MonitorsPublished on Nov 14, 2014
Myanmar hosted US President Barack Obama this week in Nay Pyi Taw for the ASEAN and East Asia Summit. Obama, who visited the former 'paraiah State' for the second time in three years, said that the reforms in Myanmar were real but incomplete.
Obama's Asia-Pacific challenge
< class="heading1">Analysis

Myanmar hosted US President Barack Obama this week in Nay Pyi Taw for the ASEAN and East Asia Summit. Obama, who visited the former ’paraiah State’ for the second time in three years, said that the reforms in Myanmar were real but incomplete. What could have otherwise been a shot-in-the-arm for President Obama, in the light of the US ending its ’isolationist policy’ towards Myanmar five years ago, is a mixed bag at best, as the reforms have come to be disputed. This has presented a challenge to the US and its allies in forging a formidable Asia-Pacific partnership.

President Obama landed in Nay Pyi Taw from Beijing, where he attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting and where Beijing also overtook Washington in playing a larger role in the APEC. From Myanmar, the US President headed for Brisbane in Australia, for the G-20 summit. Commentators blame it on the timing, saying President Obama would not have liked to visit Myanmar at a time when the nation’s civil strife had challenged the reforms underway in the former military-State.

Policy of engagement

Nearly after two decades of sanctions, the US has cautiously moved towards a policy of engagement with Burma (’Myanmar’ for much of the rest of the world) since March 2009, when the then US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton sent Stephen Blake to Myanmar. Since then, visits by top US State Department officials have been a regular feature.

The release of political prisoners and peace accord with armed ethnic groups in Myanmar were the bedrock of the economic and political reforms in the country. The US has come under criticism for going too far on its commitments towards the former dictatorial State.

Washington seems to have pursued Myanmar with a two-fold motive, becoming a leading investor in the country and rebalancing China’s influence. Intensified engagement with the US has affected relations of the junta-ruled government with China and that has cost Myanmar, but the US has failed to capitalise on the resultant void. The ensuing Muslim-centric humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State has caught world attention. The US failed to make any impact on the Thein Sein government for improving the communal situation in Myanmar. The army too has continued to attack bases of ethnic rebels even after ceasefire agreements had been signed.

President Obama’s reforms agenda seems to have been caught between strong winds. Myanmar is seen as as ab American ’Pivot to Asia’ but also seems to be fast slipping away from America’s broader design for the Asia- Pacific region. A weakened President Obama would have to take on China’s might in the region. To this end, he is also set to announce his policy towards Asia-Pacific while in Australia.

Political reforms and presidential polls

Myanmar would go in for presidential elections in 2015. The US would like to have Opposition leader and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi at the helm of affairs in Myanmar. Her contesting elections will depend on Parliament amending Article 477 of the Constitution. Parliament is scheduled to take up the work later in the week, and there are slim chances of it getting passed. This could leave the US, hard-pressed for options.

Prior to Obama’s, a meeting was held at President Thein Sein’s residence on 31 October, to which all political party leaders were invited. The meeting is said to have reviewed the political reforms in the country before the US President’s visit. Aung San Suu Kyi has expressed disappointment at the outcome of the meeting, saying that the reforms were unsatisfactory.All this was after the President Obama had spoken to President Thein Sein and promised support for the reforms.

Assessing the reforms

The contentious nature of the reforms has not stopped the world from coming closer to Myanmar. As the chair of ASEAN for the first time and host of the East Asia Summit for the second time, Myanmar has been able to extract commitments from leaders across the globe.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot committed to closer economic ties with Myanmar during his visit this week. Japan has also promised $250 billion loan for the country’s infrastructure development and the Dawei deep-sea port.

The US, which was to be a key to Myanmar’s opening to the world, has however been cautious and has taken positions on nature of reforms initiated by Myanmar. It has also been Myanmar’s most scathing critic on the latter’s treatment to the Muslims in Rakhine state.

The reforms and that too for a country emerging from the shadows of military rule need time. The US disillusionment with Myanmar is a result of its expectations from the nation, which might not have been realistic under the circumstances. However, it has come to accept that it will take time for democracy to come of age in Myanmar. Until then, the US can put pressure on the government to resolve the Rohingya-Muslim issue peacefully.

