SOUTH ASIAN DIGEST

Pakistan gives army broad election powers at polling stations

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Pakistan’s election authorities have granted broad judicial powers to the powerful military at polling stations during next week’s general election, a rare move that has fanned concern among political parties and human rights groups. The July 25 election is seen as a two-way race between parties led by former cricket star Imran Khan and now-jailed... More

India in talks with China on NSG membership Issue

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India has continuously been pursuing it's Nuclear Supplier's Group (NSG) ambition and it has been in touch with China on garnering the support of its northern support in gaining entry into the elite 48-member group that deals with fissile materials and nuclear technology. India's minister of external affairs said on Thursday that the latest round... More

Thailand, Bhutan agree to boost trade, investment

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Thailand and Bhutan agreed to use the Joint Trade Committee as a main driver to boost trade and investment between the two countries during summit talks on Thursday (July 19). Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is making a two-day official visit to Bhutan, met his Bhutanese counterpart, Dasho Tshering Tobgay, at Government House in the... More

Nepal seeks India nod to switch $750m credit line

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Nepal government seeks India’s consent to switch part of $750 million Line of Credit (LoC) granted to reconstruct earthquake-damaged buildings to other infrastructure projects. Reconstruction project is unlikely to use the entire amount of LoC, therefore, the move to switch part of the grant to other projects, the government reasons. Nepal made this request at the... More

China unresponsive over FTA talks with Sri Lanka

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The Sri Lankan government is exasperated by China's slowness to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) after Colombo sent Beijing a formal request to resume talks over three months ago. Some observers believe Beijing has turned a cold shoulder after the present coalition government balked at incurring any further debt. The previous government of President... More

Inmates in Bangladesh to get pillows for the first time in 230 years of jail...

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After 230 years of using blankets as a substitute for pillows, inmates are going to get cotton pillows to sleep on for the first time in the history of jails in Bangladesh. Since 1788, when a "criminal ward" was built in Dhaka on Nazimuddin Road, which was later turned into Dhaka Central Jail, prisoners would... More

Tourists to Maldives increase by 10.5% in 2018

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Maldives’ Tourism Ministry has revealed the number of holidaymakers visiting Maldives in 2018 so far has increased by 10.5 percent. Based on statistical data collected from Maldives Immigration Department and tourism related ventures, the ministry compiled statistics indicate a total of 93,786 tourists visiting Maldives in June. According to the ministry a total of 726,515 holidaymakers... More

Myanmar peace process makes little progress

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A 3rd meeting aimed at ending civil war between ethnic minority militants and Myanmar government forces has ended without much progress. The 6-day meeting, led by Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, ended on Monday in the capital Naypyidaw. She met 10 ethnic militias that had signed a ceasefire accord with the government. The... More

Britain to almost double troops in Afghanistan after U.S. request

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The British government is planning to almost double the number of its troops in Afghanistan after a request from U.S. President Donald Trump for reinforcements to help tackle the fragile security situation there. Prime Minister Theresa May announced the government will send an extra 440 troops, which would bring Britain’s total to about 1,100, to... More

SUNDAY SPECIAL

Will India make homosexuality legal?


India’s Supreme Court has begun hearing a crucial case that can de-criminalisehomosexuality in the country, which would do away with the law enacted in the year 1861 when the British... More

REPORTS

Imran Khan near victory in Pakistan election but some ask if he is playing...


On a stage high above a hockey stadium to the north of Lahore, a compere shrieks into the microphone. Supporters of Imran Khan clamber onto rows of chairs. Then... More

Mob lynches Muslim man transporting cows in India’s Rajasthan


A Muslim man has been killed by a mob of vigilantes in India after being accused of smuggling cows for slaughter, according to officials. Akbar Khan, 28, was beaten to... More

Pakistan elections: who is standing and what is at stake?


On 25 July, Pakistan’s 106 million registered voters will have the chance to choose a new parliament and provincial assemblies. Parliament sits for a five-year term, and the majority... More

Sri Lankan ‘war criminals’ deployed as UN peacekeepers


The UN has been sending alleged war criminals to act as peacekeepers in conflict zones, a confidential report claims. The document, seen by the Observer, and sent to the UN’s... More

NEWS ANALYSIS

Rajapaksa gets fresh support amidst new controversies


The political party of former President, the Sri Lanka PoduJana Peramuna (SLPP) which is expanding to become a broader alliance, calling themselves the United Podujana Peramuna (Ekabadda Podujana Peramuna)... More

VISTA OF VIEWS

Can closer ties between China, India contribute to stability of Asia?


China and India have been stepping up their summit diplomacy. It is necessary to pay close attention to the impact that their bilateral relationship, beset with thorny territorial problems,... More

ISSUES

Asia won’t toe the line on Iran sanctions


Though the EU is likely to fall in line with US sanctions against Iran, the Islamic Republic is still unlikely to agree to make new concessions regarding its nuclear program. A primary reason, Iran sanctions... More

India and Pakistan’s participation in SCO joint exercise attracts attention


A large-scale anti-terrorism military exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), codenamed “Peace Mission”, will be held in Russia next month, with all SCO member states planning to take part in it. It is noteworthy... More

How India and China are keeping the West out in Nepal


Sandwiched between two Asian giants, Nepal has of late emerged as a new battleground for the region’s geopolitical competition as China trains its strategic focus on South Asia, once considered exclusively India’s sphere of... More

US says working with India to help avoid sanctions


The US on Saturday said it is working with partner countries, including India, to help them identify and avoid engaging in potentially sanctionable activity under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The state... More

DEFENCE

China bolsters ally Pakistan with new submarine fleet in major warning to...


