January 24-30

South Asia news update Jan 24-Jan 30.jpg

 

Afghanistan


11 Dead in Attack on Army Garrison in Kabul Claimed by ISIS
January 29, 2018 | Dia Hadid | NPR

Gunmen claiming allegiance to the Islamic State attacked an Army Garrison situated near a military academy in Kabul, killing at least five people .Two of the gunmen exploded suicide vests, one was shot dead, and the fourth was captured. This was the latest in a series of terrorist attacks that have rattled the Afghan capital over the past week. One theory is that these high-profile attacks are part of an ongoing conflict between ISIS and the Taliban, vying for new followers. Read it here
 

It's a Massacre: Blast in Kabul Deepens Toll of a Long War
January 27, 2018 | Mujib Mashal & Jawad Sukhanyar | New York Times 

The Taliban drove an ambulance packed with explosives into a crowded Kabul street setting off an enormous blast that killed at least 95 people and injured 158 others, adding to the grim toll in what has been one of the most violent stretches of the long war. Over the past year, about 10,000 of the country’s security forces have been killed and more than 16,000 others wounded. Read it here

 

Training Quick and Staffing Unfinished, Army Units Brace for Surging Taliban
January 26, 2018 | Thomas Gibbons Neff | New York Times

They are being heralded as a key part of President Trump’s new strategy to resolve the nearly 17-year war in Afghanistan. But their training has been cut short by months, and units are still short-staffed, as some of the estimated 1,000 additional military advisers prepare to arrive in Afghanistan in time for the spring fighting season. The advisers will help train Afghan forces, including marshaling air support and artillery when they are targeted by the Taliban. Read it here

 

Bangladesh
 
Trafficking of Girls Rife in Rohingya Camps
January 29, 2018 | Charles Stratford | Al-Jazeera

Rights groups say trafficking gangs have worked in the Rohingya camps for years, but the recent influx of more than 650,000 refugees has made the trafficking situation even worse. Read it here

 

 MS, One of UK Retailers, Yet to Renew Safety Deal in Bangladesh Factories
January 29, 2018 | Sarah Butler | The Guardian

Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Debenhams, Next and Sainsbury’s are among a group of British retailers yet to join international rivals in renewing their commitment to a factory safety deal in Bangladesh. The legally binding Bangaldesh accord on fire and building safety was set up after the fatal collapse of the Rana Plaza Textile Factory in 2013 which killed 1135 people. Two industry sources said the tough retail environment in the UK meant retailers were looking to limit corporate social responsibility spending. Read it here

 

Bhutan
 
Musical Event Celebrates 50 Years of Indo-Bhutan Relations
January 29, 2018 | Kuensel

To commemorate the golden jubilee celebrations of establishment of formal diplomatic ties between India and Bhutan, a musical event, ‘friends at fifty and forever’ was held on January 27 at the Clock Tower Square in Thimphu. India and Bhutan hope that their relations can serve as a model of cooperation for the infamously turbulent South Asian region. Read it here


India

India Issues 7.5% Growth Forecast
January 29, 2018 | BBC News

India's growth rate is set to rise to nearly 7.5% over the coming year after having slowed to 6.75% in the current fiscal year, according to a government forecast, as well as the IMF. If this forecast is accurate, India will regain its status as the fastest growing major economy in the world. Read it here

 

At New Delhi Summit, India and and ASEAN Seek to Build Closer Maritime Ties
January 25, 2018 | Anjana Pasricha | VOA

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of Southeast Asian nations agreed during a summit in New Delhi to strengthen maritime ties. New Delhi's outreach signals that both sides want to expand the relationship to balance out China's growing assertiveness and dominance of the region. Several countries at Thursday's summit are locked in territorial disputes with China — India in the high Himalayas, and southeast Asian countries like Vietnam in the South China Sea. Read it here.  

Violent Protests in India Follow Release of Controversial Bollywood Epic

January 25, 2018 | Scott Neuman | NPR 

Hindu nationalist groups engaged in violent protests to express their anger over the release of the controversial Bollywood epic, Padmaavat, about a 14th Century Muslim and a Hindu queen.The controversy centers around the story of a Muslim emperor, Alauddin Khilji, who, besotted by a Rajput queen, laid siege to her Meewar kingdom in hopes of capturing her. Even the hint of such a relationship has been enough to anger right-wing Hindu groups, such as Rajasthan's Karni Sena — which claims to defend the state's upper-caste Rajputs — and its backers, such as the national Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. Read it here
 

Maldives

Maldives Opposition Asks Court to Suspend Nation's President
January 29, 2018 | Tampa Bay Times

An opposition alliance in the Maldives has petitioned the Supreme Court to temporarily remove the president and appoint investigators to look into allegations of corruption and misrule. The opposition said it moved to the courts because the Parliament, which has the power to remove the president, is virtually dysfunctional after 12 lawmakers were removed from their positions when they announced support for an opposition move to oust the speaker. The Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule. But it has lost many of its democratic gains since Gayoom was elected president in 2013. Read it here


