MonitorsPublished on Aug 28, 2017
South Asia Weekly Report | Vol. X Issue 35

Country Reports


Trump announces Afghan plan

US President Donald Trump finally declared his plan for Afghanistan after months of speculation of how his administration would handle the 16-year old war. In his address to the nation on 22 August, Trump did not discuss the exact number of troops that would be sent to the country, or whether there would be a new US strategy. His speech however, did focus on Pakistan and its role in providing safe harbours for terrorists, saying “We cannot be silent about Pakistan’s safe heaven for terror groups.” Trump also recognised India’s critical role in furthering peace and security in the country saying that the US wanted India to play a greater role in the area of economic assistance and development. For more information, see: “Donald Trump: India’s role critical in Afghanistan’s stability; Pakistan must stop sheltering terrorists”, The Indian Express

US for talks with Taliban

Top US military officials in Afghanistan, including General John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of the US forces in the country, spoke at a news conference in Kabul following President Trumps address. Nicholson invited the Taliban to lay down its arms, saying that, “we are determined to pursue the goal of a political settlement. As these terrorist groups realize that they cannot win, they will see that their best option is to pursue peace.” For more information, see: “A ‘win’ in Afghanistan includes peace talks with the Taliban, say US officials in Kabul”, The Washington Post


Death for 10 for bid on PM

Ten members of banned Harkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji) were awarded death penalty for conspiring assassination of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The Huji activists accused of attempting assassination of Prime Minister by planting bomb at a location of her really in July 2000. For more information, see: “Assassination Attempt on Hasina: Ten Huji men get death by shooting”, The Daily Star

MiG purchase likely

Officials from the manufacturers of Russian MIG-35 fighter aircraft claimed that Bangladesh is planning to buy the aircraft. The company officials informed that negotiations between the two countries likely to start soon. Currently, Bangladesh is modernising its armed forces and is purchasing equipment from various sources. The country signed an agreement with Russia also for sourcing arms from that country. . For more information, see: “Bangladesh interested to buy MiG-35 jets: TASS”,


Japan renews support

The government of Japan renewed its support for Bhutan’s socio economic development, during the 12th annual consultation on economic cooperation between the two countries on August 23. Since its inception in 2006, the annual consultation continues to serve as an avenue for the two countries to review and exchange views on ongoing and future bilateral cooperation programs, a press release from the foreign ministry stated. For more information, see: “Japan commits to continue its assistance to Bhutan”, Kuensel

Remedial costs at Nu 2 b

Punatsangchu Hydroelectric Project Authority (PHPA) Managing Director R N Khazanchi has said that the total cost of the right bank stabilization work for Phaser I and the surge shaft stabilization work in Phase II could cost up to Nu 2.5 billion. For more information, see: “Nu 2 bn plus bill for remedial works in P I and P II”, The Bhutanese

‘Mountain Echoes’ begins

Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck graced the eighth edition of Bhutan’s literary, arts and cultural festival, ‘Mountain Echoes’ in the capital. She is the chief patron of the festival, spoke on the legacy of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. For more information, see: “Eighth edition of Mountain Echoes begins”, BBS


Privacy, fundamental right

The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday ruled that privacy is a fundamental right because it is intrinsic to the right to life. "Right to Privacy is an integral part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution," the SC's nine-judge bench ruled unanimously. For more information, see: “Right to Privacy is a fundamental right, it is intrinsic to right to life: Supreme Court”, The Times of India

‘No’ to instant talaq

The Supreme Court banned on Tuesday a controversial Islamic practice of instant divorce as arbitrary and unconstitutional, in a landmark verdict for gender justice that will stop Muslim men calling off a marriage on a whim. For more information, see: “SC strikes down instant triple talaq, says practice is unconstitutional”, Hindustan Times

Navy to buy 234 choppers

The Indian Navy has requested defence companies for information on technologies and capabilities they have for manufacturing 123 Naval Multi- Role Helicopters (NMRH) and 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) under a strategic partnership model. For more information, see: “Navy issues requests for information for procurement of 234 helicopters”, The Economic Times


