MonitorsPublished on Jul 25, 2017
South Asia Weekly Report | Vol. X Issue 30

Country Reports


US close to finalising Afghan troop plan

The White House is “close” to finalising a plan for going forward in Afghanistan, according to Defence Secretary James Mattis. Speaking to reporters, Mattis stated the importance of finding the right strategy in the country adding that it takes time. Two defence officials close to the discussion on Afghanistan policy have said that the top the US commander for Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, is likely to get what he is requesting. The officials say that an additional 3,000 to 4,000 more troops are likely to be sent to the country. For more information, see: “Mattis on Afghanistan troops decision: ‘we are working to get it right”, CNN

18 Taliban insurgents killed in Helmand

A massive air and ground operation in Helmand province killed around 18 Taliban insurgents on July 20. This followed three Taliban suicide bombers carrying out coordinated attacks on security outposts in Gareshk district, wounding six policemen. Afghan forces carried out a quick retaliation operation. The Taliban attacks saw the use of a military truck which was packed with explosives and detonates as the insurgents launched the attack. A spokesperson for the provincial governor said that more security forces were deployed in the area. For more information, see: “18 Taliban attacked killed in a massive operation after a suicide attack in Afghanistan”, Catch News

Dustup plane denied permission to land

First Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, who is being accused of kidnapping and raping a political rival, was not allowed to land in northern Afghanistan on July 18. Dostum had fled to Turkey months earlier as he battled for his political survival. As he returned to Afghanistan on July 18, Afghan authorities asked the US led military coalition present in Mazar-e-Sharif to deny permission to his chartered plane to land in the city. While Dostum appealed to the German military that is part of the international coalition, his plane was later diverted and larded in Turkmenistan. For more information, see: ““Afghanistan turns away plane carrying its vice president”, The Wall Street Journal


Terrorism rose in 2016

The US Department of State in its Country Reports on Terrorism claimed that the incidence and impact of terrorism in Bangladesh increased in 2016. The report claimed that terrorist attacks in 2016 decreased by nine percent globally. For more information, see: “Terrorism rose in Bangladesh last year: US”, The Daily Star

Cattle-smuggling hits economy

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Additional Director-General Md Zahid Hasan claimed that cattle-smuggling from India is harming the economy of Bangladesh. He further said that BGB has urged India’s Border Security Force (BSF) to stop smuggling. At a border coordination conference at Shillong, India, he said that other issues could be sorted out when cattle-smuggling was stopped. For more information, see:  “BGB: Cattle smuggled from India harming Bangladesh’s economy”, Dhaka Tribune

Sri Lanka FTA this year

The relations with Sri Lanka got a major boost with the visit of President Maithripala Sirisena this week. The Sri Lankan met top leaders of the country, including Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina. The two countries have signed an agreement and 13 MoUs and agreed to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) within this year. For more information, see: “FTA with Sri Lanka this year”, The Daily Star


GST relief soon, says India

The Indian government has told a Bhutanese delegation from the Ministry of Finance that Bhutan would have to wait for two months before India can make any special concessions for Bhutan on the new Good and Services Tax (GST), which came into effect on July 1. A senior official said “The Indian government said that it needs to fully implement and see the impact of GST before coming to any decision on Bhutan’s requests.” For more information, see: “GOI asks RGOB to wait for two months before looking at Bhutan’s GST requests”, The Bhutanese

ATM cases withdrawn

The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) has withdrawn charges against eight individuals, alleged to have been involved in illegal repatriation of Indian currency in Jaigaon, India, by using Bhutanese ATM cards. The OAG dropped the charges against the suspects on Monday after the Phuentshogling Dungkhag Court asked them to do so. One of the senior judiciary officials said as per the Civil and Criminal Code of Procedures, the court has the legal rights to dismiss or withdraw the case. For more information, see: “OAG withdraws charges against 8 people involved in illegal repatriation of INR case”, Bhutan Broadcasting Service

Sri Lanka protests hits medicos

Classes for 120 Bhutanese medical students in Sri Lanka have been disrupted for more than five months following protests against the educational and medical standards of the only private medical university, South Asian Institute of Technology and Management (SAITM) in the  country. For more information, see: “Protests in Sri Lanka affect medical students”, Kuensel


