MonitorsPublished on Jul 04, 2016
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume IX; Issue 27


Pakistan: Debate over ‘military courts’

By Kriti M. Shah

The Supreme Court of Pakistan is expected to rule on the 12 convictions handed down by the military courts in the country and whether the latter have violated the constitutional rights of the convicted. The military courts which were set up under the National Action Plan (NAP), following the massacre at Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014, have been accused of denying citizens basic fundamental rights and coercing confessions.

In democracies, ‘military courts’ are constituted mostly under specific laws to try and punish Services personnel on allegations of wrong-doing, as defined under the said law. In Pakistan, after the Peshawar massacre, the term and application got a different meaning, even as ‘courts martial’ continue to hear internal cases against military personnel.

Under the NAP, the military courts are to function until 2017, so that the government has time to pass judicial reforms that strengthen the civilian judicial system. The Supreme Court ruling in the coming weeks will be a crucial one, and will impact the constitutional longevity of the military courts. It would also highlight the current balance between civilian and military governance in the country and hopefully put pressure on the Nawaz Sharif government to implement judicial reforms.

Hardened attack

In the aftermath of the APS tragedy, the NAP’s tough and hardened position against terrorists reflected the mood of the country. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ruling PML-N party could not deny the military the power to go after militants and the government passed the 21st Amendment to the constitution, allowing the military to set up military courts parallel to the civilian judiciary. This was followed by the Supreme Court’s authorisation of military courts in January 2015, handing over judicial power to the military.

The thought was that military courts would have a high number of convictions and would be more effective in dealing with terrorists, given the faults in the civil judicial system. The NAP also proposed the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty and allowed the military courts to sentence civilians convicted on terror charges to death. Since their establishment, the military courts have so far convicted 81 people, 77 of whom were sentenced to death.

Validity upheld

As recently as August 2015, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the military courts stating that it held the right to review the convictions handed down by the military courts. However, the amendment itself does not clearly state how to define a terrorist and how they should be treated and tried.

Civil society organisations and citizens convicted by the military courts have accused the parallel judicial system of coercing confessions, denying basic judicial rights such as access to lawyers and speedy trials. Many consider the military courts as a major blow to human rights in Pakistan.

In June 2016, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said that the military courts were “opaque and operate in violation of national and international fair trial standards. So they are seen as not being effective in providing justice, truth or even proper remedies for the victims of terrorism” questioning the methods and techniques by which ‘justice’ is given by these courts. Neither the government nor the military have been able to provide the public with information on the number of accused held, convicted or put to death by the courts. Some estimates state the military has thousands of people in its holding, many of whom are being held without trial.

Lengthy trials

The argument for the setting up of military courts in the first place was that the civilian judicial system was weak, burdened with high corruption, over-worked judges and lengthy trials. The NAP empowered military courts with judicial powers until 2017, so that the government had time to implement reforms that would fix the country’s broken judicial system.

At present, many are denied justice due to the close networking between  the police and the prosecution and high level of corruption amongst lawyers, judges and politicians. Citizens are often embroiled in heavy litigation and frequent adjournments and go years without getting justice, if any. Without serious political will in reforming, the judicial system Pakistan will find itself boxed into a deeper corner vis-à-vis the military establishment.

Judicial reforms

The government must reach across the aisle in Parliament and garner support to implement serious judicial reforms. It must take steps that lighten the workload of judges, not necessarily but adding more judges, but by discouraging frivolous litigation. By imposing fines and punishments for those who pursue habitual fraudulent litigation and those seeking frequent adjournment of cases, it can control the rising number of cases. This will not only lessen the burden on the already overworked judges but also help in quicker settlement of cases for citizens. It should also create mechanisms whereby there is regular monitoring and investigation of complaints made against lower courts by higher courts. The vital importance of reducing corruption cannot be overstated.

Close nexus between the police, lawyers, judges and judicial bureaucracy impedes citizens’ access to justice and fair trials and therefore must be controlled. It is crucial for Pakistan’s survival as a democratic state to separate the judiciary from all branches of government and ensure its functioning as an independent organ of the government.

Wake-up call

The APS attack was Pakistan’s wake-up call after which the military and the government took quick responses against terrorists, such as launching Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan, implementing the NAP, lifting of the stoppage on death penalty and establishing military courts. Since the Pakistan military has a strong track record in matters of internal security, the establishment of military courts was understandable given that Pakistanis need for immediate justice.

