MonitorsPublished on Oct 17, 2016
A report by the Long War Journal has stated that the Taliban is now threatening five of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals.
South Asia Weekly | Volume IX; Issue 42 | Afghan Taliban

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

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

< style="color: #163449;">Taliban controls five capitals

A report by the Long War Journal, that has been tracking Taliban control in Afghanistan, has stated that the Taliban is now threatening five of the country’s 34 provincial capitals. These cities and accompanying regions are used to recruit and train fighters, raise funds, resupply, and launch attacks into the population centres. Despite this, Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan and the Resolute Support mission, has downplayed the Taliban’s control of rural areas. For more information, see: Taliban threatens 5 provincial capitals in Afghanistan

< style="color: #163449;">Afghan leader a former preacher of Pakistan mosque

Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhundzada was a teacher at the Al Haaj mosque in Kuchlak, near Quetta in Pakistan for nearly 15 years before leading the Taliban in May 2016. The new details about the leader highlight the ease with which Taliban leaders have lived in Pakistan and could put further pressure on the government to take greater action against militants living there. For more information, see: Exclusive: Afghan Taliban leader taught, preached in Pakistan,  despite government vow to crack down

< style="color: #163449;">Fourteen killed in Kabul

At least fourteen people were killed and twenty six injured on 10 October in an attack on a shrine in Kabul. Reports state that a number of gunmen entered the Sakhi Shrine in the city and opened fire against worshippers present there.  The attack lasted nearly two hours until the last gunmen was killed by security forces. Three policemen and a NDS officer were also killed in the attack. For more information, see: At least 14 dead in Kabul shrine attack

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

< style="color: #163449;">Major boost for Sino-Bangla relations

China and Bangladesh relations got a major boost with visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping this week. Xi visited Bangladesh on his way to attend the BRICS summit in India He was accorded a warm welcome and he described Bangladesh as a major partner in South Asia region and in the Indian Ocean region. During the visit he held met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. During the visit around twenty five agreements have been signed between the two countries in areas of infrastructure, communication and energy. For more information, see: China considers Bangladesh important partner in South Asia: Xi JinpingChinese President Xi Jinping in Bangladesh on ‘historic’ state visit; Chinese President Xi's Bangladesh visit will herald new era of cooperation: HasinaDhaka, Beijing to sign over 25 MoUs, deals; Chinese leader accorded warm reception in Dhaka; Beijing considers Dhaka important partner: XiChina a trusted friend

< style="color: #163449;">EU’s concern over bill

Envoys of European Union countries have expressed their concern over the new ‘Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Bill 2016’ just passed by parliament. They opined that the Bill may obstruct smooth and timely implementation of development projects.” For more information, see: EU expresses concern over Bangladesh's new foreign donations bill

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

< style="color: #163449;">Royalty to pay respects

His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen flew to Thailand on October 15 to pay personal respects to His Majesty the Late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej. King Bhumibol Adulyadej had passed away on October 13. For more information, see: Their majesties The King and Queen leave for Thailand tomorrow

< style="color: #163449;">PM to < style="color: #163449;">visit Australia

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay will visit Thailand from October 8-10, Australia from 11-14 and India from 15 to 17, according to a ministry of foreign affairs press release. In Thailand, Tobgay will meet with Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-o-cha, and attend the Asia Cooperation Dialogue Summit in Bangkok. Lyonchoen will travel to Brisbane, Australia on October 10. For more information, see: PM leaves for Thailand today

< style="color: #163449;">Foreign currency account facility for non-resident Bhutanese

The Royal Monetary Authority (RMA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance (MoF), the Bank of Bhutan (BoB) and the Bhutan National Bank (BNB), launched the foreign currency account facility for non-resident Bhutanese on October 9 in New York, USA. For more information, see: Remit-Bhutan launched in NYC