However, for now the situation in Myanmar has become a gamble for US interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nepal: Continuing crisis in writing a new Constitution

Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury

Nepal’s political trajectory since last decade is remarkable. The country has been passing through a series of transitional phases in her march towards democracy and rule of law. In this context, the latest phase of 2006-07 has become very crucial with the promulgation of the Interim Constitution and the start of the Peace Process.

The 12-Point Understanding of November 2005 between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the then rebel Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN-M) was instrumental in leading the people’s movement of 2006, restoring the dissolved Parliament, eliminating direct royal rule and forming an interim government. Another landmark was the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) between the interim government of Nepal and CPN-M, which was concluded in November 2006.

The CPA formally ended the Maoist armed conflict by terminating military action and arms mobilisation by both Maoist and government. It kept combatants in cantonments and/or camps and called upon both parties ro commit themselves to upholding uphold human rights, international human rights laws, and civil liberties.

The CPA also had several other provisions for monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel of the Nepal Army and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M). This followed the all-party government with participation of CPN-M in cabinet which paved the road for Constituent Assembly elections. All these have made a new history for Nepal. However, the political leaders of Nepal have very little success in adopting country’s unanimously acceptable Constitution. Why has it been so? How much time will it take to adopt a constitution acceptable to all? Is political class in Nepal losing its credibility? Are fringe groups like Janajatis, Dalits, Madhesis and so on re-occupying the space?

Looking back

The first Constituent Assembly (CA) election was held on 10 April 2008 after two failed attempts. The election gave victory to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as the largest party in the CA. Comprising 601 members from 25 political parties, the CA officially started its journey on 28 May 2008 with the mandate of drafting a democratic and inclusive Constitution within the stipulated pwriod of two years.

However, the CA failed to produce the new Constitution within the stipulated time and it caused much controversy and chaos within Nepal. On 28 May 2010, the CA passed the 8th Amendment Bill to the Interim Constitution to extend tenure of the CA by one year with a two-thirds majority. The Bill amended the existing two-year term with three years for adopting an inclusive Constitution.

But the CA has failed to do so and was ultimately dissolved with a number of contentious issues like the forms of government, the electoral system, name, number and the boundaries of federal provinces, protection of preferential rights, the independence of the judiciary and arrangements for the transitional period after the promulgation of the new Constitution. However, to the experts in Nepal, federalism has become the most contentious issue since the formation of the first CA. How the central State will enter the federal arrangement is a crucial question.

Since the term of the first CA was over without fulfilling its task to bring in a new Constitution, fresh elections to the second CA took place on 19 November 2013 amidst a 10-day long nationwide bandh and transport strike called by the alliance of 33 political parties led by CPN-Maoist-Baidya. However, more than 70 percent of the electorate voted in this election. The UCPN-M’s performance was not good at all.

Though the Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) gained more votes than their counterpart, UCPN-M, none of them achieved a clear majority. This signified another problematic political course for the country. So far as the ethnic parties like Janajatis and Madeshis were concerned, both performed better in the 2008 election than 2013.

The UCPN-M is keen to have a working alliance with Madhesis, Janajatis and other small parties that support identity based federalism to strengthen their bargaining power on constitutional issues. But at present people of Nepal are not interested in ethnic parties.

Proportional participation

There were three parliamentary elections and two local elections between 1991 and 1999. However, the system lacked fair representation of the people, in terms of the country’s caste/ethnic and social composition. In particular, Dalits, women, and other minorities were at a great disadvantage.

The seven-party alliance (SPA) and the Maoists decided that the election to the Constituent Assembly was to be based on the mixed (parallel) system, involving two elections. Each voter had two votes—one for a constituency member and one for a party. After the government conducted negotiations with Madhesi and Janajati groups, the Interim Constitution was amended to make the system more proportional.

This involved some changes in geographical constituencies, with an emphasis on having seats in the Tarai reflecting the proportion of the population that lives there. The CA committee for determining the forms of government submitted two proposals. The UCPN-M proposed a multiple-member, proportional, direct electoral system based on proportional inclusion, to be determined on the basis of the population, geography and social economic factors.

The NC and CPN UML proposed a mixed system, with half the members of Parliament elected directly on FPTP and half elected proportionally. Under the circumstances guarantees of proportionality for ethnicities/castes, regions, and genders figure in the preamble as well as in provisions addressing fundamental and minority rights, political structures and the electoral system are in high demand. However, it is uncertain whether these principles will be met while making of Nepal’s constitution.

