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SOUTH ASIA WEEKLY REPORT
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Vol. V Issue. 35
Pakistan: What did Kayani say on August 14?
Wilson John
31 August 2012

Analysis

Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani's Independence Day address at Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, attracted widespread comments, mostly positive. In fact, Gen Kayani's speech eclipsed the standard presidential address on the occasion in the media. But the commentators missed one point: Gen Kayani spoke like Head of the State, and not of the Army. And therein lies a story which needs to be pursued, and watched with close attention in the months ahead.

Apart from the political overtones, Gen Kayani's observations and advice were addressed to the people as a whole, and not just the military. His speech was in no way addressed to his men and officers to rise to the occasion but to the people to face the challenges facing the country. By far, this was the most political speech Gen Kayani has delivered since he took over as the Chief of Army Staff in November 2007.

Gen Kayani's speech at Kakul (Abbottabad), also an exercise in exorcising the May 2011 infamy, dealt with key challenges facing the Army and the country. The first challenge he outlined was the twin-threat of extremism and terrorism. Without going into details, the Army chief said there was no point in denying the reality that fighting terrorism was "our own war". Not only that, he went on to emphasise that it was also a 'just war'. Failure to fathom the gravity of the situation, he pointed out, could lead to a civil war situation.

Two points are noteworthy here. So far, the consensus in Pakistan had been that the war against terrorism was an American War and they were merely pawns and should therefore disassociate themselves. Gen Kayani, perhaps for the first time, said it is Pakistan's war. This is the strongest ever statement coming out of GHQ Rawalpindi on the issue of terrorism in the recent past.

Gen Kayani's statement could mean two things at the outset - one, that it is an expression of resolve and determination to root out terrorist groups operating against Pakistan. Second, it could indicate a sense of helplessness about the growing capabilities and reach of many of the terrorist groups targeting the security forces, especially the army and ISI.

Does this indicate a change of spots? Perhaps it is too early to make such a jump. It will also be equally fallacious to believe that the Army will now, even if slowly, dis-entangle itself from its "strategic assets" --the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT). There is no indication in his speech of any paradigm-shift in the Army's policy of using terrorist groups as strategic instruments of State policy.

Likewise, Gen Kayani has used the speech to test the waters about a possible military operation in North Waziristan. He has laid out the ground for such an operation by indicating the growing incidents of extremism and terrorism and the failure of the civilian leadership to promulgate strong anti-terrorism laws.

But he has steered away from making any commitments or expose his hand about the timing and scope of such an operation if and when it is launched. Past military offensives in the tribal areas, since 2001, have been either disastrous or elicited only mixed results. Even in areas where the military had partial success, the militant groups have managed to hold on to smaller enclaves of support and operation. In most areas of the tribal areas, the military has no presence and where it has, its check-posts remain under constant threat or attack from militants crossing over from Kunar and Nooristan Provinces in Afghanistan.

Gen Kayani has his own reasons to be non-committal on the North Waziristan operations. First, he has made it clear that he has not agreed for joint operations with the Americans but a coordinated operation. Second, North Waziristan presents a different problem for Gen Kayani than Leon Panetta. The Americans want Pak help in targeting the Haqqanis in North Waziristan. Gen Kayani wants TTP holed up there. The difference is-- Haqqanis rule Miranshah and TTP is in Mir Ali.

Besides, Gen Kayani is not sure how much public support he is likely to get if he goes all out to take out the TTP guys. There is not much public support for any major military offensive within Pakistan. The outcomes of previous operations have been doubtful. Not only did the army suffer heavy losses in times of lives (over 3000 men and officers) but also a loss of face. Despite such heavy losses, the army was not able to cripple the militant groups but merely forced them to relocate to Afghanistan where they got easy shelter from other militant groups. In the recent past, there have been a series of attacks on Pakistani security check posts by Afghanistan-based militants.

There is also this lingering fear that the militant groups over the years have better operational and logistical capability than the para-military and military forces which have not had access to the rugged areas. The local intelligence about the terrain and the groups' capabilities have been few and far since the Taliban groups systematically killed the political agents and ISI operatives since 2002.

Gen Kayani also knows that any half-hearted attempt to dislodge TTP will have serious repercussions. When Musharraf tried to clear Lal Masjid of pro-Taliban elements in July 2007 with a military offensive, the result had been a series of revenge attacks on ISI and security forces-about 200 suicide attacks against the security forces were reported between July 2007 and July 2008. Another grave consequence was the birth of TTP with the army and ISI as two of the primary targets.

On the other hand, a full throttle military operation inside Pakistan, at a time when people are fed up with corruption, power outages, failing law and order situation, could invite public anger if the operation were to prolong. A military operation in such circumstances-targets and terrain and operational handicap-is likely to miss the deadline and can dangerously drag for months altogether draining not only resources but public patience.

These options and limitations weigh heavily on Kayani's mind, amply reflected in when he remarked that " we are fully aware that it is the most difficult task for any Army to fight its own people. This is always done as a last resort".

(The writer is a Vice-President at Observer Research Foundation)

India-Sri Lanka ties: It has to be give-and-take, not tit-for-tat

N Sathiya Moorthy
An eye for an eye can make all persons blind - and achieve nothing. In the saga of India-Sri Lanka relations, increasing incidents of violence against ordinary Sri Lankans on the streets of Tamil Nadu has already impacted on the public perception in the island-nation. It has potential for damaging bilateral relations to levels that is seldom understood in Tamil Nadu, and appreciated as much by the Government system in New Delhi, too. Or, that again seems to be the perception in Colombo.

Attacks on visiting Government Ministers and other political dignitaries from Sri Lanka in Tamil Nadu seem to have had a mischievous content to it. Among those targeted more than one is Tirukumaran Nadesan, a relative by marriage of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A Sri Lankan Tamil, Nadesan has been on near-annual pilgrimage to Hindu temples in southern Tamil Nadu long before his kin became President of that country. Attributing ethnicity-linked political motives to the pujas and havans/yagnams that he has been organising from time-to-time in places of pilgrimage in the south Indian State, pan-Tamil elements had resorted to assault on his person, until on every occasion, the Tamil Nadu police intervened.

