MonitorsPublished on Sep 03, 2020
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume XIII-35

Pakistan: Increased bonhomie with China during Covid-19

Ayjaz Wani

The foreign ministers of China and Pakistan discussed a range of issues from the Covid-19 pandemic to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to intra-Afghan negotiations during the second round of the bilateral Strategic Dialogue held in Hainan Province in China. The joint press release issued by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs enumerating the discussions expressed concern over the unfolding situation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) since India’s abrogation of Article 370 in August last year.

Coming on the heels of Pakistan receiving a royal snub in Saudi Arabia when its army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was refused a meeting by  Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, this round of Strategic Dialogue held special significance for both Pakistan and China, which are facing global and regional pressure on multiple issues. The occasion provided both – Pakistan, embroiled in a bitter diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia -- and China, facing international criticism for its aggression towards India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh -- with an opportunity to increase the geniality quotient of their relationship.

This increased bonhomie, however, is not based on the shared values, rule of law and democratic principles but on mere vested interests based on insecurity, geo-strategic challenges and economic interests.

‘Appease China’ history

Pakistan was the first Muslim country to recognise the Communist China and send a high-level delegation to Beijing in 1950. This diplomatic relationship helped China to gain some reputation and diplomatic favours in the Muslim world. China also sent a group of Uyghur Muslims for pilgrimage to Mecca via Pakistan. After the Sino-India war of 1962, Pakistan ceded 2000 sq km of Indian territory in Occupied Kashmir to China under a border agreement.

In 1972, Pakistan was reported to have facilitated the visit of US President Richard Nixon to Beijing and normalisation of the Sino-American relations. It also helped China to complete the Karakoram Highway, which was opened for traffic in 1978. China reciprocated by helping Pakistan to undertake nuclear research after 1976 and helped Islamabad conduct its first nuclear weapons test by providing blueprint for the same.

Though Pakistan officially conducted the tests in 1998, Islamabad is believed to have at least  12 nuclear warheads in its arsenal even in 1990. China also helped Pakistan develop missile delivery system for its nuclear warheads in exchange for the clandestine transfer of Western technology, helping the former keep pace with the global South and its technological developments.

Xinjiang unrest

The end of the Cold War following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in early 90’s saw the rise of an economically assertive Beijing, while Pakistan faced an uncertain future as the aid from the US, given during the Cold War days, stopped. However, Pakistan’s terror infrastructure remained intact as the country continued to provide fertile ground to powerful Islamic movements, especially in the Af-Pak region.

Some of these radical Islamists also reached Xinjiang and mingled with the local ethnic Muslims, laying the foundation for unrest in Xinjiang. During the two decades beginning the nineties, China had to grapple with the unrest in its western frontiers. With separatist ideology gaining momentum and instigating anti-China feelings, Beijing used Pakistan and its agencies like the army and the ISI to broker deals with terror outfits.

In November 2000, the Pakistani military establishment also helped China to strike a deal with Taliban. Islamabad facilitated a meeting between China’s ambassador to Pakistan Lu Shulin and Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The meeting resulted in the Talban promising peace and security in Xinjiang. Till today, this has helped China to keep the situation in its volatile Xinjiang province under control.

During the same period, China not only helped Islamabad by providing unwavering support at the United Nations but also included Pakistan in the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). China also provided support to terrorists like Masood Azhar and the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) at the UN up to May 2019.  In 1999, Beijing also signed a contract with Islamabad to jointly develop and produce the JF-17 fighter jets that were inducted into the Pakistan Air Force in 2010, helping Pakistan to keep pace with India in defence procurement.

After 2010, Pakistan has been increasingly facing worsening economic conditions, weak political dispensations, and increased interference of the army establishment that prefers to survive on Chinese doles rather than focus on socio-political or economic reforms. Second, India’s growing global posture after 2001 became a cause of concern for policy-makers in Beijing.

The signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (2002), the Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the annual meeting of 2+2 provided the much-needed fillip to the Indo-US strategic partnership. To keep India preoccupied, Beijing used Pakistan as a card against New Delhi, by extending covert support to the Taliban. It also used its relationship with Pakistan as a lever against its wrong doings in Xinjiang, especially the mass Human rights violations and the cultural genocide of Uyghurs.

Growing indebtedness

China used its economic prowess and invested over $62-billion in Pakistan under the BRI programme of the CPEC. Pakistan’s growing indebtedness to China under the CPEC has made it the latter’s vassal state.

