MonitorsPublished on Apr 06, 2017
South Asia Weekly | Volume X; Issue 14

Country Reports


Russia helping Taliban?

At a US Senate session last week, Gen Josef Votel, Commander of the United States Central Command, said that it was fair to assume that Russia was providing some kind of support to the Taliban in terms of “weapons or other things”. He added that Russia was trying to be an influential third party in the country after reports emerged last week that Moscow was encouraging the Taliban to join peace talks. According to some reports, Russia was supplying the Taliban in northern Afghanistan with weapons and training to defeat the Islamic State. For more information, see: “U.S general accuses Russia of assisting Taliban”, Tolo News, 30 March 2017; “Afghan official: Taliban reportedly seeking Russian aid to take on IS”, VOA

More weapons from US

According to Dawlat Waziri, the spokesperson for the Afghan Defence Ministry, the country is expected to get up to 200 helicopters and other aircraft as part of a four-year plan to improve the nation’s security and defeat the Taliban. A top-level US delegation is expected to visit Kabul next week to meet with Afghan National Security Advisor Haneef Atmar. Sources state that Russia, Iran and Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan will be discussed. For more information, see: “Afghanistan to get helicopters, aircraft as part of security plan”, VOA

Pak begins fencing border

Pakistan has begun building a fence around “high threat zones” along its border with Afghanistan, weeks after the border between the two countries opened. The fence which will be 2,500 km in length will border the Afghan provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar. Pakistan army chief General QamarBajwa also said that additional technical surveillance means were also being deployed along the border. For more information, see: “Pakistan says start fencing Afghanistan border in ‘high-threat zones’”¸Reuters


HC upholds death sentence

The nation’s High Court has upheld the trial court verdict for the 2013 murder of online social activist, Ahmed Rajib Haider. A two-Judge Division Bench thus confirmed the death sentence of two, and jail terms for six other accused, who had appealed the trial court verdict. A further appeal however can lie in the Supreme Court. For more information, see: “Rajib murder: HC upholds death for two, jail terms for six others”,, 2 April 2017; “Imams must not deliver sermons contravening law of the land: High Court”,

‘Shift focus from Teesta to defence ties’

At a seminar on India-Bangladesh relations in Dhaka on Saturday, ahead of the India visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, local academics and thinkers said that it was time that the focus of bilateral ties were shifted away from the Teesta water issue to increasing defence ties. Relations between the two neighbours are “multidimensional” relations where both countries can work on a whole range of issues including basin-wise management of all rivers, trade, investment, poverty eradication, and contemporary issues such as climate change for the benefit of the two peoples, the said. For more information, see: “Focus too much on Teesta in ‘multi-dimensional’ relations with India: Bangladeshi thinkers”,


Tragedy of commons: PM

If preservation of environment is the common global goal, the world is witnessing a “tragedy of the commons,” Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said in his keynote address at the first meeting of the 7th replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund in Paris yesterday. For more information, see: “PM delivers keynote address at GEF meet in Paris”, Kuensel

Fuel price drops

The price of both petrol and diesel has dropped by more than Nu 3. The drop in the fuel price follows reduction in India beginning midnight yesterday. For more information, see: “Fuel price drops”, Kuensel

Review of maternity leave

A committee comprising representatives from government, private and corporate sectors, formed earlier this year, will review the maternity and paternity leave for all corporate and private organisations. For more information, see: “Govt. corporations fail to implement maternity leave”, The Bhutanese


Maoists protest attack against PM visit

Maoists attacked the Doikalu railway station in Rayagada district of Odisha around midnight, protesting against the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the State. In one of the explosions caused by the Naxalites, the engine of a goods train was damaged. For more information, see: In protest against PM’s proposed visit, Maoists attack Odisha railway station, The Hindu

