MonitorsPublished on Jul 28, 2008
With Sri Lanka forces capturing strategic towns occupied by LTTE not long ago, the supporters of the LTTE Chief Prabhakaran have expressed fears about his safety. Prabhakaran, believed to be hiding in a bunker in the dense forests of Vanni,
South Asia South Asia Weekly 30

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Is Prabhakaran trapped?

With Sri Lanka forces capturing strategic towns occupied by LTTE not long ago, the supporters of the LTTE Chief Prabhakaran have expressed fears about his safety. Prabhakaran, believed to be hiding in a bunker in the dense forests of Vanni, has of late been facing serious reverses at the hands of the government forces. The talk of a decisive battle between the rebels and government forces is once again in the air. The Sri Lanka Defence Ministry website claimed the army advancing at the rate of 3 km. per day and that not more than 200,000 people were left under the direct control of LTTE. At such a rate, the army believes it can regain Mullaithivu and Kilinochhi, the crucial LTTE bases, by the end of this year. Worried LTTE sympathisers are therefore searching for a safe escape route for Prabhakaran. There is a talk of the LTTE chief escaping to Africa, specifically Eritrea.             

< class="maroontitle">Race for new government

The newly elected President Ram Baran Yadav called upon the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist),- being the single largest party in the Constituent Assembly (CA),  to form a new government within seven days. The President also urged the Maoists to form the government based on political consensus with other political parties. The Maoists, on their part, are making all necessary efforts and holding parleys with other political parties to forge a common consensus in forming a national government. They have also kept open the alternative of forming a majority government by striking alliance with smaller parties, if a consensus government failed to shape up. They said the party would not hesitate to form a minority government but on certain conditions.

On the other hand, the Nepali Congress has also proposed to form a government with a new alliance forged with CPN-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) and by including few other fringe parties, minus the Maoists. UML and MJF, the new alliance partners, are reluctant to move ahead with the NC proposal. Both these parties want the Maoists to head the government but based on consensus. They have declared that if the Maoists failed to form a consensus government, they would join the new alliance in staking claim to form the government. The emerging political dynamics of Nepal suggests that the Maoists will have a tough time in forging national consensus, considering the hardening of other parties towards its leadership.

< class="maroontitle">Indian Army Chief’s visit strengthens relations

The India- Bangladesh relations received a major boost following the visit of Chief of Indian Army General Deepak Kapoor from July 28- August 1, 2008. The visit was in reciprocation of the Bangladesh Army Chief Gen. Moeen Ahmed’s India visit in March 2008. The Indian Army denied making public the agenda of the visit. It was, however, understood that General Kapoor’s was part of India’s concerted diplomatic effort to work out a more friendlier working relationship with Bangladesh. Greater military to military cooperation was one of the main objectives of the visit. During the visit Gen. Kapoor met President of Bangladesh, Prof. Iajuddin Ahmed and three Service Chiefs viz, Bangladesh Army Chief Gen Ahmed, Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Sarwar Jahan Nizam and Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal SM Ziaur Rahman. The Army Chief also visited important defence institution like Defence Services Command and Staff College, National Defence College, Bangladesh Military Academy and others.  A major outcome of the visit was both sides expressing a keen desire to cooperate in holding joint training and sharing of experiences in various fields like international peace keeping. The visit, however, made no dent in the finding ways to cooperate in tackling terrorism.

< class="maroontitle">Gayoom announced ratification date

Ending four years of hard work and a month of speculation, Maldivian President Gayoom officially announced the date of ratification for the draft Constitution as August 7. The opposition parties are still unsure about the nature of the action to be taken to protest the latest move of Gayoom. The doubts howeverl remain over the accuracy of the date. Sensing the short time left for the presidential elections, European Union has also criticized the delay in the reform process. Though the remarks issued by the Colombo office of the EU were severely criticized by the government as “an ill-informed and ill-judged public intervention”, it did put an indirect pressure on the concerned authorities to hasten the reform process.   
< class="maroontitle">Gillani’s US visit

Prime Minister Yousaf Gillani’s first visit to Washington could not have come at a more inappropriate time. Back home, Gillani is faced with a severe crisis on the economic front and remains politically isolated by the continuing freeze between the coalition partners. Diplomatically, Pakistan has rarely been so close to being dubbed as a frontline state of terror, and the target of a possible military operation by the US forces with or without his consent. Gillani, working on the advice of Zardari-appointed advisors, particularly Rehman Malik, who is the uncrowned ruler of Pakistan considering the basket of responsibility he carries, was willing to bend backwards to be accepted by the international community and made the colossal blunder of moving in to rein in the notorious ISI, only to be humbled by the powerful agency which has had a chequered past of making and unmaking Prime Ministers and Presidents in Pakistan. Gillani wanted to giftwrap ISI for Washington but instead got a sound king from his country’s benefactors. CIA told the premier that it had intelligence that ISI was behind the bombing of Indian Embassy in Kabul early July. Nothing could have been more insulting for a Pakistani premier to be reprimanded so openly; quite like what Nawaz Sharif got from President Bill Clinton for the Kargil misadventure.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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


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