February 14 - 20
‘Unspeakable numbers’: 10,000 civilians killed or injured in Afghanistan in 2017
February 16th 2018 | Haroon Janjua | The Guardian
More than 10,000 civilians were killed or injured in the violent attacks in the war in Afghanistan last year, according to the annual report released by the UN’s mission in Afghanistan. The report showed that the figure had dropped by 9% in 2017, compared with the previous year. US president Donald Trump introduced a more aggressive strategy in Afghanistan last August, including a surge in airstrikes. Militants have retaliated with attacks in the capital, Kabul, in the past few weeks, killing nearly 150 people and wounding many others. Read it here.
India, Iran to step up cooperation on Afghanistan
February 17th, 2018 | The Seattle Times
India and Iran said Saturday that they would step up cooperation in combatting extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking in Afghanistan in an effort to restore peace and stability to the war-wracked country. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the two countries would also make efforts to improve energy security and regional connectivity to reach landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia by developing Iran’s Chabahar Port and road and rail routes. Read it here.
Bodies Found of Nine People Abducted Last Year In Afghanistan
February 19th, 2018 | Radio Free Europe
The bodies of nine civilians abducted by militants early last year have been found in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar, an Afghan official and tribal elders said on February 19. Read it here.
Bangladesh says to meet with Myanmar on Rohingya trapped at border
February 19th, 2018 | Paul Ruma & Clare Baldwin |Reuters
Representatives from Bangladesh and Myanmar will meet on Tuesday to discuss the repatriation to Myanmar of more than 6,500 Rohingya Muslims trapped on a strip of unclaimed land between the two countries, Bangladeshi officials said. Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state and crossed into Bangladesh since last August, when attacks on security posts by insurgents triggered a military crackdown that the United Nations has said amounts to ethnic cleansing, with reports of arson attacks, murder and rape. Read it here.
Why are China and India Vying for a Stake in Bangladesh's Stock Market?
February 15th, 2018 | Arafat Kabir | Forbes
Bangladesh’s capital market, third largest in South Asia, turns out to be the latest turf in the strategic rivalry between China and India. Bourses from both countries are bidding for a 25% share of the Dhaka Stock Exchange, which is courting foreign investment as part of its demutualization process. While the DSE board has initially approved the Chinese proposal, the country’s financial regulatory commission appears to be in favor of India’s bid, making it yet another power play between the two Asian giants. Read it here.
Army Chief, NSA, Foreign Secretary visited Bhutan to discuss strategic issues
February 18th, 2018 | The Economic Times
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval quietly traveled to Bhutan earlier this month on a rare visit during which they held extensive talks with the top brass of the Bhutanese leadership on China's increasing military posturing and infrastructure development in the key Doklam plateau. Read it here.
Canada in talks with India to combat Sikh radicals
February 16, 2018 | Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury | The Economic Times
Justin Trudeau’s government has initiated a dialogue with India to investigate increasing cases of Sikh radicalism and to dispel rumors of Khalistan support in the Trudeau cabinet. This comes less than a week before the Canadian prime minister’s visit to India on Feb 17. Read more here.
India's Punjab National Bank reports $1.8bn fraud
February 16, 2018 | Zeenat Saberin | Al Jazeera
State-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) released a statement saying that it had detected some executives colluding with perpetrators to carry out unauthorized transactions for select account holders totaling nearly $1.8 billion. Read more here.
India to build major military facility in Seychelles amid growing China influence
February 19th, 2018 | Samuel Osborne | The Independent
India is preparing to build a military base in the Seychelles as part of the country’s ongoing contest with China for influence in the Indian Ocean. Last month, India signed a 20 year pact with the Seychelles to build an airstrip and a jetty for its navy on Assumption Island. However, military officials called the Seychelles pact a big step in extending the reach of India’s navy, which is expected to rotate its ships and aircraft through the islands. Read it here.