However in the long run, a military only strategy will be ineffective. While the military may be responsible for orchestrating attacks against militants, the onus on trying them and punishing them falls on the civilian judiciary.

The fear is that the military courts will be extended beyond their February 2017 deadline. The lack of progress in judicial reforms and the absence of political will in discussing reforms make the extension of military courts a real possibility. The trial of the 12 cases in the Supreme Court and the subsequent ruling will have a profound impact on the way citizens view the military.

The author is Research Assistant at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

Sri Lanka: Is ETCA with India  next casualty of power-duality?

By N. Sathiya Moorthy

The Sri Lankan “Government has decided to expedite the signing of the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ECTA) with the Indian neighbour, especially in the Brexit context”, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been reported as contemplating. However, the question arises if ECTA could become the next victim of ‘duality of power’ between PM Ranil and President Maithiripala Sirisena.

The inherent ideological differences between the parties that the two leaders head — and their near-conflicting political priorities — are realities that cannot be overlooked. Barring their common goal of wanting to keep former President Mahinda Rajapaksa out of power, they differ on every issue. It was only to be expected, given the deep-seated ideological differences between the two parties that are for real. But the personalities of the two leaders are also vastly different — as much it was between Rajapaksa and Wickremesighe, or even Rajapaksa and Sirisena.

Even on Rajapaksa, Wickremesinghe and his UNP leader of the ruling ‘Government of National Unity’ (GNU) only want him to stay on where he is now. If anything, the UNP would be happy as long as Rajapaksa continued to be in negative focus — so as to continue keeping the unwary urban middle class on their side. For Sirisena, heading the SLFP junior partner in the Government, keeping the Rajapaksa faction within the party under check is as much, if not more important.

The surprising element about ECTA is that the Sirisena camp has not reacted either way to Ranil’s outspoken support for the India agreement. Not very long ago, the PM openly declared that all those opposed to ECTA were ‘traitors’. A strong observation this, but Sirisena did not react. On other issues and occasions, he had started mildly at testing the waters viz the Ranil-UNP position and then upped the ante, until others yielded.  There is a pattern since he became President, defeating Rajapaksa, his party and government boss, with the UNP’s electoral support in January 2015.


The ‘Central Bank Governor issue’ is the latest in a series of Sirisena’s silent victory over Wickiremesinghe on a policy matter. Wickremesinghe and much of the rest of the UNP wanted the controversial Arjuna Mahendran to stay on, and also be given a second term. Sirisena strove silently and has now got Mahendran, a Singapore citizen of Tamil origin, replaced with another Tamil — Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, economist and CB veteran.

Individual perceptions, if any, apart, Sirisena is under constant pressure to outdo Rajapaksa within the party on issues where the latter’s views are either known or could be anticipated. It had begun with Sirisena ‘marketing’ the GNU’s agreed agenda of co-sponsoring the 2015 UNHRC resolution on ‘international probe’ into ‘war crimes’ and ‘accountability issues’ in his UN General Assembly speech. Back in the country, he turned turtle, without effort or hesitation.

Despite all the sugar-coating for the international community, today, Sirisena’s ‘domestic probe’ approach is the unacknowledged policy of the Government. If nothing else, having been a senior ministerial and party aide of Rajapaksa, Sirisena can always argue that he could not be seen as saying different things at different times — both while in Government. Ranil and the UNP do not face such embarrassments, as they had been out of power since 2004, including those crucial weeks and months of the war’s end.

Brexit and after

PM Wickremesinghe and the UNP have been vocal supporters of the India ETCA — despite strong opposition from the Rajapaksa-centric Joint Opposition and also many professional bodies, including the nation’s powerful body of medical doctors — and for reasons that are not (always) justifiable. With the Brexit vote in the UK, over which Sri Lanka never ever had any say, the Government is under even greater economic pressure than already, viz signing the ETCA.

At present, 40 percent of the nation’s exports and 10 percent of forex reserves involve the UK and the pound-sterling, respectively. In this background, PM Wickremesinghe lost no time in appointing a high-level experts’ committee, comprising both Government and non-government economists, to study the short, medium and long-term impact of Brexit, and suggest remedies. The Government is already looking at alternative Asian markets.

