MonitorsPublished on May 15, 2015
During the recent crisis in Yemen, between the Houthis and the nine-nation military coalition led by the Saudis, a joint sitting of Pakistan's Parliament voted against joining the Saudi-led coalition.
Pakistan: Neutrality in Yemen and Arabian displeasure
< class="heading1">Analysis

During the recent crisis in Yemen, between the Houthis and the nine-nation military coalition led by the Saudis, a joint sitting of Pakistan’s Parliament voted against joining the Saudi-led coalition. Even though Pakistan assured Riyadh of full support in the event of any threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Saudi displeasure was made public with its acting Ambassador in Islamabad, Jassim bin Mohammed al Khalidi. Asked if his country was upset with the decision of the Pakistan Parliament, he shot back: "How will Pakistan feel if we did the same to you in a crisis?"

The Saudi explanation about Pakistan’s support being crucial was that it would send out a message to the people of Yemen that it was not only the Arab countries but the rest of the Muslim world as well was showing solidarity with their legitimate Government. Many analysts saw the parliamentary vote against joining the military coalition as a setback to Saudi Arabia considering that Saudi has been a major donor to Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Government shares close ties with Saudi Arabia, which gave a grant of $1.5 billion last year. At a personal level, Mr Sharif had lived in Saudi Arabia while in exile in the early 2000’s in a deal that the nation struck with Pakistan’s military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, who had imprisoned him.

To minimise a further fallout with Saudi Arabia, Nawaz Sharif and his army chief, Gen. Raheel, made a visit to Saudi Arabia after the parliamentary vote. There were speculations that Pakistan may give in to Saudi’s demands and involve itself in the military coalition. But that did not turn out to be the case, with Pakistan sticking to its stand by Parliament. However, it extended support in line with the UN Security Council resolution. Pakistan also had its concerns about being dragged into a sectarian conflict if it got militarily involved. Its military forces were already spread thin with its regular troops positioned at its western and eastern borders.

Gulf backlash

The visit in a way was crucial as it would set the tone for relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for the future. Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister, visited Islamabad and urged Pakistan to press for a ceasefire in Yemen. Many of them see this as Sharif walking the tight rope between Saudi and Iran, and as an important reason for not joining the military coalition. The Parliamentary resolution aligned largely with the wishes of Iran.

Things further made it harder for Sharif when the Gulf countries began making their displeasure known as well. The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs condemned the decision taken by Pakistan to remain neutral in the Yemen crisis and went a step further saying that Tehran seemed more important to its ally in a series of tweets.

This move had not gone down well with Pakistan’s Gulf Arab allies who were banking on military support from Pakistan and this made the minister make a point that Pakistan’s decision showed upholding the security in Yemen remained the responsibility of the Arab states alone.

What’s in store?

One of the biggest takeaways for Pakistan from this entire scenario is that the Government and armed forces were on the same page on the issue and the decision of the Parliament was respected on a major Foreign Policy issue and demonstrated the ability to have an independent policy. In hindsight, it does seem to be a smart move by Nawaz Sharif not to have gotten into a military conflict which could have had disastrous consequences for Pakistan, economically as well as politically. To some extent this may have helped Sharif salvage some domestic gains but internationally it may have a lot of fences to mend with some of its major alliances with the Arab world becoming vulnerable. In the event of the need for support in future during a crisis, Pakistan could well find itself isolated with the Gulf Arab world being indifferent unless it forms some consensus with them for the long term.

(The writer is Research Intern at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India: Balance restored in Parliament

Satish Misra

The budget session of Parliament, which began on February 23 with the address of President Pranab Mukherjee to the joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and ended on May 13, was different in many ways. A balance between the treasury and opposition benches was restored, if one goes by the proceedings of the two houses of parliament.

While the BJP-led NDA government succeeded in pushing its legislative agenda to a large extent, the opposition also could have the satisfaction of fulfilling its responsibility as it could force the Modi government to agree to send bills on Goods and Services Tax and land acquisition to parliamentary committees for adequate legislative scrutiny.

In the just-concluded budget session, the Lok Sabha worked 117 per cent of the scheduled time while the Rajya Sabha worked 101 per cent of the slated time. The Lok Sabha held 35 sittings while the Rajya Sabha had 32.

