SOUTH ASIAN DIGEST

Bhutan PM to visit Bangladesh in Apr

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Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering is expected to visit Bangladesh in April with an aim to strengthen ties, especially in the sector of bilateral trade. He will be arriving in the second week of April at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque said Tuesday. The secretary made the disclosure after a meeting with his Bhutanese counterpart Sonam Tshong at the... More

Taking China’s cues India begins 1st-ever military drill with 17 African nations

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In a bid to match China, India along with 17 African nations (called AFINDEX-19) on Monday commenced a first-ever joint military drill at Aundh Military Station in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Contingents from 17 African Nations — Benin, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe will be part of the military exercise.... More

OFID approves US$50 million loan to Maldives

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OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has approved a US$50 million (approximately MVR 772 million) loan to the Maldives. In a statement released following the 166th Governing Board meeting of OFID in Vienna, Australia, it was stated that OFID would offer six developing countries a total sum of US$ 225 million as loans. OFID said urban development projects will be implemented using the loan funds, and... More

Pakistan shows interest in UAE’s space programme

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The Pakistan space agency is in talks with the UAE on developing collaboration in space-related activities, a top official from Pakistan has revealed. Pakistan was taking part in the Global Space Congress for the first time, where they shed light on their satellite-related projects. The Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), a Pakistani government entity that falls under the country's space agency, was representing... More

India, Sri Lanka joint exercise ‘Mitra Shakti-VI’ to commence from Mar 26

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Exercise 'Mitra Shakti' which is conducted annually as part of military diplomacy and interaction between armies of India and Sri Lanka will be conducted from March 26 to April 8 for the year 2018-19, in Sri Lanka. Troops from 1st Battalion the Bihar Regiment of the Indian Army and Gemunu Watch Battalion of Sri Lankan Army would be jointly undertaking the exercise, the Press Information... More

Myanmar military court to probe Rohingya atrocity allegations

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Myanmar’s army said on Monday it had set up a military court to investigate its conduct during a crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in 2017 that forced more than 730,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. The court comprising a major-general and two colonels will investigate events in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017, the military said in a statement posted on the website... More

Nepal-China railway: Ministry seeks Rs 17 billion to conduct feasibility study

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Ministry of Transportation and Physical Infrastructure has sought Rs 17 billion to conduct the feasibility study of the Nepal-China railway. Secretary Madhusudan Adhikari informed members of Parliament on Monday that the ministry needs the amount to conduct a detailed feasibility study and prepare a report after the Chinese side helped conduct the pre-feasibility study. Talking to members of Parliament’s Finance Committee, Adhikari said that due to... More

UAE, Afghanistan sign four agreements

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His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and President Ashraf Gani of Afghanistan, on Sunday discussed ways to advance cooperation between the two nations. Shaikh Mohammad welcomed the visit of the Afghan President and his accompanying delegation to the UAE and hoped the visit would contribute towards enhancing ties between... More

Bangladesh detains senior Fifa official for ‘defaming’ prime minister Sheikh Hasina

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Bangladesh authorities jailed a senior member of football's world governing body on Saturday (March 16), hours after she was arrested for allegedly defaming the country's leader. Mahfuza Akhter, a Fifa council member since 2017 and national chief of women's soccer, had told a TV talk show last month that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had neglected football in the cricket-mad country. A Dhaka court issued an arrest... More

TODAY'S NEWS

TOP NEWS

Myanmar’s Myitsone dam remains contentious


Myanmar is coming under increased pressure from Beijing to resolve the thorny issue of the Myitsone dam. Work on the dam in northern Kachin state was suspended by the former government of President... More

Prez Sirisena’s SLFP onto next rounds of talks with Rakapaksa’s SLPP for election alliance


With the first round of talks between President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) ending Thursday, with both sides finding common ground... More

REPORTS

Beijing backs Pakistan’s efforts to manage relations with neighbours: Chinese Vice-President


Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan on Tuesday said China supported Pakistan’s efforts to manage its relationships with its neighbours. In a meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Wang said the relationship... More

