MonitorsPublished on Jul 05, 2013
Baburam Bhattarai's resignation from the post of vice-chairman of the Maoist party has brought intra-party rivalry to the fore once again, adding to the worries of the party chairman, Pushpa Kumar Dahal alias Prachanda.
Nepal: What does Bhattarai's resignation signify for Maoist party?
< class="heading1">Analysis

Baburam Bhattarai’s resignation from the post of vice-chairman of the Maoist party has brought intra-party rivalry to the fore once again, adding to the worries of the party chairman, Pushpa Kumar Dahal alias Prachanda. Bhattarai’s decision will not only weaken the party internally, but will also hamper the performance of the United CPN (Maoist) in the next elections.

Former Prime Minister Bhattarai surprised all by resigning from all party posts on June 30. In his idealist words, Bhattarai said after resigning, "Instead of giving advice to others, it’s essential for senior leaders in higher positions to set example through sacrifice."

No doubt, there is a need for senior leaders in Nepal to break the trend of sticking to power positions for life, but Bhattarai’s decision to quit just before the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) elections is certainly not a decision taken only with the spirit of sacrifice to let the way for newer faces in the party. First and foremost, it signifies yet another episode in his long-time rivalry with Prachanda.

Prachanda-Bhattarai rift

The Prachanda-Bhattarai relations used to be termed an "uneasy alliance" by the media and civil society and even by some inside their party, since the Maoists adopted the line of ’peace and constitution’ in the 2011 plenum. It was Bhattarai who stood by the line of peace. Prachanda had to endorse Bhattarai’s line as he wanted to portray a reformist attitude and also because it would lay way for generating consensus with other major parties in the country.

But Prachanda was well aware that the hardliner faction would reject this line and this could lead to a break-up in the party. The Maoist party split ultimately last year when the hardliner faction led by Mohan Baidya Kiran walked out and formed the CPN-Maoist.

Bhattarai’s appointment as the Prime Minister itself was a compromise. When he was the Premier, Bhattarai not only faced opposition from the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML but also from within his party. His expression of non-cooperation, as it has now come to light, was pointed more at his own party and Chairman than outside forces.

After the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (CA) last year, the rivalry between the two Maoist leaders intensified as Bhattarai claimed that there should be an all-party government under his leadership. Dahal, however, undermined the proposal and tried to sideline him in the party.

Fight over position

The latest dissatisfaction has emerged mainly over key positions in the party. Bhattarai’s resignation came after differences surfaced between him and Prachanda over the appointment of some office-bearers and members for key positions in the party’s central committee (CC), the politburo and the standing committee.

Chairman Prachanda proposed a nine-member team of office-bearers, a 25-member standing committee with seven alternate members, a 51-member politburo with 14 alternate members and a 98-member CC. While Krishna Bahadur Mahara has been named as a senior secretary, Barshaman Pun, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Giriraj Mani Pokharel are proposed as secretaries. Bhattarai’s wife and former Minister Hisila Yami has been named the party treasurer.

Media reports have claimed that while proposing names for appointments in the party committees, Dahal agreed to induct leaders referred by Bhattarai. However, when the proposal was presented in the CC for the final approval, it did not reflect Bhattarai’s options. Dahal’s plan to promote junior leaders such as Barshaman Pun and to induct other leaders in high positions also made Bhattarai unhappy, some Maoist leaders have said.

Bhattarai supporters consider him a senior leader. Bhattarai himself could now be eyeing for higher positions in the party. After the split, Bhattarai shared the post with Narayan Kaji Shrestha.

Bhattarai’s premiership

Having fought a 10-year bloody war and worked as a party ideologue, Bhattarai’s status as a Maoist leader got a major boost when in August 2011 he was elected the chief executive by the then CA in its capacity as Parliament. He headed the most unusual coalition with the Madhesi parties, which till then were supporting the Nepali Congress.

Bhattarai’s popularity was individualistic. The public, including the upper class in Kathmandu, threw their weight behind him. Expectations were high from an educated, intelligent and sober PM. An India-educated prime minister was also perceived to improve ties with India and work closely with China due to his party’s ideological affinity to the north.

Bhattarai took some popular steps. He engaged with the general public, set up developmental priorities and came down heavily on illegal constructions. He had gained much popularity even as the Finance Minister earlier.

Unfortunately, Bhattarai suffered loss of credibility due to rampant corruption resorted to by some of his key aides and also because of his attempts to promote some Maoist leaders charged with human rights violations. He faced severe criticism from international human rights bodies for protecting the rights’ violators.

The party, on the other hand, perceived Bhattarai to be ’pro-India’ and criticised the BIPPA (Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement) signed during his India visit. Baidya called the Agreement ’anti-national’.

Bitter past

Parchanda and Bhattarai have not had the best of relations in the past. And senior Maoists leaders feel that this continues to trigger mutual suspicion from time to time.

The Dahal faction viewed Bhattarai with suspicion during their under-ground days, regarded him as ’pro-India’ and even accused him of leaking crucial information. Although the two leaders have worked closely for over two decades, troubles in their relationship go back to the late 1990’s.

In 1985, Dahal left the CPN (Masal) led by Mohan Bikram Singh and formed Mashal party. The Mashal party was first led by Baidya and later the leadership was handed over to Dahal. But Bhattarai remained with Singh, stating that Dahal and Baidya lack clarity in ideology.

However, the formation of the CPN (Unity entre) in 1991 brought Dahal and Bhattarai together in the same party again. The first convention of the unity centre in 1992 endorsed the line of ’protracted people’s war.’ Dahal became the party chairman and Bhattarai the coordinator of the electoral front of the new party, the United People’s Front.

The party launched the insurgency in 1996, but even during the insurgency period, relations between the two leaders saw many ups and downs. The party’s second national convention in 2001 adopted ’Prachanda-path’ as the party’s guiding principle.

But Bhattarai saw this as an attempt to glorify Prachanda as the supreme ideologue. Not to forget, the relations between the two hit rock bottom in 2004 when Bhattarai dissented the official party line and was stripped of all his party positions and confined to protracted custody in Rolpa under the Maoist army.

After the Chunwang meet, the party accepted Bhattarai’s line and Dahal-Bhattarai relationship revived again. In Chunwang, the party decided to work together with parliamentary parties to overthrow the monarchy. Bhattarai was subsequently dispatched to New Delhi as a high-powered party emissary. He played a leading role in forging the 12-point understanding signed in 2005 in New Delhi.

But once again differences surfaced between them in both the Kharipati meeting in 2008 and the sixth extended plenum in 2010 over ideological issues. In these meetings, Dahal was in favour of declaring India as the party’s principal enemy, but Bhattarai was against it.

The crisis

The Maoist party faced its first crisis when Baidya broke away and formed a new party last year. Bhattarai’s resignation is the second major blow to the party in general and Prachanda in particular. The dispute between Bhattarai and Prachanda will hurt the poll prospects of the party, which is already facing stiff resistance from Baidya.