A total of 24 bills, a record for the last five years, were passed by the two houses in the session. While 22 bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha, two were brought in the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha passed 23 bills while 24 were approved in the Rajya Sabha.

The session will go down as a major landmark because of the passing of the historic Constitution amendment bill on the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh. Other important legislations, passed during the session, were insurance, black money, coal, mines and mineral bills.

The government succeeded in getting bills of five of the six ordinances that it had promulgated since the winter session passed in the session.

The Lok Sabha also passed the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) and Negotiable Instruments Bills on the last day of the session. Three other bills -- namely, the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Bill, the National Waterways Bill and MSME Development (Amendment) Bill -- were referred to the Standing Committees as the House, particularly the opposition, felt the need for more legislative scrutiny of these proposed legislations.

Constraints of democracy

Though the government and its ministers were not fully satisfied with the outcome of the budget session as two of their bills could not be passed in the session. But then, then these are the constraints of a parliamentary democracy where the opposition has a legitimate role of putting the government on mat.

Notwithstanding the government’s woes and complaints, there were many positives in the session. A private member bill moved by ’Tiruchi’ Siva (DMK), giving equal rights to transgenders, was passed by the Rajya Sabha, which is a record of sorts. No private member bill had been passed by either of the two houses in the last 47 years though many had been moved.

The session also saw the highest instances of recorded voting in the past 15 years. During the period, majority of the bills used to be passed by voice vote as on an average only five percent of the bills were passed by recorded voting.

Opposition regrouping

The session also witnessed the regrouping of the opposition which could put its act together by better floor coordination and management. The opposition made the treasury benches realise that government business can be better pushed through discussions and spirit mutual adjustments in a parliamentary democracy rather by confrontation.

Compared to previous sessions after the coming of the power of the BJP-led NDA government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014 when the opposition parties were in a state of disarray, the opposition appeared far more united in its approach and coordinated in action.

The opposition’s role was in demonstration in the case of the two bills which the Modi government was determined to push through. One was the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act, 2013.

The bill had been passed after considerable deliberations in parliament and outside by the previous Congress-led UPA government. The other was the bill on Goods and Services Tax which has been hanging in fire for last couple of years.

The Modi government appeared to be in quite a hurry as it decided to promulgate an ordinance for amending the 2013 Act on December 29 just couple of days after the winter session of parliament had come to an end.

At the time of promulgation of the ordinance, the NDA government and its ministers were brimming with confidence with the massive Lok Sabha majority. They were sure that the bill to amend the 2013 Act would be passed through the two houses without any serious hurdle in the budget session which was expected to begin in February next year.

But between the conclusion of the winter session and beginning of the budget session, the myth of the electoral invincibility of the BJP had been exploded by its utterly dismal performance in Delhi state assembly elections. The Aam Admi Party (AAP) scored a landslide electoral victory, wining 67 assembly seats in a house of 70.

The BJP’s failure to capture power in Delhi state, and the parallel move to unite erstwhile members of the Janata Dal with an eye of the Bihar assembly polls in October-November this year, created suitable conditions for the regrouping of the opposition parties inside the parliament also.

While the ruling combine enjoys a numerical majority in the lower house, the opposition has numbers in its favour in the upper house.

Land bill hurdle

The bill to amend RFCTLARR Act faced hurdles in the Rajya Sabha. The government probed every possible route to carry through the bill but the opposition was determined to stall it. The government had to re-promulgate the ordinance in a hope that it would be able to divide the opposition and carry its bill.

The opposition to the proposed bill for amending the 2013 Act grew outside parliament also as protest marches and rallies were held across the country. Opposition came together to oppose the bill. The opposition parties marched to President Pranab Mukherjee to lodge a protest against the government efforts to change the 2013Act.

In popular perception, the Congress emerged at the vanguard of the opposition to the NDA government’s land bill. An otherwise reticent Congress vice president and Lok Sabha MP from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh Rahul Gandhi led from the front to oppose the bill and underlined concerns of farmers. He played the role of a typical opposition leader in the Lok Sabha.

Combined opposition which coordinated its move well finally succeeded in forcing the government to agree to send the land bill to a joint parliamentary panel which is expected to examine the bill thoroughly.

Undoubtedly, there were many adjournments and disruptions but the role of the opposition was far more balanced than earlier during the last five years of the Congress led UPA government when the opposition led by the BJP blocked many important bills including the GST bill. It augurs well for the country’s democracy as it helps to tame the arrogance of numbers.

