MonitorsPublished on Mar 21, 2017
South Asia Weekly | Volume X; Issue 12

Country Reports


ISIS storms Kabul hospital, kills 30

More than 30 people were killed as ISIS militants, dressed as doctors, stormed the SardarDaud hospital in Kabul on 8 March, detonating bombs and opening fire at the patients. President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, calling it a “trampling of human values”. Afghan special forces landed on the roof of the hospital, killed all four attackers after several hours of gunfire and fighting. For more information, see: “Afghanistan” IS gunmen dressed as medics kill 30 at Kabul military hospital”, BBC

Suicide car-bomber kills 31

A suicide bombing in Kabul killed 31 people on 13 March after the bomber rammed a car full of explosives into a minibus. The attack took place on a heavily congested road in the Taimani neighborhood, where many foreign aid workers live, during the evening rush. It was the fourth serious attack so far in March in the city. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. For more information, see: “Suicide bomber in Afghanistan slams into packed minibus”, The New York Times

Joint mechanism with Pakistan 

Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to form a joint ‘mechanism’ to fight terror, according to British media reports. Afghanistan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hani Atmar and Pakistan’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz met in London with the British National Security Advisor on 16 March. Mark Grant, the British NSA, asked both countries to ease tensions and work together to defeat the common challenges of security and terrorism. For more information, see: “Afghanistan, Pakistan Agree on Joint Anti-terror Mechanism”, Tolo News


Posco Daewoo gets hydrocarbon block

Government this week awarded an offshore block to Posco Daewoo Corporation of South Korea for gas exploration. Posco Daewoo, Petrobangla and energy ministry signed a production-sharing contract for the deep-sea block-12 in the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh has 26 blocks in the Bay. Of them, 15 are deep-sea blocks and 11 are in shallow waters. For more information see:  “Offshore Gas Exploration: S Korean firm gets block-12”, The Daily Star

FB refuses to sign MOU

Social media company Facebook refused to sign a memorandum of understanding on the government’s proposal to make mandatory the national identity card or passport numbers for Bangladeshis to open accounts on its website. Face Book turned down the proposal, as it is contradictory to the company policy. The company claimed that privacy agreement with its users and cannot be breached. For more information, see:  “ID for New Account: FB refuses to sign MoU with police”, The Daily Star

IS has presence in the country, says expert

A security expert claimed that international terrorist organisation Islamic State has presence in Bangladesh and it was behind that terror attack in Holey Artisan Restaurant at Gulshan, Dhaka on 1 July 2016. “The group that mounted the Holey Artisan attack is not the JMB. In fact, it is the IS,” informed Prof Rohan Gunaratna, head of International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore. Meanwhile, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md ShahriarAlam claimed that Islamic State (IS) and other international terror outfits did not exist in Bangladesh. For more information see:  “IS present in Bangladesh, carried out Dhaka attack”, The Daily Star, 13 March 2017; “Minister: No Islamic State in Bangladesh”, The Daily Star


Bhutan needs support: UN

Going by the deliberations at the 13th Round Table Meeting that ended yesterday, formulating and implementing the 12th Plan should be a piece of cake. Donors including long time development partners like India and Japan committed to support Bhutan in making a smooth transition to a lower middle income country. For more information, see: “Bhutan deserves continued support: UN”, Kuensel

12th Five Year Plan

The last mile of the country’s journey towards LDC graduation, which is the 12th Five Year Plan, must prove that economic growth is possible without destroying the country’s environment and culture while ensuring a good governance system. For more information, see: “12th Plan to maximise GNH”, Kuensel

Domestic airport to be ready soon

The domestic airport at Yonphula in Kanglung, Trashigang, will be completed by next month according to the Department of Air Transport (DAT). The airport is expected to be operational from May provided the national airline Drukair choses to operate to the airport, said DAT director, Karma Wangchuk. For more information, see: “Yonphula airport to be ready by next month”, Kuensel


