MonitorsPublished on Jan 16, 2017
South Asia Weekly | Volume X: Issue 3



Five UAE diplomats killed

A bomb-blast in Kandahar on 10 January killed 10 people and injuring over 17 others, including Juma al-Kaabi, the ambassador of the UAE. Among those killed were five UAE diplomats, who were working on humanitarian, developmental and education projects in Afghanistan. The blast also killed two Afghan politicians, including the deputy governor of Kandahar. The Taliban has since denied allegations that it carried out the bombing, fearful that this will turn other Muslim-majority countries against it. In two other blasts on the same day, in capital Kabul, 30 persons lost their lives. For more information, see: Five UAE diplomats killed in Afghanistan attack, Al Jazeera


The Taliban on 11 January released the first video of its two hostages from the American University of Afghanistan, who it had abducted at gunpoint in August 2016. The two hostages, Timothy Weeks from Australia and Kevin King from the US, were both professors at the university. The video shows the hostages pleading for the release of Taliban fighters in exchange for their freedom. For more information, see: Taliban release video of foreign professors abducted in Kabul, The New York Times

China to build road

Afghanistan and China have signed an agreement for Chinese company, Lou Shin, to build a 178-km long road from Baghlan to Bamiyan. The Asian Development Bank has promised to pay more than $204 million for the project. The Dar-e-Suf - Yakawlang road will connect the central provinces to key highways in the country. For more information, see: “$200m road construction agreement signed”, Tolo News


PM’s plea on Rohingyas

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has requested U Kyaw Tin, Myanmar’s the state minister for foreign affairs of Myanmar, to take back all of those who illegally entered Bangladesh from his country. Prime Minister made this request during U Kyaw Tin visit to Dhaka as a special envoy of Myanmar State Counsellor and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San SuuKyi. For more information see:Bangladesh PM asks Myanmar to take Rohingya refugees back”,

Coastal shipping with India

India and Bangladesh coastal shipping agreement become operational with the the first Bangladesh-flagged vessel completed its voyage when it reached Chittagong Port on 1 January. MV Shamayel called at Paradip Port in Orissa, India on 29 December 2016, carrying 149 empty containers and sailed back with 91 containers loaded with sponge iron. For more information see:Indo-Bangladesh coastal shipping now operational”, Prothom Alo

Climate-change loss, $ 121-b

Climate-change is likely to cost the country around US$ 121 billion or five percent of the national GDP from 2005-2050 opined Climate Experts and research.  Experts observed that  the country must developed a methodology for assessing loss and damage from climate change and the government should consider setting up a ‘National Mechanism on Loss and Damage. ’ For more information, see:Climate change will cost Bangladesh $121 billion”, The Daily Star


INR 1.68-b deposited

After India demonetised 1,000 and 500 currency-notes in November, over 27,000 account-holders have deposited INR notes worth of Rs 1.68-b with the Bhutanese banks. For more information see: RMA expected to release exchange of deposited demonitised INR”, Bhutan Broadcasting Service

Farmers hit

Almost 200 farmers from western and central Bhutan who auctioned the potatoes in Phuentshogling haven’t gotten their money yet. Farmers have auctioned the potatoes at the Sersang Auction Yard, a privately-operated agency, since December 15, last year, following the 8 November demonetisation of high-value Indian currency earlier. For more information see:Freezing of rupee takes toll on Bhutanese farmers”, Bhutan Broadcasting Service

Case withdrawn

The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa has successfully withdrawn its defamation case against Dasho Paljor J Dorji with only Nu 0.45 million to be paid as compensation. The closure of the case could open a floodgate of problems for the party as the court has found a ‘prima facie case of sedition against the party’. For more information, see: OAG to investigate charges against DPT”, Kuensel


JeM owns up

Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader and 26/11 Mumbai terror-attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, while addressing a meeting of JeM cadre at Muzzafarbad in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, claimed on tape that four Pakistanis crossed over the LoC, and struck an army camp at Akhnoor, killing at least 30 soldiers. India has rejected such claims, stating that three labourers were killed in the terror-attack on a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) camp just 2 km from the International Border. For more information, see: Killed 30 soldiers in Akhnoor: Hafiz Saeed provokes India, The Asian Age, 13 January 2017; Hafiz Saeed claims responsibility for Akhnoor attack on Indian soil by Pakistani terrorists, First Post