(Dr. Satish Misra is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NATO extends mission

At a two-day summit of NATO Foreign Ministers in Turkey, the alliance announced that it had reached an agreement with the Afghan government to extend its mission in the country once the Resolute Support Mission comes to an end in 2016. The role of the extended mission would be to provide training and advice. The details of this plan are yet to be worked out. The announcement was welcomed by the Afghan government with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani calling it a step forward.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Afghanistan Welcomes NATO’s Post Resolute Support Decision", Tolo News, 14 May 2015; "NATO To Stay On In Afghanistan Post Resolute Support", Tolo News, 13 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak vows against terror

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Afghanistan this past week along with a delegation of high level government officials, which included Gen Raheel Sharif, Chief of the Army Staff and the ISI chief, Gen Rizwan Akhtar. During the visit the two countries reached an understanding over cooperation against common threats.

Mr Sharif vowed that any efforts of groups or militants to destabilise Afghanistan would be dealt with severely promising coordinated military operations against the Afghan insurgents. He claimed that Afghanistan’s enemies are Pakistan’s as well.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Enemies of Afghanistan cannot be friends of Pakistan, Sharif assures Ghani", Khaama Press, 12 May 2015; "Increasing bonhomie: Kabul’s foe can never be our friend, says Nawaz", The Tribune Express, 13 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Kabul hotel attacked, 14 dead

In another significant attack in this year’s spring offensive, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on the Park Palace Hotel in Kabul on 14 May. Of the 14 people dead, there were 4 Afghans, 4 Indians, 2 Pakistanis and an American. The hotel was said to hold a concert by a well-known Afghan classical singer later in the day.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "14 Confirmed Dead in Kabul Hotel Attack" Tolo News, 14 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ANSF recaptures district

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have managed to take full control of Nawa district in Ghazni province after a thirteen day operation called "Fatha". This is the first time in thirteen years that government forces have managed to clear the district of insurgents.

Nawa has been one of the most insecure districts over the past decade or so and this military victory has been hailed as being highly significant. However, at the same time, the Taliban’s ability to defeat local police and security officials in Jawand district of Badghis province in the same week have raised concerns.

The ANSF, however, was able to win back the district with the help of air support. Since then additional units of the Afghan National Army have been stationed in the district.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Afghan Forces Control Ghazni’s Nawa District for First Time in Nine Years", Tolo News, 9 May 2015; "Taliban Takeover in Jawand Raises Questions About Local Leadership", Tolo News, 14 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’One in nine on drugs’

According to the Afghanistan World Drug Survey, one in every nine Afghans use drugs. The report jointly prepared by Afghan ministries and the US claims that as many as 3 million Afghans use drugs of which nearly 50 percent are addicts. The total number of drug users in Afghanistan have increased nearly three-fold since 2006.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "One In Nine Afghans On Drugs: Survey", Tolo News, 12 May 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Third blogger killed

Again a secular blogger has been killed by the religious radicals in the country. Ananta Bijoy Das, a secular blogger, was hacked to death in Sylhet in North-eastern Bangladesh.

This is the third incident of killing of secular bloggers by religious radicals in a of three month. Commenting on attacks on bloggers Human Rights Watch, an international rights group, observed that this murder is part of an alarming trend of intolerance toward freedom of religion and speech in Bangladesh.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Killing of bloggers in Bangladesh is blow to free speech, says Human Rights Watch",, 13 May 2015; "Bangladesh blogger Ananta Bijoy Das hacked to death",, 12 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Illegal immigrants held

The Coast Gaurd and Navy held 116 persons from the Bay of Bengal who were illegally migrating to Malayasia, in search of a better future. Many of them were children.

