MonitorsPublished on Oct 24, 2016
Taliban has restarted secret talks with government representatives in Doha, Qatar, according to senior sources and other roundups
South Asia Weekly | Volume IX; Issue 43 | Back to the table

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

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

< style="color: #163449;">Back to the table

The Taliban has restarted secret talks with government representatives in Doha, Qatar, according to senior sources in the government and within the Taliban. The two rounds of talks, held in September and October are the first known negotiations to have taken place since the peace talks process entirely broke down following the death in a US drone strike of Omar’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour. Meanwhile a number of military analysts have said that the Taliban has become tired of the war and now the group wants to talk with the government, but away from the influence of Pakistan military intelligence service (ISI). For more information, see: “Taliban and Afghanistan restart   secret talks in Qatar”, The Guardian, 18 October 2016; “Taliban, Afghan govt resume secret talks amid deadly battles”, Tolo News

< style="color: #163449;">VP convoy ambushed

Afghan Vice-President Abdul Rashim Dostum’s convoy was attacked by Taliban insurgents on 17 October in Faryab. Dostum escaped unhurt, after returning from overseeing Afghan security forces battling the Taliban. Dostum told the media that the militants who attacked his convoy were disguised as policemen. When he joined security forces on the frontlines in Faryab province in August last year, he survived at least two assassination attempts by militant groups. For more information, see: “Afghan vice-president escapes unhurt after Taliban ambush convoy”, Reuters

< style="color: #163449;">UN caution on IDPs

The UN has raised concerns over the wellbeing of 320,000 displaced people within Afghanistan. Chaloka Beyani, UN Secretary-General's Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally-Displaced Persons has advocated the Afghan government and nation's international partners to swiftly act and resolve the issue. For more information, see: “320,000 displaced in Afghanistan, figure on the rise: UN warns”, Tolo News

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

< style="color: #163449;">Bank aid up

World Bank President Jim Wong Kim has committed to increase its assistance to Bangladesh in 2017-18 fiscal by 50 percent. He also informed that Bank will give an extra $1 billion to Bangladesh for tackling malnutrition. Kim made this commented during his visit to Bangladesh to celebrate the country’s success in reducing poverty. For more information see: World Bank to increase its assistance for Bangladesh by 50 percent, its President Kim says”,, 17 October 2016; “WB president announces $3b for Bangladesh”, ProthomAlo, 18 October 2016; “World Bank Pledges $2 Billion to Bangladesh for Climate Smart Growth”,

< style="color: #163449;">Hasina and Modi discuss Teesta

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a bilateral talk on the sideline of the BRICS-BIMSTEC summit held in the Indian state of Goa this week. In the half an hour meeting the two leaders discussed issues including terrorism and Teesta river water-sharing issues. For more information see: Hasina, Modi talk Teesta, terrorism”, The Daily Star

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

< style="color: #163449;">First satellite in 2018

Bhutan’s first satellite, a nano-satellite (nanosat) or a CubeSat, is expected to be in space by the mid of 2018. This will be the country’s first venture into space technology. Around USD 280,000 will be spent on the effort. For more information see: Bhutan to launch its first satellite in 2018”, Kuensel, 21 October 2016; “Bhutan to launch its first satellite in two years”, BBS

< style="color: #163449;">Terrorism, threat: PM

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay pointed out that terrorism remains a “grave threat” to global peace, security and stability, in his statement at the BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach summit on October 16 in Goa, India. Lyonchoen spoke about terrorism, poverty, and climate change, among others, at the summit. For more information see: Bhutan stands in solidarity with India: PM”, Kuensel

< style="color: #163449;">Internet link

Information and communications minister, D N Dhungyel, is currently in Bangladesh to discuss modalities of getting additional bandwidth and a redundant or third international link to the internet for Bhutan. For more information see: Information minister in Bangladesh to discuss third link to internet”, Kunesel