Another victim of the pan-Tamil groups in Tamil Nadu was former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wicrkemesinghe, during the war years in the country. Much as it should be forgotten, the fact remained the affected Sri Lankan Tamil community seems to look at him and his United National Party (UNP) with greater hope and confidence of intent to resolve the ethnic issue through political negotiations and power-devolution. At his instance and initiative, on a later day in the post-war era, the Sri Lankan Tamils voted for Sarath Fonseka, the commander of the Sri Lankan armed forces during 'Eelam War-IV', against President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential polls of January 2010.

More recent attacks, while being unplanned and unorganised, have focussed on visiting a Sinhala-Buddhist monk and ageing Buddhist pilgrims using the Tamil Nadu transit-route to offer worship at places of religious worship in northern India, and a batch of school children on a cultural exchange tour, precisely with the idea of exposing them to multi-cultural and multi-racial aspects of the Indian societal system, which has also stood post-Independence constitutional politics in good stead, for them to understand and appreciate in their immediate context back home.

There was justification in Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa urging the Centre to have the Sri Lanka Government alerting the State administration about VVIP movements from that country in advance. There is no justification whatsoever for the attacks, either on the visiting VIPs or ordinary Sri Lankans on the streets of Tamil Nadu.

So possibly is there none under the Indian scheme for political parties in Tamil Nadu vying with one another, demanding the Centre not to train Sri Lankan army officials in Indian Defence Ministry establishments in Tamil Nadu first, and elsewhere in the country, for some time now. More recently, DMK supremo and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has cautioned the Centre on the recent Sri Lankan visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Liang Guanglie, and linking it to New Delhi's legitimate strategic concerns and implying an ethnic angle, as well.

Under the Indian scheme, both defence and foreign policy are the exclusive preserve of the Centre. There are limits to which concerned regional polities and State Governments can seek to influence the Centre on such issues, both in terms of the constitutional mandate and politico-administrative understanding of the complexities involved. It is one thing for the Government, polity and people of India expressing their concerns about the safety and security of the Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka, and the inadequacy of political powers for them in what otherwise is a republican democracy, promising equality, going beyond race, gender, etc. It is so about West Bengal having concern about water-sharing with Bangladesh, and Assam feeling threatened by the influx of Bangladeshi nationals in every which way.

In comparison, Tamil Nadu and Tamils in the State have been more accommodative and understanding about the concerns reflected by the continued presence of over 100,000 Tamil-speaking refugees from Sri Lanka for close to 25 years now. Yet, it is another thing for the State Governments or regional parties in a State to dictate terms to the Centre on constitutional mandates resting with the latter, federal structure and coalition compulsions notwithstanding. Leave alone the avoidable pressures on the Government at the Centre, such efforts could have constitutional consequences and hence judicial pronouncements, too.

Across the Palk Strait, the street situation of visiting Sri Lankans on the streets of Tamil Nadu has already triggered avoidable animosity against Tamil Nadu and consequent suspicions against India. The 'China factor' that the DMK chief mentioned recently, if any, should flow also from the 'Tamil Nadu factor' in India's Sri Lanka policy, as perceived by the strategic community and political parties in Colombo. It is time that political parties and peripheral pan-Tamil groups in Tamil Nadu learnt their lessons from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the more organised, credible and hence popular of all political parties of the Sri Lankan Tamil people, both inside and outside the country.

The Sri Lankan Tamil polity in the country, particularly the TNA, had sort of sent out a message to their brethren in Tamil Nadu recently, when they stayed away from the TESO conference organised by the DMK in Chennai. Competitive 'Dravidian politics' in Tamil Nadu may have been another reason why they did not want to get caught in the political cross-fire in the south Indian State. As may be recalled, TESO itself was a product of a not-so-successful DMK initiative when bęte noire AIADMK was in power in the State in the Eighties and the LTTE in particular had identified with then Chief Minister and charismatic star-politician, the late M G Ramachandran, MGR, born in Sri Lanka of the pre-Independence days. In the process, the LTTE declined to accept the purse that the TESO conference offered in Madurai, and settled instead for the larger financial aid offered by MGR.

The TNA has also since desisted from approaching the UN on the immediate situation and long-term sufferings and inequities of their people, another of the current moves of the DMK. After internal consultations, the TNA resisted the temptation of sending a delegation to Geneva to pressure voter-nations ahead of the UNHRC vote in March. In all these, the TNA was guided by the principles of not wanting to send out wrong signals to the Sri Lankan State, majority and majoritarian sections of the 'Sinhala-Buddhist' national/nationalist polity in the country. They were also influenced by the ground reality that in the post-war Sri Lanka, they would have to engage with the Government and the Sinhala polity of their country, to be able to deliver on the legitimate aspirations of their people, and their own expectations and commitments on this score.

The TNA positions on this score are guided by political pragmatism. There have also been no reports of any attacks on the Tamils in Sri Lanka by the so-called Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists. Nor are there reports of the reverse occurring in the Tamil-speaking areas of the island-nation. While the polity in that country may still be divided on the ethnic issue, they are also making earnest or not-so-earnest efforts at bridging the inherent and inherited gaps in the political perceptions over power-devolution, among other attendant issues and concerns. If now Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has called for a Sri Lankan soccer team to be sent back home, in the months not long after the war, the Dravidian parties from Tamil Nadu protested the visit of Sri Lankan MPs at the behest of the national Parliament, to New Delhi. Little did the protesting MPs from the State seem to realise that five of the 12 members of the Sri Lankan team were Tamil-speaking. That included Selvam Adaikalanathan, one of the top five or six leaders of the TNA.

Through the years of 'Eelam War-IV', successive Governments in Sri Lanka had kept doors of communication with the LTTE. The LTTE too took a similar approach to dealing with the Government in power. Then, as now, the TNA has full-brigade political representation in the Sri Lankan Parliament. When they had to make a choice between staying away for good and taking a Sixth Amendment oath, swearing allegiance to the Sri Lankan Constitution, the Tamil polity since August 1983 (less than a month after the anti-Tamil pogrom) has returned to Parliament, if only after a break. More recently, TNA leader R Sampanthan sent out a clear and strong message to his people, the Sinhala polity, the Sri Lankan State and the international community supporting legitimate 'Tamil cause' when he held a Sri Lankan national flag in his hand and waved it in public view, on May Day in Jaffna.