Although Prachanda retains overall control of the party, Bhattarai’s contribution cannot be undermined. Chairman Prachanda has to resolve this crisis before Nepal heads for CA polls. Prachanda has now said that it was a "mistake" to propose some of the names in the party’s key positions. After the row, the party has called for an extended meeting on July 19. This means there is only less than 15 days to persuade and bring Bhattarai back. The CA poll is scheduled for November 19.

(The writer is an Associate Fellow with Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan : India relations, the road ahead

Mihir Bhonsale

Bhutan, India’s friendly neighbour, is all set to go for polls on July 13, the second time after becoming a parliamentary democracy in 2008. The contest would be between the Druk Pheusum Tshogpa (DPT) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The outgoing Jigme Thinley Government has already unveiled a new roadmap for Bhutan’s external relations. The tiny kingdom has today diplomatic relations with 53 countries, up from 22 in 2008. Bhutan has also moved a ’happiness motion’ based on the concept of the Gross National Happiness GHP) in the UN and is working on a new development paradigm. The country also made an unsuccessful attempt to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2012.

From ’development’ to ’cooperation’

The changes in Bhutan’s foreign policy were facilitated by the revision of the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation signed with India in 1949. The changes were ushered in 2007, when the phrase ’Bhutan being guided by India in foreign relations’ was replaced by another: ’The two countries would work in close co-operation.’ Since then, Bhutan has made attempts at nurturing an independent foreign policy, as is evident from the Bhutan-China border talks.

Bhutan’s border-dispute with its northern neighbour came up for discussion when Prime Minister when Jigme Thinley met then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012. With the two countries jointly working on border demarcation, the Himalayan country is likely to establish full diplomatic relations with China in the years to come.

The country is growing economically at the rate of over eight percent, with the hydro-power constructions undertaken by India contributing a lion’s share. A concern for Bhutan has been its economy, which is reeling under credit-crunch and rupee crises. New Delhi has been Thimphu’s largest donor, with over 80 percent of the country’s aid coming from India.

Bhutan, which is now in its 11th Plan with a budget in excess of Nu 200 billion, is expecting an aid of Nu 46 billion from New Delhi. But India is yet to commit any aid -- far from the enthusiasm shown by New Delhi in 2008 for Bhutan’s 10th Five-Year Plan. In such a situation, the new government has a daunting task to raise funds for the 11th Plan.

Bhutan has entered into an agreement with India to build 10 hydro-power plants in the country which is expected to generate 10,000 MW of power by 2020. Much of the generated power would be sold to India.

Of these, three are under implementation. Modalities for another four have been decided. Modalities for the remaining three are yet to be decided upon. Hydropower-financing has become a source of concern for the decision-makers in Thimphu in the coming years as India wants the remaining plants to be constructed on a government-to-government basis.

India is likely to continue supporting Bhutan in its development projects in the future too. However, unlike the yesteryears when Bhutan could unconditionally count on India’s aid, New Delhi would look for mutually benefitting agreements and treaties. This was evident during India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Bhutan in January 2013 when Khurshid stressed on mutually benefitting bilateral agreements as a future guide for the Bhutan-India relationship.

The shift from development cooperation to a bilateral economic relationship is likely to adversely affect Bhutan, which has historically been dependent on foreign aid for meeting its domestic requirements. Also, only one major area of cooperation has been identified so far (hydro-power generation) for bilateral cooperation with India. Identifying and executing new areas of bilateral cooperation would be a test for both the countries.

Power-bloc dynamics

Improvement of relations between Bhutan and China are also likely to realign the power-bloc dynamic in South Asia. Bhutan is the only country in South Asia with whom the Chinese are yet to have diplomatic relations. Bhutan would also be extra-cautious as to not go the Nepal way in estranging India.

In the times to come, Bhutan’s political ambitions are likely to grow beyond India. Especially after becoming a parliamentary democracy, Bhutan’s special ties with India have raised eyebrows in Thimphu’s political circles.

However, the Bhutan’s monarch, King Jigme Kesar Namgyel Wangchuk, has reiterated his wish of continuing Thimphu’s close ties with India. In a country where serving the Tsa Wa Sum (king, country, people) is still valued, Bhutan is unlikely to be the China teacup.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Ethnic-cleansing’ behind happy face?

Bhutan’s transition from being an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy with its first elections in 2007 is questionable. The government authorised the establishment of only two political parties, both of whom were closely allied with the King. Even more problematically, many of the ethnic Nepalis remaining in the country, who constitute 40 percent of the population, are not granted the status of citizens and therefore cannot vote.

For the Nepali population of Bhutan, the kingdom is nowhere close to heaven on earth. Since the 1990’s, they have been terribly persecuted and their plight is barely known. In 1991 and 1992, over 80,000 Nepalis - part of the Lhotshampa ethnic group that has lived in Bhutan since the 1800’s - were dispossessed and moved into refugee camps in Nepal. They have not been allowed entry into Bhutan ever since. Bhutan refuses any responsibility, instead choosing to focus on promoting the country on its Gross National Happiness (GNH) index.

Over the last 15 years, the refugee population has increased to 100,000, and the UNHCR shifted its focus from repatriation to relocation of the refugees to third countries such as the US. The US alone has accepted 60,000 refugees and in 2007, the US Embassy in Bhutan voiced its con¬cern that Maoists could organ¬ise dis¬illu¬sioned eth¬nic Nepalis, par¬tic¬u¬larly in the refugee camps in neigh¬bour¬ing Nepal.

The Bhutanese Government today doesn’t deny the exodus, but insists it was "voluntary", completely denying the multiple accounts of human rights abuse which have been placed on record. Bhutan has a lot going for it as a largely peaceful and clean country, but elevating the country to a mythological level is clearly having harmful effects now because it erases the need for accountability.

< class="text11verdana">Source: www.first July 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Central bank sells USD for Rupee

The Royal Monetary Authority has sold US $ 200 million from the country’s foreign reserves to buy Indian rupee (INR) and pay off the short-term commercial borrowings from Indian banks that charge high interest rates.

The sale was done on June 26 when the INR was valued at 59.85 against the US dollar. It earned the central bank INR 11.93 billion.

It has been learnt that the RMA board decided to sell dollar, taking into account the favourable exchange rate of the USD against the INR, and considering the country’s foreign reserves in the US was earning only two percent interest.

The earnings from the sale will be used to clear the ballooning INR short-term borrowing, which today stands at INR 21.7 billion. Specifically, it will be used to pay the overdraft from the State Bank of India that had reached INR 9.3 billion and carries an interest rate of 9.7 percent.

The board also took into account the INR 5.4 billion borrowed from the SAARC currency-swap facility in March this year, which carries a lower interest rate at 6.5 percent and must be repaid in September.

By how much the INR borrowings would have decreased is not clear, but the RMA’s INR reserve is said to be around INR 6 billion after the sale. In June, the government did receive INR 3 billion from the government of India as excise duty refund for 2010-11.

With the sale, the foreign currency reserve stands at USD 724.75 million, enough to cover essential imports for the next 12 months, as required by the Constitution.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel, June 29, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Mechanism to deal with INR crunch

If everything goes as per the draft 11th Plan, INR hydropower grants that the new elected government receive will not enter the financial system, but instead be parked at Bank of Bhutan (BoB) branch in India, to make payment for purchase of hydropower project machinery directly.

