MonitorsPublished on Nov 28, 2016
South Asia Weekly | Volume IX; Issue 48 | ISIS strikes again in Kabul

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

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

< style="color: #163449;">ISIS strikes again in Kabul

Thirty people were killed and over seventy injured in Kabul on 21 November after an ISIS suicide bomb attack. A spokesperson for the local police said that the bomber detonated his vest inside a mosque in Kabul. The attack was directed against Shia Muslims who are a minority in the country, marking the third major attack on the minority since July. President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack calling it a “great crime and the work of enemies of the people of Afghanistan.” For more information, see: Afghanistan mosque attack: 30 dead, ISIS claims responsibility

< style="color: #163449;">Taliban open to peace talks?

Reports state that the Afghan Taliban are involved in intense discussions over the resumption of peace negotiations with the Kabul government. The Express Tribune quoting a Taliban negotiator said that, “We are now exploring the options for talks with foreign stakeholders, as well as with the Afghan side. It will be a national level decision. The consultation process was strong. The Taliban military commanders, who had not been on-board earlier, have also been taken into confidence. I would say the consultation process was initiated at the grassroots level this time.” For more information, see: Afghan Taliban ‘discuss’ resumption of peace talks

< style="color: #163449;">India promises greater help

Ahead of the December 2016 ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in Amritsar, India, New Delhi has stepped up its rebuilding activity in Afghanistan. Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Manpreet Vohra has finalised projects such as: restarting a tile factory in Mazar-e-Sharif, building a runway at the Balkh airport and assisting Kabul in harnessing the economic potential of the Indian built Salma Dam. For more information, see: India speeds up rebuilding activity in Afghanistan

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

< style="color: #163449;">BNP for consensus Election Commission

The Opposition, Bangladesh National Party (BNP) chief Begum Khaleda Zia this week presented a thirteen point proposal for the formation of the next Election Commission (EC). In her proposal she strongly argued that the next EC be formed on the basis of consensus. She also suggested that Army be involved in the election. Her proposal has mixed responses. Some observers of the country’s politics feel that government should consider the proposal; while the ruling Awami league has declined to accept the proposal. The tenure of the present EC will end in February 2016 and formation of a new commission will be crucial for the next parliamentary election. For more information, see: Consensus of all parties a must to form next EC; Analysts: ‘Khaleda’s proposals deserve consideration; Polls-Time Deployment: BNP defends proposal for magistracy to armed forces; EC reconstitution: BNP sends formal letter to President

< style="color: #163449;">MDG success

The country has attained remarkable success in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) as out of thirty three targets it fully implemented thirteen, including the one of halving the population living under poverty line, said a final evaluation report. "With sustained GDP growth rate of over six percent, Bangladesh has been able to bring poverty rate down to 24.8 percent by 2012 against the MDG target of halving the population living under the poverty line from 56.7 percent to 29 percent by 2015," Dr. Shamsul Alam, member of the Planning Commission, informed while presenting the report in Dhaka this week. For more information, see: Bangladesh gains remarkable MDG achievement

< style="color: #163449;">Student backers for terror

A study has revealed that every 10 university students support terrorism. According to the study around 51.7 percent of the students who support terrorism come from prosperous back ground. More half of the students with such radical thought are mostly of the age group between 18 to 25 years. The study was conducted by the East West University amidst a nationwide campaign against terrorism and militancy after the 1 July terror attack on a cafe in Gulshan where 22 persons, mostly foreigners, were killed. For more information, seeStudy finds 10 percent students in Bangladesh universities support terrorism

< style="color: #163449;">Concern over Rohingyas

Government this week expressed deep concern to Myanmar over Rohingya influx on the border. Government also urged Myanmar government to take measures to prevent Rohingya infiltration into the country. Hundreds of Rohingyas from the neighbouring Myanmar are enter Bangladesh after ethnic conflict broke up in there. For more information, seeBD expresses concern to Myanmar; Rohingyas desperate as atrocities continue; BD government firm on keeping Rohingyas at bay; Myanmar's envoy summoned; OIC worried; 107 Rohingyas pushed back by BGB; Traffickers thrive on Rohingya genocide; BGB, coast guards on alert to check infiltration; Fresh worries over fleeing Rohingyas; UNHCR urges Bangladesh to allow safe passage of Myanmar civilians fleeing violence

