MonitorsPublished on Aug 02, 2016
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume IX; Issue 31



IS attack in Kabul claims 80

At least 80 people were killed in Kabul after two suicide bombers ripped through a peaceful demonstration in the city on July 24. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack that injured over 260 people. According to officials, two fighters detonated their suicide belts while a third was killed by security forces before detonating his bomb. The blasts occurred during a demonstration by Hazara protestors, near the Afghan parliament building. Hazaras make up one-fifth of the Afghan population and have been the victims and targets of various terror attacks in the country.

For more information, see: ISIS claims Afghanistan explosion that kills dozens

IS commander killed

Military operations in Nangarhar province killed at least 36 Islamic State fighters on July 29. Provincial spokesperson Attaullah Khoghyani said the operation was led by Afghan army’s 201 Saleb Corps and was carried out in Shongari area on Achin district. According to reports, the Afghan troops were supported by foreign troop air raids during the operation. Afghan security forces say that key commander of the Islamic State SaadEmarati, one of the founders of the groups Afghanistan-Pakistan branch was also killed in Kot district on 26 July. Emarati, a former Taliban commander, switched allegiance to IS following the death of Mullah Omar.

For more information, see: 36 Daesh fighters killed in Nangarhar offensive; Key Islamic State leader SaadEmarati killed in Afghanistan

Indian aid worker returns

Indian aid worker, Judith D’Souza, who was kidnapped in Kabul more than a month ago returned to India on July 23. D’Souza who works for the Agha Khan Foundation as a senior technical advisor was kidnapped on June 9 by suspected terrorists outside her office. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted “Judith D'Souza is with us - safe and in good spirits” after she was rescued, without giving details about the rescue operation or who the kidnappers were.

For more information, see: India aid worker freed in Afghanistan rescue operation

‘Hafiz heading ISIS’

The United States funded Voice of America carried a report from Islamabad that quotes an Afghan government statement that it had complained to Pakistan about former Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed role is directing the Islamic State in Afghanistan. The statement came amidst a high level meeting in Kabul on 26 July attended by officials from both countries and NATO to discuss security issues along the AfPak border. Afghan officials also sought Pakistani cooperation in preventing ISIS terrorists from entering Afghanistan.

For more information, see: ISIS attacks in Afghanistan being directed by Hafiz Saeed: Afghan officials to Pakistan


Female activists arrested

Law enforcement agencies arrested four suspected female activists of banned militant group Jamaa'tul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB). The arrested are from 19 to 30 of age group. Crude bombs, bomb-making materials and jihadi literature were found in their possession.

For more information, see: Police arrest four suspected female JMB activists in Sirajganj

Nine ‘militants’ killed

Nine alleged militants were killed this week following a special drive counter militancy operation n Dhaka. Security agencies claimed that all the militants are from JMB. However one of arrested miltants claimed himself ‘IS operative’.

For more information, see: 9 'militants' killed in joint drive in Kalyanpur


Construction material washed away

Construction material worth Nu 500 million for hydropower projects that were stored at Bangay Bazaar in Phuentsholing have either been submerged or washed away by the recent flood. The equipment is believed to have belonged to Punatsangchhu I, Punatsangchhu II, and Mangdechhu hydropower projects.

For more information see: Hydropower equipment worth millions believed to be lost

Bank help support sought for disaster management

The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) in collaboration with the Department of Hydromet Services (DHS) and the agriculture department has sought the World Bank’s support to strengthen the capacities of agencies concerned should disasters like the recent flash floods or even bigger ones strike the country in the near future.

For more information, see: Preparing for future disasters

RMA to invest in Indian securities

The Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) is exploring avenues for investment in Government of India securities to maintain a stable exchange rate parity and better manage the INR reserve.

For more information, see: RMA to invest in GoI securities


Four more spy planes

India signed a contract on Wednesday to buy four maritime spy planes from Boeing Co for about $1 billion, defence and industry sources said, aiming to bolster the navy as it tries to check China’s presence in the Indian Ocean.India has already deployed eight of the long-range P-8I aircraft to track submarine movements in the Indian Ocean and on Wednesday exercised an option for four more, two defence ministry officials and an industry source told Reuters.

