MonitorsPublished on Mar 12, 2020
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume XIII; 10

Sri Lanka: Working with India on the UNHRC front now?

N Sathiya Moorthy

At a time when Sri Lanka is being hauled up before the UN human rights affiliate, UNHRC, all over again, it may have found a more understanding benefactor of sorts in neighbouring India than at any time in the past. Yet, the differences between the procedural row that Sri Lanka is involved in over the unilateral withdrawal from ‘co-authored’ Resolutions 30/1 and 40/1 on war crime probes and related issues makes for a procedural departure while the UNHRC accusations against India is more direct.

In an unprecedented move, the UNHRC has approached the Indian Supreme Court, seeking to be accepted as amicus curae in the pending case on the controversial ‘Citizenship Amendment Act’ (CAA), 2019. Incidentally, under the Indian scheme, the high courts and the Supreme Court suo motu decide if they needed an aide or partner of the kind and also choose a person or institution, based on qualification and suitability – and does not entertain petitions from an ‘interested party’ of the UNHRC kind in this case.

Both the Government of India and the ruling BJP have reiterated that the CAA was an ‘internal matter’. During his recent India visit, US President Donald Trump too side-stepped the issue when asked at a joint presser with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but that has not deterred American official institutions from commenting adversely on the Indian law and also on the Indian position.

It is now left to the Indian courts to decide if the UNHRC or any other international body or organisation has any role in the pending case. It may also be then that the nations that are otherwise arraigned against India on this and what may have become a relatively forgotten yet presumably related ‘J&K Special Status abrogation’ matter to the UNHRC in the upcoming September session. New Delhi should not be surprised if any mention of either or both are made at the UNHRC’s ongoing 43rd Regular Session, which concludes on 20 March.

If someone in India, particularly BJP acolytes outside of the Government, thought that with China’s inability to get the numbers right at the informal UNSC consultation on the ‘Kashmir issue’ twice in almost as many months was victory for the nation, that is not so. Much of their celebration flows from inadequate understanding of international diplomacy and UN procedures. China was possibly seeking to keep the issue alive, to be taken up on another day.

The UNHRC’s current ‘India position’ is not much different from the West’s coinage of Sri Lanka under then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ‘shifting the goal-post’ on post-war political reconciliation, without the former leaving the terminology undefined and unrefined. If anything, both Sri Lanka and its western ‘partners’ from the concluding ‘Eelam War IV’ against the LTTE terror, were ‘shifting the goal-post’ and that of the other, especially.

It is a game that the ‘international community’ (read: West) has mastered over the decades, to telling and chilling effect. The question is how far will they go in the case of a relatively powerful and equally assertive India when compared to a smaller neighbour in Sri Lanka. The question also remains how far would New Delhi, too, would go, and if and how far it could also impact on the nation’s overall approach to the West, including in matters of strategic cooperation and military purchases.

Indo-Pacific ‘real estate’

India was among the nations that voted the first US-sponsored Resolution 19/2 at the UNHRC in 2012, which sought an ‘international, independent probe’ into ‘war-crimes’. New Delhi followed it up with a vote for an equally ‘watered-down’ resolution a year later. Unacknowledged by Colombo, which ultimately rejected the draft as publicly indicated, New Delhi did soften the original, to make it more acceptable to the nation’s international commitments, future projections and perceptions. As has been with American behaviour on ‘military intervention’ in nations from Vietnam to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the nation walked out not only on the Sri Lanka resolution(s) but also out of the UNHRC.

The UK and Canada are now the prime-movers of the resolution(s) since but the unseen hand of the US too is obvious. The question at present is if the US is pressing human rights issues viz Sri Lanka, beginning now with a ban on Army chief, Lt-Gen Shavendra Silva, visiting the nation, has more to do with alleged ‘war crimes’ alone of the ‘China factor’, military pacts like SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) and investment pacts of the MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation) kind.