GST helps: Jaitley

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while speaking at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, stated that the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) coupled with a digital economy ushered in by demonetisation will help Indian economy. It will make the economy much cleaner and bigger. Talking on demonetisation, he highlighted how paper currency has its own drawbacks. For more information, see: GST coupled with digitisation will make Indian economy cleaner, bigger: Arun Jaitley”, The Indian Express

Institutions ‘destroyed’

Rahul Gandhi, speaking at the party’s ‘Jan Vedna Samelan’ launched an attack against the schemes launched by the BJP-NDA government at the Centret. He remarked that “Ache Din will return to India only when the Congress comes back to power in 2019. Earlier, the BJP had mocked MGNREGA, but it is now saving lives”. According to him, the BJP had destroyed many institutions like Reserve Bank of India, the Election Commission and the Judiciary. For more information, see: ‘Ache Din’ will return only when we come to power, says Rahul in Congress meet, The Hindu, 11 January 2017; “With eye on 2019, Rahul Gandhi appropriates Modi's tagline, says acche din will return with Congress, First Post



Unidentified bombardment of internet services, leading to a crash of systems across Maldives has put the services of all internet providers out of service, from the New Year Day. Named ‘distributed denial of service’ (DDOs) attacks did not leave behind the Bank of Maldives website, with the result there was near total-collapse of data-based communication in the country. This, even as the authorities were increasing the capabilities of physical security apparatus and tourist-inflow also registered a high, in a nation troubled by democracy issues. For more information, see: “Major cyber-attacks disrupt internet service across the Maldives”, Maldives Independent, 13 January 2017; “MNDF begins service on new bulletproof vessels”, SunOnline, 12 January 2017; “Tourist arrivals register double-digit growth in November”, Maldives Independent

First Lady cleared

The Government’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has absolved First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim and the charity led by her of all allegations of misuse of foreign aid, both in cash and kind. Holding that such acts did not involve benefits to the Foundation, the ACC however directed the Finance Ministry to set new rules for the purpose. For more information, see: “Watchdog dismisses multiple corruption allegations against first lady”, Maldives Independent

‘No’ foreign nurses

After cutting down on the intake of foreign teachers beginning this academic year, the Government has launched a programme to train 3000 nurses in five years, so as to ensure that ‘all nurses in Maldives are Maldivians’. Taken to the logical conclusion, the current efforts has the potential to create more skilled jobs for the locals even while reducing dependence on other nations, especially in these two core sectors of human resources – especially the Indian neighbour. For more information, see: “3000 nurses to be trained within 5 years !”, Miadhu


Talks on Rohingyas

Burma has agreed to begin talks with Bangladesh over an estimated 65,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled Burma’s northwesternArakan State since attacks on border posts three months ago, a senior Burmese official said on Thursday. For more information, see:Burma, Bangladesh agree to start talks on Rohingya refugees”, DVB

Citizenship for talks

Financial and citizenship-related matters are likely to loom large in the forthcoming Hluttaw session, MPs say. The fourth regular session of PyidaungsuHluttaw, which opens on January 30, will deal with bills proposed by the government concerning the budget, taxes, the status of foreigners and extradition matters. For more information see: “Budget, taxes and foreigner bill top agenda for coming Hluttaw session”, Myanmar Times


Madhesis doubtful

Even as the ruling coalition succeeded in tabling the constitution amendment bill as per the demand of the agitating parties, the relation between the ruling and the Madhes-based parties has lately grown complicated. While the ruling parties are doubtful whether the Madhesi parties will take part in the election after the parliament settles the amendment bill, the Madhesi parties are suspicious if the ruling parties are committed to endorsing the bill in Parliament. For more information see: Relations sour between ruling and Madhes-based parties”, Republica

Tourism booms

Nepal’s tourism experienced a dramatic turnaround last year after being hit by the twin disasters of a devastating earthquake and crippling trade embargo in 2015. Foreign tourist arrivals to Nepal jumped 39.71 percent to 753,002 in 2016, boosted by robust visitor growth from India, China, the US, the UK and Sri Lanka, according to the statistics of the Department of Immigration. For more information, see: Nepal tourism makes spectacular rebound”, The Kathmandu Post

Quake: 87,000 complaints

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has pledged to address as many as 87,000 grievances received from the quake-survivors across the country. The Committee which conducted research among 2,000 people in three of the 14 hardest-hit districts- Dolakha, Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk- mentions in its report that the quake-hit locals in these districts were not satisfied with the financial, legal and technical support of the Authority thus prudent tackling is required. For more information see: NRA to address around 87,000 grievances from quake-survivors”, The Kathmandu Post


