MonitorsPublished on Dec 27, 2016
The Taliban has said that it is giving China the go-ahead to restart a mining project in MesAynak and other roundups from South Asia
South Asia weekly | Volume ix issue 52|



Taliban okays China deal

The Taliban has said that it is giving China the go-ahead to restart a mining project in MesAynak, north of Kabul. The $3 billion project was signed by  China’s state-owned Metallurgical Group Cooperation in 2008, but security concerns stopped the project. A government spokesperson said that “the Taliban never protects projects, and it isn't their job. There is no stake for a terrorist group in the (national) projects”. For more information, see: China gets an all-clear from the Taliban to mine for copper in Afghanistan”, CNBC

 Female security officers killed

Five female security officials and their driver were killed on 17 December when they were on their way to work at the Kandahar airport. The women who are part of a private security agency called Olive Group worked as airport security, responsible for frisking female passengers transiting through the airport. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the police continue to search for perpetrators. In largely conservative Afghanistan, some consider the employment of women shameful, with female police and government workers often targeted. For more information, see: Gunmen kill five female security guards at Afghanistan airport”, The Wall Street Journal

Afghans re-settled in UK

Nearly 1,000 Afghans who worked with British forces in Afghanistan have been resettled in the UK. British media reported UK Defence Minister Mike Penning stating that Britain owed them a “debt of gratitude” and that they had played a vital role in securing the country. Penning added that over 130 people along with their families had relocated to the UK over the last one year, while around 20 have gifted the opportunity to other close family members. For more information, see: “1,000 Afghans who worked with British forces resettled in the UK”, Tolo News


Support for private sector

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that her government will continue to support the private sector to ensure the optimum economic growth and development of the country. “I believe the private sector is one of the main drivers which will keep the cycle of economy moving,” the Prime Minister said during  inauguration of an international seminar titled “New Economic Thinking: Bangladesh 2030 and Beyond” was arranged by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI). For more information, seeGovt will continuously support private sector to boost economy: Hasina”,

Kolkata-Khulna train in Jan?

To enhance railway connectivity between India and Bangladesh, a train service between Kolkta and Khulna would be launched  early next year. All ground works have been completed for the launch of the new train service. For more information, see: Train service between Kolkata, Khulna likely in Jan”, The Financial Express

British firm to build rail link

Bangladesh Railway and British company DP Rail Ltd  signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up a 240-kilometre rail line between Dhaka and Payra seaport. The rail lines would cost an estimated Tk 60,000 crore, which would be provided by the British company. For more information, see: British co to build Dhaka-Payra rail link”, The Daily Star


Japanese aid for bridges

The Ambassador of Bhutan to Japan, V Namgyel and Ambassador of Japan to Bhutan, Kenji Hiramatsu, signed the Exchange of Notes under the Japanese Grant Aid ‘The Project for Reconstruction of Bridges on Primary National Highway No 4’ on December 16 in New Delhi. For more information, see:Japan provides Yen 2.16B for bridge reconstruction”, Kuensel

Land for diplomatic enclave

The 104 land owners whose 31.7 acres in Hejo is to be acquired for the long pending diplomatic enclave have seen a new ray of hope as the National Land Commission (NLC) is working on a new solution to minimize the loss of land. It is understood that the NLC also submitted the matter to His Majesty The King for consideration. For more information, see: “New Hope for Diplomatic Enclave landowners”, The Bhutanese

King addresses N-Day

The King greeted all the people of Bhutan in the 20 dzongkhags and 205 gewogs, those following the celebrations on television and all the Bhutanese across the world and deeply appreciated their hard work for 109th National Day on 17 December. For more information, see: His Majesty’s Address to the Nation, 109th National Day, 17 December 2016”, Kuensel


Pakistan warned on terror

India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin demanded at the Security Council for international action against Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and “their shadowy supporters”. Without directly naming Pakistan, Mr.Akbaruddin said “If we are to bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan, groups and individuals that perpetrate violence against the people and the government of Afghanistan must be denied safe havens and sanctuaries in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood”. For more information, see: “World needs to address support to terror from outside Afghanistan, says India in U.N.”, The Hindu, 20 December, 2016 and “India renews call for UN action against Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, their supporters”, The Indian Express