Nepal

Sushma Swaraj to Visit Nepal This Week
January 29, 2018 | Times of India

Indian External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Kathmandu on Thursday to hold discussions with Nepal's political leaders on issues of "mutual interest". Swaraj's two-day visit, which comes ahead of the formation of a new government by a Communist alliance, is also seen as part of India's efforts to improve relations with the new regime which has accused New Delhi of interfering in its affairs in the past. Read it here


Nepali Muslim Leaders Question Own Parties' Commitment to Inclusion
January 28, 2018 | Peter Gill | The Wire

At a press conference in Kathmandu on Friday, Muslim leaders from the Nepal’s three largest parties – the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) (UML), Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and the Nepali Congress – together criticised their own and other parties for neglecting Muslim representation in politics. The criticism comes ahead of February 7 elections for the upper house of parliament in which local and provincial representatives elected in 2017 will cast their ballots. No party has fielded a single Muslim candidate for the national assembly. Read it here

 

Pakistan

Climber Rescued Pakistan's "Killer Mountain," but Another is in Peril
January 28, 2018 | Meher Ahmad | New York Times

An elite climbing team rescued a French mountain climber, Elisabeth Revol, from the treacherous Himalayan peak known as “Killer Mountain,” in Pakistan’s northeast, but her Polish climbing partner, Tomek Mackiewitz, remains in peril after efforts to reach him were at least temporarily abandoned. During their descent, Mr. Mackiewicz is said to have had acute mountain sickness caused by the lack of oxygen in the lower air pressure that exists at higher altitudes, as well as snow blindness and frostbite. Estimates of the number of people who have died trying to climb Nanga Parbat vary, but it is believed to be more than 60. The summit is considered to be among the most difficult to climb in the world, earning it its intimidating nickname.Read it here



Pakistan Army Has Greatly Increased its Clout Under New Chief
January 28, 2018 | Salman Masood | New York Times

Since assuming what is considered the most powerful position in the country, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa has left no doubt about who is in charge and there is already talk of a “Bajwa Doctrine,” with Pakistan’s approach to foreign and domestic policies reflecting the army chief’s vision. General Bajwa has stressed that Pakistan will not seek the resumption of American security aid  after President Trump's decision to withhold $1.3 billion in annual aide and that the country is not dependent on it. Since last year, he has been reaching out to countries like China, Iran, Qatar, Russia and Saudi Arabia — building contacts that could help him cement his grip on power and reduce Pakistan’s reliance on the United States. Read it here


US Drone Strike Targeted Terrorists Hiding in Refugee Complex, ISPR Says, Pushing for Reparations
January 25, 2018 | Naveed SIddiqui | Dawn

The Pakistani Army claimed that a US drone which killed two Haqqani network terrorists targeted the militants while they were hiding in an Afghan refugee complex in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The United States has denied the claim, but the spat comes against the backdrop of increasingly antagonistic relations between the two countries. Read it here

 
 
Sri Lanka  

Sri Lanka is All Talk and No Action on Repealing Terror Law
January 29, 2018 | Meera Srinivasan | The Hindu

Human Rights Watch criticized the Sri Lankan government for its failure to repeal the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The PTA, enacted in 1979 when President J.R. Jayawardene was in power, was mainly aimed at crushing the nascent armed struggle of Tamil youth outraged by the Sri Lankan state’s discriminatory policies. Critics have repeatedly questioned the prolonged use of the legislation, particularly after the civil war ended in 2009. Read it here



 

 

January 17-23

Sagar Wadgaonkar

News update Jan 16-23.jpg

 

Afghanistan

After Kabul Hotel Attack, Security Plan Queried as Death Toll Rises
January 22, 2018 | Mujib Mashal | New York Times

The Taliban's bloody 14-hour siege on the luxurious Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, a popular meeting spot for foreigners and Afghanistan's political class, came to an end on Sunday. The exact number of casualties remains unclear, though at the time of writing the Afghan Interior Ministry has raised the civilian death toll to 22. There are 14 foreigners among the dead, including citizens of Ukraine and Venezuela. The attack was the second terrorist attack at the Intercontinental in eight years and takes place as violence continues to increase around the country. Read it here


U.S. Says Kabul Closer to Holding Peace Talks with Taliban
January 18, 2018 | Radio Liberty

The US Ambassador to NATO, Nikki Haley, claims that the Afghani government is getting closer to holding peace talks with the Taliban as a result of the new strategy put in place by the Trump administration. The UN visit to Kabul came as a delegation of Taliban negotiators based in Qatar visited Islamabad to discuss restarting peace negotiations, media reported on January 17. Reuters reported that the Taliban's Haqqani network last week released 14 captured Afghan Army soldiers in the eastern province of Paktia as a goodwill gesture ahead of the talks. Read it here

 