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

< style="color: #163449;">Thailand waives visa fees

Thailand has waived visa fees and halved visa on arrival fees for 19 countries, including Bhutan, for a period of three months beginning 1 December. According to the Thai Broadcasting Public Service, this means that those applying for a visa at a Thai embassy or consulate will not have to pay the Thai Baht 1,000 visa fee. For more information, see: Thailand waives visa fees for 19 countries

< style="color: #163449;">Govt to convince National Council on BBIN

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that while he accepts and respects the wisdom of the House of Review, he is hoping the National Assembly (NA) and National Council (NC) members can sit together and discuss the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) trade agreement. For more information, see: Govt. hopes to convince NC on the merits of BBIN: PM

< style="color: #163449;">Demand for Bhutanese potatoes slumps in India

Farmers across Bhutan have been hit hard with the continuous deflation in the price of potatoes in the past few years. The situation has been made worse this year by the recent demonetisation announcement on 8 November by the Indian Government. For more information, see: No buyers for Bhutanese potatoes due to demonetization in India

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

< style="color: #163449;">Demonetisation ‘mismanaged’

During the Rajya Sabha discussion on demonetisation, Dr. Manmohan Singh stated that such a move has led to “monumental mismanagement” and this step has largely affected small traders and farmers. Dr. Singh pointed out that he is in favour of rooting out black money, however, the disruption it has caused among the masses cannot be overlooked and a constructive proposal is required for its implementation. For more information, see: Demonetisation is organised loot: Manmohan Singh and Demonetisation has been monumental management failure, says Manmohan

< style="color: #163449;">Modi hits back

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday stated that those in opposition critical of the move by the government are actually the ones that were most unprepared. He compared the common man to a soldier, waging a war against black money and corruption. He further stated that “It is a big nation and a big decision. And I expect from those who see a bright future for the nation to help those facing difficulties so that we are victorious in this war against corruption.” For more information, see: Opposition didn’t get time to prepare for demonetisation: PM Modi; Those accusing govt. were not ready for demonetisation: Modi

< style="color: #163449;">Pak moves UN

Following the escalation of tension across the Line of Control, Pakistan on Thursday asked the United Nations to take action before the situation results in a full-fledged crisis. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi during her meeting with the members of the UN pointed out that the escalation of tensions across the LoC was an attempt by India to divert the international community away from the gross human rights violations committed in Kashmir. The UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations has asked the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan to monitor the LoC and the working boundary in order to ease the tension. For more information, see: Pakistan approaches UN over LoC tension with India; As India retaliates, Pakistan moves UN

< style="color: #0069a6;">Maldives 

< style="color: #163449;">Investor protection

Maldives Investment Forum, forex market, New Delhi Source: Focus Maldives/Twitter Inaugurating the Maldives Investment Forum 2016 in New Delhi, India, Vice President Abdulla Jihad said that foreign investors in his country would receive legal protection. Back home, the Government sought control over forex market, to ‘ensure steady dollar price and availability’, but denied it had anything to do with the previous week’s $271 million payment to Indian infrastructure major, GMR Group, over the cancelled Male airport contract. For more information, see: “Investors will receive legal protection in Maldives: Vice President”, Miadhu, 24 November 2016; “An Indian businessman calls everyone to be someone who visits Maldives”, Miadhu, 24 November 2016; “Indian businessmen pitch 5 major proposals to Maldives”, SunOnline, 24 November 2016; “Indian companies express interest in partnering with Maldivians”, SunOnline, 24 November 2016; “State Bank of India will provide assistance to invest in Maldives!”, Miadhu, 24 November 2016; “Minister: Target is to promote opportunities for investment in major projects”, SunOnline, 21 November 2016; “Maldives Investment Forum 2017 to be held in Qatar”, SunOnline, 22 November 2016; “Maldives Medical and Health Expo begins”, Miadhu, 24 November 2016; “VP Jihad calls on his Indian counterpart”, SunOnline, 22 November 2016; “Bill on USD 25 Airport Development Charge sent to Committee”, SunOnline, 24 November 2016; “Majority of lawmakers speak out against airport development charge”, SunOnline, 24 November 2016; “MMA sells USD 2.2 million within 4 days”, SunOnline