Recently, Malaysian authorities detained around 1000 people from Bangladesh and Rohingyas from Myanmar, who were abandoned on the coast by the human traffickers.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "1,018 more migrants rescued in Malaysia", The Independent, 12 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">E-visas for Indians soon

To begin the machine-readable visa (MRV) application process for Indian nationals, the government will soon appoint a firm for MRV enrolment in India. In this regard government has selected a firm named ’Consortium of BLS International-DOHATECH New Media’ as the firm was the lowest bidder for the work.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Machine-readable visas for Indian nationals soon", The Independent, 12 May 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Jailed for voting in India

Gelephu dungkhag court convicted 2 women to 6 months of prison each for voting in Indian elections. Bindu Maya Sapkota, 44 year old woman from Sarpang cast her vote on April 17 last year at Daragaon, West Bengal while 29 year old Chandra Kumari Dhungana from Chuzargang voted from Dadgari, Assam.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Two women get six months each for voting in Indian elections", Kuensel, 15 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">More Indian FDI

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was reached between Bhutan and Bengal Chambers of Commerce and Industry on 13 May. The latter said that 14 investors have shown interest in Bhutan in areas like education, hospitality, information technology, agri-business and consulting.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indian investors explore Bhutan’s potential", Kuensel, 15 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Mid-way in happiness

The Annual World Happiness Report 2015 has ranked Bhutan at 79 out of the 158 countries. The Himalayan kingdom had successfully sponsored a resolution in 2011 on measuring and using happiness to guide state policy in the UN General Assembly which led to the formation of the yearly report.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bhutan’s ’Not So Happy’ People Leave It Ranked Mid-Way In World Happiness Report", The Bhutanese, 11 May 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi visits China

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited China on May 14 where he held discussions with President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Keqiang, and is expected to meet business leaders in Shanghai. A record 24 agreements were signed, and vexing issues related to the border dispute, Beijing’s policy towards Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir, and the burgeoning trade deficit were discussed.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Modi: India, China to explore fair, reasonable boundary solution", The Hindu, 15 May 2015; "PM Narendra Modi tells China to ’reconsider’ its approach on some issues", The Times of India, 15 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Jayalalithaa acquitted

AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa was acquitted of corruption charges by the Karnataka High Court on 11 May. She was earlier convicted and jailed for holding assets worth Rs 530 million, deemed disproportionate to her income. Current incumbent and party loyalist O Panneerselvam is likely to pave the way for her return as Chief Minister.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Jayalalithaa acquitted: 10 most important developments", The Times of India, 11 May 2015; "Jayalalithaa set to make comeback as Tamil Nadu CM after acquittal in DA case", Daily News and Analysis, 11 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC rebuke on border fences

The Supreme Court directed governments at New Delhi and Assam to expedite the construction of border management infrastructure along the Bangladesh border. Citing its December 2014 judgement, it criticised the executive for failing to construct roads and install fences and floodlights to check illegal immigration and trafficking.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Centre, Assam delaying border fencing: Supreme Court", The Hindu, 13 May 2015; "SC pulls up Centre, Assam on status of border fencing", Hindustan Times, 14 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’INS Sardar Patel’ commissioned

The Navy commissioned the naval base INS Sardar Patel in Porbandar in Gujarat on 9 May. The base, which is said to enhance maritime security of the state’s 1600 km coastline, was commissioned by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel. In addition to its close proximity to Pakistan, Gujarat contains half of India’s maritime industries.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "INS Sardar Patel commissioned", The Hindu, 9 May 2015; "INS ’Sardar Patel’ commissioned in Porbandar", The Times of India, 9 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parliament clears ’black money’ bill

The Parliament cleared the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill 2015, to recover undisclosed income stored in overseas accounts. The opposition unsuccessfully demanded greater scrutiny in a standing committee on grounds that it fails to deter illegal wealth generation and that it lacks sufficient safeguards to prevent its abuse. The Rajya Sabha also objected to the term black money as being racially pejorative.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Lok Sabha clears black money Bill", The Hindu, 11 May 2015; "LS, RS pass black money bill; but RS members say term ’black money’ is racist", The Times of India,13 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cabinet bans child labour with caveats

The Cabinet approved amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act on 13 May. The change bans employment of children below 14 years in all professions except non-hazardous family enterprises, television serials, films, advertisements, and sporting activities. While punishment for employers has been increased to up to three years of jail term, the amendment is lenient towards parents and guardians.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Cabinet approves changes to child labour laws", The Economic Times, 13 May 2015; "Total ban on child labour soon", The Hindu, 13 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Google expands in Hyderabad

Internet giant Google signed an agreement with Telangana to build the firm’s largest campus outside of the United States. Google has invested Rs 10 billion to the new facility in Hyderabad which is likely to double its workforce in India from 6,500 to 13,000.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Google’s biggest campus outside US to be in Hyderabad", The Times of India, 12 May 2015; "Google to set up biggest campus outside the US in Hyderabad", Live Mint, 12 May 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Yameen revives call for talks

In yet another initaitive, possibly deriving from his political success in putting down the combined Opposition’s May Day rally, President Abdulla Yameen has invited them for talks, for the ’stability and benefit of Maldivian citizens".