Kovind new President

Ram Nath Kovind, the NDA candidate, was elected as India's 14th President, receiving an overwhelming majority of votes from the country's lawmakers. Kovind defeated Opposition's Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha speaker, garnering more than 65 per cent of the votes in the electoral college, the returning officer for the poll announced. The 71-year old, who will be the second Dalit to hold the top constitutional position after K R Narayanan, received 2,930 votes with a value of 7,02,044. Kovind will be the first BJP member to be elected the President. Meira Kumar, also a Dalit, polled in 1,844 votes with a value of 3,67,314. For more information, see:  Ram Nath Kovind is the 14th President of India, Mid-Day

Withdraw troops, China told

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said China is trying  to unilaterally change the status of the tri-junction with Bhutan, posing a challenge to India's security. She said both the countries would have to withdraw troops from the tri-junction point before resolving the dispute through talks. During question hour in the Rajya Sabha, Swaraj said "their (China's) intention was to reach the tri-junction so that they can unilaterally end the status of the tri-junction. It was only then that India came into the picture". For more information, see: China trying to unilaterally change tri-junction status: Sushma Swaraj, Times of India

Myanmar, ‘key pillar’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described Myanmar as a "key pillar" of India's 'Act East' policy and expressed his firm commitment to strengthen the bilateral relationship in all areas. He made the comments when Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Defence Services Sr Gen. U Min Aung Hliang called on him here, a PMO statement said. For more information, see: Indian Army to get medium-range surface to air missile produced by DRDO with Israel, Times of India

Six subs on cards

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has initiated the much-awaited process to acquire six new submarines for the Indian Navy, which is struggling to empower its depleting underwater capability. In this regard, the Ministry has issued the Request For Information (RFI) to global manufacturers under Project-75I and it will be the first project to be initiated under the recently- approved Strategic Partnership (SP) model intended to promote private sector participation in defence manufacturing. For more information, see: Government initiates process to acquire six new submarines for Indian Navy, New Indian Express


Faaris Maumoon arrested

The police have arrested Faaris Maumoon, parliamentarian-son on former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, in turn heading a faction of half-brother and incumbent President, Abdulla Yameen, for allegedly seeking to bribe MPs ahead of the no-trust vote against Speaker, Abdulla Maseeh. Simultaneously, the Government has also barred another Opposition leader, Jumhooree Party founder, Gasim Ibrahim, from leaving the country for medical treatment, following the re-opening of a near-similar case against him, which courts had thrown out twice already. For more information, see: “MP Faris Maumoon placed under arrest”, Maldives Independent, 18 July 2017; “Faris pleads not guilty to identity fraud”, Maldives Independent, 17 July 2017; “Faaris Maummon transferred to Maafushi Prison”, SunOnline, 20 July 2017; “Gasim barred from travelling overseas after hospitalisation”, Maldives Independent, 16 July 2017”; “Have requested to send Qasim abroad with any conditions the government prefers: Abdullah Riyaz”, Miadhu, 19 July 2017; “Government behind Nasheed’s verdict, Adeeb tells Supreme Court”, Maldives Independent

Four MPs disqualified

After the Supreme Court favouring disqualification of ‘defector-MPs, citing Indian laws and the like, the Election Commission (EC) has promptly announced four parliamentary vacancies, leading to the dismissal of a fresh no-trust move against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh. The law does not disqualify ‘defectors’ from contesting elections, due in two months, and the four-party Opposition has vowed to back them in their respective constituencies. For more information, see: “Four ex-PPM MPs stripped of seats”, Maldives Independent, 19 July 2017; “Commission informs parliament on the dismissal of MPs Il'ham and Shinaan from PPM”, SunOnline


No military ties with N Korea

Myanmar has no military ties with North Korea, a Myanmarese official said on Monday as a US diplomat responsible for North Korea arrived for talks in which he is likely to seek assurances on efforts to isolate it. For more information, see: “Burma insists no links to North Korea as US envoy visits”, DVB