Number of Provinces

The crucial questions related to number of provinces in federal Nepal are, how the boundaries of these provinces should be delineated and how they should be named. The issue of whether a high level State Restructuring Commission recently formed will be able to work in time and will its report be useful to resolve the problems revolving around the issue. Nepali Congress proposes for 7 provinces in Nepal while a group of political leaders think lesser the number, better it is.

Be that as it may. What is important to understand is if Nepal needs a democratic constitution, political parties should build a consensus and show commitment for an inclusive, democratic constitution without any delay. The experts argue that international community and donor agencies should also mobilize their support in proper and effective ways understanding the reality of Nepal and the limitation of constitution properly.

Strong unity among national political forces is needed to defy external forces. Against this backdrop, the question prevails; will the political parties be able to deliver the all inclusive constitution by the stipulated time, mid-February 2015? The failure of the CA of Nepal for the second time will set the country back into politico-constitutional anomalies again.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Leaders fail to meet deadline

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani failed to keep the deadline for forming the cabinet. He had set a deadline of 45 days since the announcement of the final results for completing this task. Differences between the President and his Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah regarding the allocation of ministries is said to be the biggest roadblock to the formation of the new cabinet. It is hoped that an agreement could be reached before the London Conference takes place in early December.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Ghani’s Cabinet Deadline Expires Without Agreement", Tolo News, 13 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ghani visits Pakistan

President Ghani, accompanied by high-level government officials including cabinet ministers and business representatives, arrived in Islamabad on 14 November. The Afghan delegation met with the Pakistani National Security Advisor, Defence and Foreign Secretaries, Army Chief and the head of the ISI, where President Ghani assured Pakistan of joint cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "President Ghani arrives in Pakistan on two-day state visit", Khaama Press, 14 November 2014; "Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to expand bilateral trade to $5 billion", Khaama Press, 14 November 2014; "Pakistan’s New ISI Chief Arrives in Kabul", Tolo News, 11 November 2014; "Afghan President assures Pakistan of anti-terror cooperation", Dawn, 14 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Poppy cultivation up

The recent report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has indicated that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan this year witnessed an increase of 7 percent as compared to last year. The report stated that the area under cultivation grew to 224,000 hectares of land, mostly in the southern provinces of the country. A total of 69 percent of the drugs in Afghanistan are being produced in southern Afghanistan and about 46 percent of that in Helmand province.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Poppy Cultivation on the Rise: UNODC", Tolo News, 12 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ten-year term for ex-bank chief

The former chairman of the Kabul Bank, Sherkhan Farnood, and the bank’s former CEO, Khalilullah Ferozi have each been sentenced to imprisonment for ten years for their involvement in Kabul Bank Scandal. Nine junior employees have also been given smaller jail sentences and smaller fines.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Former Kabul Bank Chairman, CEO Jailed for 10 Years", Tolo News, 11 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese invite to join AIIB

During President Abdul Hamid’s visit to Beijing, his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping said that Bangladesh is welcome to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding-member, and the two countries must enhance cooperation in trade, agriculture, infrastructure development and maritime industry.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "China, Bangladesh to work for regional infrastructure development Xinhua, 8 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Russian subs sought

Bangladesh is planning to procure the submarines from Russia. This is a major shift in Bangladesh’s defence procurement as China for a long time has been the country’s biggest supplier of arms. Initially Bangladesh had initiated negotiation with China for and also had initiated negotiations speculation was that development as speculations were for the Ming-class submarines.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladesh turns to Russia for submarines", Times of India, 7 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Grand welcome for Indian President

In a special unprecedented gesture and a break from protocol, His Majesty The King along with Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen received the Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee at the Paro International Airport.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indian President receives a grand and a warm welcome" The Bhutanese, 7 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">DGPC to offer Nikachu shares

The Druk Green Power Corporation will be floating 23-25 percent of shares worth Nu 1 Bn for the 118 MW Nikachu Hydro-power project next year.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "DGPC to offer Nikachu shares worth Nu 1 Bn", Kuensel Online, 14 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Lowest GDP in a decade

The country recorded a growth rate of 2.05 percent last year according to the National Statistics Bureau. This is the lowest GDP recorded in more than a decade.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Economy in crawl mode", "Economy in crawl mode",