Unlike in the past, the Opposition, which had originally called for talks even before they launched the ’Defend Constitution’ movement in December and has since re-named as ’Alliance against tyranny’, has since reacted favourably to the Government’s call, and are formally holding discussions among them on this score.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "President appeals for talks, no apparent change in terms", Minivan News, 14 May 2015; "Oposition leaders welcome president’s call for talks", Minivan News, 14 May 2015; "Opposition alliance to discuss president’s offer for talks", Minivan News, 16 May 2015; "Opposition will decide on negotiations on Sunday", Haveeru Online, 16 May 2015; "Dr. Mauroof calls govt to create environment for discussion then call for it", Miadhu, 15 May 2015; "JP ready to hold discussions with govt- Gasim", Miadhu, 15 May 2015; "Tyranny against Gasim is evidence that govt’s oppression still continues- Ameen", Miadhu, 15 May 2015; "Court order issued for the arrest of Qasim", SunOnline, 13 May 2015; "MMA notifies banks to freeze Villa Shipping accounts", SunOnline, 13 May 2015; "Villa Group and 11 business’ accounts frozen", Haveeru Online, 13 May 2015; "’MIRA will freeze accounts of debtors’", Haveeru Online, 13 May 2015; "Villa: There is no money in the company account because of the financial situation", SunOnline, 14 May 2015; "Police bans the use of four-wheeled vehicles in rallies without permission", SunOnline, 13 May 2015; "People will not hold protests when justice is established- Azim", Miadhu, 15 May 2015; "High Court upholds detention of MDP chairperson, Adhaalath Party leader", Minivan News, 14 May 2015; " MDP reaches out to HRCM over restriction of rights", Minivan News, 15 May 2015; "Ali Waheed brought to Male’ for medical treatment for a third time", SunOnline, 14 May 2015; "Nazim’s treatment not over but will return on time: family", SunOnline, 13 May 2015; "’Islanders cannot come to the capital to protest’", Haveeru Online, 15 May 2015; "PPM: We’re thinking about not taking part in the by-elections", SunOnline, 16 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">IS executes jihadist

International terror organisation IS operating in Iraq-Syria region executed a Maldivian ’jihadist’ by pushing him off a building after an ’IS court’ held him guilty of unnamed offences.

In another episode, another IS fighter from Maldivies, Azlif Raoof, an ex-serviceman and accused in a murder case back home, died in battle in Syria, according to his family.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "IS executes jihadist", Haveeru Online, 13 May 2015; "’Azlif Raoof dies in battle in Syria’ claims family", Haveeru Online, 15 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Saudi ’budget support’

Saudi Arabia promised a $ 20-million budget support to Maldives when President Abdulla Yameen visited that country in March, it is now learnt. In the past, Maldives used to approach India for such aid, which used to be readily forthcoming, too.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Saudi Arabia gives USD 20 million budget support", Haveeru Online, 12 May 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rohingya boat leaves

A boat packed with Rohingya migrants left Thai waters for Indonesia on 15 May, after the Thai officials clarified that it is the kingdom’s policy of blocking such migrant vessels. Thai officials gave food and water and also fixed the engine of the vessel with 300 on board, which was found drifting on 14 May in Thai waters. < class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Shunned migrant boat leaves Thai waters", Mizzima, 15 May 2015; "Thai’s push away Rohingya boat people", Democratic Voice of Burma, 15 May 2015; "Thai Navy Tows Migrant Boat Towards Indonesia", The Irrawaddy, 15 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Army offensive kills seven

An military offensive against MDNAA (Kokang) positions has resulted in seven dead MDNAA troops according to reports in state media. The offensive took place on 11 and 12 May when the government captured 3 hilltop positions in the eastern part of Mar Lu village.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Myanmar Army offensive kills seven MDNAA troops", Mizzima, 14 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese accused of spying