Maldives police arrest 25 after protest demanding leader's arrest
February 17th, 2018 | Mohamed Junayd | Reuters
Maldives police arrested 25 people under a state of emergency, opposition legislators said on Saturday, after thousands of protesters gathered a day earlier to call for the detention of the president and release of opposition leaders. The tiny Indian Ocean archipelago, best known for its luxury hotels and dive resorts, imposed a 15-day state of emergency on Feb. 5 to annul a Supreme Court ruling ordering the release of nine leading opposition figures. Read it here.
Maldives suspends opposition MPs to hand president majority rule
February 19th, 2018 | The Telegraph
The Maldives' top court has suspended 12 pro-opposition legislators before a crucial parliamentary vote Monday, emboldening President Abdulla Yameen as he clings to power in the troubled islands. The Supreme Court decision late on Sunday reverses its original order to reinstate the MPs, who had defected from the ruling party. It comes as parliament prepares to ratify a state of emergency declared by Yameen that plunged the Maldives into crisis. Read it here.
Nepal to hold first federal parliament meeting on March 5
February 19th, 2018 | Binod Prasad Adhikari | ANI
With the successful holding of elections for local bodies, provincial parliament, central parliament and the Upper House, the first federal parliamentary meeting of Nepal has been fixed for March 5. It is the first time that Nepal is holding its federal parliamentary meeting, a step towards the implementation of the constitution which was adopted in 2015 with wide spread protest and the bloodshed over the Southern Plain of the Himalayan Nation. Read it here.
Nepal leader vows to revive dam project, open to review pact over Nepalese soldiers in India
February 19th, 2018 | Debasish Roy Chowdhury | South China Morning Post
Nepal’s new communist prime minister will restart a Chinese-led US$2.5 billion hydropower project that was pulled by the previous government considered friendly towards India, and wants to increase infrastructure connectivity with Beijing to ease the country’s reliance on New Delhi. He also wants to “update” relations with India “in keeping with the times” and favours a review of all special provisions of Indo-Nepal relations, including the long-established practice of Nepalese soldiers serving India’s armed forces. Read it here.
Pakistan asks Trump to help fund border fence with Afghanistan
February 15, 2018 | Patrick Wintour | The Guardian
Pakistan is building a 1,800 mile barrier along its border with Afghanistan and has asked President Trump to help fund it. The Pakistani government claims that this wall will help reduce terrorism inside Pakistan and estimates requiring around $4532 million for the project. Read more here.
Pakistan to deploy troops in Saudi Arabia
February 16, 2018 | The Times of India
Under a bilateral Pak-Saudi security cooperation, Pakistan has decided to deploy a continent of 1000 soldiers to Saudi Arabia for advisory and training purposes. The Gulf state is embroiled in an ongoing civil war in Yemen. Read more here.
China woos Pakistan militants to secure Belt and Road projects
February 19th, 2018 | Farhan Bokhari | Financial Times
China has been quietly holding talks with Pakistani tribal separatists for more than five years in an effort to protect the $60 billion worth of infrastructure projects it is financing as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Three people with knowledge of the talks told the Financial Times that Beijing had been in direct contact with militants in the south-western state of Baluchistan, where many of the scheme’s most important projects are located. Read it here.
Sri Lanka government in crisis after comeback of ex-leader
February 18th 2018 | Manveena Suri & Steve George | CNN
The return of Rajapaksa to public life marks an unlikely turnaround for the two-time former president, who was unceremoniously voted out of office in 2015, amid allegations of corruption, nepotism and war crimes. Considered a military hero among supporters, 72-year-old Rajapaksa was first elected president in 2005 and returned to office in 2010, a year after government forces routed Tamil rebel groups to end the country's brutal 25-year civil war. His surprise victory last Sunday now threatens to upend a still fragile political system marred by years of conflict and instability. Read it here.
