MonitorsPublished on Aug 21, 2017
South Asia Weekly Report | Vol. X Issue 34

Country Reports


Role for India, Pak?

US President Donald Trump is set to discuss Afghanistan with his national security team this week, at Camp David. The team is expected to discuss US’ strategy in South Asia, including Pakistan and American military aid to the country. In the past few weeks, senior officials of the Trump administration have gone on record to say that the regional approach to Afghanistan means inclusion of both India and Pakistan, without specifying what role Trump expects India to play in the conflict-ridden country. For more information, see: “Donald Trump to discuss South Asia strategy on Afghanistan with national security team”, Firstpost

US soldier killed

A US soldier was killed and 20 other US and Afghan soldiers were injured in an operation against the Islamic State on 17 August in eastern Afghanistan. This is the tenth US soldier to lose his life in 2017. The incident came after several US Pentagon officials visited the country, including Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and other top army and air force officials. US and Afghan forces were hit by an explosion inside a building in Nangarhar during the operation. For more information, see: “US soldier killed in Afghan blast, 20 US, Afghan troops wounded”, Reuters

Taliban captures district

The Taliban has seized control of a district headquarters in the northern Faryab province. An army corps spokesperson said that Afghan security forces withdrew from the Ghormach district to avoid civilian casualties and confirmed that the Taliban has seized control. This comes weeks after the groups seized control of the strategic Mirzawalang in Sayad district in the northern Sari Pul province, killing over 52 civilians. For more information, see: “The Taliban has taken control of district in northern Afghanistan”, Business Insider


Rohingyas cross over

Hundreds of Rohingyas have crossed into Bangladesh following a fresh military build-up in neighbouring Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Some estimate suggested that around 500 Rohingya made the difficult journey into Bangladesh following claims of atrocities by Myanmar army. For more information, see: “Rohingyas start coming again”, The Daily Star                                                    

Slavery Index

Bangladesh ranked 10th among 167 countries with over 1.5 million people or 0.95 per cent of the population living in absolute modern day slavery, according to Global Slavery Index 2016. As per the index, which ranks 167 countries, 58 per cent of 45.8 million slaves live in five countries -- India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan. For more information, see: “BD ranks 10th in Global Slavery Index 2016”, The Financial Express


Hydro coop with Japan

The governments of Bhutan and Japan signed the technical cooperation agreement for the project on the Power System Plan 2040 yesterday. It is to update the master plans of hydropower projects developed in 2003. For more information, see: “Bhutan and Japan sign Power System Plan 2040 project agreement”, BBS

GST to cost Nu 14 b

While the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India will have a revenue implication of Nu 14B in the 12th Plan, the trading sector is to benefit the most. For this to materialise, the retailers have to pass the benefit to consumers and import commodities from the GST registered suppliers in India. For more information, see: “GST impact to cost Nu 14B in 12th Plan”, Kuensel


60 kids die in Gorakpur

At least 60 children have lost their lives due to encephalitis in a of past five days at the hospital of Gorakhpur's Baba Raghav Das Medical College. The negligence has raised a question over the prevailing infrastructure in the State-run hospitals in Uttar Pradesh. For more information, see: 60 children die in 5 days at Gorakhpur hospital , The Hindu

 ‘Caution Level’ up

India has enhanced its troop level along the entire stretch of its border with China in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, PTI reported. Quoting officials, PTI reported that the “caution level” among the troops in the eastern sector has been raised. But there will be no enhancement of troops at Doklam, where around 350 Indian troops are holding to their position, the officials added. For more information, see: India Raises “Caution Level” Among Troops in Eastern Sec6tor, The Quint

Japan backing on Doklam

Japan has extended support to India and Bhutan even as New Delhi has been exploring ways to resolve conflict with China. Japan became the first country to throw its weight behind India on the Dhoklam issue. Notably, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit India for three days starting from September 13 to 15, Indian Express reported on August 18. For more information, see: Doklam standoff: Japan backs India as China steps up pressure, Financial Express

