MonitorsPublished on Oct 03, 2016
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume IX; Issue 40 |'No' to SAARC summit

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

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

< style="color: #163449;">‘No’ to SAARC summit

Afghanistan has lent its support to India’s cause of isolating Pakistan by announcing its intention to not participate at the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad. The spokesperson for President Ashraf Ghani said that, “Afghanistan will not participate at SARRC summit in Pakistan as long as the neighbouring countries' vision is clarified about security and other issues in the region”. For more information, see: “Critics welcome Kabul’s decision to boycott SAARC summit”, Tolo News

< style="color: #163449;">Peace deal with Hekmatyar

Ashraf Ghani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar formalised their peace agreement on September 29 by signing the agreements live on television. Hekmatyar, the leader of Hezb-e-Islami, signed the agreements via video link and said that the government should accept his demand for the release of key Taliban members from prisons in the country. Overall, the peace agreement has been welcomed by the international community and Afghans who have called for anti-government armed groups to join the peace process. For more information, see: “Afghanistan: Ghani, Hekmatyar sign peace deal”, Al Jazeera, 30 September 2016; “Hekmatyar urges government to free Taliban’s prisoners”, Tolo News

< style="color: #163449;">15 civilians killed

The UN has said that a US drone strike, intending to kill ISIS members, has killed over 15 civilians and injured 13 in eastern Afghanistan on 28 September. In a statement, the US military acknowledged it had conducted an aerial attack but refused to discuss details, “because we are still reviewing all materials related to the strike”. For more information, see: United Nations says US drone strike kills 15 civilians in Afghanistan”, Reuters

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

< style="color: #163449;">Boycotting SAARC summit

Government has decided not to participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit which is scheduled to be held in Islamabad of Pakistan in November this year. Dhaka has conveyed to the current SAARC Chair Nepal that Pakistan’s growing interference into the internal affairs of Bangladesh is not conducive to hold the summit in Islamabad. For more information see Bangladesh, India boycott SAARC Summit in Pakistan”, The Daily Star,  “Saarc Summit boycot is Dhaka’s own decisionDhaka Tribune

< style="color: #163449;">Trying militancy-backers

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her resolve to pushing all who are patronising militancy. She said those who are supporting militancy in the country must face trial. She made this remarks in a meeting in Washington. For more information seePatrons of militancy must face trial: PM”, The Daily Star

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

< style="color: #163449;">Not for Summit

Bhutan will not participate in the 19th SAARC summit given the deteriorating security situation in the region, according to a foreign affairs press release. Bhutan has expressed its concern to the current SAARC Chair, Nepal that the deteriorating security situation in the region has created an environment which is not conducive for successful holding of the summit. For more information see: Bhutan not to attend 19th SAARC Summit”, Kuensel, September 29, 2016; “Bhutan expresses its inability to participate in 19th SAARC summit”, Bhutan Broadcasting Service

< style="color: #163449;">Interest rates slashed

Following the Bank of Bhutan’s move to slash its loan interest rates  earlier this month, all other banks like Bhutan National Bank, TashiBank, Bhutan Development Bank including the National Pension and Provident Fund have also cut interest rates in an array of products. For more information see: All banks slash loan interest rates”, The Bhutanese

< style="color: #163449;">Farm MoU with Thailand

A 12-member delegation from Thailand is in the country to identify future areas of collaboration between the two. A MoU was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand and Ministry of Agriculture and Forests of Bhutan. For more information see: Bhutan-Thailand agricultural cooperation to expand”, Kuensel

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

< style="color: #163449;">‘Surgical-strikes’ in PoK

Pakistan is likely to respond with a terrorist attack deep inside India following this week's surgical strike across the Line of Control in PoK on jihadis preparing to infiltrate, according to a high-level assessment by the security establishment. Tensions between the two neighbouring nations flared up after a deadly terror strike last month on an Army base in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri sector that killed 19 soldiers. For more information, see: After surgical strikes, wounded Pakistan likely to respond with terror attack on high-profile targets, Mail Today

< style="color: #163449;">Rs 65-thousand crore black money ‘disclosed’

In the biggest-ever black money disclosure, at least Rs 65,250 crore of undisclosed assets were declared in the one-time compliance window, yielding the government Rs 29,362 crore in taxes. While the black money declarations will go up once all the online and manual filings of undisclosed assets filed at the end of the four-month window on September 30 are compiled, the government will get nearly Rs 14,700 crore or half of the due taxes, this fiscal. For more information, see:  Black money worth Rs 65,250 crore disclosed under Income Declaration Scheme: Arun Jaitley, The Times of India

