MonitorsPublished on Sep 28, 2016
South Asia's Weekly report with news of peace brokering in Afghanistan among other news
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume IX; Issue 39 |Peace deal with HIG

< style="color: #0069a6;">COUNTRY REPORTS

< style="color: #0069a6;">Afghanistan

< style="color: #163449;">Peace deal with HIG

After months of negotiations Afghanistan finally signed a peace deal with militant group Hizb-e-Islami (HIG) and its notorious warlord leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on 22 September. The deal with HIG is a symbolic win for Ashraf Ghani who has spent most of his presidency struggling to revive peace talks with the Taliban. The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) supported the peace agreement. For more information, see: “Govt, Hizb-e-Islami Peace Deal Draws Mixed Reaction

< style="color: #163449;">Pak attacked by Afghanistan at UNGA

At the United Nations General Assembly, Afghanistan Vice President Sarwar Danesh slammed Pakistan for waging an “undeclared war” on its people by plotting terrorist attacks through groups such as the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. He urged world leaders to ensure that no distinction is made between good and bad terrorists and said that despite repeatedly asking Pakistan to crack down on terrorists within their country, they had not. Danesh added that world knows where Taliban leaders live", supporting India’s efforts to isolate Pakistan internationally. For more information, see: “Afghanistan Blames Pakistan ‘Financing Taliban, Haqqani Network"

< style="color: #163449;">USAF kills cops

Afghan officials say that a misdirected US airstrike killed at least seven Afghan police officers in Oruzgan province. The province has been overrun by the Taliban with insurgents besieging the capital, Tirin Kot for the past few weeks. On 18 September, a police post that was under assault was hit with a airstrike that was meant for the attackers. Abdul Qawe Omari, the deputy police chief for the province said that the post was “hit mistakenly and due to wrong directions or coordinates being given as the fighting was ongoing at the time.” For more information, see: “At Least  7 Afghan Police Officers Killed in Errant U.S Strike, Officials Say”, The New York Times

< style="color: #0069a6;">Bangladesh

< style="color: #163449;">No mid-term polls

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ruled out the possibility of mid-term polls. She also wanted to know why there is a need for one. She made the comment during a press conference in the sidelines visit to New York to attend the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly. For more information seeNo question of mid-term election”, The Daily Star

< style="color: #163449;">Second n-plant

Eight sites have been short listed in five southern districts – Khulna, Barguna, Patuakhali, Noakhali and Feni – for construction of the country’s second nuclear power plant. A committee comprising members from Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC), Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Limited and the Public Works Department has completed some of the initial preparation regarding the project informed Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman. For more information see:   Govt shortlists eight sites for second nuclear power plant”, Dhaka Tribune

< style="color: #163449;">Talks on Myanmar refugees

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina this week said that Bangladesh looks forward to working with the Myanmar's new leadership to find lasting solution to the next door neighbour's refugee issue. Prime Minister made this remarks in a summit on refugee issue held in New York. For more information seeBangladesh to work with Myanmar on refugee issue: PM”, The Daily Star, 21 September 2016; “Dhaka, Naypyidaw to resolve bilateral issues”, ProthomAlo, 20 September 2016; “Hasina invites SuuKyi to Dhaka”, Dhaka Tribune

< style="color: #163449;">India to invest $25b

Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla informed that Indian businesses will be investing an estimated $11 billion in various ventures in Bangladesh. Prominent among these companies are Reliance Industries, the Tata Group, Ashok Leyland, Hero MotoCorp, Airtel, Marico, Godrej, VIP Industries, Ceat Tyres, Ambattur Clothing, Sahara, L&T and the Adani Group. For more information see:   India plans to invest $25b in Bangladesh: Envoy”, The Financial Express

< style="color: #163449;">Garment exports up

Garment exports to India rose 30.86 percent year-on-year to $136.43 million in fiscal 2015-16. Rising demand from Western brands operating in the neighbouring country is the reason for the increase. In fiscal 2015-16, Bangladesh exported goods worth $689.82 million to India. For more information seeGarment exports to India on the rise”, The Daily Star

