MonitorsPublished on Jun 29, 2017
South Asia Weekly Report | Vol. X Issue 26

Country Reports


Two Pak diplomats missing

Two Pakistani diplomats have gone missing since June 16 from the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. The officials went missing while travelling between the Torkham border crossing and Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province. Afghan authorities have sent three investigation groups to ensure the  diplomats’ safe return.

For more information, see: “Pakistani diplomats go missing in Afghanistan”, Aljazeera, 18 June 2017

Taliban kills eight

The Taliban killed eight Afghan guards who were in the vehicle headed to the US-Bagram district on June 19. Taliban spokesperson accused the guards of being spies of the US government, amidst a surge in militant attacks around the country. The provincial chief minister confirmed that the investigation into the attacks was on and that they could not rule out any possibility yet.

For more information, see: “Gunmen kill 8 Afghan guards heading to work at US air base”, The Washington Post, 20 June 2017

Air freight corridor

Afghanistan and India have established the long awaited air freight corridor with the first flight from Kabul landing in New Delhi on June 19. The plane which was loaded with 60 tons of medicinal plants landed in Delhi, boosting expectations for greater commerce between the countries. The air freight corridor will provide Afghanistan greater access to markets in India allowing Afghan businessmen to leverage India's economic growth and trade networks, while bypassing Pakistan altogether. The plane was received in Delhi by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

For more information, see: “India-Afghanistan air freight corridor now operational”, The Times of India, 20 June 2017


Khaleda says India has ‘realised error’

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia has observed that ruling Awami League was able to organise a 'one-sided' election with 'India's support' in 2014 but the situation has changed. Khaleda claimed that India has realised backing Awami League was mistake.

For more information, see:  “India realised backing Awami League in 2014 polls was a mistake: Khaleda”,, 17 June 2017

Record forex reserves

Country’s foreign exchange reserves have crossed $33 billion for the first time in the history of Bangladesh. Reserves grew 10.5 percent to $33.02 billion from a year ago, according to the Bangladesh Bank.

For more information, see:  “Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves cross $33 billion”,, 22 June 2017

‘Highest’ infra cost

The World Bank has claimed that infrastructure cost in Bangladesh is one of the highest. Bangladesh’s spending for each kilometre of track is higher than in China and India, according to a bank official.

For more information, see:   “Bangladesh infrastructure is world’s costliest, says World Bank”, The Daily Star, 20 June 2017


‘Most peaceful’ in South Asia

Bhutan is the most peaceful country in South Asia according to the latest Global Peace Index report 2017. Founder and Executive Chairman of the international think-tank Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Steve Killelea, launched the report at the Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research in Thimphu on June 21.

For more information, see: “Bhutan most peaceful in the region: GPI”, Kuensel, 21 June 2017

Concern over food reserves

The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) has recommended the government to provide sufficient funds to enable the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) to maintain national as well as SAARC Food Security reserves. The RAA’s latest performance audit found that inadequate fund has hindered the corporation’s ability to maintain food security reserves.

For more information, see: “National, SAARC Food Security Reserve not maintained”, BBS, 22 June 2017

Bid to bring back students

The education department is seeking the foreign ministry’s support to repatriate 18 Bhutanese students, including seven females, who are stuck in Malaysia on expired visa. The efforts to bring back the students are on since the students special passes expired on June 7.

For more information, see: “Foreign ministry’s help sought to repatriate students from Malaysia”, Kunesel, 23 June 2017


Kovind files papers

Ruling NDA's presidential election nominee Ram Nath Kovind today filed his nomination papers as NDA took the opportunity to show its might. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top leaders of the BJP, including party president Amit Shah, accompanied Kovind as he filed the nomination papers.

For more information, see:  “Ram Nath Kovind files nomination for presidential election, PM Narendra Modi leads NDA's show of strength”, India Today, 23 June 2017

Heat on the GJM chief

Smarting under embarrassment as an all-party meeting on the Darjeeling crisis turned into a flop show on June 22 with all major Opposition parties abstaining, the West Bengal government reacted by intensifying the clampdown on Gorkhaland agitators in the hills. The State’s strategy includes an exhaustive audit of the funds given to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) run by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) and extending the suspension of internet and cable services in the hills for an indefinite period. The government also registered FIRs against GJM chief Bimal Gurung, his wife Asha and some senior members of the party, charging them with murder of the three men who died during clash with the police at Singamari in Darjeeling on June 17.

For more information, see:  “Darjeeling: All-party meet flops, Bengal govt turns heat on Gorkhaland agitators”, Hindustan Times, 23 June 2017

Violence in farm protest

Over 25 people, including 12 policemen, 12 farmers and two journalists, were injured after farmers' protests turned violent on June 22 over Nevali village land row on the outskirts of Mumbai. The angry farmers also blocked the busy Kalyan-Haji Malang Road and set 10 vehicles on fire, including four police vans. To control the mob, police had to use pellet guns.