The authorities in the border region of Kokang have detained 3 Chinese citizens on suspicion of spying for the Chinese military, reported Radio Free Asia. Li Nan, Mu Tengfei and a driver identified only by a nickname Xiao Wang were charged by the government troops during security check.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Army captures 3 Chinese nationals suspected of spying", Mizzima, 15 May 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Fresh tremors

A tremor measuring 5.5 on Richter scale with its epicenter in Dhading jolted the country at 7.27 am on May 15. This shock is so far the most powerful one following the May 12 quake measuring 6.8 on Richter scale with. Earlier, magnitude-5.0 aftershock hit the country in the area of Kavrepalanchowk on May 14.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "5.5-magnitude tremor jolts country early morning" eKantipur, 15 May 2015; "Nepal hit by three fresh tremors, death toll crosses 8000", The Indian Express,10 May 2015; "Two fresh tremors felt in Nepal", The Hindu, 8 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cabinet discusses resettlement

With the urgency of building temporary houses for earthquake victims ahead of the monsoon season, the Cabinet meeting on Thursday discussed the National Planning Commission (NPC)’s proposal for shelter. The plan includes designs of temporary shelter s for the quake victims and materials for the buildings.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Cabinet takes up NPC’s resettlement proposal" eKantipur, 15 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Lawmakers to monitor

The Disaster Management and Monitoring Committee of the Legislature-Parliament has decided to deploy lawmakers in the 14 districts hit hardest by the deadly earthquake. The committee has also arranged for a direct help line and email for receiving complaints from quake victims in the affected districts.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Four-member group of lawmakers to head out into the affected districts", Republica, 14 May 2015; "Lawmakers to monitor quake-hit districts" , eKantipur, 14 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chopper crash site located

After more than 60 hours, a search and rescue mission on Friday recovered the debris of crashed UH-1Y Huey helicopter at the Northern slope of Kalinchowk hill in Dolakha district. No survivors have been reported. The chopper with six US Marines and two Nepali soldiers on board had been missing since May 12.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "US chopper crash site traced" eKantipur, 15 May 2015; "Missing US chopper found crashed in Dolakha", Republica, 15 May 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Pak cooperated in Osama raid’

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his latest piece for the London Review of Books this week claimed that the official US version of the Abbottabad raid in May 2011 that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden is false.

He writes that Bin Laden was a prisoner of the Pakistan military since 2006 and the US became aware of this fact after an ISI agent revealed his whereabouts to the Americans.

The subsequent US Navy Seal attacks on his compound was approved and supported by both Genl Ashfaq Kayani, the Chief of Army Staff at the time and Gen Shuja Pasha, the then Chief of the ISI.

This story has been severely criticised by a number of experts and analysts. The Pakistan Foreign Office issued a statement denying any knowledge about the raid or bin Laden’s presence in the country.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : Seymour M. Hersh, "Killing of Osama bin Laden", London Review of Books, 37 (10), 21 May 2015; "Pakistan had no prior knowledge of Bin Laden, US raid: Foreign Office", Dawn, 14 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ismailis attacked

A bus carrying 60 members of the Ismaili community was attacked this week in Karachi. The attack lead to the death of 46 people.

Jundullah, a splinter group of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the attack. Howveer, investigations showed that the culprits had hailed from Afghanistan.

The attack was unanimously condemned by Pakistan’s political class with the Sindh Assembly passing a resolution to this effect. General Raheel Sharif, the Chief of Army Staff, also cancelled his three-day trip to Sri Lanka following this attack and visited Karachi.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Safora massacre death toll rises to 45 as Ismaili community say their last goodbyes", The Express Tribune, 14 May 2015; "Top police officials visit Safora carnage site", The Express Tribune, 15 May 2015; "Ismailis are peaceful and patriotic people who have worked for Pakistan’s wellbeing: PM", The Express Tribune, 13 May 2015; "43 killed in attack on bus carrying Ismailis in Karachi", Dawn, 14 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India blamed for terror

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, during a press conference this week, accused India’s external intelligence agency the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) for being involved in various terrorist activities across Pakistan.

He claimed that this matter has been taken up several times with India through diplomatic channels.

This accusation follows similar claims made a few weeks ago by government and military officials following the arrest of MQM leaders in Karachi on the grounds of pursuing terrorist activities.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "RAW involved in terrorist activities across Pakistan: foreign secretary", Dawn, 14 May 2015

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC stays Gota arrest

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe got caught in a politico-legal controversy by commenting negatively on the Supreme Court staying the possible arrest of former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the ’floating armoury’ case.

