MonitorsPublished on Aug 22, 2016
South Asia Weekly | Volume IX; Issue 34

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

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

< style="color: #163449;">Ghani and Abdullah to meet

As the rift between President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah continues to deepen, the two leaders were expected to hold talks on August 18-19 to discuss their differences. "Our demand is the implementation of the political agreement (signed) at the formation of the NUG. We don't need anything more or less than this." Last week Abdullah had said that Ghani was “unfit” for the presidency, and was arrogant and out of touch with reality. For more information, see: Abdullah addresses supporters amid ongoing rift; Ghani, Abdullah meet face-to-face amid political rift

< style="color: #163449;">‘We can resolve problems’, says President

Addressing the country on the occasion of Afghanistan’s 97th Independence Day, President Ashraf Ghani painted an optimistic picture of the country. “We can resolve problems together,” he said, adding that if people across the united they could fight their economic problems. Speaking of the sacrifices made by security forces, government would never have been able to make the commitments it made to the world in recent times. He also promised that security forces will defeat ISIS in all parts of the country. For more information, see: Ghani stresses unity during independence day ceremony

< style="color: #163449;">Battle slows down

The battle between government forces and the Taliban has slowed down in Helmand with security forces begin to clear the Kandahar-Helmand of mines that the insurgents had placed. The provincial governor of the province said that 32 Taliban insurgents were killed and wounded with the Afghan air force carrying out air-strikes in parts of the province. Officials at the emergency hospital in Helmand said that in the past 15 days more than 216 people, including security force members, have been admitted to the hospital. For more information, see: Helmand battles ease slightly after heavy clashes: officials

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

< style="color: #163449;">‘State terrorism’: BNP

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir this week  alleged that ‘state terrorism’ is being carried out now in Bangladesh to eliminate the ‘opposition as there is no democracy, human rights and the rule of law’. He observed that the country has virtually turned into a fascist country as state terrorism is being carried out here to annihilate the opposition. For more information, see:State terrorism’ on to annihilate ‘opposition’: BNP

< style="color: #163449;">For South Asian economic union

Bangladesh is all set to press the upcoming SAARC finance ministers' meeting for signing all pending agreements among member-countries for forming the South Asian Economic Union (SAEU). To achieve this goal, the meeting will discuss possibilities of signing of motor vehicles agreement, accords on regional railway connectivity, harmonisation of customs procedures and avoidance of double taxation in SAARC region will be focussed in the meeting. For more information, see: Dhaka set to press for forming South Asian economic union

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

< style="color: #163449;">India key to China talks

The event was fairly low key, but India would have keenly followed the latest round of border talks between Bhutan and China in Beijing this past week to resolve “the most urgent problem” between the two countries. For more information, see: India key to China-Bhutan border talks

< style="color: #163449;">Compensation sought

Sonam Phuntsho, who filed a defamation case against freelance journalist Namgay Zam and Dr. Shacha Wangmo, is claiming Nu 2.59 million as compensation if he wins the case. For more information, see: Plaintiff seeks Nu 2.59 million compensation

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

< style="color: #163449;">Judicial appointments ‘not stalled’

Government sources said that for almost a year-and-a-half — from August 2014 to December 16, 2015 — the entire judicial appointments process went into a deep freeze mode and vacancies piled up as litigation challenging the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) laws dragged on in the Supreme Court. For more information, see: Didn’t stall judicial appointments: Govt

< style="color: #163449;">ABVP blocks Amnesty International office

ABVP activists breached police barricades in a bid to barge into the office of Amnesty International India in Indiranagar. Police used lathis to disperse the gathering. Six protesters and five policemen were injured. The police filed cases against 22 protesters for unlawful assembly and using force to deter the police. For more information, see: ABVP cadre try to barge into Amnesty office

< style="color: #0069a6;">Maldives 

< style="color: #163449;">‘India first’

New Maldives Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim met with Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, describing his maiden overseas visit in the new office as a part of his country’s ‘India first’ policy. A career diplomat who had served as Maldivian envoy to the UK, Pakistan and Bangladesh, more recently, Asim reportedly briefed Swaraj over domestic political situation ahead of CMAG September session, and also discussed Indian Ocean regional peace with her. For more information, see: “India, Maldives discuss peace in Indian Ocean”, The Hindu, 17 August 2016; “New FM makes first official visit – to India!”, SunOnline, 16 August 2016; “Vice President: Malaysian government assures cooperation with the Maldives”, SunOnline, August 16, 2016; “Majlis backs Mundhu as new Ambassador to Japan”, SunOnline, August 15, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Opposition poll tie-up

