MonitorsPublished on Sep 15, 2008
The Election Commission finalized October 8 as the polling day for the first-ever multiparty elections in Maldives. The decision followed the Majlis passing two crucial Bills, which have been hanging fire for quite some, preventing the holding of the elections.
South Asia South Asia Weekly 37

< class="maroontitle">Elections on October 8

The Election Commission finalized October 8 as the polling day for the first-ever multiparty elections in Maldives. The decision followed the Majlis passing two crucial Bills, which have been hanging fire for quite some, preventing the holding of the elections. Almost all the seven presidential candidates have announced their running mates and campaigning was on in full swing though several of them still expressed doubts on the impartiality of the elections.

In an upswing to India-Maldives relations, two Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) pertaining to the establishment of India-Maldives Foundation and manpower requirement in the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male were signed by the Pranab Muhkerjee and Abdulla Shahid, Maldivian foreign minister during his visit to India. Air Services Agreement (ASA) between the two countries was signed which granted permission to any number of designated airlines to set up its operations for mutually agreed services. Security clause was also added. The idea behind the agreement was to promote trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchange between the two countries.  

< class="maroontitle">Chinese aid for nuclear plants

Dr. Fakruddin Ahmed visited China from September 15-19 2008 to strengthen Bangladesh-China relations. Three major agreements were signed in the areas of economic and technical cooperation, exchange of hydrological data on Bramhaputra and scientific cooperation in the field of agriculture. During the visit, Dr. Ahmed met Chinese President Hu Jintao, Vice president Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Wang Jaibao. Significant aspect of the visit was China’s offer to help Bangladesh in building nuclear power plants in the country. It was decided that a team of Chinese experts would visit Bangladesh in this regard. China also agreed to Bangladesh’s request to participate in the Myanmar-Bangladesh road linkage and build a road from China to Bangladesh via Myanmar.  Meanwhile, Foreign affairs advisor Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury said that close ties with China would be an eternal pillar of Bangladesh’s foreign policy.

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Humanitarian crisis looms large

As the battle between the government and the rebel forces is reaching a climax, civilians in the North are subjected to great hardship. Trapped between the two hostile forces, all their attempts to find a safe refuge has been futile as LTTE cadres have instructions to prevent mass exodus so that they can be used as human shields against advancing troops. The situation however, is equally bad in the government-held areas of Vanni and in the South where combing and weeding operations among the refugees, suspected as LTTE sympathisers, are routine. The government’s humanitarian assistance in the form of food and water is inadequate. What has made matters worse is the government directive to the international aid agencies to vacate the troubled areas of North.

< class="maroontitle">Republic of Nepal gets its first budget

The Maoist-led government presented the first budget of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai unveiled the budget of Rs 236.15 crore for the fiscal year 2008-09. In the budget, the government has given high priority to development of agriculture sector, water resources, tourism and industrialization. The budget aims to push the economic growth rate to 7 per cent from the current 5.6 percent. The proposed budget has also prioritized its policy which includes completion of the peace process; accelerate economic growth, social security and address the issue of inclusive development. The sector wise priorities includes, bringing radical change in agriculture sector, development of water resource, development in tourism sector, development of physical infrastructure, human resources development, and nationwide industrialisation programmes. Additional allocations have been made specifically for key social sectors like education, health, Madhesis, Dalits, women, and other marginalized sections of the society. The government has also promised to provide relief and rehabilitation package for the people, who suffered during the decade-long violent conflict. Though, the budget seems to be  ambitious, in real terms the government’s intention is to strengthen the domestic sector and also attract more foreign investments  to achieve the growth rate of 7 per cent in the current fiscal year.


Pakistan witnessed one of the biggest acts of terrorism on Saturday (September 20) when a suicide bomber detonated a truck packed with 600 kgs of military grade RDX and TNT explosives along with splinters, mortars and artillery rounds at the famous Mariott Hotel in Islamabad. The blast left more than 60 people, including the Czech Ambassador and two US servicemen, killed and over 200 injured. Baitullah Mehsud's Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan was suspected to be behind the attack but reports of the involvement of Harkat-ul Jihad al Islami (HuJI) have also surfaced. There were intelligence reports that TTP had dispatched 10 suicide bombers from Wana (South Waziristan) into Punjab. It is suspected that the attack was targeted at the Americans staying at the hotel. There were unconfirmed reports that the dead included two US Marines. The suicide attack in Islamabad and the continuing bombing of specific targets by US drones in the tribal areas have further complicated the Pak-US relationship and the War on Terror.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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