Floods claim 111

At least 221 people have died, and more than 1.5 million have been displaced by monsoon flooding across the South Asian countries of India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Janardan Sharma, Nepal's home minister, told parliament on Tuesday that 111 people had been killed and 35 are still missing in the country, which has seen nearly 20 percent of the population affected by severe flooding. For more information, see: Over 200 dead in India, Bangladesh and Nepal floods, Al-Jazeera


China projects ‘beneficial’

China and Maldives shared similar views on development, and all Chinese-funded projects would benefit Maldives, outgoing Chinese Ambassador, Wang Fukang has said. China wanted to share its prosperity with all nations, and small nations like Maldives would have to do more to compete with other rapidly developing nations, he added. For more information, see: “China-Maldives relations will strengthen: Ambassador”, Miadhu, 19 August 2017; “Economic slavery was the biggest fear in post 2013 – we have eliminated that: Mohammed Saeed”, Miadhu, 19 August 2017; “Transformative water project in the Maldives takes off with support from UNDP and the Green Climate Fund”, Miadhu

MP now in terror case

Over-ruling defence objections against the prosecution filing fresh terror charges against former Male commander, retired Brigadier-General Mohammed Ibrahim Didi in the ‘Judge Abdulla abduction case’ after withdrawing them earlier, the criminal court has decided to go ahead with the trial. The courts have sentenced then President Mohammed Nasheed to 13 years in prison in the case while it allowed the prosecution to withdraw the case against Didi, now an Opposition MDP parliamentarian, after he had to be shifted outside the country for treating a major heart ailment. For more information, see: “Judge decides to proceed with MP Ibrahim Didi’s terrorism trial”, Maldives Independent, 17 August 2017; “MDP vice president accused of defaming Elections Commission”, Maldives Independent, 17 August 2017; “Court releases MP Waheed and JP secretary-general”, Maldives Independent, 17 August 2017; “Dozen opposition MPs face charges for entering parliament building”, Maldives Independent, 14 August 2017; “MDP fined MVR 60,000”, SunOnline


Suu Kyi talks Rakhine ultras

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been holding talks with military leaders regarding the labelling of militants in northern Rakhine State as terrorists, government spokesperson U Zaw Htay. For more information see: “Govt, Military Discuss ‘Terrorist’ Label for Rakhine State Militants”, The Irrawaddy

Govt ‘ready for talks’

The Myanmarese government’s Peace Commission said it is prepared to meet with representatives of the Northern Alliance-Myanmar ahead of the next round of peace talks known as the 21st Century Panglong Conference (21 CPC). For more information see: “Govt eyes meeting with Northern Alliance ahead of next 21CPC”, DVB

India criticised

Rights groups have condemned India’s plan to deport some 40,000 Rohingya Muslims, saying India should abide by its legal obligations and protect the stateless refugees who face persecution in Myanmar. For more information see: “Rights Groups Slam ‘Outrageous’ Indian Plan to Deport Rohingya”, The Irrawaddy, 18 August 2017; “HRW appeals to India on the Rohingyas”, Mizzima, 17 August 2017; “Rights groups slam ‘outrageous’ Indian plan to deport Rohingya”, DVB


Pact on same-day poll

The idea of conducting the Parliamentary and Provincial elections on the very same day is ready to be given shape, after much speculation and anticipation. The Election Commission and the major political parties have agreed to this venture, to be executed in November. Considering the limited time left to conclude two crucial elections and huge poll expenditures, the political parties had proposed this pattern. For more information, see: “EC, parties agree to hold provincial, parliamentary elections by Nov 23”, Republica

