MonitorsPublished on Jan 05, 2021
News and analyses from South Asia this week.
South Asia Weekly | XIV; 1

Afghanistan: Behind severe humanitarian crisis

Ratnadeep Chakraborty Afghanistan has been affected by decades of never-ending conflict. The pernicious effect of the conflict is reflected in the recently published United Nations Development Program (UNDP)’s Human Development Report 2020. The report acts as a reminder that Afghanistan is yet to recover from the bruises of conflict and it remains one of the world’s poorest nations, with a gross national income of $560 per capita in 2017. Around 24 percent of the labour force remains unemployed with over 47 percent of young women who are not working. The country has come a long way since 2002 but the indices for human development aren’t discussed in policy circles. Corruption and weak institutions have been major setbacks for development in the country. To understand the nature of the humanitarian crisis that the country faces, it is important to discuss some of the parameters used to measure the human development report. 

Economic and health infrastructure

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the Afghan economy too, and there has been a steady decline in government revenue collections, because of the low economic activity, caused by the restrictions and trade disruptions. A report by the World Bank warns that the percentage of the Afghan population living in poverty may increase from 55 in 2017 to 72 in 2020. The income of the people has decreased during the pandemic, and the rising prices of food, owing to supply shortage, has made the situation worse. The pandemic has also opened up a major problem of limited economic diversification. The economy is heavily dependent on the Torkham border-crossing with Pakistan and it suffered badly in this pandemic. The country’s healthcare is often regarded as one of the world’s most inferior ones. Post Taliban regime, the government has tried to rebuild most of the healthcare infrastructure with the help of foreign aid. The number of healthcare facilities has increased from around 500 in 2003 to 2500 in 2018. There has also been a significant increase in the number of healthcare workers in the country. The maternal mortality and infant mortality rates have decreased significantly over the years. There are, however, apprehensions about the peace deal and how the healthcare system will work as the Taliban has a moderate ideology. In the last few months, there have been deliberate attacks on healthcare workers and a total of 12 such attacks were recorded in the first two months of the pandemic. The attack on Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in Kabul killed 24 persons, including two new-borns, and forced the hospital to cease its operations from June. The Health Ministry has reported a total of 52,586 Covid positive cases and 2,211 deaths but the testing capacity is severely limited. The Health officials claim that the death toll might be higher than its projections and 32 percent of the population may have already contracted the virus. The lockdown imposed didn’t help to contain the spread of the virus as the citizens had to continue working to sustain themselves after a point of time.

Crisis in education

The Afghan education system has been largely affected by the sustained conflict over the last three decades. The Education Ministry mentioned that out of 12 million school-aged children, over five million children are currently out of school and the majority of them are girls. The reason for low girl enrolment ratio and lack of equal access to primary education can be explained by the fact that only 16 percent of Afghanistan’s schools are girls only and many of these schools lack basic sanitation and infrastructure. The Education Ministry also acknowledged that 6,000 schools have no building at all and over 17,000 schools lack adequate facilities. The schools aren’t always motorable and the students don’t receive a quality education in those institutions. The socio-cultural factors further affect the already fragile education system in the country. During the time of Covid-19, the education of most of the students got affected as schools remained shut for months. A lot of students were forced to help their parents at work and it is unlikely they will ever return to school again. The government promoted distance learning through radio and television but as much as 70 percent of the population doesn’t even have access to electricity. The schools reopened in September for face-to-face classes but it was again closed for the winter break in November, thus wasting one entire academic year due to the pandemic. The quality of education can only improve when the government invests more on education and partners with private organisations. A girl’s right to education should not only be treated as a method to promote inclusivity but also an economic necessity. The education system should look for enrolments as well as retention of the students.

