MonitorsPublished on Aug 10, 2016
South Asia Weekly Report | Vol. IX Issue 32

Country Reports


Taliban attacks

In separate attacks, the Taliban targeted Kabul’s Northgate Hotel in Kabul on  August 1, and ambushed a convoy of foreign tourists in Herat, three days later. The hotel is a facility providing life-support services to foreign military personnel in the city. Tremors from the massive truck bombing, which was preceded by a power outage, were felt across the city. In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said had caused "dozens of casualties".

For more information, see: “Taliban truck bomb hits Northgate Hotel in Kabul”, Al Jazeera, 1 August 2016; ““Afghanistan’s Taliban attack foreign tourist convoy”, BBC News, 4 August 2016; “SIGAR report: Taliban gained territory in Afghanistan”, Al Jazeera, 29 July 2016


35 websites blocked

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has also censored over 30 other websites. Most of these sites are online news portals.

For more information see: “Bangladesh blocks 35 websites, news portals”,, 5 August 2016

India allows road patrol

Bangladesh Border Guard personnel can use Indian roads along the India border for patrolling the remote areas where Bangladesh has no road links, said Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan. The Minister also informed that if any BGB man meets an accident during patrol on Indian land, he would get treatment at an Indian hospital.

For more information see:  “India lets BGB use its roads for patrol”, The Daily Star, 1st August 2016


Internet bandwidth from B’desh

A team of technical experts will visit Bangladesh in two to three months to study all aspects of the proposed deal of importing internet bandwidth from the country. A meeting between the information and communications minister DN Dhungyel and Bangladeshi state minister for post and telecommunications, Tarana Halim, to discuss this issue was held in Thimphu on August 1.

For more information see: “Bangladesh ready to export internet bandwidth to Bhutan”, Kuensel, 5 August 2016

Debt to GDP ratio

The country’s debt to GDP ratio has reached 116.9 percent of the GDP while the debt service ratio of the country has reduced from almost 20 percent in 2014-15 to 9.7 percent as of March this year.

For more information see: “Debt to GDP ratio at 116 percent”, Kuensel, 5 August 2016


Rupani, new Gujarat CM           

After high drama at a meeting of top leaders to name a successor to outgoing Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, the BJP named party president Amit Shah’s protégé and first time MLA Vijay Rupani as Chief Minister while Nitin Patel, backed by Ms. Patel, was named his deputy.

For more information see: “Amit Shah protégé Rupani named CM”, The Hindu, 6 August 2016

Bodos kill 14 in Kokrajhar

At least 14 people, including one militant were killed, and over 20 injured when suspected Bodo militants attacked Balajan Tiniali market of Kokrajhar district. This was the first major insurgency-related strike in Assam after the new government took over.

For more information see: “14 killed as Bodo rebels attack market in KokrajharThe Hindu, 6 August, 2016

No justification for terror

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in his speech at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) home ministers’ meeting in Islamabad, emphasised that no type of terrorism or support to it could be justified and called for immediate and effective action against all those who support or encourage international terrorism, "whether state actors or non-state actors”. By talking of terror attacks in Pathankot (and earlier, Mumbai), he clearly was referring to Pakistan without naming it – and also mentioned , the menace of terrorism in Dhaka and Kabul.

For more information see: To expose Pakistan's duplicity, Rajnath Singh’s Saarc speech was the need of the hour, Firstpost, 5 August 2016

Saudi king’s intervention helps

The government said Thursday the crisis triggered by a loss of jobs of several thousand Indians in Saudi Arabia has been resolved. “The matter has been satisfactorily resolved,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in both Houses of Parliament. “I am happy to inform the House that the King of Saudi Arabia has taken note of the plight of Indian workers… the king has instructed his officials to resolve the issue in two days.”

For more information see:  Sushma Swaraj: Saudi king steps in to resolve Indians’ crisis, The Indian Express, 05 August 2016

Fourth BrahMos regiment

The government has given the final go-ahead for the Army to induct and deploy an advanced version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, with "trajectory manoeuvre and steep-dive capabilities" for mountain warfare, in the northeast as a conventional deterrent against China. Sources said the Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by PM Narendra Modi, cleared this fourth BrahMos regiment at a cost of over Rs 4,300 crore. The regiment consists of around 100 missiles, five mobile autonomous launchers on 12x12 heavy-duty trucks and a mobile command post, among other hardware and software.

