MonitorsPublished on Jul 27, 2016
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume IX; Issue 30

< style="color: #0069a6;">COUNTRY REPORTS

< style="color: #0069a6;">Afghanistan

< style="color: #163449;">Taliban targets in Kunduz

Fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan government has intensified in Kunduz province, with local officials confirming that the insurgency group has taken over Qala-e-Zal district on July 20. Provincial Governor Asadullah Omarkhil said that while most parts of Qala-e-Zal were in the hands of the Taliban, military operations continue to retake control of the district. Other members of the provincial government also confirmed that heavy clashes were underway in Dasht-e-Archi where the insurgents were gaining on the security forces. For more information, see: Kunduz’s Qala-e-Zal Falls to the Taliban

< style="color: #163449;">50 militants killed

Military operations in Nangarhar province killed at least 50 Islamic State and Taliban insurgents on July 20. Provincial Governor Attaullah Khoghyani confirmed that the operation took place in the Achin district of the province to clear the area of insurgents. While not providing any information about the number of causalities and wounded soldiers, he confirmed that the air and ground operation succeeded in injuring 18 militants. For more information, see: 50 Daesh and Talibs Killed in Nangarhar Operation

< style="color: #163449;">Refugee in German train-attack

A seventeen year old Afghan refugee in Germany released a video on social media on July 19 threatening to carry out an attack in the country and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State or Daesh. German police later shot dead the refugee after he attacked passengers in a train, stabbing them repeatedly with a knife and an axe. Joachim Herrmann, the Interior Minister of Bavaria state, said the assailant had arrived as an unaccompanied minor in Germany and had lived at first in a shelter and then more recently with a foster family in nearby Ochsenfurt. For more information, see: 17 year old Afghan refugee pledges allegiance to Daesh

< style="color: #163449;">Super Tucanos for Air Force

Four new light attack aircrafts, A-29 Super Tucanos, were handed over to the Afghan Air Force by the United States in a step towards further reducing gaps in Afghan’s close air-support  for security forces. The aircrafts were handed over to the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army and will be used to suppress militants in the north and north eastern provinces. Commander of the Afghan Air Force Abdul Wahab Wardak said that the Afghan Air Force has now been equipped by up to 60 percent. For more information, see: Afghan Air Force receives 4 more light attack aircraft from US

< style="color: #0069a6;">Bangladesh

< style="color: #163449;">BNP vice-chief sentenced

Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and fined Tk 20 crore by the High Court in a money laundering case. The verdict has serious ramification for the country’s politics as Tarique Rahman is the son of former Prime Minister and party Chief Khaleda Zia and seen as her possible successor in the party. Meanwhile, BNP has termed to be nothing but a political vengeance. For more information, see:  Tarique convicted, jailed for 7 years; Govt's political vengeance behind verdict; Tarique’s acquittal scrapped to destroy Zia family: BNP

< style="color: #163449;">Apparel exports up

The share of Bangladeshi apparel in the world export market increased to 5.9 percent from 5.1 percent in 2014. The "World Trade Statistical Review 2016", released by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) revealed this information. For more information, see: BD's share in global clothing market up

< style="color: #163449;">Mastermind identified

Investigation officials claimed that they have identified the mastermind of the 1st of July terror. According to investigation officials a top leader of banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) masterminded behind the attack. The terror attack killed 28 people of them 18 were foreigners. For more information, see: Gulshan attack mastermind indentified, police claim

< style="color: #163449;">Japan seeks thorough probe

Japan urged for a thorough investigation of the killing of its nationals during the Dhaka cafe attack in 1st July. Japan has sought sharing of related information and strict punishments for the perpetrators. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised the issue during his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Mongolia. For more information, see: Japan seeks thorough probe into Dhaka attack

< style="color: #163449;">Land port inaugurated

To boost economic and trade relationship Bangladesh and India have merged the busiest land check-post at Benapole-Petrapole.  The merging of the land port will help in faster movement of people and goods and improve trade. Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi opened the new ‘Petrapole Integrated Check Post’ (ICP) through a video call. Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee joined them from Kolkata. For more information, see: Bangladesh, India merge South Asia’s biggest land port, ease movement

< style="color: #0069a6;">Bhutan

< style="color: #163449;">National Council holds consultations

The National Council (NC) is in consultation with various stakeholders about the controversial Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicle agreement. Earlier, the house on held a meeting with officials from the information and communications ministry. For more information, see: National Council in BBIN agreement consultations

< style="color: #163449;">India endorses revised cost

The Indian government has endorsed the revised cost estimate of ₹72.9 billion (B) for the 1,020 megawatt (MW) Punatsangchhu-II hydroelectric project, according to a press release from the Press Information Bureau, Government of India. The project cost has increased by about 93 percent of the original estimation of ₹37.77B at the March 2009 price level. In absolute terms, the total cost escalation for the project, at this stage, is ₹35B. For more information, see: Punatsangchhu-II cost revised

