January 10- 16

 Sagar Wadgaonkar


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   

 

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.