 Military exercise with Kyrgyztan

Reaffirming India-Kyrgyz partnership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Almazbek Atambayev held delegation-level talks in New Delhi on Tuesday. President Atambayev was leading a high-level delegation comprising ministers, senior officials and business leaders. India and Kyrgyzstan finalised plans for joint military exercises in the New Year and reiterated the need for a global convention against terrorism. They also agreed to hold the annual joint military exercises named “Khanjar-IV” in February-March 2017. For more information, see: “India, Kyrgyzstan seek a global pact againstterror”, The Hindu, 21 December, 2016 and “PM Modi holds delegation-level talks with Kyrgyz President”, Hindustan Times

Delhi LG resigns

Delhi Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung submitted his resignation on Thursday. Union Home Ministry officials stated that they are yet to process the resignation, which will then be put before President Pranab Mukherjee, who will act on the aide and advice of the council of ministers. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed surprise on the sudden resignation. For more information, see: Najeeb Jung resigns: Gave no indication he was about to quit”, The Indian Express, 23 December, 2016 and “Kejriwal meets Jung, says resignation is a ‘surprise’ ”, The Hindu

Limits to cash-withdrawal likely to continue

State Bank of India chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya stated that due to the ongoing cash crunch the restrictions on withdrawal from banks and ATMs shall continue. This situation shall persist as the window to deposit demonetised notes ends on 30 December. Bhattarcharya remarked, "The restrictions will be decreased over a period of time. Nobody wants everyone rushing to the banks thinking there are no restrictions so let me get back everything." For more information, see: “Cash withdrawal curbs may last longer: SBI”, The Hindu, 22 December, 2016 and “Cash Withdrawal Limits Likely To Continue Beyond Dec 30, Says SBI Chairman”, The Huffington Post


$ 15 million for Nexbis

In the footsteps of a Singapore arbitration court awarding $ 141-m compensation to Indian infrastructure major GMR Group for the Maldives Government cancelling the Male airport contract, another has directed payment of $ 15 m to Malaysia-based Nexbis Solutions for the abrupt ending of the border-control system deal, according to reports. Nexbis had  $ 269-m for the cancellation of the $ 39-m contract, also entered into by the erstwhile Nasheed Government. For more information, see: “Maldives to pay US$15m for scrapping Nexbis border control deal”, Maldives Independent, 21 December 2016; “OPEC Fund lends US$50m for new airport terminal”, Maldives Independent

EC withdraws plea

In a surprise move, the Election Commission has withdrawn the High Court appeal against the civil court ordering the postponement of the nation-wide local councils, originally scheduled for 14 January 2017, by two months. The civil court order followed a petition by President Abdulla Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), following a vertical-split of the party, under ex-President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. For more information, see: “Elections commission withdraws appeal against poll delay”, Maldives Independent, 24 December 2016; “MDP accuses electoral body of ‘curtailing election observation’”, Maldives Independent

Help offered for Sanskrit translation

At a meeting in Colombo, the Culture Department of Sri Lanka and the SAARC Culture Centre have offered help to Maldives in translating centuries-old copper plate in Sanskrit to Dhivehi. For more information, see:Centuries old copper plates written in Sanskrit to be translated into Dhivehi”, The Island


Resolution on Rakhine

Parliamentarians from Europe and fellow ASEAN nations are the latest to weigh in this week on the unfolding crisis in Arakan State, with a resolution in Brussels voicing concern over reports of human rights abuses and a group of regional lawmakers looking ahead to a 19 December meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the situation. For more information, see: ASEAN, European MPs wade into Arakan crisis ahead of regional meet-up”, DVB

Residency rule-change

Vice-President U Henry Van Thio urged officials to seek ways for easing restrictions on permanent residency for foreigners in accordance with international practices. Myanmar has introduced the permanent residency system to create opportunities for foreign investors and experts who need to stay for a long term in Myanmar and for former citizens and their dependents. For more information, see: “Myanmar to relax rules for permanent residency for foreigners”, Mizzima

India to build bridges

India has undertaken a number of infrastructure projects with Myanmar, including construction of 69 bridges in the neighbouring country as part of a trilateral highway, seeking to further develop the northeast of their country, reports News 18 on December 15. For more information see: India to build dozens of bridges in Myanmar”, Mizzima


