MonitorsPublished on Jun 06, 2017
South Asia Weekly Report | Vol. X Issue 23

Country Reports


80 killed in Kabul bomb blast in diplomatic area

A massive bomb blast in Kabul’s diplomatic area killed over 80 people on May 31, injuring over 480 others. The explosives which were hidden in a truck detonated during rush hour, destroying an entire block of embassies, banks and government offices. While no foreigners were killed in the blast, workers at the German and Japanese embassies were among the injured. The Presidential Palace issued a statement, which condemned the attack and said that those that carried out the attack did not practise the values of Islam. No group has taken immediate responsibility for the horrific attack.

For more information, see: “Massive blast in the heart of Kabul’s diplomatic quarter kills at lest 80”, The Washington Post, 31 May 2017

Trump calls Ghani

US President Donald Trump called on Ashraf Ghani to convey his condolences to the families of those killed in the truck blast in Kabul. Trump commended Afghan security forces for their efforts to defend the Afghan people from enemies who seek to destroy them. He also stated that the United States Embassy would work with our Afghan and coalition partners to assist the victims and help the National Unity Government pursue those responsible for this criminal attack.

For more information, see: “Trumps calls Ghani following deadly Kabul attack”, Tolo News, 1 June 2017

March to President’s Palace demand resignation of security heads

A large number of people are protesting in Kabul following the truck blast that killed over 80 people. Protestors marched to the Presidential Palace, demanding the resignation of the security heads of the country, particularly the National Security Advisor, head of the National Directorate, the Interior Minister and the police chief of Kabul. They also demanded that the government execute Anas Haqqani of the Pakistan-based Haqqani network. The protestors criticised those who call the Taliban brothers. “From Mr (former President Hamid) Karzai to (Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin) Hekmatyar, all those who have called the Taliban brothers; can they call the Taliban brothers again?” asked Rahila Jafari, a civil society activist.

For more information, see: “Protestors call on security heads to resign”, Tolo News, 1 June 2017


Cyclone Mora claims 7 people

At least seven persons were killed and hundreds had to be provided shelter in secure places after Cyclone Mora hit the country. The cyclone also left 33 Bangladesh fishermen stranded in the Bay of Bengal, and they were rescued by the Indian Navy.

For more information, see:  “Cyclone Mora kills 6 before weakening”, The Daily Star, 30 May 2017; “Cyclone Mora: 33 rescued at Bay in assist of Indian Navy”, The Daily Star, 31 May 2017; “Cyclone Mora: 33 rescued at Bay in assist of Indian Navy”, The Daily Star, 31 May 2017; “Indian navy conducts rescue operation in Bangladesh”, ProthomAlo,  31 May 2017; “Why the cyclone is called ‘Mora’”, The Daily Star, 30 May 2017.

Largest budget

This week the Finance Minister placed the 46th annual budget, of Tk 4 trillion, in Parliament. This year budget is the largest in country’s history and is 26 percent higher than the one in the preceding fiscal.

For more information see: “A big budget”, The Daily Star, 2 June 2017; “Budget a mixed bag”, The Daily Star, 2 June 2017; 


New media bill

The government has introduced a new bill that seeks to repeal the Bhutan Information Communications and Media Authority (BICMA) Act 2006, in the National Assembly. Presenting the bill in the House, chairperson of the legislative committee and Tashichholing MP, Ritu Raj Chhetri, said the committee held numerous consultation meetings with stake-holders on the bill before it was tabled in the house.

For more information see: “Assembly deliberates media bill”, Kuensel, 30 May 2017

Japanese Princess arrives

Princess Mako of Akishino of Japan arrived in Bhutan on June 1. Bhutan’s Princess Eeuphelma Choden Wangchuck received Princess Mako at the Paro International Airport.

For more information, see: “Princess Mako arrives in Bhutan”, Kuensel, 1 June 2017

Water commission okayed

The Cabinet has decided to establish a commission that would empower formulation of a policy and implement water supply schemes to ensure that every village and town has sufficient access to water supply, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay has said.

For more information, see: “Cabinet decides to form water commission”, Kuensel, 27 May 2017


Russia backs NSG entry

Reaffirming its ‘strong support’ to India’s NSG membership and candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, Russia has backed India’s bid to enter the elite club. In addition, the two countries June 1 signed the General Framework Agreement and Credit Protocol for constructing Units 5 & 6 at India’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP), giving India’s nuclear industry the much needed boost.