"We have already planned to sign ETCA with India and a free trade agreement (FTA) with China,” Wickremesinghe told a UNP meeting in Galle, ahead of his Colombo talks with the big business. Post-Brexit, he said, the nation was turning to Asian markets, and added Singapore, South Korea and Japan to the list. All these nations, along with the US, are also on the Ranil Government’s list of trade priorities along with the EU.

Alongside PM Wickremesinghe, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Harsh de Silva, a well-known economist in his right, has also been batting for the India ETCA. Post-Brexit, he has referred to the same with added vigour, pointing to the loss of the British market and the loss of pound-value and the consequent, including the pound-value of the Sri Lankan rupee.

Speaking for the JO, Rajapaksa’s one-time Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris has cautioned the Government, not to use Brexit as an excuse to fast-track ETCA. The JO is reported to be planning a Kandy-Colombo march against the Government’s economic policies, focussed on the introduction of VAT and other tax regimes. It’s not known if ETCA too would find a place in their agenda, especially if the Government were to go ahead with the process.

Throughout the anti-ETCA protests and protestations nearer home, no group, including Rajapaksa and/or Peiris personally, have said anything about any other trade partner with whom the Maithiri-Ranil Government is negotiating different agreements. That includes China, of course, where they feel ‘vindicated’! It also includes the US, the EU and the rest of the West, with whom they have had a quarrel over HR issues, war-crimes and UNHRC. As with the India FTA, they are yet to convincingly substantiate their reservations about ETCA, too. Unlike in the case of FTA, their opposition to ETCA had begun even before the two countries had put pen to paper, in any form.

At the height of the EU’s withdrawal of GSP-Plus competitive trade export facility for Sri Lankan apparels, alleging high incidence of war-time human rights violations, the Rajapaksa regime had turned to India for covering the high 40 percent shortfall in apparels export. Today, when the EU is seeking to restore GSP-Plus after evaluating the HR situation under the Duo, the Rajapaksa camp is opposing further opening up of bilateral trade and investments to and from India.

Greater urgency

For all this, however, the Government’s plan to revive interest in ETCA and other trade-related bilateral ties with other Asian countries, including China, are all a part of a continuing trade-development pattern, but Brexit may have added a greater urgency. This includes the India ETCA and the China FTA. The Rajapaksa-centric Joint Opposition has been openly criticising the ETCA, and the former President too has said his piece. As Indian High Commissioner Y K Sinha recalled at a public function earlier this year, the Rajapaksa regime had commenced ETCA negotiations, expanding the scope from a draft FTA.

The HC did not recall the circumstances in which the ETCA talks commenced, after then Sri Lankan leadership had distanced itself from the FTA, not long after officials had initialled CEPA draft at Delhi and not long before President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were set to sign the final document in Colombo – in November 2008. The ‘credibility gap’ between the two governments and leadership could not be repaired until the change of leaderships, especially in Sri Lanka.

It’s a changed situation now. The Maithiri-Ranil duo in Sri Lanka and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India are seeking to reverse the trend. Modi also became the first Indian Prime Minister in 27 years to visit Sri Lanka on a bilateral visit (March 2015), after Rajiv Gandhi’s historic 1987 trip, when he signed the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord with President J R Jayawardene. Between them, both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have also been undertaking alternating official/cultural visits to India.

Enigmatic silence

Yet, questions remain on Sirisena’s own approach to ETCA and/or his perceptions of the Rajapaksa camp pressures on his leadership of the SLFP over the issue. He has been seen as either yielding to the pressure on ‘accountability probe’ and Arjuna Mahendran’s extension/exit and other issues, or as using the same to neutralise the UNP-driven initiatives/commitments.

This apart, Sirisena’s own position on the India FTA draft and the subsequent ETCA negotiations under the Rajapaksa regime, when he was a senior Minister, are also not clearly known. However, his stoic silence on the ETCA issue thus far is enigmatic, to say the least. However, his delayed posturing and postulates on other issues vis a vis the Ranil leadership, does not sound prima facie positive.