Shan meeting cancelled

A planned meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) had to be cancelled on Thursday due to objections from the military attaché in the Myanmar embassy.  They were scheduled to hold a three-day talk in northern Thailand from July 20-22. For more information see: “Myanmar Military Calls Off Shan Coalition Meeting in Thailand”, The Irrawaddy

Thai border trade up

Border trade with Thailand exceeds US $318 million until July 7 of this fiscal year, according to Ministry of Commerce. Myanmar earned over $ 20 million from the Techilek border, over $210 million from Myawaddy, over $40 million from Kawthoung, over $43 million at Myeik, over $2 million from Nabule/Htikhi and over $1 million from Mawtaung. For more information, see: “Thai trade exceeds $318m”, Eleven


Cabinet expansion soon

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is likely to bring about expansion of his Cabinet following which the governing parties are planning to form the Constitution Delimitation Commission (CDC). Pressure has been mounting on PM for the same as the Election Commission (EC) has been demanding a report on the constitution delimitation so that it can expedite preparations for the provincial and national elections. For more information, see: Cabinet expansion most likely on Thursday, The Kathmandu Post, 18 July 2017; Cabinet expansion in a ‘day or two’, The Himalayan Times

FDI crosses $ 15 billion

Foreign investment worth Rs 15.17 billion has flown into the industrial sector of the country for the fiscal year 2016-17, as per the report of the Department of Industry (DoI). A total of 395 industries received the investment. China topped the list of investors. The new Constitution (2015) has been regarded as the driving force behind increasing such investment. For more information, see: “Nepal attracts Rs 15.17 billion in foreign investment in FY 2016\17”, Republica, 20 July 2017; “Nepal attracts Rs 15.17 billion in foreign investment in FY 2016\17”, The Himalayan times


US withholds Pakistan reimbursement

The Trump administration has decided to withhold $50 million in military reimbursements to Pakistan. According to the Pentagon, Defence Secretary Mattis refused to certify that Islamabad has done enough to crack down on the Haqqani Network. "This is simply an assessment of the current state of play," Mattis said. "It is not a policy, it is a reality." Last year, it withheld $300 million. Pakistan has been reimbursed $550 million of the $900 million it was authorised to receive in fiscal year 2016. For more information, see: “US withholds Pakistan reimbursement over Haqqani network: Pentagon”, Reuters

SC reserves judgment against Sharif

The Pakistani Supreme Court has reserved its judgement in the Panama Papers case  against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 21 July. Sharif and his family are accused of holding offshore accounts and withholding information about their financial assets. If convicted by the Supreme Court, Sharif may face disqualification from politics and removal from the post of Prime Minister. The date on which the final verdict will be announced has not been given. For more information, see: “Pakistan top court reserves ruling in Panama Papers case involving Sharif, family”, The Hindu

Pakistan violates ceasefire in Naugam

Ceasefire violations along the Line of Control continued for the third consecutive day with unprovoked firing from Pakistan in Naugam sector. The Indian army has said that Pakistan has violated the ceasefire in northern Kashmir six times over the last week, killing a jawan in Naugam on 19 July. The army has retaliating to the Pakistani aggression in equal measure. For more information, see: “Pakistan troops violate ceasefire along LoC”, The Economic Times

Sri Lanka 

Divided opposition to deplete Govt?

Even as the Joint Opposition identified with former President Mahinda Rajpaksa is divided over continuing in the Constitution-making process initiated by the Government, their spokesperson has said that the latter would lose its two-thirds majority in Parliament within two weeks. Meeting visiting Australian Foreign Minister separately, TNA leader, R Sampanthan, said the ‘Big Two’ Sinhala parties should come up with a consensus framework on Constitution-making before they could comment on any content thereof. For more information, see: Participation in constitution making process: JO Divided, Wimal’s team pulls out”, The Island, 20 July 2017; “JO under pressure to quit constitution making process”, The Island

President not happy over permission to UN envoy

President Maithiripala Sirisena has reportedly expressed unhappiness at the permission granted to Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, to meet LTTE suspects in prisons. UNP Foreign Minister, Ravi Karunanayake, however defended the decision, citing precedents, involving the erstwhile Rajapaksa regime even as his Cabinet colleague and Justice Minister, Wijedasa Rajapakse criticised the visitor’s capacity to make the suggestions he has made. For more information, see: “Who permitted UN Rapporteur meet LTTE detainees: MS”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 July 2017; “UN Special Rapporteur lacks calibre, diplomacy: Minister”, Daily Mirror Online