< style="color: #0069a6;">Bhutan

< style="color: #163449;">UN graft pact

Foreign minister Damcho Dorji deposited Bhutan’s Instrument of Ratification of the UN Convention Against Corruption on September 21. The Instrument of Ratification was deposited with the UN Secretary-General during the annual Treaty Event held on the sidelines of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA. For more information see: Bhutan deposits UN convention against corruption”, Kuensel

< style="color: #163449;">Japanese tourists up

A total of 3,348 Japanese tourists visited Bhutan during the three months of June, July and August, this year, according to the preliminary report compiled by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) on the Bhutan-Japan friendship offer. For more information see: Bhutan-Japan Friendship Offer sees sharp rise in Japanese tourists

< style="color: #163449;">Uri attack condemned

The government condemned the terrorist attack on the Uri Army base in Kashmir, India, on September 18. “Bhutan is deeply concerned by the despicable terrorist attack,” the foreign ministry stated in a press release read on 19 September. For more information see: Bhutan condemns Uri attack”, Kuensel

< style="color: #0069a6;">India

< style="color: #163449;">Rafale deal signed

India on Friday signed a contract to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation SA for 7.8 billion euros ($8.7 billion), the French company’s biggest-ever deal as it tries to outmanoeuvre its U.S. rivals in the global combat-plane market. An inter-governmental agreement was signed by Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, an Indian government official said. India’s cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,on Wednesday cleared the deal which was more than four years in the making. For more information see: India Signs $8.7 Billion Deal with France’s Dassault Aviation for Rafale Fighter Jets, The Wall Street Journal

< style="color: #163449;">Diplomatic win over Pak 

India on Thursday said Pakistan’s campaign to highlight Kashmir at the United Nations had failed even as the Ministry of External Affairs stopped short of giving a definitive answer on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to attend the November SAARC summit in Islamabad. Uncertainty continued over Mr.Modi’s presence at SAARC as India held consultations with Afghanistan and the US, and pushed Pakistan to shut down the infrastructure of terrorism affecting South Asia and the world. The MEA said the question of Mr. Modi’s visit to Islamabad could not be answered in a “yes” or “no”. For more information see: India claims diplomatic win over Pakistan at UN, The Hindu

< style="color: #163449;">No water release, resolves Karnataka

After a day-long special session, the two Houses of the Karnataka legislature, on Friday, unanimously passed a resolution stating that “it is imperative for the State government to ensure” that no water is drawn from the four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin “except for drinking water requirements of villages and towns in the Cauvery basin and for the entire city of Bengaluru.” For more information see:  “No water to spare, resolves Karnataka” , The Hindu

< style="color: #163449;">Indian Naval ships in South Africa

Indian Naval ships Kolkata, Trikand, and Aditya arrived at Durban on Tuesday, for a three day visit, an official statement said.The statement issued by Indian Navy called is a demonstration of India's "commitment to its ties with South Africa and to maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region". For more information see: Indian Naval ships visit South Africa, The Business Standard

< style="color: #163449;">Crisis in Uttarakhand Congress

It’s a new crisis brewing in the Congress unit of Uttarakhand Just three months after the crucial trust-vote, two PDF MLAs are here to meet Congress general secretary in-charge Ambika Soni. Sources say their “grief” is against state Congress chief Kishor Upadhyay, who is allegedly “discrediting the state government”, during the run-up to the Assembly elections, due next year. For more information see: Fresh crisis brewing in Uttarakhand Congress”, The Asian Age

