MonitorsPublished on Oct 12, 2016
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume IX; Issue 41 |Hundreds flee Kunduz



 Hundreds flee Kunduz

Heavy clashes between the Taliban and Afghan security forces have continued in Kunduz, forcing over 10,000 people, including doctors and other medical personnel, to flee the city with report of food, water and power shortages too being reported. The government has repeatedly assured the public that the situation is improving and that the Taliban are on the verge of being defeated. For more information, see: “Afghanistan: Taliban fire forces doctors to flee Kunduz”, Al Jazeera

Brussels Summit promises $15 b

The international community has pledged $15 billion to Afghanistan for the years 2017-2020 at the Brussels Summit. Nearly 70 percent of Afghanistan's annual income is dependent upon international donors, and about 42 percent of those funds go to defence. The US and the EU currently each provide about a third of all international aid to Afghanistan, with Japan being the next largest donor. President Ashraf Ghani expressed his gratitude to the donors on 5 October, saying that the success of Afghanistan has been a result of team work, but that dialogue was essential to take the country forward. For more information, see: “Ghani thanks global partners for $15.2 bn USD pledge”, Tolo News, 5 October 2016; “World donors pledge $15 billion for Afghanistan”, Al Jazeera

EU pact on refugees

Afghanistan and European Union have reached a deal to deport an unlimited number of Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan. The deal was signed after months of negotiations, with the EU threatening to withdraw aid to the war-stricken country. The agreement which was announced at the Brussels Summit, will push tens of thousands of refugees back into an active war zone. Afghanistan is the second most common nationality among asylum seekers in Europe after Syria, with close to 200,000 arriving in 2015. For more information, see: “Europe makes deal to send Afghans home, where war awaits them”, The New York Times, 5 October 2016; “Afghanistan agrees to take back refugees from Europe”, Tolo News


Drop in poverty rate

According to World Bank, the country has achieved success in reducing poverty. According to the bank,  extreme poverty rate has came down to 12.9 percent of the total population in 2015-16 from 13.8 percent in the previous 2014-15.To World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh country’s development experience in innovations such as conditional cash transfers, gender equity in education, and successful family planning is reflected in its notable reduction of poverty. For more information see: Bangladesh's extreme poverty rate drops to 12.9 percent, says World Bank”,

China to lend $40 b

China is likely to give a record $40 billion as a loan. The loan agreement is expected to be signed during President Xi Jinping's visit to the country Dhaka later this month.  China is likely to fund 21 projects in areas including communication, power, fuel, information technology, industries and development of living standards. For more information seeChina expected to lend Bangladesh $40 billion during President Xi Jinping's Dhaka visit”,


India releases Nu 500.5 mn

The Government of India (GoI) released Nu 500.467 million to the Royal Government under the Project Tied Assistance project, according to an Indian embassy press release.The released fund is for blacktopping of gewog connectivity roads. For more information see: India releases Nu 500.5 mn”, Kuensel

Two held for conning

Gelephu police arrested a man and a woman for allegedly conning more than 16 Bhutanese, promising to take them to the United States. The man, who is from Pemagatshel, was arrested on August 25, and the woman, who works for the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) in Gelephu, was arrested in September. For more information see: Sixteen conned, police arrest two”, Kuensel

Vehicular surge affecting air quality

Rapid increase in the number of cars is deteriorating the air quality, according to Bhutan State of the Environment Report 2016. The report says increasing vehicle population adds greenhouse gas emission in the air. For more information see: Increasing number of vehicles impacts air quality”, Bhutan Broadcasting Service

Infiltration foiled

Security forces gunned down seven militants in Kashmir on Thursday including three who tried to storm an army camp in northern Kashmir, the second such strike in the Valley after the September 18 Uri attack. Four infiltrators were killed when the army repelled three infiltration bids along the line of control, a signal that Pakistan has stepped up the offensive after Indian forces struck militants preparing to sneak into India from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on September 29. For more information see: J-K: Army camp attack, infiltration bids foiled; 7 militants killed, The Hindustan Times

Rahul against the BJP propaganda   

Facing flak for his ‘dalali’ remarks on the recent surgical strikes by the Army across the LoC, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said he “unequivocally” supported the military action but was against the use of the Army in political posters and propaganda by the BJP in a series of tweets. For more information see: I am only against BJP using Army for political propaganda: Rahul, ”The Hindu