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM inducts 21 ministers

President Pranab Mukherjee administered the oath of office to 21 Ministers, including four Cabinet Ministers, three Ministers of State (Independent Charge) and 14 Ministers of State on Sunday afternoon. The Cabinet Ministers sworn in include former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu, Haryana leader Birendra Singh and BJP General Secretary J.P. Nadda.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : " "PM Narendra Modi expands Cabinet, shrinks some ministers", The Indian Express, 12 November 2014; " "21 new ministers inducted into Modi’s cabinet", The Hindu, 9 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi commences ’Act East’ strategy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a 10-day tour of Myanmar, Australia, and Fiji to attend three important international forums - ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the East Asia Summit, and G-20 (Group of 20) - besides holding bilateral meetings with his counterparts.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Indian media: Modi’s Asean trade pitch", BBC, 13 November 2014; "India, ASEAN can be ’great partners’: Modi’", The Hindu, 12 November 2014; "Modi calls for respect for global maritime norms", The Hindu, 12 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">N-capable Agni-II tested

The Army’s Strategic Forces Command along with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired the Agni-II, a medium-range nuclear capable missile, from the Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Agni-II test-fired for full 2,000-km strike range", The Hindu, 10 November 2014; "India test-fires nuclear capable Agni-II missile", The Times of India, 9 November 2014; "Nuclear-capable Agni-II missile test fired", Hindustan Times, 9 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Navy vessel sinks off Vizag

The Indian Navy lost one of its A-72 Torpedo Recovery Vessel ships during an exercise off the coast of Visakhapatnam. Though 24 sailors were rescued, the Navy lost one sailor while an officer and three more sailors are still missing.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Search and Rescue Operations by Indian Navy for Four Missing Naval Personnel", Business Standard, 8 October 2014; "How can India become a regional naval power if its sailors keep dying in accidents?", Scroll, 8 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rajnath visits Israel

Rajnath Singh became the first Minister of Home Affairs to visit Israel since 2000, when L K Advani travelled to the Jewish State during the BJP’s first term in government. He held meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and National Security Advisor Joseph Cohen.

Singh’s visit follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly earlier this year. The Modi government has invited Israel to invest in the defence sector as part of its ’Make in India’ initiative. Immediately following the visit, Israel Aerospace Industries partnered with India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation to test fire the Barak-8 air and naval defence missile system.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Rajnath Singh in Jerusalem today, Israel says visit ’very significant’", The Times of India, 5 November 2014; "Home Minister Rajnath Singh invites Israel to ’Make in India’ in defence sector", The Economic Times, 8 November 2014; "Israel, India successfully test advanced missile system", The Times of Israel, 10 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Lifer for five soldiers

The Army’s general court martial sentenced two officers and three soldiers to life imprisonment for gunning down three unemployed youth in 2010. Personnel of the 4 Rajput Regiment had lured three young men to work for the army as porters in the Machil region of Kupwara in north Kashmir and subsequently killed them in a staged encounter.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Macchil fake encounter: life term for 5 Army men", The Hindu, 13 November 2014; "Machil Fake Encounter: For Killing 3 and Branding Them ’Terrorists’, 5 Armymen Get Life Term", NDTV, 13 November 2014; "Machil: Army court sentences five soldiers to life", Hindustan Times, 13 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New aviation policy proposed

The government on Monday announced a draft set of reforms for the aviation sector that includes plans to list airport operator Airports Authority of India (AAI) and helicopter service provider Pawan Hans Ltd to improve efficiency and transparency in their operations.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Government unveils draft aviation policy; may privatise Air India, Pawan Hans", Economic Times, 10 November 2014; "Centre may ease overseas flight norms", Livemint, 10 November 2014; "Aviation ministry starts process to have ombudsman for consumer grievances", Business Standard, 11 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt bonds slip

Costs for those borrowing in the bonds market declined as yield on Indian government bonds glided to a 15-month low on poor credit demand and deceleration of prices. The consumer price index inflation data for September 2014 decelerated to 6.46 per cent from 7.73 per cent a month earlier.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indian bonds fall ahead of retail inflation data, bank strike", Livemint, 11 November 2014; "Bond market expects Raghuram Rajan to cut rates in December", Business Today, 10 November 2014; "Government Bonds Glide to 15-month Low", The New Indian Express, 11 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India denies talking MSR with China

In a new twist to Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon’s parliamentary statement that India too had discussed the Chinese Maritime Silk Route (MSR) project during President Xi Jinping’s visit this year, the Indian High Commission in Male has denied, citing MEA’s official spokesperson in Delhi that any such discussions had taken place.