< style="color: #0069a6;">Maldives 

< style="color: #163449;">On Commonwealth agenda

Meeting for the third time in the year on Maldives, the nine-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) placed the nation on its ‘Agenda’, and warned of suspension from its Council meetings if the Government did not address the six ‘Objectives’ set out in February. Both the Government and the Opposition claimed victory, though the truth, at best, lay in between. For more information, see: “Maldives placed on Commonwealth agenda, warned of suspension”, Maldives Independent, 24 September 2016; “The Maldives has not been suspended from CMAG”, Miadhu, 24 September 2016; “The Maldivian Democratic Party welcomes the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)’s decision to place the Maldives on its formal agenda”; Maldivian Democratic Party, 24 September 2016; “Commonwealth urged to suspend Maldives over ‘slide to dictatorship’”, Maldives Independent, 19 September 2016; “The Maldives has shown the world that small States can have a big impact in making the world a better place: Foreign Minister”, Miadhu, 22 September 2016; “Immigration revokes passport of MDP chairperson, ex-vice president’s associates”, Maldives Independent, 22 September 2016; “Ex-defence minister under investigation over Yameen’s detention in 2010”, Maldives Independent, 20 September 2016; “Ameen Faisal questioned in relation to President Yameen’s arrest in Nasheed reign”, SunOnline, 19 September 2016; “Riko: Will take MDP to level that say Nasheed does not control it”, SunOnline, 19 September 2016; “Alhan: President Nasheed was the first to destroy the Constitution”, SunOnline, 18 September 2016; “Riko: Will take MDP to level that say Nasheed does not control it”, SunOnline, 19 September 2016; “Alhan: President Nasheed was the first to destroy the Constitution”, SunOnline, 18 September 2016; “President Yameen has lost all his pillars of support: Umar”, Miadhu

< style="color: #163449;"> IAF to assist MNDF

Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) chief, Maj-Gen Ahmed Shiyam, met with Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar and all three Services chiefs in New Delhi during a four-day visit, when India promised special assistance to strengthen the archipelago-nation’s counterpart. The MNDF air wing now comprises two helicopters gifted by Indian Air Force (IAF), which is also imparting training to Maldivian personnel. For more information, see: “India: Will provide special assistance to strengthen Maldivian Air Force”, SunOnline, 23 September 2016; “Chief of Defense Force Major General Ahmed Shiyaam departs to India on official visit”, SunOnline, 18 September 2016; “If a Maldivian faces a burden, that will be a burden for me as well: Akhilesh Mishra”, Miadhu, 20 September 2016; “Indian High Commissioner visits IGMH to see IGMH renovation work”, Miadhu

< style="color: #0069a6;">Myanmar 

< style="color: #163449;">Suu Kyi pledge on human rights

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pledged to promote human rights in Rakhine State as she made her UN debut as her country’s de facto leader on September 21.  “We are committed to a sustainable solution that will lead to peace, stability and development for all communities within” Burma, she said. For more information see: Daw Aung San SuuKyi asks international community for patience in Rakhine”, Myanmar Times, 23 September 2016; “SuuKyi defends stance on Rohingya in UN address

< style="color: #163449;">Army offensive in Kachin

Government forces in northern Burma are continuing to close in on Kachin Independence Army (KIA) positions, according to sources from the ethnic armed group. KIA spokesperson Col. Naw Bo told DVB that Burmese infantry units with artillery support advanced on a KIA- controlled area along the Ingkhambum hill range in Waingmaw Township, southeast of the state capital Myitkyina, on 21 September. For more information see: Burma Army continues advance on KIA positions”, DVB, 23 September 2016; “Burma Army Offensive Continues in Kachin State: KIA Spokesman”, The Irrawaddy

< style="color: #163449;">CTBT ratified

Burma and the southern African nation of Swaziland on Wednesday became the latest countries to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).The multilateral agreement, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 1996 but has yet to come into force, bans all nuclear explosions, for both military and civilian purposes. For more information see: Burma ratifies CTBT, 20 years after signing treaty”, DVB

< style="color: #0069a6;">Nepal

< style="color: #163449;">Declined remittance

According to a monthly report of Nepal Rastra Bank released on September 22, the country received only Rs 51.94 billion in remittances in the first month, which is low from the corresponding period last fiscal year.  The decline in the number of outbound workers, particularly to the Gulf countries and Malaysia, is due to the free-visa-free-ticket issue, the massive earthquakes last year and the crash in petroleum prices, etc, have led to shrinking demand for Nepali workers. For more information, see:Remittances decline as number of outbound workers falls’, Republica

< style="color: #163449;">Chinese media blames India

The Chinese media has accused India of "interfering" in its relations with Nepal and 'pressuring' new leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to move away from Beijing. That Prachanda last week chose India as his first overseas destination as Prime Minister rather than China - as he had done eight years ago - has appeared to rankle with Chinese strategic experts and State media. For more information, see: ‘Chinese media irked by Nepal PM Prachanda's India visit’, India Today