Case against anti-graft chief

The Supreme Court on December 22 started hearing on two cases against Lokman Singh Karki, who currently remains suspended as the chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). A full bench of Justices Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada, Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Anil Kumar Singh heard arguments from the plaintiff’s side on December 22.  The advocates claimed that Karki’s tenure in government service fell short by seven years when he was appointed the CIAA chief in May 2013. For more information see: “SC starts hearing on Karki case”, The Kathmandu Post

Sister city with Chengdu

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a sister city with Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, on December 23.   KMC Chief and Executive Officer Rudra Singh Tamang, and Secretary of Communist Party of China and the former mayor of Chengdu, Tang Liangzhi, will sign the MoU to that effect.   This understanding will be helpful in building people-to-people relationships between the two countries. For more information see: KMC, China’s Chengdu to become sister cities”, The Kathmandu Post

New air routes

India has agreed to provide additional air routes to Nepal. There will be redefining the Kathmandu-Mahendranagar-Delhi (L626) route as a bi-directional route, apart from the bi-directional facility for the Lhasa-Kathmandu-Bharatpur-Bhairahawa-Delhi B345 route as well as the Kathmandu-Jaleshwar-Patna G335 route. "Currently, all the international flights enter Nepal from the Simara route," Acharya said, adding that the ministry is working to open Nepalgunj, Mahendranagar and Janakpur routes for international flights. For more information, see: India to open additional int'l air routes through Nepal, Republica


India should join CPEC: Pak army official

Lt-Gen Riaz, the commander of Pakistan’s southern command based in Quetta, reportedly has said that India should shun its enmity with Pakistan a join the China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor along with Iran, Afghanistan and other countries and enjoy its benefits. Soon after, China said that India should accept Pakistan’s olive branch. It also said that if "if any country wants to label Pakistan as 'supporting terrorism' and discredit the country, then China and other countries who uphold justice will oppose such behaviour strongly". For more information, see: After Pakistan General, Chinese media suggests India to join CPEC”, Economic Times

Talks with China, Russia

Pakistan, China and Russia are scheduled to hold trilateral counter-terrorism talks in Moscow on 27 December focussed on Afghanistan. Russian Ambassador to Islamabad Alexey Dedov said that “what we see in Afghanistan, unfortunately, is worrisome because it does not bring us optimism. There is a lack of three crucial elements; that is a stable self-sufficient economy, good governance and strong army.” This is the third meeting between the countries. For more information, see: “Moscow to host crucial meeting with China, Pakistan to discuss Afghanistan”, VOA

Freedom for Indian fishers

The Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy has announced that over 430 Indian fishermen languishing in Pakistani jails would return home by 5 January 2017. Jatin Desai the spokesperson for the group said that the release was important given the fact that there was a complete halt on bilateral talks between the two countries. He urged the Indian government to reciprocate the gesture by releasing Pakistani fisherman as well. For more information, see: Pakistan to release 439 Indian fishermen”, The Hindustan Times

Sri Lanka

‘Better deal’ with China

In the light of multiple protests against the Government’s decision to sell 85 percent stakes in the controversial Hambantota Port to a Chinese company, Port Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has said that they would go beyond the 8 December draft agreement, to negotiate ‘better terms’, especially on and upfront payment and on the security front. On a related front, Government Ministers sought to allay purported Chinese discomfort about possible ‘regime-change’ in the country even as ex-Foreign Minister G L Peiris said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not discuss such possibilities while in Beijing recently. For more information, see: “Minister says pushing for better terms in port sale to China”, The Island, 19 December 2016; “Govt. in search of lands to set-up more industrial zones”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 December 2016: “Govt. open for suggestions on Mattala Airport: Eran”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 December 2016; “Change of govt. predicted by Mahinda: Govt. MPs seek to allay China’s concern about ‘instability’ in Sri Lanka”, The Island, 19 December 2016; ”We did not talk to China about regime change: JO”, Daily Mirror Online, 20 December 2016;  “JO slams govt for selling family silver”, The Island, 17 December 2016; “Courts to be moved against ‘sale of H’tota Port’ to Chinese firm”, The Island, 20 December 2016; “India in quandary over new govt’s relationship with China – Gotabhaya”, The Island, 21 December 2016; “LSSP Leader: US eyeing Trinco harbour to expand naval bases”, The Island, 20 December 2016; “Lanka can be convening power to discuss freedom of navigation in Indian Ocean”, The Island, 20 December 2016; “Next India-US-Japan Malabar Naval Exercise in Indian Ocean Region...May include anti-submarine warfare, and Australia too”, The Island, 17 December 2016; “SLAF chief on visit to India”, The Island



