MonitorsPublished on Jan 05, 2009
Sri Lanka imposed a ban on LTTE following the organisation¿s failure to release 2,50,000 civilians from its hold. The civilians are often caught in the crossfire taking place between LTTE and the Sri Lankan armed forces. Besides, in the absence of basic necessities,
South Asia South Asia Weekly 53

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">LTTE banned

Sri Lanka imposed a ban on LTTE following the organisation’s failure to release 2,50,000 civilians from its hold. The civilians are often caught in the crossfire taking place between LTTE and the Sri Lankan armed forces. Besides, in the absence of basic necessities, the civilians held in captivity by the Tamil Tigers are facing inhuman conditions. This is not the first time the government has banned the Tamil separatist organisation. In 1998, the organisation was banned in the wake of its daring raid on the sacred temple of Tooth at Kandy. The government however has declared its willingness to talk to the guerilla organisation even after the imposition of the ban.

< class="maroontitle">Army Integration Special Committee
The Maoist-led government has decided to reconstitute the Army Integration Special Committee (AISC) and initiate the rehabilitation process. Earlier, the committee was headed by Deputy Prime Minister and constituted members- two from the CPN-Maoist and one member each from the Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) and Nepali Congress (NC). The unequal representation of the parties in the committee drew lot of criticism and the main Opposition NC refused to join it. This has further delayed the army integration process, drafting of the new Constitution and made the peace process look shaky.
Despite the emerging differences between Defense Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Rookmangad Katawal over new recruitments in the Nepal Army and speculations over sacking of the Army Chief, the government is trying hard to create conducive atmosphere and continue with the consensus politics. Following the restructuring, Prime Minister Prachanda would now head the committee, and it will have eight members-two each from Maoists, UML, MJF and two from the NC. It is expected that the committee would start its functioning without any further hindrances. In a positive move, the government also agreed to fulfill the 9-points demands put forward by the NC which includes returning of seized properties to the rightful owners within three months. Besides, the government will issue directives to dismantle the paramilitary structure of the Young Communist League (YCL) within three weeks. Taking into account YCL's unlawful activities and growing anarchy the Maoists party has decided to act tough and try to silent their critics.
Temple row resolved-In another development, overturning his earlier decision of appointing new priests in Pashupatinath temple, Prime Minister Prachanda called upon the old priests to resume their daily work in the temple. Amidst massive protest demonstration at home and following fierce criticism from outside the country, Prachanda decided to roll back his decision and stick with the apex court order. Earlier, the apex court had directed the government to suspend the appointment of new priests.

< class="maroontitle">Hasina takes charge

On January 6, 2009, the newly-elected government headed by Awami League president Sheikh Hasina took over the reign of Bangladesh. With the new government swearing in, the two-year long rule of the military-backed caretaker government came to an end. In the new government, 28 out of 31 cabinet members are first-time ministers. Prominent among them are; Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni and Home Minister Advocate Sahara Khatun. The new government has brought back enthusiasm among people about the future stability of democracy in the country. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised to  build a new Bangladesh by 2021. The new Prime Minister has declared that her government will fight fundamentalism and militancy in her country and will also take action against the anti-India forces active in the country.

< class="maroontitle">Gayoom is back

Refuting the rumours of his having left the country, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom not only returned to his native place amid loud cheers from his supporters but also made a comeback to politics by hitting hard at the newly elected coalition government of Nasheed ‘Anni’. With parliamentary elections barely a month away, Gayoom criticised the government for allowing the parliament to go into recess without passing the crucial elections bill needed to conduct the forthcoming elections. Failure to pass the bills would lead to a constitutional void which in turn, would spell trouble for the nascent democracy. Worried by the growing popularity of Gayoom, the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party which is said to have close ties with the British Conservative Party has invited some Tories to take their advice on the possible methodology to contest the parliamentary elections. Considering the seriousness of the situation and to further criticism from his opponents, President ‘Anni’ has already referred the issue to the Supreme Court which, analysts warned, might create trouble between the executive and the Judiciary.     

< class="maroontitle">Political turmoil in PoK
The Prime Minister of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan,was ousted from power after losing a no- confidence motion moved by rebel members of Muslim League along with major Opposition parties in January 6. The motion was supported by 32 of the 46 members present in the Assembly. Mohammad Yaqoob Khan was sworn in as the eighth Prime Minister of PoK. Following the removal of Attique-led Muslim Conference government, incumbent political appointees and administrators were immediately sacked. The outgoing PM accused the PPP-led government of engineering his defeat.

In another development, former Chief Minister of Sindh  and Chairman Sindh National Front (SNF) Mumtaz Bhutto was arrested from his hometown on January 3 against charges of attacking the office of a Sindhi  newspaper office. 21 SNP activists were arrested in the protests that followed.
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      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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