Gender inequality

The situation of women, particularly living in the urban area, has significantly improved post-2001 but there is much to lose for them from a bad intra-Afghan deal. The Taliban imposed harsh social and political restrictions on women, including mandatorily covering their face, restricting access to education, healthcare and jobs. The women weren’t allowed to be present in public spaces without the presence of a male member of the family. Less than 10% of the girls were enrolled in primary schools in 2003, but by the end of 2017, the figures had grown to 33 percent. Similarly, enrolment of girls in secondary education also saw a sharp increase of 33 percent. As of now, 21 percent of civil servants and 27 percent of members of parliament are women. Most of the women in urban areas holding portfolios are educated and have been a part of the civil society before. The situation in rural areas, where 76% of Afghan women live, isn’t the same though. The areas are mostly captured by the Taliban and there’s continuous fighting between the militants and the security forces. A lot of women, having lost their husbands and brothers in the war, and unable to work, live in poor economic conditions. The pandemic has made the situation worse for women and denied their basic rights to healthcare. There has been an increase in domestic violence and the widening of economic inequality. The future seems bleak as the intra-Afghan talks resume on January 5. Out of 21 members appointed by the Afghan government for negotiations, there are only five women in the team. The Taliban doesn’t have any women in their negotiating team and have denied commenting on the inclusion of women in government bodies or their earlier position of continuous marginalisation of women. The US, even as it withdraws its troops from Afghanistan, should make sure that there is a strong policy tabled to preserve and protect the rights of the women and it must impose sanctions on the foreign aid if they are violated. 

Surge in violence

Despite the intra-Afghan peace talks that started in September, violence has spiked significantly over the last few months. The Taliban militants have been attacking the government officials, journalists and the Afghan forces. The casualties reached 3,378 security-force and 1,468 civilian deaths in 2020. The Afghan government as well as the US have called for an immediate ceasefire. The recent report on the Global Terrorism Index mentioned that Afghanistan accounts for 41 percent of the deaths from terrorism globally. The Taliban is responsible for 87 percent of the fatalities and presently controls half the territories in Afghanistan. The fatalities count and the area captured by the Taliban is the highest since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Over the last few years, there has also been an increase in civilian casualties. The total number of civilian casualties increased due to the increase in airstrikes by the US and its allies. In 2019, a total of 700 civilians have been killed. The US is leaving Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban. It didn’t even include the internationally recognised Afghan government in the deal. The Taliban did commit to preventing the use of Afghanistan’s territory to launch attacks on the US or its allies but mentions nothing of the Taliban’s presence in Pakistan or renouncing its ties with Al Qaeda. A flawed deal like this will not bring the much-needed peace that Afghanistan needs right now.

Way forward

The economy is set to contract by 5.5-7.4 percent in 2020, leading to an increase in poverty and a sharp decline in the government revenue because of Covid-19. With these statistics, it will take years for the country to recover and it will need the help of foreign aid to sustain its recovery. The recent breakthrough in the peace talks though offers some hope for the next round of negotiations, the international stakeholders still need to play an important role in ensuring that sustained peace is achieved to the decades-old conflict. The Human Development Report by the UNDP mentions the presence of rich mineral wealth of the country, which mainly remains unexplored, and that most of the trade remains informal and illegal. The country can tap on its mineral resources to unlock its economic wealth. The government needs to develop policies to generate more revenue amidst the cuts in foreign aid. Given the nature of continued violence, a probable second wave of the pandemic and uncertainty looming in the peace talks, the government needs to strengthen the institutions to attract investments and private sectors to come out of the economic mess.  The writer is Research Intern at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi.

Bangladesh: Reviewing the year 2020

Joyeeta Bhattacharya Bangladesh, Bangladesh 2020, Bangladesh politics Mostaque Chowdhury — Flickr/CC BY 2.0 Globally, 2020 was a year of challenge and hardship due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic that disturbed every aspect of the life of humanity. Bangladesh was not an exception since the virus spread in the country also. Despite navigating the hardship, there have been some moments of glory and concerns, making 2020 a memorable year for the country. Politically, 2020 was oa year of stability. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government by enjoying a complete majority in the parliament hardly faced any challenges to its stability. The opposition did not hold any major rally for which the country’s politics is notorious for. The year could be considered a positive year for the country’s politics as Begum Khaleda Zia, the leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and a former Prime Minister, who was serving a five-year prison term for corruption, was released from the jail in March, after two years. For Prime Minister Hasina’s government, it was a momentous year as the prestigious Padma bridge project attained a major milestone with the completion of the structural work. The bridge has been a major infrastructure project for Prime Minister Hasina as it was funded locally. The project had hit controversy after the World Bank withdrew from funding it. Then, many analysts had expressed scepticism over Hasina’s decision to fund the project indigenously. The completion of the structural work has thus significantly boosted the pride of the nation. Another important development in the political arena has been the launch of a political party by the reformist faction of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the influential religion-based political party. The new party named Amar Bangladesh party claimed to be different from the JI’s ideology and pursues independence of Bangladesh in 1971 as its basis. Notably, the JI is notorious for its opposition to the independence of the country. The launch and activities of the new party are being followed with caution. The country, however, has been volatile from the point of health security due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The country had to declare lockdown in March that was extended till April, to curb the spread of the virus. Lakhs of people fall sick and thousands died due to the virus infection.

