MonitorsPublished on Feb 29, 2016
South Asia Weekly | Volume IX; Issue 9

Pakistan: Underlying lessons from the F-16 deal

Kriti M. Shah

The past few weeks have seen simmering tensions between the United States and Pakistan over the sale of eight F- 16 fighter jets. The proposed sale of the fighters to Pakistan has been blocked by the Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker, citing Pakistan’s “duplicity” in its war on terror and its close relationship with the Haqqani Network.

While Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the committee on the importance of the sale, stating that it was in the US ‘national interest’, the spat within the US establishment has brought to light two important points of interest. One, the need for Pakistan to delink its anti-terror narrative from the United States and continue its offensive against terror groups irrespective of the type of help and aid it receives from the US. Two, the US needs to seriously reconsider its Pakistan policy and work to draft a new era of engagement with its long standing ‘ally’. Furthermore, the United States policy of incentivising Pakistan, to work with the US has been largely unfruitful and needs an immediate redraft.

Transformative element

The F-16 fighters have been a transformative element of the US-Pakistan relationship since the 1980’s when then US President Ronald Reagan exercised Executive authority and agreed to sell 111 F-16 jets to Pakistan, to incentivise their assistance to the United States in Afghanistan. However, following the end of the Cold War, the US’ close relationship with Pakistan diminished.

In the 1990’s, the relationship reached a new low with the US slapping sanctions on Islamabad as a result of the country’s undeclared nuclear programme, and terminated military aid, including the sale of remaining F-16. Following the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the US re-engaged with Pakistan, needing its support for its efforts in its neighbouring country and incentivised Islamabad by agreeing to release the previously blocked F-16s.

The present debate in the US is therefore telling, keeping in mind the historical relevance of the sale of the fighter jets to the US-Pakistan relationship. It highlights the valid and serious concerns on part of many in the United States that Pakistan is acting on only some militant groups and going easy on others, such as the Haqqani Network. While for Pakistan, F-16s are a matter of national pride, symbolising its closeness with the United States, Senator Corker’s claims are not unfounded.

Pakistan must convince the US that they are taking action against all forms and types of militant groups and are not distinguishing between one group and another. They should direct their attacks against the Haqqani Network and other groups that destabilise Afghanistan, thereby demonstrating their determination to root out extremism irrespective of whether the US gives them an incentive to do so or not.

Redrafting policy

The United States should take heed of Senator Corker and other’s reservations and begin a redraft of its Pakistan policy.  For far too long, the US’ foreign policy towards Pakistan has been that of steady incentivisation. Although it has claimed that arms sales to Islamabad would help it to be a better partner in the US’ war against terror, the reality is different.

Between 2002 and 2016, the US has given Pakistan over $ 30 billion in security and economic assistance, including significant US weapons and arms systems. With such a significant amount of US foreign aid, Pakistan has very few tangible benefits to show for it. In fact, the Haqqani Network, responsible for sophisticated attacks against US, NATO, Afghan and Indian targets, continues to go largely unpunished in Pakistan till this day.

Significant reason

The continuing war against the Taliban and other groups in Afghanistan has also largely been because of Pakistan’s inaction against militants who plan attacks against Kabul on Pakistani soil. In addition, Zaki-ul-Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, walks as a free man in Pakistan, without any promise from the Pakistan state to bring him to justice. The discovery of Osama bin-Laden living comfortably in Pakistan has also not been a significant enough reason for the US to reconsider Pakistan as its reliable ally.

The United States also needs to justify why there are heavily subsidising the sale of the F-16 fighter jets, making the American taxpayer pay up to 46 percent of the cost. Senator Corker has remarked that if Pakistan truly needs the military equipment, they should do so directly from the manufacturer, spending their own national funds. Such a statement is valid and compelling, given that Pakistan already has billions of dollars in foreign aid to make such a purchase. Afterall, isn’t it in Pakistan’s national interest to fight terror on its home soil, irrespective of the United States?

