MonitorsPublished on May 23, 2014
By inviting SAARC Heads of Government for his inauguration, prime minister-designate Narendra Modi has demonstrated a firm grip over the emerging foreign policy scenario(s) and his vision of and for an India of the future.
Sri Lanka: Velvet gloves yet a firm grip, from India
< class="heading1">Analysis

By inviting SAARC Heads of Government for his inauguration, prime minister-designate Narendra Modi has demonstrated a firm grip over the emerging foreign policy scenario(s) and his vision of and for an India of the future. With the much-hyped Pakistan conundrum taking a shape of its own, more so in the so-called national media, centred near-exclusively on India’s northern land borders, nowhere else will the new government’s approach to foreign and neighbourhood policy be more visible and immediate than in the case of southern Sri Lanka.

Considering that the Mauritius leadership too would be present at the swearing-in, the emerging Indian view on the scope and possible expansion of ’South Asia’, if not SAARC, too may have become that much more visible. Only months back, the outgoing Manmohan Singh Government had restructured the divisions in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), to club together Mauritius and Seychelles to Sri Lanka and Maldives after shifting the un-related Bangladesh and Myanmar from the original division, to form a new one for the southern, Indian Ocean neighbourhood.

On Sri Lanka, it’s not as if Modi the politician would not have anticipated reservations from his poll allies from Tamil Nadu, or the even more vocal friend and State’s AIADMK Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, to any continuing initiative of the predecessor Congress kind on the Sri Lankan front, if it involved the Government and leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Modi the Prime Minister is proving to be different from the more difficult Modi the politician.

By declaring that India could not help the Sri Lankan Tamils to live a life of dignity, honour and equality in that country without New Delhi engaging with the Colombo leadership of the time, his BJP leadership is now reiterating what had been known all along. Whatever Modi’s BJP leaders in Tamil Nadu would say, such an approach is a continuance of the outgoing Manmohan Singh Government’s policy.

The medium and long-term Indian policy became clearer particularly after the West unilaterally provided the safety-value in the UNHRC resolution draft of 2014 for India to dis-entangle itself from the UNHRC process that was harmful to India and the region as a whole. Earlier, the US-led West had got India entangled in two earlier UNHRC resolutions by keeping the phraseology within limits of India’s traditional position on external inquiries into internal affairs of sovereign States.

At UNHRC-2014 (March) the US sent out a clear message that it did not need India any more on Sri Lanka. India has always needed its neighbours, just as the neighbours have all along needed India. It may be difficult with Pakistan, but has to be different with and in the case of other South Asian neighbours and SAARC members, starting with Sri Lanka, the current Commonwealth Chair, to boot - despite clamour to the contrary from Sri Lankan Tamils, their Diaspora, and backers in the south Indian State.

All these are over and above the traditional Indian geo-strategic and security concerns, which had involved the US at one time, China in the early years of the post-Cold War, both the US and China since. Yet, there is also al need to de-mystify the motivated belief - both in Tamil Nadu, and Sri Lanka, and not just among the Tamils there - that Indian concerns on the ’ethnic issue’ are centred near-exclusively on geo-strategic considerations.

Even without China or the US or any other extra-regional players in the shared Indian Ocean neighbourhood, peace, now starting with ethnic peace and political stability in Sri Lanka is a desirable pre-requisite for India at all times. This would be equally so in the case of all other neighbours, including Pakistan. Conventional wisdom would have to desired an unstable and violence-ridden Pakistan but in the contemporary Indian context (from Partition and Independence onward), it’s in India’s greater and continuing interest that Pakistan too remained stable and progressed. Sri Lanka is not an exception thus to the rule. It’s all part of the same rule as far as India is concerned -- Manmohan, Modi or whoever is at the helm.

In all this, the Tamils of India, starting now with leaders of the State BJP, now ruling the Centre, also need to demystify their own beliefs that the Tamils of Sri Lanka are exclusively and exceptionally friends of Sri Lanka. It’s not so. The Tamils of Sri Lanka, almost from the times of ’Sinhala Only’ law, are friends of themselves, and none else - and rightly so.

It will do a lot of good if the Tamils of India learnt from their ’blood brethren’ from across the Palk Strait. At present, the ubiquitous and equally over-used ’umbilical cord’ is known to facilitate fluid-flow only in one direction. The terminology does not describe or stand for the ’responsibilities’ of a child to a mother.

’Indian nationalist’ or ’Hindu nationalist’?

The temptation in Sri Lanka for close to a year now, if not more, has been to see India’s Modi either as an ’Indian nationalist’ or a ’Hindu nationalist’ - but not something together and more. The ’Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist’ hard-liners, both in the Sri Lankan Government and outside, put him in a mould of their own, and want to believe that they have already made eye-contact with him.

The Tamils suddenly want to recall the Hindu religious background of many of them and their leaders, to be able to identify themselves with the ’Hindu nationalist’, which alone they think Modi is - and will continue to be. They draw parallels with the late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray pointing to the Hindu religious background of many Tamils in Sri Lanka. But Modi is both, and more. So is India of his times.

No different

Like the Abrahamic faiths, Sri Lanka’s ’hard-line’ Theravada Buddhism is obedience-demanding and hence structured - or, is it the reverse? Like Europe of the Middle Ages the religion controls the State without having the collateral responsibility of having to ’run’ it. Suffice is to point out that this very month, a criminal court in Colombo found it proper to order an Islamic (fundamentalist?) group to apologise to the three Buddhist prelates after concluding that their leader had made remarks against the Buddha - rather than proceed against him under the criminal law of the land.

Politically aware and alive Sinhala-Buddhists want India to remember their Indian origins, but would themselves keep pointing out that they have only ’Sri Lanka to call their own’, mixing religion with language. More recent efforts seem aimed at trying to make India beyond southern Tamil Nadu to find its Buddhist roots too, and not for all Sri Lankans to seek out South Asia’s common sub-continental cultural roots that’s otherwise steeped in the political India of our times.