Corruption at 13,000 feet: Afghanistan Struggles to Maintain a Treacherous Mountain Trade Route
January 22, 2018 | Max Bearak | Washington Post

The historical Salang Pass in Afghanistan, long the main trade route between Central and South Asia, is now little more than a treacherous dirt road, cast against the backdrop of the breathtaking beauty of the Hindu Kush Mountains. Rampant corruption, warfare, and poverty have resulted in a plethora of empty promises from Kabul, while whittling away a great economic opportunity for the impoverished nation. The U.S. Congress-appointed Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has laid some of the blame on the massive amounts of money the United States has sent into Afghanistan, resulting in increased corruption. Two years ago, the World Bank announced a new $250 million road-improvement project in and around Salang and projects that the road will finally be paved by 2022. Read it here

 

Bangladesh
 
Rohingya Muslims's Repatriation to Myanmar Postponed
January 22, 2018 | Michael Safi | The Guardian

The gradual repatriation of more than 650,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees to Myanmar from Bangladesh has been postponed amid widespread fears that refugees would be forced to return against their will. There have been concerns among international aide organizations that the Rohingya could be coerced to go back to Myanmar. Most Rohingya refugees fled the country just months ago, escaping attacks by security forces and Buddhist mobs. Rohingya leaders drew up a list last week of minimum demands they said needed to be met before the refugees would agree to return. These include holding the military accountable for alleged killings, looting and rape, and releasing “innocent Rohingya” detained in counter-insurgency operations. Read it here

 

Hamid Likely to Be Elected for Second Term
January 22, 2018 | Partha Bhattacharjee The Daily Star

President Abdul Hamid is likely to be elected to a second term as the Awami League will reportedly nominate him as their candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. The presidential election is deemed crucial as the next parliamentary polls will be held at the end of this year. The next president will be elected for a five-year term which will continue till the last year of the next government. Read it here

 

Bhutan
 
Defendants Appeal to High Court Citing Lapses with Military Court Ruling 
January 19, 2018 | Kuensel

The Bangladeshi High Court heard two cases involving three individuals accused of embezzling funds for the DeSuung Training Program in the Tenchholing Military Training Centre. Read it here


India

India Can Strike Anywhere in China with New Nuclear-Capable Missile
January 19, 2018 | South China Morning Post

India successfully test-fired the Agni-V Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, which is capable of striking anywhere in China, strengthening New Delhi's credible nuclear deterrence vis-a-vis  Beijing. The news comes one day after India announced that it is spending $533 million on new weapons for its border guards, including those along the disputed border with China. Read it here


 Fire Traps Workers in Delhi, Killing at least 17
January 21, 2018 | Kai Schultz | New York Times

A fire at an industrial factory on the outskirts of New Delhi broke out, killing at least 17. Frequent fires are a tragic reality in urban India. This trend has worsened in recent years as officials in an attempt to curb pollution have instructed factories to build within industrial clusters on the outskirts of cities, leading to increasingly frequent, though concentrated fires. The owner of the factory, Manooj Jain, has been taken into custody and charged with culpable homicide, not amounting to murder, and with negligent conduct. Read it here

 

Delhi Police Say They've Captured Most-Wanted Terrorist Known as 'India's Bin Laden'
January 22, 2018 | Scott Neuman | NPR

Police in New Delhi have reportedly captured Abdul Qureshi, the alleged mastermind behind a series of bomb attacks across India over the past decade, including in Mumbai (2006), Gujarat (2008), Delhi (2010), and Bangalore (2014) and the founder of Indian Mujahideen. Read it here

 

Maldives

Exiled Maldives Leader Says Chinese Deals on Islands are 'Land Grabs' 
January 22, 2018 | South China Morning Post

Exiled Maldives opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed accused China of land grabs in the politically-sensitive Indo-Pacific. Nasheed criticized the Maldivian government for risking its sovereignty by borrowing heavily from China, often in order to line the pockets of  members of the political class. Beijing, on the other hand, considers the Maldives a key clog in its 'One Belt, One Road' Initiative. Read it here

 

Nepal

China Donates Solar Power Generation System to Nepal
January 21, 2018 | Xinhua

China on Sunday donated over 32,000 sets of solar power generation systems to Nepal with the aim of enhancing Nepal's domestic capacity for combating climate change. Beijing has made significant efforts in recent years to strengthen its relationship with Kathmandu and other South Asian capitals. Read it here

 

Nepal to Play Host to 2 million Foreign Tourists by 2020
January 22, 2018 | Rishi Baral | The Himalayan Times

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Deepak Raj Joshi, NTB is moving ahead with the aim of increasing the number of foreigner tourists visiting the country to two million, a huge boon for the country less than three years after the devastating April 2015 earthquake. Read it here

 
Pakistan

Two Polio Workers, Mother and Daughter Killed in Pakistan
January 18, 2018 | Radio Free Europe

Pakistani authorities reported that Sakina Bibi and her daughter Alizah were shot and killed while giving Polio immunization drops outside of the Baluchi capital of Quetta. No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but militants in Pakistan have regularly targeted polio workers and their guards, which they claim are a cover for Western spies or a conspiracy to sterilize Pakistani children. Pakistan is one of only two countries, along with next-door Afghanistan where Polio is endemic. Read it here.  