Terror downtrend

The militancy or terrorism witnessed a downward trend since there were no major incidents of militancy. Following the country’s policy of zero tolerance to terrorism and militancy, the law enforcement authorities and security agencies undertook strict counter-terrorism drives and arrested cadres of various militant groups like Jamaat-ul- Bangladesh (JMB), Neo-JMB, etc. The active counter-terrorism measures by the government prevented these organizations from carrying out major acts of violence, except few stray incidents of violence like the low-intensity bomb blast in Dhaka in August 2020. Despite the success in controlling activities of the militant groups, there have been concerns about the growing religious conservatism which is threatening the liberal fabric of the country, a value consciously nurtured by the people and the government. The vociferous protests by religious conservative groups like the Hafajat-e-Islami, close to the ruling Awami League, against the installation of a statue of the father of the nation and leader of Bangladesh’s freedom movement, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in November raised concerns in the country. The reason for the religious conservatives’ opposition to the statue has been that it violates religious sentiments. The statue was planned to be erected to commemorate the birth centenary of the Bangabandhu, the leader of the independence movement and Hasina’s father. However, there have been some moments to cherish, including the arrest and subsequent court-ordered execution of Captain Abdul Majed, one of the conspirators and killer of Bangabandhu. Mujibhur Rahman, along with his entire family except for two daughters, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Rihana, was assassinated by a group of army officers on 15 August, 1975. For a long time, the conspiracy behind the assassination remained a mystery since none of the perpetrators could be tried. Initially, they were granted amnesty by the regime that succeeded Bangabandhu. The people involved in the crime were tried after the Awami League formed the government in 1996 but the convicted could not be executed since most of them were absconding. The execution of Bangabandhu’s killer in the centennial year of his birth was not only a tribute to the Bangabandhu but also resolved a puzzle the country was trying to tackle for decades.

Impressive economy

Given the global economic slowdown as the fallout of pandemic, the economic performance of the country was comparatively impressive. Over-riding projections that had suggested that the country’s economic growth would be around 2-3 per cent, the country registered around five per cent growth and outperformed many of the big economies, including that of neighbouring India. On the foreign policy front, Bangladesh maintained a friendly relationship with most of the global powers, including China and the United States. Its relationship with Islamic countries was also friendly. However, it faced some strain in the ties with Saudi Arabia on the issue of repatriation of Rohingyas to Bangladesh. The country’s relationship with most of the South Asian neighbours remained warm and friendly. There was some perception that the country’s relationship with India was facing a stress following the Narendra Modi government in India amending the citizenship act in 2019. However, the India-Bangladesh ties have deepened in the year 2020. Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina has been a major partner in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for cooperation among South Asian nations in addressing the challenges of the pandemic. India provided major medical relief assistance to Bangladesh. As a major mark to close friendship between the two countries, Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Hasina held a virtual meeting in December. Bangladesh’s relationship with Myanmar, however, faced severe challenges. The centre of contention between the two countries has been the issue of repatriation of the Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state and are living in Bangladesh since 2017. The outbreak of Covid-19 too has made us aware of uncertainties which remain beyond the understanding of the futurology. Given the persisting unpredictability, any futuristic projection is just a futile exercise. Nevertheless, some of the trends suggest that Bangladesh will continue to enjoy political stability. And its economy is expected to grow upwardly. However, securing the health of the population will be a concern as the Covid-19 showed. Now, the mutation of the Covid-19 virus has made the issue more worrisome. However, the country has made some arrangement with vaccine developers across the globe to secure the vaccine and hope it will be able to navigate the challenges with the procurement of the vaccine soon.