UAE, Sri Lanka sign MoU to foster cooperation on labor, manpower fields
February 18th, 2018 | Gulf News
The UAE and Sri Lanka have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to foster cooperation in the labour and manpower fields. The MoU was attached by a protocol agreement that aims at facilitating the process for approving and recruiting domestic workers. The MoU paves the way for a new stage of cooperation between both countries to ensure a balanced and effective management of the contractual work cycle in line with the laws and regulations applicable in the UAE. Read it here.
February 7 - 13
US Launches Airstrikes in NE Afghanistan to Deter Cross-Border Terrorism
February 8th 2018 | Ayaz Gul | Voice of America
The U.S. military says its airstrikes are meant to support Afghanistan in reassuring neighboring countries that it is not a “safe sanctuary” for terrorists who want to carry out cross-border attacks.The recent strikes were conducted against training camps in the remote mountainous region that supported the activities of the anti-China terrorist organization known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM as well as the Islamic State which is increasing its presence in the South Asian Country. Read it here.
Kabul purges Mujahdeen and Soviet-era army generals
February 12th, 2018 | Al Jazeera
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani directed the retirement of more than 160 Afghan National Army (ANA) generals last week. The Kabul government has labeled this move part of the broader strategy for reforms in the security sector, and phasing out the older generation of officers. Furthermore, Under a draft law approved by the Afghan parliament in November last year, as many as 2,000 high-ranking military officers are scheduled to retire in two years. Read it here.
IS, Lashkar-e-Islam Clash in Eastern Afghanistan
February 11th, 2018 | Mohammad Habibzada | Voice of America
Afghan security officials say that Pakistan-based militant group Lashakar-e-Islam (Army of Islam) has been engaged in a firefight with Islamic State militants in Achin district. A spokesperson for Nangarhar Police Department, Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal said both groups sustained causalities during the firefight that has dragged on for almost a week. The groups are believed to be fighting for territorial control. Read it here.
Violent protests as opposition leader is jailed in Bangladesh
February 8th, 2018 | The Guardian
A judge in Bangladesh has convicted the opposition leader Khaleda Zia of corruption and sentenced her to five years in prison as police clashed with thousands of her supporters outside the court. The court found the former prime minister guilty of embezzlement, a charge she had consistently dismissed as politically motivated. Read it here.
UN to take part in Rohingya repatriation: Bangladesh
February 12th, 2018 | Channel News Asia
Bangladesh has signed a deal to involve the United Nations in the controversial process of returning Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. Junior foreign minister Shahriar Alam said the government was involving the UN refugee agency so that it could not be accused of sending anyone from the stateless Muslim minority back against their will. He gave few details, but said refugees would be asked to fill out repatriation forms in the presence of UN officials. Read it here.
Allegations against former Bhutan minister politically motivated: Opposition
February 8th, 2018 | MB Subba | The Phnom Penh Post
Bhutan's opposition party will hold Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay accountable for character assassination of a senior member of the party, if the government is bent on taking advantage of the sincerity and restraint the opposition exercises. At a press conference yesterday in Thimphu, members from the opposition said that the government’s allegation of conflict of interest against former minister Yeshey Zimba in chairing the 156th Cabinet session that provided Fiscal Incentives to tourist standard hotels in 2013 are baseless and politically motivated. Read it here.
An Indian-Russian supersonic missile could be a problem for China
February 8th, 2018 | Nyshka Chandran | CNBC
BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between India and Russia, has developed what it calls the world's fastest supersonic cruise missile. A spokesperson for the company said in an interview that discussions were being held with multiple countries in order to sell the missile system, but that potential buyers must be “responsible" nations that are friendly with both New Delhi and Moscow. Read it here.
Narendra Modi in UAE: Pakistan ISI's funding of Kashmir terror via West Asia route remains concern for India
February 8th, 2018 | Yatish Yadav | First Post
Although India and the UAE have increasingly cooperated on counter-terrorism activities and intelligence sharing since 2015, there remains more work to be done. Pakistan’s ISI retains a vast fund raising apparatus throughout the Middle East from countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Non-banking financing such as Hawala allow the ISI to continue to fund Kashmiri militants despite restricting banking practices, and countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia can do more the restrict Pakistan’s activities. Read it here.