No time for Ayodhya case: SC

The Chief Justice of India Justice Khehar told BJP MP Subramanian Swamy that "we don't have time right now" to hear the Ramjanmabhumi-Babri Masjid title suits. The Supreme Court declined to fix date for a hearing. For more information, see: Ayodhya case: "we don't have time right now" to hear title suits, SC tells Swamy”, The Hindu, 

Regional air-connectivity

Beginning April, passengers may be able to fly on as many as 128 routes connecting 70 big and small airports across the country by paying ₹2,500 for an hour’s flight. “We will be adding 43 new destinations with the launch of RCS,” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said. For more information, see: Centre picks five airlines to connect 43 regional airports, The Hindu

Defence deal with Bangladesh

India and Bangladesh will sign a “document” on defence cooperation during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi on April 8, her senior adviser, H.T. Imam has stated. The comments were the first official confirmation that the agreement, which has faced some opposition in Bangladesh, would be signed this time round. For more information, see: Defence MoU during Hasina’s Delhi visit, The Hindu


Govt calls for talks

Days after defeating the combined Opposition-sponsored no-trust motion against Majlis’ Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, the Government of President Abdulla Yameen has called upon parties for reviving the forgotten political negotiations. The main Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rejected the call immediately, with the Parliament Minority Leader, Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Solih, adding that there can be no negotiations without the participation of former Presidents, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohammed Nasheed. For more information, see: “Government calls on parties to re-engage in talks”, Maldives Independent, 1 April 2017; “Maldives Government rejects accusations of intimidation following opposition’s defeat in Parliament on Monday; urges opposition to enter into All Party Talks”, Miadhu, 2 April 2017; “No benefit in any dialogues that excludes president Maumoon and Nasheed : Iboo”, Miadhu, 31 March 2017; “Opposition does not want to change the government, but wants to hold the government accountable: Dr.Hussain”, Miadhu, 2 April 2017; “No-confidence motion defeated – as it happened”, Maldives Independent, 27 March 2017; “Ibu: Will re-submit no-confidence motion against Maseeh”, SunOnline, 27 March 2017; “No confidence vote against Moosa on Agenda for 11 April”, SunOnline, 27 March 2017; ”President Maumoon dismissed from PPM”, SunOnline, 27 March 2017; “PPM’s council votes to remove Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom from the party !”, Miadhu, 27 March 2017; “MPs plan to oust Gayoom from PPM leadership”, Maldives Independent, 26 March 2017; PPM: Loss of any one person is no  obstacle”, SunOnline, 1 April 2017; “MP Saud joins the opposition”, Maldives Independent, 2 April 2017; “Opposition decries ‘ramped up crackdown’”, Maldives Independent, 1 April 2017; “Qasim: was summoned to police for an audio sample”, SunOnline, 2 April 2017; “Riyaz, lawmaker and ex-police chief, under investigation for spreading false rumours”, Maldives Independent, 29 March 2017;  “Opposition activist under arrest for defaming Yameen”, Maldives Independent, 2 April 2017; “JP leader announced a decision that was taken by the party council: Abdullah Riyaz”, Miadhu, 31 March 2017; ““The government is conducting useful projects- should ensure that there is no irregular financing– Qasim”, Miadhu

Free port for international business?

The Government aimed at an open economy and it was thus possible that Maldives could thus become a free port for international businesses in the future, Economic Minister Muhammad Saeed has said. He also said that free trade agreements with China and now Hong Kong have been concluded successfully. For more information, see: “Maldives to become a free port: Businesses can access a market of 1 billion people !”, Miadhu, 31 March 2017; “Trade and tourism in Maldives is developing at a fast speed : Saeed”, Miadhu, 31 March 2017; ”Maldives fights rumours of island sales to Saudi Arabia with clampdown”, Maldives Independent, 2 April 2017; “Will renegotiate China funded projects like SL did: Nasheed”, Daily Mirror Online

India ‘shields with her heart’