The CPEC, which runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, provides China an alternative pathway for its exports and energy imports from West Asia to China, linking its western provinces to key global sea-lanes through Pakistan’s Gwadar port. Considered the ‘gateway to Asia’, the Gwadar port is Beijing’s most advantageous geostrategic and geo-economic BRI venture. The increased debt to Beijing has already forced Pakistan to lease out this key asset to a Chinese entity for 40 years.

China has also exploited the Pakistani military establishment, by extending favours in the CPEC projects. The army, in turn, has increased its grip over Pakistan’s civilian administration, forcing the Imran Khan-led government  not to investigate the corruption charges in the CPEC projects, though Khan’s party had promised probes into these projects in its election manifesto.

Now, the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have increased this bonhomie between China and Pakistan. While China faced global backlash and people refrained from visiting Beijing, Pakistan sent President Dr Arif Alvion to China on 18 March. President Alvi asserted that he ”was visiting Beijing to show solidarity with the people and the leadership of China while they were successfully fighting the Covid-19 outbreak”.

President Xi, during his meeting with President Alvi, said “China will stay committed to our ironclad friendship and will expand our strategic cooperation.” Beijing provided the much-needed help to Pakistan for fighting Covid-19 and eased the payment obligations over US$30-billion worth of investments under the CPEC. Similarly, after the royal snub from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan also received $1 billion aid from China to repay the Saudi debt.

After the Saudi Arabia fiasco, Pakistan dashed off its Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for the Strategic Dialogue and update the Beijing leadership. Pakistan also sought Delhi’s alienation from Tehran after the proposed Iran-China deal was sealed.

Sri Lanka: Why and how of the ‘India First’ security policy

N Sathiya Moorthy

Sri Lanka’s ‘India First’ strategic security policy, outlined by the new Foreign Secretary, Adm Jayanth Colombage (retd), is a timely reiteration of a policy of past 20-plus years, but seldom understood and appreciated as such in the northern neighbourhood. In doing so, Secretary Colombage, a former Navy chief, becomes the first Sri Lankan official or politician to articulate the nation’s foreign policy so comprehensively and cogently, that too in a well-articulated manner, publicly.

Sri Lanka “cannot afford to be a strategic security threat to India,” Colombage told local TV channel  Adederana, hours after taking the charge.  But President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has also told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that for economic development, the nation would accept Chinese investments, he said. This is precisely the considered line of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (2005-15), brother of incumbent Gotabaya and the Prime Minister at present.

However, the Mahinda declarations, made personally, did not receive the same coverage in Indian media and positive attention in strategic circles. It may have also owed to the post-Galwan India-China strains, where every Indian wants Sri Lanka to shed its pro-China image, especially so under the ruling Rajapaksas.

“We are an independent, sovereign nation,” Adm Colombage told Colombo-based Daily Mirror in a separate interview. “If any warship arrives in Sri Lanka, there is a procedure… If they come without following the procedure, it is war...” He said that “China really understands it.  I have not seen China pushing for strategic things….China understands the strategic situation here. China also understands it isn’t ethical to push Sri Lanka beyond a certain point that is worrisome to India.  China understands that stable Indo-Lanka relations are good for China.”

Shift in global order

‘Economic development’ was his foreign policy goal, Secretary Colombage declared. He said that Sri Lanka had to move away from well-entrenched West-centric positioning, to take advantage of happenings in Asian neighbours like India and China. “Best career diplomats should be posted in neighbouring countries,” he told the Daily Mirror, recalling how in the Covid fight, neighbours were the first ones to help.

There is a ‘clear shift’ in the world economic order, Secretary Colombage said. “China is the second largest economy … and India … the sixth... we are between two economic giants. How we benefit from both is diplomacy... That is why the President mentioned that as far as strategic security is concerned, Sri Lanka will always have an ‘India First’ approach…As far as economic development is concerned, we cannot depend on one country. We are open to anyone. We know China is one country willing to invest…We have to benefit from it.  We have to balance,” he added.

On the Hambantota port project going to China, Secretary Colombage pointed to its strategic locale, as the mid-point between Singapore and Dubai on the one hand, and between Shanghai and Rotterdam on the other, in distances. “The busiest shipping lane in the world is just 12 nautical miles south of Hambantota…. conveying 50 percent of world containers, 35 percent of bulk cargos and 72 percent of energy -- gas and oil….Everyone knows, we initially offered it to India. India did not undertake it…maybe because of lack of capacity…Then, it went to a Chinese company.”