Militants Storm Indian Army Base, Killing Soldiers and a Civilian
February 11th, 2018 | The New York Times
A brazen weekend attack by heavily armed militants who stormed an Indian Army base in the Jammu region killed at least five soldiers and a civilian, army officials said on Sunday. It was one of the deadliest attacks on the army in recent years, and Indian officials quickly blamed a Pakistan-based militant group. Read it here.
Maldives sends out envoys to 'friendly nations' of China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia; India not on list
February 8th, 2018 | First Post
Amid intensifying political turmoil in Maldives, the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago nation has decided to send out envoys to "friendly nations", including China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The envoys have departed for "friendly nations of the Maldives", and that they will "provide updates on the current situation". Read it here.
The crisis in the Maldives, explained
February 12th, 2018 | Nayma Qayum | The Washington Post
A brief overview of the recent history of events in Maldives that has lead up to the current situation that unfolded last week when President Yameen Abdul Gayoom of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) declared a state of emergency. Security forces stormed the Supreme Court and arrested two of its five sitting judges, and sealed parliament, arresting two members of the opposition. Numerous opposition leaders are in jail and others fear arrest, as he attempts to continue ruling as a strongman, despite court and international opposition. Read it here.
Nepal's leftists secure majority in upper house; to form govt
February 8th, 2018 | Business Standard
Nepal's Communist parties today secured an overwhelming majority in the upper house of Parliament with 39 seats, paving the way for the leftist alliance to form the country's next government led by its leader K P Sharma Oli. Read it here.
Nepal eyes Chinese markets
February 12th, 2018 | ANI
Nepal stated that China has extended a huge market next door if the Himalayan nation is able to exploit proximity with China. China is the second largest trading partner of Nepal after India. As of first half of the current fiscal year that began in mid-July 2017, Nepal has imported goods worth 656.86 million U.S. dollars from China against exports worth 15.19 million U.S. dollars, according to Nepal's Department of Customs. Responding on the trade deficit with China, Vice President Pun said that the population of China next door offered a large market for Nepali products. Read it here.
US declares Pakistan-based terrorists as global terrorists
February 8th, 2018 | The Economic Times
The US today declared as global terrorists three individuals linked to Pakistan-based terror outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Taliban and asked Islamabad to deny sanctuaries to "dangerous" individuals and organisations. Read it here.
Asma Jehangir, Leading Pakistani Rights Activist, Dies at 66
February 11th, 2018 | Time
Asma Jehangir, one of Pakistan’s most prominent right activists and lawyers, died on Sunday of a heart attack in the eastern city of Lahore at the age of 66, her daughter said. Read it here.
First Pakistani Woman From The Hindu Minority To Become A Lawmaker
February 11th, 2018 | The Washington Post
The first woman from Pakistan’s tiny minority Hindu community is poised to become lawmaker next month, after the country’s opposition party nominated her for the upcoming Senate elections, officials said Monday. Read it here.
President orders to reinstate Brigadier Priyanka
February 7th 2018 | Dwayne Harmon | Newburgh Gazette
Sri Lanka's Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday announced that it has instructed the High Commission of Sri Lanka in London to immediately suspend its the Minister Counselor (Defense) from work after a video surfaced of him making an offensive gesture towards Tamils protesting outside the High Commission premises. Brigadier Fernando was suspended after making a threatening gesture to Tamil protesters outside the Sri Lankan High Commission in London. Read it here.
Sri Lanka's former strongman calls for snap elections
February 12th, 2018 | ABC News
Sri Lanka's former strongman and president, Mahinda Rajapaksa called Monday for snap parliamentary elections after the party he fielded as a proxy swept local elections in a major blow to the reformist government elected just three years ago. Rajapaksa said that the government had lost its mandate to govern and that the people must be given a chance to elect a new parliament. Read it here.
