MonitorsPublished on Sep 29, 2008
With Sri Lankan Army just two miles away from the de facto capital of the LTTE, Kilinochchi has turned into a ghost town. Most of the civilians have fled along with many humanitarian organisations leaving the LTTE cadres to carry out the counter-attacks.
South Asia South Asia Weekly 39

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Battle for Kilinochchi

With Sri Lankan Army just two miles away from the de facto capital of the LTTE, Kilinochchi has turned into a ghost town. Most of the civilians have fled along with many humanitarian organisations leaving the LTTE cadres to carry out the counter-attacks. LTTE was also calling back its cadres from various places like Muhamalai and Nagarkovil defence lines for the final push in Kilinochchi. Meanwhile, the office complex of the LTTE Political and Police Chief P.Nadesan and the secret passage of their Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman have been pounded by the Sri Lankan Air Force. The LTTE however, has not confirmed the report of any casualty.
As Sri Lanka is continuing its offensive against the Tigers in the North, India is doing its bit albeit ‘discreetly’ to prevent Tamil Nadu from emerging as the ‘procurement hub’ of the LTTE owing once again to a mass refugee influx in Chennai from Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu Police has recently been clamped down on some of the top-rung members of the LTTE logistics module who have come down to Chennai for obvious reasons. Tamil Nadu Police has made it a point to arrest these agents red-handed after following them for a while, along with their supplies and contacts.

< class="maroontitle">Armed Terai groups declare truce

The 14 armed groups operating in the Terai including the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) of Jaya Krishna Goit, Madhesi Tigers, Terai Madhesh Mukti Tigers, Terai Liberation Force and Terai Cobra have declared truce and expressed their willingness to sit for talks. They have announced the ceasefire keeping in the mind the celebration of Dashain festival. Last week, senior leaders of these groups held a weeklong meeting in some an undisclosed location in India's Bihar State, to forge a greater alliance. Their objective was to forge an alliance under an able and strong leadership and intensify their activities in the region.
However, following repetitive calls from the government to join the talks, they sem to be inclined to hold talks with the government but would like a formal invitation. They also  want the government to address their demands for an autonomous 'One Madhesh Province' including greater rights for the Madhesi population in government jobs, army etc. The government, too, has responded positively to the ceasefire announcement and talks offer. It has already formed a three-member team led by the Minister for Peace and Reconstruction to initiate talks with these groups. In a positive gesture, the government have decided to withdraw cases against those arrested during the Terai uprising. Most probably, the talks would start soon after the Dashain festival.

< class="maroontitle">HuJI launches political party

The banned fundamentalist terrorist organization, Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI), has floated a new political party called Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) with a nod from the caretaker government. The members of the party are mostly Afghan war veterans. Presently the party has formed a fifteen member convening committee. The objective of the country party is to establish Shariah law in Bangladesh. Sheikh Abdus Salam is head of the convening committee.  It was under the leadership of Sheikh Salam that HuJI was launched in Bangladesh at a press conference in Dhaka’s National Press Club in 1992. However, the party members claim that they do not have any linkage with the violent activities carried out by HuJI in the country. The acts of violence are the handiwork of a splinter group led by Mufti Hanan and Abdur Rouf.  The military backed government has levied certain conditions while giving permission. Some of the conditions are: - the party must run as per the country’s constitution, and not resort to violence to implement Shariah law.  The party had organized an iftar party in Dhaka this week to celebrate its launch. Besides Dhaka, it organized similar functions all across the country during Ramdan.  The party is planning to forge alliance with other small parties: Islamic, non-islamic, and ethnic and also will participate in the coming December election.

< class="maroontitle">MDPs accusation galore

Even as the newly-formed Supreme Court permitted both Presidential candidates, Gayoom and Anni to contest the elections after their candidacy was challenged by the conservative Adhaalath Party, the MDP woes were far over. The ruling Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party has now accused the largest opposition Maldivian Democratic Party for alleged linkages to those involved in the 1988 coup in which 19 Maldivians had lost their lives. The allegation was countered by MDPs Vice President I.H.Zaki by saying that the confessions of all the four accused had been secured through inhuman torture.In another incident, DRP accused MDP of bringing foreign influence in the Maldivian politics when Anni appointed an Australian born James McGrath who is in the Maldives on a tourist visa, as MDP’s campaign manager.
< class="maroontitle">New Army Commanders
General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani introduced major changes in the top hierarchy of the Army, with as many as four Corps Commanders and the Director General of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate being appointed on Tuesday (September 30). The move sends a dual message of Kayani systematically weeding out Musharraf loyalists from the army and retaining the army's firm monopoly over policy making on Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Newly promoted Lt. Gen Ahmed Shujaa Pasha takes over the reins of the ISI from Lt. General Nadeem Taj, a Musharraf confidant. Lt. Gen. Pasha, a former Frontier Force officer who was over seeing the on going military operations in FATA as DGMO is expected to closely coordinate with the US in eliminating 'pro-Taliban'      irregulars from the region. Gen Pasha attended all six of Kayani's recent meetings with the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.  His appointment comes amidst growing concern over ISI's covert liaison with the Taliban in FATA and Afghanistan, leading to greater and more audacious attacks on ISAF Forces. In fact, in the past three months, US forces have suffered greater casualties in Afghanistan than in Iraq.
The other significant change was the appointment of Lt. Gen. Tahir Mahmood as X Corps (Rawalpindi) commander. He was earlier serving as the Commander of Special Services Group (SSG). He was one of the Brigadiers, commanding the Skardu based 62 Brigade, who led the Pakistani intrusion in Kargil in 1999. In 2000, Mehmood was appointed as the Chief of Staff at 10 Corps from where he went as the FCNA Commander at Gilgit in 2003. Incidentally, Kayani too has served in most of these positions and is well acquainted with Mahmood.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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