Gasim jailed

In a midnight verdict, the criminal court has sentenced Gasim Ibrahim, leader of the Jumhooree Party, a partner in the four-party Opposition coalition to three years-plus in prison on the charge of bribing ruling party MPs to vote in favour of the no-trust move against Parliament Speaker, Abdulla Maseeh. Gasim was hospitalized through a part of the trial and sentencing, owing to a heart-problem and his aides said that the jail authorities should rush him overseas for adequate medical care. For more information, see: “Gasim sentenced in absentia to three years, stripped of seat”, Maldives Independent, 25 August 2017; “Gasim rushed to hospital after collapsing at court”, Maldives Independent, 24 August 2017; “Court hears witnesses in Gasim’s bribery trial”, Maldives Independent, 24 August 2017; “We are concerned that Commissioner of Prisons is delaying sending Qasim abroad for treatment: Sameer”, Miadhu, 26 August 2017; “Court rejects plea to suspend MP Faris’s identity fraud trial”, Maldives Independent, 21 August 2017;  “MP Mahloof arrested”, SunOnline

Recess for Majlis

Parliament went into the usual, periodic recess after a controversial session when army soldiers stayed on the premises almost throughout and inside the House, in plain clothes on occasions, surrounding Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, and keeping off angry Opposition members. On occasions, the army also interfered with the Opposition attempts to hold internal meetings on the premises and/or vote on the no-trust motion against the Speaker, without the Chair’s clearance. For more information, see: “Majlis resumes with soldiers surrounding speaker”, Maldives Independent

India’s  hand: Nasheed

In New Delhi for a seminar, former Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed said that the invitation for him indicated that the Indian Government was opposed to President Abdulla Yameen. He also indicated that India was behind his escaping the prison after complaining of severe back-pain while in Maldivian prison and requiring immediate surgery in the UK. For more information, see: “Nasheed hints India played role in his escape from prison”, SunOnline


71 dead in Rohingya attack

Militant attacks on 31 police and military targets in Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung townships in northern Rakhine on August 24 night and August 25, left at least 71 dead, including 10 policemen, one soldier, and one immigration officer as well as 59 suspected militants. For more information, see: “Death toll rises in Rakhine”, The Irrawaddy, 25 August 2017; “Over 70 killed as Rohingya militants stage major attack”, DVB, 25 August 2017; “Bengali Terrorists attacked 30 police check points in Maungdaw leaving 12 dead”, Eleven

Shan groups quit UNFC

A major member of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N), has submitted a resignation letter to the council, with the ethnic armed group on Sunday revealing its plans to leave the coalition.

For more information, see: “Shan ethnic armed groups bids UNFCC farewell”, DVB

Vietnam leader meets Suu Kyi

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi received General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPVCC) Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong and party on August 25  at Presidential Palace diplomatic hall. Matters relating to regional cooperation in ASEAN region and bilateral cooperation were discussed. For more information, see: “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi receives CPVCC General Secretary”, Global New Light of Myanmar


Renewing India ties

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s five day trip to India is culminating into a very fruitful endeavor with the second day releasing a Joint Statement on the part of both the countries. The PM of Nepal ingeminated the previously stated commitments regarding all the pending issues of Hydel power projects along with border management and the recent management of natural calamities. The primary idea was to further strengthen the bilateral relation between the two neighbours. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed his positive and collaborative attitude toward the visit. For more information, see: “Nepal, India joint statement reaffirms strong bilateral ties”The Himalayan Times, 25 August, 2017; “Nepal, India sign 8 MoUs, 4 on quake reconstruction”, Republica, 25 August, 2017; “PM Deuba meets with Indian leaders”, The Kathmandu Post

Largest Cabinet

The delayed Cabinet formation of Nepal after PM Sher Bahadur Deuba gave way to the formation of the largest cabinet in the history of Nepal. The Cabinet was expanded for the fourth time in two months and now includes15 more State Ministers. The primary aim is to bring about a complete collaboration of the coalition government. For more information, see: “Deuba’s Cabinet largest ever”, The Kathmandu Post

Imports up

Nepal has been witnessing an expanding gap in its import and export ratio with import being tilted towards the higher side of the scale. The gap is noteworthy even more because the imports have spiked up by a whopping 28 percent to Rs 990.11 billion in Fiscal Year 2016-17, while exports posted a sluggish growth of 4.2 percent to Rs 73.05 billion, making mockery of the government policy of import substitution. India remains one of the primary import partners of Nepal. For more information, see: “FY2016/17 imports near trillion rupees”, Republica


