MonitorsPublished on Jun 29, 2009
President Mahinda Rajapksa earned praise from all quarters for establishing the Development and Reconciliation All Party Committee. The committee comprises members from the main opposition United National Party,
South Asia Weekly Report 78

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Sri Lanka establishes all party reconciliation committee

President Mahinda Rajapksa earned praise from all quarters for establishing the Development and Reconciliation All Party Committee. The committee comprises members from the main opposition United National Party, pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and a breakaway faction of the defunct LTTE Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP). The objective behind forming the committee is to discuss issues pertaining to development and reconciliation. Besides, the committee will also focus on the speedy resettlement and rehabilitation of nearly 300,000 displaced Tamils in the government-run relief camps in the Northern Province. TNA praised Rajapaksa’s gesture of inviting them to participate in the Committee And added that it believes that the country has the political will to solve the ethnic issue.                      

< class="maroontitle">JMB chief reveals operations in India

Abdur Rahman alias Shahadat, arrested chief of Islam and Muslim, a new offshoot of banned militant fundamentalist organisation Jamaat Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), has made the startling revelation about the existence of JMB’s operation in West Bengal. Shahadat, who sneaked into India in 2006 after the arrest of Bangladesh Bhai, the infamous JMB leader, personally worked to build up the organisation’s network in India. JMB’s network is active in districts of Murshidabad, Malda and Nadia. JMB has nearly two thousand cadres working in India. Saif Hossain, an Indian national, is chief of the JMB’s foreign wing. Shahadat was arrested in Dhaka this week following the government’s ongoing crackdown on fundamentalist militancy. The chief of Bangladesh Rifles, the country’s border paramilitary force, has categorically said that Bangladesh’s soil cannot be allowed for anti-India activities.  Meanwhile, Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina reiterated her stance against militancy.

< class="maroontitle">Government to construct over 10,000 houses

Lack of living space, especially in capital Male where more than half of the Maldivian population resides, has led to several problems. To overcome the housing problem, the Maldivian Democratic Party-run-government has decided to construct over 10,000 houses in the capital as well as in other atolls. It is also one of the electoral pledges of the MDP. The government has claimed that nearly 23 parties are interested in taking up the construction of the 7000 housing units. The government scheme is to build 7000 housing units in 84 islands divided into 20 different packages and rest of the 3000 units in the capital Male, Hulhumale and Vilingili. During media interaction, Housing, Transport and Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam told that the delay was mainly due to the insufficient information being available with the government on land availability and inadequate charts of the island.         
< class="maroontitle">Pakistan steps up pressure on the Taliban as US forces launch operation in Afghanistan
Security forces continued to launch strikes against militants in South Waziristan, Kurram, Khyber, Swat and elsewhere in the past week. The government offered an Rs50 million reward for information on Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistan Taliban, and also dropped pamphlets in North Waziristan warning locals against cooperating with the militants.
Pakistan stepped up pressure on the Taliban as 4000 US Marines launched Operation Khanjar (Dagger) in the southern Afghanistan province of Helmand. Helmand is a major insurgent stronghold that has for years produced record yields of opium, a major source of Taliban funding.  The biggest operation in Afghanistan since 2001 was supported by Pakistan by deploying troops to secure the 210-km long boundary between Helmand and Pakistani province of Balochistan.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and ISAF have increased State presence in Taliban-held regions in the run up to the Afghan national elections due to be held in August. The two neighbours are expected to sign an agreement in mid-July aimed at securing the border. The international border between the two countries has been traditionally disputed by Kabul and despised by the tribes inhabiting the border regions as it cuts through an ethnically homogenous population.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                       –  Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee       –  Bangladesh
      • Kaustav Dhar Chakraborti –  Pakistan


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