For more information see: To check Chinese presence, India orders 4 spy planes for $1bn from Boeing: Report

US help sought on missing plane

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday informed the Parliament that India has sought help from the US to check if their satellites captured any signals from the missing AN-32 aircraft, noting there was very little possibility of sabotage in the incident.Giving clarifications on the missing aircraft in the RajyaSabha, the minister said he was “disturbed” by the aircraft’s sudden disappearance. So far 505 hours of air sorties have been undertaken and 23 different items noticed. Of the 23 inputs, there were 17 visual sightings and six transmissions.

For more information, see: India has sought US help for satellite info on missing AN-32: Parrikar

Pakistan sending terrorists: Sushma

In her strongest statement against Pakistan till date, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of advancing the “despicable design” of destabilising South Asia by exporting “dirty money and dangerous terrorists”.“Pakistan’s Prime Minister says that his good wishes are with the people of Kashmir. Sadly, it’s not Pakistan’s good wishes or moral or diplomatic support but its weapons and terrorism that it has exported to Jammu and Kashmir.

For more information, see: Pakistan exporting dangerous terrorists, says Sushma

Chinese incursion in Uttarakhand

Chinese troops infiltrated into Uttarakhand on July 19 and came face to face with district administrative officials and Paramilitary Jawans, a report sent by the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said. Sources said the Chinese incursion took place at a grazing ground in Barahoti in Chamoli district and the area, which is a ‘no man’s land’, is claimed by both China and India.

For more information, see: Chinese incursion in Uttarakhand sounds red alarm

Curfew back in Kashmir

Curfew was reimposed in four districts of south Kashmir and Srinagar, while authorities clamped restrictions in some other areas of the Valley to thwart a planned march by separatists.“There is curfew in entire south Kashmir and Srinagar, while restrictions have been imposed in north and central Kashmir,” police official said.

For more information see: Curfew, restrictions back in Kashmir

Jaitley meets Congress leaders on GST Bill    

Consensus seems to be emerging on the long-pending reform of the GST, with ArunJaitley and Arvind Subramanian meeting leaders of the Congress, Left, the Trinamool Congress, the SP and the JD(U) to garner support for the passage of the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill in the current session of Parliament.

For more information see: In bid to push GST, Jaitley meets Cong., CPI(M) leaders


UN envoy for ‘flexibility’

UN Special Advisor Tamrat Samuel, who spent four days in Maldives, meeting with political stake-holders in the country has since left, after calling for ‘maximum flexibility’ and ‘commitment to compromise’ in larger national interest, as during his maiden April visit, but reiterated that ”moving forward with the dialogue remains with President Abdulla Yameen”.  The visit was capped by the Maldives United Opposition (MUO) holding a joint protest rally, the first one in months and deeper schism in Yameen’s ruling PPM even as the President did not yield anything in his annual Independence Day address.

For more information, see: “UN envoy departs with appeal for ‘maximum flexibility’”, Maldives Independent, 23 July 2016; “Thousands gather for opposition coalition’s first rally – as it happened”, Maldives Independent, 25 July 2016; “President: Will ensure each primary school graduate has read Quran in entirety”, SunOnline, 26 July 2016; “Maumoon: Extremism could cost country”, Maldives Independent, 22 July 2016; “Umar Naseer threatened with a knife”, SunOnline, 30 July 2016; “Social media activist arrested for ‘inciting hatred’”, Maldives Independent, 30 July 2016; “Foreign couple arrested after photographing opposition rally”, Maldives Independent, 28 July 2016; “Two journalists, opposition figures arrested from mosque”, Maldives Independent, 28 July 2016; “Police confiscate Thasmeen, Shidhaatha and Hassan Latheef’s phones”, SunOnline, 30 July 2016


Government unveils economic policy

The government has presented its long-awaited economic policy in which it aims to develop a market-oriented system “in all sectors” and establish an economic framework in support of national reconciliation.