The Tamil Nadu polity in general, and the civil society, including media in particular, has to study the consequences of their peripheral group-action on the psyche of the larger population in that country, and its consequential influence on the polity and Government in that country. If the 'Tamil Nadu factor' in India's Sri Lanka policy is a reality, though not to the levels perceived in Sri Lanka, the reverse is even truer. Little have they understood the deep trade ties between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, and which has flourished even more, both through the formal and informal routes, since both nations became independent and questions of bilateral trade came to be governed by laws impinging on sovereignty and/or smuggling. Even the vexatious 'fishermen's issue' involving Tamil Nadu fishers flows from those perceptions and obligations under the international law, governing sovereign States.

It is unfortunate that successive Chief Ministers in Tamil Nadu have seldom granted audience to the diplomatic representatives of the Sri Lankan State in Chennai. This has had consequences for their mutual understanding of each other perceptions on bilateral issues of consequence. Not excluding the sensitivities and seriousness attaching to the ethnic issue and the fishermen's concerns, trade relations between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka have often faced problems of 'double-taxation' of sorts at the Indian-end, both by the Centre and the respective State Governments. This has rendered the bilateral FTA ineffective in the case of Sri Lanka, contributing thus to their belated re-look on the CEPA just before it was to be signed in 2008.

The more recent Sri Lankan decision to expand and extend trade-related diplomatic presence to other sourcing States in the country has a story to tell on its own, but the pan-Tamil politics in Tamil Nadu cannot be excluded as a factor. In December 2005, when President Rajapaksa was on his maiden presidential visit to India, as then Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, declined his request for a meeting. She had met predecessor Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on earlier occasions. When Karunannidhi was the DMK Chief Minister, it is on record, President Rajapaksa invited him officially to visit Sri Lanka and see things for himself.

The political perceptions of the Tamil Nadu leadership and the consequences nearer home can well be appreciated. As is not known often, there has been little or no exchange between the political leaders in Sri Lankan and Tamil Nadu, despite the inter-twining of respective political concerns and the consequential influence on the respective Governments on their policies towards each other. It is as true of the Sri Lankan polity as it is of their Tamil Nadu counterparts. The Tamil Nadu polity has to understand and appreciate the ground reality that political parties of the Sri Lankan Tamils seems not wanting to have anything to do with the internal dimensions of competitive pan-Tamil polity, which after the attainment and retention of political power in Tamil Nadu, has mostly centred on the ethnic issue, violence and war in the southern neighbourhood.

All this, not to forget memories of anti-India feelings in Sri Lanka translating into 'direct action' against Indians and Indian businesses on the streets of that country since ethnic news began embracing the Indian shores in the Eighties. Today, even the environmental concerns in Sri Lanka over the Koodamulam nuclear plant in southern India has a gone of bilateral politics in the local media. The media too is not helpful as sections call for renewed efforts at improving bilateral ties with the northern neighbours and at the same time refuse to do the minimum research or ask the basic questions about the safety of the Koodamkulam plant. After all, safety concerns in Sri Lanka would have been addressed automatically as India would not be allowing its own citizenry in the immediate vicinity, starting with its nuclear scientists and support staff, to be affected in any which way.

Likewise on a recent Indian High Commission interest in the purchase of land for the Indian Culture Centre in Colombo, which the private owner reportedly sold ultimately to a Chinese firm, a section of the local media saw a conspiracy of sorts and went to town over it. Reports said that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had 'summoned' the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in New Delhi to register its protest. Little did the writers seem to realise that the term 'summoning' is too strong in context, and has diplomatic consequences not otherwise intended and envisaged. By 'confirming' such actions after a gap, the Sri Lankan media is only exposing its ignorance even more, lest it should have slipped by even a discerning reader, otherwise. Worse still, such uninformed reportage feeds other media analyses, strategic and scholarly discourses and street-opinion, which in the past became hard to reverse after a time.

What is needed instead is a bridge between the two peoples, both within Sri Lanka and with the Indian neighbour, through Tamil Nadu. Political parties that have relied mostly on media reports and interpretations in either case need to develop contacts at all levels for them to be able to seek and obtain clarifications before taking positions on particular issues and developments. The media in either country should play a constructive and meaningful role -- if they are really serious about improving the lot of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, or bilateral relations, which have beneficial consequences as much for Sri Lanka and for Tamil Nadu and the Indian State. In physical terms, it can take the shape of a 'land bridge' as propounded by UNP's Wickremesinghe as Sri Lanka's Prime Minister, which when put in place could link up the island-nation, not just with 'south India' or with India alone, but to the entirety of the Eurasian landmass, instead.

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

Country Reports

Afghanistan
'US aid to Pak fuelled insurgency'

Afghan National Security Forces believe that the US military aid to Pakistan was one of the reasons for the spike in violence by insurgent and militant groups like the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan. In fact, there is growing resentment within the Afghan forces towards the Americans and this is reflected in the increasing number of killings of US personnel by Afghan forces.

These findings are contained in a Pentagon report: "A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility - A Red Team study of mutual perceptions of Afghan National Security Force Personnel and U.S. soldiers in understanding and mitigating the phenomena of ANSF - committed fratricide murders". One of the reasons cited for this mistrust is the US military aid to Pakistan. One of the Afghan soldiers interviewed for the study said : "There is no explanation or excuse for such a stupid policy. They are both our enemy. You know it, but still give them great amounts of money in aid". US gives several billions of dollars to Pakistan in the name of cooperating with its military campaign against terrorism.

Haqqani leader killed in Drone attack

One of the top leaders of the notorious terrorist group, the Haqqani Network, was killed d in a Drone attack last week. BadruddinHaqqani was the son of JalaluddinHaqqani, the founder of the Haqqani Network, and the group's operational commander. While the Taliban has denied the death, Afghan and Pakistani security officials confirmed the death of one of the most sought after terrorists in the AfPak region by the US.
Haqqanis are considered 'strategic assets' of Pakistan Army and are being used by the military leadership to leverage the events unfolding in Afghanistan to their advantage.
The US considers the Haqqanis as an enemy and holds them responsible for the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. How serious will be the impact of Badruddin's death on the operational capability of the Haqqani Network is difficult to fathom at this early stage. But there is no doubt that the death has certainly dealt a crippling blow to the group's capabilities.