While the US has been discussing the elimination of all terrorist safe havens within Pakistan for over two decades, it needs to ask itself why it has consistently failed to secure Pakistan’s acquiscence to its demands. Instead it continues to gift Pakistan, arms, ammunition and economic assistance and ‘tells them’ to simply, do more. In return for this generosity, Pakistan’s deep state seemingly fearless of the United States uses groups such as the Haqqani Network, Lakshar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad as tools and assets to destabilise Afghanistan and India.

It realises that the longer the US stay in Afghanistan, the more it needs Pakistan’s support, which it will buy with lavish security and economic assistance programs.  The United States needs to wake up to Pakistan’s duplicity game and stop the sale of F-16 fighter jets, until Pakistan, this time truly, does more to fight terrorist and militant groups.

(The writer is a Research Assistant at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi).

Bangladesh: Energy cooperation with India, an overview

Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

The year 2016 marks the completion of five years of energy cooperation between Bangladesh and its larger Indian neighbour. Over these years, energy cooperation between the nations has been acknowledged as one of the major achievements in the bilateral relations, which is growing significantly over the past few years.

The energy agreement signed between the two countries during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in 2010 laid the foundation for energy cooperation. The 2010 agreement covered wide areas of cooperation, including cooperation on renewable energy, cross border interlinking of grids, establishment of joint venture for power generation, capacity building and investments.

The agreement also stated that a joint venture steering committee, co-chaired by the respective power secretaries, and a joint working group would be constituted to promote and facilitate the cooperation. Initially, the agreement was for a period of five years and shall be automatically renewed thereafter unless either party gives the other party a written notice three months in advance of its intention to terminate the agreement.

The energy cooperation has been win-win for the two countries. Bangladesh faces an acute energy shortage as indigenous sources of energy are fast dwindling. The country's current natural gas reserves are inadequate for future demand. While Bangladesh has maintained a six percent growth rate for a decade, the country would need to expand its energy sources to sustain this growth. India could contribute to the economic growth of Bangladesh by providing electricity. Beside, exporting power to Bangladesh there is potential for cooperation in the field of power generation also as Bangladesh plans to produce 39,000 MW by 2030. India companies can cooperate with Bangladeshi companies in this field.

Grid connectivity & power export

In a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2010, the two countries agreed to set up a power transmission link at Behrampur (in West Bengal) and Bheramara (a remote village in Bangladesh bordering Murshidabad district in West Bengal) to connect their electricity grids. The work of connecting the grids of two countries is complete and India is exporting power to Bangladesh since October 2013.

For the first time in their post-Independence history, India and Bangladesh have established inter-grid connectivity for the flow of bulk power from India to Bangladesh. A 400 kV line constructed by Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd and Power Grid Company of Bangladesh in the Eastern sector – Baharampur in India to Bheramara in Bangladesh with the load capacity of 500 MW has been being established. 250 MW is being transferred to Bangladesh from the unallocated share of Central Sector Power Projects in Eastern Region of India. The remaining 250 MW is being obtained by Bangladesh from the open market in India.

Again, India in March 2014 has promised an additional 100 MW of power from the Palatana power plant in Tripura. India is talking with Bangladesh for a transmission line via Bangladesh to transmit electricity from northeast India and Bangladesh in lieu will get extra power.

Power generation

Besides, the public sector National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) of India signed an MoU with Bangladesh Power development Board (BPDB) on 30 August 2010. The MoU, inter-alia, includes setting up a 1320 MW (2x660 MW) coal based power project using Super critical Technology. The project is being implemented by Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt.) Ltd., a 50:50 Joint Venture of NTPC Ltd. India and Bangladesh Power Development Corporation (BPDP).

This power agreement has brightened the prospects for the formation of a South Asian electricitygrid. The two countries could also work together, and with other neighbouring countries, to exploit the untapped hydro-electric potential in countries like Nepal and Bhutan. Bangladeshi investment and enterprises could be encouraged to tap the hydro-electric potential in the North-eastern states. This would not only address the energy problem in Bangladesh but also resolve disputes over riparian rights.