Wickremesinghe took particular exception to a two-Judge Bench, in the placce of a three-Judge Bench ordinarily, also fixing the next hearing of the case for 6 October, a long way off, pending possible parliamentary polls in between, and his JHU supporters of President Maithripala Sirisena Government promptly criticised him for ’interfering with the independent functioning of the Judiciary’.

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

"SC prevents arrest of GR", The Island, 13 May 2015; "Ranil: Gotabaya’s FR Petition will face problem", Daily Mirror Online, 14 May 2015; "Stay order not in line with Constitution: Ranil", Daily Mirror Online, 15 May 2015; "Ranil to seek AG’s advice over SC staying arrest of Gotabhaya", The Island, 16 May 2015; "PM’s reaction to GR’s FR petition: SC ruling can’t be subject to foreign judges’ opinion - Prof. Peiris...’Invoking int’l org not a prerogative of Mahinda’s Camp’", The Island, 15 May 2015; "Ranil’s statement undermines judiciary: JHU", Daily Mirror Online, 15 May 2015; "Complain to BC: Avant Garde Chief tells Rajitha", Daily Mirror Online, 16 May 2015; "Bribery Commissioner Wimalachandra resigns", Daily Mirror Online, 16 May 2015; "Sajin remanded for misusing state vehicles", The Island, 11 May 2015; "Mahanayake Thera displeased by questioning of Diyawadana Nilame", Daily Mirror Online, 14 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rajapaksa seeks damages

In a legal action aimed at silencing criticis in the Government who have been throwing one allegation of corrupt practice after another pertaining to his 10-year term in office, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has sent a legal notice to Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, claiming SL Rs 1-billion in damages for continually alleging that the former held $ 18 billion in secret foreign bank accounts.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "USD 18 bn in secret funds: Mahinda seeks Rs. 1 bn damages from Mangala", The Island, 13 May 2015; "Mariott hotel not mine: MR", Daily Mirror Online, 14 May 2015; "Ex-President says Kurunegala meeting has given message to those abusing Yahapalanaya", The Island, 10 May 2015; "Eighty eight MPs sign no confidence motion against CB Governor...Ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers among them", The Island, 10 May 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Polls under new law?

Even as ’minor’ and ’minority’ parties have formed a grouping to address their concerns in terms of new election laws and de-limitation of electorates under the same, Leader of the Opposition, Nimal Siripala de Silva has said that the upcoming parliamentary polls would be held under the proposed 20-A being drafted for the purpose.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Siripala says next election under new electoral system", The Island, 13 May 2015; "Speaker signs19A into law", The Island, 16 May 2015 "Submit amendments on 20A by Wednesday: President", Daily Mirror Online, 11 May 2015; "Local bodies whose terms lapse will be placed under special commissioners - MS", Daily Mirror Online, 13 May 2015; "SLFP dissidents push for general election",The Island, 10 May 2015

Primary Documentation


Restoration of the historic Mani Dangrim Chorten at Dodeyna, Cabinet Secretariat, 10 May 2015


Joint Statement on Climate Change between India and China during Prime Minister’s visit to China, Ministry of External Affairs, 15 May 2015

Joint Statement between the India and China during Prime Minister’s visit to China, Ministry of External Affairs, 15 May 2015

Arvind Subramanian (chief economic advisor to the government of India), "Green road to Paris", Indian Express, 13 May 2015

P Chidambaram (former Home and Finance Minister), "Across The Aisle: Government proposes, RBI disposes", The Indian Express, 10 May 2015

Interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, "’We Are Natural Allies’", Time, 7 May 2015


The Grand Opening Ceremonyof the Consulate-General of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Los Angeles, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 May 2015


Press Release on Contribution from Abroad for Rescue & Relief, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 May, 2015

Press Release on contribution from Embassy of Nepal,Tokyo to the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 13 May, 2015




Azam Ahmed and Mujib Mashal, "Afghans Look Back at Karzai Presidency With Surprising Fondness", The New York Times, 14 May 2015

Kate Clark, "The Park Palace Attack: More losses for Afghanistan", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 14 May 2015