< style="color: #163449;">Cauvery crisis continues

According to an official release, Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P. Rama Mohana Rao read out the statement of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who is in hospital, at the meeting convened on the directions of the Supreme Court in New Delhi. Tamil Nadu PWD Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswamy attended the meeting. Ms. Jayalalithaa said Tamil Nadu was in dire need of water and that in the spirit of the Supreme Court order, the Centre should ensure that Karnataka complied with it and released water to Tamil Nadu. For more information, see: Violence, discrimination: In a first, India takes Nepal to the UN Human Rights Council, The Hindu

< style="color: #163449;">Tejas-SP3 for the Indian Air Force completes maiden flight

The third series production Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas-SP3, on Wednesday took to the skies for the first time in a successful 15-minute sortie. Sources in HAL told Times of India that the first profiling of the aircraft was satisfactory and that most parameters that were to be checked were fulfilled. "The flight was restricted to only 15 minutes because of the low-hanging clouds, the initial plan was to fly for longer," a source in the LCA complex said. For more information see: Tejas-SP3 completes maiden flight, The Times of India

< style="color: #163449;">Chinese incursions

After Ladakh sector, Chinese troops came 45km inside Indian territory in a remote area of Arunachal Pradesh earlier this month and built shelters to claim that the territory belonged to them, according to reports from the area. Initial reports from Anjaw district said more than 40 Chinese troops set up a temporary shelter at 'Plum post', an area 45 km inside the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the district earlier this month. For more information, see: “Incursion by Chinese troops reported in Arunachal Pradesh”, The Times of India

< style="color: #0069a6;">Maldives 

< style="color: #163449;">UNSC seat sought

Addressing the annual UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim asked for Maldives to be elected to UN Security Council (UNSC), as representation for small states, which do not get to be heard enough in the global body. Referring to democracy issues in the country, he reiterated the international community not to evaluate Maldives against ‘inappropriate bench-marks’. For more information, see: “Maldives seeks election to UN Security Council”, Maldives Independent, September 25, 2016; “FM: Stop evaluating Maldives based on ‘inappropriate’ benchmarks”, SunOnline, September 25, 2016; “Commonwealth envoy warned of ‘severe democracy deficit’ in Maldives”, Maldives Independent, September 28, 2016; “Don’t worry! even if Maldives is on CMAG agenda, Maldives will progress: Thaariq”, Miadhu

< style="color: #163449;">MDP leaves it to the leader

Following up on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s (CMAG) reiteration of call for ‘unconditional talks’ on democracy issues, and the Government’s subsequent own fresh appeal for all parties in the country to name negotiators, the Opposition Maldivian Democracy Party (MDP) has left it to the leadership to name its representative – implying that former President Mohamed Nasheed would take a call. The party council, meeting in Male, however decided to participate in the talks. For more information, see: “MDP decides to join all-party talks”, Maldives Independent, September 27, 2016; “Government requests AP and MDP to send names of officials who will participate in dialogue”, Miadhu, September 26, 2016; “Government will try to conduct dialogue with political parties with renewed hope: Dr.Shainee”, Miadhu, September 26, 2016; “Dr. Shainee: All inclusive election does not mean Nasheed”, SunOnline, September 25, 2016; “No matter how impartial Nasheed’s trial is, it will always be proven that he is a guilty!”, Miadhu, September 27, 2016;  “Moosa: MDP members are bored of taking to the streets”, SunOnline, September 29, 2016; “Minister: Opposition smear campaign has impacted tourist arrivals”, SunOnline

< style="color: #0069a6;">Myanmar 

< style="color: #163449;">Suu Kyi for peace

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the three-day 37th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly in Nay Pyi Taw on September 30, predicting a peaceful and prosperous future for Myanmar. For more information see: SuuKyi opens ASEAN conference”, Eleven, October 1, 2016; “SuuKyi warns ASEAN vibrant lawmakers should not be lawbreakers”, Mizzima,  “Daw Aung San SuuKyi: ‘Lawmakers Can’t be Lawbreakers”, The Irrawaddy

< style="color: #163449;">Koh Tao trial

A Thai government prosecutor in the case against two Burmese men convicted of murdering a young British couple on the resort island of Koh Tao two years ago has submitted final clarifications, according to a lawyer for the defence. For more information see: Prosecution in Koh Tao murder trial submits final clarifications”, DVB