Like with the co-authored UNHRC Resolutions 30/1 and 40/1, the previous Sri Lankan government had initialled the American initiatives on SOFA and MCC. Like with the co-authored UNHRC resolutions, the Rajapaksa-centric political opposition had declared his intention to scrap whatever deal of the kind on both fronts, during the long run-up to the presidential polls last year. Sri Lanka has since pulled out of the two Resolutions-related activities even while promising to work with UN bodies on human rights issues, otherwise. Almost simultaneously, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, a predecessor and elder brother of President Gotabhaya, has also declared his government’s decision not to sign SOFA and MCC with the US.

Senior American officials visited Sri Lanka after Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the war-time Defence Secretary, became the President in November last. Among them, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Alice Wells, who carried a personal letter for President Rajapaksa from his US counterpart, later described Sri Lanka as a ‘piece of real estate in the Indo-Pacific’. That was weeks after US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, talked as much about human rights as about bilateral cooperation, in his congratulatory message to the new Sri Lankan President.

While sounding positive, DAS Wells’ statement had all the tones of then US Senate Foreign Relations Co-Chair John Kerry declaring post-war Sri Lanka’s ‘strategic importance’ for his country. If someone in Colombo had mis-read the statement of Sen Kerry, who later became US Secretary of State, they were obviously wiser now viz DAS Well’s ‘real estate’ declaration.

Neighbourhood First

The avoidable Indian predicament on the human rights front now, more than any time in the past, may have enlightened New Delhi on what some in the nation’s strategic community may condemn as ‘dubious’ Indian behaviour and others may describe as a ‘de-hyphenated’, issue-based relationship. The situation is not unlikely to provide the Indian policy-maker and political leadership to revisit the West’s position of the past decade or so, viz Sri Lanka’s ‘war crimes’ charge and probe-demands.

Topping the Indian list for consideration in the matter should be the controversial ‘Darusman Report’, which was supposedly produced for the personal understanding of then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The document not only found its way officially to the UNHRC Secretariat for being cited in the High Commissioner’s Reports to the Council, but both the interim and the final reports were also promptly leaked to the western media – no questions asked, no inquiries conducted and no action taken against the errant official(s).

The current UNHRC position on India’s Article 370 abrogation and the CAA, coupled with on-again-off-again gratuitous observations of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and also UNHRC boss, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, may now cause New Delhi to look inwards after years and decades of extending its vision beyond its immediate horizon. It could mean India taking a closer re-look at PM Modi’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy with newer insights than was available even when it issued similarly gratuitous statements on other neighbours like Maldives, then under President Abdulla Yameen.

For India, the UNHRC game may still be in the warm-up stage. In preparing to face off the future threats and ‘actions’, if any, in the near or not-so-near future, New Delhi may be tempted to study the Sri Lankan approach through the past years, with changing governments and changing vision and views.

The last time the two nations worked together at the UNHRC, for instance, was to defeat the EU-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka, taken up for vote just 10 days after the successful conclusion of the LTTE war in May 2009. In doing so, India, in the company of China and Pakistan, its traditional adversaries, moved a counter-motion sorts in Resolution 11/1 applauding the Sri Lanka for ending terrorism and promising ‘assistance …in the promotion and protection of human rights’.

India: A moment for Indian National Congress

Ambar Kumar Ghosh

As the Indian politico-social landscape is witnessing a moment of tremendous churning, it is an imperative to delve into the nature of electoral democracy that India is moulding into and what are the political alternatives it offers to assuage or mitigate the crisis. The brewing apprehensions regarding the economic slowdown have been doing the rounds for quite some time now.

Moreover, the nation was recently rocked by the civilian resistance against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, which culminated in the outbreak of a severe communal riot in Delhi claiming nearly 50 lives recently, further aggravating the social fissures which have always posed a challenge to the stability of a diverse and plural polity like India. A cursory glance at the evolving dynamics of the national political discourse in India would reveal that the ever-increasing chasm or void in the oppositional space at the national level is spelling a deep political crisis that can impact the very functioning of the Indian democracy.

On the one hand, the trajectory of the national political narrative continues to be heavily dominated by the politically ascendant Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). On the other hand, the regional political forces seem to pose a formidable challenge to the BJP’s political juggernaut, as revealed in quite a few regional elections in the recent time with the Delhi Assembly polls being the latest testimony of this evolving trend.