Mullah Omar in Pakistan: US

General John Allen, commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, accused Pakistan of sheltering Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Writing in Washington Post, the General said: "Omar lives in Pakistan, as do many of his commanders. From that safe vantage point, they've sent hundreds of young, impressionable, largely spiritual and helpless youths to their deaths and detention in Afghanistan. For this, they must forfeit their honour and any claim to Islamic virtue."

Bomb kills five soldiers in Kunar

Five Afghan army soldiers were killed when a suicide bomber on foot exploded himself in Kunar on August 28. The suicide bomber had first created a diversion by creating a smaller explosion on the road-side before he flung at them. When the soldiers came out of their truck to check about the explosion, the suicide bomber ran towards them and detonated. The incident took place in Manogai district, a hotspot of the Taliban insurgency.

Earlier in the week, fFour civilians were killed and the local police chief was injured when suicide bomber detonated a truck in Kandahar on August 28. The bomb targeted General Abdul Raziq, the Kandahar provincial police chief, known for his strong anti-Taliban initiatives. The truck bomb was detonated as his vehicle passed by through a neighbourhood in Kandahar city. The police chief escaped with minor injuries on his face, arms and leg.

Karzai moves intelligence chief

In a surprise move, Afghan President Hamid Karzai replaced his intelligence chief along with ministers of interior and defence on August 29 as part of his plans to consolidate his own position in the run up to the elections and US troop drawdown. Head of the National Directorate of Security Rahtamullah Nabil is likely to be replaced by Assadullah Khalid, the Minister of Tribal and Border Affairs. Khalid, however, has a controversial past with charges of human rights violations leveled against him. Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, till recently interior minister, will be appointed as Defence Minister and MushtabaPatang, a former police officer, as the new Interior Minister

Source: Daily News, Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, Washington Post

Bangladesh
665 soldiers jailed for 2009 mutiny

A court this week jailed 665 Border Guards for their role in a bloody 2009 Bangladesh Rifles (now rechristened as Bangladesh border mutiny. With this total number of soldiers imprisoned for the unrest is over 5,000.

Fifty-seven senior Army officers were killed during an uprising by soldiers at the Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR) Headquarters in Dhaka.

Source: dailytimes.com, August 29, 2012

Tipaimukh Dam: India hands over DPR

Bangladesh will conduct a study of controversial Tipaimukh Dam project to assess its impact on its side to enable the two countries resolve the issue amicably. To enable Bangladesh carry out the study, India has handed over a copy of the detailed project report of Tipaimukh hydro-power project to Dhaka.

At the end of the two-day meeting of Indo-Bangladesh joint sub group on the proposed Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project, the two sides also finalised Terms of Reference of the proposed study.

However, no time-line has been finalised to complete the study, Bangladesh will examine the DPR and carry out a study on its side of the dam.

Source: e-pao.net, August 28, 2012

Bhutan

New Vice-Chair of NAM

Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley and the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the side-lines of the 16th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Teheran expressed the desire of their nations to promote peace, justice and compassion in the world. The two leaders also spoke on the good relations between the two countries.

Bhutan was elected as one of the two Vice-Chairs of the Summit

Source: bbs.bt, August 30, 2012; bhutanobserver.bt, August 31, 2012

Transit through Bangladesh

The Government of Bangladesh is working on a formula for transit for Bhutan. This transit fee model that is being worked out for Bhutan will also be the basis for transit for both India and Nepal.

According to Shahabuddin Patwary, Member Secretary to the Committee on Transit to Bhutan said that the plan will allow permanent transit for Bhutan first and based on its success Nepal too share enjoy such facilities.

At present, Bangladesh and Bhutan renew their transit deal through consultation under the guidelines of Trade and Transit Protocol and a Technical Cooperation Agreement signed in 1984.

Under the existing transit agreements between Bhutan and Bangladesh, Bhutan is only allowed transit facility and Bhutanese transports are not allowed to other countries through Bangladesh.

Trade between Bhutan and Bangladesh was worth $22.12 million in 2010-11, with Bhutanese exports to Bangladesh being $19 million.

Source: thedailystar.net, August 28, 2012

$8.323-m aid from Global Fund

Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the presence of security forces personnel in the North had been reduced with 28 Bhutan will receive $ 8.323 million from the Global Fund for improving the health standards in the nation. The fund has approved $ 850,210 for malaria treatment, $ 6.722 million for HIV and US$ 751,144 for TB for the next two years.

The Global Fund is a public-private partnership and international financing institution dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria.

Malaria is rampant in southern Bhutan and a few other districts. HIV/AIDS and TB cases are seen in all the districts. The fund will be disbursed to the hospitals around the country and made available to the people suffering from these diseases.

Source: bhutanobserver.bt, August 31, 2012

FDI approved

Between May and August of 2012, the foreign direct investment (FDI) division of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) has approved two new proposals for FDI. The two projects are a pharmaceutical plant in Toribari under ChukhaDzongkhag and a dairy plant in Trashigang.

Approved in May, the pharmaceutical plant is a joint venture between a Bhutanese businessman and an Indian company, while the dairy plant, a partnership between a Japanese company and Druk Holding and Investment (DHI), was approved in August.

Earlier in January, two FDI companies - Bhutan Concast Private Limited in Pasakha, and Bhutan mineral water project in Paro - were licensed to operate in Bhutan. Since 2012, eight FDI proposals were 'approved in principle'. These include four Indian investors and one each from Switzerland, Malaysia, France and Vietnam.

It was learned that a number of aspirant FDI investors has increased after the FDI policy was revised in 2010. Since the policy was revised, the ministry had approved 17 FDI proposals, including the eight which are approved in principle. Since FDI policy was framed in 2002, some 30 projects were approved. Thirteen of them are operating while others are under construction.

According to records maintained by MoEA, most FDIs are in hospitality and service sectors like high-end hotels and resorts. Besides providing employment to the local people, these FDI businesses have, so far, added Nu 6,286.9 million to the country's treasury.