The President’s stoic silence until very late in the day for the Ranil leadership to change the course of any presidential reservations/’disapproval’ that has become the hall-mark of this Government’s policy-making and/or policy-changing. Politics apart, the much-celebrated 19th Amendment of the Constitution that the Duo piloted and passed through Parliament in March 2015 continues to confer ‘quasi-Executive President’ status on Sirisena. Only his ‘arbitrary powers’ to dissolve Parliament at any time of his choosing without assigning any reason or without anyone being able to approach the Judiciary for redress remain has been curtailed.

Sirisena has also been periodically reiterating his post-poll call/commitment for the abolition of the Executive Presidency. The domestic discourse on the subject could peak when the Constituent Assembly takes up the issue for even more serious consideration and decision-making. In between, however, Sirisena has the personal prerogative of letting the ‘spirit’ of his campaign give a principled lead, and allow the Prime Minister and team to go take informal decisions that he could endorse at the Cabinet meetings that the President still chairs.

In the absence of such an initiative, the discourse on Executive Presidency, definition and re-definition would all continue to remain the subject of national debate and differences even in the Constituent Assembly with the same vehemence as it was and is now. Else, Sirisena would only be allowing the impression to gather ground that he was still batting for the traditional SLFP causes and personal beliefs — whatever the experience and explanations — and was using the Rajapaksa camp only as an excuse.

With the Wickremesinghe leadership reviving talks of the early signing of ETCA, President Sirisena may have to make a call on his position in the matter without much loss of time. Whether or not the two are playing a cat-and-mouse game or good-cop-bad-cop game — if only to divert national and international attention away from UNHRC resolutions and negotiations of the kind — ETCA and India relations may be up on the altar before long, all over again.

Dictate the course

How the two proceed from here would also dictate the course of the India relations, though only in the limited context of ETCA, to begin with. It would also dictate the course of Sirisena’s apprehensions about the Rajapaksa leadership and camp, and also dictate the course of such apprehensions, in turn. For now, however, much distance has been covered but much more needs to be done in bilateral relations over the medium and long terms – as at every turn in the post-Independence past of the two South Asian neighbours.

It’s as much an opportunity for India-Sri Lanka relations in the larger contexts as it’s for the post-war domestic politics and ethnic reconciliation. Once again, the initiative rests with the present-day Sri Lankan State as in the past. So are the hurdles, much imaginary and imaginative, if not more. Under the Rajapaksa regime, the leadership was looking for ‘external’ and ‘extraordinary factors’ outside of the Government but at times within the ruling dispensation. Today, like under the JRJ-Premadasa duo, the problem, as much as the solution, may lie within — though across political shades and personal priorities.

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



Taliban kills 30

Two Taliban suicide bombers attacked a convoy of Afghan police recruits on 30 June killing 30 people and wounding more than 50. The attack on the convoy took place as it was on its way from Wardak province to Kabul transporting newly graduated police officers. A Taliban spokesperson said that the first bomber attacked the bus and the second bomber was responsible for driving an explosive-laden car into the rescue vehicles.

For more information, see: Taliban Suicide Bombers Hit Afghan Police- Kill 30, wound 45; “Taliban attack on Afghanistan police cadets near Kabul kills dozens

NATO to review mission

US Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said that NATO member countries would review their mission in Afghanistan during the upcoming Warsaw Summit in July 2016. The US and its NATO alliance is also expected to finalise their decision regarding the funding of Afghan security forces until 2020,  and focus on key issues such as the war against the Islamic State and the Syrian conflict.

For more information, see: Warsaw Summit to Review NATO mission in Afghanistan

Refugees: Pak extends term

Pakistan announced that it has allowed nearly three million Afghan refugees to stay on for an additional six months in the country on June 29. While tasking authorities to take up the issue of their return to Afghanistan with the UNHCR, Pakistan has set a December 31 deadline on the refuges, 1.5 million of whom are undocumented to return to Afghansitan. Nawaz Sharif added that Pakistan would provide free wheat for three years to refugee camps in Afghanistan to accommodate those returning from Pakistan. Pakistan wants the early return of refugees as they pose a security challenge to the state with militants using camps to hide.

For more information, see: Pakistan extends stay of Afghan refugees for six months


Dhaka-Chittagong oil pipeline

To secure flawless supply of the government is planning to install a 240-km pipeline from Chittagong to Dhaka within three years. State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid informed that the pipeline will reduce the cost of transportation petroleum fuel.

