MonitorsPublished on Mar 16, 2012
Bangladesh's stake in the Bay of Bengal has increased following the order of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) in the dispute regarding delimitation of the maritime boundary with Myanmar.
Open Bay for Bangladesh

< class="heading1">Analysis

Bangladesh’s stake in the Bay of Bengal has increased following the order of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) in the dispute regarding delimitation of the maritime boundary with Myanmar. With this verdict, the long-pending maritime boundary dispute between the two countries may have been resolved even as the ITLOS order could provide legal precedent that affects future maritime boundary cases elsewhere.

The ITLOS, an independent judicial body established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), in its verdict, upheld Bangladesh’s claim to a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic and territorial rights in the Bay of Bengal. The verdict has also given Bangladesh a share of the outer continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, which opens the way for offshore oil and exploration in the Bay. It is the first time that any international tribunal of the nature has delimited the maritime area beyond the 200-mile mark. Besides, Bangladesh has gained a full 12-nautical mile territorial sea around St Martin’s Island contrary to Myanmar’s proposal that the island be cut in half and shared.

Bangladesh’s maritime boundary dispute with Myanmar is not new. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the nation’s first Prime Minister, initiated a dialogue with Myanmar in 1973. The two countries signed an agreement in 1974, in which Myanmar accepted Bangladesh’s claim for 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zone. However, Myanmar changed its stance. Negotiations took place between the two countries but with no positive results. Discovery of hydrocarbon in the region intensified the dispute as both the countries wanted to exploit it.

The dispute took a serious turn in December 2008 as the navies of the two countries came face-to-face over the issue of hydrocarbon-exploration in the disputed area. Although a conflict was avoided following China’s intervention, it precipitated the need for quick resolution of the issue. The Awami League formed a Government in 2009 and the party won the election with a promise to improve the power situation. Since natural gas, major indigenous source of energy, has been depleting, the country is in desperate need for alternative resources, enhancing the thrust for resolving the dispute as Bangladesh wanted to exploit the energy resources available in the sea.

In October 2009, Bangladesh filed a case against India and Myanmar as it claimed that its two neighbours had unfairly cut off a significant portion of its maritime area in the Bay. Dhaka has been arguing for equity principle as the yardstick while Myanmar and India favour the principle of equidistance for the delimitation of boundary. The principle of equidistance leaves very little portion of the Bay for Bangladesh as the system marks the maritime boundary through geometric calculations.

Under the UN Charter, the principle of equity takes into account a country’s population, economic status and needs, GDP growth and other issues. This verdict has validated Bangladesh’s demand for equity-based demarcation. The implication of this verdict for Bangladesh is phenomenal. The verdict will play major role in enhancing medium and long-term energy security interests of the country. In fact, Bangladesh is already planning to set up offshore exploration projects. With expansion of maritime boundary, the opportunities for the nation’s fishing industry has also been enhanced as fishing now can be carried out in the deep sea.

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

< class="heading1">Environment, a new concern for Bhutan

Sripathi Narayanan

Bhutan’s famed conservation efforts to preserve the Himalayan ecology seems to have fallen behind expectations. The efforts of the democratic Government in recent years are somewhat in contradiction to those under the exclusive royal rule earlier. This is so because the nation’s policy at preserving ecology and environment has been bold and clear, but the implementation mechanism lacks width and depth.

The Kingdom’s policy of preserving the nation’s pristine natural beauty at the expense of economic opportunities that it presented has been well acknowledged. Continuing with this policy, the Government has actively limited the inflow of tourists and has opted for the high-value, low-volume format instead of the low-value, high-volume package tourism from other nations. As a result, the nation’s potential to exploit tourism sector to boost economy and employment has been consciously curtailed.

To this end, the Government has limited the number of tourist operators to 75. They together cater to the 28,000 tourists who visit the Himalayan nation annually. The Government has taken an active decision to limit the inflow of tourists and does not foresee a significant rise in the number of the people who are to visits the Kingdome from the existing figures. Thus, tourism in turn contribute only a fifth of the nation’s exports, though the potential could be much more. The economic potential of tourism to development in the country would become clear if one considered various other parameters, which do not augur well in the contemporary global context.