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

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

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi urged ethnic armed groups to join the government peace process by signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA). Suu Kyi’s appeal comes at a time when conflict between military and by ethnic Kachin, Ta’ang and Kokang continued in northern Shan State. For more information, see: State Counselor Addresses Shan State Conflict by Calling for Groups to Sign NCA; SCO issues statement spotlighting Union Peace Conference is only path for peace

< style="color: #163449;">Upset over West’s flak

Suu Kyi said that her country was being treated unfairly to a gathering of diplomats in Naypyidaw. Western nations were concerned at how Aung San Suu Kyi’s government is dealing with violence in North Western Rakhine state since 9 October attack on a Border Guards outpost. For more information, see: Suu Kyi upset as Western diplomats criticise Arakan policy

< style="color: #163449;">Probe into Rakhine violence

A national-level committee will be formed to investigate conditions in northern Rakhine State after an upsurge in violence following October 9 attacks on Border Guard posts, a government spokesperson has announced. For more information see: New taskforce to be formed to investigate Rakhine violence

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

< style="color: #163449;">Constitution through consensus: PM

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has said the Constitution would be amended after addressing the grievances from various sides on constitution. Laying a foundation stone to a bridge at Sahan of Sindhuli on 24 November, PM Dahal reiterated that he was committed to addressing the demands raised by Madhesi, indigenous, and Tharu community and amend the constitution thereafter. The PM further said he had learnt that the earthquake survivors in Sindhuli have not got relief, so efforts were on to address it. For more information, see: Govt addresses grievances and implements constitution: PM; PM stresses amending constitution to garner all-side consensus for elections

< style="color: #163449;">Gold price hits low

Continuing its downward spiral, gold price plunged Rs. 800 per tola (11.66 gm) on November 24 to hit five-and-half-month low of Rs. 54, 600. The drop in gold price in the domestic market is in line with the fall in the price in the international market as the US dollar strengthened, according to the Federation of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers’ Association (Fenegosida). Gold price has been fluctuating as international bullion prices came under pressure due to lower demand following Trump’s victory. For more information, see: Gold price hits over five-month low of Rs. 54,600 per tola

< style="color: #163449;">Education regulations revision required

Higher Secondary Schools Association Nepal (HISSAN) has demanded revision of the proposed Education Regulations 2073, saying the draft was incomplete. HISSAN said the regulations presented by the Ministry of Education, which is currently under consideration at the Social Welfare Committee of the Parliament, had some weaknesses. Organising a press conference yesterday, HISSAN put forth a twenty two point demand. Among other things, it has demanded separate regulations for private and community schools. For more information, see: Proposed Education Regulations incomplete: HISSAN

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

< style="color: #163449;">Cotton imports to India stopped

Reports from the Express Tribune state that the Pakistan ministry of food security have issued verbal orders to their staff to stop the issuance of cotton import permit from India. The reason cited for the suspension of cotton imports was continued Indian aggression along the Line of Control. The report stated that many textile exporting manufacturers import cotton as well as chemical dyes from India in heavy quantities. The sources in plant protection department said that import of cotton without proper permit has been banned. For more information, see: Pakistan suspends cotton imports from India

< style="color: #163449;">Peshawar bomb kills three

A bomb blast killed three paramilitary officers on patrol in Peshawar on 22 November. Wajid Khan, a Pakistani police official said that the over eight other people were wounded by the bomb that was detonated by remote control. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. For more information, see: Bomb kills three paramilitary officers in northwestern Pakistan