For more information see: Army to get steep-dive BrahMos missile regiment for China front, The Times of India, 5 August 2016

Carrier delays can impact Navy

The delay in delivering an indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) will adversely impact the Indian Navy, with one of its two carriers in the process of being de-commissioned. The Comptroller and Auditor-General, in a report tabled in Parliament this week, also pointed out that there was “continuing disagreement over project timelines between the Indian Navy and Cochin Shipyard Limited (where the IAC is being fitted out), with realistic dates for delivery yet to be worked out. ”The delay has also resulted in the cost escalating beyond the originally sanctioned Rs. 19,341 crore, the report said, adding that the overall physical progress of the carrier was not assessable.

For more information see: Delay in indigenous carrier to impact Indian Navy’s capabilities: CAG,The Hindustan Times, 31 July 2016


‘Defamation’ row on

With the political Opposition nearer home and sections of the international community taking exception to the new law on criminal defamation, the Maldives Government has said that the same practice existed in four of the five western countries that had joined in.

For more information, see: “State: Defamation is a criminal offence in four countries that issued statements”, SunOnline, 1 August 2016; “Government-aligned MPs agree to address concerns, amend defamation bill”, SunOnline, 1 August 2016; “Ex PG criticizes “unresearched” defamation bill”, SunOnline, 1 August 2016


Civilians injured

A clash broke out between renegade forces of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and a Border Guard Force (BGF) in Karen State’s Kawkareik Township on August 3. DKBA troops allegedly attacked BGF 1017, a former DKBA battalion that became a militia under the Burmese army in 2010 in the village of Tandanku. The clash reportedly lasted 30 minutes.

For more information: “DKBA, BGF clash in Karen state”, DVB, 5 August 2016; “Four civilians injured in Karen state clash”, The Irrawaddy ,5 August 2016

Militias in talks still

The Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Arakan Army (AA) are in discussions over issuing a statement to hold a meeting with the government, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Tar Phone Kyaw, the general secretary of the TNLA.

For more information see: “Rebel armies still in talks over Panglong”, Eleven, 5 August 2016


Prachanda is new the PM

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on August 4 administered the oath of office and secrecy to CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda as the 39th prime minister of the country amid a function at Sheetal Niwas. Deputy Prime Ministers Bimalendra Nidhi and Krishna Bahadur Mahara and three Ministers, Ramesh Lekhak, Daljit Shripaili and Gauri Shankar Chaudhary, also took the oath on August 4. Nidhi and Lekhak are from the Nepali Congress while Mahara, Shripaili and Chaudhary represent the Maoist Centre.

For more information, see: ‘Dahal sworn in as 39th prime minister’, The Kathmandu Post, 5 August 2016; ‘PM Dahal forms six-member cabinet’, Republica, 5 August 2016

Housing for quake victims

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has signed agreements for the first instalment of the housing aid to 295,724 households from 12 districts and 42,882 households have already received the grant so far.  Reassessment of the damage caused to the households in three districts in the Kathmandu Valley is underway. The NRA’s district level offices have received 111,725 complaints that these households have not been included in the list of beneficiaries.

For more information, see: ‘Close to 300k families sign housing aid deal’, The Kathmandu Post, 5 August 2016; ‘Family of quake deceased not included on aid list’, The Kathmandu Post, 5 August 2016

New panel on statute-change

Madhesi leaders said that a joint panel comprising negotiators from the government and the Sanghiya Gathabandhan would be formed soon to prepare the draft of the amendment proposal. “Once the amendment proposal is registered, we will have the support of more than 360 parliamentarians to our agendas. This will also mount pressure on those opposed to our demands to support the amendment. We should consider the three-point agreement as our strategic win,” said Tripathi vice-chairman of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party.

For more information, see: ‘Joint panel to draft proposal to amend the constitutionThe Kathmandu Post, 5 August 2016;


US halts $300-m aid

The US refused to release its $300 million in military reimbursements to Pakistan after Secretary of Defence Ash Carter did not certify that Pakistan had taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network. In response to the development, the Pakistani Embassy to the US maintained that the CSF has led to improved security inside Pakistan in recent years.