January 31- February 6
Taliban Threaten 70% of Afghanistan
January 31st, 2018 | Shoaib Sharifi and Louise Adamou | BBC
Months of research across the country shows that the Taliban now control or threaten much more territory than when coalition soldiers left in 2014. The Afghan government pushed back on the report, saying it controls most areas, but recent attacks claimed by Taliban and Islamic State militants have killed scores in Kabul and elsewhere. Additionally BBC’s research also suggests that IS is more active in Afghanistan although the Taliban remains the dominant militant organization. Read it here.
Air strikes kill 37 militants in Afghanistan
February 5th, 2018 | Xinhua
The Afghan government has increased air strikes against armed groups' oppositions and 37 militants have been killed since Saturday, officials said Monday. Intensive air strikes came amid an increasing number of U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan since the White House announced a new strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia unveiled in last August. Read it here.
Afghanistan: Ghani open to talks with armed groups
February 3rd, 2018 | Al Jazeera
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said his government is open to peace talks with armed groups who accept peace but said the door was closed to those who cause tragedies like recent attacks in the capital, Kabul. An attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul on January 20 and a massive car bombing on a crowded city street a week later killed more than 130 people. The recent attacks have raised fresh doubt about long-running efforts to initiate talks with the armed fighters. Read it here.
UN praises Bangladesh peacekeepers
February 5th, 2018 | Dhaka Tribune
The United Nations has highly appreciated Bangladeshi peacekeepers saying the contributions of these brave men and women in the countries in which they serve have been immense over the past three decades. Read it here.
Bangladesh’s New Generation of Militants
January 29th, 2018 | Siddharthya Roy | The Diplomat
Akayed Ullah, who attempted to suicide bomb the New York City port authority bus terminal in December of 2017, is part of a new wave of younger extremists from Bangladesh that are more willing to engage in suicide attacks. While most older militant groups in South Asia have been anti-India or anti-religious, the newer wave of militants is keen on mimicking the Islamic State by establishing a caliphate. Read it here.
PM invites investors to explore opportunities in Bhutan
February 5th, 2018 | Mb Subba | Kuensel
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay urged foreign investors to explore investment opportunities in Bhutan while speaking at the “Advantage Assam – Global Investors’ Summit, 2018” in Guwahati, Assam. According to the PM, Bhutan is an attractive destination for investment and business leaders due to being a relatively corruption free country with the Transparency International placing it at the 27th position in the corruption perception index. Tshering Tobgay also stated that Bhutan is one of the most peaceful and stable countries in the world, and added that industries enjoy cheap electricity. Read it here.
Relations with India will continue to improve: Bhutanese PM
February 3rd, 2018 | ANI
Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay on Saturday reiterated that relations between India and Bhutan have remained robust and would continue to do so. "Our countries have always enjoyed good relations throughout history. Since 1968, it has grown like never before into an exemplary friendship defined by mutual trust, understanding, and cooperation," Tobgay said while addressing at Advantage Assam-Global Investors Summit 2018. Read it here.
Indian Oil Tanker Missing, Possibly Hijacked
February 4th, 2018 | Hindustan Times
An oil tanker with 22 Indian sailors on board is reported missing off the coast of Benin, a west African country for last three days. It is suspected that the MT Marine Express carrying 13,500 tonne of gasoline may have been hijacked by pirates.This is the second ship to go missing in the last one month. Read it here.
India Gas Solutions to begin selling imported LNG
February 5th, 2018 | The Economic Times/ India Times
India Gas Solutions, an equal joint venture of BP and Reliance, plans to begin selling imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Indian customers in 12-18 months to cater to the rising natural gas demand in the country. Read it here.