The Maldivian Foreign Ministry haltingly first and vociferously later has claimed othewise, with support coming naturally from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) of President Abdulla Yameen. The Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has charged Minister Dunya with lying to Parliament and has written to the Speaker to initiate criminal action against her in this regard.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indian High Commission Statement denies Indian involvement in MSR project", SunOnline, November 8, 2014; "Official statements confirm India held talks on MSR,’ says Foreign Ministry", Haveeru Online, 11 November 2014; "Dhunya’s speech was distorted to look down on the achievements of the govt- PPM", Miadhu, 10 November 2014; "MDP slams foreign minister for giving false information regarding Chinese silk route", Minivan News, 9 November 2014; "MDP calls Minister Dhunya’s ’lie’ ’shameful’", Haveeru Online, 9 November 2014; "MDP pushes for criminal charges against Foreign Minister", Haveeru Online, 13 November 2014; "Letter sent to speaker calling for prosecution of foreign minister", Minivan News, 13 November 2014; "’Closer Chinese ties do not hinder ties with India’", Haveeru Online, 13 November 2014; "Countdown as government waits for Tata to start work", Haveeru Online, 9 November 2014; "Indian specialist doctors to conduct health camp in Maldives", SunOnline, November 14, 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Foreign policy-shift to East

On the occasion of the nation’s Republic Day, President Abdulla Yameen has said that economic cooperation with China meant that the nation did not have to abandon Islamic principles, as required by ’western colonial powers’ for continued import of tuna from Maldives.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "President Yameen slams "Western colonial powers," declares foreign policy shift to East", Minivan News, 11 November 2014; "Adverse effects of MSR and SEZ need consideration, says MDP leader", Haveeru Online, 13 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Yameen cautions govt, party

On the third anniversary of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), President Abdulla Yameen cautioned the government and the party that ’oppressive policies’ may cause their downfall.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Oppressive policies may cause downfall: President Yameen", SunOnline, 15 November 2014; "’Politicians compelled to walk path shown by youths,’ says President", Haveeru Online, 13 November 2014; "President Yameen: Most of this year’s budget has been spent on Health Sector", SunOnline, 13 November 2014; "PPM calls not to obstruct progress of country", SunOnline November 10, 2014; "Shiyam calls to cancel the former President allowances if they cause any damage to the nation", Miadhu, 14 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Fifth Maldivian dies in Syria

In what could be the fifth Maldivian to die fighting in the Syrian civil war, an ISIS blog has tweeted the assumed name of the deceased, Abu Fulan Rahimullah. As if by response, the nation’s Islamic Minister has reiterated the appeal for Maldivians not to join what he underlined was a ’foreign civil war’, and not Islamic ’jihad’.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Maldivian jihadist fighter dies in Syria", Minivan News, 8 November 2014; "’Maldivians should not join foreign civil wars,’ says Islamic Minister", Haveeru Online, 9 November 2014; "Dharumavantha Mosque ’Imam’ sentenced to two years in prison", SunOnline, 9 November 2014; "Minister Shaheem: Construction of ten mosques funded by Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia would be initiated in January 2015", SunOnline, November 9, 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Head-count put at 341,000

Ending speculation on the actual head-count across Maldives, the National Bureau of Statistics has put the preliminary figures from the September Census 341,000, up from 298,968 in 2006. with an additional 58,683 expatriates too working in the country.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Maldives population exceeds 340,000", SunOnline, 13 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">World leaders attend conference

Myanmar hosted the biggest gathering of world leaders since shedding junta rule, but concerns on the pace of reforms would be discussed in the two-day event featuring US President, Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among others.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Myanmar hosts biggest cast of world leaders since reforms", Mizzima, 13 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UN chief calls for Rohingya rights

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon who is in Myanmar for the ASEAN and East Asia Summit said that greater protection of ethnic minorities in Myanmar is needed. Ban Ki-Moon appreciated the steps taken by Myanmar in introducing reforms but cautioned that the reforms might backslide because of the deteriorating rights situation of the Rohingya Muslims.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "UN Secretary-General for Greater Rohingya Rights Protection", The Irrawaddy, 12 November 2014; "UN’s Ban Ki-Moon links Rohingya-crisis to Reforms stalling", Mizzima, 13 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Japan to lend $ 285 m