However, the gradual and eventual erosion of the political clout of the erstwhile political hegemon of Indian politics, the grand old party of India, Indian National Congress (INC), seemed to have tremendous bearing on the fundamental dynamics of national politics in India. As the rapid political rise of the BJP since 2014 has been simultaneous with the precipitous decline of the INC, the national Indian political scene is increasingly appearing to be unidirectional or unipolar in nature.

This is largely because of the inability of the INC to politically rejuvenate itself in order to pose a significant challenge to the political clout of the rising BJP and the political narrative that it offers.  This inability of the Congress to rise to the occasion as a credible oppositional force in the national political scene can be attributed to the dilemma that it faces in three crucial aspects -- in terms of its leadership, in the realm of ideological clarity and regarding the task of electoral mobilisation.

Leadership conundrum

First, history bears testimony to the fact that the Congress Party has revolved around the Nehru-Gandhi family for leading the party since the times of Indira Gandhi which heralded the era of centralised and personalised style of functioning of the party. The once robust and highly decentralised organisational bulwark of the party got dismantled with time due to the over centralising demeanour of the national high command.

As this led to the disappearance of mass-based regional leaders from the party, Congress became heavily dependent on the leadership of the Nehru-Gandhi family for its survival. In today’s scenario, when the present leadership of the Nehru-Gandhis seems to be unable to rejuvenate the political fortunes of the party, it is not being able to move beyond the shadow of the Nehru-Gandhis due to the intractable dilemma it faces.

As the yet unfulfilled recent demand for ‘action’ and immediate organisational elections from the party’s own notable leaders after Congress’s extremely poor show in the Delhi elections shows that the party is unable or helplessly unwilling to resolve its leadership question. After the exit of Rahul Gandhi as the party president after the Lok Sabha electoral debacle last year and the reappointment of Sonia Gandhi as the interim Congress chief, the party’s dilemma of being led by the non-Nehru-Gandhi became all the more palpable.

As the party failed to create a second rung of effective national leadership to fall back upon, any drastic change in leadership runs the risk of fragmentation of the party. While the Nehru-Gandhis may facilitate the survival of the party, but not its electoral success. So, as the party is still beleaguered in a leadership crisis, its response to the pivotal issues of national importance is feeble at best and delayed at worst.

Ideological labyrinth

Second, the party had been in two minds regarding its core ideological beliefs, more visibly, after the beginning of electoral dominance of the BJP in the national politics under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Secularism, one of the core principles of the Congress with all its limitations and shortcomings, seems to have become a liability for the Congress now in the era of BJP’s dominance.

This is because as the Hindu majoritarian political agenda gained political ground through electoral victories, Congress’s hesitation or insecurity to stick to the constitutional principle of secularism became extremely palpable. A manifestation of such insecurity can be found in Rahul Gandhi’s temple-hopping, Sonia Gandhi’s remarks and the party’s hesitant, divided and weak response to BJP-NDA government’s actions like abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir and the controversial CAA and the subsequent Delhi riots. BJP’s efficient propaganda tactics to attribute the tag of anti-Hindu and pro-minority on the Congress have also kept the Congress from explicitly pronouncing its ideological standpoint in opposition to the majoritarian designs of the BJP.

Electoral puzzle

As the Congress have rendered to be a weak force and hence the third or fourth political player in many states like Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and others, it faces an intractable dilemma during every election now, which was manifested in Delhi too. The dilemma is that as the Congress shares a similar vote bank with the dominant regional forces in many of these States, Congress’s better political show in these States would end up dividing the anti-BJP votes and therefore benefiting the BJP.

On the other hand, if the Congress gives complete way to the dominant regional party to take on the BJP, its own cadre and organizational base, which is rapidly shrinking, would erode further into oblivion. Hence, being politically active for better electoral mobilisation on its own or getting into tacit electoral strategic understanding with the anti-BJP forces to keep the BJP’s rise at bay, has become a major thorny political dilemma for the party to confront at a time when it is becoming more and more politically inert at the national level.