< style="color: #0069a6;">Sri Lanka 

< style="color: #163449;">‘Coup talk’ denied

Ahead of the Defence Ministry’s post-war annual Galle Dialogue 2017, Navy chief, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne has denied all talk of a possible military coup in the country, after Joint Opposition leader and former Minister, Dinesh Gunaratne, referred to the possibility in Parliament, owing to democracy failure in the country. Ministers Mahinda Samarasinghe and Ajit Perera, too, have criticised Gunaratne for the statement. For more information, see: “Navy chief pooh-poohs coup claim”, The Island, 24 November 2016; “Minister Samarasinghe takes JO to task for coup warning”, The Island, 22 November 2016; “Dinesh warns of a coup if erosion of democracy continues”, The Island, 21 November 2016; “Sri Lanka faces challenging task of protecting hard-won stability – MR”, The Island

< style="color: #163449;">Rajapaksa leaves for China

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has left for China on a week’s visit, at the invitation of the host government. He is accompanied by ex-Foreign Minister, G.L. Peiris, who is also heading the pro-Rajapaksa Sri Lanka People’s Front chief. Ahead of his China visit, Rajapaksa criticised the successor Government for leasing 15,000 acres of land to China in southern Hambantota, where his regime had allowed the extra-regional power to build a massive sea-port. For more information, see: “MR critical of leasing 15,000 acres to China in H’thota”, Daily Mirror Online, 23 November 2016; “MR, GL China bound”, The Island, 22 November 2016; “US Naval Ship “USS Somerset” arrives in Trincomalee”, Daily Mirror Online

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

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

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

 Ambassador of Myanmar to Bangladesh Myo Myint Than was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 23 November 2016

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

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

Australian Ambassador to Bhutan calls on the Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 23 November 2016

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

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

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

Bonnie Kristian, “Trump can end America’s longest war”, USA News, 22 November 2016


Discussing Afghanistan, The News International, 24 November 2016

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

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

Shakhawat Liton, Eviction of Santals made constitutional commitments a mockery, The Daily Star, 19 October 2016 Taj Hashmi, Attacks on minorities in Bangladesh: No longer a “communal issue”, The Daily Star, 22 November 2016 Syed Badrul Ahsan, Pakistan might soon want ‘East Pakistan’ back!,, 23 November 2016 Syed Badrul Ahsan, Begum Zia’s formula . . . and the holes in it,, 21 November 2016

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

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

One in a million, Kuensel, 22 November 2016

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

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

Raja Mohan, Raja Mandala: Sharif versus Sharif, Indian Express, 22 November 2016 Vaidyanathan, Take note, the fault lies in the system, The Hindu, 24 November 2016 Rajiv Kumar, India’s golden moment, Indian Express, 25 November 2016

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

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

Lex Rieffel, Lessons Myanmar could learn from Indonesian politics, Myanmar Times, 24 November 2016

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

China should play a more active role in promoting a truce in Myanmar, Mizzima, 25 November 2016

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

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

Renu Adhikari Rajbhandari, Safe education for all, The Kathmandu Post, 25 November 2016 Biswas Baral, Trilateralism, RIP, Republica, 24 November 2016

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

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

Madiha Afzal, The US exampleDawn, 24 November 2016 Imtiaz Gul, The Sharif Exit, The Express Tribune, 22 November 2016 I.A. Rehman, Shades of McCarthyism, Dawn, 25 November 2016 Durdana Najam, Making CPEC a game changer, The Express Tribune, 24 November 2016

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

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

Malinda Senratne, “The love-hate conundrum of countering hate-speech”, Daily Mirror Online, 24 November 2016 Kelum Bandara, “Ministers harbour differences on key matters”, Daily Mirror Online, 24 November 2016 Jehan Perera, “Inter-religious violence can threaten consensual reforms”, The Island, 22 November 2016 Latheef Farook, “UNP and SLFP miserably failed the country: Inevitable need for third political force”, Daily Mirror Online, 19 November 2016 N. Sathiya Moorthy, “Regime-change to destabilisation: Old wine in older bottle”, The Sunday Leader, 19 November 2016

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

Kelum Bandara, “Solution is federalism: Siddharthan”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 November 2016

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

Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee Bhutan and Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale India: Sabah Ishtiaq Maldives and Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy Nepal: Sreeparna Banerjee
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