< style="color: #163449;">Bodies sent home

Bodies of four construction workers, who died in an under-construction bridge collapse incident in Bhutan, were today brought to their native places in Malda district of West Bengal. For more information. see: Four construction workers bodies brought from Bhutan

< style="color: #0069a6;">India

< style="color: #163449;">IAF aircraft missing

An Indian Air Force's AN-32 aircraft en route to Port Blair from Chennai has gone missing with 29 people on board. The aircraft, which took off at 9 am from Chennai's Tambaram air base, was on a routine weekly flight for Air Force personnel. The last know location of the missing AN-32 was 150 nautical miles from Chennai. The Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard have launched a massive search operation to locate the missing aircraft in the Bay of Bengal along the flight path. For more information, see: Indian Air Force aircraft with 29 on board goes missing, massive search operation on

< style="color: #163449;">More tanks deployed

The Indian Army has moved more than 100 T-72 tanks to its disputed border with China in the mountainous region of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir, a strategy seen as beefing up India's presence in the area that overlooks the Tibet Autonomous Region. This is the second time in history that India has deployed the T-72 tanks in the Himalayan region. The first was in 1962 during the Indo-China war, when the Indian Army airdropped five tanks in Ladakh, which has seen frequent incursions by the People's Liberation Army of China. For more information, see: 100 Indian Tanks Now Near China Border In Eastern Ladakh, More To Come

< style="color: #163449;">China makes panic effort

Nepal’s Parliament will on July 21 commence discussions on a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli’s government amidst a last ditch effort by China to stitch up support for him to stay on as Prime Minister Oli’s divisive and non-accomodative politics is finding no takers. The withdrawal of support by Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN-Maoist Centre Chair Prachanda has propelled a Chinese delegation in Kathmandu these days to reach out in panic to leaders of other political parties like the NC, the CPN-MC and RPP. For more information, see: China makes panic effort to save Oli government in Nepal as no confidence debate begins today

< style="color: #163449;">MP uploads Parliament video

Bhagwant Mann offered an unconditional apology to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan over his controversial video on the high security Parliament House complex. The Speaker was not impressed with Mr. Mann’s apology as his video was a serious matter concerning the security of the Parliament which had been attacked once. For more information, see: Bhagwant Mann offers unconditional apology for Parliament video

< style="color: #163449;">Gujarat plagued by vigilantes           

As many as 200 cow vigilante groups have sprung up Gujarat. They have become a law and order problem because of the way they take law into their hands. Chief Secretary G. R. Gloria called these “hooligans”. For more information, see: Gujarat plagued by vigilantes

< style="color: #163449;">Seven companies on Fortune's list

Seven Indian companies have made it to the latest Fortune 500 list of the world’s biggest corporations in terms of revenue. Indian Oil Corporation is ranked highest at 161st among Indian firms, while another state-run firm Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has moved out of the rankings for 2016. For more information see: Seven Indian companies on Fortune's list

< style="color: #0069a6;">Maldives 

< style="color: #163449;">UN advisor returns

After a few weeks’ gap, Tamrat Samuel, a Senior Advisor at the UN Department of Political Affairs, for proximity talks with Maldivian stake-holders for direct negotiations to end the current deadlock. He met with President Abdulla Yameen and other Government leaders, even various stake-holders reiterated their known positions from the past and fresh strains appeared in the form of Yameen’s PPM heading closer to a vertical split. For more information, see: UN envoy arrives in Maldives for proximity talks”, Maldives Independent, 18 July 2016; “PPM split worsens as ‘Yameen faction’ walks out of council meeting”, Maldives Independent, 20 July 2016; “Will resolve all issues in PPM through discussions: President Maumoon”, Miadhu, 20 July 2016; “Maumoon: Faaris and Naadhira were dismissed in an invalid meeting”, SunOnline, 20 July 2016; “PPM MPs proceed with lawsuit against Gayoom”, Maldives Independent, 18 July 2016; “Majlis backs Jihad as new VP”, SunOnline, 20 July 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Tata flats ready

Indian conglomerate Tatas have completed the two apartment buildings in capital Male and handed over the same to prospective tenants for occupation. The Maldivian Government is now completing ‘contracting works’ so that the tenants could begin occupying the same from August, Housing and Infrastructure Minister Mohamed Muizzu has said. For more information, see: “People to start inhabiting Tata flats in August”, SunOnline, July 20, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Myanmar 

< style="color: #163449;">Suu Kyi to visit US

State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi has accepted an invitation from President Barack Obama to visit the United States, Myanmar government said on July 21, in what would be her first trip to America since she won an election in November. Suu Kyi planned to travel at a “mutually convenient time”, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said. For more information, see: Suu Kyi accepts invitation to visit US; Suu Kyi Accepts Obama’s Invitation to Visit the US