Need of the Hour

However, it is perceptibly visible that the Congress party has to stir clear of the cobwebs of dilemmas in order to ensure not only its own survival but for the very survival of a robust democratic fabric, in which the space for and role of credible opposition force is of paramount importance. Considering Congress’s abysmal helplessness, there has been demand for the demise of the Congress party for some other alternative to emerge.

But such possibility of radical change must be viewed with caution as for any other regional outfit to emerge as a national political force in the form of a counterweight to the BJP would remain to be a herculean and time-consuming feat. Recent attempts of some regional leaders like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal to directly take on the BJP at the national level were abortive attempts as these leaders remained occupied to fight the BJP in their own respective home turfs.

Hence, the Congress, with all its shortcomings and political emasculation, remains the most potent force to take on the BJP for the sake of its historical glory it can draw inspiration from.

Country Reports


US, Taliban sign deal

After 18 months of negotiations, the US and Taliban finally signed the agreement that would facilitate the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, in the next 14 months. The initial phase of the drawdown will be completed in 135 days, within which the US will bring down troop presence from the existing 13,000 to 8,600. In exchange, the Taliban has extended guarantees that Afghan soil will no longer be used by any group or individual to threaten the security of the US and its allies.

Prisoner-release uncertain

President Ghani announced that the Afghan government was not obligated to release 5000 Taliban fighters, currently held captive in various prisons in the country, citing the text of the US-Taliban deal that says that the US will “facilitate” the release, with no attributions to the Afghan government. The US-Taliban agreement states that upon signing, 5000 Taliban prisoners will be released by the government, and 1000 by the Taliban, before the beginning of intra-Afghan talks on 10 March 2020.

Parallel governments?

Based on election results declared by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) earlier this year, President Ghani will assume office for another term, beginning with the swearing-in ceremony that will take place on 9 March. Meanwhile, the office of the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah announced a parallel swearing-in ceremony, to be held the same day. Abdullah had rejected the election result claiming electoral fraud, and vowed to form an “inclusive” government of his own.


Indian FS meets PM

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla was in the country on a two-day official visit on 2-3 March. This was his first overseas visit after taking over, and thus highlights the importance of Bangladesh in India’s Neighbourhood First policy.  The visit was preparatory to the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 17 March to participate in the birth centenary celebrations of ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of Bangladesh’s freedom -struggle and father of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.  India’s top-most diplomat met Prime Minister Hasina and Foreign Minister Abdul Momen and discussed various issues of bilateral interests. The Foreign Minister is claimed to have expressed concern over the border-killings, and Shringla, who had done a term as the Indian High Commissioner at Dhaka, reportedly promised to look into the matter.

US urged to restore GSP

The government has urged the US to restore the Generalised System Preference (GSP) facility, which was suspended for Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, in 2013. The request was made during the 5th round of Bangladesh-US Trade and Investment. United States Cooperation Forum Agreement held in Dhaka this week. The GSP is a preferential tariff system, which provides tariff reduction on various products. Bangladesh requested to boost trade relationship with Bangladesh. The United States, however, informed to that to promote trade Bangladesh should have to improve both workers' rights and intellectual property rights.


First COVID-19 case detected

The Ministry of Health in a Press Release confirmed the first COVID-19 case in Bhutan on 5 March. The patient is a 76-year-old from the United States of America, who had come to Bhutan as a tourist. He had entered the country from Paro International Airport, after embarking from the Drukair flight KB241 from Guwahati, India on 2 March. Adhering to the National Preparedness and Response Plan, and the operating procedures in place, all follow-up actions were initiated immediately. His Majesty The King personally oversaw implementation of the response strategy, as teams operated from the Ministry of Health all through the night.

Study reports in a year

Marking the 40th birthday of the fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on 21 February, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering has announced several programs that the government is going to initiate in the areas of economy, technology, education and health over the period of one year. As for the economic guidelines for the 21st century, PM Lyonchhen said that they are already working on it by conducting national meetings and committee meetings and plan to submit all the reports and studies within one year, and thereafter start with the implementation.