Myanmar officials were quoted that their country would US $ 250 receive funds from Japan for various infrastructure projects. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed the loan to his Burmese counterpart Thein Sein during their meeting in Naypyidaw one of several diplomatic engagements taking place in Naypyidaw as part of the ASEAN Summit.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Japan to lend Burma US$250 billion", Mizzima, 13 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Joining Open Government Partnership

The Myanmar government has set up two committees in preparation for joining the Open Government Partnership or OGP that aims to fulfill the needs of the public as to how the government is working and to develop new initiatives.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Myanmar aims to join the Open Government Partnership", Mizzima, 12 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Readying for SAARC Summit

Heads of State of eight SAARC member-nations would arrive in Nepal on 25 November. The head of states would be attending the 18th SAARC Summit.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "SAARC heads of state and govt. to arrive on Nov 25", My Republica, 14 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Eying three SAARC deals

Nepali Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey will sign three regional agreements at the upcoming SAARC summit. He has been assigned to sign the SAARC Railway Agreement, SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement and SAARC Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation during the summit scheduled for November 26-27.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Foreign Minister Pandey entrusted to seal 3 SAARC deals", My Republica, 12 November 2014; "Minister Pandey to prepare agreements for SAARC", The Himalayan, 11 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Backing India for UNSC

Nepal has extended support to India’s bid for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. Nepal’s representative in UNSC, Durga Prasad Bhattarai supported India’s bid in the UNSC assembly, while underlying the need for expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members of the council.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Nepal backs India for UNSC permanent member", My Republica, 14 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">30 killed in air-strikes

Thirty suspected terrorists were killed in new air strikes on militant hideouts in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. According to Inter Services Public Relations, foreign fighters were killed in this attack as well.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Operation updates: Air strikes in North Waziristan kill 30 suspected terrorists", The Express Tribune, 14 November 2014; "Fresh air strike kills 30 terrorists in NWA: ISPR", The Nation, 14 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New ISI chief visits Afghanistan

Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar took over as the head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), succeeding retired Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam. He visited Kabul on 10 November 2014 where he held talks with Afghan officials on security issues.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Rizwan Akhtar takes over as ISI chief", Dawn, 8 November 2014; "ISI chief discusses security issues during visit to Afghanistan", The Express Tribune, 11 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Kashmir resolution vital for peace’

The Chief of Army Staff, Gen Raheel, has said that the Pakistan Army is fully capable of deterring and defeating aggression "across the entire spectrum of threat". He also added that despite this Pakistan persistently seeks peace in the region and beyond and that lasting peace in the region can only come after the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Any aggression against Pakistan will get a befitting response: General Raheel", Dawn, 18 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Imran, Qadri ’proclaimed offenders’

The Anti-Terrorism Court has declared Imran Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and Tahirul Qadri, Chief of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), proclaimed offenders because they failed to appear in the case pertaining to the attack on SSP Operations Asmatullah Junejo.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Imran, Qadri declared proclaimed offenders", The News International, 14 November 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC clears third term for President

The seven-judge Full Bench of the Supreme Court, in its advisory sought by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has ruled that the incumbent can contest for a third term under the relevant provisions of the 18th Amendment to the nation’s Constitution, passed in 2010.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "President can seek 3rd term", The Island, 12 November 2014; "SC: Acts of finance minister not covered by presidential immunity", The Island, November 13, 2014; "Ranil: Parliament didn’t unanimously approve SC opinion on President’s third term bid", Daily Mirror Online, 15 November 2014; "UNP to challenge Mahinda’s eligibility when he hands in nomination papers", The Island, 15 November 2014; "Table copy of SC opinion on third term in House - UNP", The Island, 14 November 2014; "Former presidents misused executive presidency: MR", Daily Mirror Online, 15 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Common candidate likely