Source: bhutanobserver.bt, August 31, 2012

Indian Army Chief pays a visit

The Indian Army Chief, Gen Bikram Singh was on a three-day visit to Bhutan from August 28. During his visit, the Army Chief held discussions with the top leadership In Bhutan to further strengthen military ties between the two countries.

Gen Singh also visited the Indian Military Training Team and review the work being done by the Indian Army. The General called on the King, JigmeKhesar Namgyal Wangchuck, Prime Minister Jigme Thinley and top Royal Bhutan Army officials.

Source:ibnlive.in.com, August 27, 2012,bbs.bt, August 29, 2012

India
Supreme Court confirms death for Kasab

Describing the November 26, 2008 terror-attack on Mumbai as an attack on India and Indians which deserved the rarest of rare punishment, the Supreme Court Wednesday confirmed the death sentence of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab.

With the Supreme Court confirming 26/11 attacker Ajmal Kasab's death sentence, there is a narrow possibility that India may revisit the question of allowing another Pakistani judicial commission to visit and record statement.

Underlining India's terrorism related concerns in the follow-up to the Supreme Court verdict, Prime Minister Manomhan Singh told Pakistan President Asif Ali Zaradari on Thursday that an expeditious and successful conclusion of the Rawalpindi trial would be a major confidence building measure that would help bridge the trust deficit and shore up public opinion for normalising ties with Pakistan.

Source: The Hindu, August 31, 2012

Ex-Minister jailed in 'Gujarat riot case'

Mayaben Kodnani, a senior BJP leader and former Minister in Narendra Modi's cabinet, and former Bajrang Dal convenor Babu Bajrangi, were among 32 persons convicted on Wednesday in the Naroda-Patiya massacre case, in which 97 Muslims were killed.

Special court judge JyotsnaYagnik acquitted 29 persons, giving them 'the benefit of the doubt" because of insufficient evidence; but she did not pronounce them innocent either. The court will announce the quantum of punishment on Friday.

Source: The Hindu, August 30, 2012

CAG's coal observations disputable: PM

Seeking to set the record straight on the coal block allocation issue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today rejected the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report saying "allegations of impropriety are without basis and unsupported by facts".

Responding to CAG's 2004-09 coal block allocation report that said the opaque screening process, absence of bidding system and delay in introduction of competitive bidding resulted in financial gain of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to private parties, the PM said these observations were "clearly disputable".

There were sharp political reactions to the Prime Minister's statement with the Opposition BJP describing it as an attack on both "a constitutional authority and constitutionalism". The BJP followed this up with the sensational accusation that the Congress had received heft paybacks for skewing the allotments in favour of a select few.

Joining issue with the BJP in Parliament, Congress president Sonia Gandhi described the Opposition's stalling of Parliament as a "matter of "shame and regret." This is "handiwork of just one party, the BJP", she said and asked her partymen to stand up as one, and fight it, both.

Source: The Hindu, August 28-29, 2012

Prithvi-II missile test-fired

India has successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile from a military base in Odisha. The surface-to-surface missile with a range of 350 km was fired from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur-on-Sea in Balasore district, about 230 km from here. "The test was a 100 percent success," M.V.K.V. Prasad, director of the test range, told IANS.

Prithvi is India's first indigenously-built ballistic missile. It is one of the five missiles being developed under the country's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. The missile, with flight duration of 483 seconds reaching a peak altitude of 43.5 km, has the capability to carry a 500 kg warhead.

Source: www.nydailynews.com, August 25, 202

Sri Lankans will continue to train, says Centre

Notwithstanding the demands of Chief Minister Jayalalitha and DMK president M Karunanidhi and other Tamil Nadu political leaders, the Centre on Monday reiterated that it would continue to train defence personnel from Sri Lanka in Indian military establishments as it was a friendly nation.

Source: The Hindu, August 28, 2012

Working group with Afghanistan on Iran port

Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Teheran for the NAM Summit, India and Iran agreed to set up a joint working group along with Afghanistan to discuss the development of the strategically important Chahbahar port in Iran.

A trilateral meeting between Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and the Deputy Foreign Ministers of Iran and Afghanistan took place in Teheran, during which the decision to set up the joint working group was taken.

Source: The Indian Express, August 27, 2012

Maldives
Probe finds no plot behind resignation

The five-member Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI), appointed by President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik with international intervention and subsequent initiative, has found no basis for upholding the charge of predecessor President Mohammed Nasheed that a conspiracy/mutiny in the armed forces had forced him to resign from office on February 7. The probe, with retired Justice G P Selvam of Singapore and President Nasheed's nominee Ahmed 'Gahaa' Sayeed - the latter resigned just ahead of the August 30 publication of the report - instead held that President Nasheed's charges and evidence could not be substantiated, and held the subsequent elevation of then Vice-President Waheed was in order.

Tension gripped Male and other parts of Maldives the week ahead of the report's publication, but barring a pre-publication camping by President Nasheed and his cadres in the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), there were no incidents, unlike over the past months. President Nasheed acknowledged the report, held it 'comical' but said that he would accept it, nonetheless. This contradicted with his conflicting positions that he would accept it and not accept it but would take the issue to the people.

President Waheed, in his national address after receiving the report from Justice Selvam promised action on all recommendations of the probe. They included strengthening of the nation's institutions, in which the commission named the judiciary, and action against individual officials of the armed forces and the police, who had resorted to indiscipline during the run-up to President Nasheed's resignation, and the excessive force that they had used to quell MDP mobs that went on a rampage a day after the resignation.

Source: Minivan News, August 30-31, 2012, SunOnline, August 30-31, 2012

HC restores prosecution

The High Court has invalidated the decision of the Hulhumale' Magistrate Court to rule it did not have the jurisdiction to proceed with lawsuits pressing charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed and certain defence figures serving under him.

The Prosecutor-General (PG) initially submitted the cases against the Former President, former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim and three Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers for their alleged role in the "unlawful detention" of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

The High Court ruling stated the case was based on the "unlawful detention" of a person, adding that magistrate courts have the jurisdiction to proceed with such cases.The ruling also said that as the incident occurred in Male' area, the Hulhumale' Magistrate Court again had the jurisdiction to proceed with the case.

