Commentary from the South Asia Center on the most relevant news from the region, and suggested “must-read” analyses from the week.

Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) formed government in Delhi and was inaugurated the chief minister of Delhi this past week. The AAP came narrowly in second place in the Delhi assembly elections last month, behind the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP, which also fell short of a majority in the assembly, declined to form a government, leaving the AAP in control of a coalition government with the Congress Party. The alliance between the AAP and the Congress Party has been portrayed by the BJP as a betrayal by the AAP of their principles, namely anticorruption. The AAP has been a political party for barely a year, but it is likely to contest the national elections in April, along with the BJP and Congress.

Relevant News Stories:
Once an agitator, now in charge of Delhi’s government (NYT)
Aam Aadmi Party: A Turning Point for India’s Democracy? (The Diplomat)
Indian PM Manmohan Singh to retire after elections (BBC)
The political crisis in Bangladesh has deepened, with neither side backing down before the elections on January 5. Despite criticisms that the upcoming elections are illegitimate, Prime Minister Sheikh has stated the elections will go ahead and blamed the main opposition, the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) for holding the nation hostage. The BNP, which will boycott the elections, has vowed to continue staging protests daily until the elections. Police have surrounded the house of opposition leader Khaleda Zia, head of the BNP, since December 26. The political unrest has also adversely affected Bangladesh’s economy, as shutdowns make it more difficult for people to work and to transport goods. Bangladesh has made substantial improvements in areas of human welfare, such as infant mortality, in the past two decades, but still has the second-lowest wages in Asia, after Burma.  

Relevant News Stories:
Bangladesh’s Poor Left Struggling as Power Fight Risks Gains (Bloomberg)
Hasina strikes defiant note in final speech (Al Jazeera)
Arrests ordered for Bangladesh factory fire (Al Jazeera)

Former military dictator Pervez Musharraf’s trial for treason was delayed for the third time as Musharraf was instead taken to the hospital for heart problems on Thursday, January 2. The previous two delays were due to security concerns. Many people view Musharraf’s heart problem with skepticism and there have been no statements from the doctors regarding his condition. The next hearing date is set for Monday, January 6.

Relevant News Stories:
Freeing Pakistan’s Economy from the Military’s Grip (FP)
Pakistan’s Musharraf suffers ‘heart problem’ on way to court (BBC)
China Lends Pakistan $6.5 billion for Nuclear Power Stations (RFE/RL)

President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government continue to pursue stronger relations with regional actors before the upcoming elections and NATO drawdown. In particular, Afghanistan is looking to develop greater cooperation with India regarding security and defense. India has primarily given aid to develop roads and infrastructure in Afghanistan, but has agreed to help Afghanistan’s defense forces increase their mobility and operational capabilities by aiding with equipment, training, and infrastructure. This pledge for cooperation comes on the heels of a cooperation pact between Afghanistan and Iran.

Relevant News Stories:
US (In)justice in Afghanistan (FP)
Viewpoint: Afghanistan has more to worry about than US bases (BBC)
India Pursues Greater Military, Economic Links with Afghanistan (Defense News)

Chinese companies are currently negotiating a new light crude contract with Iran that will likely lead to an increase its oil imports from Iran in 2014. An increase in oil imports from Iran by China may be seen as going against the spirit of the November Geneva nuclear agreement, an agreement that China took part in as a member of the United Nations Security Council. While these new contract negotiations are neither public nor finalized, the Iranian economy still desperately needs money from the sale of oil. China is currently Iran’s largest oil customer and trade partner.

Relevant News Stories:
China may raise Iran oil imports with new contract: sources (Reuters)
Iran wants a seat at Syrian peace talks (DW)