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will align with the Maldives United Opposition to contest the local council elections across the archipelago-nation. This, even as the UK, under a new Prime Minister, granted political asylum to three more Maldives Opposition leaders and the People’s Majlis back home voted to make prior police permission for street protests. For more information, see: “MDP to partner with MUO to field candidates for local council elections”, Maldives Independent, August 16, 2016; “No end in sight for PPM row as factions press for action against MPs”, Maldives Independent, August 15, 2016; “MPs vote to restrict right to protest”, Maldives Independent, 17 August 2016; “Three more opposition figures granted asylum in the UK”, Maldives Independent, August 17, 2016; “One-month deadline for members without fingerprints”, Miadhu, August 17, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Myanmar 

< style="color: #163449;">India carries out strike

A major gun-battle took place between Army troops and suspected National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) militants along the India-Myanmar border, in the Mon district of Nagaland, on  August 19. For more information, see: Surgical strike inside Myanmar by Army?

< style="color: #163449;">Talks over dam

Burmese leader Aung San SuuKyi told China’s premier on 18 August that her new government is willing to look for a resolution that suits both countries to a suspended Chinese-funded hydropower project in northern Burma, a senior Chinese diplomat said. For more information, see: Suu Kyi seeks a win-win deal on China-backed dam; SuuKyi assures China of a solution to Myitsone dam

< style="color: #163449;">Rebels to join talks

The Ta'ang National Liberation Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and Arakan Army that did not sign last October's nationwide ceasefire agreement have said they will attend the so-called 21st-century Panglong conference. For more information, see: Three rebel armies agree to join Panglong

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

< style="color: #163449;">Fresh visits

Nepal and India are making preparations for Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s state visit to New Delhi possibly to begin on September 15. Final decisions about the trip will be made during the visit of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi, who left for New Delhi on August 18 as the special representative of the government. India will also gift a sophisticated chopper to the Nepal Army for domestic use by the PM. For more information, see: Nepal, India work on PM’s visit; DPM Nidhi leaves for India as Nepal PM's emissary

< style="color: #163449;">NEA disturbed

NEA, which just marked its 31st anniversary, its annual report unveiled August 17 states, “NEA experienced another distressing year in terms of energy generation at its own hydropower plants due to the unfavorable impact caused by the massive earthquake of April 2015.”  NEA has said the shortfall in internal generation burdened it with a loss of Rs 11.74 billion in fiscal year 2015/16 compared to Rs 4.74 billion in 2014-15. For more information, see: Another distressing year at NEA for power generation; ‘NEA incurs more losses due to power leakage

< style="color: #163449;">Weighty fines

The Birgunj Customs Office has started imposing hefty fines on traders who attempt to produce fake bills in a bid to control the practice of under invoicing. According to customs officials, they have started slapping a fine equivalent to five times the amount shown on an undervalued customs clearance document. Similarly, the office has begun doing rigorous cross-checking of imported goods even after they have passed customs. For more information, see: Birgunj Customs hikes fine for undervaluing

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

< style="color: #163449;">Talks with India

Ignoring India’s call to discuss terrorism, Pakistan invited Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to discuss the issue of Kashmir in Islamabad. The message mentioned finding a solution to the decades-old issue according to the “aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” Pakistan called for bringing to an immediate end the human right violations presently being committed by Indian security forces against the innocent people of India-held Kashmir (IHK), added the statement. India has insisted the discussions should be held on “aspects related to cross border terrorism which are central to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir.” For more information, see: Pakistan invites Indian foreign secretary for talks on Kashmir

< style="color: #163449;">UN chief for talks

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon called for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict deploring the killings of civilians in Kashmir. “I stand ready to offer my good offices, should it be requested by both sides, to facilitate dialogue in order to achieve a negotiated settlement,” Ban said. Ban wrote to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in response to a letter from the latter apprising the UN chief on the deteriorating situation in Kashmir and large-scale rights violations by Indian security forces. For more information, see: UN chief slams killings in India-held Kashmir, calls for India-Pak dialogue

< style="color: #163449;">Anti India protests

Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan Courtesy: MEAphotogallery/Flickr Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on 15 August, his statements on Balochistan have sparked anti-India protests across the country. Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri accused India of stoking terrorism in region. The protesters also set fire to Indian flags to express their anger and shouted slogans against the Indian prime minister while demanding the federal government take up the issue on international forums. For more information, see: Anti-India protests erupt in Balochistan