Country Reports


Gunmen kill journalist

Bismillah Adil Aimaq, a civil society activist and editor-in-chief of the Voice of Ghor Radio, was shot and killed in an attack by unknown gunmen while he was travelling to Firoz Koh city, the capital of Ghor province. The incident took place a week after the killing of Rahmatullah Nikzad, the head of journalist’s union in the Ghazni province. Aimaq became the sixth journalist to be killed in the last two months and his killing follows the pattern of the series of targeted killings as violence continues to be unleashed by Taliban militants to gain leverage in the peace talks.

Search operations in Kabul

The residents of the 315 area of the Khair Khana in the Kabul city complained that the Afghan security forces arrested about 280 people in connection with suspected crimes including violent acts of terrorism and armed robberies. The security forces conducted a door-to-door search operation to find out the insurgents hiding in order to cut down the crime rate in the city. The search operation lasted for about eight hours and military tanks were being used to close the streets. The residents were asked to stay indoors and they were stopped from leaving their homes.

Talks to resume on 5 January

Faraidoon Khwazzon, the spokesperson for Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation said that the second round of the peace talks will resume in Doha, Qatar from 5 January. In the beginning of December, both sides decided to take a break from the negotiations after they were ready with preliminary lists of agenda. President Ghani and the other top Afghan officials wanted the second round of talks to take place in Afghanistan rather than a luxury hotel in Doha. The Taliban has always refused to have any negotiations in Afghanistan and they have set up a political office in Doha where its negotiating team resides.


Rohingyas relocated

The second group of Rohingya refugees were relocated in their new settlement in Bhasan Char, an island in the Bay of Bengal, this week. Nearly 1800 refugees were transported by seven ships into the island. The rights group have expressed concern about the relocation into the island due to its vulnerability to floods. Rohingya refugees have been living in congested camps Cox’s Bazar. Government is claiming that the refugees will have better-living conditions on the island.

Rice import on cards

In preparation to tackle the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, the government is all set to import at least 10 lakh tonnes of rice from different countries to ensure food security. The government’s decision coincided at the time when the country’s foodgrain reserve has reduced substantially.

More border outposts

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has said that the border outposts (BOP) in Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT) adjoining the Indian state of Mizoram will be increased. The minister claimed that the government had to take the decision to curb the activities of 'terrorist groups'.


Aggressive testing

New cases of Covid-19 virus have been detected in eight dzongkhags along with Thimpu and Paro, accounting for more than 91 percent of the total cases. Local transmission has been rampant from the flu clinics. In all, 72,000 people had left Thimpu to the 20 dzongkhags, Prime Minister, Dr. Lotay Tshering, said. As declared by the government, “Our strategy is aggressive testing, effective tracing and early treatment”. The country is also in a second phase of lockdown.

Capacity building

In these trying times of massive unemployment in the country following the pandemic, technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) have begun, though not in full swing. The Asian Development Bank has also been helping out in this regard. Capacity building for the trainers and trainees have also started.


Dry-run for vaccination

The government is preparing for rolling out Covid-19 vaccination drive across the country. All States have started dry-run to conduct the vaccination drive last week in order to ensuring proper training and technical efficiency in the process. According to the health ministry, 96,000 vaccinators have been trained for this. The Union Health Minister has emphasised that the safety of the vaccine is the top priority of the government. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar informed last week that the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Astra Zeneca and Oxford University has been approved for use.

Farmer dies at protest site

A 70-year-old farmer who was protesting against the farm laws which were passed by the Central government recently, committed suicide by hanging at the Delhi-Ghazipur border last week. He blamed the government for not listening to the demands of the suffering farmers in the suicide note. This is the second death of the protesting farmers at the Ghazipur border, the first death being caused due to cardiac arrest. The farmers’ protests against the passed legislation continues to take place despite the severe cold weather.


GDP growth put at 13.5 pc

The Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has projected a real GDP growth of 13.5 percent in fiscal 2021 after a projected sharp fall of 29.3 percent in 2020, owing to the Covid-19 impact, mainly on the tourism sector. The MMA report noted that tourist arrivals have started picking up since the Government allowed air travel and the reopening of resorts on 15 July. While reserve money declined by one percent to $ 629.9 m in November when compared to October, the number was higher by four percent than in November 2019.