Shopian firing: Army files counter-FIR
January 31st, 2018 | Times of India
On January 27, two youths were killed and a third youth died after succumbing to injuries after Army personnel fired at a stone-throwing mob in the Ganovpora area of Shopian located in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The incident prompted chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to order an inquiry into the incident, but the Army claims that the shooting occurred in self-defense after several personnel were injured by the mob. Read it here.
Ruling by Court in Maldives Breathes New Life into Political Opposition
February 1st, 2018 | Associated Press | The New York Times
Clashes between protesters and police ensued after the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of the former president and several other elected officials. Hundreds of people celebrated the decision in the capital to show support for the court’s decision to overturn the verdicts against former President Mohamed Nasheed and the former vice president in trials that were condemned internationally. Read it here.
Nepal ban on women migrants violates rights: UN
February 5th, 2018 | Channel NewsAsia
Nepal's restrictions on woman migrating for work are discriminatory and inconsistent with international law, a United Nations rights official said Monday during a visit to the country. Nepal last year introduced a ban on women working as domestic helpers in the Gulf, one of various laws passed over the last decade to protect female migrant workers from sexual exploitation. Read it here.
Nepal-India joint survey team to resolve Kanchanpur border dispute
January 31st, 2018 | The Kathmandu Post
Security agencies of both Nepal and India have reached an agreement to wait for a joint Nepal-India survey team to resolve a border dispute at Belauri Municipality-10 in Kanchanpur. The dispute emerged after the Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB), the Indian border security force, obstructed a road construction on Nepali territory, the locals claimed. The SSB claimed that the road construction is within the no man's land. Read it here.
Pakistan extends Afghan refugees' stay for only 60 days
February 1st, 2018 | Asif Shahzad | Reuters
Pakistan’s government has extended the stay of Afghan refugees in the country for 60 days, a shorter-than-recommended time that revives fears that Islamabad is preparing a forced return of hundreds of thousands to violence-plagued Afghanistan. Read it here.
Pakistan Wants Good U.S. Relations Despite Trump, Minister Says
February 1st, 2018 | Chris Kay, Kamran Haider, Khalid Qayum | Bloomberg
Pakistan’s defense minister, Khurram Dastgir Khan, stated the country’s willingness to maintain a positive relationship with the United states despite the recent actions of the Trump Administration. President Trump’s decision to halt $2 billion in aid to Pakistan in January, was the most recent move made against Pakistan since the Trump administration announced its South Asia strategy in August wherein Pakistan was accused of aiding terrorists. Despite the worsening relations, Khurram Dastgir Khan hopes to keep the historic relationship between Islamabad and Washington intact. Read it here.
Two dead, 15 injured as 6.1 strong quake jolts parts of Pakistan
January 31st, 2018 | Pakistan Today
A girl child was killed and at least 15 others were injured as a 6.1-magnitude earthquake jolted various parts of the country on Wednesday. Tremors were reported in Quetta, Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Charsadda, Murree, Sargodha, Shangla, Haripur and Gujranwala, as well as parts of India, Kashmir and Afghanistan. Read it here.
China’s shadow looms large in Sri Lanka local election
February 2nd, 2018 | Munza Mushtaq | Nikkei Asian Review
Pro-China Mahindra Rajapaksa and pro-India Maithripala Sirisena will be pitted against each other in the upcoming elections in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The results of this election may determine how influential China’s role will be in Sri Lanka’s development. However, amidst allegations of corruption, Rakapaksa has an uphill battle ahead of him before he can claim Sri Lanka’s government seat. Read more here.
India wary as China's Xi expresses interest in strategic partnership with Sri Lanka
February 5th, 2018 | The Express Tribune
Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that China is willing to work with Sri Lanka for better development of bilateral “strategic cooperative partnership”, in a statement which underlines deepening ties between Beijing and Colombo. In a message addressed to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on the occasion of the island nation’s 70th anniversary of independence on Sunday, Xi said he pays “high attention” to the development of bilateral ties. Read it here.