Renewable energy

Another positive development is the MoU on India-Bangladesh Renewable Energy Cooperation was signed on 6th September 2011.The MoU aims to establish the basis for a cooperative institutional relationship to encourage and promote technical, bilateral cooperation in the areas of solar, wind and bio energy on the basis of mutual benefit, equality and reciprocity. Two Working Group meetings have been held so far to implement the activities under the MoU.

The peaceful resolution of the maritime dispute between India and Bangladesh opened new opportunities for cooperation. Delimitation of the maritime boundary helped Bangladesh to gain a territory in the sea which is bigger than its seize in the land. Newly acquired territory in the Bay of Bengal is rich in hydrocarbon. India’s new expertise in offshore exploration can be utilised by Bangladesh for the exploitation of its natural resources. Also India’s large refining capacity should be exploited by Bangladesh since its refining capacity is limited. Bangladesh is now importing oil from Numaligarh Refinery in Assam.

Hosts of opportunities are waiting for the two countries and it is only the beginning. The two countries together can achieve a lot and for this the two countries should constantly work towards nurturing the relationship.

(The writer is a Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi).

Country Reports


Revenue up

 According to a report from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Afghanistan’s budget revenue was up 22 percent in 2015, a substantial improvement versus the 8 percent revenue decline in 2014. Government revenue stood at nearly 122 billion afghani ($1.7 billion) in 2015. 56 percent of the increased revenue came from better collection procedures, while about 24 percent came from taxes on mobile phone usage and imported gas.

For more information, see: Afghanistan govt revenue rises 22 pct in 2015, U.S. report says”, Reuters, 25 February 2016

Russia gives rifles

 On 24 February Afghanistan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar took receipt of 10,000 automatic rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition from Russia. "This important donation is from an important friend of Afghanistan in a crucial time for Afghanistan and the region," Atmar said. Russia will also provide Afghanistan with helicopters and large arms, National Security Council spokesman Tawab Ghurzang told NBC News. The arms shipment marks Russia’s first direct military aid to Afghanistan since the end of the Taliban regime in 2001.

For more information, see: Russia Sends 10,000 AK-47s to Afghanistan”, NBC News, 24 February 2016

Disconnect on talks

Following the 23 February meeting of the four-country Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) in Kabul, the Afghan foreign ministry released a joint statement with the QCG countries expressing their expectation for peace talks between Afghan and Taliban officials in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, to occur in the first week of March. The participation of the Taliban – which continues to be highly splintered – remains in doubt.

For more information, see: Afghan Taliban ‘Unaware’ of Peace Talk Plans, Says Preconditions Remain”, RFE/RL, 27 February 2016

Help in refugee-return

On 23 February a plane carrying 125 refugees who voluntarily agreed to leave Germany and return to Afghanistan landed in Kabul. This is expected to be one of many such flights, organized by the German and Afghan governments and the International Organization for Migration. In January alone, Afghans constituted 27 percent of the 100,000 refugees who arrived on Europe’s shores through the Mediterranean Sea, second only to Syrians.

For more information, see: Germany, Afghanistan work together to return refugees to Kabul”, Reuters, 24 February 2016


Homage to ‘Language Heroes’

This week nation paid tribute to Nation paid tribute to the martyrs of the 1952 historic Language Movement on Sunday marking ‘Amar Ekushey’, the Martyrs’ Day and International Mother Language Day. Photo: Focus Bangla the martyrs of the 1952 historic Language Movement.  ‘Amar Ekushey’, the Martyrs’ Day is also celebration globally as International Mother Language Day. People observedd the day by walking barefoot to the Central Shaheed Minar with wreaths and flowers and various cultural activities.  On 21 February, 1952, students and the common people in Dhaka took to the streets in protest against the then Pakistani government’s denial of Bangla as the national language and imposition of Urdu as the only official language of Pakistan.