The Tamils are no different. Among them are ’Hindus’, but religion does not control the polity. Hindus among the Sri Lankan Tamils, the polity, whether moderate or militant, has always controlled religion - not the other way round. They used, misused and abused their Hindu temples as much for political and military purposes as for cultural revival -- as lecture-theatres and bunkers. Sri Lanka Army (SLA) often took the blame for targeting Hindu places of worship after their heat-seeking missiles would target the source of LTTE bombs.

Fewer churches went that way compared to Hindu temples, schools and hospitals, the Christian denomination of the Tamil party, deriving inspiration and social leadership for the ethnic protests from the Church, straight. In doing so, the ’Tamil Church’ in the North seems to derive its authority from none else in the religious hierarchy going up to the distant Vatican. It’s all more in the inherent religious structures of Sri Lanka’s Buddhism and Tamil-Catholics, which anyway the Hindu religion does not have and does not believe in - concluding in the process that "Hinduism is a way of life".

As is known, beside the ’Hindu Tamils’ and the ’Christian Tamils’, there are Tamil-speaking Muslims, whom the LTTE alienated for good and purposefully with a single act of societal terror in the North, by asking a hundred thousand of them to vacate the Province with just four hours’ notice and SL Rs 200 in pocket. It was worse for the Muslims of the East, where the LTTE unleashed terror and violence, again in the same year, 1990. No Tamil has apologised to any Muslim even five years after the LTTE’s exit, just as none has apologised to the innocent Sinhalas that the LTTE massacred.

The less said about the Tamils of recent Indian origin, or the subaltern classes and castes among the Northern Tamils, the better. A parallel can be drawn only with the caste and region-centric society-driven, hierarchy-ridden politics of the Sinhala-Buddhist - both of which are worse in many cases than prevalent in various regions of political India. Up to a point sociologically, the JVP/LTTE militancy in the Sinhala/Tamil communities of the past decades were often explained away as an uprising of the under-privileged under-dogs. It was true of the JVP mostly, and the LTTE at least up to a point.

Suffice is to point out that unlike what Indians, including the Tamils in India, generally believed, Sri Lankan Buddhism and the dominant Saiviite belief in the Tamil-speaking Hindu community of the country, do not preach vegetarianism as a creed. The mental comparison thus with Emperor Ashoka’s Buddhism and Mahathma Gandhi’s ahimsa, derived from that religion, should stop there. The parallel belief of the Tamils in India, particularly the southern Tamil Nadu districts, that ’Saiva Vellalars’ in Sri Lanka should be following absolute vegetarianism as a faith too is equally misplaced.

Blame-ball in other’s courts

Almost since the advent of militancy among their youth, the Tamils of Sri Lanka have not run any government in the country, nor would they have wanted to take up the ’responsibility’ if circumstances had not thrust it upon them in the post-war Northern Province. Through the three decades, the LTTE ensured that the Tamil leadership would hold itself responsible for nothing, accountable to none else. The trait cannot be expected to fade away overnight, war or no-war, victory or defeat.

The Tamil leadership(s) too has mastered the fine-art of putting the ’blame ball’ in somebody else’s court all the time, whether it’s that of Sri Lanka, India, Norway, or now the UNHRC and its international backers. They have no responsibility to themselves and their people. They own nothing, yes, they own up nothing, either. And like the Sinhala leadership, political or otherwise, they won’t want to recognise their acquired and contemporaneous historic traits even decades later, want to acknowledge it either. The question of applying correctives does not apply.

Competing CBMs now

In the Sri Lankan context, the Rajapaksa leadership lost the script so very completely after winning a war that the world thought was unwinnable anywhere in the world. Even the mighty US could liquidate Osama bin Laden only years later. Today, the Sri Lankan Government is mired in UNHRC kind of controversies after taking reluctant false-steps forward on finding a political solution to the ethnic issue.

The Tamils, and their TNA political leadership, too have continued to take one step forward and two backward - constantly being egged on by their conscience in the first but the super-imposing and even more contentious Diaspora for and when on the back-foot. They have now entangled themselves in demands for de-militarisation, which may be prima facie unacceptable to the security forces until they see a permanent political solution on the ground, defending the otherwise indefensible Diaspora groups and their leaders - and what has been reduced to ’official postings’, nearer home.

Today, South Africa as the international interlocutor of sorts will have to begin talking about confidence-building measures (CBMs) of the kind that India and Norway had attempted in their times. The TNA would want de-militarisation, land-restoration, de-listing of Diaspora groups from the Government’s list of banned organisations under the anti-terror UN resolution, and re-posting of the Northern PC Chief Secretary, among others.

In turn, or independent of the TNA’s CBM demands, the Sri Lankan Government could want guarantees, local and international, that the rump LTTE does not get a foothold anywhere. With SLT Diaspora-driven Sri Lanka policy of Canada, for instance, already opposing any cooperation on the UN terror-list, Sri Lanka would want visible cooperation on that very issue - which is at variance from the TNA’s demand nearer home.

South Africa would have been tired out even before it might have begun the long odyssey towards lasting peace in distant Sri Lanka. Against this, the newly-elected Indian leadership may have an initial edge at the very least, to try and side-step the competing CBM-demands from either side of Sri Lanka’s ethnic-divide for them to return to the negotiations table for reviving the political dialogue. Having tasted Tamil Nadu’s collective opposition, the Modi Government cannot falter on the track.

Having demanded the extradition of 21 terrorists from Pakistan since the days of the BJP’s Vajpayee Government, the Modi leadership cannot be seen as helping with the de-listing demand of the TNA now. If anything, the outgoing Government had banned the LTTE for another five years, only days before the Modi Government took over. There is no way the incumbent would want to review that decision, either.

Honeymoon with the voter

From within India, the goodwill for the Modi Government on the Sri Lanka front has already evaporated in Tamil Nadu, where alone it mattered. That’s as much an opportunity as a challenge, considering that his Government can plough along without having to count on parliamentary support from the State. Manmohan Singh demonstrated the same after the DMK quit the Government a year ago -- it decided to abstain from the UNHRC vote this March - though supported by very valid reasons.