"This parked fund will be the stabilisation fund for growing INR demand in the country and, doing so, will avoid all multiplying effects of higher INR burden the fund creates, when provided as liquidity in the market," Gross national happiness commission (GNHC) secretary, Karma Tshiteem said at the conference on macro-economy of Bhutan held yesterday at Royal Thimphu College.

"Today, when we talk about economic challenges, particularly the recent INR crunch, basically what we’re saying is our private sector development efforts haven’t really been commensurate with the success in other areas," he said, adding that bridging the gap was possible with donor assistance, but now, with it shrinking, the private sector is not able to generate economic activities to give revenue, create jobs and to get good returns.

"The INR problem is all about getting our economy going and the fact is, other than hydro and hydro dependent sectors, there has been very little growth," he said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel, June 29, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India urged to reconsider subsidy-cut

The Ministry of Economic Affairs, through the Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi, has requested the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India, to loeok into the withdrawal of subsidy on cooking gas and kerosene, whose prices will more than double and triple respectively, starting today.

"We’ve requested the MEA to intervene, considering the impact it will have on consumers in Bhutan, and to continue to subsidise these products, in view of the existing friendly relations between the two countries," the interim Government’s Advisor to the Economic Affairs Ministry, Dasho Tshewang Rinzin, said.

The Department of Trade and Commerce issued a statement, stating that prices of kerosene and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cooking gas will increase, because the Government of India had withdrawn subsidy on these items from July 1. To ensure uninterrupted supply of these two essential items, the revised rates for domestic LPG and kerosene will become effective from today, the circular stated.

According to the new rates, a refilled cylinder of domestic LPG cooking gas will cost Nu 1,145 in Phuentsholing and Nu 1,196 in Thimphu. Overall, the price of gas will go up by Nu 612 to Nu 693 all across the country.

Likewise, kerosene a litre has increased by Nu 40.30 to Nu 41.73 from the previous rates for different locations in the country. The kerosene price in these places was Nu 15.35, Nu 17, Nu 16.78 and Nu 13.86 respectively. "We’re requesting GoI to continue the subsidy and the process is ongoing at the moment," trade director, Sonam Wangchuk, said.

He said they were aware in the last week of June that the oil corporation in India was instructed by GoI not to issue subsidy to the items with effect from July 1. "To ensure ’uninterrupted supply’, we allowed our dealers to get the fuels at the unsubsidised rate, because LPG and kerosene are essential items, and the pressure could be felt in Bhutan within few days if there’s no supply," the trade director said. "There was no other option."

While no specific reason was given as to why the subsidy was lifted, some officials said GoI is going through budget constraints. As fuel products and raw materials are mostly imported, the constraint is mainly attributed to the depreciation of rupee value against dollar in the past year.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Search still on for two missing persons

Police in Chirang and Kokrajhar districts of the neighbouring Assam, India, are conducting joint search operations to reach the ’group’ suspected of kidnapping two Bhutanese men on the evening of June 27 from Shantipur. Shantipur is on the Gelephu-Santaibari road. The small town is 19km from the Gelephu town.

Additional Superintendent of Police in Chirang district, Nabaneet Mahanta, said police had identified some suspects, and the Kokrajhar and Chirang district police were combing the dense forest along the Indo-Bhutan border. Kokrajhar SP Sunil Kumar said the ’group’ was believed to be hiding in forests along the Indo-Bhutan border between Gelephu and Sarpang area.

"We’re trying our best to reach the suspected area from both sides of the forest," he said. The SP also said police and sashastra seema bal (SSB), India’s border security force, would conduct a massive search operation today and an encounter was likely.

The Natural Resource Development Corporation Ltd (NRDCL) Hilux was abandoned 3 km from Shantipur, and a kilometre and half away from the Santabari-Gelephu road. Local people in Shantipur informed police about the abandoned Hilux.

The 59-year old NRDCL regional manager in Dewathang and 33-year old driver were on their way to Thimphu from Samdrupjongkhar via Gelephu when the incident occurred. They were kidnapped between 5 and 6.30pm.

Although some sources in Gelephu said the national democratic front of Bodoland (NDFB) could be behind the kidnap, others said local miscreants, who were detained in Samdrupjongkhar for illegal timber smuggling and later released, might have kidnapped the two NRDCL employees.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel, July 1, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Support for US talks with Taliban

At a time when the US is seeking to directly engage the Taliban, India’s shift away from its own "no-truck-with Taliban" policy became evident on Tuesday, when External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said New Delhi supported dialogue with all sections of the Afghan society and armed opposition groups "including the Taliban".

Although Khurshid, who was addressing a meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, stressed that any dialogue in Afghanistan must recognise all internationally accepted red lines, his remarks here amplified the shift in India’s stand against Taliban’s inclusion in negotiations with Afghanistan.

Elaborating on the approach, Khurshid said, ’But this process must be a broad based Afghan-led Afghan-owned reconciliation process, within the framework of the Afghan Constitution and internationally-accepted red lines. This dialogue must involve all sections of the Afghan society and armed opposition groups, including the Taliban".

Until now, India had always maintained that it had strong reservations about talks with Taliban, arguing that the idea of "good Taliban" is an oxymoron. PM Manmohan Singh did say in a speech in Afghan Parliament in 2011 that India supported the reconciliation process in the war-torn country and that it would respect the choices made by its MPs, but refrained from mentioning Taliban.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, July 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Early trilateral sought on Afghanistan

As the 2014 deadline for NATO troop pullout from Afghanistan draws closer, New Delhi has sought an early meeting of the India-US-Afghanistan trilateral dialogue to consider ways and means to stabilise the situation in the battle scarred nation.

The matter was raised during the talks between US Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbin and Indian officials in New Delhi last week.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Tribune, July 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China to ’strive’ to settle border row

consultation mechanisms to ensure that incidents such as the April 15 incursion at Depsang do not recur.

Both sides on Friday and Saturday also discussed taking forward the slow-moving negotiations on the boundary dispute, and to strengthen the systems in place to ensure peace and tranquillity in border areas as they held the 16th round of talks between the Special Representatives (SRs) on the boundary question.

"We are making progress steadily. I think the proof is in the successful way we handled Depsang, and in the way we are discussing a new Border Defence Cooperation Agreement," said National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, who met with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, his counterpart as SR, on Friday and Saturday morning.

"Slowly, we are strengthening this edifice of both the dialogue mechanisms and the edifice of consultation mechanisms we have in place," Mr. Menon told reporters on Friday, describing his talks with Mr. Yang as "productive, constructive and very forward-looking".

Earlier, Mr Yang said in Beijing on Friday he was ready to "break new ground" with India on border negotiations.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, The Times of India, June 29, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Prisoners’ lists exchanged with Pak

India and Pakistan on Monday exchanged lists of prisoners lodged in each other’s jails, adhering to six year old protocol that lacks clauses to ensure humane treatment to inmates.