BJP wins UP, Uttarakhand

The Bharatiya Janata Party on March 10  romped home in Uttar Pradesh with a record breaking margin along with a landslide win in Uttarakhand, while the Congress achieved a similar feat in Punjab. Election results in Goa in the West and Manipur in the North-East produced ‘hung Assemblies’, but the ruling BJP at the Centre was poised to form a government in both, with support from ‘minor parties’. For more information, see: “Saffron Wave in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand; Congress Takes Punjab”,, 11 March 2017; “Uttar Pradesh election results 2017: BJP blooms, punctures SP-Congress alliance”, The Indian Express

India, Russia sign maintenance agreement for Sukhoi

India and Russia on March 17 signed two key agreements for long-term maintenance and technical support for Russian-made Su-30MKI fighter jets of the Indian Air Force. Currently, the IAF operates around 230 Su-30MKI fighter jets and as per the agreements, Russian defence majors United Aircraft Corporation and the United Engine Corporation will render technical support and provide maintenance services and spares for the fleet for a period of five years. For more information, see: “India, Russia sign pacts for the maintenance of Sukhoi Jets”, The Indian Express

Currency in circulation shortage by 30 per cent

RBI data shows currency in circulation in India at Rs.12.45 trillion as on 10 March, which is 30 per cent less than the 4 November 2016 figure of Rs.17.97 trillion. For more information, see: “Currency in circulation 30% short of pre-demonetisation levels, shows RBI data”, The Mint


Saudi King’s visit postponed

In the midst of controversies surrounding plans $ 10-b Saudi investment on Faafu Atoll, Saudi King Salman has postponed the Maldivian leg of his five-nation tour indefinitely. Maldivian Foreign Minister Mohammed Asim, who announced it on the eve of the King’s scheduled arrival date, attributed the postponement to the prevalence of ‘swine-flu’ epidemic acorss the Indian Ocean archipelago. For more informaiton, see: “Saudi king’s visit to Maldives postponed”, Maldives Independent, 17 March 2017; “Saudi King push back visit due to flu”, SunOnline, 17 March 2017; “Positive H1N1 cases rise to 105”, SunOnline

 Former President’s son quizzed

Days after the Gayoom faction of the ruling PPM signed up on the no-trust motion against Parliament Speaker, Abdulla Maseeh, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) questioned Faaris Maumoon, son of the former President, based on audit reports over the alleged misuse of Government funds during his father’s 30-year long regime. Questioning the ACC’s motives in questioning him, Faaris claimed it was a sign that the no-trust vote would win. For more information, see: “Faris Maumoon questioned by anti-graft watchdog”, Maldives Indepoendent, 15 March 2017; “Major airlines of Europe interested in operating directly to Gan Airport: Tourism Minister”, Miadhu


EU calls for fact-finding mission

The European Union called on Thursday for the United Nations to send an international fact-finding mission urgently to Burma to investigate allegations of torture, rapes and executions by the military against the Rohingya Muslim minority. For more information, see: “EU Seeks UN Probe into Crimes in Arakan State”, The Irrawaddy, 17 March 2017; “EU seeks UN probe into crimes against Rohingya”, DVB

Four suspects in Ko Ni murder

An individual not previously mentioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs for suspected involvement in the assassination of lawyer U Ko Ni made his first appearance at Rangoon’s Northern District Court as the case proceeded on Friday. For more information, see: “New Suspect Revealed in U Ko Ni Murder as Case Goes to Court”, The Irrawaddy, 17 March 2017; “Four suspects appear in court over murder of Ko Ni”, DVB

Graft talks with Singapore

President Htin Kyaw discussed the problem of tax evasion and corruption with Singapore’s Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong recently. President Htin Kyaw received Singapore’s goodwill delegation led by Senior Minister GohChok Tong at the Presidential Residence in Nay Pyi Taw on March 15. For more information. see: “President HtinKyaw meets Singapore’s Senior Minister”, Eleven


