MonitorsPublished on Jul 07, 2008
LTTE political chief P. Nadesan in an interview to a Tamil Weekly magazine urged Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Karunanidhi to assist them in their struggle for a separate Tamil Eelam. Expressing regret that India was supporting the war efforts of the Rajapaksa administration,
South Asia South Asia Weekly 27

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">LTTE reaches out to another ‘Karuna’

LTTE political chief P. Nadesan in an interview to a Tamil Weekly magazine urged Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Karunanidhi to assist them in their struggle for a separate Tamil Eelam. Expressing regret that India was supporting the war efforts of the Rajapaksa administration, Nadesan admitted that thousands of LTTE cadres and many commanders have perished in the war. He, however, rejected the notion that LTTE was weakened by the military offensive. If Nadesan was right, then why is the group so keen to woo the Indian Tamil leadership? The answer lies in the substantial disruption of their international supply lines which now lay under a complete scrutiny of the Indian and Sri Lanka Navy. They are now forced to depend more then ever before on their Tamil brethren across the border to help them out with supplies, military and otherwise.

< class="maroontitle">Protests against “One Madhes Province”

An alliance of 24 ethnic groups from Terai launched a protest against the demand for a separate Madhes province put forwarde by three Terai parties Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum, Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party and Sadbhavana Party. The Tharus and other ethnic groups alleged that the Madhesi parties were undermining the identity of other ethnic communities and minority groups in the region by asking for a separate Madhes state. The protest crippled parts of the country as vehicular traffic along the East-West highway and Koshi highway remained disrupted last week. Markets, factories and academic institutions also remained closed as stray incidents of violence were reported from different parts.

< class="maroontitle">Khaleda likely to be released

Hopes brightened for former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia  as Fakruddin Ahmed, the Chief of the caretaker government indicated the possibility of her release in the coming days.. Khaleda and her two sons, Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman, were arrested last year on different charges. It is not yet clear whether Khaleda like her rival Sheikh Hasina too will leave the country. Begum Zia has demanded her sons to be sent abroad for treatment. As an immediate fallout, Khaleda’s party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) softened its stand towards the government and declared to resolve past differences.  BNP’s participation in the dialogue will help the government to establish the legitimacy of its dialogue with the political parties in the run up to the December elections.

< class="maroontitle">Finance Minister resigns

In what could be termed as a negative turn of events for President Gayoom, Finance Minister of Maldives Ibrahim Gasim resigned from his post following the criticism of his budget by an independent Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem. The report came a week after the warning issued by the International Monetary Fund on dismal expenditure record shown by the government. Just a day before, Ibrahim Gasim was seen sitting together with President Gayoom in a DRP Congress. Media analysts often dubbed Ibrahim Gasim as Gayoom’s right-hand man. With barely two months left for the presidential elections, the departure of the Finance Minister along with the Tourism Minister last week do not augur well for the present regime who aspires to rule for another ten years.

Meanwhile, Gayoom, as widely expected, refused to ratify the draft amendment to the Constitution, raising fears of further setback to the reforms process.

< class="maroontitle">US in `hot pursuit`

There is widespread fear in Pakistan that the US would send its troops into the tribal areas to neutralise the Taliban-al Qaida sanctuary. There is no official word on it though, either from Washington or in Islamabad. There are however straws in the wind.  On June 9, for instance, the RAND Corporation issued a report funded by the US Department of Defence entitled `Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan,` which asserted that, `the Taliban and other groups are getting help from individuals within the Pakistan government, and until that ends, the region`s long-term security is in jeopardy.` On June 10, the US launched laser-guided strikes on a Frontier Corps (FC) border check-post in Goraparai that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers. While the US regretted the incident, it also insisted that the bombs hit their designated targets, meaning thereby that the strike on the check-post was deliberate. On July 7, President George Bush told the US News and World Report  that the `biggest challenge for the next president of the United States would be Pakistan and not Iraq or even Afghanistan.` On July 10, the New York Times, quoting American military and intelligence officials, wrote: `There has been an increase in recent months in the number of foreign fighters who have travelled to Pakistan`s tribal areas to join with militants there. On July 11, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told BBC, `Pakistan was not doing enough to stop militants from crossing over into Afghanistan.` Former ISI chief Hamid Gul has even put July 20 as the date of offensive.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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