Chief of Defence Force, Maj-Gen Ahmed Shiyam has said that India always shielded Maldives with her heart. One of the kindest act a man can do to another person is saving that person’s life. “India has done this for Maldives several times”, he said, celebrating the anniversary of the arrival of Indian Navy ship, INS Tir, “when Maldives was greatly in need of assistance”. For more information, see: “India always shields Maldives with her heart : Chief of Defence Force”, Miadhu, 31 March 2017; “Special function held onboard Maldives’ Hero Ship INS Tir”, Miadhu


Reforms slow: Suu Kyi

A year after sweeping to power in a historic vote, Burma’s first de facto civilian leader in about half a century, Aung San Suu Kyi, acknowledged on March 30, the public’s frustration with the slow pace of reforms and development. For more information, see: “In speech marking a year in office, SuuKyi admits reforms have been slow”, DVB, 31 March 2017; “Treat everyone equally for reconciliation: State Counsellor”, Myanmar Times

Thai-Myanmarese bridge in two years

The construction of a second Thai­Myanmarese Friendship Bridge is expected to be completed in two years, Thai Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said. The bridge, which will link Mae Sot district in Tak province with the town of Myawaddy in Burma’s Karen State, will help boost the economies and tourism industries of both countries, he added. For more information, see: “New Thailand-Burma Friendship Bridge ‘ready in two years’”, DVB

Chinese border drill

China’s military carried out drills along the border with Myanmar on Tuesday, in a show of force to highlight its resolve to protect its people, state news agency Xinhua said, following clashes between Myanmarese security forces and ethnic rebels. For more information see: “China army drills on Burma border amid tensions”, DVB


PM briefed on polls

The Election Commission on March 30 sought Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s help to create political environment conducive for fixing election centres in six of the eight districts of Province 2 in the next three days. EC officials briefed PM Dahal on the preparations of the poll body for the May 14 local elections.  PM was requested to take initiatives to fix polling centres at the earliest, as work on voters’ list and their identity cards could be started only after fixing these centres. For more information, see: “EC seeks PM help on polling centres in Province 2”, The Kathmandu Post

Growth at 6.2 pc

According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) the country’s economy may expand by up to 6.2 percent in the current fiscal year led by a bumper agricultural output, prospects of a pick-up in post-earthquake reconstruction works, and an improving investment climate. The above average monsoon rains and the smooth availability of agricultural inputs, particularly chemical fertilisers, is likely to significantly boost agricultural output, which makes a contribution of around 33 percent to the gross domestic product. For more information, see: “Nepal’s economy likely to grow by up to 6.2pc: ADB”, The Kathmandu Post

Upgrading health post

More than 1,800 health posts across the country are operating without proper buildings, curbing their ability to offer efficient healthcare services. According to the Ministry of Health (MoH), there are more than 4,100 government-run health institutions, including 110 hospitals, 203 primary health centers and 3,789 health posts, across the country of 28.7 million people. Each of these health facilities has targeted to provide services to 3,000 to 300,000 people in their respective areas. For more information, see: “Over 1,800 health posts operating without buildings”, Republica


Blast in FATA kills 22

A blast at a market in Parachinar in FATA, killed at least 22 people and wounded 50 others on 21 March. Banned terrorist group Jamat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack that took place in the morning near one of the main imambargahs. A parliamentarian from Parachinar, SajidHussain, told Reuters it was a suicide attack and was preceded by gunfire. “The attack took place in a busy area and a women's mosque appears to be the target,” he said.The attack is a reminder of a bombing at a market place early this year, which resulted in the death over at least 25 people. For more information, see: “22 killed in explosion outside imambargah in Parachinar market”, Dawn

Top TTP leader killed

Pakistani security forces killed Mehmoodul Hassan, a ‘high value’ terrorist of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and his associate on 31 March. Hassad was a member of the Sajna group of the TTP and was killed near South Waziristan during a security operation in the region. The operation was a part of the larger cross-country Raad-ul-Fasadthat was launched on 22 February. Security forces recovered a large cache of weapons and ammunition buried near by. For more information, see: “Two ‘high-value’ terrorists killed in Operation Raad-ul-Fasad: ISPR”,The Express Tribune