The Slain 'Militant' was a Model, and a Karachi Police Commander is Out
January 23, 2018 | New York Times

A top Karachi police commander, Rao Anwar, has been forced out after a shootout resulted in the death of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a 27-yr old shopkeeper and aspiring model. Anwar was known for his harsh tactics, but is also credited with turning the tide in the battle against the Taliban in Karachi. Yet, those campaigns have been riddled with allegations of extrajudicial killings and indiscriminate crackdowns on Karachi's sizable Pashtun communities. While Anwar might be the current focus of public ire, concerns about the security forces' methods in Pakistan are increasingly common. Read it here


Tensions Soar Along India, Pakistan Border in Kashmir
January 19, 2018 | Rifat Fareed | Al-Jazeera

Two civilians and an Indian soldier were killed and twenty more wounded in the latest ceasefire violations in the border villages of the Jammu region in Kashmir, resulting from Pakistani military shelling of Indian-controlled Kashmir border towns. Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan regularly trade fire across the so-called Line of Control (LoC), the military demarcation between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir. India regularly accuses Pakistan of aiding fighters in crossing the LoC to attack Indian targets' Pakistan has denied the charges. This is the third exchange of fire between the two antagonists in the past three days.  Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprisings in Kashmir since 1989 and the ensuing Indian military crackdown. India maintains roughly 500,000 soldiers in the territory. Read it here

 
 
Sri Lanka  

Sri Lanka's President is Struggling to Keep his Promises of Reform
January 17, 2018 | The Economist

Maithripala Sirisena won a surprising victory in Sri Lanka's 2015 presidential election by promising ambitious political and economic reforms. Yet, his unwieldy alliance with the main opposition United National Party (UNP) has left his campaign promises of empowering Parliament, federalizing institutions, cracking down on corruption, and holding the army accountable for war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan Civil War largely unfulfilled. Read it here


Singapore and Sri Lanka to Ink Free Trade Agreement

January 22, 2018 | Singapore Business Review

Singapore and Sri Lanka are scheduled to sign a free trade agreement during the upcoming Singaporean business mission to Sri Lanka. The Singaporean companies largely hail from the sectors of info-communications technology, hospitality, real estate development, construction and infrastructure-related services, shipping and logistics, and general trade. Read it here. 

 

January 10- 16

Sagar Wadgaonkar

News update Jan 10-16.jpg

 

Afghanistan


US Bombs Afghan Militia Behind Insider Attack, Officials Say
January 11, 2018 | Zabihullah Ghazi & Mujib Mashal | New York Times

The American military bombed members of an Afghan government militia in eastern Afghanistan, killing 13 fighters after at least one opened fire on American Special Forces deployed there in what is being described as an "insider attack." According to the US military, one service member was wounded. The attack occured in the Achin District of the Nangarhar Province, believed to be the stronghold of the Islamic State's affiliate in Afghanistan. It has also been the deadliest province for American soldiers during the past year, with 8 American servicemen dying. Read it here

 

Bloodiest Year Ever for Journalists in Afghanistan
January 11, 2018 | Radio Liberty

The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) reported that 20 journalists and media workers were killed in 2017, making it the “bloodiest” year ever for journalists and other media personnel working in Afghanistan, with the Taliban and Islamic State (IS) militant groups being blamed for much of the violence. The group also stated that there were 169 reported cases of violence and threats against journalists on the job, with 12 of them directed toward female media workers. Along with direct violence, the report cited examples of intimidation against media outlets by the Taliban and Islamic State, leading to situations of “self-censorship.” Read it here

 

Amid Concerns, Afghan Forces Ready to Hand Over Security Responsibilities to Rural Communities
January 15, 2018 | Mohammad Habibzada | VOA

Afghan forces are planning to hand over security responsibilities to local forces in the rural communities they have recently captured from Taliban and IS militants, in eastern Nangarhar a province that borders Pakistan. Some officials and experts are expressing concern that the localization of forces could lead to more instability. There is also concern that local forces that haven't been trained to the national security forces' standards may commit human rights abuses that could sway public opinion in those areas away from the government and back towards the Taliban and Islamic State. Read it here

 

Bangladesh
 
World Bank Terms Economic Sector of Bangladesh Stable
January 10, 2018 | Lalit K Jha | Dhaka Tribune

The World Bank reported in its annual Global Economic Prospect Report that Bangladesh will have a robust growth rate of 6.7% for the 2018-2020 fiscal year and a stronger export sector. The report also states that the government investment growth has made a positive impact on the private sector of the country as well. 