For more information, see: “Maharashtra farmers' protest turns violent; 12 cops injured”, India Today, 22 June 2017

Passports in twin-lingo

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced on Friday that passports will now be in both Hindi and English, and not just in English. She also announced 10 per cent reduction in passport fee for applicants who are under eight and over 60 years of age. Personal details in passports are now printed only in English.

For more information, see: “Passports will now be in both English and Hindi, announces Sushma Swaraj”, Hindustan Times, 23 June 2017

US clears drones sale

Just days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets President Donald Trump for the first time in Washington, the US has cleared the sale of 22 unmanned Guardian drones to India, news agency Press Trust of India reported on June 22. The report added that the deal has been approved by the US State Department and has been communicated to the Indian government and the manufacturer of the drone, California-based General Atomics.

For more information, see: “Ahead Of PM Modi's Visit, US Approves Sale Of 22 Guardian Unmanned Drones To India: Report”, NDTV, 23 June 2017


Yameen for faith, nationalism

Possibly for the first time since the Opposition launched a scathing attack on him, President Abdulla Yameen has not mentioned national reconciliation and political negotiations in his customary message, this one for Ramadan celebrations. In his national address, Yameen stopped with declaring that Eid was a time to strengthen Islamic faith and national spirit.

For more information, see: “President: Eid is a time to strengthen faith and national spirit”, Maldives Independent, 25 June 2017; “It is a shameful act to accuse Maumoon of corruption: Qasim Ibrahim”, Miadhu, 23 June 2017; “MP Faris charged over use of PPM flag”, Maldives Independent, 22 June 2017; “Adeeb a high flight risk, says attorney general”, Maldives Independent, 21 June 2017; “Family of Yameen murder suspect alleges coercion”, Maldives Independent, 20 June 2017


Terror camp in Rakhine

A tunnel, guns and a terrorist camp have been found in the Mayu Mountains in the Buthidaung-Maungtaw area, Rakhine State, during a clearance operation on June 20. State Counsellor’s Office Director General, U Zaw Htay, told a press conference held at Presidential House on June 21 that the operation was carried out following a tip-off that terrorists were being trained in the area.

For more information, see: “Terrorist camp, tunnel found in Rakhine”, Myanmar Times, 23 June 2017

China’s capitalisation move

Myanmar needs to be aware of China’s capitalisation as it lends out money under its expansive ‘One Belt, One Road initiative’, military-appointed Vice President Myint Swe told employers at the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Yangon.

For more information see: “Myint Swe warns of Chinese expansion”, Eleven, 24 June 2017

US invites Suu Kyi

Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state for the new Trump administration in the USA, called Aung San Suu Kyi by telephone on June 20 to invite her on an official visit to Washington, according to the director-general of the Burmese State Counsellor’s Office.

For more information, see: “US FM Tillerson invites Suu Kyi to Washington”, DVB, 23 June 2017


A lost game already?

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has yet to get rolling even two weeks after Sher Bahadur Deuba assumed office as the prime minister of Nepal. As a result, there is a serious lack of information concerning pressing matters. The so called ‘laid back’ approach of the Prime Minister has been under scrutiny as the crux of the team has not yet been identified.

For more information, see: “Deuba’s PMO has yet to get the ball rolling”, The Kathmandu Post, 23 June 2017; “Deuba’s burdens: Elections or bust”, Republica, 23 June 2017

Bank loan for education

The World Bank has agreed to provide a loan of Rs.19 billion to the Nepal government for improving the quality of education in the country. An agreement to this effect was signed by and exchanged between Secretary of Finance Ministry Shanta Raj Subedi and World Bank Nepal Country Manager Takuya Kamata amid a function at the ministry on June 24. This would not only regularize primary education but also encourage secondary education with the necessary infrastructural facilities.

For more information, see: ”World Bank to provide Rs 19 b in loan assistance”, The Republica, 22 June 2017

Prepare to ‘challenge’ India

Former Prime Minister and coordinator of Naya Shakti Nepal, Baburam Bhattarai, has remarked that economic prosperity is crucial to challenge the discriminatory behaviour of India. His point was specially targeted towards the deals signed during the 1950s’ between the two countries that has the potential to be scrapped once Nepal becomes economically independent and strong. He spoke in favour of his own party by alleging that the three other national parties have misused the available resources and that only the Naya Shakti was to bring back the lost glory.

For more information, see: “Economic prosperity essential to challenge India: Bhattarai”, The Kathmandu post, 23 June 2017


China to fund dam in PoK

Radio Pakistan reported that China would be building the Diamer-Bhasha Dam on the Indus river part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Dam is a project that India is strongly opposed to, as it is to be constructed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The Asian Development Bank and the World Bank have also refused to fund the dam because of India’s objections. Muzamil Hussain, the chairman of the state-run power utility said that currently no mega hydro-power projects are included in CPEC, which is why both Pakistan and China are seriously considering making the Diamer-Bhasha a part of it.

For more information, see: “China to  build dam in Pakistan that World Bank, ADB refused to fund”, The Times of India, 20 June 2017

Iranian drone shot

The Pakistan Air Force shot down an unmanned Iranian drone in Balochistan as it entered deep inside Pakistan airspace. Iran, in recent months, has expressed concern over militants operating along the Pakistani border. Iran’s army chief recently warned that the country was willing to strike militants inside Pakistan — remarks that drew a strong protest from Islamabad. The Air Force declined to comment.