For more information, see: “India, Russia sign deal for two nuclear reactors at Kudankulam”, Times of India, June 2, 2017; “Nuclear-Capable Prithvi-II Missile Test-Fired Successfully From Odisha's Chandipur”, NDTV, June 2, 2017

Three test positive for Zika

According to the union health ministry, of the 36,613 human and 16,571 mosquito samples collected to test the presence of Zika virus, only three cases were tested positive – all from Ahmedabad. The tests were conducted after the World Health Organisation said that three cases were reported from India, adding that efforts should be made to strengthen surveillance.

For more information, see: “Zika Virus: Barring 3 Cases In Ahmedabad, Others Tested Negative, Says Government”, NDTV, June 2, 2017


Govt enters bond market

Following up on an announcement earlier, the Government has entered the sovereign bonds market for the first time ever, with a $ 200-m, five-year offering at the Singapore Stock Market. This, even as President Abdulla Yameen took on global power in the US, criticising the Trump Administration for withdrawing from the Paris Accord on climate-change.

For more information, see: “Maldives sells debut US$ 200 m sovereign bond”, Maldives Independent, 3 June 2017; “President: US withdrawing from Paris Accords is a step backwards”, SunOnline, 2 June 2017; “Maldives disappointed with ‘US abdication of responsibility on climate change’”, Maldives Independent, 3 June 2017; “Is the UK planning a ‘terrorist’ attack against Maldives?”, Miadhu, 31 May 2017; “Japan grants US$25m for digital broadcasting project”, Maldives Independent, 31 May 2017; “SL-Maldives vow joint action”, Daily Mirror Online, 3 June 2017

Rain ravages continue

The advent of the south-west monsoon in Maldives caused damage in at least 14 islands, and inundated many areas in capital Male, with authorities claiming that the weather situation would begin improving from Monday. Earlier, officials had banned sea-travel north of the capital Male, given the heavy rains and rough seas.

For more information, see: “Bad weather causes damages in 14 islands”, Maldives Independent, 1 June 2017; “Yellow Alert in north of the capital - sea travel unsafe”, SunOnline, 2 June 2017; “MET: Weather will improve starting Monday”, SunOnline, 2 June 2017; “Maldives donates US$25k for Sri Lanka relief efforts”, Maldives Independent, 3 June 2017

Faaris barred from foreign travel

The Home Ministry has confiscated the passport and barred parliamentarian Faaris Maumoon, son of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, from visiting his dying aunt in Singapore, purportedly apprehending that he might not return to face investigations into a pending criminal case against him.

For more information, see: “Faris Maumoon prevented from visiting dying aunt”, Maldives Independent, 31 May 2017; “Faaris: If PPM flag was used, it was done within the law”, SunOnline, 2 June 2017  


Success at Panglong

On May 29, the high-profile 2nd meeting of the Union Peace Conference -- 21st Century Panglong -- drew to a successful close, having made breakthroughs in advancing Myanmar's peace and national reconciliation. Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi said at the closing ceremony that the agreements signed mark a significant step on the path toward "peace, national reconciliation, and the emergence of a democratic federal Union."

For more information, see: “Second Panglong conference sees significant breakthroughs”, Mizzima, 1 June 2017

Suu Kyi for Canada

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who is also the Minister for Foreign Affairs, will leave shortly on goodwill visits to Canada and Sweden. The trip follows an invitation from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for Suu Kyi to make a visit.

For more information, see: “Suu Kyi set to visit Canada and Sweden”, Eleven, 2 June 2017

Cyclone ravage

Cyclone Mora destroyed a total of 4,702 houses and caused damage to 13,595 homes in Arakan State, Chin State and Irrawaddy Division, according to a statement yesterday from Burma’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

For more information, see: “Cyclone Mora damaged or destroyed 20,000 houses in Burma”, DVB, 2 June 2017


Election of new PM

After the seven-day deadline to pick a consensus prime minister ended on May 31, President Bidya Devi Bhandari on June 1 wrote to the Parliament Secretariat to initiate the process to form new government on the majority basis as per Article 298 (3) of the constitution. The tentative voting may be held on June 4. However, sources said it will depend on how the CPN-UML responds to the ongoing situation, especially to the vote counting fiasco in Bharatpur Metropolitan City.