The efforts of the Government have been aimed at curtailing the negative impact of tourism and other developmental initiatives on the environment and safeguarding the same from over-exploitation. But this does not address the core concerns of the Kingdom since the nation lacks the required levels of infrastructure even as also the Government machinery to address the environmental concerns. The few notable issues that would illustrate this concern are the in the sphere of plastics-ban and the disposal of waste, an urban reality that is creeping into the lives of the Himalayan people, and also the safe disposal of medical waste.

A ban on the use of plastic was introduced in 1999 with provisions that not only discourage the sale of plastic bags or its use for commercial purposes but also brought along with it, severe punitive action. The law was revisited in 2005 and in 2009, to strengthen the same so as to enforce a complete ban. But the inability of the Government to enforce the ban effectively and to find suitable economic alternatives to polythene carry-bags has resulted in the law being violated by all. At the same time the country does not have the adequate resources to dispose or recycle plastic-waste. On a the larger picture, the democratised Kingdom has limited capability to dispose urban waste of any kind let alone non-degradable wastes, while at the same time having only a limited number of dump-yards.

On the other hand, Bhutan is also found lacking in disposing off medical waste that is being generated at the nation’s health centres. There is yet to be an institutional mechanism that can safely dispose medical waste. The Government is aware of the risks of epidemic outbreaks. In recent years, it has started taking corrective steps but has a long way to go before any fruitful outcome to be felt at the ground level. The countryhas also initiated plans to universalise its garbage disposal policy that seeks to segregate wastes in to bio-degradable and recyclable wastes.

To this end, the nation is to have an effective waste disposal as well as a broader environmental policy. This is an essential as the nation is witnessing a robust urbanisation which brings along with it a host of environmental concerns. This is also accompanied by other developmental activities like the construction of massive hydro-electric projects that have an ecological impact.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BNP for caretaker system

In a major showdown Khaleda Zia, chairperson of main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP), has given 90 days to the Awami League Government to restore the caretaker system. Addressing a major rally in Dhaka, Begum Zia declared that that if the Government fails to make a formal announcement restoring the non-party caretaker government system by June 10, her party will announce tougher programmes at a rally on June 11. Zia also announced that her party and allies would stage demonstrations in the district, upazila and divisional headquarters in April and May.

With two more years left for parliamentary polls, the BNP chairperson also made a number of promises that would be implemented if her party was voted to power. She informed that her party has adopted a future plan and details of the plan will be disclosed later. However, she said her plans included ensuring uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity, deep-sea port, rail modernisation, free health service for the poor and elderly women and establishing national unity. Zia also said effective measures would be taken to curb corruption and combat terrorism while absolute independence will be ensured for the judiciary and the media.

Anticipating street violence the Government undertook some strict security measures by closely monitoring entry and exit into the city from different parts of the country which created discomfort to the people. In analysing the role of the Government during the rally popular English newspaper Daily Star in a commentary published on March 13 opined, “When does an elected Government adopt the most oppressive measure to prevent the Opposition from holding a public rally? Only when it is unsure of itself. A party confident of its popular base, sure of its public support, certain of the efficacy of its policies and surefooted about its public record would never have done what the ruling Awami League did yesterday to prevent the BNP from holding its public rally. What the ruling party did over the last two days to prevent mass participation in the opposition rally reveals a political party frightened of the strength of the opposition and loath to allow it to show it. In its massive show of strength the Awami League looked it’s weakest.”
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, March 13, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BGB-BSF ‘coordinated patrolling’

To check illegal activities in the border the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) have started “coordinated patrolling” and “night coordinated patrolling” at 120 border points. The authorities of both border forces are exchanging notes to conduct “coordinated patrolling” at vulnerable border points. The border points have been selected by two different teams of the BSF and the BGB under the India-Bangladesh Coordinated Border Management (CBMP) that was jointly signed on July 30, 2011, in Dhaka.

Maj-Gen Anwar Hussain, Director-General (DG) of the BGB, informed that so far the border forces have carried out at least 1,000 coordinated patrolling at more than 100 vulnerable border points of India and Bangladesh. He further added the coordinated patrolling has reduced incidents of border killings and smuggling of arms and drugs, human trafficking and other illegal activities along the border areas.