Clarifying for the first time, Colombo’s position on the predecessor government handing over 85 percent the Hambantota Port stakes to a  Chinese firm, Colombage told the Daily Mirror: “That should be limited to commercial activities only.  It is zero for military purposes.  Sri Lanka cannot afford, should not afford and will not afford any particular country to use Sri Lanka as a staging area to do anything against another country, especially so India.”

The Chinese firm has a 99-year lease for the port. “Sri Lanka Navy is in charge of security there. We are here for five years or ten years…Over time, there could be laxity…That is why we want to take back control… President is looking at ways to do,” he told the TV interviewer. As if in continuation, he told the Daily Mirror, that the nation can check China, for instance, from using Sri Lankan territory, to target India.

National consensus

The choice of Hambantota for a port did not owe either to the Rajapaksas’ earlier regime, or it being their native district. Over the post-Independence decades came the realisation – though generally not acknowledged -- that Sri Lanka cannot become an export-oriented manufacturing economy. With that came the consensual realisation that the nation had to exploit its geographical location for economic advancement, especially since eastern Singapore and western Dubai were choking as transhipment ports, already. Hambantota became the natural choice as it cut down the travel time to the existing Colombo Port, which too suffered space constraints and could not have received huge oil tankers, anyway.

The decision to develop Hambantota and hand it over to China too was taken not by the Rajapaksas, as often mistakenly believed in India, but by Mahinda’s predecessor and then party boss, President Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga. The two, in their times, offered it first to India, and went to China, only after New Delhi turned down the proposal, reportedly owing to economic reasons. The decision to hand over 85-perent stakes in the port to the Chinese firm, and with that a piece of Sri Lankan territory, too, was taken by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe dispensation (2015-19). The Rajapaksas openly opposed the same.

In this context, Secretary Colombage clarified that China is pushing for commercial things.  We need FDI, joint ventures, ‘Built, Operate Transfer’ (BOT) projects, technology transfers, etc…The relationship we have with China, Japan, the US and European Union or any other country are purely on commercial, interests,” he told the Daily Mirror. In the TV interview earlier, he said that Sri Lanka will not take any more foreign loans as already the debt-to-GDP ratio was a very high 86 percent, and would prefer the FDI / partnership route.

Committed to ECT

In this context, Secretary Colombage pointed to the new guidance of the President’ that no ‘national asset’ is given with total control to any country. “It means at least 51 percent of the stake will always remain with the Sri Lankan Government and the balance can be divided,” he told the Daily Mirror. Focussing on this part of it in the TV interview earlier, he pointed out how in Hambantota’s case, 85-percent stake for China is only in financial terms, and not otherwise.

At the same time, Secretary Colomabage said that “India feared that we had moved towards China too much...India was happy that the regime was changed (in 2015)… We had given the Hambantota Port on a 99-year-lease to China Merchants Port Holding Company, which India, Japan and America considered as wrong.  We actually made India jittery during the period between 2015 and 2019.  But India is comfortable with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa”.

The President is “committed to honour” the agreement with India on developing the Colombo Port Eastern Container Terminal (ECT), with Japan, “because it is an arrangement between the two countries… There is opposition to it from port workers... (We will) find a solution.” He readily conceded that “India has a solid argument on this.   Actually, 38-40 percent of transhipment containers we handle arrive from India. About 70 percent of businesses we handle are from India. Colombo port is the second biggest port for Indian containers after Mumbai.   They argue that they should have a stake in this issue as a result. Yet, they don’t have the capacity to build and operate the terminal. Therefore, they have linked with Japan to do it. The President has said that he is ready to honour that agreement.”

India, Pakistan ties

“In South Asia, India and Pakistan are encountering problems. Both have been our friends. Both have helped us during very difficult times….We should stay away from this issue. We should not allow Sri Lanka to be used by one party against the other. Both the countries are important to us. India is our neighbour,” he told the Daily Mirror on Sri Lanka’s trilateral equations with the other two.

He recalled how “during the war-time, we almost lost the North to the  LTTE. It was Pakistan which sent us MBRL (multi-barrel rocket launchers). Pakistan was using them in their operational areas.  The Pakistani authorities removed them and airlifted them to Sri Lanka. That only prevented Jaffna from being over-run by the LTTE. That is something great!”