Since the list was last exchanged six months ago, at least four prisoners had their sentences cut short by premature deaths, two of them have been bludgeoned to death in quick succession.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, July 2, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’No’ to Snowden’s asylum plea

With no firm guidelines for considering asylum requests, India took the safer political option of staying out of the diplomatic storm swirling out of fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden’s request for political asylum made to several countries.

The Foreign Office here confirmed receiving a communication requesting asylum from Mr. Snowden at its mission in Moscow. "We have carefully examined the request. Following that examination we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the request," said an official spokesperson.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, July 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ministry against 49 pc Defence FDI

Rejecting the Commerce Ministry’s proposal to raise FDI in defence from 26 percent to 49 percent, Defence Minister A K Antony has written a letter saying the move will be a "retrograde" step and "stymie" growth of the domestic industry while increasing dependence on foreign manufacturers.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SP, policemen killed in Maoist attack

A Superintendent of Police and four other policemen were killed in an ambush by Maoists in kathikund forest area of Dumka district on Tuesday afternoon.

According to reports, Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar, 45, was returning from a meeting with DIG Priya Dubey in Dumka when his vehicle was attacked by Maoists between 2.30 and 3 pm. Preliminary reports indicated that Maoists began firing on the convoy from higher ground. There were no reports of any blasts. Four policemen are reported to have suffered serious injuries.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, July 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cong-JMM govt for Jharkhand

Nearly six months after President’s rule was imposed in Jharkhand, the state is all set to get a new government.

After weeks of deliberations, the Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) reached an agreement on Tuesday and decided to stake claim to form the government led by Shibu Soren’s son, Hemant Soren.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, July 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ishrat encounter faked by cops, IB, says CBI

Ending weeks of suspense over its probe into the June 2004 killing of 19-year old Mumbai student Ishrat Jahan and three men, the CBI on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against seven Gujarat Police officers saying the four were abducted and eliminated in a "fake" encounter in collusion with the Intelligence Bureau.

The CBI claimed that the FIR about the encounter-which said the four were Lahkar-e-Toiba terrorists out to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi-was drafted before it took place. It alleged that the killing was a "joint operation" of the Gujarat Police and Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB), which works under the Centre.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">FM asks banks to cut lending rates

Finance Minister P Chidambaram has asked public sector banks to review their lending rates to see if they cannot be reduced.

"We have advised banks to look at the basic rate," Mr Chidambaram said after a meeting with heads of public sector banks and financial institutions.

"Reduction in base rate will be powerful stimulus to boost credit growth," he said adding that unless the base rate is cut, interest rates cannot be brought down.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Tribune, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rs 1.1-lakh crore for infra projects

In a fresh attempt to provide a push to the infrastructure sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday set a target to roll out projects worth Rs 1.15 lakh crore in public-private-partnership mode by the end of this calendar year, including the setting up of 60 airports and upgrading Bhubaneswar and Imphal to international status at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore.

The other major projects include monitoring the construction of Mumbai’s Rs 30,000 crore elevated rail corridor and power and transmission projects worth Rs 40,000 crore. The targets were set at a meeting called by Singh to finalise infrastructure projects for 2013-14. It was attended by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and ministers of power, coal, railways, roads, shipping and civil aviation.

However, for the second straight year, the Prime Minister’s infrastructure review did not set a target for the road sector, which failed to reach its goal of 9,500 km for 2012-13.

"The Prime Minister has highlighted the need to ramp up investment in infrastructure to revive investor sentiment. For this purpose, a target of rolling out PPP projects of at least Rs 1 lakh crore in the next six months was set.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, June 29, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">FII outflows more than double

Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) have pulled out a record $ 7.53 billion-Rs 44,162 crore with the dollar at Rs 60-from the Indian debt and equity markets this month, more than double the previous high of $ 3.53 billion in October, 2008 when India suffered the after-effects of the financial crisis triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the US.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, June 29, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Core sector shows meagre growth

The eight key infrastructure sector industries grew by just 2.3 percent in May, data from the Ministries of Commerce and Industry showed.

This is sharp slowdown when compared to the data for the same month last year which recorded 7.2 percent growth. The Ministry attributed the decline to the contraction witnessed in the production of coal, crude oil, natural gas and fertiliser gas.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, July 2, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">26 applications for bank licence

The Reserve Bank of India has received 26 applications for new banking licences until Monday, the deadline for making a pitch, with a mix of corporate house led by Tatas, the Aditya Birla group, the Rahul Bajaj group, Videocon, the Anil Ambani group, and Larsen& Toubro in the race to set up a commercial bank.

Others in the fray include a government owned department, state owned firms, a handful of non-banking financial companies and a couple of micro-finance institutions. Among those who have decided to give it a miss are Reliance Industries (RIL) and the Mahindra and Mahindra group.

< class="text11verdana">Source:The Indian Express, July 2, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Plan to build civilian plane

After spending years in the pipeline, India’s plan to build its own civilian aircraft is set to take off by September, with the Government expected to give its final nod to creating a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for this project in the next couple of weeks.

This, according to sources, is among the showcase projects in the package planned to boost manufacturing sector. Just like the Rs 1.15 lakh crore push announced for the infrastructure sector, the government is keen to send a strong signal to the manufacturing sector through a similar set of measures, they said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, July 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chabahar pact to be fast-tracked

China is quietly intruding into India’s geopolitical space in Iran. It recently offered Tehran credit facility of Euro 60 million-almost equal to the proposed Indian investment in the revamp of Chabahar port-which may muscle out India from the project.

Beijing’s covert credit offer is seen by the Indian foreign office as a first step by China before it bids to finance the port project. "China could finance the project to keep India out of Chabahar and protect its investment in Gwadar port (In Pakistan)," it informed the Ministry of Shipping.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, July 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">$ 12 b trade deficit with China

The India-China trade deficit increased by 34 per cent to reach $ 12 billion in the first five months of the year, presenting a bleak picture for Indian exports as bilateral trade continued to decline, denting hopes of achieving a trade volume of $ 100 billion by 2015.

According to the data released by Chinese Customs, the India-China bilateral trade touched $ 26.5 billion till May 2013. The trade deficit for India has widened year-on-year to $ 12 billion, up by 34 per cent. The trade volume was lowered by over $ two billion compared to last year.

Bilateral trade fell to about $ 66.7 billion last year from around $ 74 billion in 2012. The trade deficit touched about $ 30 billion last year, causing concerns in India.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Economic Times, July 2, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bangladesh power by August

After the progress in its power cooperation initiative with Pakistan, the Government’s electricity diplomacy effort on the eastern border with Bangladesh is slated to break new ground, with a mid-August deadline being set for the completion of the ambitious high-capacity transmission link between the electricity grids of the two countries.

Bangladesh has also reiterated its readiness to pick up equity in joint venture hydroelectric projects in India’s North Eastern states, especially Arunachal Pradesh, and has furnished a list of jointly implementable hydro power projects in the region.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, July 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Mars orbiter set for launch in October

After perfectly executing the PSLV-C22 mission that put the nation’s first dedicated navigation satellite the IRNSS-1A in orbit, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is now confidently looking forward to a close encounter with Mars.