US signs debt suspension

Maldives and the US have signed an agreement on the G-20 debt service suspension initiative, agreeing to temporarily suspend debt service payments owed to that country. The Foreign Ministry stated that the agreement will contribute directly to Maldives’ ongoing economic recovery efforts, and will improve debt transparency and debt management amid the present economic challenges. The US Ambassador Alaina Telpiz, based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, stated that the agreement will allow a $100,000 debt-relief. Similar agreements on the G-20 debt suspension initiative have been signed with Japan and China so far.


Test-kits from UN agency

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) delivered 40,000 Covid-19 rapid antigen test kits to the Ministry of Health and Sports to support the Government of Myanmar’s effort to prevent transmission and respond to the pandemic efficiently while ensuring continuity of life-saving sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls. The role of Rapid Antigen Tests (RDTs) in Myanmar has grown significantly and has strengthened the MoHS capacity to test cases with COVID19 symptoms, patients under investigation, patients in quarantine centres, people in urgent medical need and those who have contact with a known Covid-19 patient.

Travel restrictions extended

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided on 30 December to extend temporary entry restrictions for all visitors to the end of January. The extension will also be applied to the temporary suspension of all types of visas and visa exemption services. The government especially has restricted entry of travelers from United Kingdom and Northern Ireland to control the limit of spread of the new strain of SARS-Cov-2.


Nation-wide protest

A nation-wide second phase of protests have begun, led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Nepal, against Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and the dissolution of the Parliament. Intended to continue for about a month, the Nepali Congress- the main opposition party in the country- has back off from supporting the cause as of now. Aiming at the resignation of Oli with fresh elections and a reinstated Parliament, the protest might take a toll on the foreign policy of the Himalayan country as well, given the fragile domestic political framework.

What is legitimate?

Faction-fighting within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has led to the creation of two separate camps, claiming to be the real or legitimate NCP. With K. P Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal leading the two groups respectively, no stone is left unturned to claim the rights to the ‘mother party’. In a recent speech, Oli also urged the leaders to join him back as the party now is sailing smooth with “two rusty nuts and bolts” falling off.


Hindu shrine vandalised

In Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a radicalised mob vandalised a shrine of Hindu saint and set it on fire before being dispersed by law enforcement agencies. According to reports. more than 1000 persons held protests and demanded the removal of the Hindu shrine. After the incident, three main accused and 43 suspects were arrested. The civil society across the country has condemned the incident. The provincial government has promised to reconstruct the damaged shrine. it is pertinent to mention here that religion-based hate crimes have increased many-folds in Pakistan over the last ten years.

JF-17 B inducted

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) inducted 14 state-of-the-art indigenously developed fourth generation JF-17 Thunder Block-III that was manufactured by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. The JF-17 fighter jets are equipped with advancing firing system and long-range superior radar system. Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan said that the inclusion of JF-17 is a milestone in the history of PAF and is a battle tested aircraft. The JF-17 fighter jet aircraft is a joint venture between China and Pakistan and has solidified the strategic relationship between the two neighbouring nations.

Sri Lanka

Two new Generals

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has elevated Defence Secretary, retired Maj-Gen Kamal Gunaratne and Army chief, Lt-Gen Shavendra Silva as full-fledged Generals in recognition of their service to the nation. Both had commanded victorious army divisions in ‘Eelam War IV’ targeting LTTE terror groups a decade back. Of them, Gen Silva is at the centre of an international controversy for his alleged role in war-crimes, with the US banning him entry,

Former President cautions against abolishing PCs

In an interview to India-based daily, The Hindu, former President Maithiripala Sirisena has cautioned incumbent successor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, that ‘abolishing Provincial Councils is like playing with fire’. The observations come in the face of strong speculation that the Government desired to abolish the nine Provincial Councils, created on the base of a new law, flowing from the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, 1987. In particular, incumbent State Minister, retired Rear-Adm Sarath Wijesekara has been among the strong proponents of such a course, but President Sirisena said that no serious evaluation of the functioning of the system had taken place for over the past 30 years, saying that there was a need for a re-think on the issue, if the Government had such ideas in the first place.