< style="color: #163449;">BBC reporter walks free

Nay Lin, a correspondent for the BBC Burmese service, walked free from a court in Mandalay on Thursday, when he won an appeal against a conviction for punching a policeman. Thein Than Oo, a lawyer for the reporter, told DVB that the Mandalay district court on July 21 commuted the remaining one month and a half of his three-month sentence. For more information, see: BBC reporter wins appeal, walks free; BBC reporter walks free after judge halves sentence

< style="color: #163449;">Religious data less ‘sensitive’

Long-awaited census data on religion, kept hushed for nearly two years for fear it would “shatter” stability, was finally released on July 21. The numbers were met with relief, scepticism and, mostly, confusion, as the data reflected notably miniscule changes in balance since the previous counts despite the lapse of decades.  For more information see: After long delay, religious census data proves less ‘sensitive’ than anticipated

< style="color: #0069a6;">Nepal

< style="color: #163449;">New proposal

During a top-level political meeting on July 21 afternoon, Poudel proposed a middle path, in which he has outlined four points: withdrawal of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli, resignation of PM Oli, sorting out constitutional complexities for the election of prime minister and (parties) working in tandem for the implementation of the constitution. For more information, see: Poudel floats 4-point plan to end stalemate; Paudel floats new proposal on ending House impasse

< style="color: #163449;">SAARC to boost industry

The Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), a business conclave of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), on July 21 announced that a Saarc Industry Park would be opened in each of the member countries. The proposed industrial park is expected to boost exports of the products of the Saarc countries. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal have all been roped in for this initiative. For more information, see: Saarc Industry Park to be set up

< style="color: #163449;">Floods cause havoc

Heavy rains since July 19 night in many places, particularly in the eastern and central regions of the country, caused the water levels to rise in most rivers. Several incidents of floods were reported in these regions. Floods triggered by torrential rainfall in rivers and streams inundated dozens of places in Jhapa district. Several homes were waterlogged in places like Bhadrapur, Tulsibari, Chapramari, Gherabari, Chakchaki, Rajgadh and Panchganchi. For more information, see: Floods swamp dozens of settlements; Floodwaters with sewage inundate Tikapur

< style="color: #0069a6;">Pakistan

< style="color: #163449;">Prime Minister discusses ‘Kashmir security’

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a high-level meeting of the National Security Council in Islamabad on July 22 to discuss security issues including the ongoing security situation in Kashmir. The meeting was attended by Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif. The committee deliberated on several internal and regional security issues such Pak-Afghan border security situation and intelligence based operations (IBOs) across the country. For more information, see: PM condemns ‘brutal oppression of Indian forces’ in top security meeting on Kashmir

< style="color: #163449;">US commander meets army chief

US Commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson met with Raheel Sharif on July 20 to discuss issues surround Afghan-Pak border security and the prospect of peace in Kabul. Nicholson who welcomed Barack Obama’s decision to slow down the withdrawal of US troops in the country, said that it would send a message to the militants that they would not win militarily. For more information, see: Nicholson and Sharif Discuss Afghanistan’s Peace Plan

< style="color: #163449;">‘Honour’ killing

Social media star and model Qandeel Baloch was murdered by her brother on 15 July. Her brother Waseem has been arrested after confessing to the killing. He added that he strangled Qandeel to death for “dishonouring” the family name with her social media pictures. Earlier this week, the Punjab provincial government also became a complainant in the murder case, designating it a crime against the state. The rare move effectively prevented members of Baloch's family from legally forgiving her brother - a common legal loophole that sees many so-called "honour killings" go unpunished. For more information, see: Qandeel Baloch: Murdered Pakistan celebrity’s parents speak of pain

< style="color: #0069a6;">Sri Lanka 

< style="color: #163449;">US change on ‘accountability’?

Come the March session of the UNHRC, and the US as the prime-mover of the first 2012 resolution on ‘war-time’ accountability probe may settle for the Sri Lankan position against ‘foreign judges’. The indication came after the recent Sri Lanka visit of US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Nisha Biswal and Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski, in charge of democracy and Human Rights affairs. For more information, see: Come March, and US to change stand on ‘foreign judges’?, The Sunday Leader, 17 July 2016; “Govt. has agreed on foreign monitors, not judges: SF”, Daily Mirror Online, 15 July 2016; “Bid to reverse SC ruling on Singarasa case meant to pave way for foreign judges – GL: JO won’t back ratification of ICCPR”, The Island, 17 July 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Students’ clash