For more information see: Dhaka-Ctg oil pipeline in 3 years

Germany bans direct cargo flights

Expressing concern over aviation security Germany has imposed a ban on direct cargo flights from Bangladesh to any of its airports. Australia and the UK already banned any direct cargo flights from Bangladesh for security reason.  The ban will affect Bangladesh’s export to Germany. Bangladesh exports nearly $5 billion worth of goods to Germany annually.

For more information see: Germany imposes ban on direct cargo flights

Partnership talks with US

Relationship with the United States got a major boost after the two countries met for fifth partnership dialogue between the two countries. The two sides emphasised on deepening bilateral relationship by working together on issues of global and regional interest. US and Bangladesh agreed to strengthen the cooperation on countering terrorism

For more information see: US proud of partnership with Bangladesh: Says US Under Secretary Tom Shannon; US, Bangladesh agree to work for counter terrorism


Nu 54-m lost to fraud

The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) has reflected unresolved irregularities amounting to Nu 523.7 million (M) last year, a decrease by 17 percent compared with 2014.

For more information see: Nu 54 M lost to fraud, corruption and embezzlement

Ratification deferred

The joint sitting of Parliament yesterday deferred the deliberations on the framework agreement between the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Bhutan through majority votes as proposed by the joint committee.

For more information see: Ratification of EIB deferred


Tejas inducted

Two indigenously-developed Tejas Light Combat Aircraft were on Friday formally inducted into the Indian Air Force. They will be part of the new Squadron 45 ‘Flying Daggers’, which will get the remaining 18 aircraft, including four trainers in 2018. A 'Sarva dharma pooja' (inter-faith prayer) was conducted before the induction at IAF's Aircraft Systems & Test Establishment in Bengaluru. The commissioning of the aircraft comes more than three decades after the LCA went into development.

For more information see: Tejas formally moves into IAF

Larsen & Toubro to make guns

India is set to award its largest order for military equipment to the private sector, with the Ministry of Defence concluding negotiations with Larsen & Toubro for 100 new mobile artillery guns that may be deployed along the western border to blunt the edge that Pakistan has with US supplied weapons. The Rs 4,500-crore contract for the K9 Vajra-T howitzer, which had been under price negotiations since the beginning of this year, has been finalised and the defence ministry is set.

For more information, see: Defence ministry concludes deal with Larsen & Toubro, gives much needed ammunition to private sector

MTCR, a ‘diplomatic victory'

Under opposition flak over the government's high-pitched but unsuccessful NSG bid, BJP today cited the country's entry into Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to hit back, saying it is a "big diplomatic victory" and the NDA dispensation succeeded where the UPA "failed". The MTCR membership will provide a boost to India's space and missile technology, besides the government's Make in India initiative, the party said. Noting that neither China, which played a key role in stalling India's NSG bid, nor Pakistan was a MTCR member, he said India is the first country from the region to enter the grouping.

For more information, see: India's entry into MTCR a 'big diplomatic victory': BJP

Naval ships visit Russia

Three Indian Naval ships — Sahyadri, Shakti and Kirch — arrived here on Monday for a four-day visit to Russia, during which the Indian and Russian naval personnel will conduct joint exercises.An Indian Navy statement called it a "demonstration of India's commitment to long-standing India-Russia strategic partnership and Indian Navy's increasing footprint and operational reach". The two navies engage with each other annually through the ‘Indra Navy’ series of maritime exercises in addition to reciprocal visits.

For more information, see: Three Indian naval ships visit Russia

SC to hear AAP govt plea

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on urgent basis Delhi government's plea for full Statehood and extent of powers under Article 299AA of the Constitution on July 4. The Delhi government contends that the dispute is of federal nature, in which the SC had an exclusive jurisdiction.

For more information, see: Centre-Delhi power tussle, SC to hear AAP govt plea on Monday

Kerala’s finances in ‘dire straits’

Kerala is facing an alarming financial crisis. The closing balance of the State on March 31 was pegged at ₹1,643.99crore, but payments to the tune of ₹1,800 crore were blocked at the treasury meaning the State has a negative cash balance of Rs.173.46 crore.