Primary Documentation


Press Releases

Address by High Commissioner of India at the National Defence College and Armed Forces War College, Bangladesh on Contemporary India, its Foreign Policy, Security & Development Strategy & Bangladesh-India Relations, High Commission of India Dhaka, 18 July 2017 Joint Statement during the State Visit of H. E. Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 15 July 2017



Opinion Pieces

Ahmed Rashid, “The stakes are high for China in Pakistan and Afghanistan”, Financial Times, 21 July 2017 Rahmatullah Nabil, “The road to Afghanistan peace in not through Kabul”, The Wire,  20 July 2017 Rupert Stone, “Iran could make or break the US war in Afghanistan”, Middle East Eye, 20 July 2017


Opinion Pieces

Tahseen Ali, “Terrorism in Bangladesh under the guise of politics”, Washington Post, 19 July 2017 Nathan A. Thompson, “The unwanted: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh”,, 16 July 2017 GöranJonsson, “Can Bangladesh become a welfare state?”, The Daily Star, 17 July 2017


Opinion Pieces

Tenzing Lamsang, “Bhutan is neither a ‘vassal’ nor a ‘protectorate’’, The Bhutanese, 20 July 2017


Opinion Pieces

Bedavyasa Mohanty, Ajit Doval Unlikely to Yield on Doklam, May Wait for Beijing's Next Move, News18, 16 July 2017 Abhijit Singh, Malabar naval exercise: Powerplay in the Indo-Pacific region, LiveMint, 20 July 2017


Opinion Pieces

Tariq Ramadan, “Letter to President Yameen”, Maldives Independent, 20 July 2017


Aung Zaw, “India courts Myanmar”, The Irrawaddy, 20 July 2017 Matthew Walton, “Myanmar’s myths of ethnic unity”, The Irrawaddy, 17 July 2017


Opinion Pieces

Prakash A Raj, “Sino-Indian standoff”,The Kathmandu Post, 21 July 2017 Deepak Chaudhary, “All in the same vote”, The Kathmandu Post, 19 July 2017 Trailokya R Aryal, “World beyond neighbors”, Republica, 16 July 2017


Opinion Pieces

What makes Pakistan so unfathomable”, The Economist, 22 July 2017 Ravi Velloor, “Pakistan is where OBOR hits the road”, The Straits Times, 21 July 2017 Asha’ar Rehman, “The battle in and for Lahore”, Dawn, 21 July 2017

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

M S M Ayub, “More reasons to remain than quit”, Daily Mirror Online, 20 July 2017 Prof G L Peiris, ex-Minister, “Int’l Convention for Protection from Enforced Disappearance Bill”, Daily Mirror Online, 20 July 2017 Kelum Bandara, “Wijeyadasa’s criticism on UN Rapporteur: Ministers harbour different views”, Daily Mirror Online, 20 July 2017 Malinda Seneviratne, “Re-size cabinet to specified subjects in the national interest”, Daily Mirror Online, 20 July 2017 Ranga Jayasuriya, “Why these UN reps are a bane to reconciliation”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 July 2017 Neville Laduwahetty, “Constitution-making and options”, The Island, 18 July 2017 Jehan Perera, “Make a start with reparations to deal with the past”, The Island, 18 July 2017 Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, “UN Special Rapporteur wants ‘a new order in Sri Lanka’”, The Island, 17 July 2017 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Where from here, unity and Govt?”, The Sunday Leader, 16 July 2017


Kelum Bandara, “TNA leadership not as robust as it could be: Wigneswaran”, Daily Mirror Online, 19 July 2017 Kelum Bandara, “Tamil leadership should shun communal politics - Douglas Devananda”, Daily Mirror Online, 19 July 2017


Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah Bangladesh: Dr Joyeeta Bhattacharjee Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale India: Pushan Das Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy Nepal: Sohini Nayak
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