Chinese shipbuilders have begun work on eight subs, which will soon be handed over to its ally in South Asia. The new vessels will nearly double the number of submarines currently fielded by the Pakistani... More

Indian Navy begins mine countermeasures exercise with US, Japan


Left without minesweepers due to a delayed procurement, the Indian Navy has started its 2JA mine countermeasures exercise with US and Japan using only Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) units. The exercise began on Wednesday... More

As Trump turns away, China gains in Myanmar

Does US President Donald Trump have a distinct policy towards Myanmar, and if so how does it differ from the engagement gambit championed by his predecessor Barack Obama? Trump has paid little to no attention to Myanmar while pursuing ties with other Southeast Asian states,... More

COLUMN

150 hrs to a new dawn?

Though the usual feudal modus operandi for obtaining votes, particularly in the rural areas, is through outright coercion and/or intimidation, it also depends upon who counts the vote. Even more importantly, it is about who gets to collate it. With rigging/tampering with ballot and ballot boxes fairly widespread in... More

Japanese expert urges Lanka to get P-3C Orion naval reconnaissance aircraft...

Dr. Satoru Nagao, a Japanese expert on maritime security who is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC, says that Sri Lanka should acquire the Lockheed P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft to meet a possible threat from Chinese submarines. Dr. Nagao told this correspondent in an email... More

Is Modi making up for India’s shortage of diplomats?

Narendra Modi is India's most travelled Prime Minister. The opposition Congress recently wanted his name on the Guinness Book of World Records for the most travelled Prime Minister, mockingly writing," We are overwhelmed and”extremely happy to suggest the name of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has set the... More

India faces tough choices as the US sanctions Iran

For the Indian policy makers, one of the crucial questions today is of how to walk a balancing act between the US, their prime strategic ally, and Iran, their traditional regional ally and, of course, third biggest supplier of oil.  The question has become even more significant ever since... More

Something is broken in Bangladesh: Will it heal?

There is something scared about the relationship between a University, its teachers and students. It is built on trust, obligation, mutual affection and much more. Its as if the teacher is the parent, the campus is the home. A relationship is inherently therefore written into this unwritten contract. It was... More

EDITOR'S CHOICE

India’s social-media ‘lynch mobs’ pose growing threat

Social-media platforms are often criticized for their susceptibility to toxic dialogue and vicious attacks. It is a problem that India knows well. Just ask External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, whose recent vilification by members and supporters of her own ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a case in point. Swaraj... More

The new trade order

Since the start of the year, U.S. President Donald Trump has lashed out at allies and adversaries alike on trade. Often, as with India, the U.S. has pushed for enhanced security cooperation at the same time it declared trade relations a national security threat. The belligerence has left many... More

One day does not an election make

The much-awaited Gazipur city election is over, the “we-knew-it-from-before” polls results are upon us, the “impartiality” of the police and the “neutrality” of the civil administration have once again been demonstrated, the never-too-late-to-follow “certificate” of the Election Commission has been delivered and, of course, our democracy now stands “strengthened”. As... More

The PDP-BJP coalition was an unnatural and opportunistic alliance

The BJP pulled out of the coalition government and the other partner, the PDP, had no choice but to resign. The BJP pulled out of the coalition government and the other partner, the PDP, had no choice but to resign. Only a few weeks ago I had poured out my... More

MOST POPULAR

READER'S VIEWS

Gorkhaland, Mamata and the Chinese factor


Just a few days ago I warned two young student leaders in Darjeeling of West Bengal, against the violent movement which has started there for a separate Gorkhaland. I told them in no way... More
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Heritage walks in India that go beyond food

From exploring typography in Paharganj to watching the making of Pashmina in Kashmir, these experiences in India will make dull heritage walks a thing... More

‘Inequality in India has never been more catastrophic’: Anuradha Roy

Anuradha Roy is a fearless media commentator who views her country’s political situation with dismay. “Who among us does not have friends – men... More

‘Pakistan has always had very interesting relationships with other countries’:...

Few Pakistani diplomats have worked on as many important assignments as Riaz Khokhar has. He has been Pakistan’s envoy to Dhaka, New Delhi, Washington... More

‘Revelations beyond just paid news’

AN undercover operation code-named “Operation 136” by Cobrapost, a non-profit news website, has led to shocking revelations captured on video about the prevalence of... More

What is home? Indian and Pakistani artists explore the question...

Rashmi Kaleka’s family was one of the countless many which came to India from Pakistan during Partition in 1947 but never really forgot what... More

From atop the golden boughs

Some years ago Sheldon Pollock, master-scholar, philologist and historian, issued a dire warning about the state of scholarship in Sanskrit and other classical Ind¬ian... More

Anxious and angry

“OF all the terror cases in India, the Mecca Masjid case is a typical one, as it was once again Muslims who were terrorised.... More

Honey, I shrunk the city: Chennai’s quirks and charms get...

In the winter of 2017, artist Hemlatha Venkataraman sat sketching at the local tea shop in Chennai’s Anna Nagar while sipping on hot tea.... More