On July 18, the Hulhumale' Magistrate Court rejected a case filed by the Prosecutor- General's (PG's) office against former President Nasheed and former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim as well as three other senior military officers over the arrest of the judge. "We studied the case and we found that we do not have the jurisdiction to deal with the case according to Article 66 of the Judicature Act," Judge Moosa Naseem explained.

Source: Minivan News, August 31, 2012

Majlis sittings to be resumed in September

Speaker of the People's Majlis has announced that he is trying to commence the sittings of the Majlis in September. He also revealed that the third session of the Majlis sittings will begin on 1 October as stipulated in the regulations of the Majlis.

"Differences should be resolved through dialogue in the Majlis. The Speaker believes that it is from the spirit of the constitution is to reconcile differences through dialogue. Therefore, the Speaker hopes and urges that all members of the Majlis to set aside their political differences and resume their duties," he said.

President Dr. Mohamed Waheed stated that it is imperative that sittings of the People's Majlis resume in order implement the legal and administrative reforms advised in the report of the Commission regarding the transfer of power on February 7 and the recent reports of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives on the events leading to February 7.

Source: Minivan News, August 31, 2012

China to give $ 500 million

President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has stated that China is set to give the Maldives loan aid amounting to $ 500 million, reports Reuters on Saturday.

According to Reuters, President Dr. Waheed informed the news agency about the financial assistance from China in an interview on the eve of his visit to the Asian giant. Reuters said that China would, according to the President, provide $ 150 million for housing projects, while another $ 350 million would be given through the Axim Bank for trade development purposes. No details about the loans have been revealed.

Several steps have recently been taken by the Governments of both China and the Maldives to strengthen ties between the two nations. As such, former President Nasheed's administration saw the opening of a Chinese Embassy in Maldives, and the following months saw an unusual number of Chinese diplomats visit the Maldives.

President Waheed is visiting China in response to an invitation extended by the Chinese Government. The invitation was communicated during last Ramadan, by the senior leaders of a Chinese Muslim delegation, which included a senior official of the Chinese foreign ministry. The delegation also invited Shaikh Muhammad Shaheem Ali Saeed, the Maldivian Minister of Islamic Affairs, to tour to China.

Source: SunOnline, August 31, 2012

Myanmar
Major cabinet reshuffle

The President has announced a major Cabinet reshuffle in a move seen as advancing the country's reformist agenda. Rumours have swirled for months about a possible Government shake-up. President TheinSein made the announcement late on August 27 in a statement posted on his official website. The statement says nine of 29 Cabinet posts were reshuffled.

Among the ministries affected are finance, information, industry, and national planning and economic development. This reshuffle is the biggest since TheinSein's Government took office after a former military junta ceded power in March 2011. Railway Minister Aung Min, who has played a leading role in cease-fire talks with ethnic rebels, Finance Minister HlaTun and Industry Minister SoeThein are to become a part of the President's office.

Information Minister KyawHsan, who for years oversaw the regime's often-fraught relations with the media, has been moved to the Ministry of Cooperatives and is being replaced by Labour Minister AungKyi - the former junta's official liaison to SuuKyi while she was under house arrest.

This reshuffle comes after the elevation of Admiral NyanTun as one of the two Vice Presidents.

Source: channelnewsasia.com, straitstimes.com, August 27, 2012

Blacklist removed

The Government has removed about 2,000 exiles from an immigration blacklist drawn up by the former junta to allow them to return home as part of political reforms. "The people taken off the blacklist are civil servants who fled Myanmar a long time ago," an information ministry official told AFP.

"More than 6,000 former civil servants from government ministries were blacklisted. Some 2,000 were taken off today," he said. "They can come back to the country freely. The authorities will decide later whether to remove the others."

Many Government workers and intellectuals left after a student-led uprising in 1988 that was brutally crushed by the military. Journalists who fled to work overseas were also blacklisted.

The President in May urged the millions who had fled the nation to return. The prominent names that have been removed include former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Aung San SuuKyi's two sons.

Source: channelnewsasia.com, August 28, 2012; straitstimes.com, August 30, 2012

Rice export target set at 1 mt

Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) targets to export one million tonnes of rice during the current 2012-2013 fiscal year despite serious flooding in the Irrawaddy Delta which has damaged nearly 80 percent of the region's paddy fields. The floods have displaced 70,000 people.

Over 16 million acres is used to grow paddy in Myanmar annually for the rainy season crop and thus ensuring the total production. The MRF has a buffer stock of 1.6 million from last year's harvest

Myanmar has the world's highest rice consumption at 210 kg per person annually. This amounts to 90 percent of the rice domestically produced -11 million to 13 mt consumed per year, compared with production of 14-15 mt. The export markets are Africa, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and East Timor.

Source: irrawaddy.org, August 27, 2012

Japan to invest in SEZ

Japan is expected to sign an agreement to develop a special economic zone near Yangon. The Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano met with Tin NaingThein, Myanmar Minister of National Planning and Economic Development, and expressed his country's gratitude for Myanmar's message seeking Japanese cooperation on development of the Thilawa economic zone.

Edano told Tin NaingThein that Japan will strive to make achievements in infrastructure development and other fields in Myanmar. The Myanmar minister said he hopes Japan will send a delegation as early as mid-September.

Source: yomiuri.co.jp, August 31, 2012

Business delegation from Arunachal Pradesh

The Agriculture Minister of Arunachal Pradesh State in North-East India, SetongSena led a business delegation to participate in the second Northeast India-Myanmar Business conclave.

The delegation upon reaching Mandalay called on the Chief Minister of Mandalay Region, U Ye Myint, at his official residence on Monday. While exchanging views, Myint and Sena stressed on cultural exchanges between the two countries and more people-to-people contact for strengthening ties, which will ultimately foster economic relations.

"India-Myanmar relations are rooted in shared historical, ethnic, cultural and religious ties. The Pangsau Pass Winter Festival is a step towards that direction where people from both countries participate in cultural programmes and trading activities," said Sena.

Myint informed that the Government of Mandalay Region is establishing an industrial park at Myingyan, 30 km from Mandalay, and invited investors from India to invest in agro-based Industries, IT, cement and tourism. He suggested that this historic visit be followed by a one-to-one meeting with the help of the consul general of India in Myanmar to finalize investment opportunities here.