Among the string of launches lined up for the year is the PSLV-C25 mission carrying the Mars orbiter.

"The Mars mission is getting ready at the ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore and the launch will be around October 21 from Sriharikota," ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said while addressing journalists after the successful launch of the IRNSS-1A.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">First navigational satellite launched

In a landmark late night journey into a new era of space application, India on Monday successfully launched its first dedicated navigation satellite using the Polar Satellite Launch vehicle which blasted from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.

Precisely at 11.41 pm, PSLVC22 lifted off in a prefect textbook launch, carrying IRNSS-1A satellite, painting a dense golden flame in the dark canvas of the sky.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Indian Express, July 2, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Prahar to replace Prithvi missile

India is planning to replace its 150 km range Prithvi ballistic missiles with the newly developed quick-reaction Prahar missiles. "We are withdrawing the Prithvi missiles and will replace them with Prahar missiles, which are more capable and have more accuracy," DRDO Chief Avinash Chander said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, July 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">INS Trikand inducted

In tune with its operational drive to turn "stealthy" because surprise and deception are crucial in modern-day warfare, the Navy inducted its latest guided-missile stealth frigate INS Trikandon Saturday.

INS Trikand is the last of the six stealth frigates ordered from Russia. The Navy had earlier inducted three 4,000-tonne Talwar-class stealth frigates ( Talwar, Trishul and Tabar) from Russia in 2003-2004.

Then, impressed by the punch the frigates packed, India ordered another three (Teg, Tarkash and Trikand) under a $1.15 billion contract inked in 2006.

On Saturday, Navy Vice-Chief Vice admiral R K Dhawan commissioned INS Trikand at a ceremony at Kaliningrad in Russia, which was also attended by the Indian ambassador Ajai Malhotra and other top Indian and Russian officials.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, June 29, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ilyas Ibrahim leaves PPM

Cabinet Minister during Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration Ilyas Ibrahim has left the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). Ilyas’ departure from PPM coincides with rumours that he has been offered by Gasim Ibrahim to be the vice presidential candidate for Jumhooree Party. When asked about the rumours, Ilyas said that he does not wish to answer at this point in time.

Ilyas Ibrahim said that he decided to leave PPM because he does not agree with the party’s recent decisions in parliament. He also said that he wants to distance himself from PPM at this time and that he has no intention of joining a political party any time soon.

"I decided to leave PPM because I do not agree with the way PPM is being represented in parliament. But as of right now, I have no intention of joining any other party," Ilyas Ibrahim said.

A tweet by PPM President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom today confirmed that Ilyas had left the party. He stated that Ilyas was a valuable asset for the party, and thanked him for his service since its founding.

"This is a sad day for PPM. Hon Ilyas has left the party. He was such a big asset to us. I thank him for being with us from the beginning," Maumoon’s tweet read.

Ilyas Ibrahim held a number of portfolios during the Maumoon administration, including the Minister of Atolls, Minister of Health and the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the military. He is the brother-in-law of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Sun Online, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">AP threatens to quit coalition

Adhaalath Party has said that they might have to leave President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s ’Forward with the Nation’ coalition unless proper campaign activities for the coalition are launched. A senior official of Adhaalath Party told Sun Online on the condition of anonymity, that this was discussed at a meeting of the party council.

"Some members who participated in the meeting expressed discontent over the manner in which campaign activities are being carried out, and said that a solution must be sought to this problem. They also proposed leaving the coalition unless this problem is solved. But no decisions were made at tonight’s meeting," the official said.

He said that it was also decided at the secret meeting that information regarding this matter would officially be provided to the media by President of Adhaalath Party Imran Abdullah. Of late, some senior members of Adhaalath Party have shared their discontent with various groups, regarding the activities of the coalition.

The party has not officially decided to leave the coalition yet. ’Forward with the Nation’ coalition consists of Adhaalath Party, President Waheed’s Gaumee Itthihad Party (GIP), his vice-presidential running-mate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), and Special Advisor to the President Dr Hassan Saeed’s Gaumee Party.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Sun Online, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Soldiers have to see if C-in-C will be after them: Minister

Minister of Defence and National Security Mohamed Nazim has said that the military must be thoughtful of who comes to power for the next five years and that they have to consider whether their new commander-in-chief is a person who might run after them with a baton.

Speaking at the 121st anniversary event of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), Nazim urged all soldiers to force themselves to evaluate the character of their choice of candidate, before casting their vote.

"We are facing a very feverous period in the presidential elections. Although the Constitution and the military law prohibits soldiers from taking part in politics, soldiers too have the right to vote, a right entitled to all Maldivians above the age of eighteen. I believe that soldiers and their families should exercise this right with due consideration. Since they’re voting to elect their commander-in-chief, soldiers have to ask themselves before they cast their vote, consider the character of the person for whom they’re voting. You have to consider if the commander-in-chief has the audacity to act patiently during difficult circumstances, or if he will run after the soldiers with a baton," Nazim said.

Continuing his remarks, Nazim said that the Maldives military has a long and respectable history and that the person who takes over the institution must to hold certain characters.

"Thus, I would like to advice all soldiers and their families to carefully consider who is best suited for the role of commander-in-chief, before you cast your vote. I have no doubt that if you lose this opportunity, the country might have to face much dire times," Nazim said.

The Defence Minister said that the MNDF institution has to learn certain lessons from the past and that as a person who had served the institution for 23 years, the day of the change of government is his strongest memory, which is unlikely to soon fade away.

He said that on the day of the change of government, he went to’ Bandaarakoshi’ (military headquarters) with the intention to try and aid the nation, feeling that he simply could not sit idly after watching the pictures he saw on TV. He said that he would have ended up in jail, had gone differently.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Sun Online, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Probe into party membership fraud

Police have said that they are finding it difficult to identify the perpetrators in a recent case where a number of political party membership forms were discovered to be unauthentic.

The police said that one of their main handicaps in finding enough evidence for prosecution is the manner in which the forms are processed by the Elections Commission (EC). Addressing a news conference in Iskandar Building, Head of Fraud and Financial Crime Chief Inspector Abdulla Shatheeh said that some of the forms at the EC did not have fingerprint stamps and that even if they did, the police fingerprint database is not extensive enough to identify all of them.

The EC mandatory criterion for all membership forms to have fingerprint stamps was disregarded temporarily following an order by the Parliament Committee on Independent Institutions. It came into effect again after the recent law on political parties came into effect.

Speaking on the issue, Chief Inspector Shatheeh said the majority of people under whose names the membership forms were submitted had denied filling out the forms, and that the people who had signed as witnesses have also denied giving their signatures. He said that they have collected handwriting samples and fingerprints from the people they have questioned.

"In reality, when we think about the registration process for the political party members, the registration application process and the form evaluation process, we’re finding it difficult to find enough evidence to accuse and prosecute someone? It is very difficult to determine whether the person who signed as the witness is he himself or someone else, it is difficult to identify. Often there are no fingerprints," Shatheeh said.