That way, India has a small window of opportunity, only until Sri Lanka goes back on the ’election mode’, possibly next year but most definitely the year after. There will only be windows of opportunity in between, as they would be interspersed with the half-yearly sessions of the UNHRC, where everyone wants to take a hard-line - and be seen as doing so. The Modi leadership too would have an additional extension or contraction of opportunity, depending on how long the voter’s honeymoon lasted.

’Tokenism’ all the way

By declining to join President Rajapaksa’s delegation for Modi’s swearing-in, Chief Minister Wigneswaran (dictated by his TNA, and possibly its Diaspora backers) may have lost for the Tamil community, one of those rare opportunities to meet with a foreign leader alongside the (Sinhala-Buddhist) President of the Sri Lankan State. It would have been the most unforgettable moment for the incoming Indian Prime Minister, who for any overseas leader, may have had the rare occasion to meet with the two under the same roof, and bring them together to the negotiations table.

Chief Minister Wigneswaran has dubbed President Rajapaksa’s gesture ’tokenism’. Yes, ’tokenism’ it was, and it is. So is the Indian invitation for the swearing-in. No one expects anything substantial discussed by any side in the series of meetings that Prime Minister Modi will have with his visitors from across South Asia on his first full day in office. Yet, why did they all accept the invitation, which particularly in the case of Pakistan was also a difficult decision to make.

In international politics and diplomacy, ’tokenism’ or ’gestures’ of the kind also make a difference, particularly at ice-breaking sessions of the kind. Officials on every side can be expected to record in institutional memory as to who held whose hand for an extra second more, or who possibly tweaked the non-existing thin-lip on a flat and expressionless face for a blinking moment - in and into history. Volumes have been written on both. Having been in power for six months now, the TNA has a long way to go in talking, understanding and acknowledging the diplomatic language, if they have to go far. Defending their ’hurt’ ignorance cannot equal depending still on perceived innocence.

Needless to point out, if only Justice Wigneswaran was on President Rajapaksa’s team, the Indian Government too would have extended a separate invitation and the required courtesies, as well. In a way, it’s yet another ’missed opportunity’ for the Tamils and the TNA. Having written a congratulatory message to Modi and also sought an early meeting with him, TNA’s Sampanthan and team would have to wait their turn in the normal course. Would protocol provide for the Northern Chief Minister joining that team, if the TNA wanted it and the Sri Lankan Government too cleared it remain to be seen.

’Iron Man’ all the same

By inviting SAARC leaders to his inauguration, Modi may have also begun taking a pot-shot, if not more just now, at re-orienting the nation’s foreign and security policy, when they have anyway become due. Coupled with his ’domestic image’ and self-motivation to be acknowledged as the ’Iron Man’, not of India, but also from India, for him to shape himself after his fellow-Gujarati icon in ’Sardar’ Vallabhai Patel, he will have to look beyond India, at the immediate neighbourhood.

In contemporary global and regional context in the world after the two Great Wars and the abrupt end of the ’Cold War’, India can only delay being closer to South Asia for prospective allies, who are made to feel as sub-continental Indians at heart and mind, but with an independent political existence of their own as individual nation-States with individualist traits, ambitions and problems. Their aspirations are diverse and united at the same time. India as a nation that has successfully practised Jawaharlal Nehru’s ’Unity in diversity’ is at the right place at the right time. So is Modi and his BJP-NDA government.

For starters, Modi has extended a firm hand, for a firm handshake with all neighbours. It’s a velvety touch that he has naturally begun with. Though velvety gloves, as with every other Indian leadership’s hand, does not have any iron-fist to hide, as has often been wantonly and mischievously misunderstood elsewhere in the neighbourhood. Pakistan may be an exception, for specific reasons, but that exception is not the Indian rule. Neighbourhood interlocutors actually understand the truth, but want to acknowledge the same only selectively.

Modi has already proved to his nation that his velvet glove and firm grip needs to be taken seriously and should go both ways. By inviting Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in, fully aware of the domestic political fallout - in Tamil Nadu in the case of President Rajapaksa, and some in his own party at the national-level on Pakistan - at one stroke, he has demonstrated that he is getting onto a firm grip of things nearer home.

Working with ’em all

Given the complexities of the relations with individual nations in the neighbourhood, South Asia as a region, and SAARC as an unaccomplished institution, he has also demonstrated his need and willingness to work with them all, individually and collectively, to take not only India but also the entire region to greater heights, again collectively. It’s again a demonstration of his emerging understanding and existing realities of his time, of things foreign and security policy, beginning with an in South Asia but not ending there, however.

As coincidence would have it, neighbourhood interlocutors now want India more than ever. India wants them even more than ever in the past, given the existing and emerging realities in this larger neighbourhood - be it in the domestic context of individual South Asian nations, or in the regional political, economic, geo-strategic and security contexts. None of them is devoid of an element of the other, none of these nations can do without one another - though the temptation to play extra-regional powers to irritate India at times, coax India at other times.

Unlike his predecessors over the past decades, Prime Minister Modi is a man in hurry. He has years ahead of him, both as a man and as a national leader. Like his nation just now, he too is at the right place at the right time, leading a nation with coalescing temperaments, to trust him, and trust him with the nation and the individual -- and the shared future of both. He has ’promises’ to keep, and he has ’miles’ to go to keep those ’promises’ - as Prime Minister Nehru had said in his time, quoting poet Robert Frost.

Modi may or may not have read Frost. Nor is Nehru his favourite leader from the past. But the ’promises’ and ’miles’ are there for him too - as much as they were for Nehru, and much more than all those leaders who led India between them. Modi would understand diplomacy and foreign policy in good time, he understands people(s) even more, and marrying people and policies has been his USP in and for the India of his times. The rest should and would follow!

(The writer is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter)

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Afghanistan: An agenda for the new Indian government

Aryaman Bhatnagar

Both India and Afghanistan are in the midst of a political transition. While India elected a BJP-led government with an overwhelming majority last week, a new president in Afghanistan - the first since 2001 - should assume power by mid-July.

A change in leadership is unlikely to significantly alter the India-Afghan relations or India’s policy towards Afghanistan. Given the US draw-down from the region and the resultant reduction of international aid that it would possibly offset, the new regime in Kabul is likely to desire a greater role for India in the region. Similarly, the stakes for New Delhi in a stable Afghanistan that is free from the influence of Rawalpindi and radical forces are too high for it to down-scale its support to Kabul or to walk away from the country altogether.