< style="color: #163449;">Investment law passed

Burma’s Lower House of Parliament passed the long-awaited Myanmar Investment Law on Wednesday, and it now moves to the Upper House before the parliamentary session closes in early October. For more information, see:Investment Law Approved in Lower House”, The Irrawaddy

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

< style="color: #163449;">Bills re-tabled

A meeting of the Legislature-Parliament has endorsed the three bills related to the annual budget with majority on Friday. The endorsed bills are Finance Bill, National Debt Recovery Bill, and Debt and Guarantee Bill. These bills had been earlier tabled by Oli Govt. but were ruled out by ruling coalition partners Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (Maoist Center). Minister for Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara had tabled these bills in Parliament for endorsement September 29. For more information, see: ‘House endorses 3 budget-related bills’, Republica, September 30, 2016; ‘Govt re-tables three budget-related bills’, The Kathmandu Post

< style="color: #163449;">Press to be involved

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has urged press to help the government in the implementation of the constitution, the prime need of the country. He also acknowledged the role of the press in various movements in reinstating democracy in the country and bringing republic. Also speaking on the occasion, Minister for Information and Communications Surendra Kumar Karki pledged to address the issues concerning working journalists. For more information, see: “PM seeks press role in constitution implementation”, The Kathmandu Post

< style="color: #163449;">China extends grace period

The Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China has agreed to extend the grace period for the repayment of loans granted to Nepal to construct the Upper Trishuli 3A Hydroelectric Project. The grace period for repaying the loan expired in August. The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), which is building the 60 MW project located in Rasuwa and Nuwakot districts through a subsidiary company, has asked for a five-year extension, but the Chinese bank is yet to decide the length. For more information, see: Upper Trishuli 3A Hydroelectric Project: Chinese bank agrees to extend grace periodThe Kathmandu Post

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

< style="color: #163449;">‘Surgical strikes’ denied

Pakistan has denied the ‘surgical strike’ launch by India on terror launch-pads in PoK, and has instead said that India opened fire across the LoC, leading to the death of two Pakistani soldiers. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated during a federal cabinet meeting on  September 30 that Pakistan would take the necessary steps to protect its territory and said that India’s ceasefire violations were to take attention away from Kashmir. For more information, see: “Tensions rise as India claims surgical strikes in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir”, Time, “We will defend our homeland against any aggression”, Dawn

< style="color: #163449;">Indian soldier captured

The Pakistan army captured an Indian soldier on  September 29 after he “inadvertently crossed over to the other side of the Line of Control”. Chandu Babulal Chauhan, a jawan with 37 Rashtriya Rifles, was taken into Pakistan custody, an Indian army official confirmed. Firing across the LoC has continued, after India’s surgical strike on terror camps. Troops have been pushed forward to guard against Pakistan retaliation, sources said, while civilians were being evacuated out of a 2-km buffer zone. For more information, see: “Night after surgical strikes: Indian jawan in Pak custody, LoCfirefight continues”, The Indian Express

< style="color: #163449;">ADB funding for rail-line

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to lend $8 billion to Pakistan to upgrade the railway line from Karachi to Peshawar, making the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor size up to $ 51.5 billion. Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal, after his visit to China said that Beijing had agreed to provide Pakistan with a $ 5.5 bn concessional loan to upgrade and modernise the Karachi-Lahore main railway line. He also said ADB will extend financing of $2.5 bn for the Lahore-Peshawar railway track. For more information, see: “With a new Chinese loan, CPEC is now worth $51.5 bn”, Dawn

< style="color: #0069a6;">Sri Lanka 

< style="color: #163449;">Wigneswaran flags new row

As has sort of become periodical with him, Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran has once again flagged controversial issues on post-war political negotiations for a permanent solution to the ethnic issue. While most Sinhala parties have joined issue with him, the TNA leadership has distanced itself from the Tamil People’s Council rally, where Justice Wigneswaran made those observations. For more information, see: “Tamils rally for greater devolution”, The Hindu, September 25, 2016; “Is Wigneswaran Planning To Break Away From TNA To Form Radical Tamil Party?”, New Indian Express, September 25, 2016; “15,000 Tamils attend historic uprising in Jaffna, reject Unitary Constitution, ITAK draws flak”, TamilNet, September 24, 2016; “CV says protest not against Sinhalese or Buddhists”, Daily Mirror Online, September 25, 2016; “JVP condemns 'extremist' remarks made by Wigneswaran”, Daily Mirror Online, September 27, 2016; “Govt. to present evidence against LTTE being removed from terrorist list”, The Island, September 27, 2016; “Executive Presidency will be abolished says PM”, The Island