For more information, see: “Voting to elect new PM most likely on Sunday”, The Kathmandu Post, 2 June 2017

All-party meet

House Speaker Onsari Gharti has called a meeting of heavyweights of major political parties with a view to settling the row over parliamentary work procedure. It has been learned that the meeting will begin at 3 pm at Singhadurbar on June 2. At the meeting convened by Speaker Gharti earlier, CPN-UML leader Rajendra Pandey said they would not accept new parliamentary work procedure until vote recount is resumed in Bharatpur.

For more information, see: “House speaker to meet with top leaders to settle row over parliamentary work procedure”, Republica, 2 June 2017

Port work at stand-still

Construction on the dry port in Larcha, near Tatopani, is set to resume after the monsoon. The government made the announcement after the Chinese side agreed to restart the second-phase construction after the monsoon. Construction had been at a standstill after the Bhotekoshi flood swept away the bridge in 2014. The northern neighbour had been reluctant on resuming bilateral trade through Tatopani customs point. However, the government officials said that resumption of construction work of the Larcha dry port could be taken as a positive indication.

For more information, see: “Work on Larcha dry port to resume post monsoon”, The Kathmandu Post, 2 June 2017


No Jadhav execution till he exhausts mercy appeals

Pakistan has announced that Indian national Kulbushan Jadhav will not be executed until he has exhausted his mercy appeals. The Foreign Office statement comes day after the ruling of the International Court of Justice that stayed Jadhav’s death sentence. Jadhav has a right to request for clemency with the Chief of Army Staff and the President.  Islamabad said that the Indian media had created a “false impression” of winning the ICJ case.

For more information, see: “Massive blast in the heart of Kabul’s diplomatic quarter kills at least 80”, The Washington Post, 31 May 2017

Blamed for Kabul blast

Days after the truck bomb-blast in Kabul that killed over 80 persons, the Afghan intelligence agency has said that early findings show the Haqqani Network carried out the attack with the assistance of Pakistan’s ISI. Neither the Taliban nor ISIS took the responsibility for the bomb blast on  May 31, although the Haqqani Network is closely affiliated with the Taliban. Pakistan rejected the accusations.

For more information, see: “Afghanistan blames Pakistan and Taliban for Kabul blast”, Al Jazeera, 2 June 2017

Indian medical visa

India has granted a 4-month old Pakistan baby, who is suffering from a heart aliment, a medical visa. The boy’s family who reached out to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Twitter were granted a visa to visit India for treatment. For the last four months, Pakistanis have reported difficulties in getting an Indian medical visa, due to poor relations between the two countries.

For more information, see: “India issues medical visa to ailing Pakistani child”, Geo, 2 June 2017

Sri Lanka 

Efforts at re-uniting SLFP factions

Meeting with Muslim leaders, diplomats from various European nations, including the EU, South Africa and Canada have called for action over mob-attacks on the community, reportedly involving the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). In an independent development, efforts have been revived to re-unite the ruling SLFP factions, aimed at ensuring greater political stability of the Government.

For more information, see: “Foreign envoys call for action over mob attacks on Muslims”, The Island, 3 June 2017; “Sirisena-Rajapaksa talks mooted to end SLFP crisis”, The Island, 3 June 2017; “‘Coup attempt another canard’”, The Island, 30 May 2017

Floods toll up to 300

The death roll in the previous week’s devastating floods across the southern parts of the country climbed up to 300, with 50 school children being identified as among the victims. Despite the heavy rains, the authorities said that the storage in southern reservoirs still remained low as the rains were not sufficient in the catchment areas. The US, China and other nations sent in assistance and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe flew to the US for medical check-up, ‘delayed by more than 18 months’.