Investment friendly policies: PM

Prime Minister Pushpa  Kamal Dahal has said Nepal is a fertile land for investment. While inaugurating the sixth International Trade Fair at local Bhrikutimandap on March 16, the prime minister said an investment-friendly atmosphere has been established in Nepal with the political confusion clearing up. He called upon the national and international community not to have doubt in investing in Nepal. The fair jointly organised by the government and Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) will run until March 20. For more information, see: “Nepal, fertile land for investment, PM says”, The Kathmandu Post, 17 March 2017; “6th International Trade Fair starts today”, Republica

India moots local polls

India has suggested Nepal to go for local polls accommodating the aspirations of all sections of society in what appears to be a clear indication that the demands of Madhes-based parties must be addressed through constitution amendment. “Minister for External Affairs reiterated India’s support to the initiatives of the Government of Nepal, taking the constitutional implementation process forward through dialogue and meetings the aspirations of all sections of society,” the statement reads. For more information, see: “Accommodate all before going to vote: India”, The Kathmandu Post, 17 March 2017; “PM fails to convince Madhesi Front for polls, again”, The Himalayan Times

Singapore pupils build school

A group of 10 students from Singapore has been assisting in the construction of a school building at Amalachaur of Pumdibhumdi in Kaski. MatrikaBaral, a local teacher, took the initiative of developing infrastructure of the school. “The students of United World College Southeast Asia, who are just in their mid-teens, have been selflessly working for the past week. They will also help construct a community hall for public use,” said Baral. For more information, see: “Foreign pupils aid in building school”, The Himalayan Times


Set to join SCO with India

The upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is expected to officially admit India and Pakistan into the China-led security grouping. The six-member bloc who will meet in Kazakhstan in June later this year, will now be expanded to an eight-member grouping, including China, Kazakhstan, Kygyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Both Islamabad and New Delhi had signed agreements to join the organisation last year in Tashkent. A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said, “Both India and Pakistan are China’s important neighbours and important countries in South Asia. China hopes that India and Pakistan can enhance mutual trust and improve relations through more dialogues. This is conducive to not only the two countries themselves, but also to regional prosperity and development.” For more information, see: “Entry of India and Pakistan in SCO will contribute to regional stability: China”, Livemint

‘Blashphmey’ to be netted out

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced that all “blasphemous” online content will be removed from social media in the country. Sharif who made the order on 14 March said that the posting of blasphemous content was an unclean attempt to play with the feelings of the Muslim community and that those responsible for such content would be prosecuted. The government is also in communication with social media organisations such as Facebook and Twitter to ensure that there is no blasphemous content available in Pakistan. For more information, see: “Nawaz Sharif orders ban on ‘blasphemous content’ online”, Al Jazeera

Census after 19 years

Pakistan has begun conducting its first national census in over 19 years on 15 March. The army announced that over 2,00,000 troops will assist in conducing the census that will be conducted in two phases. The army spokesperson added that at least one soldier will accompany each civilian enumerator going from house to house to enlist the number of households and individuals living there and the soldiers will not only provide security but help in verification of data collected by the enumerators. For more information, see: “Pakistan set to conduct its first census in 18 years”, The Hindu

Sri Lanka 

UNHRC to extend term

In line with Sri Lanka’s request, the US, the UK and three other nations have moved a fresh resolution at the UNHRC in the ongoing session, reiterating the operative part of the earlier ones, and seeking a review two years’ down the line. The US has since acknowledged Sri Lanka’s co-sponsoring of the present resolution, as was in 2015, and has called upon other nations to follow suit. For information, see: “Draft resolutions requests full implemention of UNHRC resolution”, Daily Mirror Online, 14 March 2017; “US applauds MS for continuing efforts to promote reconciliation”, Daily Mirror Online, 16 March 2017; “Lanka seeks two more years to deliver war probe”, The Island, 14 March 2017; ”War Crimes Probe : UN did not insist on foreign judges – Govt.”,  17 March 2017; ”Govt. can’t bring in foreign judges under existing constitution: Mangala”, Daily Mirror Online, 16 March 2017; “TNA calls for implementation of Geneva resolution...wants special UN Office to monitor implementation of Geneva Resolution”, The Island, 13 March 2017; “Govt, EU discuss range of issues, including Geneva Resolution on alleged war crimes”, The Island, 15 March 2017; “Govt speaks with fork tongues on Geneva resolution – GL”, The Island, 15 March 2017; “Prez urged to examine Geneva process afresh to avert catastrophe”, The Island, 15 March 2017; “It’s Govt.’s weakness: Gota”, Daily Mirror Online, 14 March 2017; “EU court rejects argument that LTTE didn’t engage in 'terrorist acts'”, Daily Mirror Online, 15 March 2017; “How come those who sided with LTTE become champion accusers against war winning army-GR”, The Island, 15  March 2017; “PM calls for joint effort to counter offshore terrorism”, Daily Mirror Online

