MonitorsPublished on Sep 05, 2017
South Asia Weekly Report | Vol. X Issue 36

Country Reports


NATO airstrike kills 11 civilians

At least 11 civilians were killed in Logar province on 30 August by a foreign troop airstrike, according to local reports. The airstrike in Pul-e-Alam, was targeting Taliban insurgents in the area, who reportedly hid inside the homes of civilians. The airstrike wounded 16 insurgents and killed two Taliban commanders. NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan released a statement that it has launched an official investigation into the incident. For more information, see: “11 civilians killed in foreign troops airstrike in Logar”, Tolo News

Suicide-bomb claims five

A suicide bomber killed five people at a Kabul Bank branch in the capital on 29 August. The blast occurred near the US embassy in the city’s diplomatic quarter, wounding nine others and causing significant damage to surrounding building and vehicles. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the group said the bomber targeted a section of the bank where soldiers and police were waiting to receive their salaries. For more information, see: “Suicide bomber targets Kabul Bank branch”, Al Jazeera

LNG from Qatar

In a major step to formalise the country’s maiden liquefied natural gas (LNG) import, the cabinet has given the green signal to the pricing and draft contract for the deal. In this regard, the government is all set to sign a 15-year contract with Qatar's RasGas. According to the draft agreement, for the first five years of the contract, RasGas will supply 1.8 million tonnes of LNG each year, which will go up to 2.5 million tonnes in the following ten years. For more information see: “Pricing for LNG import fixed”, The Daily Star

Pressure Myanmar, US urged

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the US to pressurise Myanmar to stop pushing Rohingyas into Bangladesh. She informed that her country have given shelter to a large number of Rohingya refugees on humanitarian grounds and it creating problem Hasina made the appeal during the visit of US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells to Bangladesh. At present, around 500,000 Rohingyas live in Bangladesh. For more information see: “Put pressure on Myanmar”, The Daily Star, 1 August 2017; “UN worried”, The Daily Star, 30 August 2017; “Rohingyas pouring in”, The Daily Star


Prices down under GST

The prices of all goods imported from India will now fall by zero to 28 percent. This is as per the directive issued by the Office of Consumer Protection under the economic affairs ministry on August 29. The change comes following the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India. For more information see: “Import from India to be cheaper by up to 28%”, BBS

Doklam ease hailed

The Foreign Ministry in a statement said Bhutan welcomes the disengagement by the two sides at the face-off site in the Doklam area. It said, “We hope this contributes to the maintenance of peace and tranquility and status quo along borders of Bhutan, China and India in keeping with the existing agreements between respective countries.” For more information, see: “Bhutan welcomes disengagement of troops in the Doklam area”, Kuensel, 30 August 2017 “Bhutan’s statement on Doklam disengagement”, The Bhutanese

Indecision on land-use

Three years after the Education City Project was shut, the government is yet to decide on the utilisation of the land earmarked for the education city at Wang Sisina, which has since remained idle. For more information, see: “Govt. undecided on how to utilize Edu City land”, Kuensel


Doklam stand-off ends

India and China have agreed to a speedy disengagement on the Doklam plateau in Bhutan, ending a military standoff lasting more than two months. It comes days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled to visit to China for the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) summit in Xiamen city. For more information, see: “Doklam standoff ends; India, China agree to disengage”, Livemint

Sushma in Colombo

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and met with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, among others, during the week, and discussed bilateral issues of mutual collaboration. Swaraj was in Colombo to participate in the Second Indian Ocean Conference. For more information, see: “Navy issues requests for information for procurement of 234 helicopters”, Hindustan Times

Army reforms on

In a first, the government on Wednesday approved reforms within the Indian Army to enhance the combat capability of the forces, thereby rebalancing defence expenditure in a phased manner by December 2019 based on the Lt Gen Shekatkar committee. The first phase of the reforms involves redeployment and restructuring of approximately 57,000 posts of officers. The measures will be implemented in a gradual manner. For more information, see: “Govt clears first batch of reforms in Indian Army”, The Hindu Business Line

SC to hear Rohingya plea

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on Monday a plea challenging the decision to deport illegal Rohingya Muslim immigrants back to Myanmar, on various grounds including that it violated international human rights conventions. For more information, see: SC to hear plea challenging decision to deport Rohingyas, The Hindu


Fresh invite for talks

The Government has issued fresh invitations to the political Opposition, including the ruling PPM faction under former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, half-brother of incumbent Abdulla Yameen. In doing so, the Government has reiterated its decision against pre-conditions, including freedom for jailed Opposition leaders, a veiled reference to former President and Opposition MDP leader, Mohammed Nasheed. For more information, see: “Government renews invitation for political party talks”, Maldives Independent, 30 August 2017; “President Yameen appeals to embrace the spirit of Eidul-Al’haa”, SunOnline, 31 August 2017; “President’s envoys visit Gasim in hospital”, Maldives Independent, 29 August 2017; “Qasim to serve sentence under house arrest”, SunOnline