Strong rebuttal

Pakistan civil and military leadership strongly rejected US President Donald Trump’s accusations of harbouring terrorists and has begun setting conditions for future counter-terrorism cooperation with Washington and Kabul. The National Security Council issued a strong rebuttal to the US statements, saying that Pakistan was being used as a ‘scapegoat’, although it has an “abiding interest” in maintaining Afghanistan’s stability. Pakistan has since continued to defend its role in the Afghan war and has said that it has helped to promote peace in the country. For more information, see: “Pakistan sets terms for help in anti-terror fight”, Dawn, 25 August 2017; “Pakistan rejects ‘insinuations’ in Trump’s Afghanistan speech”, CNN

Army chief meets US envoy

In a meeting with US Ambassador the country, David Hale, Chief of Army Staff, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said that Pakistan wanted the United States’ trust, rather than its financial and military assistance. Bajwa highlighted the importance of peace in Afghanistan for Pakistan and the efforts made by Pakistan to that end. The army chief added that such efforts were not meant to appease anyone but were taken in line with Pakistan's national interest and policy. For more information, see: “Pakistan wants the US’ trust, not its financial assistance: COAS”, Dawn

Saudi aid in Sharif case

Saudi Arabia government is likely to provide Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team, working on former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s corruption case, with papers related to Sharif’s financial assets in the country. The JIT had given the Saudi government a mutual legal assistance request regarding Azizia Steel Company and Hill Metal Establishment in the country. Sources have said that the Saudi interior minister has shown willingness to provide the JIT with required information. For more information, see: “Saudi may share details on Sharif’s steel units”, The Express Tribune

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


India-Nepal Joint Statement during the State Visit of Prime Minister of Nepal to India (23-27 August 2017)”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 24 August, 2017 “Press Release issued by Permanent Mission of Nepal, New York: Nepal to chair the Group of Asia-Pacific States in New York during September 2017”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 25 August, 2017



Opinion Pieces

Christopher Clary, “Trump singled out India to more in Afghanistan. That could easily backfire”, The Washington Post, 24 August 2017 Jennifer Rubin, “Are we willing to continue sacrificing Americans in Afghanistan to achieve a tie?”, The Washington Post, 23 August 2017


Selina Mohsin, “Society at a crossroads”, The Daily Star, 24 August 2017 Aiman R Khan, “When water is a weapon”, Dhaka Tribune, 19 August 2017 Syed Abul Maksud, “Agitation over judgement unfortunate”, Prothom Alo, 22 August 2017



 “Quality Education”, The Bhutanese, 19 August 2017


Opinion Pieces

Ketan Mehta, “India and Iran: More than what meets the eye”,,  23 August 2017 Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan,Why Brahmos sale to Vietnam is no violation of missile technology control regime commitments ,, 16 August 2017 M J Vinod, “Chinese Base in Djibouti: What Are India and the US Afraid Of?”, The Quint, 23 August 2017 C Raja Mohan, ‘The Trump discontinuity’The Indian Express, 24 August 2017


Opinion Pieces

With Rakhine Under Seige, Will Govt Call a Security Council Meeting?”, The Irrawaddy, 26 August 2017


Opinion Pieces

Biswas Baral, “Doklam clouds over Nepal”, Republica, 24 August, 2017 Devendra Gautam, “Deuba’s Delhi brief”, Republica, 23 August, 2017 Deepak Thapa, “Deuba’s Delhi brief”, The Kathmandu Post, 24 August, 2017


Republica, “Water test”, 21 August, 2017


Opinion Pieces

Amir Khan, “In dealing with Trump, Pakistan plays its trump card”, The Express Tribune, 24 August 2017 Nadia Naviwala, “Washington bad cop”, Dawn, 24 August 2017 Mawish Moulvi, “Absence of an anti-terrorism narrative”, The Express Tribune, 24 August 2017

Sri Lanka

K K S Perera, “Leaders in the past did not fear world powers”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 August 2017 M S M Ayub, “Wijeydasa is gone: Will corruption be eliminated now?”, Daily Mirror Online, 25 August 2017 Kusal Perera, “Yahapalayana: From crutches to wheelchair”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 August 2017 Sanja de Silva, “New hope with a new Foreign Minister”, The Island, 23 August 2017 Jehan Perera, “Politics is final arbiter of good governance”, The Island, 22 August 2017 N Sathiya Moorthy, “President and the Constitution”, The Sunday Leader, 27 August 2017


Sakif Samy Tanviri, “People are also against postponing elections”, Daily Mirror Online, 24 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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