Stop ‘war crimes’ in Rakhine or we’ll join the fight there, TNLA tells Tatmadaw


The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) has called on the Myanmar military to end its operations against the Arakan Army in Rakhine State, accusing government forces of targeting Arakanese civilians in the... More

US ‘to end contacts’ with Afghan NSA over his recent remarks


A senior US diplomat has told President Ashraf Ghani that US officials will no longer deal with his national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib, Reuters news agency reports, quoting four knowledgeable US and... More

China ‘helped defuse Pakistan-India tension’ after Kashmir attack


China played a “constructive role” in reducing tension between Pakistan and India, the Chinese foreign ministry said, after the nuclear-armed rivals almost came to blows last month following an attack on an... More

ECONOMY

Pakistan exults as first thermal plant under CPEC starts electricity generation


Reaching a major milestone, the journey of achieving energy efficiency, Pakistan has started commercial electricity generation from the Thar power plant. The electricity generation started Tuesday with 330MW of power being connected... More

VISTA OF VIEWS

Beijing can play dove between New Delhi and Islamabad


Indian and Pakistani soldiers again targeted each other's posts and villages along their volatile frontier in the disputed Kashmir on Saturday, killing at least six civilians and two Pakistani troops. The military... More

ISSUES

Rs35 billion and 2 years is what it takes to get DPR...


Nepal has estimated that it will take around two years and Rs35 billion to complete the detailed project report (DPR) of the Kathmandu-Kerung railway. The cross-border railway is one of the ambitious projects Nepal and China have been... More

No soldier prosecuted for rights violations in Kashmir in 28 years: US


The annual report of the US Department of State has painted a grim picture of human rights situation in Kashmir, saying that no prosecution of accused soldiers has been allowed for 28 years as armed forces special... More

China, US must work together in Afghanistan


Afghanistan has been in a state of war for the past four decades. The USSR, the US and its allies have destroyed the whole country. Sophisticated weapons were live-tested and used widely. The US tested and used... More

Pakistan and India can’t escape the conflict cycle


The outbreak of violence last week between India and Pakistan once again reaffirmed that South Asia is home to one of the most dangerous rivalries on Earth. As has happened several times since the Kargil War in... More

DEFENCE

US, India collaborating on air-launched drone


The US and India are working on development of a small, air-launched unmanned system that could be launched from cargo aircraft, according to Pentagon acquisition head Ellen Lord. The systems are part of a broader technology effort known... More

Pakistan to develop combat aircraft


Pakistan has prepared another military aircraft to use for war purposes after the success of its JF-17 Thunder. According to details, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex has prepared the latest version of Super Mushak aircrafts. The aircraft will be used... More

Peace march kicks up more war in Myanmar

As Myanmar’s government invites a group of eight ethnic armed groups to yet another round of talks on March 21 to the capital Naypyitaw, the ethnically divided nation is more clearly headed towards more war than peace. The government refers... More

COLUMN

Despite controversy, Afghanistan Peace Process makes major strides

Despite Kabul’s publicly made allegations on the US about ‘selling Afghanistan to the Taliban’ in the peace talks, there is little gainsaying that the Afghan-US war has never been so close to ending through settlement than it is now. While Kabul continues to express its anger over being excluded, there is little, given the legitimacy crisis Kabul is itself facing, that even the principal Afghan actors can do to... More

Regulators and conflict of interest

A governmental body created by a legislature to implement and enforce specific laws, a "Regulatory Agency" or a "Regulator" would usually have quasi-legislative functions, executive functions, and judicial functions. Many laws govern social and economic matters, such as income tax, environmental laws, occupational health and safety laws, real estate law, employment laws, etc. A regulatory agency serves two primary functions in govt: implement the laws and enforce the same. Regulations... More

Is Bangladesh an online state?

Bangladesh is an online state with an incredibly high number of virtual citizens. Few can match them in enthusiasm, participation and enjoyment of what the online world offers, good or bad. Much great stuff happens on the net but so does nasty stuff. It’s also a great producer of cultural and otherwise, not to mention, political ones. The recent spate of actions against online content considered “harmful” have spiked, which,... More

How China might undo Saudi plans for Iran?