The new government in New Delhi could make certain amendments in its Afghan policy in order to overcome some of the gaps and address the changing ground realities.

For starters, India needs to increase its engagement with Afghanistan’s security sector. Till now India has tread very cautiously when it comes to supporting the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). This has been driven partly by India’s concerns of provoking Pakistan and partly by its own apprehensions of the stability of the ANSF in the future.

India had repeatedly turned down the requests of the Afghan government to equip the ANSF with heavy weaponry. In light of this, recent media reports suggesting that India will pay for Russian arms meant for the ANSF is definitely an encouraging sign.

Increased training

However, just the funding or equipment for the ANSF by itself is not enough. This has to be supplemented by increased training for the ANSF personnel. India is committed to doing this as per the terms of the Strategic Partnership Agreement that it signed with Afghanistan in 2011.

Despite this India is reportedly providing training to only about 1000 ANSF personnel annually. Given that the envisioned end strength of the ANSF is about 350,000 and India’s capacity to train Afghan troops is assessed to be much higher, this is an abysmally low number. Stepping up support for the ANSF, at this stage, is one way of ensuring that engagement with India becomes indispensable for any government in power in Kabul.

The security vacuum that is likely to emerge in Afghanistan post-2014 could possibly derail any large-scale reconstruction project in the country. The impact of such future uncertainties is already visible in India and China’s reluctance to start their flagship mining projects in Bamiyan and Logar provinces respectively. However, India has to continue to seek ways of continuing to engage with Afghanistan in order to protect its strategic and commercial interests in the country.

Community development projects

An increased emphasis on the Small and Community Development Projects (SDPs) may provide such an opportunity. India has successfully completed more than 100 such projects. These projects have been highly popular in Afghanistan and have won India tremendous goodwill as they bring immediate benefits to the community and develop local capacities, since the execution and management of these projects is the responsibility of the local communities.

While India has signed a MoU to undertake more of these projects, it is important that the new government uses the strategic potential of these projects to safeguard its interests. India has managed to develop good linkages with the Pashtun community in southern and eastern Afghanistan as the bulk of the SDPs are located in these parts of the country.

India should seek to use these projects as an opportunity to engage with Pashtun tribal elders, provincial governors and even regional warlords. At the same time, India can use the popularity of these projects as leverage to seek protection for its interests from the Taliban-dominated insurgency in these provinces.

At the same time, India should be looking to expand these projects beyond South and East Afghanistan in order to engage with the non-Pashtun groups in Afghanistan. This would be a good way to allay some of the concerns and perceptions of abandonment that these groups have had regarding India’s Afghan policy over the past decade or so.

Regional cooperation

Finally, it is important for the new Indian government to make greater efforts to promote regional cooperation vis-a-vis Afghanistan. In particular, it should seek to expedite the signing of the transit agreement with Iran and Afghanistan. Similarly, it is important that New Delhi takes greater interest in the development of the Chabahar Port.

While India has pledged to provide $ 100 m towards the development of the port, Iran feels that this sum - and India’s overall involvement in this project - could be significantly higher given the strategic importance of the port for India.

The outgoing government had also initiated a dialogue with China on Afghanistan, but was unable to make much headway. Given the commonality of interests with respect to Afghanistan, it is important that New Delhi maintains this dialogue with Beijing and seeks avenues for cooperation with each other on Afghanistan.

(The writer is an Associate Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi)

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian consulate in Herat attacked

The Indian consulate in the western province of Herat was attacked early morning on 23 May.

In subsequent clashes with the Afghan Security Forces, all militants were killed. All civilians in the building where the militants had taken position were rescued and no harm was caused to any of the Indian diplomats.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Khaama Press, 23 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Run-off campaign begins

The second round of the Afghan presidential elections kicked off on 22 May. The two contenders, Dr Abdullah Abdullah and Dr Ashraf Ghani have about 20 days to conduct their campaign before the voting takes place on 14 June.

Dr Ghani received the endorsement of Ahmad Zia Massoud, who was one of the running mates of Zalmai Rassoul in the first round, and Sibghatollah Mujaddidi, a former President of the country. former presidential candidate Dawoud Sultanzoi also extended support to Dr Ghani.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Tolo News, 22 May 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese firm likely to get deep-sea port job

After a long procrastination, the government is learnt to have decided to award the construction work of the much-talked-about Sonadia Deep Sea port to a state-owned Chinese company. An MoU to this effect is likely to be signed with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to China early next month.The Chinese company will implement the first phase of the project worth US$1.28 billion under Chinese assistance.

The deep sea port project, estimated to cost Tk. 65,000 crore, was initiated by the government in 2006. It will cater to the demands of north-eastern India, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan. The site of the port — at Sonadia — was selected in 2009.

According to CHEC’s feasibility study, the Sonadia deep sea port is to be built in three phases. While phase I will cater to the shipping demands till 2020, phase II will do so till 2030, and Phase III till 2055.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, 22 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">GDP growth at 6.12 pc

Bangladesh has posted a 6.12 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the current fiscal year, compared to a 6.01 percent growth in GDP in the previous financial year. This was revealed in the provisional estimate of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistic (BBS). According to the BBS, the country’s per capita income has touched $1,190. According to Bangladesh Bank data, GDP growth rate in Bangladesh averaged 5.62 percent, from 1994 until 2013, reaching an all-time high of 6.71 percent in 2011, and a record low of 4.08 percent in 1994.

According to BBS data, agriculture and forestry contributed 2.4 percent growth in GDP in the current fiscal year; fishery, 6.49 percent; manufacturing, 8.68 percent; electricity, gas and water supply, 7.40 percent; construction, 8.56 percent; wholesale and retail trade and repair of motors, 6.57 percent; hotel and restaurants, 6.57 percent; transport, storage and communication, 6.47 percent; financial services, 9.12 percent; real estate, renting and business activities, 4.24 percent; public administration and defence, 7.06 percent; education, 8.22 percent; health and social services, 5.02 percent; and community, social and personal services, 3.27 percent.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, 22 May 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Strengthening democracy is our goal’

Bhutan’s King said that among the many goals that are being pursued by our country, one of the most important goals is to nurture and strengthen democracy and ensure that it benefits the country and the people. Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, graced the opening ceremony of the 3rd session of the Second Parliament on 16th May 2014.