For more information, see: “Kerala’s finances in dire straits, says White Paper


SC upholds Nasheed’s term

Rejecting procedural arguments, the five-Judge Maldivian Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed has confirmed the trial court’s 13-year jail-term against former President Mohammed Nasheed in the ‘Judge Abdulla abduction case’. The SC reportedly side-stepped the defence argument in the prosecution’s ‘belatedly’ converting an ordinary criminal trial into a ‘terrorism case’ and afresh.

For more information, see: “Supreme Court upholds Nasheed’s 13-year sentence”, SunOnline, 27 June 2016; “Supreme Court upholds Nasheed verdict”, Miadhu, 27 June 2016; Supreme court upholds verdict against Maldives ex-president”, Maldives Independent, 27 June 2016; “Supreme court throws out ex-defence minister’s pistol smuggling appeal”, Maldives Independent, 27 June 2016

Yameen-Gayoom rift

President Abdulla Yameen and his half-brother and ruling PPM chief, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, seem to be heading for a parting of ways after the latter publicly asked party MPs to vote against the tourism amendment bill, conferring free power for the Executive to allot islands and lagoons to promoters. Both camps have been targeting each other’s second-line, and are also mobilising all-round support, both inside and outside the party. The Yameen camp won the parliamentary vote 45-19, with Gayoom’s son Faris being only one of the two PPM members to vote against the bill.

For more information, see: “Gayoom moves to take control of PPM”, Maldives Independent, 30 June 2016; “Maumoon criticized Yameen’s campaign office”, SunOnline, 1 July 2016; “Maumoon strips PPM Deputy Leader of his powers”, SunOnline, 30 June 2016; “Maumoon orders no PPM committee meetings without his permission”, SunOnline, 30 June 2016; “Maumoon holds emergency meeting with senior PPM members”, SunOnline, 29 June 2016; “President Yameen meets with PPM council members”, Sunonline, 30 June 2016; “Yameen supporters meet Qasim”, SunOnline, 30 June 2016; “Gayoom accused of ‘hijacking’ PPM as power struggle intensifies”, Maldives Independent, 30 June 2016; ““Government authorised to lease islands without bidding”, Maldives Independent, 29 June 2016;  “Gayoom urges PPM MPs to vote against government tourism bill”, Maldives Independent, 28 June 2016; “Maumoon refuses to back amendment to allow lease of islands without open-bidding”, SunOnline, 28 June 2016; “Leasing islands without bidding goes against PPM laws: Pres. Maumoon”, Miadhu, 28 June 2016; “MP Nihan: PPM member will support tourism bill even if Maumoon pulls support”, SunOnline, 28 June 2016; “United Opposition to join all-party talks”, SunOnline, 28 June 2016


Mosque torched

A mob wielding weapons razed a Muslim prayer hall in northern Myanmar, state media reported on July 1, the second attack on a mosque in just over a week as anti-Muslim sentiment swells in the Buddhist majority nation.

For more information see: “Myanmar mob torches mosque as religious tensions spike”, Mizzima, 2 July 2016; “Mob burns down temporary Kachin mosque”, Eleven, 2 July 2016

Gambhira released

Former Buddhist monk Gambira, known for his role in spearheading the so-called Saffron Revolution in 2007, was released on July 1 after charges of vandalism and trespassing against him at Rangoon’s Bahan and Thanlyin township courts were dropped.

For more information see: “Gambhira released as trespassing charges dropped”, DVB, 2 July, 2016

Suu Kyi to meet non-signatory groups

State CounsellorAung San Suu Kyi has agreed to meet the leaders of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) in mid-July. A conference of armed groups is to be held in Kachin State this month.

For more information see: “Suu Kyi to meet ceasefire non-signatories”, Eleven, 2 July 2016


Rains causes landslip

On June 29 incessant rainfall for the past two days prompted landslips in Kerauja VDC of Gorkha. According to the Officials at the District Natural Disaster Rescue Committee (DNDRC), 13 houses are buried and more than 100 families have been displaced. These displaced people have moved to a forest above the settlement in order to remain safe owing to the difficulty probing DNDRC in order to relocate so many people immediately.

For more information, see: ‘Landslides displace over 200 families in quake-hit districtsTheKathmandu Post, 1 July 2016; “200 households leave Karauja VDC out of landslide fearsRepublica, 1 July 2016

Border-point closed

The Korala border point on the Chinese side has been closed by its officials from June 30 at 5 pm. This border point which was meant to be beneficial in enhancing bilateral trade for 25 days has been unexpectedly closed from the 16th day itself.  This has resulted in the halting of business in the said area. The reason cited for such condition has been security issue.