NC session concludes

The 24th session of the National Council (NC) concluded on 5 March after deliberating five legislative and eight money bills, among other issues. In his closing remarks, Chairperson Tashi Dorji said that the session was one of the longest and expressed his appreciation to members. “I would like to request the committees to work with the same spirit,” he said. The session was frustrating for the House when it came to the Impeachment Procedure Bill and the Minister and Minister’s entitlement Bill. The House failed to convince the National Assembly to deliberate the bills, which were passed in the 23rd session. The NC passed two new legislative bills – Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill and Entitlement and Service Conditions (amendment) Bill for the Holders, Members and Commissioners of Constitutional Offices.


‘Delhi riots’ disrupt Parliament

The budget session of the parliament remained stalled due to the continuous protests by the opposition party, Congress who demanded a discussion on the recent communal violence in Delhi over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 which took a toll on more than fifty lives. In the light of such disruption, the Lok Sabha suspended seven Members of Parliament (MPs) of the Congress party for “gross misconduct” and “utter disregard” for house rules after they snatched papers from speaker’s table on 5 March.  In responses to the suspension of the MPs, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi further led a protest on 6 March in the premises of the parliament and reiterated the party’s demand for Home Minister Amit Shah’s resignation over his failure to control the violence in Delhi.

Coronavirus cases reported

According to official reports, as of 6 March, 31 people have been detected with positive cases of COVID-19 in India from Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. States such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh have also kept some people in quarantine. The Union Health Minister also reported in the Lok Sabha that a total number of 29,607 people are under observation of Integrated Surveillance Programme (IDSP) network for novel coronavirus as on 5 March.  The Health Ministry has also issued an advisory against mass gathering to avoid spreading of the infection.


Coronovirus hits

Authorities have identified two victims of the globally-dreaded coronavirus and isolated them, for treatment. The two are foreign employees of a resort-island, and the Government has shut down the island, and also quarantined all employees of the resort for screening before taking them off medical care. Simultaneously, authorities have cleared another resort of epidemic-threat after a Maldivian returning from Italy tested negative for coronavirus.

Development & infrastructure

Hitting out at the Opposition PPM-PNC coalition of jailed former President Abdulla Yameen, ahead of 4 April local council polls, Parliament Speaker and ruling MDP boss, Mohammed Nasheed, has said that development cannot be measured in terms of infrastructure, as charged. He also said that decentralisation of fiscal powers to empower island councils and other civic bodies through amendments to the existing law, initiated by the party’s incumbent Government of President Ibrahim Solih will go a long way in ensuring development, instead.


Trade with Thailand down

Trade in Muse, the Myanmar town bordering China, ground to a halt in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. The Thais have suspended imports of fishery and marine products such as mantis shrimp, squid and fish farmed or caught in Myanmar due to the scare of virus. The local fisheries trade has long been the bread and butter for residents in Tanintharyi. The products are exported to Thailand, which re-exports the goods to China.  As a result of the decline in trade, most of marine products are now being sold locally in Myeik and other local villages for a fraction of the cost. The local population are getting affected by the same.

Suu Kyi’s honour retracted

The City of London Corporation on 5 March has retracted an honour granted to Aung San Suu Kyi over the treatment of minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The move followed her appearance, as Myanmar's civilian leader, at the International Court of Justice in The Hague to personally defend her country against allegations of rape, arson and mass killings against Rohinghya victims. Ironically, Suu Kyi was originally awarded the honour – whose origin dates back to 1237 -- in May 2017 in recognition of her "non-violent struggle over many years for democracy and her steadfast dedication to create a society where people can live in peace, security and freedom".


All not well in Communist party?

The union of the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) to form one single united Left Front in Nepal has been facing the troubled waters recently. Prime Minister K. P Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal better known as Prachanda, the two leaders or chairmen -- have been caught up in an internal rift. At the same time, both of them are obligated to abide by the Party Secretariat’s decision. This time, the problem has been with the issue of replacing the present Finance Minister whose term is ending soon. Nonetheless, both the leaders have decided to bring in a more mutually conducive decision so that it does not harm the government as a whole. This incident should be an alarm for any further escalation in the future.