For more information see: Nation pays tributes to language heroes”, Prothom Alo, 21 February 2016

IS claims responsibility

In an incident of attack on the minority community, a Hindu priest was killed and few were injured as some criminals attacked a temple in in Debiganj of Panchagarh district of Bangladesh.  Interestingly, SITE, an intelligence group, on its website said Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the killing.

For more information see: “Panchagarh Temple Attack: Priest killed, devotee shot”, The Daily Star, 22 February 2016;   “IS claims Panchagarh priest murder: SITE”, The Daily Star, 22 February 2016


INR outflow level stays

Despite the opening of three Indian Rupee (INR) exchange counters in Thimphu and Phuentsholing last month by the central bank, the actual outflow of INR cash remained almost the same around INR 400 million. Officials from the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA), however, said the exchange counters opened on January 12 this year have largely substituted the exchange counters of five commercial banks, bringing in more efficiency and organization.

For more information see: “INR outflow remains same even with exchange counters”, Kuensel, 20 February 2016

Job paradox

The paradox of rising unemployment and inadequate human resources that had stifled the economy has not gone away. While there is a dearth of human resource in some government agencies, providing jobs is seen as herculean task. This was again highlighted at the mid-term review of the 11th Plan.

For more information see: “Economy not generating quality jobs”, Kuensel, 26 February 2016

‘Rising East’ criticised

The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) has joined the opposition in condemning the government’s Rising East programme, which gives special attention to eastern dzongkhags to accelerate economic development, branding the policy “discriminatory” to gain short-term political mileage. The party in a statement yesterday asked the government to refrain from resorting to such a tactic.

For more information see: “DNT condemns govt’s Rising East policy strategy”, Kuensel, 26 February 2016


No change in rail rates

The Railway Budget for 2016-17 on Thursday spared passengers and goods movement from any increase in tariffs while it announced introduction of three new superfast trains and creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019.

For more information see: “Rail Budget: No changes in passenger fares, freightIndian Express, 25 February 2015

Row over Rohith

On a day when Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu presented the Railway Budget 2016, the House witnessed repeated adjournments and acrimonious exchange between the treasury and opposition benches. While the Opposition accused the BJP of trying to suppress dissent, the government maintained that hate speech cannot be free speech.

For more information see: Budget session: I spoke to Rohith Vemula’s mother, says Smriti Irani in Rajya SabhaIndian Express, 25 February 2016


Arihant passes deep-sea tests

India's first nuclear armed submarine is now ready for full fledged operations, having passed several deep sea diving drills as well as weapons launch tests over the past five months and a formal induction into the naval fleet is only a political call away.

For more information see: “India’s first nuclear submarine INS Arihant ready for operations, passes deep sea testsEconomic Times, 25 February 2015


CMAG lists demands

After a recent Maldives visit by its team, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has called for freeing jailed politicians and recommencement of reconciliation talks. This, even as a senior UN official offered all help to the Yameen Government to recommence political negotiations, and the authorities held back a decision on ‘medical leave’ extension for former President Mohammed Nasheed, who is in the UK for spinal cure, seeking supportive documents.

For more information, see: “Scrutiny and support: Commonwealth lays out Maldives demands“, Maldives Independent, 24 February 2016; “Commonwealth criticised for lack of action on Maldives”, Maldives Independent, 28 February 2016; “Nasheed’s application for UK trip extension ‘incomplete’”, Maldives Independent, 22 February 2016; “UN political chief assures support for ‘dead on arrival’ talks”, Maldives Independent, 21 February 2016; “Govt. wishes to broaden political party talks for national development: Muaz”, Miadhu, 23 February 2016; “Maldives establishes new counter terrorism centre”, Maldives Independent, 27 February 2016

Bank dues in GMR payout

The Singapore-based arbiter has ruled that Maldives’ payout to GMR Group on the cancellation of the Male airport contract should include $ 170-m in sovereign guarantees to the Axix Bank, which advanced the moneys to the Indian infrastructure major. Independently, India and Maldives have decided on increasing the frequency of flights between the two countries.