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

< style="color: #163449;">Arihant commissioned

Giving a quiet yet substantial boost to Indian Navy’s capabilities, India’s first indigenously-made nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant has been commissioned into service. According to various media reports, the nuclear submarine was commissioned in August this year by Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, but it has not been formally declared. Navy too has declined to comment on the reports of Arihant being commissioned. INS Arihant is a 6,000-tonne submarine that is capable of launching nuclear weapons from underwater. For more information, see: INS Arihant, Indian Navy’s first indigenously-made nuclear submarine, commissioned quietly: All you want to know, The Financial Express

< style="color: #163449;">Second sub from Russia

In a deal reportedly worth close to $2 billion, India is set to acquire a second Akula 2 nuclear-powered attack submarine from Russia. The contract for this, which has been unannounced so far, was finalised in Goa along with a slew of other defence deals worth more than $5 billion which have been made public. According to Alexei Nikolski, a columnist with the reputed Russian daily Vedomosti, For more information, see: India To Lease Second Russian Akula-Class Nuclear Attack Submarine, NDTV

< style="color: #163449;">Pak criticised for terror sponsor

While India called Pakistan the “mother-ship” of terrorism and said “terrorism has become its favourite child”, the Goa declaration on Sunday betrayed divisions within the five-nation BRICS grouping on terrorism, especially emanating from Pakistan. For one, the Goa declaration did not mention “cross-border terrorism” — a term used to describe Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. It also did not name any Pakistan-based terrorist groups, including Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba, in the statement, whereas it named Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Syria’s Jubhat al-Nusra. For more information, see: India slams Pakistan over BRICS wall, The Indian Express

< style="color: #163449;">Jayalalithaa recovering

Hospitalised Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is sitting up and is completely off sedation during the day, marking a milestone in her recovery since she was admitted to the Apollo Hospitals last month. The team of specialists treating her calibrated the drug dosage, which led to the success in treating the continuing pulmonary oedema. For more information see: “Jayalalithaa taken off sedation, able to sit up”, The Hindu

< style="color: #163449;">Teachers feel their workload has increased

Over 75 percent of teachers feel that their workload has increased with regard to lesson planning, question paper setting, creating progress reports and assessing students since the introduction of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation(CCE) introduced by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), reveals a study. For more information see: Most teachers burdened by evaluation system”, The Hindu

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

< style="color: #163449;">MUO seeks Gayoom support  

The MDP-led Maldives United Opposition (MUO) has called upon former President and founder of incumbent Abdulla Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) to join them in their political fight against him. However, in its earlier entreaty to non-Yameen political supporters, the Gayoom faction left out main Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of another former President Mohammed Nasheed. For more information, see: “Opposition appeals to Gayoom to join alliance against Yameen”, Maldives Independent, 22 October 2016; “Maumoon requests meeting with all parties, not MDP”, SunOnline

< style="color: #163449;">HC moved on PPM leader

The High Court has concluded hearing over an appeal filed by PPM leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom after the civil court unseated him as party president. Following the hearing, Gayoom expressed the hope that the High Court would give a fair verdict in the case. For more information, see: “Appeal hearings over PPM conflict ends, Maumoon pleads for fairness”, SunOnline, 22 October 2016; “Gayoom appeals for fair ruling from high court”, Maldives Independent, 22 October 2016; “Courts begins hearing appeal into PPM leadership row”, Maldives Independent, 21 October 2016; “Maumoon: Appellant has no special claim in the case”, SunOnline, 20 October 2016; “Maumoon to appeal Yameen’s court-mandated overtake of PPM”, SunOnline, 16 October 2016; “Maumoon refuses to handover PPM to Yameen”, SunOnline, 16 October 2016; “Maumoon holds council meeting, passes decisions”, SunOnline, 16 October 2016; “Yameen handed control of ruling party”, Maldives Independent, 16 October 2016; “Yameen sets up rival council as ruling party descends into civil war”, Maldives Independent, 16 October 2016; “Yameen loyalists take court action to remove Gayoom from PPM leadership”, Maldives Independent, 15 October 2016; “Gayoom speaks out on feud with Yameen: “Why did he let things go this far?””, Maldives Independent, 17 October 2016; “If the government is working against PPM manifesto, council should discuss about it: President Yameen”, Miadhu

