MonitorsPublished on Aug 17, 2016
South Asia Weekly Report | Vol. IX Issue 33


Afghan forces kill 300 ISIS fighters

On August 11, US commander John Nicholson said that Afghan forces, backed by the United States have killed approximately 300 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan over the last two weeks. General Nicholson said that the military operation against Daesh had demonstrated its ability to degrade the capabilities of the terrorist group. On the killing of the 300 fighters, mainly in the eastern province of Nangarhar he said, "Obviously it's difficult to get an exact count, but what this amounts to is about 25 percent of the organization at least, and so this represents a severe setback for them."

For more information, see: US Says 300 Daesh fighters killed in Afghan operation

Thousands displaced

Thousands of civilians in Helmand province have fled their homes over the past few weeks as fighting rages on between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban. US airstrikes in the province have forced locals to flee to provincial capital Lashkar Gah as the city struggles to cope with the high influx of people. Omar Zawak, the provincial governor spokesperson said that over 30,000 people had been displaced and that there was a shortage of food and clean water. There is also an increasing fear that Lashkar Gah would fall to the Taliban as the group steadily gains control to all roads leading to the city.

For more information, see: Thousands flee fierce fighting in Afghanistan’s Helmand


Khaleda gets bail in 10 cases

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia got bails in a sedition case and nine arson cases after she surrendered before two separate Dhaka courts.  The arson cases against Zia were filed in January, February and March last year.

For more information see: Khaleda gets bail in 10 cases

Rise in asylum-seekers

The number of Bangladeshis seeking asylum in Europe rose from 10,000 in 2014 to 18,000 last year. It was only 7,000 in 2013.The surge in the number of Bangladeshi asylees in European countries has been noticed in a recent report by the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based fact tank.

For more information see: Sharp rise in number of asylum seekers

Bangladesh Bank to check terror-funding

In a move against terror financing, Bangladesh Bank has directed all banks and other financial institutions to freeze accounts if they belong to those whose names have come up in the media for alleged involvement in terrorism and terror financing. The bank  has also asked the financial bodies to send information on all such accounts to the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU).

For more information see: BB moves to check terror financing

Saudis lifts ban

The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Labor and Social Development lifted the ban on the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers . The ban which was in force for the past six years excluded the Bangladeshi domestic help.

For more information, see: Saudi lifts ban on Bangladesh workers


Border talks with China

The 24th round of boundary talks between Bhutan and China will be held in China from August 11 to 14, according to a foreign affairs ministry press release. The 24th round will review and adopt the report of the Joint Technical Field Survey of the disputed areas in the western sector of the Bhutan-China boundary, among others.

For more information see: 24th round of Bhutan-China boundary talks begins today; Bhutan-China boundary talks begin today

Policy issues under NC scanner

The National Council (NC) is currently reviewing 12 major legislative and policy issues. One of the major reviews being undertaken by the House is with respect to harmonisation of laws. The House is also tracking implementation of Acts as it was found that some agencies take up to six years to implement a law after its enactment.

For more information see: 12 major legislative and policy issues under NC scanner

India releases Nu 1.45 billion

The Government of India (GoI) handed over a cheque for Nu 1.45 billion to the Royal Government on August 8, according to a press release issued by the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC). The fund will be used for the Indian government’s Project Tied Assistance (PTA) projects for the School Reform Programme project.

For more information see: Government of India releases Nu 1.45 billion


CBI names ex-ISRO chief        

CBI filed a charge sheet against former ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair and other senior officials in the Antrix-Devas deal case for allegedly facilitating a wrongful gain of ₹578 crore to Devas Multimedia Private Limited.

For more information, see: Ex-chief of ISRO named in Antrix charge sheet

Assam ratifies GST Bill

Finance Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted on Friday morning that Assam has become the first state to ratify the GST constitution amendment Bill. It was the last day of Assam’s ongoing legislative assembly session, its first full session after the new BJP-led coalition government was sworn in.

For more information, see: Assam becomes the first state to ratify GST

Afghanistan wants more military aid: US

India's gift of four MI-25 attack helicopters to Afghanistan was welcomed by the Afghan forces, but they wanted more."The Afghans have asked for more of these helicopters. There is an immediate need for more. When these aircraft come in, they immediately get into the fight," said Gen John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan. On a visit to Delhi, Gen Nicholson, who met national security adviser Ajit Doval, foreign secretary S. Jaishankar and defence secretary Mohan Kumar, and talked about India-US cooperation in Afghanistan, told journalists they were looking up to India for spare parts for the Russian-made aircraft in the Afghan air force.

For more information, see: Afghanistan needs more Indian military aid: US

It’s for India to decide: China

2k Courtesy: MEAphotogallery

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on Friday said that India has to decide whether it wants to support China on the South China Sea dispute.

"It is up to India what position it has to take," Wang said in response to a question whether he is in India to seek its support on the South China Sea dispute.