IAF for more Rafales

The Indian Air Force (IAF) would like to induct more Rafale fighter planes, but any decision on this would be taken in the future depending on desirability, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said on Tuesday. "We would like to have more (Rafales) but it is a decision which will be taken in the near future, based on capability and desirability for the aircraft of this kind," the Air Force chief said at the annual IAF press conference. The presser comes ahead of Indian Air Force Day on 8 October. For more information see: Indian Air Force would like to induct more Rafale fighter jets: Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Firstpost The government has only been able to raise half of the Rs 64,000-crore it had budgeted for 2016-17 from spectrum sale. This prompted economists to say the fiscal deficit target for the current financial year was too stiff. For more information see: “Modi government's spectrum math goes awryBusiness Standard

Trade ties with Singapore up

India and Singapore Tuesday agreed to step up cooperation in countering threats of rising terrorism, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi terming cross-border terrorism and increasing radicalisation as “grave challenges” endangering the very fabric of the two societies. Modi, who held comprehensive talks with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on ways to enhance cooperation in key sectors, including trade and investment, said defence and security cooperation is a key pillar of strategic partnership between India and Singapore. For more information see: Singapore backs India on fight against terror, to step up trade ties, The Indian Express

Sri Lanka trade pact this year

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday said that India and the Island nation will be signing an enhanced bilateral economic partnership agreement by the year end and said that closer economic ties will benefit the five southern states of India. The enhanced economic ties agreement will be in addition to the existing Free trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries. For more information see: India, Sri Lanka to sign enhanced economic ties agreement by year end, The New Indian Express

Rahul visits ailing Jaya

Rahul Gandhi visited the Apollo Hospitals to meet Jayalalithaa who is undergoing treatment. Though He couldn’t meet Ms.Jayalalithaa, he enquired about the she was receiving. He remarked, "I came to extend my support to Ms.Jayalalithaa.She will be able to recover soon”. For more information see: “Rahul visits Apollo Hospitals, enquires about Jayalalithaa’s health The Hindu


Talks by mid-October?

With all political parties either nominating representatives for negotiations or promising to name them, the Government hopes to commence the promised all-party talks on political and judicial reforms by mid-October, Minister Mohamed Shainee, heading the official team, said. For more information, see: “Government hopes to begin direct talks with opposition by mid October”, Maldives Independent, 29 September 2016; “Faris, Wadde to represent PPM in all-party talks”, SunOnline, 3 October 2016; “Alhan to be dismissed from MDP”, SunOnline

Food price cut

The Government has promised to reduce food prices, after they were hiked unilaterally and without notice, after political parties and the public at large protested against the same. For more information, see: “Government promises to reduce food prices amid protests”, Maldives Independent, 3 October 2016; “President faces cross-party backlash over hike in food prices”, Maldives Independent, 2 October 2016; “Saeed: 40 percent of subsidy goes to foreigners”, SunOnline

Create environment for SAARC Summit

Without naming either India or Pakistan, the Foreign Ministry has called upon member-nations to create an environment in which the bi-annual summit of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November, could be conducted. This even as President Abdulla Yameen visited Saudi Arabia, his second official visit in three years, to discuss further Saudi funding for infrastructure projects in Maldives. For more information, see: “Maldives calls for ‘environment conducive to holding SAARC summit’”, Maldives Independent, 2 October 2016; “Maldives produces Maharaja Agrasen postage stamp”, SunOnline, 3 October 2016; “Discussion held on training broadcasters with help from Chinese Government”, SunOnline, 3 October 2016; “President arrives in Saudi Arabia on second official visit”, Maldives Independent, 4 October 2016; “President arrives in Saudi Arabia on second official visit”, Maldives Independent


Arrested for ranting

The National League for Democracy (NLD) in Naypyidaw has pressed charges against two local villagers accused of insulting the party’s chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi in a drunken, obscenity-laced rant.During an apparent bout of alcohol-fueled rage, the two men allegedly blamed the NLD leader for the hike in commodity costs since the party assumed power earlier this year. For more information see: Two men charged for obscene rant against Suu Kyi”, Mizzima, 7 October 2016; “Two charged for insulting Myanmar’s SuuKyi”, Mizzima

Obama lifts sanctions

President Barack Obama formally announced the lifting of US sanctions on Burma on Friday by terminating an emergency order that deemed the policies of the former military government a threat to US national security. For more information see: Obama lifts sanctions against Burma”, The Irrawaddy

Sagaing stops dam work

Sagaing regional parliament decided on October 6 to stop the Nantmarlon hydropower project, which was granted to IPG Co Ltd under the former government, according to MP Kyaw Htay Lwin of Homalin. For more information see: Sagaing stops dam project”, Eleven