< style="color: #0069a6;">Myanmar 

< style="color: #163449;">Rakhine tensions continue

Nearly 20 additional suspects were rounded up by security forces in the two-day period from October 18 to 19, detained for their alleged links to the deadly attack earlier this month on three border guard posts in northern Rakhine State. For more information see: 19 more suspected attackers arrested over two days in northern Rakhine”, Myanmar Times

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

Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San SuuKyi has asked for countries in the region to understand the complexities of the issue surrounding problems in Rakhine State. She was speaking at the BRICS BIMSTEC Outreach meeting in Goa. For more information see: State Counsellor asks for understanding over Rakhine Issue”, Mizzima

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

Myanmar and India are locked in negotiations over a proposed 900,000-tonne bean deal. India is angling for each tonne to be bought for some  $400 less than the current market price. This has pushed for a per-tonne deal that falls well short of domestic market rates. For more information see: Myanmar weighs merits of India bean agreement”, Myanmar Times

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

< style="color: #163449;">Impeachment move against Lokman Singh Karki

A Parliament meeting on October 23 is set to fix the date and time for theoretical discussion on an impeachment motion against Lokman Singh Karki. As many as 157 law-makers from the governing CPN (Maoist Centre) and the main opposition CPN-UML on October 19 evening registered a proposal at the Parliament Secretariat, seeking to impeach Karki, in the first impeachment process ever initiated in the country’s parliamentary history. For more information, see: House to set ball rolling to impeach Karki from Sunday”, The Kathmandu Post, 21 October 2016; “Supplementary application filed at SC seeking halt on Karki’s pay, perks”, Republica

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

At a seminar on 'Nepal-India relations' organised by the Nepal Centre for Contemporary Studies at Dhulikhel on October 21, Minister Mahat said that the issues of bilateral ties should be discussed through diplomatic channel. He ruled out that such serious diplomatic issues should not be cried on the streets. He added that the government was serious to promote national need and interest. He opined for ending political instability to strengthen political culture and national development. For more information, see: Nepal-India relations multifaceted: Minister Mahat”, Republica

< style="color: #163449;">Hydro deal with Bangladesh

In a first major hydro investment deal between Nepal and Bangladesh, the two countries have signed an agreement on October 16 to build two hydroelectric plants capable of generating over 1,600 megawatts of electricity in Nepal. The proposed projects are 1,110 MW Sunkoshi II and 536MW Sunkoshi III located at Sunkoshi River in central Nepal. Both the countries have agreed to develop the projects under the BBIN initiative signed to facilitate the regional trade and business. For more information, see: Bangladesh to build over 1,600 MW hydro projects”, The Kathmandu Post

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

< style="color: #163449;">Debts increase

After three years in office, the Nawaz Sharif PML-N government has borrowed Rs 3.1 trillion ($30 billion) from the domestic market and has received $25 billion as foreign loans, according to the Director General of the Debt Office at the Ministry of Finance. Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Finance over the state of the country’s indebtedness Ehtesham Rashid said that in dollar terms, the government’s total domestic and foreign borrowings amounted to $55 billion during the last three years. For more information, see: “In three years, Pakistan has taken on $25b in fresh loans”, The Express Tribune

< style="color: #163449;">Third Chinese n-reactor

Pakistan has connected the new, Chinese-built Chashma nuclear reactor to the national grid as part of the country’s broader plans to overcome power shortages. The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the company in charge of the construction announced the same on 15 October, marking the completion of China’s third overseas reactor. The so-called Chashma-3 project, with an installed capacity of 340 megawatts, was inaugurated “on trial basis” this past Saturday. For more information, see: “China says third Pakistan nuclear reactor connected to grid”, Reuters

< style="color: #163449;">Kashmir separatists seek military aid

Kashmiri separatist and chairman of United Jihad Council (UJC) Syed Salahuddin urged Pakistan to extend its ‘military support’ to separatists in Kashmir. On 20 October Salahuddin said, “The festering (Kashmir) issue is not going to resolve through talks or resolutions… Pakistan should militarily support Kashmiris by providing resources to the mujahideen.” For more information, see: “Pakistan urged to extend ‘military support’ to Kashmiris”, Dawn