< style="color: #163449;">Health bill soon

Health Minister Gagan Thapa has said the government is expected to present a bill relating to health insurance policy for citizens with a view to ensuring their access to health facilities at the parliament within the next two months. Health posts in eastern VDCs such as Mugu, Dolphu, Kimri and Pulu remain out of operation most of the time due to medicine shortage and absenteeism of health workers. For more information, see: ‘Health insurance-related bill soon: Minister Thapa’, The Kathmandu Post, 22 September 2016; ‘Locals forced to visit shaman in absence of health workers’, Republica

< style="color: #0069a6;">Pakistan

< style="color: #163449;">PM blames India

After making strong statements against India at the UN, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the attack on the Uri military base in India may be a reaction to ‘Indian atrocities’ in Kashmir. The premier rejected the Indian allegations on Uri attack as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘without any evidence’. He also wondered how India had hurled accusations against Pakistan only hours after the Uri incident without holding any inquiry or investigation. For more information, see:  “Uri assault may be a reaction of atrocities in Kashmir: Nawaz”, The Express Tribune, 24 September 2016; “India steps up attacks on Pakistan at UN”, The Nation

< style="color: #163449;">Russia military drills not in PoK

While Russian troops have arrived in Pakistan to hold their first ever joint military drills, Moscow has confirmed that the drills will not be held in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir or PoK, but in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa instead. About 200 servicemen from both sides will be participating in the exercise, called Druzhba-2016 (Friendship-2016). "The objectives of the joint exercise include developing cooperation between ground forces of the two countries, improving tactical abilities of the participating military personnel and developing a foundation for future interactions," the Pakistan embassy in Moscow said in a statement. For more information, see: Russia-Pakistan to hold joint military drills, Moscow says not in sensitive areas”, India Today

< style="color: #163449;"> China support on war

The Pakistan army has released a statement that it will defend “each and every” inch of Pakistan “no matter what the cost”. Addressing officers at the National Counter-terrorism Centre, Chief of the Army, Gen Raheel Sharif, said that the armed forces have the “capability to counter the complete threat spectrum”. In light of the growing tensions between Pakistan and India, China too has assured Pakistan of its full support in case of foreign aggression and has supported Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue. For more information, see: Army will defend every inch of Pakistan”, Dawn, 23 September 2016; “China to support Pakistan against foreign aggression”, Dawn

< style="color: #0069a6;">Sri Lanka 

< style="color: #163449;">Sri Lankan President guarantees peace

In his address to the UN General Assembly for the second successive year, President Maithiripala Sirisena said that the current ethnic reconciliation process in the country would ensure permanent peace and also check against another war in the country. The Joint Opposition identified with predecessor President Mahinda Rajapaksa, meanwhile, took exception to outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for a ‘new Union’ in the country and said that former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the international community and the Tamil Diaspora were together at it. For more information, see: “Reconciliation will ensure permanent peace – Prez tells UNGA”, The Island, 23 September 2016; “We will strengthen reconciliation to avoid another war: President”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 September 2016; “UN Chief ends his tenure with positive note on SL”, Daily Mirror Online, 21 September 2016; “SL an example to other countries: Obama”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 September 2016; “John Kerry re-assures fullest support to Sri Lanka”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 September 2016; “Minister Samaraweera meets Prince Hussein”, Daily Mirror Online, 20 September 2016; “UN call for ‘new union’ disturbs JO…‘CBK, pro-LTTE Diaspora taking common stand’”, The Island, 23 September 2016; “EU top court advised to drop LTTE from terror list”, Daily Mirror Online

< style="color: #163449;">Flagging fishing issue

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, President Maithiripala Sirisena told India’s Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar about the damage caused to marine resources and fisheries by bottom-trawling from across the Palk Strait. To resolve the issue, he reiterated the need for bilateral negotiations involving fishers from the two sides. For more information, see: “SL concerned about damage caused to sea: Prez informs India”, Daily Mirror Online, 20 September 2016; “Sri Lanka, India working on ETCA”, The Hindu