For more information, see: ‘Chinese side closes Korala border point citing security concerns’, The Kathmandu Post, 30 June 2016

Airfares to rise

Caan’s airfare revision committee has proposed jacking up ticket prices by 39 percent for short routes and by as much as 19 percent for trunk routes. It has proposed a flat 33 percent increase for the remote sector. The last time domestic airfares were reviewed was in February 2011. If the new tariff is implemented, the price of a ticket on the Kathmandu-Dhangadhi flight, the longest domestic route, will go up by at least Rs1,200.

For more information see: ‘Domestic airfares likely to go up 19-39 percent’, The Kathmandu Post, 30 June 2016


$ 3-m for ‘Taliban madrassa’

Pakistan provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has given a $3 million grant to the Daru lUloom Haqqania, a madrassa in the province known to be a breeding ground to terrorists. The money provided to the madrassas is the start of a program to “mainstream” the Islamic schools, Former students at the seminary include former Taliban leader Mullah Omar and former Haqqani Network leader Jalaluddin Haqqani. Samiul Haq the leader of the madrassa, who is often called the “father of the Taliban,” previously has claimed that 90 percent of those who formed the Taliban in Afghanistan the mid-nineties studied at the Islamic school.

For more information, see: “Pakistan Province Grants $3 Million to School Known for Training Taliban Leaders”, The New York Times, 23 June 2016

Three militants killed

The Frontier Corps killed three militants in Balochistan on 29 June following the killing of policemen and soldiers in the province, earlier in the week. On 28 and 29 June, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for killing four policemen and four soldiers of the Frontier Cops in Quetta. The government decided to launch the operation against LeJ on 29 June.

For more information, see: “Three LeJ militants killed in Quetta crackdown”, The Express Tribune, 30 June 2016

IMF releases $ 501 m

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the eleventh review of Pakistan’s economic performance on 27 June, enabling the immediate disbursement of $501 million to the country. A statement issued by the IMF headquarters in Washington said the latest disbursement brought total disbursements to about $6.01 billion, under a three-year programme supported by an Extended Fund Facility (EEF) arrangement.

For more information, see: “Pakistan extends stay of Afghan refugees for six months”, The Financial Express, 30 June 2016

Senate blames Govt

The members of the Senate standing committee on communication accused the PML-N government of creating confusion regarding projects that fall under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Senate panel in its meeting on 27 June refused to accept that eastern and central route of the corridor fall under CPEC project. They said that only western route comes under CPEC and by including eastern and central route the government is misleading people.

For more information, see: “Senate body accuses govt of lying about CPEC”, The Express Tribune, 28 June 2016

Sri Lanka 

UNHRC at it again

In his oral report to UNHRC June session, High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussien has reiterated the call for the Sri Lankan Government to rein in the armed forces, prosecute war crimes and also withdraw the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). In his response to the debate, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera also outlined the course already travelled and promised to enforce the co-authored UNHRC resolution, unanimously passed in 2015.

For more information, see: “UN urges SL to rein in military, prosecute war crimes”, Daily Mirror Online, 28 June 2016; “Call for foreign judges renewed”, The Island, 28 June 2016; “Call for foreign judges renewed”, The Island, 28 June 2016; “TNA concerned over ‘very slow implementation on a number of human rights issues’”, The Island, 2 July 2016; “Constitution no bar to foreign judges in war crimes court – TNA”, The Island, 27 June 2016

Post-Brexit, Govt wants ETCA

Post-Brexit, the Government is keen on fast-tracking ETCA with India, FTA talks with China and trade negotiations with other Asian neighbours such as Singapore, South Korea and Japan, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said. Speaking for the Joint Opposition, former Foreign Minister G L Peiris said that the Government should not use Brexit as an excuse to sign ETCA.