‘Jinnah House’ sought

Pakistan has asked India to ‘hand over’ the iconic home of Muhammad Ali Jinnah at Mumbai after an Indian legislator demanded the structure to be abolished. Addressing the issue, spokesperson for the Pakistani Foreign Office Nafees Zakaria said, “Pakistan has repeatedly expressed its desire to take possession of the property. The government of India should respect the ownership rights of the government of Pakistan in this regard.” Pakistan had earlier stated their desire to use Jinnah House as a consulate in Mumbai. For more information, see: “Pakistan asks India to ‘hand over’ Jinnah House in Mumbai”, The Hindustan Times

Sri Lanka 

Still role for India

Though China is there rooted in the southern-most Hambantota port, India could still help develop the Colombo, Trincomallee and Kankesanthurai ports, Ports Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has said. The Government was looking at an investor from the Asian sub-continent to develop the Colombo Port’s East Container Terminal in PPP mode, he said adding, “Seventy-five percent of the trans-shipment goes to India, and India has shown interest.” For more information, see: “India could develop Colombo, Trinco, KKS ports: Arjuna”, Daily Mirror Online, 31 March 2017”; “Trincomalee Consultation report handed to Japanese Ambassador”, The Island, 2 April 2017; “Colombo most suited to be commercial hub: Port City Official”, Daily Mirror Online, 31 March 2017; “Hambantota Port: Govt. to include a new condition”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 April 2017; “Ex-President extends conditional support to mega Chinese investment”, The Island, 3 April 2017; “Hambantota has a port without ships, airport sans planes and stadium with no cricketers – Minister Premadasa”, The Island, 2 April 2017; “Doval’s China obsession made India go for Sri Lanka regime change: Former Lanka defense secy”, New Indian Express, 28 March 2017; “Fishermen cross boundary, fish in SL waters: Indian Naval Staff Chief”, The Hindu, 30 March 2017; “Pakistan sends three ships of rice to SL”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 April 2017; “IMF trying to ‘foist’ Ghana’s tax laws on Sri Lanka?”

Referendum ‘risky’

A majority of the people had endorsed the ideas of a new Constitution in the twin elections to the presidency and Parliament in 2015, but it was still risky to hold a referendum on the same in the current context, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has said. At a workshop for the armed forces in the North, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga said that murder in the name of fighting the war on terrorism could not be condoned. For more information, see: “Govt. believes referendum on new constitution risky”, The Island, 30 March 2017; “Murdering civilians under cover of war won't be condoned: CBK”, Daily Mirror Online, 28 March 2017; “Gota refutes claims of special unit”, Daily Mirror Online, 28 March 2017; “Criticism as Sri Lanka appoints Major General Silva as new Army AG”, The Island, 2 April 2017;  “Military cooperation reflects reconciliation progress-US”, Daily Mirror Online

Primary Documentation


Vice-President U Myint Swe addresses Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2017, Myanmar President’s Office, 26 March 2017


Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Paris on Presentation of Letter of Credence”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 31 March 2017 Press Release issued by Permanent Mission of Nepal to the UN and other International Organizations, Geneva on Chairmanship of the Colombo Process, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 30 March 2017 Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, Bangkok on Fourth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 29 March 2017



Opinion Pieces

Hasan Khan, “Our Afghan dilemma”, The News International, 29 March 2017 Richard G. Olson, “The art of the deal with the Taliban”, The New York Times, 29 March 2017


Opinion Pieces

Syed Badrul Ahsan, “The wall between Bangladesh and Pakistan needs breaching”,, 3 April 2014 Moin Quasi, “The myths about Islamic polygamy”,, 1 April 2017 Abdul Hannan, “Do we really need a defence deal with India?”, The Daily Star, 1 April 2017 Mohammad Badrul Ahsan, “Terrorism was never in the DNA”, The Daily Star, 31 March 2017 Sreeradha Datta, “Sheikh Hasina needs a gift, not a package, from India”,, 30 March 2017