Police are looking into a total of 47 membership forms of which, 46 were submitted to the police by the EC. The remaining form was submitted by a private individual. Police said that so far, they have been able to solve only one case regarding the issue. They said that three similar cases were investigated in 2011 and that only a single individual was prosecuted.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Sun Online, July 4, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Tension between army, UWSA

Tension is mounting between the army and the United Wa State Army (UWSA) in Tachilek district, southern Shan State, but it is less likely to translate into a fight, say military observers. Tension has remained high since May when the army occupied the UWSA owned rubber plantation in Mongyawn. Also during this month, tension escalated between the two sides with the army demanding that the UWSA move some of its military bases back from disputed areas.

As the UWSA turned down the demand of the army on the retreat from Lwekaungmu base in Mongton, it has still been surrounded by the army since the end of June, Hsam Tun, the second in-charge of UWSA’s External Relations Department told Shwehintha News Agency . "The army has surrounded some bases of the UWSA for one week, but has not attacked them yet. Our leaders have now been in Kengtung for negotiation purpose. The army has informed us to address the situation, but has not done it so far," he added.

Despite the tension between the army and the UWSA, few analysts think this will translate into a full battle. The problem has been a long standing one between the two groups. Government’s attitude towards the Wa may be one of hostility. But, because of the approaching rainy season few think clashes would take place, at least till the end of the rainy season.

Also the international community is keeping a close watch on that. There might be pressure on the UWSA with respect to narcotic drugs, said Aung Kyaw Zaw who is close to ethnic armed groups who is also living along Myanmar-China border.

An unconfirmed report on July 3 said the UWSA’s liaison offices Kengtung and Tachilek were closed.

< class="text11Verdana">Source:, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New international airport

Myanmar is not kidding around with its plan to welcome international visitors - after committing half a billion dollars to develop its tourism industry, the country announced plans for a new international airport project, which will cost $1 billion, and is set to be completed in December 2017.

By 2020, Myanmar is projected to host 7.5 million tourists annually, a figure far larger than the country’s current infrastructure is prepared to handle. As such, Myanmar is planning to invest heavily to build new airports and add to existing one.

The Hanthawady International Airport will be located in Myanmar’s central Bago region, covering an area of 9,690 acres, according to Bernama, Malaysia’s news agency. Bago is a historical region of Myanmar with sights dating as far back as the eighth century, and has been popular with the tourists.

The project, which will be implemented starting September, is now in the bidding stage. Just seven of the 30 companies who were interested in investing in the project were selected based on their financial strength, experience and personnel skill and equipment resources.

A winning bid will be selected in July, and the winner will begin the project in September according to Bernama. The airport will have an annual passenger capacity of 12 million, expandable for up to 35 million passengers if necessary and will be designed to accommodate Airbus A-380 and cargo planes.

Myanmar currently has three international airports at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: International Business Times, July 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rioters renew violence

Rioters torched two houses in a coastal town in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in the latest violence between Buddhists and minority Muslims, a government spokesman said, but a resident said security forces had restored order.

At least 237 people have been killed in Myanmar in religious violence over the past year and about 150,000 people have been displaced. Most of the victims were Muslim and the most deadly incidents happened in Rakhine State, where about 800,000 Rohingya Muslims live, according to the United Nations.

In the latest flare-up, about 50 people gathered outside a police station in Thandwe on the west coast on Sunday after hearing a woman had been raped by "a man of another religion", government spokesman Ye Htut said on his Facebook page.

While the Thandwe riot was relatively minor, similar incidents in the past have led to larger and more deadly confrontations.

The United Nations said 140,000 people remain displaced in the state after clashes in June and October last year.

< class="text11Verdana">Source:, July 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Stem anti-Muslim violence: Malaysia

Malaysia urged Myanmar on Sunday to take stronger action to prevent persecution of Muslims and bring the perpetrators to justice, the latest sign that the inter-communal violence is straining ties in Southeast Asia.

"Myanmar has to address the problem," Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told reporters at a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministers in Brunei, making a rare intervention in another member’s internal affairs.

"I know it’s complex but they have to address the problem in a transparent manner so that we can see what actions had been taken...I think the perpetrators have to be brought to justice and so that it does not occur again." Anifah said he had been satisfied by his Myanmar counterpart’s response that the government was taking the issue seriously.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Thompson Reuters, June 30, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nawaz Sharif visits China

Nawaz Sharif’s first foreign visit during his third tenure as Pakistan’s Prime Minister was to Beijing. Sharif, who was given a warm reception when he arrived in Beijing for the five-day visit, described Pakistan’s relationship with China as "sweeter than honey". The Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling Sharif an old friend of China as well as a good friend, good brother and good partner, said strengthening strategic cooperation with Islamabad was a priority for China’s diplomacy with countries on its periphery.

Sharif met both the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Prime Minister Li Keqiang. He also held meetings with leaders from state-owned heavyweights the China Investment Corporation sovereign wealth fund, China Development Bank and China Power Investment Corporation.

A series of agreements were signed by ministers of the two countries. Among these was a "long term plan" over the economic corridor, and agreements on technology, polio prevention and solar housing. An agreement was also signed for cooperation between Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The two countries also agreed a $44 million project to erect a fibre optic cable from the China-Pakistan border to Rawalpindi, which aims to give Pakistan more connectivity to international networks. Sharif said that Pakistan welcomed China’s assistance and assured them that his government would work towards ensuring a friendly environment for the Chinese investments.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, July 4-5, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC orders Musharaff trial

The Supreme Court of Pakistan disposed all petitions this week seeking the initiation of a treason case against former President and army chief, Gen Pervez Musharraf. A three-member Bench headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja concluded the hearing and ordered the federal government to investigate the case.

The court expressed confidence that the federal government would honour its undertaking of following the law in respect of treason charges without unnecessary delay.

Attorney-General Munir A Malik informed the court that a special committee had been set up for the purpose of investigation and that work had already begun.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Dawn, July 3, 2013, The Express Tribune, July 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bailout package with IMF

Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed on a three year bailout loan package for Pakistan worth US$ 5.3 billion.

In order to secure the loan package, Pakistan agreed to key IMF demands by agreeing to withdraw tax exemptions to the wealthy. The review and withdrawal of tax exemptions enjoyed by the country’s wealthy and influential lobbies will be a ’structural benchmark’ or condition of the new IMF programme.

The aim of the programme is to bring down the fiscal deficit - which neared nine percent last year - to a more sustainable level and reform the energy sector to help resolve severe power cuts that have sapped growth potential.

The IMF expects Pakistan to reach a budget deficit target of six per cent of gross domestic product as part of its bailout loan programme. An agreement with the State Bank of Pakistan was also designed to help rebuild forex reserves and keep inflation at acceptable levels.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, July 3-4, 2013, The Express Tribune, July 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Prisoners lists exchanged with India

The Indian and Pakistani government exchanged a list of prisoners residing in their respective jails this week.