Precaution against COVID-19

A high level coordination committee for the precaution against corona virus has been adopted by the government. Lawmakers in the Parliament have become proactive in creating conducive market in the country so that they can become self sufficient in these trying times, without having to bring in any supplies from across the border, especially China.


Shadows over Doha deal

The peace deal signed between the Taliban and the US in Doha has been marred within days with controversies and the resumption of attacks on Afghan security forces. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is facing a political crisis, rejected the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners citing a clause of the US-Taliban deal. The Taliban, on the other hand, said they will not start the intra-Afghan talks if its prisoners were not released. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has warned leaders of Afghanistan to give up their stubborn stand for the exchange of prisoners. Qureshi, in his statement, said that Ghani should demand an explanation from the US on prisoner-exchange. The US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad maintained that the US is facilitating the prisoners exchange under the agreement.

Package from World Bank

As Pakistan is reeling under great economic distress, the World Bank has  approved the much-needed financial package of $300 million for improving the human development index and a loan of $200 million to improve social and health indicators in poorest areas of the country’s Punjab province. The loan will be used for providing benefits to pregnant women who are delivered of their children in hospitals or are attended by a skilled health worker at the time of delivery. The loan came after the World Bank project declared the southern parts of the Punjab province as having the highest percentage of malnutrition and undernourished population.

OIC backs UN resolutions on Kashmir

Yousef M. Al Dobeay, the special envoy of the secretary-general of the Orga­nisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), who led the high-level delegation to Muzaffarabad, said the Kashmir problem should be settled under UNSC resolutions through peaceful means. During his meeting with President Sardar Masood Khan,Dobeay said that Kashmir issue “tops the OIC agenda and is important for the Muslim Ummah”. The formation of OIC’s contact group on Kashmir in 1994 shows the importance attached to Kashmir and is close to our hearts, he added. The delegation also visited the Line of Control (LoC)where it was briefed about cease fire violations by the Indian army targeting civilian population. President Sardar Masood Khan thanked OIC for highlighting human rights violations in Kashmir and appreciated the proactive role of the OIC towards Kashmir.

Sri Lanka

Parliament dissolved

As anticipated, President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa dissolved Parliament at the commencement of the last six-month term of the House, when alone 19th Amendment empowers him the freedom to do so. The President, against under powers vested under the Constitution, has called for parliamentary elections on Saturday, 25 April.

UNP travails still on

Despite President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa calling for fresh parliamentary polls on 25 April, the Opposition UNP continues to remain in disarray, divided as it has been since the presidential polls that the party lost in November last. Party’s nominal Leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has given a long quarter to intra-party rival and failed presidential candidate, Sajith Premadasa, is unwilling to concede any more, and the latter is stuck to an all-or-nothing war-path. The Sajith camp has also registered a new political party with a new symbol, but the Ranil loyalists are bent on contesting on even a Sajith-led alliance contesting only on the UNP’s traditional ‘Elephant’ symbol. The Ranil-led UNP has also since notified the Election Commission that it would be fielding candidates in all 22 electoral districts.



Opinion Pieces

Robbie Gramer and Dan Haverty, “Can the Afghan Peace Deal Survive Early Setbacks?”, Foreign Policy, 5 March 2020

Kanwal Sibal, “US-Taliban agreement portends several challenges for India”, The Economic Times, 5 March 2020


The Kabul Times, “Taliban’s propaganda, misuse of deal with the US”, 4March 2020

The Kabul Times, “Afghan politicians’ unity key to intra-Afghan talks”, 2 March 2020


Opinion Pieces

Aroka Chowdhury, “How social media platforms are empowering women entrepreneurs”, The Daily Star, 5 March 2020

Mostafiz Uddin, “Factories need to grasp the nettle”, The Daily Star, 2 March 2020

Manzur H Maswood and ShakhawatHossain , “Bangladesh at high risk of coronavirus”, New Age, 5 March 2020

