MonitorsPublished on Dec 29, 2008
The week saw the culmination of long-awaited and much anticipated victory of the armed forces over the separatist organization, the LTTE. The so-called capital and administrative hub of an elusive Tamil Eelam Kilinochchi was finally liberated after 11 years.
South Asia South Asia Weekly 52

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Kilinochchi falls

< class="maroontitle">The week saw the culmination of long-awaited and much anticipated victory of the armed forces over the separatist organization, the LTTE. The so-called capital and administrative hub of an elusive Tamil Eelam Kilinochchi was finally liberated after 11 years. Not much resistance was put up by the retreating Tigers though, the area, army claimed, was heavily mined which might take some more time to clear before it resumes to its original grandeur. It was in 1990 when the LTTE took control of the town of Kilinochchi. It lost it in 1996 during operations Sathjaya I, II and III to the Army but regained it in 1998.

The loss of Kilinochchi dealt a heavy blow to the prestige and morale of the LTTE who seems to be loosing militarily. The fall of the district has further push the Tamil cadres inside the thick jungles of the Mullaithivu whose fall in the hands of the Army is again a foregone conclusion. While the LTTE has left Kilinochchi virtually a ‘ghost town’, it appears to be more a tactical ploy on the part of the LTTE to move to jungles in order to save its scarce men and material. Grappling with the shortage of men and material, it was indeed a wise decision. Once in jungle, it won’t take a minute for the guerilla organization to resort to its earlier time-tested terror tactics. Already, the fall of Kilinochchi was followed by two bomb blasts in the capital city of Colombo. Analysts believe that the same pattern will continue as to completely vanquish the LTTE is going to be a difficult task for the government to accomplish.
< class="maroontitle">Pashupati row and Maoist Army

< class="maroontitle">The appointment of two Nepali priests at the Pashupatinath temple, despite the Supreme Court order against such a move, has kicked up a row within the country. Traditionally, the Indian priests have led the prayers and other religious functions at the temple. The Maoist-led government justified replacing the Indian priests, who had resigned three and a half months ago, on the ground that the priests to the holy shrine were appointed arbitrarily by the ruling party. It promised to bring in a new legislation to regulate the appointment of priests through open competition.

In another development, former Maoist guerrilla fighters demanded the government to provide the same services and facilities as that enjoyed by the national army. The General Staff meeting of the Maoist's People Liberation Army (PLA) held in Kathmandu that since the PLA and the Nepal Army (NA) have been equally recognised by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Maoist combatants too should be provided with the same facilities.

< class="maroontitle">Sheikh Hasina is Prime Minister

< class="maroontitle">The much-awaited Ninth Parliamentary elections, which saw a turnout exceeding 80 per cent on December 29, saw the return of the former Prime Minister and leader of Awami League to lead the new government. The election also marked the transition of power from the military caretaker government to the democratically elected government. The Awami League (AL) led grand coalition emerged victorious with an impressive 263 seats out of total 299 seats. AL won 232 seats. Its major ally Jatiya Party (JP) Ershad won 27 seats. While its rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) faced a humiliating defeat by winning only 28 seats A significant outcome of this election was wiping out of Jamaat Islami from the Parliament  despite  claims of growing influence in the country. The fall of Jamaat clearly spoke of people’s dislike for the use of religion in the politics.

< class="maroontitle">New chapter in Maldives-Sri Lanka ties

< class="maroontitle">A new chapter was unveiled in the bilateral relations of Maldives and Sri Lanka with a two-day visit of the Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed ‘Anni’ to the island nation. Both the sides mutually agreed to further their cooperation in different areas of activity. The areas identified were the establishment of a good civil service, the area of IT development, Human Resource Development, education, health and archeology. Sri Lankan government has also agreed to help Maldives carrying out the archeological survey of the country. Besides, Sri Lanka also promised to assist Maldives in the development of the structures and institutions of democracy. While inviting Sri Lankan businessmen to invest in his country, Maldivian President Nasheed also asked for cooperation in the field of tourism which forms the backbone of the Maldivian economy.
< class="maroontitle">Forces launch operation in Khyber
Security forces, backed by helicopter gun-ships and artillery, launched 'Operation Daraghlum' (Here I come) on December 30 in the Jamrud subdivision in Khyber agency. The operation was aimed against Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the criminal gangs that have been given refuge by two of the tribes residing there. Recent months witnessed a surge in high profile kidnappings of westerners, and coordinated attacks on NATO trucks that pass through the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan.
According to Khyber Political Agent Tariq Khan, more than 150 Taliban 'miscreants' were arrested and stolen weapons recovered. Under the collective responsibility clause of the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), more than 38 houses of local tribesmen, including that of the local Taliban commander were demolished in the three day operation. By Friday the Khyber Pass was reopened and a convoy of three hundred NATO supply trucks safely passed into Afghanistan.
'Op Daraghlum' bears marked similarity with a previous operation launched in June 2008 against Lashkar-e-Islam chief Mangal Bagh which failed to target the militant leadership. Likewise, according to an Awami National Party (ANP) leader, militant leaders in Khyber either had prior information about the impending drive or were offered safe passage. Ambushes on NATO supply trucks are expected to resume.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      1. Anjali Sharma                                          – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      2. Joyeeta Bhattacharjee                          – Bangladesh
      3. Paul Soren                                                – Nepal, Bhutan
      4. Kaustav Chakrabarti, Aashti Salman – Pakistan


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