< style="color: #0069a6;">Sri Lanka 

< style="color: #163449;">Two die in Jaffna firing

Five policemen have been remanded after two Tamil-speaking students of Jaffna University were killed in a late-night firing incident. President Maithiripala Sirisena has ordered impartial inquiry into the incident, in which the police opened fire after the two students, reportedly returning from a party, drove away in their motor-bike without stopping, under influence of liquor. For more information, see: “Two Jaffna Uni students killed in police shooting”, Daily Mirror Online, 21 October 2016; ”Jaffna incident: Five police personnel remanded”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 October 2016; “Sri Lanka President blocks police cover-up of student killing”, The Island, 23 October 2016; “President orders impartial inquiry over Jaffna Uni students’ deaths”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 October 2016; “TNA condemns Jaffna incident”, Daily Mirror Online

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

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

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

Signing Ceremony of Exchange of Notes under the Japanese Grant Aid for the Project for Improvement of Farm Machinery for Hiring Services of Tillage, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 18 October 2016

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

Myanmar, India Sign 3 MOUs for Cooperation in Insurance, Power and Banking, State Counsellor’s Office, 20 October 2016

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

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

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

Thomas E. Ricks, “Our generals failed in Afghanistan”, Foreign Policy, 18 October 2016 Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “’Band-aid on a bullet wound’: What America’s new war looks like in Afghanistan’s most violent province”, The Washington Post, 16 October 2016 Barnett Rubin, “Hard choices for peace in Afghanistan”, The New Yorker, 18 October 2016

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

Afghanistan adrift: The Taliban is testing the nation’s military”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 20 October 2016

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

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

Rupak Bhattacharjee, “BCIM-EC could be a game changer for Bangladesh”,, 18 October 2016 Nadeem Qadir, “Towards a Digital Bangladesh”, Dhaka Tribune, 20 October 2016

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

Suhasini Haider‘Bangladesh is no longer an exporter of terrorism’: PM Sheikh Hasina, The Hindu, 14 October 2016

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

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

Setting an example”, Kuensel, 19 October 2016

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

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

1. Kannan, “Frames of reference, The Hindu, 21 October 2016 2. Raja Mohan, Raja Mandala: Power and principle, The Indian Express, 18 October 2016

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

Azra Nazeem, “Maumoon’s monsters”, Maldives Independent, 18 October 2016 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Maldives: It’s back to square one”, South Asia Monitor, 19 October 2016

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

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

Bidhayak Das, “The Specter of Sectarian Violence Looms Large in Arakan State”, The Irrawaddy, 21 October 2016 Peter Kucik and Erin Murphy, “A post-sanctions economy needs strong leadership to properly steer investment”, Myanmar Times, 21 October 2016

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

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

Emma Karki, “Diverse experiences”, The Kathmandu Post, 21 October 2016 Pranab Kharel, “The rightward drift”, Republica, 20 October 2016

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

Time for atonement”, The Kathmandu Post, 21 October 2016  “Back in black”, Republica, 20 October 2016

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

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

Sadanand Dhume, “India’s song and dance against terrorism”, The Wall Street Journal, 20 October 2016 I.A. Rehman, “Freedom for national good”, Dawn, 20 October 2016 F.S. Aijazuddin, “Jokes apart”, Dawn, 20 October 2016 Mohammad Hanif, “India and Pakistan at war against peaceniks”, The New York Times, 16 October 2016

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

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

M S M Ayub, “A desperate effort to save the day”, Daily Mirror Online, 21 October 2016 Neville Laduwahetty, “Need to rebrand SL conflict”, The Island, 21 October 2016 Kelum Bandara, “President’s outbursts on CID, FCID and Bribery Commission Damage control under way”, Daily Mirror Online, 20 October 2016 Gomin Dayasri, “Vote to regret/rejoice Mahinda or Gota”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 October 2016 Jehan Perera, “Engagement in North brings encouraging results”, The Island, 18 October 2016 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Sri Lanka: Too much on the India plate, but too little take-away, yet”,, `18 October 2016 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Process can become hurdle for Constitution”, The Sunday Leader, 16 October 2016

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

Kelum Bandara, “We should not cling to labels like unitary or federal: Jayampathi”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 October 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 Coordinator: Mihir Bhonsale                
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