For more information, see: "Govt. to expedite signing of ETCA", Daily Mirror Online, 28 June 2016; “Response to Brexit: SL to turn towards Asia”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 June 2016; “Brexit negatively affect SL economy: Harsha”, Daily Mirror Online, 28 June 2016; “Lanka to sign trade pact with UK”, Daily Mirror Online, 24 June 2016; “‘SL must seek more economic agreements to avoid after-effects of Brexit’”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 July 2016; “Govt. using Brexit as excuse to sign ECTA: GL”, Daily Mirror Online, 28 June 2016”; “JO tells Ranil not to use Brexit as excuse for inking ETCA”, The Island, 28 June 2016; “JO planning protest march”, The Island, 2 July 2016; “Lankan ministers respond to UK Tamil diaspora concerns in London”, The Island, 2 July 2016

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


Press Releases

Bangladesh-Slovenia inked MoU on Foreign Office Consultations”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 25, 2016


Press Releases

Lyonchhen calls on President of Bangladesh, Cabinet Secretariat, 2 July 2016


Press Releases

President holds talks with Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, President’s Office, 30 June 2016

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


Opinion Pieces

Kareem Fahim and Bhadra Sharma, “Lured by Jobs in Afghanistan, Nepalis Face Risks and Death”, The New York Times, 28 June 2016

Catherine Putz, “Afghan Peace Negotiations WithHekmatyar Break Down”, The Diplomat, 29 June 2016

Ashraf Haidari, “Invest in Afghanistan, the Gateway to Silk Roads”, The Diplomat, 27 June 2016


Opinion pieces

SajeebWazed, “Wave of Arrests Reveals Bangladesh Terror Threat Is Home-Grown”, The Diplomat, 28 June 2016

ZillulHyeRazi, “Does Bangladesh need to worry about Brexit?”,The Daily Star, 28 June 2016

AsjadulKibria, “Brexit, multilateral trade and Bangladesh”, The Financial Express, 28 June 2016



Kuensel, “Infrastructure: Need to give quality pride of place”, Kuensel, 1 July 2016


Opinion Pieces

Raja Mohan,Raja-Mandala: Modigovt’s renewed efforts for NSG membership are worth following, The Indian Express, 28 June 2016

KanchaIlaiah Shepherd, “A Kautilya in the BJP”, Indian Express, 1 July 2016

Jairam Ramesh, “The case for Holdco”, Indian Express, 1 July 2016

ShailajaBajpai, “What if the ArnabGoswami of 2014 had met the NarendraModi in 2016?”,Indian Express, 1 July 2016


Opinion Pieces

Azra Naseem, “What some people call journalism”, Maldives Independent, 30 June 2016

N Sathiya Moorthy, “What now after SC confirming Nasheed’s prison term?”, South Asia Monitor, 30 June 2016

N Sathiya Moorthy, “New Commonwealth envoy, newer vice-president”,, 26 July 2016


Opinion Pieces

LewiWeng, SuuKyi and Public Patience, The Irrawaddy, 29 June 2016

Fiona Macgregor, “We need rule of law, not mob rule”, Myanmar Times, 1 July 2016


Opinion Pieces:

DevendraGautam ‘Brexit and SAARC’, Republica.  29 June 2016

SubhasLamichhane, ‘Doctors under threat’, The Kathmandu Post,  01 July 2016


The Kathmandu Post ‘Trial and failure’, The Kathmandu Post.  01 July 2016

Republica, ‘Comedy of errors’, Republica, 30 June 2016


Opinion Pieces

Khurram Husain, “Brexit and Pakistan”,Dawn, 30 June 2016

ZahidHussain, “Funding bigotry”, Dawn, 29 June 2016

Ayesha Siddiqa, “Husain Haqqanivs the Pakistani state”, The Express Tribune, 29 June 2016

ImtiazGul, “Pakistani’s chance”, The Express Tribune, 29 June 2016

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

Opinion Pieces

Hugo Swire, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Asia, UK, “SL has come a long way since president’s election in 2015”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 July 2016

M S M Ayub, “Is Prince Al-Hussein’s report a warning?”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 July 2016

Ameen Izzadeen, “Human Rights: The force and the farce”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 July 2016

Malinda Seneviratne, “While we plot SL exit...”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 June 2016

K Godage, “President Sirisena calls for the abolition of the Executive Presidency”, Daily Mirror Online, 27 June 2016

Jehan Perera, “Sri Lanka’s Brexit hour yet to come”, The Island, 27 July 2016

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Where from here Wigneswaran’s ‘language lament’?”, The Sunday Leader, 26 June 2016


< style="color: #333333">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: Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury and Sreeparna Banerjee

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