Dutch tourist jailed

A Myanmar court on October 6 jailed a Dutch tourist for three months with hard labour for insulting religion after he unplugged an amplifier relaying a late-night Buddhist sermon. For more information see: Myanmar jails Dutch tourist for pulling plug on Buddhist sermon”, Mizzima


Connectivity a priority

A team of senior officials led by Minister for Foreign Affairs PrakashSharanMahat is leaving for Thailand on October 7 to attend the second Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Summit.  The Summit will be held in Bangkok for three days starting October 8 where Nepal will focus on promoting connectivity among the Asian countries as people in this part of the world are least connected. For more information, see: Nepal to give priority to connectivity agenda in Asia SummitRepublica

Land for hydro project

The developer of the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project has sealed land acquisition deals with residents of Achham and Dailekh districts, completing the process of pooling around 75 percent of the private land required for the scheme. Meanwhile, GMR still needs to acquire another 250 ropanis of land in Sattalla VDC of Dailekh district after which the private land acquisition process for the project will be completed. For more information, see: GMR signs land acquisition accords’, The Kathmandu Post

Tourism affected

Nepal's tourism sector has started bearing the brunt of Indo-Pak tensions as international tourists have started cancelling their bookings to Nepal citing safety concerns.  “Many tourists come to Nepal via India due to lack of direct air service. Out of total inflow, at least 60 percent tourists come via India,” said Ram Chandra Sharma, immediate past president of Pokhara chapter of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN). For more information, see: Indo-Pak tensions affect Nepal's tourism sector’, Republica


Pak border to be sealed by 2018 end

India has announced that it will be sealing the India-Pakistan border by December 2018. Indian home minister Rajnath Singh announced in a press conference on 7 October that India was preparing an action plan to completely seal the border after having met chief ministers of the four states that border Pakistan. The decision comes amidst growing tensions between the two countries following India’s surgical strike on terrorist camps in Pakistan. For more information, see: “India to completely seal border with Pakistan by 2018: Rajnath Singh”, The Times of India

Pressure on the army

In an unexpected move, the Nawaz Sharif government has warned the military over Pakistan’s growing international isolation and has sought consensus on several key actions. At an all-party meet on 3 October, two key decisions were made: the first is with regards to the military-led intelligence agencies agreeing to not interfere if civilian law enforcement agencies acting against militant groups. The second is with regards to the wrapping up impending conclusion of the Pathankot and Mumbai attacks investigation. For more information, see: “Exclusive: Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tells military”, Dawn

$500 m for Afghanistan

Pakistan has pledged $500 million of economic assistance to Afghanistan, with Sartaj Aziz, the advisor to the Prime Minister on foreign affairs meeting Ashraf Ghani on the side lines of the Brussels Summit and underscoring the need for continued engagement between the two countries. Aziz reiterated that it was Pakistan’s earnest desire to see a lasting peace in Afghanistan and that both countries should work together to identify projects according to their development priorities. For more information, see: “Brussels donor conference: Ghani commends Pakistan’s $500m aid pledge”, The Express Tribune

Sri Lanka 

New Zealand polls scheme on cards

Even while reiterating his Government’s resolve to abolish the Executive Presidency, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, at Auckland, said that the Government was considering to adopt New Zealand’s electoral system with modifications under the draft constitution. For more information, see: “SL to adopt electoral system of New Zealand with improvements…More powers to be devolved to provinces”, The Island, 5 October 2016; “Executive Presidency will be abolished says PM”, The Island, 2 October 2016; “Abolition of executive presidency should be reviewed – minister”, The Island, 3 October 2016; “SC rejects FR petition challenging national govt”, The Island, 4 October 2016; “Supreme Court reserves order on Sinharasa issue over AG’s objections”, The Island, 5 October 2016; “Sampanthan urges parliament to accept Wigneswaran’s word”, The Island, 5 October 2016; “Hindu Congress stand by Wigneswaran”, The Island, 4 October 2016; “JO struggles to explain UPFA turning blind eye to high handed TNA actions under their watch”, The Island, 7 October 2016; “Govt lacks political will to meet Wigneswaran’s challenge: former External Affairs Minister”, The Island, 5 October 2016; “Muslims will be protected: MR”, Daily Mirror Online