The recent Saudi bid to increase its economic and political influence in South Asia (Pakistan and India) is, as I pointed out in my previous stories for SAM, largely informed not just by the imperative of a Saudi economic expansion across Asia and avoid economic doom, but also by the objective of snatching Iran’s share of oil market in this part of the world. This is partly one reason... More

Pakistan receives warning from Iran not to join Saudi proxy war

Pakistan has received a stern warning from Iran's Major-General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Qods Force and other senior in the aftermath of the February 13, 2019 attack on their forces by Iranian Baluch militants in the country's restive Sistan and Baluchistan province bordering Pakistan. The new tone from Tehran is a response to Pakistan's recent tilt back toward Saudi Arabia since Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran... More

VIDEO-INTERVIEW

OUTCOME AND FUTURE OF BMISTEC? & WHAT’S ON THE BALANCE?


The fourth summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), held in Kathmandu on August 30 and 31, was “not fruitful” because of the inherent “weakness” of the regional inter-state institution,... More

EDITOR'S CHOICE

Waiting for citizenship a global phenomenon

Waiting entails a host of emotions. It may involve hope, anxiety, boredom, anger and even fear. Waiting is always in relation to a certain understanding of time that we have, but not just that. It may even persuade someone to take his or her life when waiting entails possibilities of losing a home or citizenship or being put in a detention camp. In essence, waiting is pregnant with... More

Will quota, citizenship moves help BJP? Here’s a health warning

The first full week of 2019 brought a rush of important news in quick succession. In a sudden move on Monday, the cabinet cleared a proposal to reserve 10% in government jobs and education for the economically weak in the general category, that is, the category which does not enjoy any reservation. The second was the GDP growth estimates from the Central Statistical Office, which pegged the growth... More

Mattis exit has worrisome implications for Asian allies

Allies from the Kurdish zone in Syria to Australia are left questioning US credibility, the Japanese/South Korea bulwark in Northeast Asia is rapidly imploding and Vladimir Putin is applauding as US President Donald Trump pulled out of Syria and lost one of his most respected cabinet members in quick succession. On December 20, US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, a former US Marine general, announced that he was... More

Winds of change in South Asian politics

South Asia has witnessed quite a few upheavals in the past few months that could have a lasting effect not only on domestic politics but on international politics as well. The election results in Pakistan, Bhutan and Maldives were contrary to expectations. Similarly, the power struggle and political infighting in Sri Lanka has caught many by surprise. These scenarios might not have been the results of domestic political... More

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The untold story of Sikkim

Author G.B.S. Sidhu promises the truth and has delivered it, a rather rare feat these days, as the rewriting of history has emerged as... More

Karachi: The dead statues society

Imagine a surprisingly youthful Queen Victoria fixing you with a regal stare while a headless male figure, presumably Prince Albert, stands by her side.... More

Heritage Home, where old traditions linger

It is all about heritage, about the deeply ingrained traditions of Old Dhaka. And in these older quarters of the capital city, food is... More

BDR Carnage: The unresolved mystery

The 10th anniversary of the atrocious carnage at Pilkhana BDR Headquarters in the capital is being observed today. Families, friends and comrades of those... More

‘84,000 riddles’: The story of Asia’s largest cemetery of unknowns

Nadeem Baloch, 40, pulls out a bucket full of water from the well and fills a utensil for the birds to quench their thirst... More

‘We’re all handcuffed in this country.’ Why Afghanistan is still...

It was a sunny morning in early December last year when 23-year-old Khadija set herself on fire. She kissed her three-month old son Mohammed... More

Peshawar: On the heritage trail

My earliest reminiscences of Peshawar are a double-storey house in University Town, red double-decker buses, listening to Amitabh's Kabhi Kabhi in the backseat of... More

The new flashpoint

There is growing discontent in Varanasi as the government goes ahead with the demolition programme despite stiff resistance from almost all sections of people... More