For more information, see:  India has to decide its stand on South China Sea: Wang Yi

Pakistan has no locus standi

Strongly rebuffing Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir, India has said it has no "locus standi" in the matter and its attempt to internationalise the issue will not "whitewash" cross-border terrorism supported by it. It also asserted that the recent arrest of LeT terrorist Bahadur Ali is yet another proof of Pakistan's continued involvement in cross-border terrorism and infiltration into India, despite several assurances that it will not allow its territory to be used for terrorism against any other country

For more information, see: India Snubs Pakistan On Kashmir, Says It Has No 'Locus Standi'

Mobile services cut in J&K

The authorities snapped mobile telephony services, except the postpaid facility on state-run BSNL, in Kashmir as a precautionary measure. Curfew was extended to many areas in Kashmir while severe restrictions were imposed in the rest of the Valley to thwart a march planned by separatists to Eidgah in old city.

For more information see: Mobile services snapped in Kashmir; separatists plan march


Criminalising defamation

President Abdulla Yameen has signed a parliamentary legislation, passed mainly with his ruling PPM members voting, criminalising defamation, and prescribing heavy fines and prison terms for defamation. Though sections of the international community called it draconian, the Maldivian Government pointed out that at least four of the five signatory-nations had criminalised defamation long ago under their respective laws.

For more information, see: “Draconian Defamation Act becomes law”, Maldives Independent, 11 August 2016; “MPs propose tougher restrictions on press ahead of vote on defamation bill”, Maldives Independent, 9 August 2016; “State broadcaster provokes furore over article ‘defaming’ Gayoom”, Maldives Independent, 13 August 2016; “Maldives condemned by UN and others over defamation law”, Daily Mirror Online, 10 August 2016; “Amendment proposed so police permission compulsory for gatherings”, SunOnline, 9 August 2016; “Fear contributes to low turnout at MUO rallies”, Maldives Independent, 8 August 2016; ““Kerafaa” Naseem ordered to appear at the Police Station in 14 days”, SunOnline, 12 August 2016; “Ex-President Nasheed challenges Govt.”, Miadhu, 14 August 2016; “Maldives army bars soldiers from meeting politicians and foreigners”, Maldives Independent, 12 August 2016; “At least six soldiers detained at the barracks”, Maldives Independent, 11 August 2016


Suu Kyi discusses civil strife

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi met Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on August 8 in Nay Pyi Taw. During their meeting, two leaders discussed the prospect of ending hostilities in Kachin State and northern Shan State, national reconciliation and national peace, the rule of the law and the 21st Century Panglong Conference, announced the State Counsellor's office.

For more information, see: Suu Kyi meets military chief in Nay Pyi Taw

Army clashes with KIA

Clashes have broken out in several areas in Kachin State between members of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army along the highway connecting Mogaung and Hpakant townships. According to local sources, government forces suffered casualties and police officers were wounded in the fighting.

For more information, see: Police Injuries and Burma Army Casualties Reported After Clashes With KIA; Fighting near Laiza

Trade volume dips

Myanmar’s total trade volume has dipped in the first four months of this fiscal year since April compared to the same period last year, alongside a reduction in its trade deficit, while government plans to boost exports face strong economic headwinds.

For more information, see: Burma’s trade volume dips, Amid concerns over exports


Deputy PMs to visit India, China

A Cabinet meeting on August 11 decided to send Deputy Prime Minister Nidhi to New Delhi and counterpart Mahara to Beijing. The government decision, at the initiative of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, is being seen as a political message after the regime change in Kathmandu that Nepal wants balanced, friendly and cordial relations with its neighbours. The deputy prime ministers' visits will be the first foreign trips by any government minister since the formation of the Dahal government.

For more information, see: DPMs to visit Delhi, Beijing; Nidhi to visit India and Mahara, China; PM’s India trip likely in Sept second week

BBIN faces threat

For a huge potential for a stronger intra-regional connectivity that the BBIN (Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal) region holds, effective border management and growing terrorism remain big challenges facing the effective implementation, according to a new report on the sub-regional grouping. Nepal and Bhutan have open borders with India, while New Delhi has recently started sealing frontiers with Bangladesh. The movement of people among the four countries is common for education, employment and tourism.

For more information, see: Border mgmt, terrorism pose challenges

Need for statute-change

Speaker of the parliament Onsari Gharti Magar on August 11 stated that there is no alternative to amending the constitution. Speaking at a program held by Federation of Nepalese Indigenous Nationalities Journalists (FONIJ) on the occasion of its 17th anniversary in the district headquarters Libang, Magar said except for the unchangeable clauses of the constitution all others can be amended. She also confidently shared that all the major national parties are for unity when it comes to national agenda.

For more information, see: Speaker stresses on need to amend constitution


Suicide-bomb kills 70

A suicide bomb killed at least 70 people in Quetta, Balochistan on August 8 with over 120 people being seriously injured. The blast, which took place at the entrance of the emergency department of the Quetta Civil Hospital, killed lawyers and journalists, who had gathered to pay respects to slain  lawyer Bilal Anwar Kasi.

For more information, see: Pakistan hospital bomb attack kills 70 in Quetta

NAP task force set up

The government has decided to set up a high level task force to monitor the proper execution of the National Action Plan (NAP). In a six-hour long meeting chaired by Nawaz Sharif, it was decided that the task force, which would comprise of representatives of all concerned departments and agencies, would review the internal security situation in the country and take action to eliminate terrorism from the country.