Opinion Pieces

Mohammed Gul Sahibbzada, “Murdering of Prominent Afghans is Yet another Destructive Warfare Tactics of the Enemy”, Afghanistan Times, 2 January 2021 William Maley, “Kabul Under Siege”, Tolo News, 28 December 2020


Afghanistan Times, Some Qualm”, 29 December 2020 The Daily Outlook Afghanistan, The Fragility and Ambiguity of Talks Are Concerning”, 30 December 2020


Opinion Pieces

Saleemul Huq, “Can Bangladesh become a knowledge economy?”, The Daily Star, 30 December 2020 Syed Yusuf Saadat, “Covid-19 and SDG 9: Strengthening infrastructure and innovation”, The Daily Star, 2 January 2021


Opinion Pieces

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa, “Opposition’s Assessment of Govt’s 2nd year in office,” The Bhutanese, December 2020 Sonam Tshering, “Mandatory display of prices could solve price crisis,” Kuensel, 2 January 2021 Dasho Karma Ura, “A Delightful Wonder, the 113th National Day Address,” Kuensel, 19 December 2020


Opinion Pieces

Madan B. Lokur, “An ill-conceived, overbroad and vague ordinance”, The Hindu, 2 January 2021 Sanjay Gubbi, “A leopard count with a missing benchmark number”, The Hindu, 1 January 2021 Nanditesh Nilay, “Mahatma Gandhi’s spirit, connection between means and ends, should animate dialogue with farmers”, The Indian Express, 31 December 2020 Salil Mishra, “Pandemic has pushed back process of wealth generation, poverty reduction”, The Indian Express, 30 December 2020 


The Telegraph, “Step in: upgrading anganwadis”, 31 December 2020 hindustantimes,”Air pollution: CAQM’s role is still hazy”, 29 December 2020 The Telegraph, “Famous five: DU's new Covid quota”, 28 December 2020 hindustantimes, “Modi’s clear message”, 28 December 2020


Opinion Pieces

Kyaw Zwa Moe, “A Quick Peek Into 2021”, The Irrawaddy, 1 January 2021 Yan Naing, “Myanmar Views New Chinese Border Wall With Growing Unease”, The Irrawaddy, 30 December 2020 Kavi Chongkittavorn, “Thailand Can’t Afford to Leave Myanmar Migrants Behind in COVID-19 Fight”, The Irrawaddy, 29 December 2020


Opinion Pieces

Mahesh K. Maskey, “Nepal can decide its own political fate,” Republica, 31 December 2020 Pramod Mishra, “Oli’s crime,” The Kathmandu Post, 30 December 2020 Ajaya Bhadra Khanal, “Time to rewrite the constitution,” The Kathmandu Post, 29 December 2020


The Kathmandu Post, “Guard up,” 30 December 2020 The Himalayan Times, “Stop the rot,” 28 December 2020


Opinion Pieces

A.G. Noorani, “Kashmir’s future”, Dawn, 2 January 2021 Parvez Hoodbhoy, “Muslims and technology”, Dawn, 2 January 2021 Farrukh Khan Pitafi, “Doval's playground”, The Express Tribune, 2 January 2021 Dr Moonis Ahmer, “India’s desperate quest for legitimacy in IIOJK”, The Express Tribune, 1 January 2021 Arifa Noor, “PTI versus PTI”, Dawn, 1 January 2021 Dr Moonis Ahmer, “India’s desperate quest for legitimacy in IIOJK”, The Express Tribune, 1 January 2021


Dawn, IHK killings, 2 January 2021 The Express Tribune, Attack on temple, 2 January 2021

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Rajan Philips, “President Rajapaksa and his 13-A dilemmas” The Island, 3 January 2021 M S M Ayub, “Reality or rhetoric?”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 January 2021 D B S Jeyaraj, “Jaffna Mayor election defeat causes crisis in TNA-ITAK”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 January 2021 Kelum Bandara, “Govt shelves plans for PC polls”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 January 2021 Neville Laduwahetty, “Province unsuitable as a unit of devolution”, The Island, 1 January 2021 N Sathiya Moorthy, “The Make-or-Break 2021”, Ceylon Today, 29 December 2020 Jehan Perera, “Religious clergy take stand for religious right to burial”, The Island, 29 December 2020 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Towards a new education policy”, Colombo Gazette, 28 December 2020


Kelum Bandara, “We seek to bring about a thinking revolution: Patali Champika Ranawaka”, Daily Mirror Online, 30 December 2020


Afghanistan: Ratnadeep Chakraborty Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee Bhutan & Nepal: Sohini Nayak India: Ambar Kumar Ghosh Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy Myanmar: Sreeparna Banerjee Pakistan: Ayjaz Wani
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