"The prosperity of the people is a vital goal in our ultimate objective to create a harmonious and just society. Besides achieving economic success, we must also invest in enhancing the capabilities of our people so that they can shoulder greater responsibilities," Wangchuck said. Wangchuck said that parliamentary sessions are held meaningfully and productively as a result of people’s participation, which is the true essence of democracy.

The King of Bhutan cited examples where people in some countries had lost faith in law and confidence in democracy due to proliferation of laws, which were hastily enacted, poorly implemented and caused social difficulties for the people.

"We, on the other hand, are fortunate to have been born in an extraordinary nation, where democracy was brought in an exceptional manner by His Majesty the Fourth King. We have been blessed with this incomparable opportunity to serve the Tsa Wa Sum," Wangchuck said.

His Majesty urged the 72 members of Parliament to look beyond their term in office and place the long-term interest of the people and nation foremost in their minds. "If there comes a time when you have to forgo personal comfort and self-interest, your own conscience must guide you to take the right decision in the interest of the nation."

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Bhutanese, 16 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">"Mountain Echoes" begins

Seen as a window to unmask the shrouded mystery of Bhutan by celebrating its literature, art, culture and music, the annual "Mountain Echoes" festival’s fifth edition kicked off in Thimpu on 22 May. The three-day festival promises to offer a balanced account of many myths, peek into Bhutan’s textiles and soulful music, along with staple dose of democracy, crime and gender writing.

An initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation, the festival is managed by Indian non-profit literature promotion group Siyahi with the support of Bhutan’s Queen-Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck who is the chief royal patron of the festival.

Leading Indian household consumer durables company Usha International is one of the main sponsors of the festival that will go on till 24 May at Nehru Wangchuck Centre and Taj Tashi in Thimphu.

Some of the interesting sessions that will give a peak into the Himalayan culture are: "Pema Lingpa Tradition" where Buddhist philosopher Ani Kinley and Dorji Gyeltshen will be in conversation with scholar and social worker Karma Phuntsho and trace life of the famous saint and "Pilgrimages and the Journey of Folk Literature" where speakers will connect the journey of holy walks with folklore.

Glimpses of Bhutanese life will reflect on the big screen through movie screenings and will throw life on the mundane life, their religious beliefs and role of the women in the Bhutanese society.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, 21 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Help to build bridge in Bangladesh

Bhutan is keen to export boulders to Bangladesh for the Padma bridge project. The new Bhutanese Ambassador in Dhaka Pema Choden requested Dhaka to allow it duty-free access. She expressed the interest while meeting Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali at the foreign ministry on 21 May.

The government is planning to build the biggest-ever infrastructure project with its own funds. The foreign minister said the National Board of Revenue would ’soon’ convene an inter-ministerial meeting along with the commerce ministry and other stakeholders to this end.

The ambassador once again showed her country’s keen interest to buy surplus internet bandwidth from Bangladesh. She said Bhutan might send a formal proposal in this regard.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Bhutan Observer, 21 May 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi invites SAARC leaders to swearing-in

Narendra Modi was unanimously elected as leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party on 20 May paving the way for him to become the 14th Prime Minister of India. Mr. Modi will take his oath to office on 26 May. He has invited heads of state of SAARC countries to his swearing-in ceremony in a move that is being dubbed "pro-active diplomacy". Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has accepted the invitation as has Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is still not clear if Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend the ceremony.

The invitations, hailed by some as a positive move to engage neighbours, have drawn criticism from other quarters. The Congress has criticised Modi of having ’double-standards’ with regards to Pakistan, parties in the South are protesting the invite issued to Rajapaksa. Sources in AIADMK said Jayalalithaa may skip the event and depute a senior leader to take part in the ceremony.

DMK has also criticised Modi for inviting Rajapaksa. "BJP should have respected the wishes of all parts of India," DMK leader TKS Elangovan has said. BJP ally MDMK has opposed the participation of Rajapaksa, saying his presence would hurt the feelings of the Tamil people. Party founder Vaiko claimed Congress was shown the door by the people of TN for allegedly helping Colombo in its pursuit against LTTE, "in which thousands of Tamil civilians were killed." Vaiko has asked Modi and BJP chief Rajnath Singh not to allow Rajapaksa to attend the swearing in.

Sri Lanka strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom are expected to attend the ceremony.

< class="text11verdana">Source: NDTV, 21 May 2014, Economic Times, 22 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC acquits Akshardham convicts

Pulling up Gujarat police for framing "innocent" people in the 2002 Akshardham temple attack case, the Supreme Court ordered that all the six convicted by lower courts be freed, and blamed the Gujarat Home Minister for "non-application of the mind."

A Bench of Justices A K Patnaik and V Gopala Gowda blamed the home minister for "clear non-application of mind?in granting sanction" since it was based neither on an informed decision, nor on an independent analysis of facts. The court said the sanction was hence "void" and not a legal and valid sanction under POTA.

As Gujarat Chief Minister, prime minister-designate Narendra Modi held the portfolio in November 2003 when sanction to prosecute them under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was granted.

The six had been convicted in the criminal conspiracy to plot the terror strike at Akshardham to avenge the post-Godhra communal riots. Two terrorists who sprayed bullets from AK-56 rifles killing and injuring devotees were killed by commandos on September 25, 2002.

After perusing evidence and lower court judgements, the SC Bench noted "the story of prosecution crumbles at every juncture". The court said, "The confessional statements cannot be relied upon and the case of the prosecution fails. Accordingly, we hold there is no independent evidence on record to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in the face of retractions and grave allegations of torture and violation of human rights the accused have made against police," it said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Indian Express, 17 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Warning about new terror threats

Intelligence officials have warned that Indian Islamist groups are preparing for a fresh round of attacks. They said at least six former Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives are believed to be training at al-Qaeda-linked camps in Pakistan’s war-torn North Waziristan province.

