the District Magistrate of East Champaran.

Chief District Officers of five neighbouring districts of Nepal, Senior Superintendent of Police of Narayani Zone Sarbendra Khanal, Superintendents of Armed Police Force in the five districts as well as Chief of Birganj Customs Ram Hari Aryal had also participated in the meeting. Beside the poll related security issues, the meeting also discussed ways to curb cross-border smuggling as well as pollution in the bordering Sirsiya River.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Carter as poll observer

Former US President Jimmy Carter and former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Dr Surakiart Sathirathai will co-lead the Carter Center´s delegation to observe Constituent Assembly (CA) polls scheduled for November 19. The center´s mission will include more than 50 observers representing 27 nations, according to a press statement availed by Carter Center on November 7.

Carter, Dr. Sathirathai, and the Carter Center leadership team is scheduled to meet with key stakeholders, political parties, independent candidates, civil society organizations, government officials, and the international community, and will observe polling and counting on November 19 to 21.

The Carter Center is observing Nepal´s CA election at the written invitation of the Election Commission of Nepal and Chairman of the Council of Ministers Khil Raj Regmi. Working to build peace in Nepal since 2003, the Center observed the country´s first CA election in 2008, and then conducted long-term political and constitutional monitoring until June 2013.

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

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

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