MonitorsPublished on May 18, 2008
The CPN-Maoists are clear about their economic agenda: they want an economic miracle in Nepal within 10 years. To achieve this objective, they have promised to adopt a liberal economic policy to boost the country's economic development and revive the dormant industrial sector.
South Asia South Asia Weekly 19

< class="maroontitle">Maoists to adopt liberal economic policy
The CPN-Maoists are clear about their economic agenda: they want an economic miracle in Nepal within 10 years.  To achieve this objective, they have promised to adopt a liberal economic policy to boost the country’s economic development and revive the dormant industrial sector. Adopting a pragmatic approach, they have invited private and foreign investment in the country's economic development. They called upon the business community to join hands with the new government in creating a new Nepal and make investments in the country without any fear. They would be focusing on strengthening domestic industries and adopt policies aimed to boost production by promoting domestic resources available in the country
This approach might lessen the fears of the Nepali business community which had been wary of the Maoists victory in the elections. The general fear was that a Maoist-led government might try to nationalise the private sector. The Maoist leaders were quick to dispel such notions in a series of meetings they had with the business community. The Maoists denied any such move. The Maoists, for the time being, are more concerned about fulfilling the people’s mandate and work towards creating a new Nepal which they had promised to the people during the elections. They are acutely aware of the immense challenges meeting such expectations would require. They are actively seeking the support of the private sector and foreign investors. At this critical juncture, their objective is to promote investments by attracting private investors and achieve an inclusive economic progress.

< class="maroontitle">Altered political equations

As widely expected, the judicial crisis led to a dramatic alteration in the political equation in Pakistan. With Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N) deciding to pull out from the Pakistan People’s Party-led government in Islamabad over the dithering on restoring sacked Supreme Court judges, the political leverage has gone back to President Pervez Musharraf. Sharif’s decision followed much hand wringing and negotiations with his coalition partner, Asif Zardari, across continents. Sharif insisted on the return of sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and his team mates who were sacked by Musharraf when he imposed Emergency in November last. Zardari is not in favour of such a total reversal, arguing that he would not be party to a wrong doing to correct an earlier wrong. PPP’s stand is that the restoration of the sacked judges should form part a comprehensive constitutional package which incorporated judicial reforms and restoration of the judges. It is clear that behind the scenes, two actors who played a critical role are the US and Musharraf who fear the return of Judge Chaudhary would upset the political climate in Pakistan and cause more instability. The Bush administration has kept all its eggs in the Musharraf basket and would rather keep him in the Army House (Musharraf has refused to vacate it and uses the President’s House for formal functions) for their War on Terrorism. The stalemate has seriously undermined the hopes and expectations of the people from the Zardari-Sharif coalition which many felt had set precedence in the sub-continent. Political instability and horse-trading can be expected in the next few weeks, pushing Pakistan deeper into another round of crisis in the making.

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">A verdict for peace

The Eastern province in Sri Lanka comprising three districts – Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara –elected its provincial Council on May 10. As expected, the ruling party coalition United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in combination with the former rebel-turned-political party Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) won the elections taking 20 out of 37 seats. The opposition party, United National Party (UNP), along with Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), got 15 seats and the ultra-nationalist Janata Vimukti Peramuna (JVP) managed one seat under a proportional representation system of preferential voting. The elections were by and large peaceful with 60% voter turnout and occasional incidents of violence involving LTTE in Sinhalese-majority areas.

President Rajapaksa has chosen Pillaiyan as the Tamil Chief Minister of the East, much to the displeasure of Hisbullah, leader of the SLMC-break away group without whose support UPFA could not have won, especially in the Muslim-majority areas. After winning the support of all the three communities for its hard-line strategy against the Tamil Tigers, the biggest challenge now before the Rajapaksa government is to maintain stability in the region and between communities.

< class="maroontitle">Elections announced
The head of the country's caretaker government, Dr.Fakruddin Ahmed, announced that the elections will take place in the third week of December this year. He also declared the government’s decision to start a dialogue with the political parties from May 22 and the withdrawal of emergency provisions in a phased manner. The election were postponed in January 2007 following widespread political violence that led to Emergency being imposed on the country. The announcements have come as a major relief for the political parties and the international community. 

< class="maroontitle">Cracks in the Opposition

More cracks appeared in the only viable Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party this week when 20 branch presidents of the party publicly criticized it for election irregularities, the outdated voter’s list and the audit report which was yet to be made public. The members threatened to resign while some others have already quit. Unity appears to be a far cry in the National Unity Alliance also with no consensus yet on selecting the common Presidential candidate.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                  – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee – Bangladesh
      • Paul Soren                       – Nepal, Bhutan
      • Wilson John                    – Pakistan
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