Mirza Shadab Beg, Shahnawaz Alam, Muhammad ’Bada’ Sajid, Alamzeb Afridi, Shafi Armar and Sultan Armar — all members of the Indian Mujahideen’s Azamgarh and Bhatkal cells who fled India in 2008-2009 — broke with the organisation after Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency forced its Karachi-based military commander, Riyaz Shahbandri, to scale back operations.

Earlier this year, the breakaway faction formed a new organisation calling itself the Ansar-ul-Tauheed, or ’army of one true faith’. National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials say recruitment for the new groups is being carried out through a welter of front organisations, linked to the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

Sharad Kumar, NIA’s Director-General, identified one such over-ground organisation as Indian Muslim Front (IMF) — a religious study group linked to Omar Siddique and four other Chhattisgarh men held on charges of providing safe houses to the men charged with attacking prime minister-designate Modi.

Haidar Ali, an alleged perpetrator of the Patna bombing held on Wednesday, was also linked to SIMI’s hard-line faction, led by the incarcerated Islamist leader Safdar Nagori. "SIMI under Safdar Nagori believed in strengthening the organisation to a level that would enable it to carry out large-scale attacks", a senior NIA official told The Hindu. "However, after his arrest, his followers floated front outfits and built up ties with other similar groups to carry out terror activities."

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, 22 May 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Yameen to attend Modi’s swearing-in

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom will attend the investiture ceremony of the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the President’s Office has said.

The President has accepted the invitation to the ceremony and will travel to New Delhi shortly, the office said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh wrote to her SAARC counterparts inviting their leaders to the swearing in on Monday," India’s Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson told the Indian press on Wednesday.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline 21 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Will do all that it takes: Gasim

Leader of the Jumhooree Party, Gasim Ibrahim has said that he will do all that it is necessary for the sake of the people and the Maldivian nation. Gasim said that many investors in the tourism industry raised concern and questions when he supported the TGST bill and to increase it.

"Many resort-owners asked me for the reason why I supported it. I asked them why they did not raise questions on the bill in the Majlis. I am not the only person living in Maldives. I am just another citizen of this country. So I had to do it for the sake of the people," he said.

In an earlier statement, Gasim noted that he has to pay the largest amount as tax, however he has always supported the tax system regardless of this. He said that he will always work for the sake of the people and will make any sacrifices necessary for the betterment of the people and the Maldivian nation.

"We can see the benefits of it now. The budget that was Rf 7 billion without deficit has now become Rf 12-13 billion. Therefore there are benefits from this system," he said.

He said that he supported the tax bills submitted by the government and worked to pass them because of this for the sake of the people regardless of the unrecoverable loss it will cause to his business.

Gasim Ibrahim said that he voted for the bill to increase the TGST to serve the people despite the $ 15 million losses per year it will cause to his Villa companies.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Miadhu, 23 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Did not oppose Shariat: Minister Umar

Minister of Home Affairs, Umar Naseer has said that he has not made any statements that are in opposition to the Islamic Sharia. "I have never made any statements that threaten the stability and peace of Maldives. I have not made any statements that are against the Islamic Sharia," he said.

Umar Naseer made this remark following the court hearing on the charges of disobeying State orders and encouraging public disorder during a protest against former President Mohamed Nasheed’s government.

Umar Naseer is being indicted by the State with reference to the Article 8 (ii) of General Laws. Umar submitted that the Article should be annulled but attorneys from the Prosecutor-General’s office opposed the submission.

The State attorney told the court that Umar Naseer opposed the Islamic Sharia by calling for volunteers to storm the walls of the country’s military headquarters during a rally in 2012, and said it was against the tenets of Islam.

Answering defence lawyer Adam Asif’s argument that the said Article contradicts the constitutional freedom of expression, the prosecution argued in length that the purpose of Umar Naseer’s statements on 23 January 2012 was to disrupt the country’s peace and therefore against the tenets of Islam.

Umar Naseer replied that he was always trying to maintain peace and stability of the nation and he will continue to do so. He said that he has made no statements that are against the tenets of Islam.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Miadhu 23 May 2014, SunOnline, 22 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President dismisses Falah from JSC, appoints Faisal

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has dismissed Shamsul Falah and appointed Mohamed Faisal to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

President Yameen presented the letter of appointment to Mohamed Faisal at a ceremony held at the President’s Office, the office said in a Press statement.

Mohamed Faisal was the Secretary-General of the People’s Alliance, a political party founded by President Yameen in 2008 and later dissolved.

President Yameen had appointed Shamsul Falah to the JSC on 28 November, soon after the president’s inauguration.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline, 23 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt pharmacy for every island

The government is working on signing an agreement with State Trading Organisation (STO) to establish a pharmacy in every island of the Maldives, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim has said.

Nazim, who is the acting Health Minister, said that establishing pharmacies in every island was a goal the government wished to reach within 18 months of their governance. He said that the project will be completely managed by STO, the main supplier of pharmaceuticals into the Maldives.

The minister also said that pharmacies will be established even in islands with existing pharmacies. "We cannot lean on any other party," he said.

Initiated to facilitate availability of medicine in the atolls, this project also works with the Aasandha health insurance scheme.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru Online, 22 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SL extradites drug kingpin

Convicted local drug kingpin Ibrahim ’Shafaa’ Shafaz who was arrested in neighbouring Sri Lanka on Wednesday has been extradited to Maldives.

Shafaz, who was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment in November 2013 on charges of drug-trafficking, had in early February departed to Sri Lanka alleging medical reasons. No member of the correctional service had accompanied him to Sri Lanka, which led to many speculating that there was something suspicious about his departure.

The three-month period given to him for his medical treatment had expired early this month. He was arrested in Sri Lankan capital Colombo in a joint operation conducted by Maldives and Sri Lankan police.