Source: articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com, August 30, 2012

US criticises China's refugee policy

The US has criticised China and accuses it of forcing thousands of refugees from Myanmar's Kachin minority back across the border despite on-going fighting.

"We indeed remain concerned about the welfare of vulnerable Kachin on the China-Burma border. We have urged China to implement a temporary protection program for those seeking refuge from the conflict," said State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell.

According to the Kachin Independence Organization and Human Rights Watch, China has in recent days forced thousands of Kachin refugees to leave the south-western Chinese Province of Yunnan and return to northern Myanmar.

China's foreign ministry refuted allegations of forced returns of refugees, saying they had crossed back "by their own volition when the fire had ceased."

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com, August 31, 2012

Nepal
UN against amnesty to rights violators

The UN has expressed serious concerns over the draft ordinance relating to transitional justice mechanism saying that the provision in the ordinance to give amnesty to perpetrators of serious human rights violations and war crimes does not meet Nepal's commitment to international law.

Last week, the Cabinet had forwarded the Ordinance on Forming Commission on Disappearance, Truth and Reconciliation to the president for approval. National human rights organisations have also said that the ordinance does not meet international standards.

Similarly, 12 diplomatic missions based in Kathmandu have also said that transitional justice mechanisms should meet international standards and urged the government to ensure that the laws relating to transitional justice mechanisms do not include broad amnesty for serious human rights and international human rights violations. The diplomatic missions issued the statement on the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30.

Some 1,300 or more people were disappeared during Nepal's bloody ten-year conflict. To this day, their whereabouts and their fate remain unknown and their families continue to seek justice.

Acting on the recommendations by different political parties, the government is working to withdraw around 70 criminal cases involving around 300 individuals on the ground that these are "political" in nature. The Office of the Attorney General has already approved a decision by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar to withdraw the criminal cases.

Source: myrepublica.com, August 29-31, 2012

PM meets Ban Ki-moon

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai held meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the NAM Summit.

During the meeting, views were exchanged in regard to the stalled Constitution making process. It was conveyed that dialogue and consensus building which was going on among the political parties on a continued basis would help find the way forward to finish the remaining task.

The Prime Minister also apprised the Secretary-General of the recent development on the integration of the Maoist combatants into the National Army.

The Secretary-General reportedly hailed Nepal's role and contribution in the UN peacekeeping operations. He took a keen interest in the Lumbini Development Project and asked the Nepali side to take leadership and ownership of the project with full political commitment so that it could attract the support of the relevant international community. On the part of the UN, the Secretary General showed commitment to muster support for the project.

Source: RastriyaSamacharSamiti, August 31, 2012

Judge Joshi gets justice at last

Six years and eight months after the Judicial Council sacked him, the Supreme Court (SC) has reinstated Syangja District Court Judge Chitra Dev Joshi to his post. A Full Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Tahir Ali Ansari, Prakash Wasti and Bharat Bahadur Karki ordered Joshi's reinstatement, stating that his sacking was against the law.

The Judicial Council had relieved Joshi of his responsibilities on the charge of incompetence, on March 16, 2006. Earlier, the Judicial Council had sought clarifications from Joshi, accusing him of involvement in activities against the judicial code of conduct, following his public statements about the then King Gyanendra's direct rule and abuse of power by the then Royal Nepal Army.

Source: myrepublica.com, August 31, 2012

Pakistan
12 soldiers killed in South Waziristan

In heavy clashes between Pakistan Army and militant groups, at least 12 soldiers were killed in the area of Badar in South Waziristan, on August 28. The clash erupted after the militant group attacked the Farhand Baba Ziarat check post in the area. Security forces killed 10 militants. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility

for the attack on the military check post. South Waziristan has been a stronghold of the Taliban and various offshoots of al Qaida since 2002. Although Pakistan Army had launched a major offensive in the area in 2009 with mixed success, many of the insurgent groups continued to operate in the area and periodically stage attacks on the security forces.

Military offensive in Bajaur

Bajaur is witnessing a renewed fighting between the security forces and militants holed up in the area for over months. A large number of militants had entered Bajaur from Afghanistan's Kunar province last week. The group attacked the villages and security posts in the area. As the situation turned worse, the authorities rushed in additional units of Pakistan Amy and para-military Frontier Corps to the area. In the fighting which ensured between the militants and security forces, 20 militants were reported killed. Two soldiers lost their lives too. For the last few months, cadres of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates, holed up in Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan, have been carrying out strikes against Pakistani security forces and civilians. Pakistan has accused some of the government functionaries of instigating such attacks. Afghanistan has denied such allegations. The fighting in Bajaur is far from over.

New PM gets a breather

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf got a much-needed breather on August 27 from the Supreme Court when the court postponed the next hearing to September 18. He is the second Prime Minister to respond to the apex court's contempt notice on not pursuing a criminal case against President Asif Ali Zardari. His predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gillani, had to resign from his post after the court held him in contempt. President Zardari, who is also the head of the ruling Pakistan People's Party, stands accused of several criminal charges of corruption. Along with several others, he got a reprieve during President Musharraf's time (1999-2007) when an ordinance was brought in to pardon the accused. The apex court struck down the ordinance subsequently and sought criminal charges against the accused, including Zardari. Gillani refused to obey the court and paid with his seat. Ashraf faces a similar fate unless he decides to move against his own party chief and President, Zardari.

A Q Khan floats political forum

Controversial Pakistani nuclear scientist, AQ Khan, has now floated a new political forum, 'Tehrik-e-Tahaffuz Pakistan' to motivate the young generation to work for the country's progress. He declared on August 27 that he would launch a country-wide youth awakening programme and guide the youth about their political choices. Khan stands accused of running of the most notorious nuclear trafficking rings in the world.

Ex-AG aide confirms Hindu migration

A former Deputy Attorney-General on August 28 said the reports of Hindus migration from Pakistan out of fear were true. After touring extensively in rural Sindh over five days, the former AG Khurshid Khan told the media that the Hindus faced "grave danger" and were leaving their homes for India. Majority of the Hindus of Pakistan live in rural Sindh.