A much awaited agreement”, Kuensel 25 March 2017


Opinion Pieces

Rajesh Rajagopalan, “India’s nuclear strategy: A shift to counterforce?,, 30 March 2017 S Y Quraishi, “A time for electoral reform”, Indian Express, 31 March, 2017


Opinion Pieces

Omkar Khandekar, “Maldives fights rumours of islands sales to Saudi Arbia with clampdown”, Scroll/Maldives Independent, 2 April, 2017


Opinion Pieces

Yan Naung Oak, “Digging into the By-Elections Data”, The Irrawaddy, 31 March 2017 Chan MyaHtwe, “Myanmar must avoid resource curse”, Myanmar Times, 27 March 2017


Opinion Pieces

Sanju Koirala, “Shelved hydro projects”, The Kathmandu Post, 31 March 2017 Mahabir Paudyal “Idiocy of Big Three”, Republica, 29 March 2017


The Kathmandu Post, “Cyber psychopathology”, The Kathmandu Post, 31 March 2017 Republica, “Looking up”, Republica, 30 March 2017


Opinion Pieces

Talat Masood, “Pakistan-China deepening relationship”, The Express Tribune, 28 March 2017 Shahzad Chaudhry, “Pakistan: a possible way forward”, The News International, 31 March 2017

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Akhilan Kadirgamar, “Constitutional reform and political diversions”, Daily Mirror Online, 3 April 2017 Rajan Philips, “Presidential politics: As Gotabhaya is studying Donald Trump, Vasudeva flies a trial balloon”, The Island, 2 April 2017 Rajeewa Jayaweera, “Sushma Swaraj’s amnesia and India’s duplicity”, The Island, 2 April 2017 C A Chandraprema, “Ramanathan Kannan affair: Showdown over Alagaratnam’s final letter to Chief Justice”, The Island, 1 April 2017 M S M Ayub, “A clash with UNHRC in the making”, Daily Mirror Online, 31 March 2017 Kusal Perera, “Dilemma in Tamil politics”, Daily Mirror Online, 31 March 2017 Malinda Seneviratne, “Wigneswaran: The Judge who forgot the whole truth”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 March 2017 S Ratnajeevan H Hoole, “A rare bright spot in our flawed democracy: Right to Information Act”, The Island, 30 March 2017 Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, “The UNP’s future: Who can save the party?”, Daily Mirror Online, 29 March 2017 Jehan Perera, “War crimes being pivot of transitional justice stalls progress”, The Island, 28 March 2017 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Trump takes time, it’s not UNHRC is giving Sri Lanka time”, The Sunday Leader, 26 March 2017


Padma Rao Sundarji, “Ties-with-China-not-at-India-s-expense-says-PM-Wickremesinghe”, WION/Daily Mirror Online, 2 April 2017 Kelum Bandara, “US strived to secure Prabhakaran’s surrender to American troops: Rohitha Bogollagama”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 March 2017 Vimukthi Rathnamalala, “The time is right for the masses to safeguard their rights: Anura Kumara Dissanayake”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 March 2017 Kelum Bandara, “No part of the country belongs exclusively to one ethnic group: Prof K M De Silva”, Daily Mirror Online, 29 March 2017 Kelum Bandara, “Tamils have valid claim to homeland: Prof Pathmanathan”, Daily Mirror Online, 29 March 2017 Kelum Bandara, “Separate council for Muslims if North and East re-merged: Rauff Hakeem”, Daily Mirror Online, 28 March 2017


Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah Bangladesh: Dr Joyeeta Bhattacharjee Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale India: Shubh Soni & Pushan Das Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy Nepal: Sreeparna Banerjee
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