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

< style="color: #163449;">Surgical-strikes may be repeated

The Army confirmed to political parties during a briefing to Parliament’s defence standing committee on Friday that its units crossed the Line-of-Control (LoC) over a "wide arc" and that the surgical strikes could be repeated if the ground situation warranted such a course of action Army vice-chief Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat informed the panel that the commando action was based on specific inputs that terrorists were present at terror launch pads across the LoC and were intent on striking Indian targets in Jammu and Kashmir. For more information, see: Surgical strikes may be repeated if needed, Army tells political parties

< style="color: #163449;">One jawan killed

One jawan was martyred and eight others were injured on Friday evening when terrorists attacked a Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) convoy in Zakura area on the outskirts of Srinagar. Terrorists fired at the vehicles of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) which were ferrying the personnel to their camp after performing law and order duties in the city, a security force official said. One jawan of the SSB was killed and eight others were injured in the attack, the official said. For more information, see: One jawan martyred, 8 injured in terror attack near Srinagar

< style="color: #163449;">Big deals with Russia

India and Russia today signed several major agreements, including two key defence deals following a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the 8th BRICS summit in Goa. The two leaders witnessed the signing of a ₹39,000-crore defence deal to procure Moscow's most advanced anti-aircraft defence system — S-400 Triumph. In another key deal, India will initially import and then manufacture Russian Kamov Ka-226 T light utility helicopters. India and Russia will also collaborate in making four state of the art Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 11356) guided-missile stealth frigates. For more information, see: Big Defence And Energy Deals Signed As PM Modi Meets President Putin

< style="color: #163449;">Muslim Board opposes Uniform code

The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), along with several other organisations associated with the Muslim community, has opposed the Law Commission’s questionnaire on the possibility of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC). For more information, see: Muslim groups reject law panel move on civil code

< style="color: #163449;">Jagan charges Naidu

Predecessor Jaganmohan Reddy wants Narendra Modi’s intervention in ordering a thorough inquiry into the corruption charges made against NDA’s key ally — ruling Telugu Desam president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu — whose two and a half year tenure was ‘steeped in corruption’. For more information, see: Jagan demands probe into graft charges against Naidu

< style="color: #163449;">WPI inflation falls

The wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation declined to a three-month low of 3.57 per cent in September, from 3.74 per cent in the previous month as food inflation fell sharply by 2.48 percentage points. For more information, see: WPI inflation down to 3-month low of 3.57% in September

< style="color: #0069a6;">Maldives 

< style="color: #163449;">Maldives quits Commonwealth

Maldives, Yameen, Commonwealth Courtesy: Mahinda Rajapaksa/CC BY-NC 2.0 Making concrete the threats from the past, the Government of President Abdulla Yameen has announced its decision to quit the Commonwealth, alleging 'unfair and unjust' treatment. The Commonwealth said that it was ‘saddened’ by the decision even as Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader Mohammed Nasheed, now in the UK on ‘political asylum’, moved the UNHRC for contesting the 2018 presidential polls back home. For more information, see: “Maldives quits Commonwealth citing ‘unfair and unjust’ treatment”, Maldives Independent, 13 October 2016; “Maldives decides to leave Commonwealth”, SunOnline, 13 October 2016; “Even we leave Commonwealth, Maldives will be more active in the international arena: Foreign Minister”, Miadhu, 14 October 2016; Commonwealth: Saddened by decision to leave, hope Maldives returns”, SunOnline, 14 October 2016; “Nasheed seeks UN intervention to contest presidential elections in 2018”, Maldives Independent

< style="color: #163449;">PPM with Opposition?