For more information, see: Government to establish ‘high level’ task force to monitor NAP’s implementation

Cyber Bill cleared

The National Assembly passed the controversial and draconian Pakistan Electronic Crimes Bill on August 11 which authorises the government to take down online content “in the interest of the glory of Islam” and in case it runs counter to “public order and morality.” The law includes a total of 21 offences related to misuse of Internet. There are over a dozen crimes for which the new law prescribes jail terms.

For more information, see: Pakistan passes draconian cybercrime law amid criticism

Sri Lanka 

SC voids VAT Bill

In its mandatory opinion to Parliament, the Supreme Court has held that the recent amendments to the VAT Bill were null and void, as the Government had not followed the laid-down procedure in the matter. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya tabled the Supreme Court opinion before Parliament.

For more information, see: VAT Bill null and void: SC informs Parliament, Daily Mirror Online, August 9, 2016

CM seeks re-merger

At a media briefing in Jaffna, Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran asserted the TNA’s call for re-merger of the East, describing them as the ‘cultural homelands’ of the Tamils. In this context, he criticised the Government for misusing the opposition of the Muslim community and parties to re-merger.

For more information, see: “Wigneswaran urges N-E re-merger”, Daily Mirror Online, 8 August 2016; “Accountability must be addressed before framing new Constitution: Wigneswaran”, Daily Mirror Online, 7 August 2016; “President urged to seek SC opinion: Is OMP Bill consistent with RTI law?”, The Island, 9 August 2016; “U.S.  to assist in drafting  new Sri Lankan Constitution”, The Island, 7 August 2016



Press Release

Announcement of the Twenty Fourth Round of Boundary Talks between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the People's Republic of China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, August 10, 2016


Press Releases

Message from U. Htin Kyaw, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar of 49th Anniversary of ASEAN Day



Opinion Pieces

Aili McConnon, A start-up turns to saffron to help Afghanistan regrow, The New York Times, August 10, 2016

Afghanistan’s healthcare system struggles to rebound, Al Jazeera, August 10, 2016


Opinion pieces

Jonathan Rose, A Bangladesh without foreigners, The Daily Star, August 11, 2016

Major General Abdur Rashid, Nature and trend of extremist violence in Bangladesh,, August 11, 2016

Ziauddin Choudhury, The elephant in the room and our denial, Dhaka Tribune, August 11, 2016

Shahab Enam Khan, What does North Korea mean for Bangladesh?, Dhaka Tribune, August 11, 2016


Discrimination and marginalisation of ethnic minorities, The Daily Star, August 11, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Sonam Tobgay, BKP questions distribution of 205 utility vehicles, Kuensel, August 8, 2016


Healthy debate necessary, Kuensel, August 11, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Ashok Malik and Samir Saran, Kashmir crippled by lazy politics, needs greater outreach, Hindustan Times, August 12, 2016

Sanjeev Ahluwalia, Making India’s first federated tax effective, Observer Research Foundation, August 12, 2016

C. Raja Mohan Chinese Foreign Minister’s Delhi visit is an occasion to start a conversation with Beijing, The Indian Express, August 12, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Azra Naseem, Maldives ‘defamation law’ to curtail freedom of expression, Maldives Independent, August 9, 2016

Azra Naseem, Remembering Rilwan, Maldives Independent, August 8, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Thein Myint, Aspiring to hidden govt, Eleven, August 8, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Uddhab Pyakurel, The cross they bear, The Kathmandu Post, August 11, 2016

Mahabir Paudyal, Save the hills to save Nepal, Republica, August 10, 2016


Hamzah Rifaat, The Quetta attack and Pakistan’s need for a multipronged counterterrorism approach, The Diplomat, August 12, 2016

Saeed Shah, Pakistan is pressed over dual-track terror strategy, The Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2016

Imtiaz Gul, Quetta blast and a confused chorus, The Express Tribune, August 9, 2016

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Harim Peiris, Paada Yathra in retrospect, The Island

N. Sathiya Moorthy, Rajapaksa camp’s increasing India-bashing, Observer Research Foundation, August 12, 2016

Kelum Bandara, Government advances OMP Bill after VAT debacle, Daily Mirror Online, August 11, 2016

Shamindra Ferdinando, How govt co-sponsored Geneva Resolution inimical to Sri Lanka, The Island, August 10, 2016

Ranga Jayasuriya, Why we had an ethnic problem, and not Singapore or Malaysia?, Daily Mirror Online, August 9, 2016

Jehan Perera, The Prime Minister for expanding the role of civil society, The Island, August 9, 2016

K. K. S. Perera, Aftermath of Paada Yatra: Historic UNP-SLFP electoral alliance to legalise Cohabitation Contract?, Daily Mirror Online, August 8, 2016

N. Sathiya Moorthy, Walk the talk, or talk the walk?, The Sunday Leader, August 7, 2016


Afghanistan and Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Bhutan and Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale

India: Shubh Soni and Pushan Das

Maldives and Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy

Nepal: AnasuaBasu Ray Chaudhury and Sreeparna Banerjee

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