Cruise test-fired

Pakistan successfully test-fired its first nuclear-capable submarine cruise missile on 9 January. The Babur-III missile has a range of 450 kmand gives Pakistan a second strike capability. The Director General of the ISI Maj Gen AsifGhatoor said that the missile is “manifestation of the strategy of measured response to nuclear strategies and postures being adopted in Pakistan’s neighborhood”. Babur-III is a sea-based variant of ground-launched cruise missile Babur-II, which was successfully tested earlier in December last. For more information, see: Pakistan attains second strike capability with test-fire of submarine-launched cruise missile”, Dawn

Anti-terror chief

Former Pakistani army chief, Gen Raheel Sharif, is expected to become the commander of a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia against terrorism. The alliance which is called the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) and has been dubbed as ‘Muslim NATO’ consists of mostly Sunni Islamic countries. The announcement led to a flood of criticism of Raheel Sharif, a general who until recently had been lauded for his three years leading Pakistan’s army. Pakistani Defence Minister has stated that Sharif has not sought government approval before joining the 39-nation alliance. For more information, see: “Former Pakistan army chiefRaheel Sharif to lead Muslim NATO”, The Guardian

Musharraf seeks security

Former President Pervez Musharraf has sought “foolproof security” by an anti-terrorism court, to ensure his safe return to Pakistan in order to appear in court. An application filed by the retired general's counsel Akhtar Shah asked the court to direct authorities to provide extraordinary security to the ex-president in view of "serious security threats". Until such security measures have been taken, the application said, Musharraf should be exempted from appearing in the court. The judge accepted the application and issued notices to the home secretary and the police in Islamabad. For more information, see: Musharraf wants ‘foolproof security’ if he is to appear in court, Dawn

Sri Lanka

Second term for MS?

In what looks like an early orchestrated campaign, prima facie aimed at scuttling the rival Rajapaksa camp’s open-threat to topple the incumbent Government of National Unity (GNU), ministers have started proposing a second term for President Maihitirpala Sirisena. During the run-up to his January 2015 election, Sirisena had vowed not to seek a second term and also cut down the length of the presidency to four years from the existing five. For more information, see: “Maithri next Presidential candidate: SB”, Daily Mirror Online, 10 January 2017; “President can seek a second term – WP CM”, The Island, 12 January 2017; “Prez a prisoner of UNP— JO”, The Island

CBK claims authorship?

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga has claimed that the constitutional reforms being considered by incumbent UNP Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was based on her draft package of 2000, which the latter had rejected when presented to Parliament. However, Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne has sought to distance the two proposals, even as President Maithiripala Sirisena’s SLFP has clarified that they would accept all reforms not requiring a public referendum. For more information, see: “PM's Constitutional Proposals based on my draft in 2000: CBK”, Daily Mirror Online, 10 January 2017; “CBK calls for talks on foreign judges et al on judicial mechanism”, The Island, 11 January 2017; “We have clear consensus on domestic mechanism: Mangala”, Daily Mirror Online, 12 January 2017; “CBK'S 2000 Constitution: UNP rejected as it created 'Union of regions': Rajitha”, Daily Mirror Online, 12 January 2017; “SLFP favours proposals not requiring referendum: Dilan”, Daily Mirror Online

H’tota deal not on: Prez

Even as the majority UNP constituent of the Government has been pressing hard the fast-tracking of the Hambantota land deal with a Chinese firm, President Maithiripala Sirisena has declared that the deal was not yet on, thus indicating a possible slowdown in internal discussions. Following the President’s intervention, and also the public protests in Hambantota that turned violent when he was inaugurating the project, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has since clarified that the industrial zone could be shifted elsewhere in the country, too. For more information, see: “Prez claims H’tota agreement with China not finalised yet”, The Island, 9 January 2017; “H’tota Indus. Zone can be shifted to another part of country: PM”, Daily Mirror Online, 10 January 2017; “Now, govt says 15,000 acres will not be given entirely from H’tota”, The Island, 11 January 2017; “H'tota deal not the best for SL: MR”, Daily Mirror Online, 10 January 2017; “Ex-President Rajapaksa points to the govt folly in H’tota”, The Island, 10 January 2017; “UNP lauds Chamal's remarks on HIZ”, Daily Mirror Online, 10 January 2017; “PM’s guards disable Hiru drone chip: ‘Goon attacks’ in Hambantota”, The Island



