MonitorsPublished on Sep 22, 2008
In a surprising statement, the military spokesman of Sri Lanka Keheliya Rambukwella claimed that Al Qaeda and those involved in the bombing of Marriot Hotel in Islamabad were trained by LTTE. The technique was similar to the one used by the Tamil group way back in 1996 when a truck loaded with a bomb exploded near Colombo's Central Bank killing 91 people.
South Asia South Asia Weekly 38

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">LTTE trained Marriot bombers?

In a surprising statement, the military spokesman of Sri Lanka Keheliya Rambukwella claimed that Al Qaeda and those involved in the bombing of Marriot Hotel in Islamabad were trained by LTTE. The technique was similar to the one used by the Tamil group way back in 1996 when a truck loaded with a bomb exploded near Colombo’s Central Bank killing 91 people. The spokesman argued that terrorist organisations were known to exchange ideas and technologies in the past and could have done this time too. Though such a claim may be theoretically sound, in practice it seems to be part of the psyops which both the parties have been taking recourse to.

< class="maroontitle">Nepal-China Defence cooperation in offing

The Nepali Defence Minister, Ram Bahadur Thapa “Badal” along with Nepal Army (NA) General Chatraman Singh Gurung and Defence Secretary Pratik Thapa visited China at the invitation of the Chinese government to attend the military exercise named “Warrior 2008” conducted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China.  Thapa met with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie and Guo Boxiong Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and several high ranking senior PLA officials in Beijing on September 24. Thapa later went to northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to observe the PLA exercise.

The Nepali Defence Minister’s visit to China comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Prachanda’s recent visit to India. During the meeting with the Chinese PLA officials, Thapa underlined the need to bolster Nepal’s defense cooperation with China in the days ahead. The Chinese PLA leadership exhibited their keenness to engage with the Nepali army. After the formation of the Maoist led government in Nepal, China is pressing for deepening the bilateral ties, particularly in the defence sector. China is keen to sell its indigenously manufactured aircrafts and weapons to the Nepal Army.

< class="maroontitle">Election time in Bangladesh

The National Parliament Elections (Jatiya Sangsad) will be held on December 18. This was announced by Fakruddin Ahmed, Chief of the military backed caretaker government, in his address to the nation on September 21. This declaration ended all speculations about the elections. Dates for the elections to local village and town council (Upazila Parishad). Upazila Parishad (UZ) were also announced---these will held in two phases on December 24 and 28.  Though the political parties welcome the announcement, there are still apprehensions about the elections.

< class="maroontitle">Electoral Politics

As election fever has gripped the country, political parties are playing one-upmanship against each other. Law suits have been filed in higher courts challenging the candidacy of the two most popular leaders of the country – Gayoom and Anni. Of late, Islamic scholars or to put more precisely, conservative Adhaalath Party has been picking faults with President Gayoom’s interpretation of Islam, particularly his  views on death penalty and veil. Expressing doubts over Gayoom’s Sunni lineage, an essential qualification for Presidency, a 44-member group of Islamic scholars, most of them belonging to the Adhaalath Party, issued a fatwa against him and challenged his candidacy in a court. The Adhaalath Party which is backing the pro-reformist Republican Party, is most likely to head the new Ministry of Islamic Affairs if their coalition comes to power.

In another incident, a member of the same Republican Party has filed a suit challenging the candidacy of the Maldivian Democratic Party’s presidential nominee Mohammed Nasheed Anni citing his indictment in a case of theft from the residence of the former President Ibrahim Naseer for which the hadd is prescribed in the Islamic law as well as in the new Constitution. The Election Commission, however, cleared his candidacy stating that in 2001 he had not been punished of any offence for which the hadd is being prescribed in the constitution and Islam.
< class="maroontitle">Zardari meets Manmohan

Pakistan’s new President, Asif Ali Zardari, met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday (September 24) in New York. It was the first such meeting between the two countries after the new government took office in Pakistan following the February elections. The meeting, and the joint declaration released subsequently, signals an attempt to push forward the composite dialogue process which remained more or less stalled due to political uncertainties in Pakistan.  Both leaders pledged to initiate the 5th round of the Composite Dialogue between their respective foreign secretaries in the next three months and strive to settle all bilateral issue 'including Kashmir'.
The DGMO's and sector commanders of both the sides will keep in regular touch in order to 'stabilize the ceasefire'. A special meeting of the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism will be held in October in which the Kabul Embassy attack will also be discussed. It was stressed that 'violence and terrorism be visibly and verifiably prevented'.
It was also decided to give a fillip to greater people to people contact and boost trade between the two countries. Commerce on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot roads is to commence on October 21. Furthermore the Wagah-Attari and the Khokrapar-Munabao route link will also open in near future. Opening of the Kargil-Skardu road link will also be discussed.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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


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