In a new development, the organisational wing of President Abdulla Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) participated in a joint news conference, on the issue Election Commission’s statutory funding for political parties. Meanwhile, the PPM parliamentary group, where Yameen has a majority, made early moves to patch up differences with party chief and former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the incumbent’s half-brother. For more information, see: “PPM takes part in a press conference with opposition parties”, Miadhu, 14 October 2016; “Political parties unite in condemning elections commission”, Maldives Independent, 14 October 2016; “PPM members asked to take back any money, they have paid to the party to take part in the council elections”, Miadhu, 13 October 2016; “Funding for political parties withheld”, Maldives Independent, 13 October 2016; “If primaries are held, President Yameen will win – Home Minister”, Miadhu, 14 October 2016; “PG group calls to disregard PPM’s statement on the election”, SunOnline, 13 October 2016; “Gayoom’s son cannot represent PPM, insists Majority Leader”, Maldives Independent, 13 October 2016; “PPM MPs seek reconciliation between Gayoom brothers”, Maldives Independent, 10 October 2016;  “PPM Parliamentary Group attempt reconciliation between Maumoon, Yameen”, SunOnline

< style="color: #163449;">Counter 'Arakan attacks'

Four suspects have reportedly confessed to taking part in and planning attacks on border guard posts in northern Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township with the financial backing of outside terrorist organisations, according to a President’s Office statement released on October 14. For more information, see: President’s Office Vows to ‘Counter’ Arakan Attacks; Locals Call for an End to Violence

< style="color: #163449;">Removed from black-list

Myanmar’s former dictator Snr-Gen Than Shwe was among individuals removed from the US Treasury’s black-list following the lifting of Myanmar sanctions on Friday. Another 16 senior military officials, including former Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, have been removed from the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List. For more information see: Military officials, cronies, released from US blacklist

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

 '< style="color: #163449;">Open border' on watch

India has ramped up security at the no-man’s land and the transit points along the Nepal-India border suspecting infiltration of criminal groups into India from Nepal, taking advantage of the open border. Indian authorities have beefed up security at Raxaul-Vishwa, Parsauni-Bhelai, Sirsiya-Raxaul, Janakitol-Inarwa, Thori and Bhiswa-Thori transit points across border with Parsa district following the southern neighbour’s increasing hostilities with Pakistan. For more information, see: Hostility with Pak has India step up Nepal border watch

< style="color: #163449;">Indian President to visit Nepal

President of India Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled to visit Nepal on coming 2 to 4 November. A meeting among the bodies concerned that took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 14 October decided to hand over the responsibility of making security arrangements to the Home Ministry while the Ministry of Information and Communications will be responsible for ensuring effective communications network during the high-level visit from the southern neighbour. For more information, see: Ministries to get different responsibilities during Indian President's Nepal visit

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

< style="color: #163449;">Journalist pulled up

Following a report by Dawn journalist Cyril Almeida that highlighted the growing tensions between the Nawaz Sharif civilian government and the military, the government put his name on the Exit Control List (ECL). However, it removed the order three days later after public criticism. Almeida had reported that the Sharif government has warned the military of Pakistan’s growing international isolation and had put pressure on them to act against militants. The government has denied the story and claim numerous times. For more information, see: Government orders removal of Cyril Almeida’s name from ECL

< style="color: #163449;">Sharif to fulfil poll promises

In the run-up for the 2018 general elections, the Nawaz Sharif government is rushing to fulfil promises made. Sharif has swept to power to 2013 vowing to end crippling power shortages across the country and his government has spent billions of dollars on LNG plants, pipelines, dams and coal power plants. There has also been an increase in the number of Chinese companies in the country investing over $46 billion in road, rail and energy infrastructure. The hope of the government is that it can promote infrastructure development as evidence of economic progress before the coming election. For more information, see: Pakistan PM rushes to end energy shortages ahead of 2018 poll

< style="color: #163449;">'Fourth most unsafe country'

According to the Global Travel and Tourism report by the World Economic Forum, Pakistan is the fourth most dangerous country in the world. The least safe country in the world is Nigeria, followed by Colombia and Yemen. Finland, Qatar and UAE won the title of the safest countries in the world. Interestingly, India is ranked thirteenth most unsafe. For more information, see: Pakistan ranked fourth most unsafe country in the world