Shafaz has since appealed the Criminal Court’s decision to sentence him to 18 years of imprisonment, from Sri Lanka. The High Court admitted his appeal; however as per the court’s regulations, the hearings cannot commence till he appears in court. Besides his prison sentence, Shafaz was also fined MVR 75,000 by the Criminal Court.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru Online 22 May 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Suu Kyi’s ire on constitutional amendment

Aung San Suu Kyi has urged military law-makers to "face the truth" about the 2008 Constitution, that it based on a lie, because the military failed to honour the results of the 1990 election. The military leaders of the Myanmar parliament dismissed Suu Kyi’s claims.

"The government said it is on the way to democracy but I think it is lying. It is necessary to amend the 2008 Constitution to be able to hold a fair election in 2015. Now everyone is just focused on winning the 2015 election. We want to focus on winning democracy, rather than winning in election," she said.

"I would like to urge everyone to ask their MPs whether they support amending the Constitution in the Hluttaw. If they do not answer your question clearly, I don’t think they really represent the people." Meanwhile, military members of parliament dismissed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s suggestion that they lack the bravery to withdraw from politics.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Myanmar Times, 21, 22 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese mine workers abducted, freed

Two Chinese workers at a controversial Letpadaung copper mine in Myanmar have been kidnapped by activists opposed to the project on 18 May. The workers were released later on 19 May after a negotiation was struck between the company and the activists.

Along with their Myanmar driver, the two Chinese were taken away while conducting land survey. Some 20 villagers from Old Sete Village stopped the car of the trio and took them to a primary school in the village.

Local administration officials negotiated with the kidnappers on 18 May afternoon, leading to the Myanmar national’s release. During the negotiation process, police had to disperse the villagers by firing rubber bullets and later withdrew to avoid further confrontation.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Agencies, 21 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US extends sanctions

US President Barack Obama has extended some economic sanctions against Myanmar for another year, telling Congress the step is needed despite some progress on reforms made by the country.

President Obama, who visited Myanmar in 2012, said the Myanmar government had made advances in critical areas such as the release of more than 1100 political prisoners, progress toward a nationwide ceasefire, the legalisation of unions and taking steps to improve the country’s labour standards.

"The political opening remains nascent, and concerns persist regarding ongoing conflict and human rights abuses in ethnic minority areas, particularly in Rakhine State, and the continued role of the military in the country’s political and economic activities," Obama said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Age, 19 May 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM to visit China after India

The road from Kathmandu to Beijing may lie through Delhi. PM-designate Narendra Modi’s invitation to Nepal may have helped PM Sushil Koirala resolve a policy dilemma. He had kept an invite from China on hold, since he had not yet paid a visit to India after being elected, and did not want to ruffle feathers in Delhi.

With Koirala accepting Modi’s invitation, he is now in a position to strike a ’balance’ between the country’s two neighbours, a key priority of successive governments in Nepal. Koirala has been invited to attend the Second China South Asia Expo in Kunming between June 6 and 10, where Nepal is the country of honour this year.

The PM, according to highly placed Nepal government sources, was keen to make the visit - but this would have broken a long-standing political tradition whereby the Nepali PM makes his first official visit to India.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindustan Times, 23 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Koirala congratulates BJP chief

Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala late on May 16 sent a congratulatory message to BJP president Rajnath Singh over the party’s splendid victory during the recent Lok Shaba elections where the party won majority.

The party president of ruling Nepali Congress, Koirala also sent a congratulatory message to Narendra Modi through President Singh. "I, on behalf of my party Nepali Congress, the people and the government of Nepal, would like to congratulate you and Honourable Narendra Modi-ji on the party’s impressible victory in the general election and express our very best wishes for all success," said Koirala in his written message to Singh.

"Nepal and India are close friends and neighbours with an age-old relationship," said Koirala, adding, "We share similar social-cultural values and development aspirations, so I look forward to working together to harness the vast potential of Nepal-India relations for mutual benefits." "I wish your good health and happiness as well as continued well-being, progress and prosperity of the People of India," he said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Business Standard, 17 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Law-makers divided over new judicial system

Constituent Assembly (CA) members have begun intense debate on the judicial systems proposed in the draft of new constitution while remaining sharply divided along the lines of their respective political parties. While Maoist law-makers have advocated bringing the judiciary under the purview of the special parliamentary committee, members from Nepali Congress have strongly opposed it.

Law-makers from second-largest CPN-UML while advocating a middle-way solution supported NC´s position. Members from Madhes-based parties share similar views with the UCPN (Maoist) on several key provisions. NC and UML law-makers fiercely criticised Maoist lawmakers for insisting on curtailing the Supreme Court´s jurisdiction and mandating the House committee as the final authority to interpret the constitution and laws.

Another contentious issue proposed by the Maoists includes the proposal to form Constitutional Court and giving it the mandate to arbitrate the disputes between Provinces, between provinces and central government or disputes between local and provincial levels. Also, the Maoists want to entrust the parliamentary committee with the responsibility of appointing judges and taking actions against them.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 23 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New peaks opened to climbers

Nepal has opened 104 new, unconquered peaks to mountaineers, in an attempt to boost tourism after a deadly avalanche effectively ended this year’s lucrative Mount Everest climbing season, the government said on May 22.

Climbers can now scale a total of 414 peaks in the Himalayan nation, including two named after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the first men to successfully summit the world’s tallest mountain in 1953, the tourism ministry said. The newly-opened peaks have not been tackled before, officials said, meaning climbers have the chance to be the first to summit them.

The new peaks include the 7,681-metre Hillary Peak and the 7,916-metre Tenzing Peak. Mountaineering officials welcomed the announcement, saying it would revive Nepal as a climbing destination, after the April 18 avalanche saw the effective closure of the climbing season, a key revenue earner for the impoverished country. Tourism ministry official Burlakoti said the government was keen to open more of its over 1,300 Himalayan peaks in future, depending on demand from climbers.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, 22 May 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sharif invited to Modi’s swearing in

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been extended an invitation to the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister-in-waiting Narendra Modi. Prime Minister Sharif will soon be taking a decision on whether to accept India’s unprecedented invitation.

A source in Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi said that they had received ’positive signals’ from the government and it was likely that Prime Minister Sharif would accept the invitation to New Delhi.