For more information, see: “Officials: Pakistan shoots down Iranian drone near border”, The Washington Post, 20 June 2017

US to harden stance

The US is expected to harden its stance against Pakistan under the Trump administration. Some responses being discussed by administration officials include, expanding US drone strikes, redirecting or withholding some aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally. Some US officials however remained skeptical of whether a breakthrough with Islamabad was possible, given the strengthening of US-India ties. The White House, Pentagon, and Pakistan embassy in Washington declined to comment.

For more information, see: “Trump seen hardening line toward Pakistan”, Dawn, 21 June 2017

Sri Lanka 

‘Missing men’ law changed

Parliament has unanimously amended the Office of Missing Persons (Establishment, Administration and Discharge of Functions) Amendment Bill, after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared that the process was not aimed at digging into the past but only to facilitate post-war reconciliation.

For more information, see: “OMP Amendment Bill passed unanimously in House”, Daily Mirror Online, 23 June 2017; “PM assures no digging up of the past: Office of the Missing Persons”, The Island, 22 June 2017; “Geneva stand contradicted in parliament JO”, The Island, 22 June 2017; “Accountability Issues : PM headed Committee to implement UNHRC recommendations”, The Island, 24 June 2017; “Govt accuses UN of producing false report on Sri Lanka”, The Island, 21 June 2017; “Sarath Weerasekara hands over petition to UNHRC Chief”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 June 2017; “Attacks against Muslims aimed at toppling govt. – President”, The Island, 21 June 2017; “Ministers to meet PM on constitutional reforms”, The Island, 19 June 2017; “Keshap takes up accountability issues in B’caloa”, The Island, 23 June 2017; “Govt. to renew military cooperation pact with US”, The Island, 22 June 2017

Primary Documentation


Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Seoul on 15th Import Goods Fair”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 23 June 2017

Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Pretoria regarding Presentation of Credentials by the Ambassador in Mauritius”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 21 June 2017

Press Release: Visiting Chinese Assistant Minister pays courtesy calls on the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 21 June 2017

Press Release on conclusion of the 11th Meeting of Nepal-China Joint Consultation Mechanism”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 20 June 2017



Opinion Pieces

Tara Kartha, “Where is the data for India to make a case on terrorism from Pakistan”, The Hindustan Times, 21 June 2017

Mahmood Hasan, “Afghanistan and the New Great Game”, The Daily Star, 23 June 2017

Stephen J Hadley and Moeed “For peace in Afghanistan, Talk to Pakistan”, The New York Times, 16 June 2017


Opinion Pieces

Eresh Omar Jamal, “New Architecture for Globalisation: How Bangladesh fits into it”, The Daily Star, 17 June 2017


Secular Bangladesh”, The Pioneer, 23 June 2017



Robbing the country of its future?”, Kuensel, 23 June 2017


Opinion Pieces

Ashok Malik, The Sino-Indian BRI equation, Observer Research Foundation, 22 June 2017

Raja Mohan, Raja Mandala: India, US, and an East-of-Suez moment, The Indian Express, 20 June 2017


Opinion Pieces

Ko Ye, “Will Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing’s Russia Visit Unlock More Military Cooperation?”, The Irrawaddy, 24 June 2017


Opinion Pieces

Umesh Raj Regmi, “The baffled voters”, The Kathmandu Post, 23 June 2017

Sudeshna Thapa, “Managing migration”, Republica, 21 June 2017

Bimal pratap Shah, “Quiet riot brewing”, Republica, 21 June 2017


The Kathmandu Post “Charting a new course”, The Kathmandu Post, 23 June 2017

Republica, “Double vision”, Republica, 21 June 2017


Opinion Pieces

Shahid Ilyas, “Unpacking regional non-cooperation”, The Express Tribune, 21 June 2017

Umair Javed, “JIT and the 2018 elections”, Dawn, 19 June 2017

Zamir Akram, “NSG revisited”, The Express Tribune, 19 June 2017

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Rajan Philips, “NPC is TNA’s chronic headache, whose bothersome baby is BBS?”, The Island, 25 June 2017

Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, “After Asirigiya: Orange is the new blue”, The Island, 23 June 2017

Nirmala Chandrahasan, “APRC Constitution proposal of 2010: A via media for Govt and Opposition”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 June 2017

Kelum Bandara, “NPC crisis: Fire extinguished but ember is aglow”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 June 2017

Neville Ladduwehetty, “Retributive justice or restorative justice?”, The Island, 20 June 2017

Jehan Perera, “Government strategy to bring about promised change is needed”, The Island, 20 June 2017

N Sathiya Moorthy, ”Living beyond means”, The Sunday Leader, 18 June 2017


Kelum Bandara, “Tamil people seek new political leadership: Suresh Premachandran”, Daily Mirror Online, 21 June 2017


Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale

India: Pushan Das

Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy

Nepal: Sreeparna Banerjee & Sohini Nayak

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