MonitorsPublished on Oct 20, 2008
In a bid to pacify internal as well as external concerns, India decided to send relief supplies to the trapped Tamil civilians in the Wanni war zone through international relief committees like the Red Cross. The intervention is different in two ways from the earlier Indian interventions in Sri Lanka.
South Asia South Asia Weekly 42

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">India sends relief supplies to Sri Lanka

In a bid to pacify internal as well as external concerns, India decided to send relief supplies to the trapped Tamil civilians in the Wanni war zone through international relief committees like the Red Cross. The intervention is different in two ways from the earlier Indian interventions in Sri Lanka. Firstly, this time India brings in the international humanitarian agencies to carry out its tasks which in 1987 it performed unilaterally by airlifting relief supplies to the beleaguered Tamils of Sri Lanka. Secondly, the supplies were sent with prior Sri Lanka’s concurrence which was certainly not the case with India’s earlier attempts. Though in an interview to a Chennai magazine LTTE political chief P.Nadesan claimed that separate Eelam would be safer for India’s interests, Indian government made its stand clear by ruling out direct intervention in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, even if it involves danger to its own stability after the withdrawal of one of its coalition partner. Sri Lanka, on its part, have also showed deep understanding of the prevailing political compulsions in India and thus, chosen not to react to the utterances echoing from Tamil Nadu. This shows maturity in the conduct of relations between the two countries providing thus, for a long term broad-based partnership.           

< class="maroontitle">PLA integration likely to delay
The integration of the People’s Liberation Army of the Maoists into the Nepal Army (NA) is currently the mostly widely debated issue in Nepal. The issue became more contentious after main opposition party Nepali Congress raised serious objection to integration of politically indoctrinated PLA into the army. Even the ruling allies like UML and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) have voiced similar concerns. However, the government is working hard to finalise the modality of integration and discussions were underway on the issue.
The Maoists led government conveyed a special meeting of senior leaders of the four parties- Maoists, UML, MJF and NC, to form a special cabinet committee to carry out the process of army integration and thrash out issues, which has become a much disputed.  After several round of meetings, the parties have failed to reach an understanding over the composition of the committee. The Maoists demanded to head the committee but later gave up and asked for two seats, which has been out rightly rejected by others. Likewise, the Maoists want five members to be in the committee while the NC and others are strongly proposing to have four members, one from each party. The committee is mandated to implement the army integration issue and oversee the process. However, the issue remains unresolved due to divergent political interests and is likely to be delayed. The issue assumes greater significance as it is linked with the ongoing peace process which continues to remain vulnerable.

< class="maroontitle">Bangladesh Pakistan ties to enhance

Chief of Bangladesh Army General Moeen Uddin Ahmed visited Pakistan on a six day official visit starting from October 21. Gen. Ahmed held meetings with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC) Gen. Tariq Majid, Defence Minister Chowdhury Ahmed Mukhtar, Chief of Pakistan Army Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir and acting Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Shahid Lateef. During the Gen. Ahmed’s visit Pakistan emphasized on the need for enhancing bilateral relations and discussed in detail prospects of cooperation in areas of trade, commerce, agriculture and development of the armed forces of the two countries. Expressing the need for increased bilateral cooperation Pakistan’s CJCSC during his meeting with Gen. Ahmed highlighted the importance of special relations that exist between Pakistan and Bangladesh, which are characterized by commonality of views. The main objective of the visit was expansion of military ties. In this regard both sides are contemplating to hold joint exercises, training and course, joint venture in defence production and purchase of defence equipment. As a step forward Gen. Moeen was briefed about JF-17 multirole Fighter Aircraft, AL Khalid MBTs (Main battle tank) and AL Zarrar MBTs. Bangladesh Army Chief expressed interest in establishing a joint-venture project in Bangladesh to upgrade Bangladesh’s 300 Type 59 MBTs to Al Zarrar standards.

< class="maroontitle">Irregularities in Voter’s List found

Several irregularities had been found in the voter’s list. The last time changes in the voter’s registry rules failed to keep the elections absolutely free and fair in its first round. Moreover, the ink which was used to put on the finger of the voter to prevent double voting has also been found to be faulty. All these discrepancies noted by half of the 104 observers deployed by the Transparency Maldives at various places makes way for a double voting thus, putting a question mark on the credibility of results. Money from the public exchequer was liberally used to buy voters loyalties and free lunches were given. But overall the patience showed by voters paved the way for the peaceful elections. However, the things could boil in the second round of the elections, warns one of the election monitoring agency. Election Commission is therefore, asked to take precautionary measures ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections duw to take place on October 28.              

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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


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