MonitorsPublished on Dec 08, 2008
The week saw India, specifically Tamil Nadu, adopting a rigid stand against the remarks made by the Sri Lankan Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka during his interview with Sunday Leader. In his interview, Fonseka described Tamil Nadu politicians like Nedumaran and Vaiko as "jokers".
South Asia South Asia Weekly 49

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">India angry at Army Chief remarks

The week saw India, specifically Tamil Nadu,  adopting a rigid stand against the remarks made by the Sri Lankan Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka during his interview with Sunday Leader. In his interview, Fonseka described Tamil Nadu politicians like Nedumaran and Vaiko as “jokers”. The statement made Tamil Nadu politicians furious who in turn demanded an unconditional apology from the Sri Lanka Defence Minister. While Vaiko in his turn described the Army Chief as “lunatic”, New Delhi also expressed its displeasure over the entire issue. However, an apology was tendered by the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary and the brother of the President, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Though the remarks made by the Army Chief caught the headlines, the critical issue of coastline security in Tamil Nadu remained muted. Following India’s 26/11, the coastline security across Chennai and other South Indian states was beefed up, especially after the Indian Navy and Coast Guards came across eight blood-stained and bullet hit dinghies in a week across the sea bordering India. Though the Chennai Police rejected the theory of the injured LTTE cadres infiltrating the South Indian towns, the Coast Guard was diligently pursuing the investigations.

< class="maroontitle">Delay in Constitution drafting 
The continuing differences between the major political parties on several pertinent issues have delayed the new Constitution drafting process. Despite the Constituent Assembly (CA) work management advisory committee directing the political parties to nominate their members in the CA committees within a week the parties have failed to name their representatives to represent in the parliamentary committees. The special committees will have 16 members from the CPN-Maoist party, 9 each from the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, 4 from Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, and two from Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party including one representative each from the smaller parties.

The CA Chairman Subash Nemwang has asked parties to submit the names but the major parties including the Maoists, NC and MJF have not nominated their representatives. The Dalit Janajati Party and Sadbhavana Party (SP) have also failed to submit the names of their representatives. Even the former UML Chief Madhav Nepal has refused to head the political coordination committee alleging that it constitutes of only junior members. In fact, the Prime Minister, Deputy PM and other senior leaders are not in the committee. Apparently, the parties are still at loggerheads on giving a concrete shape to the political committee and this is delaying the process of Constitution drafting. Besides, they are yet to choose chairpersons for heading each of these committees. The committee is mandated to start the process of drafting the new Constitution within the given timeframe of two years but it is yet to start its work.

< class="maroontitle">Emergency to be lifted

The military backed caretaker government on December 11 declared lifting of Emergency from December 17.  The government also withdrew  restrictions on holding rallies and meetings from December 12. The decision has ended doubts about the caretaker government’s intentions about holding the elections. The country is all set for the Ninth Parliamentary elections on December 29.. The lifting of Emergency was welcomed by all section of the people.

< class="maroontitle">India pledge $100 million aid

During a first-ever trip to India in his capacity as the Foreign Minister of the Maldives, Ahmed Shaheed succeeded in setting the positive framework that will mark India’s relationship with the newly-formed multi-party coalition of Mohamed Nasheed ‘Anni’ in future. India pledged an assistance of $100 million to the Maldives to ease the country’s economic difficulties and growing budget deficit. The aid will mainly come as interest free loans, declared Ahmed Shaheed while talking to a Maldivian newspaper. He also said this generous help by India is a reflection of strong bilateral relations between the two countries and India’s recognition of its close neighbour embracing unprecedented democratic reforms which India has supported all along. India earlier also provided generous assistance in every field of the Human Resource Development. Besides, the visit has also prepared a blueprint for the visit of President Anni in the near future.    

< class="maroontitle">UN Sanctions LeT

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday (11th December 2008) imposed sanctions on the Pakistan-based Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD), after declaring it a terrorist outfit. Four of the organization’s top leaders--founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of operations Zaki-ur-Rehman, finance chief Haji Mohammad Ashraf and a key financer Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq--have been branded terrorists. The UN has also asked member states to freeze the assets of the four LeT men and imposed a travel ban and arms embargo on them. Reacting to the UN sanctions, the Pakistan government, which has opposed such an action since the Indian government pointed fingers at the group’s involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks, detained Saeed and sealed several JuD offices and training camps across the country. 

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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


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