Recently, a spate of reports highlighted the plight of Hindu families, particularly young girls who were abducted and forced into marriage and then converted to Islam under duress by the Muslims. Khan confirmed the growing fears among the Hindu communities about land grabbing and extortion.

Hazara Shias targeted in Quetta

Hazara Shias continued to be targeted in Quetta. Last week, three Hazaras were shot at and four others were injured by armed assailants. In other incidents, six others were killed and 14 injured when Sectarian killers attacks three separate buses carrying Shias in the region. Shia Hazaras have been the target of different ethnic and sectarian groups for quite some time.

The Taliban, holed up in Quetta, are against the Hazara Shias for their strong opposition to the Taliban in Afghanistan.The Baloch rebels target the Hazaras for violating their orders or consider them to be puppets of the establishment. The security forces, particularly the para-military, view them with suspicion and accuse them of being agents of Iran. The Sunni groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi consider them as kafirs.

US sanctions against LeT leaders

In a bid to put additional pressure on Pakistan to act against the Mumbai attacks, the US on August 30 imposed sancitons on seven senior LeT leaders, including Sajid Mir, the operational commander who planned and monitored the attack with Zaki-ur Rahman Lakhvi. Sajid Mir is the head of LeT's external wing, tasked to recruit foreign cadres or agents like David Coleman Headley.

Mir is said to tech savvy and involved in creating LeT cells in Australia and France. According to Mr David Cohen, Under-Secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, the sanctions were aimed at "attacking LeT's facilitation networks is particularly important, since charitable donations LeT raises in Pakistan -its primary revenue source -are used to fuel the LeT's militant operations."

Others on the list incude Ahmad Yaqub, head of LeT's Bangladesh and Nepal operations, Hafiz Khalid Walid, head of LeT Political Bureau, Amir Hamza, Central Advisory Committee member, Qari Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, head of LeT's Clerics wing, Abdullah Muntazir, head of LeT media wing and TalhaSaeed, son of Hafiz Saeed.

Source: Daily News, Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, Washington Post

Sri Lanka
President to visit India

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa will visit India later in September, primarily to lay the foundation stone of a Centre for Buddhist Studies in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, home to some of the important Buddhist monuments.

Rajapaksa will do the honours on September 21 in the presence of Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonpo Jigme Thinley, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj announced in New Delhi.

The event coincides with the celebrations to mark 2600 years of Buddha's enlightenment. Swaraj, the MP from Vidisha under which Sanchi falls, said the Centre will come up at an area of 100 acres in Sanchi and would serve as a place of learning for all Buddhist monks from across the world.

Unveiling a painting that depicts the journey of Buddhism from India to Sri Lanka by the daughter of Emperor Ashoka Sangamitra at the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi, Swaraj said Rajapaksa and Thinley have given their consent for participation in the programme.

Sources said Rajapaksa is likely to travel to New Delhi during the visit to hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders. Though details of the visit have not been worked out yet, the sources said Rajapaksa's visit to the national capital is almost certain.

Source: PTI, September 1, 2012

Jaya asks soccer teams to be sent back

After expressing her strong displeasure over Sri Lankan defence personnel undergoing training in her State, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has now ordered for sending back two Sri Lankan football teams which were undergoing training in Chennai.

The directive from the Chief Minister came after one of the teams, Royal College of Colombo, played a match against the Chennai Customs team at a stadium in the city on Friday. Jayalalithaa has also ordered the suspension of a stadium official for allowing the soccer team to play the "friendly" tie, alleging that he insulted Tamils. "The officer has humiliated the sentiments of people in Tamil Nadu," she said. The Chief Minister also slammed the Centre for allowing the Sri Lankan players to undergo training and develop their skills in India.

The latest incident comes just over a week after Ms Jayalalithaa asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to halt an ongoing training programme for two Sri Lankan defence personnel at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, located in the State. In a strongly-worded letter, she had demanded for the immediate sending back of the two defence personnel, alleging that the training "has been mischievously concealed from my government, showing scant regard for the views of my government as well as for the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu".

Last month, the Chief Minister had opposed a similar training programme for nine Sri Lankan Air Force personnel at the Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai. In view of her stiff opposition and protests from other parties in the state including ally DMK, the Centre had been forced to move them to the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru in order to enable them to complete their training.

Jayalalithaa had dubbed the move as "not proper", adding that "instead of sending these personnel back to Sri Lanka, the Government of India exhibited excessive enthusiasm and concern for these personnel". Ms Jayalalithaa had then described it as "anti-Tamil" and said "Tamils want action against Sri Lanka for war crimes and they will not accept this" and that "Tamils even suspect whether the Centre is acting against them".

Source: Daily Mirror, September 1, 2012

Chinese Defence Minister holds talks

Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie visited Sri Lanka on a three-day visit, at the head of a 60-strong technical team, and held talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and senior officials of the three Services.

The talks revolved around military training, exercise and extended military assistance between the two countries. The Chinese Minister also visited some of Sri Lanka's military training facilities.

Source: Daily Mirror, August 29-31, 2012

Resisted hegemonic powers: Iran

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said Iran and Sri Lanka proved that resistance against hegemonic powers is possible.

Speaking in a meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Teheran on Friday, Ayatollah Khamenei urged closer friendly ties among Muslim nations in a move to empower them on the international scene and secure wider interests. Khameniei said hegemonic powers try "to portray themselves as invincible, but Iran and Sri Lanka's experiences show that resistance against colonialists and hegemons is possible".

The Iranian supreme leader further praised Sri Lanka's support for the Palestinian nation and its respect for the Muslim community in the South Asian nation, and welcomed the Sri Lankan president's willingness and emphasis on the expansion of relations with Iran.

The Sri Lankan president, for his part, praised the Supreme Leader's remarks at the inaugural ceremony of the Non-Aligned Movement, and lauded his "proposal for a nuclear free Middle-East" and his "stance on Palestine".

He noted his country's campaign against terrorism as well as its efforts to observe the rights of the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka, and added, "We are ensured that we can overcome many problems through your aid and assistance."

Source: Daily Mirror Online, August 31, 2012

Contributors:

Afghanistan & Pakistan: Wilson John;
India:Dr.Satish Misra;
Bangladesh: Dr.Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan and Myanmar: Sripathi Narayan;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah;