MonitorsPublished on Jun 28, 2016
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume IX; Issue 26

< style="color: #0180b3">ANALYSES

Maldives: New Commonwealth envoy, newer vice-president

By N. Sathiya Moorthy

In a twin-development, the Commonwealth appointed former Kenyan Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga as the new special envoy for Maldives even as President Abdulla Yameen named Finance Minister Abulla Jihad as his new deputy, the third in less than a year. Along with the Vice President, Yameen reshuffled his Cabinet, after Home Minister Umar Naseer quit overnight, reiterating his interest to contest the presidential polls in 2023, indicating his support for the incumbent in a 2018 re-run.

The appointment of a special envoy comes months after a visit by high-level official team of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and ahead of the scheduled September meeting. In September, CMAG would assess Yameen’s delivery on actionable pro-democracy proposals mooted earlier, and initiate further action, if any, based on a collective decision.

Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland said that she was appointing a special envoy on ‘Maldivian suggestion’. She lauded Justice Mutunga’s competence and human rights work, and said that he would function independent of the Maldivian government. A week down the line, the Yameen Government, however, was yet to acknowledge, leave alone respond/react to the appointment.

Back home, the appointment of Jihad, considered an economic expert/professional in his own right, indicates that Yameen would want to plunge wholesale into the politics of presidency and presidential polls, due in November 2018. At election in 2013, Yameen had retained economic ministries under his overall care, leaving it to successive Vice Presidents in Ahmed Jameel Mohammed and Ahmed Adeeb to handle the politics of ‘social sector’ issues and concerns.

CoNI and Commonwealth

It remains to be seen how Justice Mutunga intend proceeding with addressing democracy issues in Maldives in the coming days and weeks. Ahead of him in 2013, a (Maldivian) Commission of Inquiry (CoNI) appointed by then President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik, had found no major wrongdoing in the resignation/replacement of predecessor, Mohammed Nasheed, of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The Commonwealth had insisted on the appointment of CoNI, and later attested to its findings.

Today, when Nasheed and the MDP are spearheading the anti-Yameen/pro-democracy movement from outside the country through the Maldives Joint Opposition (MJO), Justice Mutunga would have to address the twin issues of democracy and legality. Baroness Patricia has mandated Mutunga to chalk out a roadmap of sorts for ensuring free, fair and ‘inclusive’ presidential polls in 2018, hinting the inevitable option for Nasheed to contest.

Sure enough, larger democracy issues remain and require some pro-active approach. However, Justice Mutunga would be also be faced with addressing/justifying the legality and propriety of Nasheed jumping an incomplete prison-term and his own pending Supreme Court appeal, against conviction in the ‘Judge Abdulla abduction case’.

Likewise, there is no gainsaying the procedural and factual lapses and/or conclusions in the conversion of what essentially was a ‘criminal offence’ by Nasheed into a ‘terrorism charge’, after the original trial had commenced. At the same time, Justice Mutunga cannot also be seen as wishing away the original offence, trial and conviction — though in the matter of sentencing, non-terrorism charges provide for a lesser prison-term and alternatives.

Larger issues of democracy apart, on the ‘limited question’ of ‘law and order’, and ‘IS terrorism’, the MDP has now condemned the Supreme Court for confirming death-sentence on the 22-year killer of parliamentarian, Afrasheem, a religious scholar. Citing Sharia principles, rather than tenets of ‘liberalism’ as is its wont, the party has said that the confirmation went against the last-minute appeals of the victim’s family, which had originally demanded death for the killer.

Independent of the pending Nasheed case apart, the Yameen Government has also declared a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy against terrorism. It’s thus interesting and contradicting at the same time, why the Government that had sought to convert the Nasheed case involving the ‘abduction’ of a Judge into a ‘terror case’, did not do so in the case of Afrasheem murder, when the victim was a parliamentarian, and thus a public servant of some kind.

Brexit and after

Justice Mutunga’s mandate might not include into assessing the propriety of fellow Commonwealth members’ disposition to Maldives. However, it’s not entirely unlikely that some pro-Yameen members of the Commonwealth might still seek an explanation about the wisdom and propriety of the UK, as the presiding member, granting political asylum to Nasheed, that too when CMAG was already at work and the issue had involved violation of Maldivian domestic laws and processes.

In the immediate Brexit context, it’s also not known if a successor government to Prime Minister David Cameron’s in the UK would hold on to the same view as his, on the Maldives front. Maldives Foreign Minister and Yameen’s half-niece, Dunya Maumoon, has described, the Brexit vote as ‘democracy in action’.

Cameron’s Conservative Party is known to have backed pro-democracy groups in Maldives, especially identified with Nasheed, from the days of President Gayoom, almost since the turn of the century. It remains to be seen if a successor Government, even if of the Tories, would extent the same or more support to Nasheed and his backers, especially on the asylum issue and the like.

‘Not to allow fatigue’

In New Delhi recently, an MDP-MJO team under Ahmed Naseem, Foreign Minister when Nasheed was President, urged India to ensure the return democracy in Maldives, and ‘not to allow fatigue to set in’. This, they said, was possible, only with Yameen out of power. Team members also brought in the ‘China factor’ in the context of the Yameen Government’s purported tilt away from India, whose waters the Indian Ocean was, they said.

Instead, the MDP seems to be allowing ‘fatigue’ to set in, viz their political/ diplomatic initiatives, almost since the exit of President Nasheed from office and at every turn. The party has alternated between domestic protests and international diplomacy, all centred on Nasheed, incidentally. In doing so, it has initiated demands and launched protests, without reference to the other party’s equally inherent capabilities to ward off and/or deflect the same, in whatever ways they, in their turn, decide is the best possible way.

On occasions, such MDP ‘political initiatives’ have had embarrassed ‘friends’ like India. It was so after Nasheed unilaterally staged a 10-day long sit-in at the Indian High Commission in Male, anticipating arrest in the ‘Judge Abdulla case’ — that too for violating court summons. The sit-in came soon after Nasheed’s return from an India visit, and if the Waheed Government did not mistake India, it had known the MDP and its methods better.

Civil disobedience

The MDP-MJO has since called for a civil disobedience movement against the Yameen Government, from July 15. This would indicate a return of the Maldivian Joint Opposition to the nation where they belong and where they need to remain relevant and strong if they have to face the next presidential polls and the rest.

In between, post elections 2013, the MDP made a unilateral demand for Yameen to step down from the presidency, especially without preparing the nation and the party, too, for the same. This unprepared initiative might have also been a contributing factor for the relative lack of public response to a series of all-Opposition street-protests, to press what essentially still remained an MDP solo demand through the first few months of 2015.

Subsequently, again, the MDP, still living in the past of what they want to believe as ‘Waheed betrayal’, readily backed Yameen to amend the Constitution for replacing the latter’s first VP, Jameel, without having to give him a parliamentary hearing. Today, Jameel is the leader of the self exiled MJO while Nasheed remains its patron. If there were deals and wheels within each other, as reported in a section of the local media, for the Jameel impeachment to provide for Nasheed’s freedom, that did not happen, either.

Yet, other larger issues of democracy too/do remain — and the Yameen leadership would have to address them. For instance, there is the basic question about the functioning of the judiciary, which halts and re-hears sensitive and sensational cases at will, and as if by whim. Justice, as is often said, should not only be done, but should also be seems to have been done. For starters, court hearings on public holidays and at the midnight hour has no bearing on the tenets of fair play. The rest of it can wait, but cannot be indefinitely postponed, leave alone avoided.

The author is Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Chennai.

Nepal: Strengthening ties with Bangladesh

By Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury

The Nepal Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in Kathmandu on June 21 at the Bangladesh Embassy, Basundhara. Chancellor of NAFA, Ragini Upadhyay and Director General of BSA, Liaquat Ali Lucky signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organisations. The statement issued by the Embassy of Bangladesh opined: “This cultural exchange will greatly help to further strengthen and deepen the already existing excellent bilateral relations between the two close South Asian countries.”

With the signing of the MoU, the two premier institutions working in the fields of arts and culture in their respective countries, will undertake exchange of cultural artists and delegations, exchange exhibitions and exchange academicians and trainers with a view to enhance knowledge and awareness of the varied and rich cultural heritage of Bangladesh and Nepal. Though it is not the only MoU that these two countries have signed in recent times, it is a significant indication to strengthen overall bilateral relationships with Bangladesh.

It can be recalled that both countries also signed a MoU to hold regular Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) in 2012 to enhance trade and commerce, connectivity and bilateral ties during former Foreign Secretary Durga Prasad Bhattarai’s two day visit to Bangladesh. Bhattarai and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Mijarul Quayes, signed the MoU on behalf of their respective governments, following a bilateral meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Dhaka. It was decided that under the MoU, both countries will hold foreign secretary level meetings annually in their capital cities alternately.

Duty-free access

Another important decision that has been taken in May to strengthen bilateral ties is to provide duty-free access to Nepali goods to Bangladesh. A two-day bilateral trade talks held in Dhaka on May 11 and 12, 2016 decided to form a secretary level mechanism to enforce the provision, as per which at least 108 Nepali products will get duty-free access to Bangladesh.

A nine-member team led by Commerce Secretary Naindra Prasad Upadhyaya and a Bangladeshi team led by Senior Commerce Secretary of Bangladesh Hedayetullah Al Mamoon signed a MoU to this effect. The Nepal-Bangladesh Commerce Secretary-level talks also agreed to remove Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) to expand trade volume between the two countries. Commerce Secretary Upadhyaya said the mechanism will propose the modality on implementation of the agreement. The two countries also discussed issues like trade facilitation, development of trade related infrastructure and removing non-tariff barriers.

Through the bilateral agreement, Nepal will get duty-free access for the items like cheese, honey, rose, rhododendron and its juice, lentils, cabbage, strawberry, rice, pineapple, edible oil and raw skin among others which the country had been requesting Bangladesh for quite some time. Nepal will also be providing preferential treatment to 50 Bangladeshi products that include fish and agro products like tobacco, potato chips, tomato sauce, readymade garments, battery, biscuits, cement and plastic products among others.

An agreement was also signed for harmonising sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures in agricultural products.  It has been decided that the two countries also have reached an understanding to sign a memorandum of understanding on trading of agricultural goods in the next meeting.


Simplifying visa and immigration procedures for tourists and the participants of the trade fairs, as well as enhancing facility of land customs offices were also agreed upon during the bilateral talks.

During the last Joint Secretary-level meeting held in Kathmandu in April 2015, Bangladesh had sought reciprocal measures from Nepal. But Nepal asked for implementation of previously-pledged concessions first. “As Bangladesh agreed to offer duty-free access to Nepali products unilaterally, while Nepal offered preferential treatment, we have urged them to implement these concessions first,” said Upadhyaya.

Commerce Ministry officials said Nepal has offered to reduce customs duty by five percentage points if the duty structure is higher than 15 percent, and by three percentage points if the duty level is below 15 percent. Nepal has given similar preferential treatment to Chinese products as per an agreement signed with China’s Tibet. Nepal is also considering offering duty-free access to certain Bangladeshi products in line with the South Asia Free Trade Area Agreement (SAFTA) within 2016.

During the last bilateral meeting, a discussion was there to simplify the process of granting visa on arrival to Nepalis at two border points, Banglabandha and Burimari. Although the facility is already in force, travellers have to undergo a lengthy documentation procedure. Both countries also agreed to seek India’s cooperation to issue visa on arrival to Nepalis in Bangladesh if any Nepali reaches Bangladesh by land. The facility is currently applicable only for arrivals by air.

Sub-regional linkages

Nepal-Bangladesh ties have raised high hope for the sub-regional cooperation as well. The third meeting of the Joint Working Groups on Sub-regional Cooperation between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) on water resources management and power/hydropower, and on connectivity and transit were held in Dhaka, deciding to collaborate on power trade in January.

The working groups carried forward earlier discussions on the scope for power trade and inter-grid connectivity cooperation in future power projects and water resource management between the four countries. “Specific hydropower projects under the BBIN framework that could be concretised on equitable basis were discussed,” Nepal’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. India was the first country that took initiatives for the BBIN and started discussion over sub-regional themes like water resources and connectivity.

It was decided that an experts’ group would be constituted for exchanging best practices in water resources management and on the specifics of the identified projects, power trade, inter-grid connectivity, flood forecasting and other areas of possible cooperation.

The working group on connectivity and transit reviewed progress under the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement and made recommendations relevant to this process. The meeting also agreed to commence discussion on the possibility of having a BBIN Rail Agreement drawing on the draft SAARC Regional Rail Agreement template.

It was also agreed that land ports/land customs stations crucial for sub-regional trade and transit would be given priority attention by all the four countries. The next meeting of the JWGs would be held in the second half of 2016 in India. The meeting was attended by the foreign joint-secretaries of the BBIN countries.

The author is Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Kolkata.

< style="color: #0180b3">COUNTRY REPORTS

< style="color: #0180b3">Afghanistan

Taliban attacks

On the morning of 20 June, at least 14 Nepali security guards were killed after a suicide bomber attacked a bus in Kabul. Less than three hours later, another attack in eastern Kabul targeting a politician killed at least one, injured the MP and wounded five others. The Taliban claimed responsibility for both.

For more information, see: Afghanistan: 14 Nepali security guards killed in Kabul

Security post with Pak

Pakistan and Afghanistan will set up a high-level bilateral mechanism to coordinate on security issues and amicably address border-related matters, officials said on 23 June, days after violent border clashes at Torkham left casualties on both sides. The decision was taken during a meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Tashkent.

For more information, see: Pakistan, Afghanistan to set up bilateral mechanism to address border issues

HPC rejects new demand

The High Peace Council (HPC) on 23 June rejected a new demand by the Hizb-e-Islami peace delegation asking for additional explanations on the draft peace agreement, saying that the party is now back-pedalling from its original stance.

For more information, see: HPC rebukes Hizb-e-Islami for backpedaling on peace agreement

58 pc of missing migrants are Afghans

The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) has said that almost 58 percent of the migrants gone missing on their way to European countries are Afghans. The number of Afghan nationals who have migrated to Europe since start of 2015 are estimated at 250,000. Most of them migrate to Europe illegally. Some have lost their lives at sea. The ICRC has launched a website to help families track their loved ones who have gone missing while travelling to Europe.

For more information, see: Red Cross: 58% of missing migrants to Europe are Afghans

< style="color: #0180b3">Bangladesh

Help fight militancy: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had sought cooperation from the people to fight militancy. She further observed that her government is taking actions against terrorism and militancy so that peace can prevail in the country.   Bangladesh has seen a rise in the militant activities in past few days. The government is being criticised for its inability to control militancy.  To counter the rising tides of militancy it had conducted a 7-day long drive and arrested 194 suspected militants.  The opposition claimed international conspirators are patronising militancy in the country.

For more information, see: Help govt fight militancy PM in parliament urges people; Int'l conspiracy behind militancy, says Moudud

Revenue, past target

Recording growth revenue has surpassed by Tk 30.52 billion against the target of Tk 1.30 trillion till May in the current fiscal year (2015-2016). Finance Minister AbulMaal Abdul Muhith informed in the parliament that the revenue collection target for the FY16 was fixed at Tk 1.5 trillion and as per a provisional account Tk 1.33 trillion was collected till May as against the target of Tk 1.30 trillion.

For more information, see: Revenue surpasses target by Tk30.52b till May

Indian concerns

India has expressed its concern over the safety of minorities in Bangladesh following a death threat to a priest of the Ramakrishna Mission in Dhaka by suspected militants claiming to be from the ISIS. Ramakrishna Mission is a religious organisation whose headquarter is in Kolkata. However, India reiterated its support for the Sheikh Hasina government and its drive against militancy.

For more information, see: Delhi contacts Dhaka over RK Mission threat; Dhaka has the full support of Delhi

< style="color: #0180b3">Bhutan

BBIN pact okayed

The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Motor Vehicles agreement was passed by the National Assembly amid stiff resistance from the opposition. Out of 41 MPs present, 28 voted in favour, 10 voted against and 3 abstained.

For more information, see: Assembly passes BBIN agreement amid resistance

India releases excise duty refund

The Indian government has released the Excise Duty Refund (EDR) for 2014, amounting to Nu 1.943 billion. The amount was finalised in May last year. Indian ambassador Jaideep Sarkar handed over the cheque to finance ministerNamgayDorji at Tashichhodzong.

For more information, see: India releases excise duty refund for 2014

BA domestic service

Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority says Bhutan Airlines will resume its domestic flight operations only from March, 2019. Bhutan Airlines was to resume its domestic flights by October, 2014. They had suspended domestic flight operations June, 2012 after it was unable to generate revenue.

For more information, see: Bhutan Airlines to resume its domestic operations only in 2019

< style="color: #0180b3">India

NSG entry

India has been denied entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Stubbornly insisting on an admissions process for non-signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)) at the Seoul NSG meet, China refused to consider the specifics of India's case.

For more information, see: China bars India's NSG entry: We must rely on our own wits, develop tech

India joins SCO

India on Friday signed the memorandum of obligation in Tashkent, Uzbekistan to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Speaking at the annual two-day summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the membership would stretch the region’s boundaries from the Pacific to Europe and from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean. “India is not new to the region. It’s not just geography that connects us, our historic linkages with you are centuries old,” said Modi.

For more information, see: India’s SCO membership will strengthen region’s security: PM Modi in Tashkent

Female fighter pilots

Creating history, the first batch of three female pilots — Avani Chaturvedi, Bhavana Kanth  and Mohana Singh were inducted in Indian Air Force fighter squadron on Saturday. On successful completion of their training, the trio were formally commissioned by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

For more information, see: First batch of three female fighter pilots commissioned

Swamy takes on Jaitley

Senior BJP leaders indicated Friday that the party was “upset” with its Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy and that action could be taken against him if he did not stop his attacks on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and senior bureaucrats. The leaders said that Swamy had overstepped the “limits of decency” while “weakening the foundations of the government” with his public criticism, including what could be construed as personal attacks against Jaitley.

For more information, see: Subramanian Swamy takes another swipe at Jaitley, BJP headache gets worse

Centre returns 14 Delhi bills

In a setback to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi, the central government on Friday returned as many as 14 pending bills of the state government in the capital. The central government's move could well spark off a fresh confrontation with the Delhi government, close on the heels of the controversy over 21 MLAs being appointed as parliamentary secretaries.

For more information, see: Another political showdown in Delhi: Centre returns 14 AAP govt bills

Militant killed in J&K

An unidentified militant was killed in a gun battle with security forces in north Kashmir’s Kupwara today, the seventh ultra to be killed in three encounters. The fresh encounter broke out in Petha Wadar forest area of Handwara this morning, an army official said. A search operation was launched by a joint team of police and army after receiving specific inputs about the presence of militants in the area. The hiding militants fired upon them, triggering an encounter in which the militant was killed.

For more information, see: Srinagar: 1 more militant killed in Kupwara, IED detected, The Indian Express, June 24, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Maldives 

Third VP named

As a part of a ministerial reshuffle, President Abdulla Yameen has named long-time Finance Minister, Abdulla Jihad as his third vice-president in the past year. It followed the exit of Home Minister, Umar Naseer, who has reiterated his interest to contest the presidency in 2023, after Yameen had tried his luck for the second and final time in 2018.

For more information, see: “Yameen appoints third vice president, reshuffles cabinet”, Maldives Independent, 22 June 2016; “Home minister resigns”, Maldives Independent, 22 June 2016; “Umar: I will achieve full success when I become President, will run on 2023”, SunOnline, 22 June 2016; “Home minister stripped of power to seek surveillance orders”, Maldives Independent, 19 June 2016

New Commonwealth envoy

Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland has named former Kenyan Chief Justice, Dr Willy Mutunga, as special envoy to Maldives. The appointment comes ahead of Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in September, when an assessment of Maldives’ compliance to earlier results-specific demands would be undertaken.

For more information, see: “Kenyan chief justice appointed Commonwealth special envoy to Maldives”, Maldives Independent, 19 June 2016; “Kenya's jurist made Commonwealth's envoy to Maldives”, The Hindu, 20 June 2016; “US concerned over narrowing of political space in Maldives”, The Hindu-PTI, 16 June 2016; “Opposition to hold civil disobedience protest”, Miadhu, 26 June 2016; “Dhunya says Brexit poll “a clear demonstration of democracy in action””, SunOnline, 26 June 2016

SC confirms death                                

In a first of its kind since 1953, Supreme Court has upheld death sentence on 22-year-old Hussain Humam Ahmed for the 2012 midnight killing of parliamentarian and religious scolar, Afrasheem, in his Male home. Pending execution in30 days, his fate now rests with the dead man’s family, which had upturned original demand for death for the killer to one for the SC to delay confirmation.

For more information, see: “Supreme court upholds death sentence for man convicted of killing an MP”, Maldives Independent, 24 June 2016; “Family of murdered MP asks supreme court to delay death penalty for killer”, Maldives Independent, 23 June 2016; “Some Jihadi recruiters ‘identified and under surveillance’”, Maldives Independent, 23 June 2016; “Government unveils ‘zero tolerance’ counter-terrorism policy”, Maldives Independent, 17 June 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Myanmar 

Peace talks on

Representatives of eight non-state ethnic armed groups who signed last year’s nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the previous government held a two-day meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand to review their peace program agenda, according to ethnic leaders.

For more information, see: NCA Signatories Discuss Peace Agenda in Chiang Mai

Suu Kyi to bring back exiles

Aung San SuuKyi vowed Friday to work towards bringing home hundreds of thousands of Myanmar people who fled her impoverished and war-torn country under its former military leaders.The democracy champion was speaking during her first visit as a state leader to neighbouring Thailand.

For more information, see: SuuKyi vows to bring exiled countrymen home

Mosque ransacked

Scores of Buddhists ransacked a mosque in central Myanmar forcing Muslims to seek refuge overnight in a police station after a dispute between neighbours spilled into religious violence, officials and residents said on 24 June.

For more information, see: Myanmar Buddhists ransack mosque as religious violence flares; “After rioters destroy mosque, Muslims are wracked with fear

< style="color: #0180b3">Nepal

IOC seeks waiver

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has asked the Nepal government to waive taxes on equipment and logistics required for the construction of cross-border petroleum pipeline. India is constructing the 41-km Raxaul-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline for Nepal in grant. In a meeting held here on June 23, an IOC team also urged the government to clear issues related to forest and land acquisition as soon as possible to kick-start the works, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said.

For more information, see: Cross-border oil pipeline: IOC asks govtto waive taxes on equipment

Traffickers’ new transit

Human traffickers have been using the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal as a new route for trafficking Nepali women abroad. This came to light after the government was tipped off about 22 women stuck in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The government then sent a four-member fact-finding team representing ministries and the Nepal Police to Colombo. They found that 14 of the women had already left Colombo by the time the team reached there.

For more information, see: Nepali women trafficked via Andaman and Nicobar also

Export halted

Export of Nepali processed leather has come to a complete halt for the last three months after India’s Raxaul customs office banned the product.With the disruption, seven leather producers based along the Parsa-Bara Industrial Corridor have been affected. These factories had been exporting 30-40 truckloads of leather every month to India. As per the exporters, the Indian authority has been refusing to approve the quarantine test done by Nepali veterinarians.

For more information, see: Leather exports to India grind to a halt

Non-residents offer aid

The Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) has decided to provide Rs 100,000 each to the families of the Nepali security guards killed in the Taliban suicide bomb attack in the Afghan capital city Kabul. The relief assistance will be provided through the Benevolence and Humanitarian Assistance Committee under the NRN International Coordination Council. The NRN has been grieved by the heinous bomb attack that killed 13 innocent Nepali migrant workers in Afghanistan.

For more information, see: NRNA to provide Rs 100,000 each to families of Kabul victims; ‘Govt bans Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq for Nepali workers; Kabul incident a grim reminder

< style="color: #0180b3">Pakistan

ICJ asks for roll back

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has asked the Pakistani government to roll back the system of trial of civilians in military courts. The government must “stop putting civilians charged with terrorism-related offences on trial before military tribunals,” read a statement on 24 June.

For more information, see: ICJ urges Pakistan to halt system of ‘military justice’

Border regulation

The Foreign Office said on 23 June that Pakistan would go ahead with its plans for regulating the border with Afghanistan as part of its counterterrorism strategy and urged the Afghan government to cooperate. “We are determined to put in place effective border control on the border crossings. The cooperation of the Afghan government can play an important role in achieving our shared objective of promoting lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region,” FO spokesman Nafees Zakaria said.

For more information, see: Pakistan to continue regulating Afghan border, says FO

Three killed

Three people were killed and 28 more injured, including women and children, in a loud explosion at Almo Chowk on 24 June. The dead and injured, all passersby and shopkeepers in the area, were taken to Civil Hospital, Quetta.

For more information, see: Three killed in Quetta market explosion

Amjad Sabri mourned

The country mourned one of its most famous singers, Amjad Sabri, who was shot dead in Karachi by militants. Thousands paid their respects, throwing rose petals over an ambulance carrying his coffin. A faction of the Pakistan Taliban claimed 22 June attack which killed Sabri after two gunmen fired on his car in the busy Liaqatabad area of the city.

For more information, see: AmjadSabri: Pakistanis mourn singer killed by Taliban

< style="color: #0180b3">Sri Lanka

Former President’s family to blame

Cabinet spokesperson, Minister Rajitha Senaratne, has said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s family members, and not he himself, was to blame for allegedly looting the Government while in power. He said this after Mahinda R declared that he would slit his throat if it was proved that he had taken even a rupee from the State.

For more information, see: “Not MR, other Rajapaksas have allegations: Rajitha”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 June 2016; “Missing USD 18 billion: Rajitha accuses Rajapaksas not Mahinda”, The Island, 23 June 2016

Govt in a soup: Former minister

The incumbent Maithiri-Ranil duo government was in a soup of its own making on the issue of appointing foreign judges to probe war-time accountability issues, former Foreign Minister, G L Peiris, has said.

For more information, see: “GL: Govt. in a soup of its own making: Foreign judges in accountability process”, The Island, 19 June 2016; “Govt. to set up Office of Missing Persons”, Daily Mirror Online, 21 June 2016; “GTF demands full implementation of UNHRC resolution”, The Island, 23 June 2016; “SF denied US visa?”, Daily Mirror Online, 21 June 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">PRIMARY DOCUMENTATION

< style="color: #0180b3">Myanmar

Press releases

Efforts are being made to enable all migrant workers to enjoy labour rights within Thailand’s legal framework: DawAung San SuuKyi, Myanmar President’s Office, June 17, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">BIBLIOGRAPHY

< style="color: #0180b3">Afghanistan

Opinion Pieces

Jeanne Shaheen, A Broken Promise in Afghanistan, The New York Times, June 23, 2016

Saleem Safi, The porous border, The News International, June 21, 2016

Helena Malikyar, The end of Pakistan’s double-games in Afghanistan, Al Jazeera, June 19, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Bangladesh

Opinion pieces

Nofel Wahid, What does Brexit mean for Bangladesh?, Dhaka Tribune, June 24, 2016

Imtiaz A. Hussain, Ceramics: Growth's linkage industry, The Financial Express, June 24, 2016

Jaideep Mazumdar, Enemy Within: Bangladesh Should Purge The State Machinery Of Islamists, The Daily Star, June 24, 2016

Siegfried O. Wolf, Rising Islamism in Bangladesh, a European concern too, Prothom Alo, June 21, 2016

Padmaja, Coastal Shipping Could Propel Ties Between India and Bangladesh, The Wire, June 21, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Bhutan


Kuensel, Addressing corruption together, Kuensel, June 24, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">India

Opinion Pieces

Raja Mohan, Raja Mandala: Delhi’s new diplomatic chutzpah, The Indian Express, June 21, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Maldives

Opinion Pieces

Azra Naseem, Maldives ready to kill Humam, and a way of life, Maldives Independent, June 25, 2016

Azra Naseem, Maldives Inc, Maldives Independent, June 21, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Myanmar

Opinion Pieces

Achara Ashayagachat, The Lady and a Junta, Thai-Style, The Irrawaddy, June 23, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Nepal

Sumeera Shrestha, Widow woes, The Kathmandu Post, June 23, 2016

Shrijan Bahadur Malla and Trilochan Bahadur Malla, Ready for action, Republica, June 22, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Pakistan

Opinion Pieces

Owen Bennett-Jones, Unclear territory, Dawn, June 23, 2016

Muhammad Ali Ehsan, Border management at stake, The Express Tribune, June 22, 2016

Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri, Towards a prosperous Balochistan, The Express Tribune, June 23, 2016

Ali Sarwar Naqvi, The case for Pakistan, The News International, June 23, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

K. Godage, Britain leaving EU could end persecution of Lanka, The Island, June 26, 2016

Izeth Hussain, The case against devolution, The Island, June 24, 2016

Kelum Bandara, Constitution-making: SLFP, UNP harbour different priorities, Daily Mirror Online, June 23, 2016

Malinda Seneviratne, The approvers are leaving the Yahapalana building, Daily Mirror Online, June 23, 2016

K. K. S. Perera, Did the forces ‘jump the gun’ over Sampur?, Daily Mirror Online, June 23, 2016

Jehan Perera, President and Prime Minister need to agree on policy parameters, The Island, June 20, 2016

N. Sathiya Moorthy, Govt proved the numbers, has to prove, it has the will, The Sunday Leader, June 19, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Contributors:

Afghanistan and Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Bhutan and Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale

India: Shubh Soni and Pushan Das

Maldives and Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy

Nepal:  AnasuaBasu Ray Chaudhury and Sreeparna Banerjee

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