Leaders of different Opposition parties from the Sinhala-Buddhist heartland cutting across the ideological-divide have met and decided to field a common candidate. However, speculation is rife on who that common candidate could be.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Parties agree on common candidate", Daily Mirror Online, 10 November 2014; "SF pledges DNA backing for ’suitable common candidate’", The Island, 11 November 2014; "Huge crowd at campaign against Ex. Presidency", Daily Mirror Online, 12 November 2014; "’For want of a two-thirds majority pledge unrealistic’", The Island, 13 November 2014; "CBK eclipses Karu", The Island, 10 November 2014; "MR congratulates Karu", Daily Mirror Online, 8 November 2014; "Maithripala pooh-poohs crossover speculation", The Island, 13 November 2014; "Nandana quits SLFP, pledges support to Opp prez candidate", The Island, 14 November 2014; "BBS ready to contest at Presidential Election", Daily Mirror Online, 11 November 2014; "To back or not to back MR: JHU to announce decision after Nov 19", The Island, 14 November 2014; "President can be another Mahasen if only he listens to reason - JHU", The Island, 13 November, 2014; "Communist Party pledges its support for President Rajapaksa", The Island, 13 November 2014; "Allowances of local politicians increased", Daily Mirror Online, 15 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Envoys summoned

External Affairs Minister G L Peiris has told Parliament that envoys of foreign missions in the country have been called for a meeting, to brief them on the ’unsatisfactory development’ on the UNHRC probe into ’accountability issues’ in the country, claiming that individuals had been caught filling up empty forms, alleging crimes of the kind.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Envoys summoned over ’unsatisfactory development’", Daily Mirror Online, 15 November 2014; "Sri Lanka slams UN rights chief over war probe criticism", The Island, 9 November 2014; "Sun Master flees to India", The Sunday Leader, 9 November 2014; "TNA responds to EAM statement: Urges govt. to conduct itself with a greater sense of responsibility", The Island, 9 November 2014; "UN Chief supports Zeid’s position on SL", The Island, 12 November 2014; "Ranil urges EU to challenge de-proscription of LTTE", The Island, 12 November 2014; "SL ready to share its experience in demining with others - Ravinatha", The Island, 15 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Moving away from India - a ploy?

Participating in the committee-stage debate on Budget-2015, has asked if by getting closer to China and thus moving away from India, whether the Government was trying to get out of the responsibility of having to honour the pledges made to India on the ethnic issue and the 13th Amendment.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "TNA: ’Is govt. distancing itself from India?’", The Island, 15 November 2014; "We must enhance the friendship with India-SL PM", Daily Mirror Online, 9 November 2014; "Speaker Rajapaksa calls for an explanation from Gotabhaya", The Island, 12 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’No executions for long’

Responding to a query at a news conference in Chennai, the capital of the south Indian State of Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka’s Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran pointed out that the island-nation had not carried out death penalties handed down by courts as far back as 1976. The reference was to a Sri Lankan court sentencing five Tamil Nadu fishers and three of their Northern Province counterparts to death on allegations of drug-smuggling.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "SL has not implemented death penalty since 1976: CV", Daily Mirror Online, 12 November 2014; "TN fishers sentenced to death here to be sent to Indian prison", The Island, 10 November 2014; "Send back Tamil refugees to SL: Wigneswaan", Daily Mirror Online, 10 November 2014; "State violence in SL continues: CM Wigneswaran", Daily Mirror Online, 9 November 2014; "Cracks in NPC?", The Sunday Leader, 9 November 2014

Primary Documentation


Press Release of the Celebration of 59th Birth Anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo by the Permanent Mission New York, Bhutan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 November 2014


Prime Minister’s remarks at the 9th East Asia Summit, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, Ministry of External Affairs, 13 November 2014

Remarks by the Prime Minister at 12th India-ASEAN Summit, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, Ministry of External Affairs, 12 November 2014

Remarks by External Affairs Minister at the release of the book ’Indian Super 100’, in Dubai, Ministry of External Affairs, 12 November 2014

Opening Statement by Prime Minister at the 12th India-ASEAN Summit, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, Ministry of External Affairs, 12 November 2014

Speech by External Affairs Minister during interaction with the Indian Community in Dubai, UAE, Ministry of External Affairs, 11 November 2014

Remarks by External Affairs Minister during interaction with select Captains of Industry in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Ministry of External Affairs, 11 November 2014

Prime Minister’s statement prior to his departure for Myanmar, Australia and Fiji, Ministry of External Affairs, 10 November 2014

External Affairs Minister’s remarks during her meeting with ICCR scholars, Ministry of External Affairs, 10 November 2014

Foreign Secretary’s speech at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy for Administration (LBSNAA), Mussourie, Ministry of External Affairs, 10 November 2014