For more information, see: “US holds up $300 million for Pakistan over terrorism fight”, CNN, 4 August 2015

Russian among captives

A Pakistan helicopter crash-landed in the Afghanistan’s eastern province of Logar on August 4 due to a technical failure. The Taliban is believed to have captured all passengers and crew, including one Russian technician, which crashed close to the border in an increasingly lawless area. The Russian-made MI-17 transport helicopter was en route from Peshawar to Uzbekistan for maintenance when it experienced technical failure and made an emergency landing.

For more information, see: “Pakistan helicopter crash lands in Taliban- held area”, Al Jazeera, 5 August 2016

Sri Lanka 

MR march ends

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led ‘Kandy-Colombo march’ ended peacefully in a huge rally, after the police had approached courts in seven different places en route to stall it. The protestors claimed victory, Rajapaksa indicated that it was a dry run of sorts for a possible cross-country march, but President Maithiripala Sirisena claimed that they were all ‘telling fairy tales’.

For more information, see: “Paada Yathra was a success: JO”, Daily Mirror Online, 3 August 2016;  “We will go the whole hog next time – MR”, The Island, 2 August 2016; “We'll bounce back, not to go back again: MR”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 August 2016; “No walk or talk can stop our mission: President”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 August 2016; “Members of former government are telling fairy tales: MS”, Daily Mirror Online, 3 August 2016; “SLFP to decide on disciplinary action at CC meeting”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 August 2016; “We could enrich our nation through dialogue: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 August 2016

Primary Documentation


Press Releases

Lyonchhen met with H.E. Begum Tarana Halim of Bangladesh, Cabinet Secretariat, 2 August 2016


Press Releases

Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 2 August 2016



Opinion Pieces

Andrew J. Bacevich, “Afghanistan: The campaign’s forgotten war”, Los Angeles Times, 4 August 2016

Alon Ben-Meir, “The Afghanistan Quagmire: Time for an Exit Strategy”, Huffington Post, 4 August 2016

Roland Hughes, “Do tourist really go to Afghanistan?”, BBC, 4 August 2016

Rustam Ali Seerat, “The Evolution of the Media in Afghanistan”, The Diplomat, 5 August 2016



 “Checkpoint needed in Samrang”, Kuensel, 5 August 2016


Opinion Pieces

Raja Mohan, Donald Trump’s views on war and peace are a striking departure from his party’s positions, The Indian Express, 02 August 2016

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, “GST: A constitutional adventure”, Indian Express, 6 August 2016

Ashish Khetan, “Return of the viceroy”, Indian Express, 6 August 2016



Omkar Khandekar, “A conversation with Umar Naseer”, Maldives Independent, 3 August 2016


Opinion Pieces

Yanghee Lee and Rhiannon Painter, “After the first 100 days”, Myanmar Times, 5 August 2016

Saw Yan Naing, “Still too early for Burmese Refugee ReturnThe Irrawaddy, 4 August 2016


Opinion Pieces

Suvanga Parajuli, ‘The remittance trade-off’, Republica, 3 August 2016

Sujeev Shakya, ‘Mockery of education’, The Kathmandu Post, 2 August 2016


The Kathmandu Post, ‘Some win, some lose’, The Kathmandu Post, 5 August 2016

Republica, ‘36 km of pain’, Republica, 4 August 2016



Reversing Isolationism”, Dawn, 5 August 2015

Opinion Pieces

Adam Gallagher, “Afghanistan is finally standing up to Pakistan”, 4 August 2016

Imran Jan, “Sanitising conflict”, Dawn, 5 August 2016

Rustam Shah Mohamand, “The riddle of Afghan peace”, The Express Tribune, 3 August 2015

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

M S M Ayub, “A stroll to become the main Opposition”, Daily Mirror Online, 5 August 2016

Kelum Bandara, “The rationale behind the Paada Yatra”, Daily Mirror Online, 4 August 2016

Milinda Seneviratne, “The march as a test of ‘Yahapaalanaya’”, Daily Mirror Online, 4 August 2016

Ranga Jayasuriya, “Paada Yatra, and bread and circus: The simple logic of distraction”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 August 2016

C A Chandraprema, “Pada Yathra: The coming of age of a new political force”, The Island, 2 August 2016

Jehan Perera, “Opposition protest march consolidates government alliance”, The Island, 1 August 2016

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Due place for Buddhism”, The Sunday Leader, 31 July 2016


Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale

India: ShubhSoni & Pushan Das

Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy

Nepal: AnasuaBasu Ray Chaudhury&Sreeparna Banerjee


Mihir Bhonsale


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