Lekey Dorji Minister of Economic Affairs, Royal Government to lead the delegation to the Assembly of the International Renewable Enery Agency, MOFA, 13 January 2017


Press Release

Attainment of the status of Permanent Observer of the OASMinistry of Foreign Affairs, 9 January 2017


70th Anniversary of Union Day to be held in support of Union Peace Conference, Office of the President, 13 January 2017


Press Release issued by the Embassy of Nepal, Ottawa on handing over the Letter of Commission to the newly appointed Honorary Consul of Nepal to Alberta Province of Canada”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 13 January 2017 Press Release on bilateral meeting between Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nepal and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qatar”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 12 January 2017 Press Release regarding bomb attacks in Afghanistan”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 11 January 2017 Press Release regarding attack in ArmonHanatziv neighbourhood of East Jerusalem”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 11 January 2017 Press Release on Tourism Promotion Programme in Phuket, Thailand”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 9 January 2017 Press Release for the visit of Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs to Qatar”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal, 9 January 2017



Opinion pieces

Vinod Saighal, “Why the US cannot quit Afghanistan”, The Statesman, 13 January 2016 Britta Peterson, “The return of the great game in Afghanistan”,, 12 January 2016 Arif Rafiq, “Russia returns to Afghanistan”, National Interest, 12 January 2016


Opinion pieces

Brig-Gen Shahedul Anam Khan,”“Victory for Democracy” indeed!”, The Daily Star, 12 January 2017 Raihan Rahman Rafid, “Under special circumstances:Will the new marriage law do more harm than good?”, Dhaka Tribune, 8 January 2017



The language of the courts”, Kuensel, 11 January 2017


Opinion pieces

Rajiv Bhatia, “Reaching out to Africa”, The Hindu, 11 January 2017 Ashok Malik, “Waiting for March 11”, The Asian Age, 12 January 2017 Josy Joseph, “What’s cooking in the BSF?”, The Hindu, 13 January 2017


Opinion pieces

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Sovereign guarantees and bonds for foreign investments”,, 13 January 2017

Book Reviews

Xiena Saeed, ’Insaff’ (‘Justice’: Dhivehi): “The Great Irony: A Review of ex-President Waheed’s biography”, Maldives Independent, 8 January 2017


Opinion pieces

Nay Yan Oo, “Myanmar needs a third political party for 2020”, Myanmar Times, 11 January 2017


Opinion Pieces

Subindra Bogati, Andy Featherstone, “Localisation of humanitarian response”, The Kathmandu Post, 13 January 2017 Meena Bhatta, “Challenges galore”, Republica, 11 January 2017


The Kathmandu Post, “Turn around in tourism”, The Kathmandu Post, 13 January 2017 Republica, “Fingers crossed”, Republica, 12 January 2017


Opinion Pieces

Nikhat Sattar, “Muslim discourse”, Dawn, 13 January 2017 Muhammad Ali Ehsan, “Towards the Saudi-led military alliance”, The Express Tribune, 13 January 2017 Talat Masod, “Peace with India remains elusive”, The Express Tribune, 10 January 2016

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Kusal Perera, “All the problems with this Government”, Daily Mirror Online, 13 January 2017 M S M Ayub, “Foreign judges: Sri Lanka’s dilemma”, Daily Mirror Online, 13 January 2017 Neville Luduwahetty, “Foreign or local judges?”, The Island, 13 January 2017 Kelum Bandara, “Toppling Government: President, JO in wrangle”, Daily Mirror Online, 12 January 2017 Ranga Jayasuriya, “Is the Govt making MR’s New Year resolution a reality?”, Daily Mirror Online, 10 January 2017 P K Balachandran, “The island of missed opportunities”, New Indian Express, 10 January 2017 Jehan Perera, “Dealing with state involvement requires joint SLFP-UNP solution”, The Island, 10 January 2017 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Rajapaksa’s ‘topple-threat’ unnerves PM Ranil?”, The Sunday Leader, 8 January 2017


Prasanna Sanjeewa Thenakoon, “Party supporters wanted me to quit the Government – UPFA parliamentarian Priyankara Jayarathna”, Daily Mirror Online, 13 January 2017


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