 

Bangladesh Finds New Natural Gas Reserves

January 15 | The Daily Star

Bangladesh has found approximately 600 billion cubic feet of new natural gas reserves in its southern coastal district of Bhola at a time when the country is concentrating on import of liquefied natural gas (LNG).This discovery comes as a rising number of Bangladeshi households and business are complaining about dwindling gas supplies. Read it here

 

Bhutan
 
Bhutan and India Celebrate 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations
January 14, 2018 | Kuensel

In a grand ceremony yesterday, marked with traditional songs and dances, Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji of Bhutan and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of India unveiled a special logo to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Read it here


Vehicle Numbers Rise Despite Measures
January 14, 2017 | Kuensel

The percentage of Bhutanese that own a car has risen sharply from one in ten to one in seven over the past two years. This statistic, while welcome news for the state of Bhutan's economic development, is somewhat misleading as it ignores the widespread poverty that continues to exist in rural areas; nearly half of the cars are concentrated in the capital, Thimphu, where one in two individuals owns a car. Read it here.  

 

India

Concerns over Illegal Detention of Indian Dalits
January 11, 2018 | Al-Jazeera 

Activists in India say hundreds of Dalits have been "illegally detained" and many others are in hiding, as police in Maharashtra state moved to arrest members of the community who took part in mass protests. According to official police reports, 43 people have been arrested in connection with last week's protests, which were sparked by the attack on the Dalit community, sometimes derogatorily referred to as "Untouchables" that occurred during the commemoration of the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Bhima- Koregaon. But Dalit organizations and activists claim that the real number is well over 100, leaving dozens of people unaccounted for. Read it here


 Defense, Trade and Bollywood: Netanyahu Visits India

January 14, 2018 | Al-Jazeera

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel arrived in India on a six day trip, becoming the second Israeli PM to visit India since bilateral diplomatic relations were reestablished in 1992. In a "departure from protocol," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Mr. Netanyahu in person at the New Delhi airport. Defense, security, trade, and agricultural cooperation will be high on the agenda, furthering Israel's recent trend of strengthened ties with the rising South Asian power, as exemplified by the fact that India is now the biggest buyer of Israeli defense equipment. Read it here. 

Kashmir: Four Pakistani Soldiers Killed by Indian Fire
January 15, 2018 | Al-Jazeera

Four Pakistani soldiers were killed in a mortar attack by Indian forces while conducting maintenance on communication lines in the village of Kotli along the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region. At the time of writing, there reports on the number of Indian soldiers killed and wounded in the subsequent crossfire is unknown. Read it here

 

Nepal
 

In Rural Nepal, Menstruation Taboo Claims Another Victim
January 10, 2018 | Bhadra Sharma & Jeffrey Gettleman | New York Times 

Ms. Kumari  Bayak is the latest victim of a very old tradition in rural Nepal where religious Hindus believe that menstruating women are unclean and need to be banished from the home. The Nepalese government has outlawed the practice, but dozens of women have still succumbed to the pathology of this ancient tradition in recent years. Read it here


With New Chinese Link, Nepal Ends India's Internet Monopoly
January 14, 2018 | The Star Online

Nepal has partnered with China to offer Internet services to its citizens, officials said on Jan 12, ending India's decades-long monopoly of the Himalayan nation's cyber connectivity network. For years, Nepal depended on Indian telecom companies, such as Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications Ltd, for access to the worldwide web. Nepal hopes that Chinese internet services will prove more reliable than the infamously slow Indian service. New Delhi and Beijing have been competing for influence in Nepal and other South Asian countries in recent years. Read it here

 
Pakistan

Pakistan Taliban Book Claims its Suicide Bombers Killed Benazir Bhutto
January 15, 2018 | The Times of India

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, saying it killed her as she allegedly planned to collaborate with the US against the 'mujahideen' if she returned to power, says a book by the banned terror group. Yet, many officials close to the Bhutto family suspect that former General Pervez Musharraf might also have had a tacit hand in the assassination; he was formally charged by an anti-terror court in August 2017. Musharraf continues to claim this charge is false and politically motivated. Read it here

 

A Young Girl's Rape and Murder Have Catalyzed Countrywide Outrage in Pakistan
January 14, 2018 | Colin Dwyer | NPR 

Two days after a young girl named Zainab was found dead in a trash heap in the city of Kasur, strangled after a brutal rape, widespread shock and ourtrage at the perceived inaction of the authorities has escalated into widespread protests. At least two people were killed and two others injured when police shot into the crowd. The Punjab government claims it has arrested the officer suspected of firing the fatal shots. Pakistani Punjab, and Kasur in particular, has an endemic of child sex abuse, with 111 cases reported last year alone. Read it here


The New Normal' in Pakistan: A Journalist on the Run from Gunmen
January 11, 2018 | Mehreen Zahra- Malik | New York Times