This step is expected to control border killings. BGB chief claimed that instead of firing, BSF men now detain intruders and hand them over to the local police for further action.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, March 14, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Dhaka-Delhi extradition treaty

Foreign Minister Dr DipuMoni informed Parliament that an extradition treaty with India, proposed by New Delhi was under the consideration of the Government.

She said that if this treaty helps Bangladesh, her Government will take necessary steps to sign the agreement. The Government is examining the draft, she said.
< class="text11verdana">Source:The Independent, march 15, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">100 die in launch capsize

More than 100 people lost their lives and scores of others went missing when a passenger launch with more than 250 people on board capsized in the Meghna River after a cargo boat hit it in Gazariaupazila of Munshiganj, in central Bangladesh on March 13, 2012. Bangladesh being riverine country waterways is a means of transportation.
< class="text11verdana">Source:The Independent, March 14, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rupee tightened

In a bid to arrest the growing crunch for the rupee, financial institutions of the Government have suspended sanctioning loans in the Indian currency for an indefinite period. This includes both housing and vehicle loans among others. Druk PNB has increased the interest on housing loan to 11 per cent, an increase of one percent. In addition to this fixed deposit accounts of Indian merchants worth over Nu 2 billion have been suspended. This measure was taken after the Royal Monetary Authority disallowednon-Bhutanese and non-residents to hold accounts.

In another measure, the Government has also decided to change the mode of payment for fixed deposits of Indian citizens in Bhutanese banks. The withdrawal deposit before maturity will result in ngultrum but withdrawal at maturity will be in rupees, without interest. This move is aimed at erasing the rupee crunch and also loweringthe burden to the exchequer.

The Government has also issued new guidelines for banking institution in releasing rupee to Bhutanese citizen only upon producing a valid identification card and also other documentation that justifies the need for Indian rupee. The impact of the new regulation has already been felt at the ground with a number of business facing difficulties.
< class="text11verdana">Source:,, March 10, 2012; March 14 and 15, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Absence of women in public life

A recent study carried out by the Institute of Management Studies has observed that women have a negligible level of participation in public life. The study points out that the current Parliament has only 10 women members as against 62 men while the situation at the local government level is no better with only 100 women representatives in a total of more than 1000 leaders.

The study has pointed out that the two main reasons for limited participation of women in the Kingdom’s newly evolving political space are domestic obligations and lack of self-confidence. On the side-lines of this issue the possibility of introducing quotas for women in the political sphere has resulted in a healthy debate.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, March 9, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">‘Sri Lanka vote’ rocks Parliament

Parliament on Tuesday tried to pressure the New Delhi Government to take a firmer approach to allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka in the final stages of the country’s civil war.

Instead of debating scheduled budgetary issues, the parliament had to be suspended for several hours after lawmakers demanded action on an upcoming U.N. vote on Sri Lanka.

The US is among the backers of a resolution to be voted on next week. The document calls for further investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military and Tamil Tiger rebels shortly before the 26-year conflict ended in May 2009 with the military defeat of the rebels.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, March 13, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Crisis over rail fare hike

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi looked set to quit on Thursday after a storm broke out over his move to raise passenger fares, underscoring the government’s inability to take unpopular policy steps amid growing speculation the ruling coalition could break up.Breaking with years of populist policies, Trivedi announced the first increase in fares in eight years on Wednesday, a move aimed shoring up the finances of a network whose dysfunction has become a major drag on the economy.
< class="text11verdana">, March 15, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">RBI rates unchanged

In line with the expectations, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday decided to keep key interest rates unchanged in its mid-quarter monetary policy decision.

"On the basis of the current macroeconomic assessment, it has been decided to keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility unchanged at 8.5 percent," the RBI said while announcing the decision through a statement.
< class="text11verdana">,March 15, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cotton export ban partially lifted

India, the world’s second-biggest cotton producer, scrapped a one-week-old ban on exports after protests from growers, traders and China, the nation’s largest customer. Prices dropped.