For more information, see: “Maldives’ pay out to GMR to include US$170million bank debt”, Maldives Independent, 25 February 2016; “Maldives, India look to expand air connectivity with Delhi, Mumbai flights”, Haveeru Online, 27 February 2016; “Indian hotel giants to invest in Maldives”, Haveeru Online, 27 February 2016; “Singapore firm to build new Maldives hospital building”, Haveeru Online, 23 February 2016


Suu Kyi not going to the President at least for the time being

Aung San Suu Kyi will not be the President, at least not for now, is the message emanating from the National League for Democracy camp with a senior NLD member telling Myanmar Times that her leader is resolved to installing a proxy in the position ahead of the transfer of power from the Thein Sein government.

For more information see: “Daw Suu eyes foreign minister role”, Myanmar Times, 26 February 2016

Union Day marked

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) held a ceremony February 12, to mark the 69th anniversary of Union Day. The ceremony was held at NLD Headquarters and U Tin Oo gave the opening speech.

For more information see: “NLD holds ceremony to mark Union Day”, Mizzima, 12 February 2016

Negotiators meet

Government peace negotiators met with their counterparts in the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) on Monday in Chiang Mai. At the meeting, President’s Office minister and chief peace negotiator Aung Min, former Lieutenant General Khin Zaw Oo and Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC) members conferred with the RCSS delegation led by chairperson Yawd Serk.

For more information see: “Govt, RCSS negotiators meet in Chiang Mai”, Eleven, 22 February 2016


India visit ‘successful’

Success of Nepal's new constitution will depend on "consensus and dialogue" and India was for peace, stability and overall development of the Himalayan nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on February 20 after holding extensive talks with his Nepalese counterpart Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli. The two leaders deliberated on all aspects of the bilateral relationship, particularly the political situation in Nepal, following which, Oli said "misunderstandings" that persisted in the last few months "no longer exist".

For more information, see: “Indo-Nepal PMs talk it out; KP Oli says ‘no misunderstandings now”, The Times of India, 20 February 2016; “PM Oli briefs coalition partners on his India trip”, The Kathmandu Post, 25 February 2016

23 killed in air-crash

The crash of Tara Air Flight 193 on February 24 has again put the spotlight on Nepal’s poor air safety record. The Canadian-made Twin Otter aircraft slammed into the Himalayan foothills on a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom killing all 23 aboard. In 2013, Nepali airlines had been put in the bad books of the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) and the European Commission (EC) as being unsafe to fly.

For more information, see: Plane crash shines light on safety issues againThe Kathmandu Post, 26 February 2016; “Pilot, co-pilot die as Air Kasthamandap aircraft crash-lands in KalikotRepublica, 26 February 2016; “Air Kasthamandap crash-land in Kalikot, two killedThe Kathmandu Post, 26 February 2016

Duty-free in US

Nepali readymade garment has officially received duty-free facility in the US market, with the US President Barack Obama signing legislation authorising special trade preferences for Nepal on February 24. The special trade preference now allows duty-free tariff benefits for up to 66 types of garment items including certain carpets, headgears, shawls, scarves and travel goods.

For more information, see: “Nepali garments get duty-free status in USThe Kathmandu Post, 26 February 2016


McCain for hearing on F-16 sale

Sen. John McCain, chairman of the U.S. Senate’s influential Armed Services committee, called for a hearing in the Senate’s Foreign Relations committee to further question the timing of the United States’ sale of up to eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. Referencing the sale that is valued at $699 million, the senator said, “I would rather have seen it kicked over into the next administration.”