Hasnat Abdul Hye, “Is Bangladesh economy facing headwinds?”,The Financial Express, 3 March 2020


Opinion Pieces

Andrew Sheng, “Trust in the 21st Century”, Kuensel, 2 March 2020


Kuensel, “Need to be concerned not panic”, 6 March 2020


Opinion Pieces

Mani Shankar Aiyer, “‘United we stand, divided we fall’: Congress needs to make this tired old cliché its clarion call”, The Indian Express, 6 March 2020

Madanjit Singh, “Chief of Defence Staff must ensure patient decisions on complex issues”, The Indian Express, 6 March 2020

Abhinav Kumar, “Why Delhi burned: The police, courts and media failed to stand up for rule of law”, The Indian Express, 6 March 2020

Manmohan Singh, “India has slid to being a majoritarian state in economic despair, writes Manmohan Singh”, The Hindu, 6 March 2020

Rashmi Sharma, “Dark tales in Andhra Pradesh’s IIT success story”, The Hindu, 5 March 2020


The Hindu, “Read them the riot act: On police inaction during Delhi violence”, 6 March 2020

The Indian Express, “In the dock”, 6 March 2020

The Indian Express, “Open the House”, 5 March 2020

The Hindu, “Rights or wrong?: On U.N. rights body move against CAA”, 5 March 2020

The Hindu, “Growing numbers: On India’s COVID-19 preparedness”, 4 March 2020


Opinion Pieces

Benjamin D. Hodgdon, “In Eastern Myanmar , the Karen Watch Over a Revolutionary Forest”, The Irrawaddy, 4 March 2020


The Irrawaddy, “Myanmar Will Benefit From Deeper Ties With India”, 3 March 2020


Opinion Pieces

Deepak Thapa, “The ruling party has failed in ruling”, The Kathmandu Post, 5 March 2020

Uttam Neupane, “Construction management: Needs enhancing performance”, The Himalayan Times, 6 March 2020

Paban Raj Pandey, “Hands off Nepal Rastra Bank autonomy”, The Kathmandu Post, 4 March 2020


The Kathmandu Post, “Flying objects”, 3 March 2020


Opinion Pieces

Imran Jan, “The Taliban are breaking bad”, The Express Tribune, 5 March 2020.

Faisal Ali Raja, “Spoilers of Afghan peace”, The Express Tribune, 4 March 2020

Inam ul Haq, “Pakistan’s economy and FATF: an explainer”, The Express Tribune, March 2020.

Hussain Nadim, “Neither peace nor war”, The Express Tribune, 4 March 2020.


The Express Tribune, “Hurdles to peace”, 4 February 2020

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Rajan Philips, “The best laid out election plans and how they might pan out”, The Island, 8 March 2020

Lucien Rajakarunanayake, “The spread of Rogue Virus Politics”, The Island, 7 March 2020

Uditha Devapriya, “Big match UNP vs UNP”, Daily Mirror Online, 7 March 2020

M S M Ayub, “UNP’s unceasing suicidal efforts”, Daily Mirror Online, 6 March 2020

Kelum Bandara, “Impasse over symbol stifles Sajith faction”, Daily Mirror Online, 5 March 2020

Neville Laduwahetty, “Fundamental Rights, Human Rights and other rights”, The Island, 4 March 2020

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Fractured rivals could be a boon to Rajapaksas in the Sri Lanka polls”,, 3 March 2020

N Sathiya Moorthy, “For a hybrid economic model”,, 3 March 2020

Jehan Perera, “Being part of international community is important for Sri Lanka”, The Island, 3 March 2020

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Divided house of different types”, Colombo Gazette, 2 March 2020


Daily Mirror Online, “Monks and their roots in politics”, 6 March 2020


Afghanistan: Shubhangi Pandey

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Bhutan: Mihir Bhonsale

India: Ambar Kumar Ghosh

Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy

Myanmar: Sreeparna Banerjee

Pakistan: Ayjaz Ahmad Wani

Nepal: Sohini Nayak

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.