< style="color: #163449;">President, PM to visit India

President Maithiripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are visiting India separately in the first half of October. The President will be in Goa, for the BRICS summit, where he will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Heads of Government from the nations in the regional grouping. In turn, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will be in New Delhi, along with a team of ministers, when he will interact with Indian leaders, starting with counterpart Modi, industry groups and the media. For more information, see: “India to host Ranil, Maithripala this fortnight”, The Island, October 2, 2016 “India: No time frame or pressure on Sri Lanka to finalise ETCA”, The Island, September  27, 2016 “India looking forward to sign ETCA: Sitharaman”, Daily Mirror Online, September 28, 2016; “Chinese Company Gets Tender Bypassing Procedure”, The Sunday Leader

< style="color: #0069a6;">PRIMARY DOCUMENTATION

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

< style="color: #163449;">Press releases

Bhutan expresses concern for deteriorating security situation in the region, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 September 2016

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

< style="color: #163449;">Press releases

Press release on 19th SAARC Summit’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 28September 2016 Press Release covering important engagements of Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr.PrakashSharanMahat, on 23 Sept 2016’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 24September 2016 Press Release Issued by the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations, New York’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 22 September 2016 Press Release: Minister for Foreign Affairs to lead Nepali Delegation to the 71st Session of the UNGA in New York’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 19 September 2016 ‘Press Statement issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs on some Points Mentioned in the Joint Statement on the State Visit of Prime Minister of Nepal to India’,Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 19 September 2016 Press Release on the Terrorist Attack in Uri’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 19 September 2016

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

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

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

Florian Weigard, “The West’s wishful thinking for Afghanistan must end”, DW, 28 September 2016 Shashank Bengali, “In a first for post- Taliban Afghanistan, a grassroots protest movement challenges the government”, LA Times, 28 September 2016 Nadir Hassan, “Misunderstanding Afghanistan”, The News International, 17 September 2016

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

M Mahfujul Haque, Scott Bremer, “Unpacking the complexity of climate change”, Dhaka Tribune, 30 September, 2016 Syeda Tahmina Ferdous, “A word for wilderness”, Dhaka Tribune, 29 September 2016

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

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

A highway that raises the bar”, Kuensel, 26 September 2016

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

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

1.Raja Mohan, Raja Mandala: SAARC minus one, The Indian Express, 29 September 2016 Abhijit Singh, Why 'Surgical Strikes' Are a Slippery Slope for India, The Diplomat, 29 September, 2016

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

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

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Maldives seeks berth in UN Security Council”,, 1 October 2016 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Did CMAG give Nasheed a longer rope?”, South Asia Monitor, 30 September 2016

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

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

Robert Kelley, “Burma still has to work to do to end doubts about WMD ambitions”, DVB, 27 September 2016 Lee Morgenbesser, “Lifting US Sanctions: right or wrong?”, Myanmar Times, 26 September 2016

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

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

Mahabir Paudyal, ‘Silent and divided’, Republica, 29 September 2016

Sun Xi, ‘Urban water crisis’, The Kathmandu Post, 29 September 2016

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

Republica, ‘Safe together’, Republica, 29 September 2016 The Kathmandu Post,Buck the trendThe Kathmandu Post, 30 September 2016

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

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

M S M Ayub, “Eluga What?”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 September 2016 Malinda Seneviratne, “The quiet and shout of racism”, Daily Mirror Online, 29 September 2016 Kelum Bandara, “ETCA talks accelerated amidst concerns by local exporters”,  Daily Mirror Online, 29 September 2016 Laksiri Fernando, “President’s UN speech: Some reflections on the narrative and emphasis on Buddhism”, The Island, 29 September 2016 Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, “Ban Ki-moon’s ‘new union’ for Sri Lanka”, Daily Mirror Online, 28 September 2016 Nevillie Ladduwahetty, “Sri Lanka and great power relations”, The Island, 28 September 2016 Jehan Perera, “Inter-ethnic goodwill must be built upon”, The Island, 27 September 2016 Lacille de Silva, “How effective is Parliament?”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 September 2016 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Own recipe for reconciliation, but in no hurry for new union”, The Sunday Leader, 25 September 2016

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

Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah Bangladesh:  Dr Joyeeta Bhattacharjee Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale India: Shubh Soni & Pushan Das Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy Nepal: Dr AnasuaBasu Ray Chaudhury & Sreeparna Banerjee                  
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