Govt readies for floods

As massive floods hit Nepal, several efforts are being made on the part of the government to provide adequate relief. Incessant rainfall has also caused massive landslides with the collapse of bridges as well. In such a tormented situation, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, paid a visit to the Tarai and mid- western parts of Nepal to inspect the situation and ensure proper relief measures like food, sanitation and also basic medical facilities. For more information, see: “PM Deuba visits flood-hit Banke, distributes relief”, Republica, 17 August, 2017; “Fear of diseases looms in the wake of floods”, The Kathmandu Post, 18 August, 2017; “Govt releases Rs 1 billion for flood and landslide victims”, The Kathmandu Post

China invites PM

The recent visit of the Chinese Vice-Premier, Wang Yang, reassured and reiterated the China-Nepal bond of friendship. This visit primarily focused on the message of President Xi Jinping of China, with regard to his support for the development in Nepal. This has been listed under high priority in the former’s arena of bilateral considerations. Yang also invited Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to visit China. For more information, see: “China wants to take Nepal along on the development path: Wang”, The Kathmandu post


Shariff contests disqualification

Nawaz Sharif has begun the process of challenging his disqualification from office by filing petitions in the Supreme Court. Following his removal from office, Sharif held a series of rallies across the country, criticizing the court ruling and seeking to whip up popular support. The Lahore High Court also summoned Sharif and 13 aides, including Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, for contempt proceedings to be held 25 August. Member of Sharif’s party have said that the former prime minister has filed three petitions to review the verdict. For more information, see: “Former Pakistan PM challenges disqualification by court”, The Washington Post

Pashtuns want Kashmir pull-out

Pakistan political leader, Mehmood Khan Achakzai has said that Pakistan should be the first to pull out of Kashmir, initiating the idea of an independent country. Achakzai who is the chief of Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party, said that Islamabad should adopt a new strategy and policy with respect to Kashmir and take the first step towards solving the decade long dispute. He added, “we agree on referendum, yet we blame each other. The masses, however, are dying. We need to have better relationship with our neighbours.” For more information, see: “Pakistan should ‘pull out’ of Kashmir first, suggests Achakzai”, The Express Tribune

Documenting refugees

Pakistan began a registration drive on 17 August to document Afghan nationals who have been living in the country, illegally after having fled war in their country. An official in charge of a registration centre, said the drive is aimed at encouraging Afghans to register with authorities or return to their homeland. Those who do neither risks arrest, as Pakistan has ordered all Afghans living there illegally out by the end of the year. Those who register with the authorities can secure temporary permission to stay in Pakistan until the end of the year. Pakistan currently is home to 1.5 million Afghan refugees. For more information, see: “Pakistan begins drive to register Afghans who fled war”, The Washington Post

Sri Lanka 

Govt has failed: Minister

Facing forced resignation or possible sacking for his later-denied public vow to return Hambantota port to the Sri Lankan people after the Government had transferred 70 per cent stakes to the Chinese funders, embattled Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe has declared that the Government has failed and urged Buddhist monks to campaign for political-change. For more information, see: “Unity government a failure– Justice Minister”, The Island, 20 August 2017; “Prez, PM or Justice Minister can’t intervene in judicial matters”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 August 2017; “Wijeyadasa runs gauntlet at Sirikotha: UNP Working Committee meeting”, The Island

No foreign judges: FM

Citing constitutional constraints, new Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, has said that foreign judges cannot be involved in domestic judicial mechanism set to probe ‘war crimes probe’ in the country. Responding to media queries about an uncontested TNA claims about a tripartite decision on engaging foreign judges, made in Washington, DC, earlier, the one-time Attorney-General said that the international community has been briefed about the constitutional position. For more information, see: “War crimes probe: Constitution won’t permit foreign judges, says FM Marapana”, The Island, 19 August 2017; “SL tells global community int'l probe unnecessary: Marapana”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 August 2017; “Prez urged to release army-held land”, The Island, 14 August 2017; “Tamil to head Sri Lanka Navy, first since 1970”, The Hindu