Local Tamil and southern Sinhala students clashed on Jaffna University campus, following which the latter rushed back home, fearing for their lives. The trouble followed Sinhala students introducing Kandyan dance on campus to welcome freshers whereas the Tamils wanted to stick to the traditional nadaswaram, for the purpose. For more information, see: “Science faculty of Jaffna Uni. closed after student clash”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 July 2016; “Saturday violent clashes: Jaffna Science Faculty closed indefinitely...IUSF condemns move to give incident ethnic twist”, The Island, 17 July 2016; “University dons, civil society want govt. to spearhead reconciliation moves”, The Island, 19 July 2016; “FUTA calls for bringing culprits to justice”, The Island, 18 July 2016; “TNA appeals to Jaffna Uni. Students”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 July 2016; “TNA invites Sinhala students back to Jaffna University”, The Island, 18 July 2016; “JHU condemns Jaffna University clash”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 July 2016; “JHU urges govt to take legal action against those responsible for Jaffna University violence”, The Island, 18 July 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Prime Minister bats for China, India

For yet another time over the past months, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has reiterated that there was no phobia on taking Chinese funds even as he asserted that Sri Lanka needed the India ETCA, both for fast-tracking development. The ‘Joint Opposition’ in turn warned of blood-bath if the Government proceeded with ETCA. For more information, see: “No phobia on taking Chinese funds: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 July 2016; “CEPA, ETCA will benefit Asian region: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 July 2016; “Signing ETCA may even lead to bloodshed: JO”, Daily Mirror Online, 19 July 2016; “India likely to set up LNG fuelled power plant in Western Lanka”, The Island, 18 July 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">BIBLIOGRAPHY

< style="color: #0069a6;">Afghanistan

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion Pieces

Olivier Laurent, When War Is Just Another Day in Afghanistan, Time, July 18, 2016 Javid Ahmad, Good News From Afghanistan, Foreign Affairs, July 20, 2016 Ali Reza Sarwar, Will Afghanistan’s Lone Fighter Succeed?, The Diplomat, July 21, 2016 Virginia Vigliar, Afghanistan: Using technology to empower women, Al Jazeera, July 22, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Bangladesh

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion pieces

Fahmida Khatun, Ramifications of terror attacks in Bangladesh, The Daily Star, July 18, 2016 Zafar Sobhan, No more mistakes, Dhaka Tribune, July 22, 2016 Rupak Bhattacharjee, Militancy in Bangladesh: regional and international dimensions,, July 21, 2016 A. K. M. Asaduzzaman Patwary, LPG and the Bangladesh perspective, The Independent, July 15, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Bhutan

< style="color: #163449;">Editorials

Focus on demand not supply, Kuensel, July 21, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion Pieces

Yeshey Penjore, Circular Economy: A solution for waste management in Bhutan, Kuensel, July 18, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">India

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion Pieces

C. Raja Mohan, Donald Trump has shaken the core principles of both Republicans and Democrats, The Indian Express, July 19, 2016 Raghu Raman, Drugged to denial, Indian Express, July 22, 2016 Bibek Debroy, A barometer of performance, Indian Express, July 22, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Maldives

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion Pieces

N. Sathiya Moorthy, Joining with India to fight IS terror, Observer Research Foundation, July 18, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Myanmar

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion Pieces

Aye Nai, Hate speech law ‘can be done pretty soon’, DVB, July 22, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Nepal

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion Pieces

Purushottam Ojha, The China dream, Republica, July 21, 2016 Waris Husain, Perils of questioning federalism, The Kathmandu Post, July 22, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Editorials

Immeasurable, Republica, July 21, 2016 Feeding ourselves, The Kathmandu Post, July 22, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Pakistan

Imtiaz Gul, Pakistan is not isolated, The Express Tribune, July 19, 2016 Umair Jamal, Is Pakistan Heading Toward a Coup?, The National Interest, July 21, 2016 I. A. Rehman, Threats to Edhi’s mission, Dawn, July 21, 2016 Asha’ar Rehman, Situation Resolved, Dawn, July 22, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Sri Lanka

< style="color: #163449;">Opinion Pieces

N. Sathiya Moorthy, With ‘licensed’ fishing, Colombo kicks ball back into Indian court?, Observer Research Foundation, 21 July 2016 Ashley de Voss, Base in the centre of the shipping lanes (Part I & II), The Island, July 20-21, 2016 Somapala Gunadheera, Ranil’s destiny, The Island, July 20, 2016 Shamindra Ferdinando, The charge of denying Vanni population food and medicine: facts and fiction, The Island, July 20, 2016 Jehan Perera, International pressure on government eases, The Island, July 18, 2016 N. Sathiya Moorthy, Shadowing the shadow-boxers, The Sunday Leader, July 17, 2016 

< style="color: #0069a6;">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: Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury and Sreeparna Banerjee  
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