MonitorsPublished on Apr 06, 2009
Clock is ticking fast for the LTTE whose chief along with his son and some of his trusted colleagues has taken a refuge among the civilians in a No Fire Zone. Sri Lankan military intelligence has reported that LTTE's Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman has taken over the command of the dying
South Asia South Asia Weekly 66

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">LTTE issuing threats to Sonia Gandhi

Clock is ticking fast for the LTTE whose chief along with his son and some of his trusted colleagues has taken a refuge among the civilians in a No Fire Zone. Sri Lankan military intelligence has reported that LTTE’s Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman has taken over the command of the dying organization as Prabhakaran’s mental condition is deteriorating fast. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has assured the hiding LTTE cadres of his amnesty, if they decide to surrender. However, the ceasefire calls made by international community were categorically rejected.

Sri Lankan Tamil issue generated a great deal of controversy when pro-LTTE party Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Chief Vaiko advocated secession from India, if the centre fails to persuade Sri Lankan government for a ceasefire with the rebel group. The issue virtually became a crowd-puller in South Indian state of Tamil Nadu in a run-up to the Indian general elections. Vaiko’s fiery speeches and LTTE’s expression of anger against Indian government has send intelligence agencies in a tizzy when a word spread about LTTE planning an attack on UPA Chief Sonia Gandhi during an election rally. The charge was immediately denied by the LTTE’s political chief B Nadesan in Tamilnet, a pro-LTTE website.

< class="maroontitle">Nepal-China inching closer
The increase in high-level visit of officials, from both Nepal and China, indicates that both the countries are fast inching towards establishing a more stable and strong relationship. Last week, the Nepali Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav undertook his maiden official visit to China following an invitation from his Chinese counterpart Yang Jeichi. During his weeklong visit, Yadav met several high ranking Chinese officials including his Chinese counterpart and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. In his meetings, Yadav reiterated Nepal’s commitment to “One China Policy” and prevent any anti-China activities from Nepali soil.
Apparently, Minister Yadav’s China visit is aimed to seek Chinese assistance for Nepal’s infrastructure development, hydropower, tourism, science and technology, to lure Chinese investments, duty free access to Chinese markets for Nepali goods and get Chinese assurance to extend the Lhasa railway line up to Kathmandu. More significantly, it is aimed to finalise the dates for Prime Minister Prachanda’s forthcoming visit to China which is expected to take place in the first week of May 2009. China is also taking advantage of the transitional phase and the void created by India by offering additional financial package for Nepal’s endevaour for development. It has already handed over draft of a proposed new Peace and Friendship Treaty to strengthen bilateral ties. In fact, after the Maoists came into power in Kathmandu, Chinese foreign policy towards Nepal has undergone a see change. From being a silent and mute spectator now it is engaging in proactive diplomacy. By sending several high-level delegations, both from the CCP and government, China has already succeeded in cultivating constituents from all across the Nepali society and distanced it from its southern neighbour Indian influence.

< class="maroontitle">Return of rival politics

The political parties of Bangladesh have gone back to old game of playing rival politics. On April 9, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) staged countrywide agitation against the government’s decision of canceling the lease of the residence of Khaleda Zia, former Prime Minister and it Chief, located at Dhaka Cantonment. Rival Awami League government in a cabinet decision on April 8 scrapped the lease of the house accusing Begum Khaleda of running political activities from that house illegally and this violates the lease agreement. Bangladesh Army gave the house to Begum Zia after the death of her husband General Ziaur Rahman, who used to live in that house and was also Chief of Bangladesh Army. However, BNP claims that the government has taken this step to avenge BNP Chief and it is part of the AL’s agenda of suppressing opposition parties by using state mechanism.  BNP has threatened to launch severe agitation against the government if the order is not repealed. Meanwhile, Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister and Awami League Chief, has accused that opposition parties are planning to create chaos in the country.

< class="maroontitle">India intercepted Maldivian fishing boats

Last week, Indian Navy vessel Sukanya P50 intercepted two Maldivian fishing boats “Nemo 3” and “Big Fish 1” who unknowingly entered in to Indian territorial waters. Though the boatmen claimed that they were fishing within their own territorial waters, concerned Maldivian authorities have rejected their claims by saying that had they been fishing within the Maldivian waters, Indian navy would not have catch hold of them. They further substantiated the Indian claims by refusing to recognize the indicators given by the global positioning system used in the fishing trawlers. Later, Indian Navy let them off as per the clauses of the agreements signed between the Coast Guards of India and Maldives after a brief questioning. However, Maldivian National Defence Force’s (MNDF) Lieutenant Colonel Afzal described the whole episode as “one of the most terrifying incident that had happened during the recent history.”  

< class="maroontitle">Amid snubs and counter-snubs, ‘Af-Pak’ crawls ahead
Top US officials including special envoy to the region Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen held meetings with key Pakistani officials including President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Army Chief Gen. Kayani, Foreign Minister Qureshi, Nawaz Sharif, and ISI chief Lt. Gen. Pasha on Tuesday (April 7 2009) to carry forward the newly launched Afghanistan-Pakistan policy.
The US delegation let it be known that leadership elements of Afghan Taliban were hiding in the tribal areas and that the its shaura or council was in Balochistan; going to the extent of saying that this would have severe implications for US policy in the region.
Amb Holbrooke said that more than half of the militants in FATA were not ideologically motivated and offered to share with Pakistan its lessons from Iraq. In all likelihood, this points at future moves to identify and integrate the moderate elements of the militant movement in the Frontier. Pakistan might well be expected to commit more troops in population security operations in some of the more hospitable parts of the region and forge alliances with the ‘less ideological’ tribes.
Besides the formal exchange of ideas, Pakistan also expressed its displeasure over a range of issues by refusing a separate meeting with the ISI chief. Gen. David Petraeus’s recent comments on ISI’s complicity with the Taliban, an increased role assigned to India in Afghanistan and enlarged drone attacks have irked most in Pakistan. These issues will remain a bottleneck against implementing the new policy.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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