For more information, see: “Total death toll climbs to about 300”, The Island, 3 June 2017; “About 50 schoolchildren among the dead – Akila”, The Island, 1 June 2017; “Wet weather to continue”, The Island, 4 June 2017; “Water levels at reservoirs still low: CEB”, Daily Mirror Online, 3 June 2017; “Schools in flood affected areas closed indefinitely”, Daily Mirror Online, 31 May 2017; “Govt. mulls new laws for forcible evacuation”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 June 2017; “Ranil in the US for medical treatment: Minister”, The Island, 3 June 2017; “PM is constantly updated on disaster situation: Gayantha”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 June 2017; “MR leaves for Japan”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 June 2017; “US contributes Rs.350 Mn for SL flood relief”, Daily Mirror Online, 3 June 2017; “Three Chinese ships arrive in Colombo”, Daily Mirror Online, 3 June 2017; “EU provides €300 000 to support aid delivery to flood victims in Sri Lanka”, The Island, 4 June 2017; “Ready to scale up support in SL: UN Chief”, Daily Mirror Online, 31 May 2017”, “Island's gravitation towards North Pole the cause of recent landslides”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 June 2017

Primary Documentation


37 points signed as part of Pyidaungsu Accord”, State Counsellor’s Office, 30 May 2017

UPDJC reaches agreements on most issues except secession”, State Counsellor’s Office, 30 May 2017


Press Release on the attack at Resorts World Manila in Metro Manila area of the Republic of the Philippines”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 2 June 2017

Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Seoul on Participation of Embassy in 32nd Korea World Travel Fair”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 2 June 2017

Press Release regarding congratulatory message to the newly appointed Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 1 June 2017

Press Release on the Bomb Attack in Kabul”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 31 May 2017



Opinion Pieces

Meha Dixit, “Winning back their country”, The Hindu, 2 June 2017

Nikhil Kumar, “Afghanistan’s front line”, Time, 1 June 2017

Florian Weigand, “Observe and reflect on Afghanistan”, DW, 31 May 2917


Opinion Pieces

Soumitra Bose, “Terror notwithstanding, government should give India-Pakistan cricket a chance”, The Hindustan Times, 2 June 2017

Muhammad Amir Rana, “Rehab for terrorists in Pakistan”, Geo News, 30 May 2017

Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, “Not so great game”,  Dawn, 2 June 2017



Opinion Pieces


Cabinet is our future”, Kuensel, 30 May 2017


Opinion Pieces

Shailaja Bajpai, “Back to Ayodhya, Indian Express, June 1, 2017


Opinion Pieces

N Sathiya Moorthy, “EC reopens ‘old wounds’, SC ‘usurps’ legislative powers”,, 1 June 2017


Opinion Pieces

Chan Mya Htwe, “The high road to warmer Myanmar-China ties”, Myanmar Times, 31 May 2017

Khin Zaw Win, “Lessons From Gettysburg”, The Irrawaddy, 31 May 2017


Opinion Pieces

Shyam Kc, “No horn, no jaywalking”, The Kathmandu Post, 2 June 2017 Mahabir Paudyal “Changing tunes”, Republica, 1 June 2017


The Kathmandu Post,”Carnage in Kabul”, The Kathmandu Post, 2 June 2017 Republica “Above the law”, Republica, 1 June 2017


Opinion Pieces

Krishnadas Rajagopal, “Can Pakistan seek a rehearing?”, The Hindu, 26 May 2017

Elizabeth Roche and Shaswati Das, “Why New Delhi has toughened its stance against Pakistan on Kashmir situation”, Live Mint, 25 May 2017

Zahid Hussain, “A dangerous coalition”, Dawn, 26 May 2017

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Julien Rajakarunanyake, “The joke shuffle way to national disaster”, The Island, 3 June 2017

Neville Laduwahetty, “UNHRC resolutions violate Sri Lanka’s sovereignty”, The Island, 2 June 2017

Lynn Ockserz, “Decisive moves by global heavy-weights, US and India”, The Island, 1 June 2017

Rohana P Vasala, “Will SL be robbed of its oil and other minerals in the North and the East?”, The Island, 1 June 2017

Jehan Perera, “Cabinet reshuffle must reunify the Government if it is to be meaningful”, The Island, 31 May 2017

Thashani Gunasekara, “Dangling on dual citizenship”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 May 2017


Kelum Bandara, “Israel not disturbed by Sri Lanka’s relations with Arab world: Ambassador”, Daily Mirror Online, 31 May 2017

Priyanjan Suresh de Silva, “Prabhakaran wanted me dead: Sivajilingam”, Daily Mirror Online, 31 May 2017


Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale

India: Falguni Tewari

Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy

Nepal: Sreeparna Banerjee

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