Country Reports


Flash floods claim 150 lives

Several provinces were hit by flash floods that have so far claimed over 150 lives and wounded hundreds more, with Parwan province reporting the highest number of casualties. As per official statistics, over 1,500 houses were damaged in the affected provinces of Parwan, Kapisa, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Nuristan, Panjshir among others. Even as government rescue teams continue to search for missing bodies under the rubble of collapsed structures, the Afghanistan Meteorological Department has already warned of heavy rains over the next 24 hours, especially in Kabul, Nangarhar and Badakhshan.

Intra-Afghan talks next week?

On 27 August, the Chairman of the High Council of National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah announced that intra-Afghan talks would begin from the following week. The announcement was made after a Taliban delegation visited Islamabad to discuss the peace process, amid increased levels of violence in Afghanistan. However, while the Taliban also announced the formation of a high-level negotiating team to partake in talks, their chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai declared that no peace talks were planned with the government for early September.


Human trial approved

The government gave its nod to the final stage human trial of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by a Chinese biotech company, Sinovac. Health Minister Zahid Maleque informed that the approval for the human trial was given after examining all necessary research protocols. The process for the approval was initiated after Dhaka-based International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDRB) submitted a research protocol seeking to carry out the trial on behalf of the private Chinese company in the country. Further, the Minister claimed that Sinovac attached Bangladesh as a top priority country to conduct the trial and the country will get one lakh vaccines for free. Besides, Bangladesh will get priority to purchase adequate numbers of vaccines from the Chinese company, the Minister added. 

Home power-link next year

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reaffirmed her pledge to illuminate all the houses in the country by 2021. Prime Minister observed that her government has undertaken a plethora of initiatives to celebrate the birth centenary of Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in 2020 and the golden jubilee of the country's independence in 2021. To commemorate these occasions, her government aims to light up every house in the country. Prime Minister made this comment while addressing a programme to inaugurate cent-per cent electrification in 31 Upazilas (sub-districts) of 18 districts. Currently, electricity is provided to 97.5 percent of the households in the country. Attaining solvency in power generation has been a priority of Prime Minister Hasina’s government. The government has planned to generate 24,000 MW electricity by 2021, 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041.  


Hydropower export un-hit

Even during the Covid time, the country’s biggest export, hydropower, has recorded 14 per cent increase in its generation. This is because of the early arrival of rains, by the end of May this year. The overall generation of the DGPC power plants — Tala, Chhukha, Basochhu and Kurichhu — has increased to 3,724 million units (MU) from January to 31 July this year as compared to 3,248 MU in the same period last year. The revenues from  hydropower are expected to increase by 13 percent, from Nu 4,431million in 2019 to Nu 7,315 million in 2020. Bhutan exports about 70 per cent of the energy generated to India.

WHO commends pandemic-fight

With the nationwide lockdown entering the third week, the country’s lockdown story so far has been positive. The collective effort of both the government and community is behind the success, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Bhutan Dr Rui Paulo de Jesus. According to Dr. Rui who has been part of two tabletop simulations on lockdown conducted in July said that the uniqueness of Bhutan’s fight against the pandemic was the whole-of-the-society and government approach guided by His Majesty at the helm.

Tobacco ban suspended

One of the first countries to ban tobacco sales, Bhutan has temporarily lifted the prohibition in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The "interim measure," aims to curb the infections that smugglers can bring along with tobacco across the porous southern border with India, where COVID-19 cases have exploded in recent weeks. The government has set up new temporary outlets around the country to take orders and sell tobacco to those who still use it despite the ban. Surveys in the nation of 750,000 indicate that nearly a quarter of Bhutanese age 15 and above use tobacco.


Sonia to continue as party chief

The Working Committee of the national opposition party, the Indian National Congress (INC), met on 24 August to discuss the leadership question of the party. The meeting was held at the backdrop of a letter written by 23 veteran Congress leaders to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi urging a complete overhaul of the party for its political revival. The letter led to reports that Mrs. Gandhi offered to quit from the post of interim president and she had requested the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to initiate the process of replacing her as the Congress chief. The leaders who had sent the letter were reportedly cornered during the meeting by other party leaders. However, Mrs. Gandhi clarified that she has no hard feelings against the leaders who has written the letter and requested all members to voice their opinion only in party forums. It was decided that Mrs Gandhi would continue to lead Congress party as of now and she will be assisted by a committee in discharging her responsibilities.