< style="color: #0069a6;">Sri Lanka 

< style="color: #163449;">Probes politicised: President

In an unprecedented attack on Government agencies involved in corruption probes involving the erstwhile Rajapaksa regime, President Maithiripala Silrisena said that they were being ‘politcised’ — an indirect attack on the UNP partner of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the ruling coalition that the former heads. The PM lost no time in meeting up with the President, after the former had named probes against war-time Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and veteran military commanders, especially three former Navy chiefs, saying such probes would only demoralise the forces. For more information, see: “Prez fires broadside at CID, FCID and CIABOC... takes govt. to task over ill treatment of GR, ex-Navy chiefs”, The Island, 13 October 2016; “President hits out”, Daily Mirror Online, 12 October 2016; “JO challenges Ranil to respond to remarks by President”, Daily Mirror Online, 13 October 2016; “President, PM, Sagala hold special meeting”, Daily Mirror Online, 14 October 2016; “President or Govt. can take action if unhappy with FCID”, Daily Mirror Online

< style="color: #163449;">Leave past behind: UN

In Colombo recently, UNHRC Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Rita Izsak-Ndiaye, has called upon Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans to lay greater focus on the current situation on the HR front rather than stay on in the past. In Tamil-majority Northern Vavuniya town, a 'Tamil-Hindu' group calling itself 'Siva Senai', after the Hindu god, has been formed, with the organisers saying that it would work for an anti-conversion law, against ‘forcible conversion’ of Hindus into majority Buddhism. For more information, see: “Focus on present, not dwell on past- Special UN Rapporteur”, Daily Mirror Online, 13 October 2016; “US judge reduces jail sentence of three LTTErs”, Daily Mirror Online, 13 October 2016; “Foremost place for Buddhism in new Constitution, says Ranil”, The Hindu, 13 October 2016; “Now, a ‘Siva Senai’ group in Sri Lanka”, The Hindu, 13 October 2016; “Shiv Sena in India to support Sri Lankan Siva Senai”, Daily Mirror Online, 14 October 2016; “India: 70,000 out of 1,00,000 SL refugees want to go back”, The Island, 11 October 2016; “Govt. encourages return of Tamil refugees in India”, The Island, 12 October 2016; “SL abstains from voting on UNESCO resolution on Israel”, Daily Mirror Online,

< style="color: #163449;">Halt ETCA, Peiris tells < style="color: #163449;">President

Joint Opposition leader and former External Affairs Minister G L Peiris has sought President Maithiripala Sirisena’s intervention to half the proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation (ETCA) Agreement with India, and called for a nation-wide referendum, if it came to that. For more information, see: “GL urges President to halt hasty signing of ETCA with India”, The Island, 14 October 2016; “Intimidation won’t change GMOA stand on ETCA”, The Island, 14 October 2016; “JO wants referendum on ETCA”, The Island, 10 October 2016; “Promise to debate ETCA in Parliament before signing might not be kept”, The Island, 12 October 2016; “IT professionals warn govt against signing ETCA”, The Island, 12 October 2016; “Indian Ship "Samudra Paheredar" arrives in Colombo”, Daily Mirror Online, 11 October 2016; “No military implications to development of Hambantota Air-Sea Hub, Financial City – PM”, The Island, 11 October 2016; “High-level delegation led by Speaker visiting China”, Daily Mirror Online, 14 October 2016;  “China assures help for PPPs”, Daily Mirror Online, 13 October 2016; “Pakistan attaches great importance to its ties with Sri Lanka – Envoy”, The Island,

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

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

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

Lyonchhen’s visit to Thailand, Australia and India, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 October 2016

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

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

“The Maldives decides to leave Commonwealth; commits to continue with international engagement”, Foreign Ministry, 13 October 2016

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

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

State Counsellor Daw Aung San SuuKyi to visit India on 16 October, State Counsellor’s Office, 13 October 2016