“Keeping in view the interests of the farmers, industry, trade, and a balanced view has been considered by the Group of Ministers to roll back the ban,” Trade Minister Anand Sharma said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Shipments of as much as 3.5 million bales registered with the ministry prior to the ban will need to be revalidated, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said today. Fresh registrations will not be permitted until further notice, he told reporters in New Delhi.
< class="text11verdana">, March 12, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">$ 25 b trade with Iran by 2015

Tehran and New Delhi plan to hit $25 billion in annual bilateral trade in the next four years, said Joint Secretary of the Indian Commerce Ministry Arvind Mehta, while heading an 80-member trade delegation to Iran.

The Indian official said the current annual trade between the two countries was around $15 billion, IRNA news agency reported.
< class="text11verdana">, March 10, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cancer drugs to cost less

India effectively ended Bayer’s monopoly on a patented cancer drug Monday, licensing a much cheaper generic under a unique law aimed at keeping costs affordable.

In a decision likely to upset Western pharmaceuticals, the patent office approved NatcoPharmaLtd’s application to produce the kidney and liver cancer treatment sorefinib.

Bayer Corp. — a subsidiary of the German pharma giant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — markets sorefinib as Nexavar for about $5,600 a month in India under a 2008-2020 patent, making it “not available to the public at a reasonably affordable price,” the patent office ruled.

“A right cannot be absolute,” it said. The office can force companies to grant licenses to generics in cases of public emergency or where they can show patented products are priced out of reach.
< class="text11verdana">, March 13, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President open to early polls

In an interview to BBC HARDTalkprogramme, President Mohamed Waheed said he was open for an early election but that he was not empowered to declare a date for election. “This is not a dictatorship”, he said.Moreover, he said early elections could be held only with constitutional amendments and that the discussion for an early election, as well as what needs to be done in order to stabilise the situation, should go in to Parliament or the People’s Majlis.

When asked of his opinion of having an overseas representative in the Commission of National Enquiry, he said:“I have no reservation about it. We are working very closely with Commonwealth right now. We have a Commonwealth Special Envoy who is arriving in the Maldives in a matter of a few hours and we will provide all cooperation necessary”.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Miadhu, March 15, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Street-action alone won’t help, says MDP leader

Vice-President of the former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), AlhanFahmy has said that MDP cannot reach an early election by street action alone.Alhan said that MDP should negotiate with the government to come to terms with the Government to hold an early election.

Talking to media after a meeting with President Waheed, AlhanFahmy said that Dr. Waheed agreed to an early election, but since legislative amendments are required it was important to allow Parliament sessions to begin.

“We cannot reach for a solution by boycotting this office and that office. We should move forward by looking at all the angles, if there is a need for street activity then we should do that. And if there is a need to cooperate with the rebels, then we should do that. We only want our President to be someone who is elected by the people,” he said. < class="text11verdana">Source: Miadhu, March 16, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UN calls for reviewing sanctions

The UN has called upon the international community to rethink their sanctions regime on Myanmar. UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar Tomas Ojea Quintana said, “I am not saying that they must be lifted, but they must be analysed in detail.”

On the other hand, UN development chief Helen Clark said building Government institutions and dealing with issues like corruption will be critical in Myanmar as it chases development. To this end the organisation would like to have a full country programme.
< class="text11verdana"> March 13, 2012;, March 14, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pay rise for Govt servants

The Government has announced that it has approved a pay rise for civil servants, including military personnel. The pay rise will be nearly double the wages of the lowest paid Government employee and is aimed at curbing corruption fostered by low pay.

The Finance Ministry said salaried civil servants and military personnel would get a rise of 30,000 kyats (S$48) a month from April 1, the same day as parliamentary by-elections in which Opposition leader Aung San SuuKyi is contesting for the first time. The lowest-paid workers in Government departments and organisations currently earn 1,100 kyats a day and will receive an extra 1,000 a day.

Myanmar’s civil servants, who make up 3.3 per cent of the population, are badly paid compared to other professions and many turn to asking for ’tea money’, or small bribes, to survive.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, March 14, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China wants dam project revived

Chinese officials have called upon Myanmar’s Government to restart a Beijing-backed multibillion-dollar hydro-electric project that was suspended apparently without notice last year.

