MonitorsPublished on Jul 03, 2015
Throughout the Cold War - and afterwards - Russia's relations with Pakistan remained almost non-existent. However, with the United States and NATO pulling out its troops from Afghanistan in 2013,
Pakistan: Military ties with Russia strengthen
< class="heading1">Analysis

Throughout the Cold War - and afterwards - Russia’s relations with Pakistan remained almost non-existent. However, with the United States and NATO pulling out its troops from Afghanistan in 2013, which led to a decline in US-Pakistan relations, Russia is looking to increase its relationship with Pakistan to address the counter-terrorism and anti-narcotics campaigns in the region.

As India, Russia’s long term ally, started inclining more towards the United States, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Islamabad in November 2014 to discuss ways in which Russia and Pakistan could exchange information on politico-military issues, strengthen collaboration in defence and counter-terrorism sectors, and share similar views on developments in Afghanistan. This led to the signing of a Military Cooperation Agreement between the two countries, which became the first such agreement ever since the fall of the Soviet Union.

In the wake of the Ukraine Crisis in 2013, which soured up Russian relations with its European and American counterparts and led to various economic and military sanctions being placed on them by the US, European Union, and the United Nations, Russia is looking to explore synergies of cooperation in other parts of the world. Moscow’s concerns regarding the terrorism and drug trafficking spilling over into central Asia through Afghanistan have remained high, and with the increasing popularity of ISIS in Russia, it is of vital importance to them that counter-terrorism activities in the region uphold a high priority for the Pakistani government. Furthermore, Pakistan’s geostrategic position - connecting south, central, and west Asia - is one that cannot be taken out of the equation which is why it was also the lynchpin for the United States’ strategies in the region.

Pakistan’s long term adversary, India, has had decades of strong relations with Russia in terms of their military cooperation and bilateral trade. Russia, which had been India’s highest military exporter was recently overtaken by the United States. However, following Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in December 2014, the two countries have agreed to increase their cooperation to over $15 billion in 2015. For Pakistan, it is crucial to have a military agreement with Russia which has prospects of economic cooperation that would not only help to bolster their military capabilities and economy, but also make it a vital ally for Russia who cannot be ignored.

Following the Ukraine Crisis, Russia has decided to decrease the selling price of its military equipment in order to tap into new markets with hopes of reviving its declining economy with an increase in exports. For decades, China was acting as a middleman in terms of military trade between Russia and Pakistan. But, with Pakistan no longer needing China to do so, it will save its costs and likely increase its trade with Russia.

Pakistan has already imported the Klimov RD-93 engines from Russia for the production of its JF-17 aircrafts that were unveiled at the Paris Air Show in mid-June 2015. Furthermore, after a three-day visit by the Pakistani Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to Moscow this month, Russian arms manufacturer Rosoboronexport and the Russian Foreign Ministry have confirmed that a draft proposal for the sale of four Mi-35 gunships has been given to Pakistan which is likely to order almost two dozen gunships in the future. Although India had raised concerns with Russia regarding the sale of lethal military equipment to Pakistan and the possibility of joint Russia-Pakistan operations, Russia’s decision to go ahead with the deal anyway shows a decline in Indo-Russo relations.

Implications for India

During Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s visit to India last year, there were concerns raised regarding a Russo-Pak military cooperation that would cross a red line in Indo-Russo relations. However, Russia’s decision to have a military cooperation with Pakistan in the trade of not just non-lethal equipment, such as the Mi-17 helicopters and counter-terrorism equipment, but also lethal equipment, such as the Mi-35 gunships, have raised concerns in New Delhi. Russia, which shared a special privilege when trading with India, may lose its special privilege in Indo-Russo relations. The geostrategic circumstances that bound India and Russia together for so long have started to change. The structure of partnership, as well, is looking less special in the midst of augmented stagnation.

At a time when South Asia needs more regional economic cooperation, the military cooperation agreement with Russia would lead to the formulation of shared regional security policies in the region and joint anti-terrorism military operations that would only worsen Pakistan’s relationship with its neighbour, India. Although the nation does not have the same ability to purchase arms and pay in hard currency as India, the growing tensions between India and Russia would play to Pakistan’s advantage as India begins to incline more towards the United States in terms of military trade.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sri Lankan parliamentary polls and India

N Sathiya Moorthy

Former Sri Lankan President and at present prime ministerial aspirant, Mahinda Rajapaksa has attempted damage-control by declaring that Colombo will ’never pose a threat to India’. Sri Lankan electoral odds seem even just now, and India has to prepare for a possible Rajapaksa return, and also the UNHRC ’accountability’ report with or without him at the helm.