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

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

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

Pranab Dhal Samanta, Can Afghanistan offer ‘other Indus’ option to India against Pakistan?, The Economic Times, 14 October 2016 Anand Arni and Pranay Kotasthane, Anticipating Pakistan’s next move in Afghanistan, The Wire, 14 October 2016 Naveed Ahmad, Will China be able to sort out Pakistan and Afghanistan’s differences?,The Express Tribune, 14 October 2016

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

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

Xi Jinping, President, China, China-Bangladesh cooperation will bear golden fruits, The Daily Star, 14 October 2016 Sarwar Jahan Chowdhury, The geopolitics of Bangladesh-China relations,, 13 October 2016 Nadeem Qadir, Sheikh Hasina’s diplomatic wizardry, Dhaka Tribune, 11 October 2016 Shahidul Islam, Xi Jinping's visit: Implications for Bangladesh-China relations, The Daily Star, 14 October 2016

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

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

Dasho Kinley Dorji, Bhutan’s strength lies in the unity of the people, Kuensel, 12 October 2016

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

Scam alert, Kuensel, 14 October 2016

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

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

Samir Saran and Abhijnan Rej, The alphabet soup at Goa, The Hindu, 13 October 2016 Pulin Nayak, The Right Signals, The Indian Express, 14 October 2016 C. Raja Mohan, Bay of Bengal’s glad tidings, The Indian Express, 11 October 2016

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

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

N. Sathiya Moorthy, Maldives quits C’wealth, Nasheed too going to UNHRC, ORF, 14 October 2016 Asza Naseem, Let them eat basmati, Maldives Independent, 11 October 2016 Paul de Godfrey, Charge d’Affaires, European Union for Sri Lanka and Maldives, Maldives should maintain its proud history of not executing people, Maldives Independent, 10 October 2016

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

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

Bertil Lintner, Burma’s Misguided Peace Process Needs a Fresh Start, Irrawaddy, 11 October 2016 Fiona Macgregor, Oppression’s spawn plagues Rakhine State with death and dread, Myanmar Times, 14 October 2016

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

Chandan Sapkota, Not working, The Kathmandu Post, 14 October 2016 Mahabir Paudyal, Battle royal in Nepal, Republica, 8 October 2016

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

The Kathmandu Post, Side effects of waste, The Kathmandu Post, 14 October 2016 Republica, Tinged with hope, Republica, 8 October 2016

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

Hussain Nadim, The reality of isolation, The Express Tribune, 11 October 2016 Imtiaz Gul, Handling the crouching monster, The Express Tribune, 11 October 2016 Elizabeth Roche, Why ‘the boys’ are gunning from Dawn columnist Cyril Almeida, Live Mint, 12 October 2016 Niaz Murtaza, Contesting Kashmir, Dawn, 11 October 2016

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

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

K. Godage, “A new road network has been suggested, but where to?”, Daily Mirror Online, 15 October 2016 Kusal Perera, “Where does TNA leadership stand on ‘federalism and merger’?”, Daily Mirror Online, 14 October 2016 M.S.M. Ayub, “MR’s hunt for minority support”, Daily Mirror Online, 14 October 2016 Malinda Seneviratne, “The ‘National Question’ and the vague-speak of Tamil moderates”, Daily Mirror Online, 13 October 2016 Jehan Perera, “Govt-civil society collaboration to improve institutions”, The Island, 11 October 2016 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Ex-rights chief to head UN”, The Sunday Leader, 9 October 2016

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

Kelum Bandara, “New Constitution federal in content, unitary in name: Udaya”, Daily Mirror Online, 12 October 2016 Susitha Fernando, “Freedom of speech cannot be the privilege of Southern politicians only, but of Northern as well: Mano”, Daily Mirror Online, 12 October 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 and Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy Nepal: AnasuaBasu Ray Chaudhury and Sreeparna Banerjee
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