The delay in the formal announcement has been attributed to concerns expressed by Pakistan’s security establishment. Other options such as sending Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif or Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz to India are also being considered.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, 23 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Court orders Musharraf’s appearance

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad has summoned former President Pervez Musharraf on June 13 in the judges’ detention case while granting exemption from the hearing scheduled for 23 May 2014.

Musharraf’s lawyer has filed an application for permanent exemption for his client. The court had earlier warned of action against the guarantors of Pervez Musharraf if he failed to appear before the court on 23 May 2014.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The News International, 23 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bombing in North Waziristan

Gunship helicopter and jet planes bombed North Waziristan killing four suspected militants and injuring three others. The strikes targeted militant hideouts in Miranshah, Machis Camp and Mir Ali Bazaar areas of the tribal agency.

Security forces also carried out a door to door search arresting five suspected militants. Security forces also blew up militant bases in the Machis Camp area while artillery and jet fighters struck another insurgent base in Sokhel Wazir.

The death toll since action began with air strikes followed by targeted on ground action crossed 80 with over 75 suspected militants and four security personnel amongst those killed.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, 23 May 2014;, 23 May 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Wigneswaran declines President’s invitation

Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council C.V. Wigneswaran has turned down an invitation extended to him by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to join the Presidential delegation to attend the ceremony where the oath of office to India’s Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi will be administered.

Wigneswaran in a letter addressed to Minister of External Affairs Prof GL Peiris said: "I am grateful for the invitation extended on behalf of H.E. The President to accompany him to grace the occasion of the swearing in of Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister Elect of India even at this late stage. I reply having considered your kind request to the Board of Ministers.

"It is an auspicious sign that the historic election of Shri Narendra Modi has received in the Government of Sri Lanka a sense of co-operation and partnership towards the Northern Province. Given the untold hardships of the peoples of the Northern Province and the strictures on the functioning of the Provincial Council, this is indeed welcome.

"However I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your kind invitation. Primarily, because acceptance would indicate that there exists a strong co-operative spirit prevailing between the Centre and the Province, when in fact, the Peoples of the North are engulfed in a climate of fear on account of the continued presence of the military while the activities of the Northern Provincial Council have been stultified. I would be guilty of facilitating tokenism were I to accept such an invitation. Nevertheless, I have already sent my best wishes to the prime minister-elect of India through the High Commissioner for India in Sri Lanka.

"I earnestly hope that the spirit of partnership and goodwill expressed by your kind invitation would nevertheless continue to ensure that the electoral mandate of the Northern Province would be fulfilled and. the fundamental rights of its Peoples arc preserved."

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island 22 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Not in line with our vision, MR tells Ban

An international inquiry was not in keeping with the vision of our people, the presidential media spokesperson quoted President Mahinda Rajapaksa as having told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when they met on the sidelines of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA) in the Chinese capital of Beijing.

During the meeting, the President had made reference to the contradictions in Paragraphs 2 and 10 of the last resolution of the UN Human Rights Council adopted in March, the spokesperson said.

President Rajapaksa briefed the Secretary-General on the post-war developments that had taken place in Sri Lanka since the UN head’s visit to Sri Lanka in 2009 and progress in a variety of different sectors. The President urged the Secretary-General to make another visit to see the developments.

The following is the text of a statement issued by the spokesperson: "The President updated Ban on the progress of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), pointing out that Sri Lanka has implemented about 30 percent of the recommendations so far.

"I appreciate your leadership to implement the LLRC," Ban said while also expressing his appreciation of the President’s commitment to the democratic process.

President Rajapaksa also explained that addressing certain matters such as land ownership will take time but that Sri Lanka remains committed to the LLRC process.

The President also informed the Secretary-General that Sri Lanka remains fully committed to implementing a domestic procedure to look into alleged violations that may have taken place during the war. Sri Lanka continues to work with the United Nations system, the President said.

Pointing out that Sri Lanka has been making a great deal of progress, Ban also congratulated Sri Lanka on the successful conclusion of the World Conference on Youth (WCY) 2014, the Press statement said.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: The Island, 21 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">External pressure can’t stop celebration: MR

President Mahinda Rajapaksa today said that his government is not ready to stop celebrating the defeat of terrorism due to some external pressure and vowed to continue celebrating it.

"We will not stop celebrating the defeat of terrorism, whoever participates or not, we will celebrate it continuously," President Rajapaksa said, addressing the victory day celebration in Matara on Sunday, 18 May.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online 18 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No-trust motion defeated: JHU, NFF absent

The no-confidence motion moved by the main opposition United National Party against the government was defeated by 94 votes in Parliament a when taken up on Wednesday.

The UNP, Tamil National Alliance and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna voted for the motion while Jathika Hela Urumaya and National Freedom Front of Minister Wimal Weerawansa, two Government parties sharing ministerial berths, were absent.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, 21 May 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Suspected Indian agent nabbed

The police arrested an Indian national who had impersonated himself as a Sri Lankan using a false name for 19 years from Koliyabenda Wewa area in Parasangaswewa in Anuradhapura.

The police had been able to confiscate the documents, photocopies and the identity cards in his possession issued from various countries when he was taken into custody by a by a Special Detection Unit during a raid conducted following a tip-off.

The suspect resided in Sri Lanka by the name Hamza Jamaldeen and had travelled to the Northern Province from time to time. The police suspect the person to be an officer working for an Indian intelligence agency.

According to the identity card in his possession, he was 44 years of age and he had gone abroad with a false passport. Initial reports said that the suspect had obtained a Sri Lankan passport after claiming that his original passport was destroyed.

When questioned, he had said that he came from Kerala State in India in 1995 and had served in a hotel in Technical Junction and thereafter in some hotels in Vavuniya , Jaffna Junction in Anuradhapura and Parasangaswewa.

Several documents, including forged identity cards were found in the suspect’s possession. The suspect had also travelled to many foreign countries during the time period.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island 19 May 2014

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:
Afghanistan:Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharje;
India: Niharika Betkerur;
Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale;
Nepal: Pratnashree Basu;
Pakistan: Taruni Kumar;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.


N. Sathiya Moorthy

N. Sathiya Moorthy

N. Sathiya Moorthy is a policy analyst and commentator based in Chennai.

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