Journalists and critics of the military in Pakistan have been subjected to "disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and intimidation for years. The story of Taha Siddiqui, the Pakistan Bureau Chief of Indian television channel, WION, who last week found himself on the run from gunmen, exemplifies this troubling trend eating away at the core of Pakistan's civil society. Read it here

 Sri Lanka  
 

Sri Lanka's President Rejects Move to Allow Women to Buy Alcohol
January 14, 2018 | BBC News

In a reversal of last week's decision to allow the sale of alcohol to women, Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena legally overruled the measure in an apparent accommodation of the the Buddhist clerical establishment. Read it here

President's Term is Only Five Years- SC

January 15, 2018 | The Hindu

The Sri Lankan Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Maithripala Sirisena’s term is only five years in response to Mr. Sirisena's request for a six year term. Read it here

 

January 01 to 09   

Sagar Wadgaonkar

 

   Afghanistan    Taliban Looking for New Means to Support Insurgency in Southern Afghanistan  Jan 7, 2018 | Voice of America  Airstrikes on narcotics labs in southern Afghanistan may be forcing the Taliban to find new sources of revenue. As a result, the Taliban have established a new customs house in the Delaram District of southern Mimruz Province. Read it  here .    A Suicide Attack in Kabul Targeting Police Officers Killed 20, Afghan Officials Say  January 5, 2018 | Time  The attack took place on January 4th evening in the eastern part of the Capitol where dozens of security officers had congregated to protect a demonstration being conducted by several shopkeepers. Read it  here .    Stand-Off Between Afghanistan President and Local Governor Foreshadows Next Year’s Election  January 8, 2018 | Independent  Increasing tensions between Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and Atta Mohammad Noor, the provincial governor of the strategic province of Balkh and a prominent leader of the Jamiat-i-Islami party, foreshadows next year’s presidential election. The fractious political environment in Afghanistan threatens to undermine recent battlefield successes in the wake of increased American drone strikes last year. Read it  here .      Bangladesh      Bangladesh, Myanmar Set to Implement Rohingya Repatriation Deal  January 7, 2018 | Al-Jazeera  The repatriation deal has been condemned as a farce by aid agencies and the UN due to its reliance on Rohingya refugees’ ability to show proof of their residence in Myanmar. Yet, Burmese authorities have largely withheld Ids from the Rohingya, making their ability to show proof of residency exceedingly difficult. Read it  here .    Bangladesh Upholds Myanmar Rohingya Marriage Ban  January 8, 2018 | BBC News  A court in Bangladesh has upheld a law which bans Rohingya Muslims from getting married in the country. Officials in Dhaka fear that Rohingya are trying to use wedding certificates as a means of obtaining Bangladeshi passports. Read it  here .    Bangladesh Experiences Record-Low Temperature; Improvement Unlikely Before 3 Days  January 8, 2018 | The Dhaka Tribune  The mercury in the Bangladeshi town of Tetulia dropped to 35 F, the lowest temperature recorded in Bangladesh since independence. Twelve lives have so far been claimed by the unprecedented chill. Read it  here .       Bhutan     Beyond the News: Sweeping Changes in Always-Happy Bhutan  January 8, 2017 | The Indian Express  Largely unnoticed by the international community, Bhutan has drastically transformed over the past 10-15 years. For instance, only 17% of households had television in 2003; today that number is 70%. Most importantly, the one-time monarchy has transformed into a Constituional monarchy and is doing well economically and now has the third highest per capita GDP in South Asia behind Maldives and Sri Lanka. Read it  here .     Bhutan Witnesses Gender Imparity Rise   January 4, 2017 | KUENSEL  One dark side of Bhutan's economic growth has been a sharp uptick in gender inequality (in 2013 Bhutan ranked 96th in gender equality; 4 years later it now ranks 124th). Read it  here .        India    Mumbai Shuts Down as Protests Erupt over Caste Tensions   January 3, 2018 | New York Times  India’s commercial and financial capital, Mumbai, came to a halt on January 3 due to the presence of thousands of demonstrators and a large-scale general strike. The protests were instigated by violence against the lower caste Dalits by far-right Hindu mobs that occurred during the commemoration of the Battle of Koregaon. This battle took place in 1818, during which a British-led contingent of Dalits defeated an army of upper caste Hindus. Frustrations were also directed towards both of India’s major parties for not doing enough to improve the lot of the traditionally downtrodden group. Read it  here .    India’s Highest Court to Review Colonial Era Law Criminalizing Gay Sex   January 8, 2018 | The New York Times  India’s Supreme Court agreed take up a case challenging a colonial-era law (Section 377 of the Indian penal code) outlawing gay sex between men. Lawyers argue that the ban is illegal according to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which states that “no person shall be deprived of his life or liberty except according to procedure established by law.” Read it  here .     Bomb Blast Kills Four Police Officers in Kashmir   January 7, 2018 | Al-Jazeera  Four police officers were killed in the northwestern Indian Kashmiri town of Sopore on Saturday by rebels fighting Indian rule. Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistani-based armed group, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Read it  here .       Nepal    Frustration Simmers as Nepalis Await New Government  January 5, 2018 | Al-Jazeera  Students have taken to the street to demand that the outgoing government swiftly hand power over to a leftist alliance that swept to victory in national election last month. The ongoing political deadlock has led to disillusion and widespread frustration among a wide swath of the population. The election marked a turning point in Nepal's political development after emerging from a bloody civil war in 2006 and abolishing its 239 yr old Hindu monarchy two years later. Read it  here .    India, Nepal Agree to Resolve Border Issues, Rebuild Pillars  January 8, 2018 | The Economic Times  India and Nepal have reached an agreement to resolve differences on reconstructing damaged pillars along the mutual border. New Delhi sees the strenghtening of ties with Kathmandu as essential for staving off Beijing's growing strategic presence in South Asia. Read it  here .      Pakistan    Trump Administration Suspends Most Security Aide to Pakistan  January 4, 2018 | Washington Post  The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it will suspend most security aide to Pakistan as retribution for Islamabad’s continued sponsoring of terrorist safe havens. Washington is particularly concerned that the Taliban and Haqqani network, both of which directly target American troops in Afghanistan,  continue to reside in Pakistani territory with little consequence. Pakistan continues to deny the allegations. Read it  here .    Pakistan’s Week Keeps Getting Worse  January 4, 2018 | Defense One  Pakistan has had a difficult week- the Trump administration pledged to cut off approximately $1.1 billion in security aide, while publicly humiliating Islamabad for its proclivity towards harboring and funding militant groups. Washington then followed this up by placing Pakistan on a list of countries that violate religious freedom. Read it  here .    Pakistan Will Try to Make Trump Pay   January 8, 2018 | C. Christine Fair | Atlantic  President Trump’s decision to cut security assistance to Pakistan might be a success or it might result in breaking the relationship with few tangible benefits depending on how Washington responds to Islamabad's reprisals. The author argues that America is less dependent on Pakistani  supply routes than in the past because of a sharp decrease in the number of Americans troops in Afghanistan. Read it  here .        Sri Lanka      Rafi Group Celebrates Two Years in Business in Sri Lanka   January 9, 2018 | Daily Mirror  Rafi Group Pvt Ltd which is founded by and comprising of three brothers who have made strides and great endeavours in the world of business, celebrates 2 years in Sri Lanka. Read it  here .    Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers Financiers' Trial Begins in Switzerland  January 9, 2017 | Xinhua Net   The trial of 13 financiers accused of funneling more than 15 million Swiss francs (15.3 million U.S. dollars) to the Sri Lankan rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) started at the Swiss Federal Criminal Court on Monday. Between 1999 and 2009, they allegedly created a complex fundraising structure which involved coaxing members of the Tamil diaspora to obtain loans from banks.