Gayoom’s appeal

In a significant development that could have far-reaching consequences in more ways than one, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has appealed to the security forces to stop by-elections to six parliamentary constituencies, declared vacant owing to ‘disqualification’, based on defections from the ruling PPM faction under incumbent, Abdulla Yameen. He was referring to the Election Commission’s orders in this regard, based on an ambiguous judgment of the Supreme Court. For more information, see: “Gayoom calls on security forces to stop by-elections”, Maldives Independent, 29 August 2017; “Electoral body calls by-elections as both sides celebrate Supreme Court ruling”, Maldives Independent, 27 August 2017; “Supreme Court rejects concerns presented by 56 lawyers”, SunOnline

Delhi’s signal: Nasheed

In New Delhi, for a seminar sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs Ministry, former Maldivian President, Mohammed Nasheed said that the invitation for him was a ‘signal’ to the Maldivian Government.  Back home, the Opposition, through the social media, urged Bollywood super-star Amitabh Bachchan to cancel his proposed Maldives’ visit to address a WHO programme. For more information, see: “India visit a signal from Delhi to Maldives, says Nasheed”, Maldives Independent, 30 August 2017; “Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan urged to cancel Maldives visit”, Maldives Independent, 29 August 2017; “New Chinese ambassador presents credentials amid criticism of Sino-Maldives ties”, Maldives Independent, 30 August  2017; “Both China and Maldives give special importance to the safety and security of the Indian ocean : Maldives-China”, Miadhu


Rohingyas to B’desh

Around 38,000 Rohingyas have crossed into Bangladesh from Burma, United Nations sources said, a week after Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts and an army base in Arakan State, prompting clashes and a military counteroffensive For more information, see: “Nearly 400 die as army steps up crackdown on Rohingya militants”, DVB

Singapore leads

More than US$3 billion worth of investment entered Myanmar by August this financial year and Singapore topped the list of foreign investors, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC). For more information, see: “Singapore leads in investment”, Eleven

Army drops cases

The Tatmadaw has dropped charges against media personnel and activists who are facing prosecution for allegedly associating with illegal groups and allegedly defaming the army, according to a statement released on 1 September by the office of Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services. For more information, see: “Military drops charges against journalists, activists”, Myanmar Times


Call for fair polls

Political party representatives have stressed on the need to hold the third phase of local level elections in a free and fair manner. Speaking at an interaction by the Office of the Chief Returning Officer in Janakpur on September 2, they said all parties should follow the code of conduct in order to ensure that the election is held in a free, fearless and dignified atmosphere. For more information, see: “Parties for free and fair elections”, The Republica

PM to address UNGA

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is set to leave for New York to address the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations on September 19. Officials involved in the preparations for the UNGA said Prime Minister Deuba is scheduled to address the UNGA on September 23. For more information, see: “PM heading for UNGA on Sept 19”, My Republica


Conditional aid from US

The US has promised $255 million in military assistance to Pakistan- only if they crack down on terror networks targeting Afghanistan. The Trump administration has informed Congress that it is putting the money into the equivalent of an escrow account that Islamabad will only be able to access if Washington’s conditions are met. State Department officials have said that once Pakistan more aggressively pursues the Taliban and Haqqani network, the aid will be released- after confirmation from the Secretary of State. For more information, see: “U.S. gives military assistance to Pakistan, with strings attached”, The New York Times

Musharraf, ‘proclaimed offender’

A anti-terrorism court sentenced two senior police officers to 17 years in jail in the Benazir Bhutto murder case. The court also declared Pervez Musharraf, former president and military ruler, has a proclaimed offender, and has ordered for immediate seizure of his property in the country. Five other accused have been acquitted. For more information, see: “Pervez Musharraf declared fugitive in ex-Pakistan PM Benazir Bhutto’s murder trial”, The Times of India, 31 August 2017

Attack on MQM leaderr

Leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Khawaja Izharul Hassan, survived an assassination attempt on 2 September in Karachi. Hassan who was leaving a mosque after offering Eid-ul-Azha prayers  was attacked by four assailants on motorcycles who opened fire. A young child and Hassan’s security guard were killed in the attack. For more information, see: “Two succumb to injuries after assassination attempt on MQM’s Izharul Hassan”, Geo News

Sri Lanka 

PC polls imminent?