Oppn unite over NEET, GST

A meeting was convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi with the chief ministers of the States ruled by the opposition parties on 26 August. The meeting was called to discuss the issue of postponement of the engineering and medical entrance tests, the JEE and the NEET, scheduled for September due to the ongoing pandemic. Other issues like GST compensation from the Centre to the States and the Modi government’s privatisation policies were also discussed and they vowed to put a united front against the centre. The meeting was attended by Sonia Gandhi, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and Puducherry CM V. Narayanasamy.


Armed security for IHC

In a rare move, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has deployed armed personnel for security at the Indian High Commission after Opposition PPM-PNC combine launched a series of rallies, charging the MDP administration of President Ibrahim Solih with ‘selling off Maldives to India’. There was however no official statement/response on the deployment. The police have summoned a senior Opposition MP for violating Covid guidelines during the motorcycle rally in capital Male, for appearing without face-mask. President Solih said he was sad to see the protests when the country was recording more than 100 new Covid cases each day.

Move against Male’ mayor

Slowly but surely, internal fissures within the ruling MDP of President Ibrahim Solih have come out in the open. In a move that has caused eyebrows to raise, the Local Government Authority (LGA) issued a last-minute direction to the prestigious Male Municipal Council against voting on a no-trust motion against mayor Shifa Mohamed and deputy mayor Shamau Shareef, for allegedly violating the spirit of the Decentralisation Act and Council directives, and also unauthorised spending.  All 10 council members are from the ruling MDP, and the majority is tilted 8-2 against the mayor. A section of the social media has expressed surprise over the LGA directive following Parliament Speaker and MDP chief, Mohammed Nasheed’s warning to dissenters before he emplaned to London on a private visit. The dissenters have now decided to move the High Court.


Random tests in Rakhine

Minister Dr. Myint Htwe, the Ministry of Health and Sports, stated that they would soon begin conducting random tests among high risk groups and high contact groups to ascertain the prevalence and pattern of COVID-19 in the Rakhine State. He further said that such random tests would be conducted to get knowledge on the extent of prevalence and pattern of the outbreak for implementing more systematic ways for containing the virus. The spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Dr. Than Naing Soe, has added that high risk groups and high contact groups were primarily healthcare workers, marketplaces, public service providing staff and places.

ADB approves loan

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has permitted a $250 million loan to help the Government of Myanmar respond to the COVID19 pandemic by mitigating the impacts on people’s health, livelihoods, and the economy, while also ensuring that the poor and vulnerable benefit from the country’s economic recovery. The CARES Program, ADB’s first countercyclical support for Myanmar, builds on ADB’s ongoing program in the country, including a $6.6 million health security project that ADB reprogrammed in April to support Myanmar’s early COVID19 response.


SAARC meet in September

The small Himalayan country is all set to host a virtual meeting of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The Council of Ministers shall meet online in the third week of September, under the leadership of Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali. After the Covid-19 outbreak, the SAARC has been breathing once again, given the stagnation it had been going through in the past few years. Also, this gives Nepal an opportunity to present itself in the regional dynamics.

Sri Lanka

Milinda, new HC to India

The government has appointed former minister and UNP presidential aspirant Milinda Moragoda as the next High Commissioner to India, with a Cabinet rank, enabling him to interact with leaderships in the two countries, without going through the respective Foreign Ministries. He founded the Pathfinder Foundation, a think-tank that studies social, economic and foreign policy issues. Current Foreign Secretary, Adm Jayanth Colombage (retd) was associated with it in recent years. Moragoda was last in the news as the failed mayoral candidate of the then ruling SLFP under President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He fills the vacancy caused by the exit of Austin Fernando, a former Defence Secretary, who quit after President Gotabaya assumed office in November last.

Prabhakaran ‘ordered’ Rajiv killing

One-time Norwegian peace negotiator Erik Solheim, quoting the late LTTE ideologue Anton Balasingham, said that LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had ordered the killing of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. “Balasingham told me Prabhakaran admitted to the killing of Rajiv Gandhi in  private discussions. Bala was not in the slightest doubt as to who ordered the attack. Bala never lied to me. I see no reason why he would have lied on this,” Solheim tweeted. Solheim, who was the chief Norwegian negotiator during the war, also accused Prabhakaran of failing to compromise by not accepting an offer to evacuate Tamil civilians during the final stages of the war. “I accuse Prabhakaran of failing to compromise and not accepting the offer to evacuate Tamil civilians. It was the Sri Lanka army who indiscriminately shelled and bombed people to death. I wish we as mediators had the powers to influence the parties to make wiser decisions,” he said. He also said that no one in the international community agreed to a separate Tamil state.