< style="color: #0069a6;">PRIMARY DOCUMENTATION

< style="color: #0069a6;">Bhutan

< style="color: #163449;">Press releases

Lyonchhen met with H.E. Mr.Katsuyuki Kawai of Japan, Cabinet Secretariat, 24 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Myanmar

< style="color: #163449;">Press releases

Daw Aung San SuuKyi’s Speech to Assembly Cites UN As Inspiration”, State Counsellor’s Office, 23 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Maldives

< style="color: #163449;">Press releases

“Statement by the Foreign Minister at the General Debate of the Seventy-First Session”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 24 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Nepal

< style="color: #163449;">Press releases

Press Release Issued by the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations, New YorkMinistry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 22 September 2016 Press Release: Minister for Foreign Affairs to lead Nepali Delegation to the 71st Session of the UNGA in New York’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 19 September 2016 Press Statement issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs on some Points Mentioned in the Joint Statement on the State Visit of Prime Minister of Nepal to India’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 19 September 2016 Press Release on the Terrorist Attack in Uri’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 19 September 2016 Press Release issued by the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations, New York’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 18 September 2016 Press Release on The Rt. Hon’ble Prime Minister of Nepal visited NathpaJhakri Hydropower Project in Himanchal Pradesh’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 18 September 2016 Press Briefing by The Rt. Hon’blePushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ at New Delhi’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 18 September 2016 Press Release on The Rt. Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Engagements in New Delhi’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 17 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">BIBLIOGRAPHY

< style="color: #0069a6;">Afghanistan

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion pieces

GulshanSachdeva, “India’s Afghanistan policy is on the right track”, The Hindustan Times, 23 September 2016 Abdul Basit, “Afghanistan: The coming crisis”, The News International, 23 September 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Editorials

The Afghan push”, The Indian Express, 17 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Bangladesh

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion pieces

Sheikh Hasina, “Getting migration governance right”, The Financial Express, 21 September 2016 Imtiaz A. Hussain, “Transhipments and trade-offs: Extracting opportunities from obstacles”, The Financial Express, 19 September 2016 Azfar Adib, “How to stop digital terrorism”, Dhaka Tribune, 21 September 2016 Mubasha Hasan, “A party without vision”, The Daily Star, 20 September 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Book Reviews

Quest for knowing and understanding Bangladesh”, author-AbulMaal A. Muhith, publisher-University Press Limited, reviewed by ShahidAlam,  The Daily Star, 19 September 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Editorials

  Keeping our linguistic diversity alive”, Dhaka Tribune, 21 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Bhutan

< style="color: #163449;">Editorials

Wishing ourselves well”, Kuensel, 23 September 2016 System up”, Kuensel, 20 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">India

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion pieces

1.Raja Mohan, The risk-taker, The Indian Express, 24 September 2015 Manoj Joshi, Targeting a Fractured Pakistan: Why Covert Ops Are a Bad Idea, The Quint, 22 September 2015

< style="color: #0069a6;">Maldives

Transparency Maldives, “Gasim Abdul Karim: The hand that rocked the boat”, Maldives Independent, 24 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Myanmar

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion pieces

Ko Ye, “Military to Military Relations: An Option but not the solution”, The Irrawaddy, 20 September 2016 AungZaw, “Lifting Burma’s sanctions: Who is the real winner?”, The Irrawaddy, 19 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Nepal

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion Pieces

David Kainee, ‘Girls no brides’, Republica, 21 September 2016

Sumesh Shiwakoty, ‘Trapped in geopolitics’, The Kathmandu Post, 23 September 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Editorias

 ‘Build a system’, Republica, 22 September 2016  ‘Lights, camera, action’, The Kathmandu Post, 23 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Sri Lanka

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion Pieces

Kusal Perera, “Party anniversaries over: What’s in it for the people?”, Daily Mirror Online, 24 September 2016 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Cauvery violence reverberates across the Palk Strait”, South Asia Monitor, 23 September 2016  N Sathiya Moorthy, “UNHRC bug now bites India, but Sri Lanka is where the action is still”, The Sunday Leader, 18 September 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Interviews

Kelum Bandara, “Reconciliation: Progress made, more action needed – Douglas”, Daily Mirror Online, 21 September 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Contributors:

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 Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury & Sreeparna Banerjee                  
The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.