China was caught off-guard by September’s suspension of the US$3.6 billion China-funded Myitsone dam being built by a Chinese company. The project had drawn protests from ethnic and environmental groups.

The official China Daily newspaper on Sunday quoted the officials as saying the dam would produce badly-needed electricity for Myanmar and raise living standards. While the former head of the National Energy Administration, Zhang Guobao, told the newspaper that the dam will improve the lives of local residents and boost the economy.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, March 11, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SuuKyi calls for freedom from fear

A leaked video of Aung San SuuKyi’s television campaign speech has the Nobel Laureate calling for “freedom for fear”, rule of law and respect for human rights for establishing a vibrant democratic system.

This video comes at a time when the star campaigner of the National League for Democracy (NLD) said in Radio Free Asia that the Government has censored one of her speeches that was critical of the junta.

The NLD in a statement said that SuuKyi will not be voting in the by-election despite the fact the she is contesting from the South Yangon constituency as she was planning to travel outside the country. SuuKyi has not stepped outside of Myanmar since 1988 and refused to leave the country in 1999 when her husband, Michael Aris, was dying of cancer in Britain, fearing that she would be refused re-entry by the junta.
< class="text11verdana">Source: :, March 10, 12, 2012;, March 10, 14, 15, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maoists’ hardliners forming paramilitary

The hardliner faction of the United CPN (Maoist) has initiated a process to form a new paramilitary force comprising of the retired and disqualified combatants loyal to it.

The faction led by Vice-Chairman Mohan Baidya has been opposing the ongoing process of the combatants’ integration and rehabilitation.

Leaders from the faction say that People’s Liberation Army members have been organised as they are needed for another revolution to ensure people’s rights. The Baidya camp organised a meeting of the combatants loyal to it in Dang on March 14.

Recently, over 7,000 combatants have left cantonments with cash incentives upon retirement. It is said that these combatants would be recruited into the people’s volunteers bureau led by another hardliner NetraBikram Chand and be grouped under a new entity soon.

The faction had held a gathering of disqualified fighters discharged from cantonments two years ago. Addressing a meeting of former combatants, Maoist General Secretary Ram BahadurThapa asked them to be prepared for “another struggle.”

The disqualified fighters have been demanding cash incentives and responsibilities in the party organisations. Former combatants above the rank of platoon joint-commander have been participating in the recent meetings.

The combatants have complained that the party sidelined them following their retirement. Former commander of the Fifth Division Ram LalRokka said the assembly was organised to show that the unity and objective of the ‘people’s army’ was not over.
< class="text11verdana">, March 15, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New chief for ISI

Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam is set to head the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from March 18. His appointment comes after long-running speculations over yet another extension of Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the outgoing Director General, ISI.

The Government was under pressure to appoint a new DG for the ISI from the opposition parties mainly the PML-N. The eventful tenure of Gen. Shuja was marked by a major loss of confidence in the ISI after the Abbotabad strike that killed Osama Bin Laden.

Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam who has earlier served as the deputy director general faces an uphill task of restoring confidence in the intelligence establishment of Pakistan at a time when its relationship with US is fastly devolving. The appointment is also important considering that Pakistan is to go to elections late this year.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Times, March 10, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Musharraf registers new party

As talks of nearing election continue, the Election Commission has cleared applications of more than a dozen new political entities. This takes the number of total registered parties in Pakistan to 182, which is roughly one party for every million population. The briefing also showed that former President Pervez Musharraf has registered his party with the name of All-Pakistan Muslim League and is striving to get ‘Eagle’ as his party’s election symbol. However, the symbol has already been allotted to another party.

Registering as a political party is relatively easy in Pakistan. The present laws require furnishing of a printed copy of Party’s Constitution and its office bearers. Another mandatory rule is intra-party elections. However, this is often flouted by not just the obscure parties but also the major parties.
< class="text11verdana">Source:The Express Tribune, March 14, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pipeline plans hit a roadblock

Despite Foreign MinisterKhar’s best attempts to mobilise support for the Iran-Pakistan Pipeline, the project received two major setbacks during the past week. Sweden has come in open opposition of not just the Iran pipeline but also the pipeline from Turkmenistan saying it was not viable. Citing the concerns over Iran’s nuclear objectives raised by the international community, Sweden refused to support Pakistan’s plan for a pipeline with Iran.

