MonitorsPublished on Mar 16, 2009
Initially criticizing Sri Lanka for having to carry out military onslaughts on the LTTE, United Nations lately come face to face with the grim reality when one of its own aid worker died in a cross-firing and three others including a teen age girl was forcibly recruited by
South Asia South Asia Weekly 63

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">UN, Sri Lanka coming together

Initially criticizing Sri Lanka for having to carry out military onslaughts on the LTTE, United Nations lately come face to face with the grim reality when one of its own aid worker died in a cross-firing and three others including a teen age girl was forcibly recruited by the LTTE to fight for its cause. All of them were providing humanitarian assistance to the trapped civilians in the war-afflicted North of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US Jaliya Wickramasuriya appealed to the LTTE to free the UN aid workers and the three children. He also highlighted the fact that “if the terrorists will kidnap the UN workers and their family members, the world can better understand how they treat innocent Sri Lankan civilians who are trying desperately to flee the conflict zone and seek safety.” After the episode, UN criticized the LTTE for its activities and asked the organization to negotiate with the government.

The episode came just after the LTTE political chief B Nadesan urged the United Nations to try Sri Lanka for war related crimes. However, the UN bent towards Sri Lanka became evident when Inner City Press leaked the secret official document from the office of UN Under-secretary General of Human Rights John Holmes highlighting the casualty figures ranging in thousands in a recent ongoing ethnic war in Sri Lanka. That the document was not made public shows UN concurrence with the policies of Sri Lanka in relation to the LTTE.              

< class="maroontitle">Rift between government and army deepens

Fresh row between the Maoist-led government and Nepal Army on government’s refusal to extend the term of eight Brigadier Generals in the Army has brought the two sides into a confrontation position. The Nepal Army Chief, General Rookmangud Katuwal, had earlier made recommendation to extend the tenure of Generals by another three years but the ministry refused to give them extension. Following the decision, the Army Chief met President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Prachanda and Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and tried to convince them of the necessity to extend their tenure. He also expressed serious reservation over the decision and apprised them of its ramifications.

The government’s decision drew lot of criticism from the mainstream political parties. The Nepali Congress expressed dissatisfaction over it. The major partner in the coalition, the UML also expressed dissatisfaction and demanded to withdraw the decision. Senior UML leader, K.P Sharma Oli even termed it Maoists ploy to capture power while the NC accused the government of politically intervening in the Army and bureaucracy. Though the issue seems to be more political in nature it will certainly discourage the moral of the army. Foremost, it is expected to worsen the already soar relation between the government and Army.

< class="maroontitle">Bangladesh vigilant on militant activities

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed on March 16 has urged her countrymen and the intelligence agencies to remain on high alter about the militant activities across the country. The government said that the Islamic militant organizations are active in that country and it is trying to stop their activities. Anticipating militant attack security has been beefed up in key government establishments like, Bangladesh Secretariat. Meanwhile, Home Ministry in an exclusive report said that there are twelve Islamic militant groups active in that country. The groups are:Jamaaul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Harkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji), Hizbut Towhid, Ulama Anjuman Al Bainat, Hizbut Tahrir, Islami Democratic fornt, Islami Samaj, Touhid Trust, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh(JMJB), Shahadat-e al Hakima Party Bangladesh, Tamira Ar-Din Bangladesh (Hizbe Abu Omar) and Allahr Dal. Among these groups, JMB, Huji, JMJB and Shahadat-e al Hakima have been banned, while others are operating openly. The government is also suspecting that these militant outfits have links with international terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and have been receiving international patronage in running their activities. To put a check on the source of international funding the government has decided to scrutinize activities of NGO’s, mainly those that were registered during the reign of BNP-Jamaat coalition (2001-06). The reason being that some intelligence report suggested that some of the middle-east based NGO’s active in Bangladesh were funding terrorism. The government intensified vigil against the militancy after it was indicated that militants might be involved in the Bangladesh Rifles’ bloody mutiny on February 25-26.

< class="maroontitle">Maldives to become world’s first carbon neutral country

Though Maldives may not emerge a winner in the carbon race in which the country who succeeded in controlling the carbon emissions within its boundaries wins, Maldives certainly made a big impact when its President Mohamed Nasheed declared that by 2020, Maldives will become a carbon neutral country. Maldives will accomplish the goal by introducing renewable energies and offsetting carbon emissions. The blue print for going carbon neutral was put together by a team of international climate and energy experts and primarily involves a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The eco-plan estimates 155 wind turbines and half a square kilometer of solar panels will be sufficient to power the entire country. In Male’, a biomass power station fuelled by burning coconut husks will provide additional energy while battery banks will provide back-up for times of emergency. Decarbonising will undoubtedly be costly but with US $ 100 for a barrel of oil, the entire project will pay for itself in ten years with the Maldives no longer relying on oil imports. The long-term benefits are indisputable: energy independence, an unpolluted environment and the establishment of the Maldives as the world’s foremost eco-destination.                                

< class="maroontitle">Sacked Chief Justice reinstated

What is seen as a victory of the people, sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary was reinstated following a hugely attended long march organised by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the legal community. Chaudhary was sacked in November 2007 by President Musharraf after he was reinstated by the Supreme Court. Musharraf had dismissed in March 2007 when he launched a close scrutiny of some controversial decisions take by the Musharraf government. Chaudhary’s reinstatement prevented a confrontation between two major rival parties, PPP and PMLN, on the streets of Punjab. President Asif Ali Zardari had to bow down to the wishes of the people who were angry at his government’s role in the dismissal of the Shahbaz Sharif government in Punjab. The long march saw the political isolation of Zardari and an alignment-in-the making between Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and Army Chief Kayani.  Though Nawaz Sharif has claimed victory, the compromise was brokered by the US government and Pakistan Army.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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