Primary Documentation


Press Releases

15th BIMSTEC meeting Kathmandu Nepal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 11 August 2017


Press Release issued by Permanent Mission of Nepal, New York regarding Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Nepal and Liberia”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 18 August, 2017 Press Release: Chinese Vice Premier pays courtesy calls on the Rt. Hon’ble President and Rt. Hon’ble Prime Minister”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 16 August, 2017 Press Release- Bilateral Official Talks between Nepal and China concluded in Kathmandu”, Ministry of External Affairs Nepal, 15 August, 2017



Opinion Pieces

Vance Serchuk, “America needs to stay in Afghanistan”, The Atlantic, 18 August 2017 Rob Nordland, “In Afghanistan, a destructive ‘game of thrones’”, The New York Times, 18 August 2017


1.Anis Ahmed, “Why Do Bangladeshis Seem Indifferent to Partition?”, The New York Times, 16 August 2017 Pratim Ranjan Bose, “Watch out for turbulence in Bangladesh”, The Hindu Business Line, 13 August 2017


Opinion Pieces

Tshering Tashi, “Bhutan the Conservation Jewel of the Himalayas”, Kuensel, 12 August 2017


Where is the rule of law?”, Kuensel, 15 August 2017


Abhijeet Singh, Sri Lanka’s Hambantota gambit,, 17 August 2017 Harsh V. Pant, The logic of India’s response to China ,, 16 August 2017


Stella Naw, “The empty rhetoric of unity”, The Irrawaddy, 18 August 2017 Ye Mon, “In changing Burma, a question of civil-military dynamics looms large”, 15 August 2017


Opinion Pieces

Binoj Basnyat, “Sabre-rattling in the Himalayas”, The Kathmandu Post, 18 August, 2017 Hari Bansh Jha, “Unity in adversity”, Republica, 15 August, 2017 Purushottam Ojha, “Growing trade deficit: Hydro solutions”, The Himalayan Times, 16 August, 2017


The Kathmandu Post, “Surviving the flood”, 18 August, 2017


Opinion Pieces

Zubeida Mustafa, “Time to heal”, Dawn, 18 August 2017 Abbas Nasir, “Kicking Nawaz when hes down”, Dawn, 19 August 2017 Secunder Kermani, “How Jinnah’s ideology shapes Pakistan’s identity”, BBC, 18 August 2017

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Dr A C Viswalingam, “Executive Presidency, Constitution, ‘Supremacy’ of Parliament and Separation of Powers”, The Island, 20 August 2017 Rajan Philips, “August Ruling: Advocating a federal form of government is not advocating separatism”, The Island, 20 August 2017 D B S Jeyaraj, “Federalism is not separatism, rules Supreme Court”, Daily Mirror Online, 19 August 2017 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Tamil polity-split helping Sinhala hard-liners”,, 19 August 2017 M S M Ayub, “Ravi, Wijeyadasa and Marapana Manifestation of Govt’s moral predicament”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 August 2017 Sarath Wijesinghe, “President’s powers in crisis: Is Constitutional crisis in the making?”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 August 2017 Kelum Bandara, “Echoing Ravi K’s resignation UNP backbenchers urge corruption cases expedited”, Daily Mirror, 17 August 2017 Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, “The crack-up commences”, Daily Mirror Online, 16 August 2017 Ranga Jayasuriya, “Debate on strategic investments: So much baloney on sovereignty”, Daily Mirror Online, 15 August 2017 Lasanda Kurukulasuriya, “Chinese money in Hambantota: Small change in the juggernaut of Belt and Road”, Daily Mirror Online, 14 August 2017 Jehan Perera, “Transcending partisan politics in the national interest”, The Island, 14 August 2017 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Sri Lanka, China and Hambantota”, The Sunday Leader, 13 August 2017


Kelum Bandara, “Mahinda Rajapaksa should take a step back and make way for unity in SLFP - SB Dissanayake”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 August 2017


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