No ‘rush’ on reforms

The Government would not want to rush through political reforms under the current dialogue process. In this, President Maithiripala Sirisena and he shared the same views, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said. Referring to political reforms and the on-going work on a new Constitution, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa called upon MPs belonging to the two ‘Sinhala majors’ to be alive to the dangers facing the country. For more information, see: “Govt. won't rush into political reforms: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 14 March 2017; “Ex-president Rajapaksa appeals to SLFP and UNP MPs to awaken to the danger facing the country”, The Island, 14 March 2017; “President seeks JSC recommendation to dismiss Kannan”, The Island

Primary Documentation


Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Moscow on the presentation of Credentials”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 16 March 2017 Press Release: Hon DPM’s meetings in New Delhi”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 16 March 2017 Press Release: Hon. Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare delivered a statement in the 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 16 March 2017 Press Release: Hon DPM addresses Counter Terrorism Conference 2017”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 15 March 2017



Opinion Pieces

Nake M. Kamrany, “When will the carnage in Afghanistan end?”.The Huffington Post, 16 March 2017 Andrew J. Bacevich, “The never-ending war in Afghanistan”, The New York Times, 13 March 2017 Zaigham Khan, “Afghanistan reloaded”, The News, 13 march 2017


Opinion Pieces

Thakur S Powdyel, “Gyalpoizhing forty years on”, Kuensel, 11 March 2017


Opinion Pieces

Manoj Joshi, “Letting NSG and Masood Azhar get in the way of Indo-China ties. Is it worth it?”, Hindustan Times, 15 March 2017 Abhijnan Rej, “The rise of null politics”, The Asian Age, 15 March 2017


Opinion Pieces

Azra Naseem, “Saved by the bull”, Maldives Independent, 18 March 2017 Latheefa Verval, “The things we do”, Maldives Independent, 15 March 2017


Opinion Pieces

Sandy Barron, “China’s complex role in Burma’s peace process”, The Irrawaddy, 17 March 2017


Opinion Pieces

JeevanBaniya, “Politicisation is necessary”, The Kathmandu Post, 17 March 2017 Geja Sharma Wagle “Doing it right”, Republica, 15 March 2017


The Kathmandu Post, “Changing tides”, The Kathmandu Post, 17 March 2017 Republica, “Off the ground”, Republica, 16 March 2017


Opinion Pieces

Ashraf JehangirQazi, “Haqqani and Abbottabad”, Dawn, 17 March 2017 Imtiaz Gul, “Dangers of populism”, The Express Tribune, 14 March 2017 Zahid Hussain, “Closing the border”, Dawn, 15 March 2017

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Dr Nirmala Chandrahasan, “UNHRC resolution and post-war accountability issues”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 March 2017 Ameen Izzadeen, “US threatens to withdrawn from UNHRC”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 March 2017 Hafeel Farsiz, “Dayan’s Project Gotabhaya”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 March 2017 Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, “Crisis of legitimacy of the political establishment”, Daily Mirror Online, 15 March 2017 Jehan Perera, “Realistic assessment needed of international intervention as an option in Sri Lanka”, The Island, 14 March 2017 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Talking reconciliation, with tongues tied to the past”, The Sunday Leader, 12 March 2017


Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah Bangladesh: DrJoyeetaBhattacharjee Bhutan & Myanmar: MihirBhonsale India: Shubh Soni & Pushan Das Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy Nepal: Sreeparna Banerjee
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