Earlier, ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) which was finalised as the financial adviser through an international competitive bidding expressed reluctance at signing the contract. ICBC had emerged as the lowest bidder to finance the pipeline at an estimated cost of 1.5 $ billion.

< class="text11verdana">Source:The Express Tribune, March 15, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Qatar promises investment in energy

It has emerged that PM Gilani received offers of investments to the tune of 29$ billion in the country’s energy resources on his trip to Doha last month. Qatar has for now shown interest in a couple of upcoming projects, including Diamer-Bhasha, and at least three hydropower projects but has sided from making any written commitment in small dams because such schemes were more of socio-economic importance with limited financial feasibility.

The Qatar Government and its lending agencies have also shown willingness to fund the Thakot, Pattan and Dudhnial hydropower and Munda Dam projects. The cost of these projects is estimated at about $27 billion and Pakistan is expecting a part of the funding from Qatar.
< class="text11verdana">Source:The Dawn, March 12, 2012

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Never got foreign support to end war: President

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that Sri Lanka never sought foreign advice, deployed foreign forces or obtained the services of mercenaries in its fight against terrorism.

The President stated that the country requires no foreign advice on safeguarding human rights in the country “…therefore foreign intervention or their instructions are not necessary to safeguard human rights and carry out humanitarian, reconstruction and reconciliation programmes in this country,” the President said addressing a ceremony held at the Temple Trees.

“The war was fought and won solely by our heroic soldiers based entirely, on home gown military strategies and they were directed by their commanders. Sri Lanka has the capability, strength and knowledge to take the country forward on its own policies and programme. We have nothing to learn from foreign powers on how we should run the country and resolve our problems,” President Rajapaksa said.

President Rajapaksa emphasized Sri Lanka could resolve her problems in the same manner she defeated terrorism.

“All Sri Lankans whether they are from the North, South , East or West must rise against the situation that has been created in Geneva. It is the paramount duty of the opposition for the sake of the nation to rise with the people to protect the country. The opposition and all Sri Lankans must forget their religious, cast, ethnic and political affiliations at this hour and confront the problem as one people,” President Rajapaksa added.

“We must determine to resolve our problems collectively as we are all the children of one mother. Only then would Sri Lankans of all parts of the country be able to enjoy the dividends of peace,’ he said.
< class="text11verdana">Source:Daily Mirror Online, March 16, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Envoy apologises to Indian MPs

Sri Lanka’s envoy to India Thursday apologised to Indian MPs for his comments that sought to link those questioning Colombo’s human rights record with the Tamil Tigers.

"I would like to apologise to MPs of Tamil Nadu if I have caused any discontent or concern or distress in their minds. I feel sorry about that," High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam told reporters in New Delhi.

The diplomat was earlier quoted by an Indian newspaper as saying that New Delhi should investigate Indian MPs sympathetic to the Tamil cause.

"That is not what I meant," Kariyawasam clarified, after meeting an official of the external affairs ministry where he was summoned to explain his remarks."What I meant say was the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) lobby groups abroad and in this region carrying on a campaign of disinformation (against Sri Lanka)," he said.

This, he added, was aimed at disrupting the process of reconciliation in Sri Lanka following the end of the long-drawn war in 2009. He said when he referred to "investigation", he meant the Tamil lobby groups abroad, not Indian MPs.

Kariyawasam said the Indian foreign ministry official who met him "expressed very clearly the concerns of the Indian government" over his reported remarks.Asked what stand he expected India to take at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on the US-sponsored resolution on "war crimes" in Sri Lanka, the envoy was cautious: "India is a responsible country."
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, March 15, 2012

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Bhutan and Myanmar: Sripathi Narayan;
Bangladesh:Dr.Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
India:Dr. Satish Misra;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Pakistan-Abhishek Dadhich;

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.


Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Joyeeta Bhattacharjee (1975 2021) was Senior Fellow with ORF. She specialised in Indias neighbourhood policy the eastern arch: Bangladeshs domestic politics and foreign policy: border ...

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