For more information, see: Government reveals 12-point economic policy

Armed groups to meet Government

Two powerful ethnic armed groups, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS), will meet with Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min AungHlaing today in Nay Pyi Taw.

For more information, see: Wa, Mongla groups to meet with Commander-in-chief

China for ‘internal peace’

China’s Special Envoy on Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang, who has attended the Mai Ja Yang summit of ethnic armed groups in Kachin State as an observer, said that China backed “all the forces that support internal peace in Burma.”

For more information, see: China Envoy Expects ‘All Armed Groups’ to Attend Union Peace Conference


Madheisis say ‘No’

Nine of the Madhes-based political parties united under the Federal Alliance and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) have stated that there is no possibility of their joining the next government, which is expected to be led by CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal. They held a meeting on July 28 where the leaders of the Madhes-based parties turned down Dahal's overtures. Where Dalalpromises to hold a united government this present hitch might overturn his plans.

For more information, see: Madhes-based parties not to join government; Spirit of national reconciliation will be hallmark of new govt: Dahal; Dahal meets Chinese envoy, assures to implement Nepal-China pacts

Relief work progressing

NGOs like HELP NEPAL Network and Nepal Red Cross Society has started helping the flood and landslide victims not waiting for the government. They are collecting and distributing the relief materials in Saptari, one of the most affected districts.  “We have prepared family relief packs and have already distributed them to about 200 households,” Arun Singh Basnet, chairman of the HELP NEPAL, told Republica. The organization has a target of providing relief package to 450 households.

For more information, see: Private initiatives for flood relief underway; Monsoon Mayhem: Rs 750m sought for disaster management

Five-fold boost to tourism

The Tourism Ministry has launched the new National Tourism Strategy 2016-2025 which envisages a fivefold increase in arrivals to 2.52 million annually by the year 2025. Ordinarily, the strategy is not ambitious, but in the context of tourism growth in India and China and political uncertainty in Nepal, the strategy is ambitious and it will be difficult to achieve the target, the strategic document said.

For more information, see: Nepal tourism sets goal to boost arrivals fivefold


Talks with India ‘not possible’

Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif stated that India’s “hostile” behaviour towards Kashmir and Pakistan prevented any dialogue between the two countries from taking place. Speaking during the Senate’s defence committee session Asif added that India’s behaviour was a obstacle in carrying out smooth dialogue.

For more information, see: Indo-Pak dialogue not possible in present circumstances, says Defence Minister

China corridor on time

While speaking at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad on July 28, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif assured China that Pakistan would leave no stone unturned to ensure timely completion of China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor (CPEC). Sharif added that CPEC was destined to bring significant improvement in the lives of hundreds of millions of people, besides further promoting mutual interdependence among regional states.

For more information, see: Will leave no stone unturned to complete CPEC on time: COAS

New Torkham gate

Pakistan will inaugurate the newly-constructed gate at the Torkham crossing on August 1. While work on the construction of the gate on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border began in 2014, Afghan reservations caused delays in the building of the gate. Last month clashes between Pakis­tani and Afghan security forces over the construction of the border gate left 4 soldiers dead on both sides.. The clashes kept Torkham, one of the busiest crossing points between the two countries and used by between 15,000 and 20,000 people and hundreds of vehicles daily, closed for six days.

For more information, see: Torkham gate to be inaugurated on August 1

Sri Lanka 

JO ‘Kandy march’ on

The Joint Opposition (JO), owing allegiance to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has commenced its Kandy-Colombo march, defying threats of disciplinary action against members of his SLFP, now headed by incumbent, Maithiripala Sirisena, but honouring court orders on routes and venues.