Afghanistan

Taliban Looking for New Means to Support Insurgency in Southern Afghanistan
Jan 7, 2018 | Voice of America

Airstrikes on narcotics labs in southern Afghanistan may be forcing the Taliban to find new sources of revenue. As a result, the Taliban have established a new customs house in the Delaram District of southern Mimruz Province. Read it here

A Suicide Attack in Kabul Targeting Police Officers Killed 20, Afghan Officials Say
January 5, 2018 | Time

The attack took place on January 4th evening in the eastern part of the Capitol where dozens of security officers had congregated to protect a demonstration being conducted by several shopkeepers. Read it here

Stand-Off Between Afghanistan President and Local Governor Foreshadows Next Year’s Election
January 8, 2018 | Independent

Increasing tensions between Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and Atta Mohammad Noor, the provincial governor of the strategic province of Balkh and a prominent leader of the Jamiat-i-Islami party, foreshadows next year’s presidential election. The fractious political environment in Afghanistan threatens to undermine recent battlefield successes in the wake of increased American drone strikes last year. Read it here



Bangladesh
 

Bangladesh, Myanmar Set to Implement Rohingya Repatriation Deal
January 7, 2018 | Al-Jazeera

The repatriation deal has been condemned as a farce by aid agencies and the UN due to its reliance on Rohingya refugees’ ability to show proof of their residence in Myanmar. Yet, Burmese authorities have largely withheld Ids from the Rohingya, making their ability to show proof of residency exceedingly difficult. Read it here

Bangladesh Upholds Myanmar Rohingya Marriage Ban
January 8, 2018 | BBC News

A court in Bangladesh has upheld a law which bans Rohingya Muslims from getting married in the country. Officials in Dhaka fear that Rohingya are trying to use wedding certificates as a means of obtaining Bangladeshi passports. Read it here

Bangladesh Experiences Record-Low Temperature; Improvement Unlikely Before 3 Days
January 8, 2018 | The Dhaka Tribune