The Rajapaksa presidency had disturbed India by allowing two Chinese submarines to berth in Sri Lankan ports, despite reported protests and protestations by New Delhi. After losing the presidency, he claimed that India’s external intelligence agency R&AW had joined hands with the West to cause his defeat. His ’never-pose-a-threat’ interview to India-based Rediff-com, is an acknowledgement of the geo-strategic reality that he would have to do business with India if he returned to power.

This does not mean that Rajapaksa would become prime minister for sure. UNP’s Ranil Wickremesinghe still has a fair chance after the 17 August parliamentary polls. Dark-horses too may present themselves, or be promoted by President Maithripala Sirisena (SLFP-UPFA), among others, if the ’Big Two’ parties find no escape from continuing with the ’national government’ in some form, and Rajapaksa and Ranil cancel out each other as a common or compromise candidate.

Whatever the circumstances, India will have to work with the prime minister, government and parliament that the people of Sri Lanka elect in their wisdom. The Sirisena-Ranil twin-leadership that followed President Rajapaksa was conciliatory to a point. It was not the best that India might have anticipated. Whoever is at the helm, the expected one after the parliamentary polls cannot be worse.

Rajapaksa may have little choice but stick to the less-than-expected ’course correction’ with China that Indians might have expected. Not that any alternative prime ministerial aspirant is going to do more than already. The past months of the Sirisena-Ranil leadership demonstrated the inherent limits and limitations they have had in relations with China. Concessions, if any, were viz the US-China equations, and India, at best benefited, indirectly. Truth be told, China is the dragon in the Sri Lankan Lion’s room and the Indian elephant has to live with the reality.

Sphere of influence

In talking about ’threat’ to India, Rajapaksa recalled how the Sri-Lanka China relations dated back to the Fifties, and how the India-China problems are of a more recent origin. He seemed to be contradicting himself when he referred to then Sri Lankan Prime Minister, the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike, mediating between India and China at the height of the 1962 war. The war is 50-plus years old and happened just 10 years after the famous Sino-Sri Lankan, rice-rubber pact that he was obviously referring to.

India has to decide if it should help revive of extra-regional power competition, this time between the US and China, in the immediate Indian Ocean neighbourhood or strike on its own, as a regional power aspiring for global power status in the none-too-distant future. In doing so, it would have to tell emerging ranks of ’western’ allies as much as the unsure neighbours where to draw the line, considering that the latter too may have concerns that may go beyond the shared concerns with India in geo-strategic arithmetic.

Whatever the reason, if India does not want to assert its acknowledged its role, responsibilities and position in what’s universally acknowledged as the ’traditional sphere of Indian influence’, then it should be prepared to take on its adversaries, real, surreal and not-real, adversaries of all shapes, sizes and historicity, head-on. Smaller neighbours - Sri Lanka’s is not an isolated case -- in particular are as much concerned about India’s growing strategic relevance and military power as they are happy for India over its expanding economic clout.

Recently, Chinese PLA-Navy’s Senior Captain Zhao Yi told visiting Indian journalists that "geographically-speaking, India has a special role to play in stabilising the Indian Ocean region and South Asian region", but - read: ’even though’? - calling the Indian Ocean India’s backyard "is not a very appropriate word to use for an open sea and international areas of sea".

In contrast, through the post-Cold War era, the West has been reminding India about its ’responsibilities’ in the neighbourhood in terms of non-traditional security of the citizenry than India’s inherent need and capabilities to address their collective, traditional security concerns, where it had stepped in more than during the Cold War era, with an idea to stay put. If India has ’out-sourced’ China-centric geo-strategic security concerns in its immediate Indian Ocean neighbourhood to ’outsiders’, soon friends in ’sovereign’ neighbourhood nations too may begin telling India about their right to out-source their own ’security concerns’, viz India - particularly in the context of on-again-off-again anti-India rhetoric nearer home that refuses to go away.

Technicality, actuality

It’s not only about China that India has to formulate its Sri Lanka/neighbourhood policy in clearer and tangible terms. On the vexatious ethnic issue that refuses to die away in Sri Lanka, thanks mainly to the collective electoral efforts of local stake-holders, India has been left to hold a baby that none wants and everyone wants at the same time.

Like the traditional security concerns of Sri Lanka, be it of the erstwhile LTTE variety or the emerging geo-strategic situation, western friends have comprehensively hijacked India’s role on the non-traditional security front of the ’accountability’ variety, at UNHRC and elsewhere. For them, India’s role in the UNHRC soon became a use-and-throw variety, and no one is asking if India would go/vote with the West on any current or future UNHRC vote on Sri Lanka.

India locked the stable after the horses had bolted. Once they have had India voting with them in the crucial 2012 UNHRC resolution, and followed it up the next year, no one other than the Sri Lankans cared, and for academic reasons, when India ’abstained’ from voting, without impacting on the result, in 2014. Yet, UNHRC is returning to haunt India, only after Sri Lanka, as a probe report is waiting to be tabled for six months and more.

It’s crucial for India to make its position clear in advance over the upcoming September vote in UNHRC, when a new government would have just taken over in Colombo, whoever the prime minister and a new report would have been tabled in the UNHRC. When it’s a ’principled stand’, India can consider the wisdom of pronouncing it early on. Technicality cannot be a substitute for actuality, particularly in the eyes of the ’victim’, as the nations voted on often see themselves.

Double-standards or what

In the immediate context of the ’ethnic politics’ among the Tamils of Sri Lanka, India has to revisit the post-war past, to decide and convey what it expected from them all-round, rather than letting Diaspora groups and the rest, including the politicos in Tamil Nadu, to unilaterally and unceasingly tell India as to what it should do, instead. India cannot afford to let the perceived Indian guilt of the Sri Lankan Tamil propagandists sink in and be seen as influencing its direction and decisions.

Ahead of the parliamentary polls, the monolith TNA seems to be on the verge of losing a substantial portion of Tamil votes. Every election has brought with it, threats within for the TNA, but it would subside without trace once the seat-sharing talks among constituent parties had been settled, to the ’satisfaction of all concerned’. This time round, there are external, Diaspora elements playing an even more prominent and more open role than in the past years.

During the expected run-up to the parliamentary polls, the ’secret’ London talks involving the Government, TNA and the GTF - or, part thereof in all three cases - with Norwegian, South African and Swiss interlocutors, chipping in has provided the extra-momentum that the ’separatists’ TGTE, for instance, was looking for. There are reports of Diaspora groups pressuring the TNA to grant parliamentary poll nomination to known hard-liners, ideological and street-smart.

Outside of the TNA, the none-too-unanticipated advent of the ’Crusaders for Democracy’ (CFD), a political formation of ex-LTTE militants, has taken shape. Their immediate agenda is to urge the TNA to give poll nomination to at least two ex-militants in every ’Tamil district’ in the North and the East. Indians should not be surprised if before long, outrageous charges are made, both from within the Tamil community and outside, in Sri Lanka, that CFD is a creature and creation of India and R&AW. Why and to what end, no convincing or not-so-convincing explanation would be forthcoming.

Independent of the CFD initiative, Athmalingam Ravindra alias Ruben, a self-acknowledged ex-LTTE militant and political leader, has sought TNA poll ticket from the eastern Trincomalee district, the traditional stronghold of party strongman, R Sampanthan. Post-war, the TNA leadership has come under periodic pressure from ex-militants from within that they were being given an unfair deal all through, and the more moderate and even more ’Gandhian’ ITAK constituent was taking all the decisions, almost all of them in its favour.

The ’Ruben test’ can cut both ways for the TNA. If it denies a seat to Ruben, whatever the reason and justification, it cannot then continue to tell the Sri Lankan State why and how the latter should mainstream and re-integrate ex-militants. Conversely, it could be blamed for encouraging and facilitating LTTE’s return through subterfuge or otherwise, leading to possible separation.

(The writer is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter)

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Tension after border clashes

Afghan and Pakistani troops exchanged fire along the border this week resulting in the death of one Afghan soldier and eight Pakistani troops. This clash was ignited by the construction of new border installations along the Durand Line by Pakistan, which from Afghanistan’s perspective violated the terms of an agreement between the two countries. Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan was summoned by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a formal complaint against his country was lodged.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Pakistani envoy summoned over cross-border shelling", Khaama Press, 2 July 2015; "Afghanistan and Pakistan Trade Fire in Deadly Border Clash", The Wall Street Journal, 1 July 2015; "Sediqi: Eight Pakistani soldiers killed in clash with Afghan forces after violating border in Paktika", Khaama Press, 1 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Special unit to counter ISIS

The Afghan Ministry of Interior announced the establishment of a joint unit with the objective of increasing coordination among the various security institutions to tackle the growing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) more effectively. Each of the security institutions is to have an equal share in this new unit. The unit is also expected to undertake intelligence gathering and analysis as well besides undertaking military operations. This move comes amidst reports of ISIS loyalists pushing out the Taliban fighters from parts of Eastern Afghanistan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Special Unit Formed to Counter Daesh in Afghanistan", Tolo News, 2 July 2015; "In a first, Islamic State fighters seize substantial territory in Afghanistan", The Times of India, 30 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">First female SC judge

Anisa Rasouli, the head of the Afghan Women Judges Association, was nominated by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to sit on the Supreme Court. She was the only woman to be nominated to the nine-member bench and became the first Afghan woman to serve as a Supreme Court judge. Her nomination now needs to be approved by the Parliament.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Afghanistan nominates first female judge to Supreme Court", The Indian Express, 30 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Death sentence reversed

The death sentences of four convicts in the mob lynching of Farkhunda, an Afghan woman accused of blasphemy, were reduced to 20 years in prison for three of them and to 10 years for one by the Kabul Appeals Court. The custodian of the shrine, where Farkhunda was killed, who had originally been handed 16 years of imprisonment, has been completely acquitted by the court. The decision was reportedly taken after a secret trial was held this week. The decision has met with strong criticism in Afghanistan from Farkhunda’s family and from lawmakers and activists. Farkhunda’s family has called upon the Afghan government to intervene.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Farkhunda’s Family Demands Justice After Court Reverses Convictions", Tolo News, 2 July 2015; "Kabul Court Quietly Reverses Death Penalty Decision in Farkhunda Case", Tolo News, 1 July 2015 "Reports: Death sentences awarded in "Farkhunda Lynching Case" reversed", Khaama Press, 2 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Lower-middle-income nation, now

This week country made a major leap from being a low income to lower middle income nation (LMIC). This declaration was made at a meeting of World Bank. This is a major step forward for the country to become a middle income nation. The country’s per capita income increased consistently in past few years. It was $1,190 in 2013-14 and $1,154 in 2012-13. On July 1 every year, the WB revises the income classification of world’s economies based on estimates of GNI per capita for the previous year.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bangladesh goes one step forward ", The Daily Star, 2 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Huji plans Qaeda merger

Security forces arrested 12 alleged members of banned militant outfit Harkatup Jihad Bangladesh. The group was preparing a merger with the Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and was planning serial bombing after Eid to asset their existence.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Huji plans Qaeda merger ", The Daily Star, 3 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Recruitments in RCSC

The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) through an open competition selection procedure selected the department of civil aviation’s chief administrative officer, Karma Wangchuk, as the director for department of air transport. Department of revenue and custom’s collector, Tashi Pem was selected as the director for RCSC.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "New appointments and transfers", Kuensel, 1 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Air service pact revised

An air route connecting Bhutan to Singapore via Yangon, the capital of Myanmar could now be possible after the Memorandum of Understanding reached in the fourth week of June. Drukair currently operates 2 flights to Singapore via Kolkata per week.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Air Service Agreement with Myanmar revised", Kuensel, 30 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Detention confirmed

Officials of the Royal Bhutan Embassy in New Delhi confirmed the that a Bhutanese man was detained at Delhi’s district jail in Rohini in connection with smuggling of 17 Kg gold worth Nu 44.2 million.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Embassy confirms Bhutanese detained in Delhi jail", Kuensel, 29 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rs. 4.5-lakh cr for ’Digital India’

Industry captains came out in huge numbers to sign up for the government’s ambitious ’Digital India’ project. Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the Digital India week, investment commitments worth more than Rs 4.5 lakh crore poured in from India Inc.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Govt’s ’Digital India’ call gets Rs 4.5-lakh-cr promise", Business Standard, 2nd July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Core sector growth up

Growth in production in the eight key infrastructure sectors hit a six-month high of 4.4 per cent in May, after two consecutive months of decline, indicating a recovery in industrial activity. The index of these eight core sectors grew 3.8 per cent in the corresponding month last year.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Core sector growth rises to 4.4% in May", Business Standard, 1st July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Furore over madrasa education

Jamat-e-Islami Hind’s education wing is planning to move court against the decision of the minority affairs department of the Maharashtra state government, to count students of madrasas that do not offer subjects such as science and mathematics as ’out-of-school’ children. The organisation has sought legal opinion on the matter.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Madrasa row: Muslim body plans to move court against Maharashtra govt decision", The Indian Express, 4th July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">J & K asked to pay for flood relief

The Ministry of Defence has raised a bill of Rs. 500 crore for its assistance to Jammu and Kashmir government for carrying out relief and rescue operations during the floods in 2014. The Defence Ministry was paid Rs. 500 crore by the Union government as the amount was adjusted from the Rs. 1602.56 crore assistance given to the state government.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Defence Ministry Raises Rs. 500 Crore Bill for Flood Assistance to Jammu and Kashmir, NDTV, 30 June 2015; Rs 500 cr deducted from J&K flood fund, The Indian Express, 30 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rifle tender scrapped

The Indian Army has scrapped a four year old tender worth Rs 4,848 crores to replace the indigenous 5.56 mm INSAS assault rifle and the AK-47. The proposal for the new rifles, was found to be "impractical" both in terms of high costs and technical requirements

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Army scraps the world’s largest assault rifle tender, India Today, 1 July 2015; India to renew hunt for assault rifles after scrapping 4-yr-old tender, The Times of India, 2 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ex-RAW chief speaks out

Former RAW chief AS Dulat’s revelations on a raft of issues have kicked up a political storm in the country. Dulat has spoken about the Kandahar hijack incident and the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s response to it, the 2002 Gujarat riots and Jammu and Kashmir among other things.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Dulat storm: ’Payouts’ to J-K militants, parties; Kandahar ’goof-up’" The Hindustan Times, 4th July, 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Soldiers punished

Two soldiers of the Indian Army have been punished for sexual misconduct during UN peace-keeping missions in two African nations. A third soldier who was deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo is currently under investigation. A similar controversy made headlines in 2008 when at least 10 Indian personnel were found guilty of soliciting prostitutes in the DR Congo.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Indian Army punishes 2 soldiers for sexual abuse in UN missions, Hindustan Times, 29 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Oppn backs VP sacking

Requiring a two-thirds, 57 votes in a 85-member Parliament, the ruling PPM coalition with 48 MPs has obtained 61 signatures for impeaching Vice-President Mohammed Jameel Ahemd, as had done earlier for passing a constitutional amendment for the purpose.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "PPM secures opposition backing to impeach vice president", Minivan News, 30 June 2015; ""I only fear Allah, not the People’s Majlis," says vice president", Minivan News, 30 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MDP wants Indian facilitator

Ahead of commencing talks with the Government without jailed party leader Mohammed Nasheed, now shifted to house-arrest from an island-prison, his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said that they wanted an Indian mediator for what they implied should be ’all-party talks’. This, even as the US said that it was ready to deepen the partnership with the Maldives, and sought greater movement towards democracy.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "MDP proposes Indian mediator for all-party talks", Minivan News, 27 June 2015; "US ready to ’deepen partnership’ with Maldives, seeks progress on democracy", Minivan News, 30 June 2015; "Government seeks international engagement in conciliatory policy shift", Minivan News, 25 June 2015; "UN urged to condemn guideline for human rights watchdog", Minivan News, 28 June 2015; "No need to appeal and file case in UN: Cadman", Miadhu, 28 June 2015; "Blair’s Omnia accused of lying over Maldives contract", Minivan News, 28 June 2015; "Sheikh Ilyas appeals all to make best use of Ramadan", Miadhu, 1 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian focus on education

Distributing scholarships for 18 Maldivian students to study in Bengaluru University, Indian High Commissioner Rajeev Shahare said that India will focus on education assistance to the island-nation and its youth.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India will prioritize on education for Maldivians: Rajiv Shahare", Miadhu, 1 July 2015; "Pakistan donates 3 million dollars of financial aid to Maldives", SunOnline, 30 June 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Second term for Thein Sein ?

President Thein Sein is considering seeking second term as the head of state. According to Japanese news agency NHK, the Sein who is visiting Japan for the 7th Mekong-Japan Summit urged for Japanese infrastructure and investment in the country.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Thein Sein To Consider Second Term: Japanese Media", The Irrawaddy, 3 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Undermining public trust?

The military’s opposition to constitutional amendments, recently shot down in Parliament could harm efforts to conclude a nation-wide ceasefire with ethnic armed groups and could undermine trust between the government and international community, felt various lawmakers.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Military Opposition to Charter Change Could Entrench Public Trust Deficit" The Irrawaddy, 3 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Peace team meets in Thailand

Ethnic leaders convened in Chiang Mai on 2 July to discuss the nation’s peace process ahead of the meeting with Burmese government’s chief peace negotiator. A special delegation team was formed at an ethnic leadership summit in Karen last month.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Ethnic Peace Team Meets in Thailand Before Govt Talks", The Irrawaddy, 3 July 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Fast-tracking constitution drafting

As per the previous understanding among the major parties to fast-track the constitution drafting process, the Constituent Assembly on July 2 suspended some clauses of the CA Rules of Procedure to kick start deliberations on the preliminary statute draft. The process is expected to take a week.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "CA takes statute ’fast track’", eKantipur, 3 July 2015; "Constitution draft to be published in Nepal gazette", eKantipur, 2 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China moots India corridor

China has proposed an economic corridor with India through Nepal in what appears to be President Xi Jinping’s latest effort to enhance connectivity and trade links across south Asia. Besides the economic corridor, there is also a proposal for a railway route to connect the three countries, a senior Chinese official has said.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal, India amend bilateral Treaty of Transit", Hindustan Times, 2 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US envoy visits TLCs

US Ambassador to Nepal Peter W Bodde on July 2 visited Ranidevi Lower Secondary School in Ranibari to observe how the US funded Temporary Learning Centers (TLC) provide safe learning spaces for Nepali youth and educators. USAID will invest $5.1 million to establish more than 1,000 temporary learning centers (TLCs) in the most affected districts to restore access to education as quickly as possible.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "US Ambassador Bodde visits TLCs", Republica, 2 July 2015;


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Military gains control

A massive offensive in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was brought to an end this week when the military gained control over strategically important areas in the region that deprived the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-i-Islam of control over one of their strongest tribal areas. Three passes from Afghanistan to Tirah-Mzatal, KandaoGharibi, Dramudrad are now also under military control.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Military operation in Khyber ends successfully", Dawn, 3 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Military train derails

Four passenger compartments and the engine compartment of a train carrying military troops and their families derailed and fell into a water body when the bridge underneath collapsed. Officials have not yet released any statements regarding what may have caused the accident but, a possibility of a sabotage has not been ruled out yet. Search and rescue operations are being carried out with 17 people declared dead as of Friday morning.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Death toll rises to 17 in Gujranwala train tragedy", The News International, 3 July 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Terrorists, smugglers held

During an search operation carried out by the Frontier Corps in Quetta, 16 smuggles and 6 suspected terrorists were arrested after the Frontier Corps received information that smugglers were travelling on the Chaman Express with smuggled goods. Upon intervention by the security forces, the train driver and passengers were held hostage.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "FC arrests 6 suspected terrorists in Quetta", The Express Tribune, 3 July 2015

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UPFA ticket for MR

After playing indecisive for long, President Maithripala Sirisena is said to have decided on nominating predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa for the parliamentary polls of 17 August on the SLFP-UPFA combine that he leads. There was however no mention of naming Rajapaksa as the combine’s prime ministerial candidate in the statement standing in the name of UPFA General Secretary Sushil Premajayantha.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see :

"Mahinda to contest on UPFA ticket", The Island, 3 July 2015; "Don’t let Rajapaksa make a comeback - Sobitha Thera", The Island, 3 July 2015; "MR won’t be named PM candidate; UPFA to finalise nomination lists on Friday- President", The Island, 30 June 2015; "Contesting election: If MR can, so can I: CBK", Daily Mirror Online, 30 June 2015; "No plans to come back into power: CBK", Daily Mirror Online, 29 June 2015; "BBS to contest election as BJP under Cobra symbol?", Daily Mirror Online, 29 June 2015; "UN refuses to comment on MR contesting", Colombo Gazette, 4 July 2015; "Prez can act on evidence - DEW?COPE bond scam probe", The Island, 3 July 2015; "Survey finds public divided on key issues", Colombo Gazette, 30 June 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Jail for LTTE man

A Sri Lankan court has ordered 10 years’ RI for an ex-LTTE cadre, caught for a bid on the life of current President Maithripala Sirisena, when he was a Minister in 2005. It comes in the wake of a Jaffna court in the Tamil Northern Province ordering death for a sacked soldier, for slitting the throat of eight Tamil civilians during the war years.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Ex-LTTE cadre gets 10 years RI", Daily Mirror Online, 3 July 2015; "UNHRC told to maintain scrutiny on Lanka", Colombo Gazette, 4 July 2015; "We will protect Mahinda, Gota, Fonseka from war crime probe: UNP", Colombo Mirror, 30 June 2015

Primary Documentation



Richard Verma, United States Ambassador to India, There’s a non-partisan embrace for Indo-US ties, The Economic Times, 3 July 2015

Press Release

Visit of Argentine Foreign Secretary Mr. Eduardo Antonio Zuain, Ministry of External Affairs, 2 July 2015

Visit of External Affairs Minister to Thailand, Ministry of External Affairs, 27 June 2015


Rescue, Humanitarian Assistance and Repatriation of Boat People Found by Myanmar Navy on 21 and 29 May 2015, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3 July 2015


Press Release issued by the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations, New York, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1 July 2015

Press Release on Tourism Promotion program in Lao PDR issued by the Embassy of Nepal, Bangkok, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 June 2015


Afghan Ambassador Called to Foreign Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3 July 2015.

Exchange of List of Prisoners between Pakistan and India, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1 July 2015.




Frud Bezhan, "Afghanistan’s Underbelly: The Exposed North", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 2 July 2015

Ahmed Rashid, "Why Afghanistan’s neighbours fear drugs influx", BBC News, 2 July 2015

Fabrizio Foschini, "Reviewing some of Afghanistan’s most notorious hotspots", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 3 July 2015

Opinion Pieces

Barnett Rubin, "What I Saw in Afghanistan", The New Yorker, 1 July 2015

Hodei Sultan and Hamidullah Natiq, "Welcome to Afghanistan’s Peace College", Foreign Policy, 1 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Selim Raihan, "Bangladesh needs a new investment regime", The Daily Star, 2 July 2015

Dominique Mosbergen, "We Need To Talk About Bangladesh", The Huffington Post, 30 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

"Ensuring food safety", Kuensel, 4 July 2015

"The Danger of a Shallow Life", The Bhutanese, 29 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Nirupama Subramanian , Sushant Singh, Pakistan bristles at India’s 1965 war ’commemorative carnival’, The Indian Express, 29 June 2015

C. Raja Mohan, The Great Game Folio: Chinese Submarines, The Indian Express, 30 June 2015

Shyam Ponappa, "The centrality of cash flows", Business Standard, 1 July 2015

Shanti Bhusan, "Because of the 44th amendment", Indian Express, 2 July 2015

Anand Grover, "Liberty, equality, autonomy", Indian Express 3 July 2015

Sunil Sethi, "Women on the edge", Business Standard, 3 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

Hawwa Kareen, "In Jameel’s defence?", Minivan News, 29 June 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Climbdown by President, Opposition MDP?",, 29 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Nehginpao Kipgen, "No easy answers on Myanmar’s constitutional challenges", Myanmar Times, 3 July 2015

"It’s Time for NLD to Reciprocate the Public’s Faith", The Irrawaddy, 27 June 2015


Opinion Pieces

Kanak Mani Dixit, "A sub-optimal draft", eKantipur, 3 July 2015

Shrishti Joshi, "Time to Act", Republica, 1 July 2015

Navin Singh Khadka, "Climate Compromises", eKantipur, 3 July 2015


Opinion Pieces

I A Rehman, "Eyeless in Pakistan", Dawn, 2 July 2015.

Talat Masood, "Can the military reform Pakistan’s politics?", The Express Tribune, 1 July 2015.

Asha’arRehman, "The season begins", Dawn, 3 July 2015.

Sri Lanka

Kelum Bandara, "To be or not to be: President’s dilemma over Mahinda", Daily Mirror Online, 2 July 2015

Gomin Dayasiri, "Sarath and Chandrika show", Daily Mirror Online, 29 June 2015

Harim Peiris, "CBK: A reflection on her politics of peace", The Island, 29 June 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Strategic autonomy and national consensus", The Sunday Leader, 28 June 2015

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan : Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh : Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan & Myanmar : Mihir Bhonsale;
India: : Shubh Soni and Pushan Das;
Maldives & Sri Lanka : N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal : Pratnashree Basu ;
Pakistan : Zuber Singh

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