For more information, see: Senator John McCain wants hearing on possible F-16 sale to Pakistan”, Reuters, 25 February 2016

Women bill cleared

On 24 February the Punjab Assembly passed the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill of 2015. Included in the bill are treatment options for victims of violence, laws that criminalize such acts, and the establishment of centers that give access to victims with less administrative red tape. Shelter homes to house victims and their children will be established for those who choose to leave their home. The law also includes provisions to dissuade the filing of false complaints, which will be punishable with a three-month jail sentence or a roughly Rs 50,000 ($478) to Rs 100,000 ($955) fine.

For more information, see: Punjab Assembly passes Protection of Women Against Violence Bill”, Dawn, 25 February 2016

Final phase to begin

On 24 February, Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif announced the final phase of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, targeting the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) in the Shawal Valley in North Waziristan. Zarb-e-Azb, part of Pakistan’s National Action Plan to root out terrorism throughout the country, has ousted TTP members from North Waziristan, located in Pakistan’s FATA region, since June 2014.

For more information, see: Zarb-e-Azb final phase set in motion”, The Nation, 25 February 2016

Go-ahead for cricket

The Pakistani government announced on 25 February its decision to allow the country’s cricket team to play in the World T20 tournament in India. The decision, weeks in the making, was contentious due to persistent Pakistan-specific threats made by Hindu activists in India.

For more information, see: “World T20: Government approves Pakistan’s visit to India”, Dawn, 26 February 2016

Sri Lanka

Accountability probe

In Washington, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that he was willing to look at a role for outsiders in accountability probe in the country, as victims of war-crimes would expect a fair deal.

For more information, see: “SL could accept int'l actors in war crimes probe: Mangala”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 February 2016; “Reconciliation and justice for SL still distant – Biswal”, The Island, 27 February 2016; “Much of hard work still lies ahead-Biswal on SL”, Daily Mirror Online, 27 February 2016; “Kerry lauds SL’s efforts to address regional issues”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 February 2016; “SF Regional Development Minister”, Daily Mirror Online, 25 February 2016

PM backs ETCA

In a continuing war of words viz the ‘combined Opposition’ and the rest inside Parliament, and against various trade unions otherwise, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that those opposed to the proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ECTA) with the Indian neighbour were ‘traitors’. He also assured that no Sri Lankan jobs would be lost in the process.

For more information, see: “PM reads riot act to critics of ETCA...‘It is an unborn baby with a Raja Yoga’”, The Island, 23 February, 2016 “Prime Minister says ETCA being formulated, Sri Lankans won’t lose jobs”, The Island, 27 February 2016; “PM frowns on ‘traitors’ blocking ETCA, reveals fresh Chinese investment in Hambantota...Prof. Peiris warns of a Trojan horse”, The Island, 21 February 2016; “Harsha rejects GMOA allegations”, Daily Mirror Online, 23 February 2016; “ETCA can be a wake-up call for Sri Lankans: professionals”, The Island, 27 February 2016; “JVP vows to torpedo ETCA”, The Island, 27 February 2016; “NTUC determined to foil govt. bid to sign ECTA”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 February 2016; “GMOA to stay away from talks with govt”, Daily Mirror Online, 25 February 2016; “GMOA sceptical about India-aided ambulance service”, Daily Mirror Online, 23 February 2016;  ”If emergency ambulance service is launched SL would come under RAW influence: Wimal”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 February 2016; “Port City Project -- Govt. proposes amendments”, Daily Mirror Online, 23 February 2016; “China wants 1,000 acres in H’tota”, Daily Mirror Online, 21 February 2016; “ADB to provide SL with loans and equity to tune of USD 2 bn over next three years”, The Island, 23 February 2016; “Govt. takes credit for our projects- MR”, Daily Mirror Online, 21 February 2016; “Attacking trade unions has become part of good governance – Ex-President”, The Island, 21 February 2016

Primary Documentation


Press Releases

36th Birth Anniversary of King Jigme Khesar Wangchuck marked at Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 24 February 2016