The mercury in the Bangladeshi town of Tetulia dropped to 35 F, the lowest temperature recorded in Bangladesh since independence. Twelve lives have so far been claimed by the unprecedented chill. Read it here

 

Bhutan
 
Beyond the News: Sweeping Changes in Always-Happy Bhutan
January 8, 2017 | The Indian Express

Largely unnoticed by the international community, Bhutan has drastically transformed over the past 10-15 years. For instance, only 17% of households had television in 2003; today that number is 70%. Most importantly, the one-time monarchy has transformed into a Constituional monarchy and is doing well economically and now has the third highest per capita GDP in South Asia behind Maldives and Sri Lanka. Read it here


Bhutan Witnesses Gender Imparity Rise
January 4, 2017 | KUENSEL

One dark side of Bhutan's economic growth has been a sharp uptick in gender inequality (in 2013 Bhutan ranked 96th in gender equality; 4 years later it now ranks 124th). Read it here


 

India

Mumbai Shuts Down as Protests Erupt over Caste Tensions
January 3, 2018 | New York Times

India’s commercial and financial capital, Mumbai, came to a halt on January 3 due to the presence of thousands of demonstrators and a large-scale general strike. The protests were instigated by violence against the lower caste Dalits by far-right Hindu mobs that occurred during the commemoration of the Battle of Koregaon. This battle took place in 1818, during which a British-led contingent of Dalits defeated an army of upper caste Hindus. Frustrations were also directed towards both of India’s major parties for not doing enough to improve the lot of the traditionally downtrodden group. Read it here

India’s Highest Court to Review Colonial Era Law Criminalizing Gay Sex
January 8, 2018 | The New York Times

India’s Supreme Court agreed take up a case challenging a colonial-era law (Section 377 of the Indian penal code) outlawing gay sex between men. Lawyers argue that the ban is illegal according to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which states that “no person shall be deprived of his life or liberty except according to procedure established by law.” Read it here

 Bomb Blast Kills Four Police Officers in Kashmir
January 7, 2018 | Al-Jazeera

Four police officers were killed in the northwestern Indian Kashmiri town of Sopore on Saturday by rebels fighting Indian rule. Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistani-based armed group, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Read it here

 

Nepal

Frustration Simmers as Nepalis Await New Government
January 5, 2018 | Al-Jazeera

Students have taken to the street to demand that the outgoing government swiftly hand power over to a leftist alliance that swept to victory in national election last month. The ongoing political deadlock has led to disillusion and widespread frustration among a wide swath of the population. The election marked a turning point in Nepal's political development after emerging from a bloody civil war in 2006 and abolishing its 239 yr old Hindu monarchy two years later. Read it here

India, Nepal Agree to Resolve Border Issues, Rebuild Pillars
January 8, 2018 | The Economic Times

India and Nepal have reached an agreement to resolve differences on reconstructing damaged pillars along the mutual border. New Delhi sees the strenghtening of ties with Kathmandu as essential for staving off Beijing's growing strategic presence in South Asia. Read it here

 
Pakistan

Trump Administration Suspends Most Security Aide to Pakistan
January 4, 2018 | Washington Post

The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it will suspend most security aide to Pakistan as retribution for Islamabad’s continued sponsoring of terrorist safe havens. Washington is particularly concerned that the Taliban and Haqqani network, both of which directly target American troops in Afghanistan,  continue to reside in Pakistani territory with little consequence. Pakistan continues to deny the allegations. Read it here

Pakistan’s Week Keeps Getting Worse
January 4, 2018 | Defense One

Pakistan has had a difficult week- the Trump administration pledged to cut off approximately $1.1 billion in security aide, while publicly humiliating Islamabad for its proclivity towards harboring and funding militant groups. Washington then followed this up by placing Pakistan on a list of countries that violate religious freedom. Read it here

Pakistan Will Try to Make Trump Pay
January 8, 2018 | C. Christine Fair | Atlantic

President Trump’s decision to cut security assistance to Pakistan might be a success or it might result in breaking the relationship with few tangible benefits depending on how Washington responds to Islamabad's reprisals. The author argues that America is less dependent on Pakistani  supply routes than in the past because of a sharp decrease in the number of Americans troops in Afghanistan. Read it here

 

 Sri Lanka  

Rafi Group Celebrates Two Years in Business in Sri Lanka
January 9, 2018 | Daily Mirror

Rafi Group Pvt Ltd which is founded by and comprising of three brothers who have made strides and great endeavours in the world of business, celebrates 2 years in Sri Lanka. Read it here

Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers Financiers' Trial Begins in Switzerland
January 9, 2017 | Xinhua Net 

The trial of 13 financiers accused of funneling more than 15 million Swiss francs (15.3 million U.S. dollars) to the Sri Lankan rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) started at the Swiss Federal Criminal Court on Monday. Between 1999 and 2009, they allegedly created a complex fundraising structure which involved coaxing members of the Tamil diaspora to obtain loans from banks.