Fishers’ talks with India

Even as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called on his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi, while on a three-day official visit, their Governments announced the decision for their officials to meet in the city on 5 November, to revive the stalled fisher’s talks, involving Tamil fishers in the two countries. After extensive talks with Government leaders and officials, and also wide-ranging exchanges with the Indian industry, PM Wickremesinghe also reiterated the resolve for the two sides to Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) before year-end. For more information, see: “Indian and Sri Lankan Foreign and Fisheries Ministry officials to meet in Delhi on November 5”, Indian Express, 5 October 2016; “Lankan PM Wickremesinghe urges Modi to resolve Tamil fishermen issue”, New Indian Express, 6 October 2016; “ETCA to be signed end of this year: Ranil”, Daily Mirror Online, 6 October 2016; “India, Sri Lanka to sign enhanced economic ties agreement by year end”, Indian Express, 6 October 2016; “India pledges support for construction of proposed road system”, Daily Mirror Online, 6 October 2016; “Sri Lanka to build 100,000 barrels per day refinery with India’s IOC”, The Hindu, 7 October 2016; “Won’t allow any Chinese naval bases in H’tota: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 7 October 2016; “SL expected to take delivery of second US ship next year”, The Island, 4 October 2016; “MS invites Indian President to visit SL”, Daily Mirror Online

Not a boycott of SAARC, but environment not conducive

Seeking to contradict and clarify the Joint Opposition’s claims of the nation ‘boycotting’ Islamabad SAARC Summit, purportedly under pressure from India, the Government only felt that the current environment was not conducive for the conducting the same, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has clarified since. This, even as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said that Sri Lanka was opposed to terrorism of every kind, but added that an India-Pakistan war was ‘not an option’. For more information, see: “Sri Lanka didn’t boycott SAARC Summit: Mangala”, Daily Mirror Online, 7 October 2016; “SAARC must address terror, says Sri Lanka”, The Hindu, 6 October 2016; “War with Pakistan not an option, says Lankan PM”, Indian Express, 5 October 2016; “India, Pakistan should find a way of working together: SL”, Daily Mirror Online



Press releases

Press Release on the Postponement of the 19th SAARC Summit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 2 October 2016 Press Release on Nepal’s participation in the 2nd ACD Summit’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 6 October 2016



Opinion pieces

Mark Perry, “Afghanistan 15 years on: Obama’s sorriest legacy”, Politico Magazine, 5 October 2016 Cecil Adams, “Why don’t we bomb Afghanistan’s poppy fields?”, Washington City Paper, 5 October 2016 Waliullah Rahmani, “Afghanistan: Beyond reactive tactics and quick fixes”, Al Jazeera, 4 October 2016


Opinion pieces

Manash Ghosh, “Bangladesh's valiant campaign”, The Pioneer, 7 October 2016 Tamim Choudhury, “A bridge between Dhaka and Washington”, Dhaka Tribune, 5 October 2016


Opinion pieces

Bhutan’s Position”, The Bhutanese, 1 October 2016


Get involved”, Kuensel, 7 October 2016


Opinion pieces

1.Raja Mohan, Raja Mandala: Breaking the Panipat syndrome, The Indian Express, 04 October 2016 PratapBhanu Mehta, “Elena Ferrante”, Indian Express, 7 October 2016 Rahul Jacob, “Breakdown of LoC ceasefire will make it difficult for the army to control infiltration”, Indian Express, 7 October 2016


Opinion pieces

Mohamed Junayd, “Does Maldives practice what it preaches globally on human rights?”, Maldives Independent, 4 October 2016


Opinion pieces

Anthonie Versluis, “Rejuvenating Myanmar’s river routes”, Myanmar Times, 7 October 2016


Hong Sar, “Please come to the land of Buddha”, Mizzima, 8 October 2016


Opinion Pieces

Rishi Raj Adhikari, ‘Needs a little tweaking’, The Kathmandu Post, 7 October 2016 Ila Sharma, ‘The five basics’, Republica, 5 October 2016


The Kathmandu Post, ‘It’s finally here’, The Kathmandu Post, 7 October 2016 Republica, ‘Net effect’, Republica, 6 October 2016

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Ameen Izzadeen, “Lanka’s India policy: Mind the balance”, Daily Mirror Online, 7 October 2016 Malinda Seneviratne, “President Sirisena has spoken (on Eelamist myth-mongering)”, Daily Mirror Online, 6 October 2016 N Sathiya Moorthy, “If Tamils ‘rise’, would Sinhalas be far behind?”, The Sunday Leader, 2 October 2016


Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah Bangladesh: Dr Joyeeta Bhattacharjee Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale India: Shubh Soni & Pushan Das Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy Nepal: Dr AnasuaBasu Ray Chaudhury & Sreeparna Banerjee Coordinator: Mihir Bhonsale
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