Press Releases

Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, New Delhi on the State Visit of The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Mr. K. P. Sharma Oli to the Republic of India”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 20 February 2016

Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, New Delhi on the State Visit of The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Mr. K. P. Sharma Oli to the Republic of India (21 February 2016)”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 21 February 2016

Keynote Address by Rt. Hon. K.P. Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal, at the Interaction Programme with the Business Community, New Delhi (February 22, 2016)”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 22 February 2016

21 Sapru House Lecture by Rt. Hon'ble Prime Minister of Nepal Mr. K.P. Sharma OliMinistry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 22 February 2016

Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, New Delhi on the State Visit of Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal to the Republic of India”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 22 February 2016

Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal,New Delhi on the State Visit of Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal to the Republic of India (23 February 2016)”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 24 February 2016

Press Note”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 25 February 2016



Opinion pieces

Jessica Donati and Ehsanullah Amiri, “Afghan Police Force Struggling to Maintain Membership”, The Wall Street Journal, 26 February 2016

Candace Rondeaux, “Reimagining Afghanistan’s Future, One Pupil at a Time”, Foreign Policy, 24 February 2016

Michael E. Miller, “A mysterious skull adds  new twist to old legend of Kabul’s cruel king”, The Washington Post, 23 February 2016


Opinion Pieces

Iftekharul Bashar, “Bangladesh: Checking Violent Extremism”, RSIS Commentary, 24 February 2016



Kuensel, “Making Thimphu a fine city”, Kuensel, 26 February 2016


Opinion Pieces

Shanti Bhushan, “Disagree, Don’t Label ”, Indian Express, 25 February 2016

Praveen Swami, “A deep malaise ”, Indian Express, 25 February 2016

Abheek Barua, “For a Budget with solutions”, Business Standard, 25 February 2016

A V Rajwade, “Who is determining the exchange rate?”, Business Standard, 25 February 2016


Opinion Pieces

Abdulla Yameen, President, “Who checks if the money they receive is legitimate?”, Maldives Independent, 27 February 2016

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Confusion over Nasheed’s ‘medical leave’ extension’,, 22 February 2016

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Stalled before take-off: The unsure status of political negotiations in Maldives”, South Asia Monitor, 19 February 2016


Opinion Pieces

Mihir Bhonsale, “A President for MyanmarDhaka Tribune, 25 February 2016

Aung Zaw, “Will Suu Kyi Give Up 59 (F)?”, The Irrawaddy, 20 February 2016



The Kathmandu Post, “Disaster in the airThe Kathmandu Post.  26 February 2016

Opinion Pieces

Biswas Baral, “Indian spooks”, Republica, 24 February 2016


Opinion Pieces

A.G. Noorani, “A no-war deal”, Dawn, 27 February 2016

Abbas Nasir, “Prime –time shame”, Dawn, 27 February 2016

Afrasiab Khattak, “The forgotten FATA”, The Nation, 27 February 2016

Sameer Lalwani, “Will Pakistan Draw Closer to Saudi Arabia to Balance Iran?”, War on the Rocks, 24 February 2016

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

M S M Ayub, “Muslims and their insular mind-set”, Daily Mirror Online, 26 February 2016

Kelum Bandara, “The local government election debate: Who is in a spot?”, Daily Mirror Online, 25 February 2016

Lacille de Silva, “Sri Lanka classified as a developing country – too long, why?”, Daily Mirror Online, 25 February 2016

Gomin Dayasiri, “The agony of voting at elections”, Daily Mirror Online, 23 February 2016

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Sri Lanka: Broad-basing India ties beyond ethnic issue and fishers’ row”,, 22 February 2016

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Media at it, and at the media”, The Sunday Leader, 21 February 2016

Contributors: Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah & Mihir Bhonsale

Bangladesh: Dr Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale

India: Shubh Soni & Pushan Das

Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy

Nepal: Dr Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury & Sreeparna Banerjee

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.