Opinion Pieces

"The Thaw Continues", The Express Tribune, 13 May 2015

Abdul Basit, "Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban’s IS Predicament", The Express Tribune, 12 May 2015

Aimal Faizi, "The manufactured myth of ISIL in Afghanistan", Al Jazeera, 10 May 2015


Opinion Pieces

Mahmood Hasan, "Land Boundary Agreement and Bangladesh-India relations", The Daily Star 12 May 2015

Mohammad Al-Masum Molla, "Thank you, Mr Modi", Dhaka Tribune, 12 May 2015


Opinion Pieces

"An Electric Decision" The Bhutanese, 11 May 2015

"The Tenacy Act’s Second Coming", Kuensel, 15 May 2015


Opinion Pieces

N Ram, "The relevance of Ambedkar", Outlook, 15 May 2015

Sushil Kambampati, "Child Labourers Will Not Benefit From The Proposed Amendments to the Child Labour Law, But the Tobacco Industry Might", Caravan, 15 May 2015

Sanjib Baruah, "The Nagas of India and Myanmar", The Indian Express, 14 May 2015

Rahul Pandita, "The Sangh Parivar’s dubious role-playing in Kashmir", Caravan, 14 May 2015

Nirupama Rao, "A long march to a new relationship", The Hindu, 14 May 2015

Happymon Jacob, "For a ’Look Northwest’ policy", The Hindu, 13 May 2015

Mohan Guruswamy, "Social security or fraud?", The Asian Age, 12 May 2015

Mark Tully, "The view from India", The Hindu, 9 May 2015

Srinath Raghavan, "India as the pivot in Asia", The Hindu, 9 May 2015


Opinion Pieces

Zaheena Rasheed, ""Our prayers are as powerful as swords": Malé is calm, but anger", Minivan News, 13 May 2015

Isha Afeef, "Save the wave!", Minivan News, 11 May 2015


Opinion Pieces

DVB, "Election 2015: NUP’s Han Shwe", DVB, 11 May 2015

Saw Yan Naing, , "Unity Needed in Karen Cause", The Irrawaddy, 14 May 2015


Opinion Pieces

Raju Malla Dhakal, "Planning for the future", eKantipur, 15 May 2015

Carole Cadwalladr, "Nepal’s quake-shattered villages: ’there’s nothing to stay for now", The Guardian, 13 May 2015

Raju Nepal, "Can’t Predict Them", Republica, 14 May 2015

Sukhdev Shah, "Trust Deficit", Republica, 14 May 2015


Opinion Pieces

Seymour M. Hersh, "Killing of Osama bin Laden", London Review of Books, 37 (10), 21 May 2015

Najam Sethi, "The In-Between Truth", The Friday Times, 15 May 2015

Husain Haqqani, "What Pakistan Knew About the Bin Laden Raid", Foreign Policy, 13 May 2015

Talat Masood, "Pakistan’s fight against terror", The Express Tribune, 13 May 2015

Rana Banerji, "Pulls, pressures and the Pakistan Army", Business Standard, 12 May 2015

Carlotta Gall, "The Detail in Seymour Hersh’s Bin Laden Story That Rings True", The New York Times, 12 May 2015

Max Fisher, "The many problems with Seymour Hersh’s Osama bin Laden conspiracy theory", Vox, 11 May 2015

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Dayan Jayatilleka, "Victory Day, Remembrance Day & Post-War Political Reconciliation", Colombo Telegraph, 15 May 2015

S I Keethaponcalan, "19-A Post-Election Tamil Politics", Colombo Telegraph, 15 May 2015

Dr Kingsley Alwis, "Colombo Port City Project - back to the basics", The Island, 13 May 2015

Jehan Perera, "Winning people’s support will ensure security", The Island, 12 May 2015

Jayadeva Uyangoda, "Nirmal, Maithri and Mahinda - the three who made the past week", The Island, 12 May 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Between ’closure’ and ’disclosure’", South Asia Monitor, 12 May 2015

Neville Luduwahetty, "The story of Articles 3 and 4 of Constitution", The Island, 11 May 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "When the twine meets", The Sunday Leader, 10 May 2015

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan : Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh : Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan & Myanmar : Mihir Bhonsale;
India: Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti and Shruti Gupta;
Maldives & Sri Lanka : N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal : Pratnashree Basu ;
Pakistan : Sridhar Ramaswamy

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.