With President Maithiripala Sirisena-led faction of the ruling SLFP joining hands with the Joint Opposition identified with predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa, also from the same party, the coalition Government has suffered a huge defeat in having three Provincial Council polls postponed this year. As per the Constitution, the proposed 20th Amendment needed to be cleared by all nine Provincial Councils, but already the Uva and Southern Province Councils have voted against it, making PC polls in Sabaragamuva, North Central and Eastern Provinces imminent before year-end. For more information, see: “20 A: Loss in Uva makes a two-thirds approval mandatory, PC polls now likely by year end”, The Island, 31 August 2017; “SPC defeats 20-A”, The Island

LG polls by year-end

With Parliament passing an amendment to the Local Authorities Act, so as to replace the proportionate representative (PR) system with ward-based, candidates-centric elections, the much-delayed local government (LG) polls across the country are likely to be held by the year-end or early next year, Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne has said. However, the Joint Opposition (JO) claimed technical flaws in the Bill, and reiterated that instead of an amendment, a new Bill should have been brought forward. For more information, see: “Local Polls in early Dec. or January next year”, The Island, 31 August 2017; “LG Polls Amendment Bill comes into effect”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 September 2017; “LG Polls Amendment Bill has technical errors: JO”, Daily Mirror Online

‘Genocide’ case against envoy

A Sri Lankan Diaspora group has moved ‘genocide’ charge against war-time divisional military commander, Maj-Gen Jagath Jayasuriya, outgoing Ambassador to five South American countries, including Brazil and Columbia. Though lawyers indicated that they had waited until Jayasuriya’s ‘diplomatic immunity’ had lapsed, the Foreign Ministry clarified that he had not fled Brazil but was returning only at the end of his tenure For more information, see: “Human rights groups in S.America file law suits against Jayasuriya”, The Island, 30 August 2017; “Jagath not fleeing Brazil, tenure ended: Ministry”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 August 2017; “War crimes: Why not against Sarath Fonseka: SLPP”, Daily Mirror Online, 31 August 2017; “JVP says country has no moral right to extend military agreement with US”, The Island, 30 August 2017; “Reconciliation: US lauds bold moves taken by President”, Daily Mirror Online

No foreign bases: PM

At the inaugural of the Indian Ocean Conference in Colombo, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe clarified that Sri Lanka did not enter into a military alliance of any type with any country, or provide military bases to any. Greater economic activity in the region would bring both benefits and also security challenges, he said further. For more information, see: “No military alliances with any country: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 September 2017; “Indian Ocean Region: Economic activity will bring benefits, security challenges – PM”, The Island, 1 September 2017; “ETCA: Next round of talks in October”, Daily Mirror Online

Primary Documentation


Press Releases

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

John Hannah, “Trump’s Afghanistan strategy could actually work”, Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy, 1 September 2017 David Coates, “Trump and Afghanistan: Old problems and new dangers”, Huffington Post, 1 September 2017


Kazi Amdadul Hoque, “Preparing for the next disaster”, The Daily Star, 31 August 2017
  1. Sakhawat Hussain, “Working out an electoral security model”, The Daily Star, 30 august 2017
  2. Sakhawat Hussain, “Electoral security: Important for a fair election”, The Daily Star, 27 August 2017



Taking the lead”, Kuensel, 31 August 2017


Vinod Sharma, “How Deras and politicians fed off each other”, The Hindustan Times, 1September 2017 Shaym Saran, “Doklam’s Big Picture: Neither Asia nor the World is China-Centric” , The Quint ,28 August 2017 Chaynika Saxena, “Trump’s Afghan strategy: Will tactical silence have a lot to say?”,, 30 August 2017


Opinion Pieces

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Maldives: Whither international community?”,, 1 September 2017 Ravi Joshi, “Bizzare developments in the Maldives”,, 28 August 2017


Suhasini Haidar, “I will return even if I have to spent the rest of my life in jail: Mohamed Nasheed”, The Hindu, 30 August 2017 Devirupa Mitra, “You have to be blind not to read the signs: Ex-Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed”, The Wire, 28 August 2017


Opinion Pieces

Aung Zaw, “Tough Choices Ahead to Prevent ‘Black Friday,’ Achieve Stability in Rakhine”, The Irrawaddy, 31 August 2017


Opinion Pieces

Devendra Gautam, “Reclaiming our destiny”, My Republica, 3 September 2017


Opinion Pieces

Muna Adil, “Donald Trump is right. Pakistan needs to stop supporting terrorists”, Newsweek, 2 September 2017 Pervez Hoodbhoy, “Holy men-theirs and ours”, Dawn, 2 September 2017 M Ziauddin, “Insurgent peace-making”, The Express Tribune”, 2 Seoptember 2017

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Sandun A Jayasekara, “President Sirisena wants to see an undivided SLFP”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 September 2017 Kusal Perera, “Whole country totally corrupt”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 September 2017 M S M Ayub, “Wigneswaran’s ever opened can of worms”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 September 2017 Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, “The Faustian bargain of the UNP”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 August 2017 Jehan Perera, “More purposeful Government in the making”, The Island, 29 August 2017 Lasanda Kurukulasuriya, “Protecting sea-lanes: What is Sri Lanka’s role?”, Daily Mirror Online, 28 August 2017 Avijit Goel, “Is India’s Sri Lanka policy working at all?”,, 28 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
The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.