According to the list, a total of 491 Indian prisoners are currently held in Pakistani jails as opposed to 386 Pakistani prisoners being held in India. The Consular Agreement that Pakistan and India signed in May 2008 dictates that the list of prisoners should be exchanged between the two countries twice a year.

An inquiry will now be initiated to ascertain the jail terms of the prisoners to identify their time of release. Last year, Pakistan released 46 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture and is currently making arrangements for the release of 11 Indian civil prisoners.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, July 1, 2013

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India seeks 13-A implementation

India has emphasised to Sri Lanka the need to fully implement the constitutional provision dealing with devolution of powers to provinces without dilution and to go beyond it to ensure meaningful development there, on a day the Lankan government announced the much-awaited election in Tamil-dominated Northern Province.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid conveyed India’s views to visiting Lankan Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, who informed Khurshid about the announcement on the conduct of elections.

Expressing his appreciation for the announcement, Khurshid also "emphasized on the need to fully implement the provisions of 13th Amendment (13-A) and to go beyond it so as to ensure meaningful development of Sri Lanka. He urged Rajapaksa not to do anything to dilute the provisions of the 13th Amendment," official sources said.

On his part, the Lankan Minister expressed his appreciation for the vast number of projects that are being undertaken by India especially in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

"He said that there was great appreciation amongst the people of Sri Lanka for the variety of projects being undertaken, especially the housing project which was proceeding extremely well," the sources said.

Concerned over reports of Sri Lanka considering removal of land and police powers prior to the northern elections, Khurshid had spoken to his Lankan counterpart G L Peiris recently and underlined the need to leave the 13A unchanged, urging Colombo not to take any step contrary to its own commitments relating to the Amendment.

Apart from Khurshid, Rajapaksa held meetings with National Security Advisor Shivshanker Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Menon to visit Colombo

India’s National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon is scheduled to visit Colombo next week to hold talks on a tri-lateral maritime security treaty among India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, officials said in New Delhi. Menon’s visit to Lanka comes close on the heels of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s younger brother Basil Rajapaksa’s visit to India.

Following Basil Rajapaksa to New Delhi, India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Kurshid will visit Sri Lanka soon to discuss the political situation in the country.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, July 5, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">More LLRC ideas for Action Plan

The Sri Lankan Government has decided to incorporate an additional 53 recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report in the National Plan of Action. These additional recommendations overlap other recommendations or form part of the recommendations contained in the National Human Rights Action Plan.

Addressing the weekly post-Cabinet media briefing, at the Information Department Auditorium, Government spokesman, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented the proposal approved by the Cabinet of ministers to fully implement the recommendations stated in the LLRC report.

The Minister said that the government had set up the National Action Plan to implement 91 LLRC recommendations to be implemented through 22 state institutions.

According to the new Cabinet decision, 53 recommendations, including problems of international humanitarian law, human rights, welfare of detainees, internally displaced people and problems among the Muslim community in the Northern and Eastern Provinces had been added to the National Action Plan, Minister Rambukwella said. He said that the Government was planning to implement LLRC recommendations in three stages--short, medium and long terms.

Rambukwella said that the Cabinet had also approved the second phase of loans for rehabilitated LTTE cadres seeking self-employment in keeping with a proposal by Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera.

The Media Minister said that the government had rehabilitated 11,573 former LTTE cadres and provided Rs. 300 million in loans through state banks for them to start a self-employment projects in the Northern and Eastern provinces. "This time around the Cabinet has approved Rs. 525 million to provide loans to another 4,724 rehabilitated persons for self-employment projects" Rambukwella said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island, July 4, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Power-sharing scheme creates tension

Afghanistan claimed that Pakistan floated the idea of a power sharing arrangement between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The arrangement envisages a form of federal set up in which power in some provinces would be ceded to the Taliban.

Such a suggestion is said to have been made by the Pakistani national security adviser Sartaj Aziz during his meeting with the Afghan ambassador Umer Daudzai. It caused massive outrage in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Ershad Ahmadi said, "e believe this federalism is a means for the Pakistanis to achieve what they could not achieve through their proxy (the Taliban) on the battlefield". Ahmadi also said that the Taliban’s Doha office reflected Pakistan’s plan to enhance the international prestige of the Taliban. "There are elements within the Pakistani government who have a grand design of using the peace process as a means to undermine the Afghan state and establish little fiefdoms around the country in which the Taliban - its most important strategic asset in Afghanistan - play an influential role," he said. Karzai also stated that "delivering a province or two to the Taliban" would be perceived as an invasion by the Afghan people.

However, such an arrangement was refuted by both Pakistan and the Taliban. The Pakistan Foreign Ministry claimed that these "allegations are incorrect". The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aizaz Chaudhury claimed that Pakistan "wants to see a peaceful, united, prosperous and stable Afghanistan" and in order to facilitate that has been playing a constructive role with respect to the Afghan reconciliation process.

The Taliban also said that it was against the feudal system in Afghanistan and has long been campaigning to remove feudalism from the country. The statement further added that feudalism was imposed on Afghan people with the invasion of US forces and creation of government under the leadership of Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, July 2, 2013; Khaama Press, July 2, 2013; The Express Tribune, July 1-2, 2013; Tolo News, July 2, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pact with US linked to talks with Taliban

Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced this week that negotiations over the Bilateral Security Agreement with the US would resume only after the Taliban agreed to enter into direct talks with the Afghan High Peace Council. Karzai had suspended talks with the US following the opening of the Taliban office in Doha. This decision was taken following a meeting held by Karzai with leading political figures in Afghanistan.

According to a statement from the Presidential Palace, it was agreed that the security pact with the US must guarantee Afghanistan’s stability and economic growth and the equipment of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The statement also stressed that the US must come to the aid of Afghanistan in case of foreign aggression or when the country feels that its territorial integrity, independence and security is threatened.

A final decision on signing of the accord with the US was subject to the will of the Afghan people, the meeting agreed.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Pajhwok, June 30, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US aid for Air Force

US assistance has led to the Shindand Air Base in Herat to be equipped with top flight training technology. The development is expected to enhance the training capabilities of the Air Force immediately, but also in the long-term, help train a new generation of Afghan military pilots.

According to Afghan Air Force officials, high-tech flight simulators were the most important new additions to their training facilities. These simulators will allow pilots to practice complicated procedures and develop their skills in a safe, virtual environment.

The full package of equipment procured by the US is reported as costing around $25 million. In addition to the new equipment, four types of flying courses are being taught for Afghan pilots at the base. Shindand Air Base officials said that 62 pilots are undergoing intensive training and 124 pilots have been retrained already.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Pajhwok, July 2, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Dhaka to hand over Chetia to Delhi

India’s long pending demand for extradition of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) leader Anup Chetia is all set to be realised soon. Bangladesh this week declared to hand over the Chetia to India anytime. Authorities in Dhaka have already completed the process to hand over the ULFA leader.

Chetia will be handed over to India in accordance with the agreements on transfer of sentenced persons (TSP) and mutual legal assistance (MLA) in criminal matters. According to these treaties, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) is likely to hand him over to the Border Security Forces (BSF) of India.