Opinion Pieces

Sher Jan Ahmadzai, “Afghanistan’s Peace Process is Stalled. Can the Taliban be Trusted to Hold Up their End of the Deal?”,The Conversation, 27 August 2020

Frud Bezhan,“The Rise of Mullah Yaqoob, the Taliban’s New Military Chief”, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, 27 August 2020


The Daily Outlook Afghanistan, “Sectarian Violence Looms Large in Muharram”, 26 August 2020

The Kabul Times, “Increasing IED Attacks in Kabul Concerning”, 24 August 2020


Opinion Pieces

Sudha Ramachandran, “Why Bangladesh Reaches out to China, The Diplomat, 26 August 2020

Nasir Uddin,  “Pressuring Bangladesh to do more will not help the Rohingya”,, 25 August 2020

Fahmida Khatun, “Living with floods and reducing vulnerability in Bangladesh”, The Daily Star, 25 August 2020



Kuensel, “All in the battle”, 25 August 2020

Kuensel, “Growing our own food”, 27 August 2020


Opinion Pieces

Reshmi R Dasgupta, “Incredible India can be Atmanirbhar in Tourism Too”, The Economic Times, 29 August 2020

Bobby John, “National well-being and the counts that matter”, The Hindu, 29 August 2020

Navneet Sharma, “NEP’s short shrift to basics”, The Indian Express, 28 August 2020

Samir Nazareth, “A virulent language: Reinforcing casteism”, The Telegraph, 28 August 2020

C.S.C. Shekhar, “Making agricultural market reforms successful”, The Hindu, 27 August 2020


The Indian Express, “Abetment”, 29 August 2020

The Indian Express, “A case for equality”, 29 August 2020

The Hindu, “A no-win situation: On JEE-NEET during the pandemic”, 28 August 2020

The Hindu, “Sound and fury: On the Congress and the Gandhis”, 26 August 2020


Opinion Pieces

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Maldives: Ruling MDP helps Yameen’s Opposition, forces ‘GMR moment’ on India ties?”,, 26 August 2020


Opinion Pieces

Aung Zaw, “In Myanmar's Karen State, Ex-Insurgents Create a Haven for Chinese Casino Bosses”, The Irrawaddy, 28 August 2020

Min Aung Khine, “Strong Rivalries Shape Politics in Myanmar’s Rakhine State”, The Irrawaddy, 24 August 2020


Opinion Pieces

Sarans Pandey, “What went wrong with Nepali democracy?” Republica, 28 August 2020

Tariq Ahmad, “A green recovery after Covid-19”, The Kathmandu Post, 27 August 2020

Atul K. Thakur, “India’s choice in the New World”, The Kathmandu Post, 26 August 2020


The Kathmandu Post, “Justice as subterfuge”, 26 August 2020

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Kumar David, “What ails the Sri Lankan voter”, The Island, 30 August 2020

D B S Jeyaraj, “Internal strife within ITAK takes disturbing turn”, Daily Mirror Online, 29 August 2020

M S M Ayub, “The Dead or Alive: Dead or alive?”, Daily Mirror Online, 29 August 2020

Malinda Seneviratne, “Three theras and a baby”, Daily Mirror Online, 27 August 2020

Kelum Bandara, “One country, one law as eyes set on 13-A”, Daily Mirror Online, 27 August 2020

Ravi Naghawatte, “Why Tamil politicians prefer divisions”, Daily Mirror Online, 27 August 2020

Ranga Jayasuriya, “Supra majority and making Sri Lanka great – or, break”, Daily Mirror Online, 25 August 2020

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Consolidating the Rajapaksa Constituency”, Ceylon Today, 25 August 2020

N Sathiya Moorthy, “One nation, one law”, Colombo Gazette, 23 August 2020


Kelum Bandara, “Time ripe for deviation from Western-oriented foreign policy”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 August 2020


Daily Mirror Online, “None of us is free until all of us are freed”, 27 August 2020

Daily Mirror Online, “Gearing up for elections nobody wanted”, 26 August 2020


Afghanistan: Shubhangi Pandey

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Bhutan: Mihir Bhonsale

India: Ambar Kumar Ghosh

Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy

Myanmar: Sreeparna Banerjee

Nepal: Sohini Nayak

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