MonitorsPublished on Mar 09, 2009
A suicide bomber believed to be from the LTTE Black Tiger suicide squad blew himself up inside a mosque killing nearly 14 people and injuring 20 others including a Postal Services minister Mahinda Wijesekera and Culture minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena during a congregation held to
South Asia South Asia Weekly 62

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">LTTE staged a comeback

A suicide bomber believed to be from the LTTE Black Tiger suicide squad blew himself up inside a mosque killing nearly 14 people and injuring 20 others including a Postal Services minister Mahinda Wijesekera and Culture minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena during a congregation held to celebrate the birth anniversary of the Prophet Mohammad. According to the government, it was the 11th such attack by the LTTE on the religious places. The attack once again proved LTTE’s utter callousness/disregard for other religions as well as human lives. Soon after the incident happened, the country’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa has asked for a detailed report of security arrangements that were in place at the time of the attack. Meanwhile, CID has taken over the investigation of the case. Putting restrictions on the conduct of such public functions were also being considered by the government.
The attack has further downgraded the image of the LTTE in the eyes of the international community ensuring that in future, it will never be able to regain a place it once enjoyed. The futility of LTTE’s appeasement policy towards Muslims also lies exposed after the incident. 
< class="maroontitle">Maoists worried over Nepali leaders visit to India

< class="maroontitle">The sudden visit of top leaders of coalition partner CPN (UML) and main opposition party Nepali Congress to New Delhi stoked fear among the Maoist leaders in Kathmandu. Last week, the NC president, Girija Prasad Koirala, the UML leaders, K P Oli and Bamdev Gautam and pro-monarchist Surya Bahadur Thapa were in New Delhi for political consultation with the Indian leaders including leaders from the main opposition party. The visits also coincided with the visit of former King Gyanendra to New Delhi and rumours are high that there was an attempt to topple the Maoist-led government with Indian assistance.

During his visit, Koirala met with senior Indian political leaders including opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Lal Krishna Advani. Apparently, the NC president's India visit has instilled fear in the Maoist party, and they anticipate that India might consider former King's proposal to provide space to the monarchy in the upcoming Constitution. Koirala also apprised the Indian establishment about the growing Maoist dictatorship in the country, however, dismissed rumours of meeting Gyanendra. On the other hand, the Maoists consider that these visits were aimed at toppling the government with Indian support. In fact, the timing of these visits are significant, as it took place amidst brewing political differences among the coalition partners and opposition party on several critical issues. Thereby, Koirala and other leader’s tour to New Delhi are seen as a desperate bid to oust the Maoist-led government.

< class="maroontitle">Extremists links suspected behind BDR mutiny

Faruk Khan, senior minister and coordinator of the investigation of the February 25-26 rebellion by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), on March 12 said that evidences have been found that militant Islamic organization Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh might have been involved in the BDR massacre. However, the investigative agencies have declined to provide further details about it. This statement is important because for the first time someone from the government has named any particular organization. JMB is a banned militant organization, it was responsible for the country wide serial bomb blast in August 2005 and 6 of its top leaders were executed in March 2007 by the military backed caretaker government. On February 25 the soldiers of BDR revolted against their senior officers on charges of discrimination and sprayed bullets on them. The mutiny that lasted for more than 30 hours cost 70 lives, mostly army officers who were posted on deputation. The BDR carnage has shocked the nation and many conspiracy theories are floating around. The government is under extreme pressure to book the culprits and unearth the person behind the massacre.

< class="maroontitle">Ministers bribed to recognize Kosovo?

In a shocking revelation, it has been found out that Maldivian ministers were heavily bribed to grant recognition to Kosovo. Maldivian Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed was one among the recipients of bribe being given by the leader of the Kosovo opposition New Kosovo Alliance Behgjet Pacolli. While the US commended such a move of the Maldivian government, President Nasheed ordered an inquiry into the incident. The entire incident came to the notice when an opposition party Islamic Democratic Party alleged that government officials have taken a bribe to the tune of US $2 million in exchange for granting recognition to Kosovo’s independence from Serbia. The news was first published in the local press. In an interview to the English daily, Maldivian Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed told the reporter that it was essential for a 100% Sunni Muslim country like the Maldives to recognize Muslim-majority Kosovo.                              

< class="maroontitle">Long March takes off as thousands flock to Islamabad
The Nawaz Sharif led long march gained unprecedented momentum over the weekend with thousands of protesters from most parts of the country converging towards Islamabad. Defying a house arrest, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief led protesters in Lahore and was joined by the police chief along with senior officials who earlier are said to have resigned. In fact three members of the Zardari government, Information Minister Sherry Rehman, Raza Rabbani and deputy attorney general Abdul Hai Gilani have also resigned in protest of the government’s repressive counter measures against the march. Dozens of activists were rounded in the past week to disrupt the march. This indicates the level of discontent against Zardari and his associates.
In the meantime, the Zardari government, under pressure from a visibly annoyed Army has been working towards an accommodation with the PML-N. The government is likely to file a review petition against the sacking of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, which by default will restore the Chief Ministership of Sharif. However it remains unlikely that the current political crisis will end any time soon as Nawaz Sharif remains unwavering on the issue of restoration of the judiciary, which a vulnerable Zardari is not going to accept.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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