Chetia was arrested in Dhaka on December 21, 1997 on charges of violating the Foreigners Act and the Passports Act of the country. The ULFA general secretary had been charged with illegally entering Bangladesh and possessing two forged Bangladeshi passports, an unauthorised satellite telephone and unauthorised foreign currencies. He was sentenced to seven years in jail by a Dhaka court. Since then Chetia has been in the Bangladeshi prision.

It can be recalled that Bangladesh earlier had arrested ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa who was handed over to the Indian authority.

< class="text11Verdana">Source:The Independent, July 1, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Jatiya Party to fight election alone

Jatiya Party (JP) chairman and former military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad said this week that his party was going to contest the national election on its own, snapping ties with the ruling 14-party alliance at any time. He further observed that politics now days is matter of tactics. His party have to win the fight for power.

Ershad added that nobody used to enquire about this party in the past. But now everyone is taking his party into account. Soon he will inform the 14-party alliance about snapping of the ties. Ershad made this comments during a meeting of his party in Dhaka.

Interestingly, commenting about the Shahbagh movement he observed that the movement split the nation into two. He informed that he told Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to stop movement. Following this movement the country has been divided into theists and atheists.

JP has been a major coalition partner of Awami League 14 party alliance.

< class="text11verdana">Source:The Independent, July 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Plans to review labour law

Reacting to the United States last week cut its trade privileges over a deadly garment factory collapse Bangladesh as decided to review already announced labour law reforms laws. Bangladesh expressed outrage at President Barack Obama’s decision to cut the country’s duty-free trade privileges over the building collapse in April that killed 1,129 people.

The US said Bangladesh had failed to protect the fundamental rights of workers, but Bangladeshi officials, desperate to persuade Western retailers to stay put, insisted it had drawn up legislative reforms since the disaster, the country’s worst industrial accident.

Bangladesh’s cabinet, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, this week set up a committee to again review the labour laws. The committee will suggest further improvements to the labour laws taking into consideration labour rights, investment, productivity and the views of the importing countries.

The US, the European Union and the International Labour Organisation have expressed concern over safety-related issues. Big brand retailers from the US and the EU together buy some 80 percent of Bangladesh’s $20 billion worth of garment shipments annually. The government approved draft legislation in May just weeks after the disaster, which underscored appalling safety and other working conditions for employees of the country’s 4,500 garment plants.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: AFP, July 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Armed forces to be modernised

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina this week said her government is pledge-bound to ensure the overall development of the country as well as modernise the armed forces. The Prime Minister made this comment during a function at Dhaka Cantonment.

During her speech Hasina mentioned the vision 2021 of the government to turn the country into a middle-income digital nation based on science and technology education. "The country’s armed forces will be made time befitting with training and equipment," she added. In this context, she referred to the biggest-ever one billion-dollar arms deal with Russia under which Bangladesh will procure arms at cheaper rates and said it will increase the strength of the country’s armed forces.

These modern arms would pave the way for getting more responsibility in the UN peacekeeping missions which will enhance the image of the armed forces.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Dipu Moni-Khurshid meeting

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khushid met this week on the sidelines of the 20th meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) at Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei. During the meeting Dipu Moni expressed her concern about the killing of Bangladeshis by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) along the borders and observed it is an emotive issue for the people of Bangladesh. She also stressed on the need for making the coordinated border management plan more effective.

Responding to Dipu Moni’s concern Khushid said that the number of incidents of killing at the border had gone down, but noted that any single incident of death between two friendly and neighbouring countries was totally unacceptable.He also said that Indian government would continue with counselling and motivational efforts with the BSF to avoid any such incident at the border.

On issue of water Khurshid reaffirmed that India would take no unilateral decision on the Himalayan component of the common rivers that might adversely affect Bangladesh. He also offered to share more comprehensive information with Bangladesh on the proposed hydro-electric projects in Meghalaya.

Dipu Moni suggested setting up joint mechanisms involving experts from both sides to understand the implications of the projects. Khurshid proposed that the two sides should work on developing a long term Vision Plan for power generation and sharing.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, July 2, 2013


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhattarai quits party posts

Former Prime Minister of Nepal Baburam Bhattarai has announced his resignation as the Vice-chairman of United CPN (Maoist) following a dispute with party supremo Prachanda.

Bhattarai’s resignation came after differences surfaced between him and party Chairman Prachanda over appointments of some members in key positions in the party.

Prachanda called a high level meeting with senior leaders of the party immediately after Bhattarai’s resignation in an attempt to settle the intra-party squabble and finalise the appointments. But the matter is yet to be resolved.

After his resignation, Bhattarai said that he has sacrificed the Vice-chairman’s post to "build a culture of sacrifice inside the party and promote the new generation".

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Kantipur, PTI, June 30, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">CPN-Maoist to boycott polls

The Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist has formally announced to boycott the Constituent Assembly (CA) election, while at the same time leaving the doors open for talks.

The party central committee (CC) meeting in Pokhara on July 2 concluded that the upcoming CA election is merely a ploy to "Sikkimise" Nepal and urged the people and the nationalist forces to boycott the polls.

The party has also decided to mobilise full force across the country to foil the polls. The CPN-Maoist has also decided to make public its "boycott manifesto" by July 25. Party leaders said the boycott campaign will prepare the environment either for "revolt" or for "negotiations".

< class="text11verdana">Source: Republica, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Armed Tarai outfits merge

A dozen armed underground outfits, which are involved in various criminal activities in the Tarai for the past several years, have forged an alliance to disrupt the upcoming Constituent Assembly election.

They reached the agreement after a weeklong conference, which concluded on July 3 at an undisclosed location somewhere in the Indian state of Bihar.

A total of 13 outfits, including the Jaya Krishna Goit-led Akhil Tarai Mukti Morcha, Rajan Mukti´s Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha, Nagraj´s Tarai Cobra, Prashant´s Tarai Rastriya Mukti Morcha, Jivan´s Madhes Mukti Tiger, among others, had taken part in the meet.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Republica, July 3, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Khurshid visit this week

Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid is arriving in Kathmandu for a two-day official visit from July 9.

He will be holding a series of meetings with President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, Chairman of Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi, his Nepali counterpart Madhav Prasad Ghimire and top leaders of major political parties.

The visit is taking place as the Regmi-led government prepares for fresh Constituent Assembly polls on November 19. The visit will also see the announcement of a variety of Indian aid including vehicles, electronic voting machines and other logistics for the election.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Republica, July 4, 2013

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nepalis injured in Kabul attack

Nepali nationals narrowly escaped death on July 2 when Taliban militants exploded a truck bomb and indiscriminately opened fire at a NATO supply company´s compound in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Nepali workers serving with the DynCorp International said four Nepalese were injured while trying to run away from the incident site immediately after the truck bomb rocked the compound of Hotel Pinnacle near Kabul Airport. While one of the injured has already been discharged from the hospital, three others are currently undergoing treatment at a local US Military Hospital.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Republica, July 2, 2013

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Nepal: Akanshya Shah;
Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale;
India:Dr.Satish Misra;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Pakistan & Afghanistan: Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh: Dr.Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

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