< style="color: #0069a6;">Sri Lanka 

< style="color: #163449;">Mahinda Rajapaksa undecided

Former President and major faction leader Mahinda Rajapaksa is undecided on attending the September 4 general council meeting of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), headed by incumbent, Maithiripala Sirisena, after the latter sacked over a dozen of his loyalists from organisational positions. In a statement, however, Rajapaksa said that Sirisena should ‘take responsibility’ for splitting the party, if it happened, in the light of the present developments. For more information, see: “Maithri should take responsibility for splitting SLFP: MR”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 August 2016: “MR flays MS for removing popular electoral organisers”, The Island, 19 August 2016; “MR invited but in two minds: SLFP’s 65th Convention”, The Island, 17 August 2016; “MR: Will or won’t”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 August 2016; “President removes leading JO members as SLFP organisers”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 August 2016; “Keheliya, C.B. say do not regret being 'sacked'”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 August 2016; “Ex-PS members in Ratnapura tell Basil to form new party”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 August 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Truth, not retribution: PM

With Parliament passing a law on missing persons, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has sought to belie Joint Opposition allegations and said it  will seek ‘truth, not retribution’. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ex-Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris, et al, have claimed that it was a first step towards punishing military personnel on ‘war-crime’ charges, as required under the UNHRC resolution, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka. For more information, see: “The truth will be sought; not retribution: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 19 August 2016; “OMP findings can be used as evidence: GL”, Daily Mirror Online, 15 August 2016; “We will ask the OMP to probe Wijeweera's abduction and death: JVP”, Daily Mirror Online, 15 August 2016; “Some Northern politicians making“Some Northern politicians making false allegations –Ruwan”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 August 2016; “Controversy over Northern CM’s claim US conducting medical tests on LTTE cadres”, The Island, 19 August 2016; “Much to be done before achieving reconciliation: US”, Daily Mirror Online, 16 August 2016; “Keshap’s Jaffna visit wasn’t beneficial to Northern people: Sivagnanam”, Daily Mirror Online, 16 August 2016

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

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

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

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

Suhasini Haider, Karzai backs Modi’s Balochistan remarks, The Hindu, August 19, 2016 Najibullah Noorzai, Afghanistan, Between India and Pakistan, The Diplomat, August 19, 2016 Sushant Singh, India should be a lot bolder in meeting military needs for Afghanistan: Hamid Karzai, The Indian Express, August 20, 2016

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

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

Dr. Abdullah Shibli, The Challenges Ahead: Grassroots activism for climate change needed, The Daily Star, August 17, 2016 Sakib B. Amin and Maaesha Nuzhat, Female education in Bangladesh: State of foreign aid, The Daily Star, August 17, 2016 Martin Conboy, Why Bangladesh’s future is virtual?, Dhaka Tribune, August 17, 2016

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

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

Karma Wangchuck, A Stich in time saves nine, Kuensel, August 14, 2016

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

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

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Playing the Baloch cardThe Indian Express, August 18, 2016 Bibek Debroy, An experiment with power, The Indian Express, August 18, 2016

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

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

Laphai Seng Raw, Work with us, not around us, Myanmar Times, August 19, 2016 Aung Zaw, SuuKyi goes to China, The Irrawaddy, August 16, 2016

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

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

David Kainee, Mockery of martyrdom, Republica, August 18, 2016 Lok Raj Baral, Between the lines, The Kathmandu Post, August 19, 2016

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

JayadevaRanade, By talking about Balochistan, Modi has put both Pakistan and China on notice, Daily O, August 19, 2016 Jai Kumar Verma, India should answer’s Pakistan’s intervention in Kashmir with involvement in Balochistan, DNA, August 19, 2016

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

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

Ajantha Kumara Agalakada, We too can muster bigger crowd: President, Daily Mirror Online, August 18, 2016

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

M. S. M. Ayub, Will the OMP find the missing links?, Daily Mirror Online, August 19, 2016 Malinda Seneviratne, How about an informed foreign policy?, Daily Mirror Online, August 18, 2016 Kelum Bandara, JO’s SC victory negated by failure to thwart OMP Bill, Daily Mirror Online, August 18, 2016 Neville Luduwahetty, Usurping powers: Legislature vs Judiciary, The Island, August 18, 2016 Dayan Jayatilleka, Constitutional cold war & Stalingrad of sovereign unitary State, Daily Mirror Online, August 17, 2016 Jehan Perera, Government’s decisiveness wins all-round support, The Island, August 15, 2016 Latheef Farook, Political and religious leadership crisis of a Sri Lankan minority, Daily Mirror Online, August 15, 2016 N. Sathiya Moorthy, Reconciliation a non-starter, but why and how, The Sunday Leader, August 14, 2016

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

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