Statement by President to media at the conclusion of his State visit to Bhutan, Ministry of External Affairs, 8 November 2014

Address by President on "India-Bhutan relations" at the Convention Centre, Thimphu, Ministry of External Affairs, 8 November 2014


Press Release Maritime Silk Route, Indian High Commission, Male, 7 November 2014


Press Release of Myanmar President’s Meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, Office of the President of Myanmar, 13 November 2014


Curtain Raiser-Visit of the Prime Minister to the United Kingdom 12-13 November 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 10 November 2014

Executive Director of the Economic Cooperation Organization Cultural Institute (ECI) calls on Foreign Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 10 November 2014

Curtain Raiser-Prime Minister’s Visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 9 November 2014



Opinion Pieces

Lisa Curtis, "Will Pakistan Accept Afghanistan’s Olive Branch?", Foreign Policy, 13 November 2014

Rahimullah Yusufzai, "A Friendlier Afghanistan?", The News, 13 January 2014

Ahmed Rashid, "Russia and reconciliation in Afghanistan", Al Jazeera, 13 November 2014

Jack Fairweather, "Give the Taliban a Chance", The New York Times, 11 November 2014

Jason Campbell, "What’s the Plan? The Afghan Government", War on the Rocks, 10 November 2014

Christophe Jaffrelot, "Securing Kabul", The Indian Express, 10 November 2014

Thomas Ruttig, "Handing Over Alive: Whither Afghanistan’s Political Transition", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 9 November 2014

Vivek Katju, "Kabul Breakpoint", The Indian Express, 8 November 2014



Imtiaz Ahmed (Ed), Human Rights in Bangladesh Past, Present & Futures, The University Press Limited (UPL), 2014

Opinion Pieces

Jack Detsch "Bangladesh Asias New Energy Super Power", The Diplomat, 14 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Kuensel, "Occupational hazard oversight", Kuensel Online, 14 November 2014

Kuensel, "The perfect gift", Kuensel Online, 12 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Mani Shankar Aiyar, "For Rahul to be bold", The Indian Express, 13 November 2014

Jairam Ramesh, "Big breakthrough in Beijing", The Hindu, 13 November 2014

Ajay Chhibber, "Bharat’s other ratnas", The Indian Express, 12 November 2014

Srinath Raghavan, "Military needs and societal values", The Hindu, 10 November 2014

Vivek Katju, "Kabul breakpoint", The Indian Express, 8 November 2014

Bidisha Biswas, Anish Goel, "In Kashmir, They Disappear: Civilians, Militants, and Democracy", Foreign Policy, 7 November 2014

Soutik Biswas, "Will Narendra Modi change India?", BBC, 5 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

"Exclusive: The Irrawaddy Interviews Barack Obama", The Irrawaddy, 12 November 2014

Nehginpao Kipgen, "Obama’s visit and Suu Kyi’s political future: ASEAN 2014", Myanmar Times, 11 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

"Measure for Measure", My Republica, 13 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Tahir Khan, "Neighbourhood watch: Paving the way for better Pak-Afghan ties", The Express Tribune, 14 November 2014

Hassan Shahjehan, "Minority rights, Islam and Pakistan", Daily Times, 13 November 2014

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Chathushiha Wijesinhe and Shihara Madhuwage, "MR contesting for a third term Supreme Court opinion what means", Daily Mirror Online, 14 November 2014

Kelum Bandara, "Names of three personalities proposed Common candidate, consensus still not reached", Daily Mirror Online, 13 November 2014

D B S Jeyaraj, "JVP Leader and Revolutionary Rohana Wijeweera’s demise 25 years ago" Daily Mirror Online, 15 November 2014

Jehan Perera, "Work together instead of politicizing tragedy", The Island, 11 November 2014

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Budget and the Polls", The Sunday Leader, 9 November 2014

Ranga Jayasuriya, "Chinese Bogeyman", Daily Mirror Online, 10 November 2014

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:
Afghanistan : Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh : Dr Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Myanmar & Bhutan & Nepal : Mihir Bhonsale;
India: Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti, Manmath Goel ;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Pakistan: Taruni Kumar

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.


Mihir Bhonsale

Mihir Bhonsale

Mihir Bhonsale was a Junior Fellow in the Strategic Studies Programme and Indian Neighbourhood Initiative of ORF.

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