For more information, see: “Pada Yathra kicks off”, The Island, 29 July 2016; “Pada Yathra on 2nd day draws massive crowds...March restricted to one lane in Kegalle”, The Island, 30 July 2016; “Prelate to MR: While making best use of your development projects, present rulers accuse you of doing nothing for country”, The Island, 29 July 2016; “Aim of Pada Yathra to make Gota President – Left Circle”, The Island, 30 July 2016; “No need to walk if they had done their duty: MS”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 July 2016; “Refrain from forming new fronts: MS tells JO”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 July 2016; “Maithiri, Ranil CBK in discussion”, The Sunday Leader, 31 July 2016; “Consensual Government will run its full term”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 July 2016; “No SLFP CC approval to extend UNP-SLFP agreement- JO”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 July 2016

Journalists’ protest

The Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) has taken exception to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s continuing criticism of the tribe in recent weeks, and asked him to come up with names and specifics for them to initiate action, where found required. "We respect the PM's right to criticise the media. But we strongly oppose moves to try and control the media by hiding behind that right," the SLWJA said in a statement.

For more information, see: “Journalists oppose Ranil's comments against media”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 July 2016; “Journalists defending previous regime will have to be dealt with- PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 24 July 2016; “Influential section of media accused of being party to destabilisation campaign: ‘Govt. will not give into reactionary forces’”, The Island, 30 July 2016; “PM’s remarks on media - Silence by Western Missions a shocker: JO”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 July 2016; “Don’t play with fire: Gammanpila tells PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 25 July 2016

Ambulances from India

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe launched a free ambulance service, funded by India, declaring that the Government will seek more help from the northern neighbour to develop the health sector. Simultaneously, India has also extended further funding on railway projects in Sri Lanka, and the two Governments are all set to move forward on the ETCA proposal through detailed official-level discussions.

For more information, see: “Indian Emergency Ambulance Service launched”, The Island, 31 July 2016; “Will seek more help from India to develop health sector: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 28 July 2016; “India approves $318mn loan for SL railways”, Daily Mirror Online, 28 July 2016; “Indian team to arrive in Colombo on Aug 9 for talks on ETCA”, The Island, 30 July 2016; “Minister Mustapha too agrees on formulating national trade policy”, The Island, 30 July 2016



Press Releases

Workshop held on International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 25, 2016



Opinion Pieces

Milo Comerford, ISIS is now waging a sectarian war in Afghanistan- and even the Taliban opposes it, The Independent, July 29, 2016

Malik Muhammad Ashraf, Ghani’s blame game, The News International, July 26, 2016

Davood Moradian, Ethnic polarisation: Afghanistan’s emerging threat, Al Jazeera, July 26, 2016



Wading through Monsoon, Kuensel, July 26, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Deepti Priya Mehrotra, IromSharmila’s decision to call off her fast against AFSPA reflects the state’s failure to engage, The Indian Express, July 28, 2016

Sheela Bhatt, Patel agitation and Dalit unrest threaten to unravel BJP’s three-decade dominance in Gujarat, The Indian Express, 29 July 2016

C. Raja Mohan, Raja-Mandala: Frontrunner’s dilemmas, The Indian Express, July 26, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Omkar Khandekar, Death in tropical paradise, Maldives Independent, July 29, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Moe Gyo, How to build a bottom-up federal union, DVB, July 29, 2016


Burma’s 100 days, The Irrawaddy, July 11, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Dinkar Nepal, Fundamentalism in South AsiaRepublica, July 28, 2016

Niranjan Mani Dixit, Plain inefficiency, The Kathmandu Post, July 28, 2016


Zahid Hussain, Change of guard in Sindh, Dawn, July 26, 2016

Ayesha Siddiqa, Can we help Kashmir?,The Express Tribune, July 27, 2016

Aisha Sarwari, Thank you, Qandeel,The Express Tribune, July 28, 2016

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

M. S. M. Ayub, Paada Yathra, only for moral boost, Daily Mirror Online, July 29, 2016

K. K. S. Perera, Look back at historic marches, Daily Mirror Online, July 29, 2016

Kelum Bandara, President asks JO not to breach party discipline, Daily Mirror Online, July 28, 2016

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Hanging together to govern together?, Daily Mirror Online, July 27, 2016

Neville Luduwahetty, Who monitors the monitors?, The Island, July 27, 2016

N. Sathiya Moorthy, It’s about the past, yes, but even more about the future: Jaffna University clash, The Sunday Leader, July 24, 2016 


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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