Press Releases

Royal Bhutanese Embassy, New Delhi launches its website, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 17 December 2016


Press Releases

State Counsellor briefed ASEAN Foreign Ministers on recent developments in Rakhine State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 December 2016



Opinion pieces

Tom Hussain, “Peace between the Taliban and Kabul will help the fight against ISIL”, The National, 22 December 2016 Avinash Paliwal, “India- Afghanistan bhaibhai?”,The Hindu Business Line,  20 December 2016 Ayaz Gul, “Afghanistan continue to fume over Russia’s outreach to Taliban”, VOA, 14 December 2016


Opinion pieces

M A Taslim, “Economic Goals: Surpassing China!”,, 21 December 2016 Syed Badrul Ahsan, “A former CEC sets thoughts in motion”, 20 December 2016


Dasho (Dr.) Sonam Kinga, “JigmeNamgyel in Trongsa – a name, a symbol and a vision!”, Kuensel, 20 December 2016 Dasho Kinley Dorji, “National Day: the story of Bhutan”, Kuensel, 17 December 2016


Opinion pieces

Srinath Raghavan, “The choice of service chiefs is a matter of political judgment”, Hindustan Times, 21 December 2016 Happymon Jacob, “A year of living dangerously”, The Hindu, 22 December 2016 Saibal Paul, “Small borrower, big problem”, The Indian Express, 23 December 2016


Opinion pieces

Stella Naw, “The battle for Gideon: A Kachin Perspective”, The Irrawaddy, 20 December 2016 Kimberley Phillips, “Tipping point: Rohingya youth driven to radicalization”, DVB, 16 December 2016 Andre Wheeler, “New China Silk Road – Has Myanmar still got a role?”, Mizzima, 17 December 2016


Opinion Pieces

Kshitiz Dahal & Abyaya Neopane, “Empowering the power sector”, The Kathmandu Post, 23 December 2016 Simone Galimberti, “Reimagining development”, Republica, 21 December 2016


The Kathmandu Post, “In a nutshell”, The Kathmandu Post, 23 December 2016 Republica, “Mess, en masse”, Republica, 22 December 2016


Opinion Pieces

Pamela Boykoff, Sophia Saifi and Alexander Field, “Will new law stop Pakistan’s women living in fear?”, CNN, 23 December 2016 Shaukat Qadir, “Reminiscing the Raheel legacy”, The Express Tribune, 22 December 2016 ZahidHussain, “The Chaudhary Nisar factor”, Dawn, 21 December 2016 Ahmad Bilal, “Big shoes to fill”, The Express Tribune, 21 December 2016

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Malinda Seneviratne, “Cheating Sinhalese in proposal and Tamils through outcome”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 December 2016 Kelum Bandara, “UNP-SLFP fissures widen, political stage to hot up in the New Year”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 December 2016 Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, “Combining Sri Lanka with Southern India: the PM’s game changing 2017 agenda”, The Island, 21 December 2016 C A Chandraprema, “SLFP’s message to the SLFP on ‘Super Minister’ Bill”, The Island, 21 December 2016 Ranga Jayasuriya, “PM should ask Gota how he messed up and ask try not to repeat”, Daily Mirror Online, 20 December 2016 Jehan Perera, “Overcome inter-ethnic tensions beneath the surface”, The Island, 20 December 2016 N Sathiya Moorthy, “New Constitution is about power-politics, not about power-devolution”, The Sunday Leader, 18 December 2016


Upul Wickremesinghe, “Port City was sold to China by those in the JO: Akila”, Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Daily Mirror Online, 21 December 2016 Kelum Bandara, “We will not quit the Government until SLFP CC decides: Dilan”, Minister Dilan Perera, Daily Mirror Online, 20 December 2016 Kelum Bandara, “Unity Government is like husband and wife maintaining a joint account: Ranjan”, Minister Ranjan Ramanayake, Daily Mirror Online, 20 December 2016


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