Commentary from the South Asia Center on the most relevant news from the region, and suggested “must-read” analyses from the week.
After a resounding win in the general elections, Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi declared, “India has won. The good days are coming.” For the first time in history, all South Asian heads of state have been invited to be present at the swearing-in of an Indian Prime Minister. While most heads of state of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries have confirmed their attendance, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister will be absent due to a pre-scheduled trip to Japan. Pakistan is yet to confirm whether its Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif will attend the ceremony on Monday. Analysts suggest that while pro-business Nawaz Sharif is eager to accept the invitation, the delayed response indicates a careful deliberation of his options, especially given the potential for backlash from the omnipowerful army. Narendra Modi, soon to be India’s 15th Prime Minister, will only be the third Prime Minister in Indian history to be sworn in at Rashtrapati Bahwan, the official residence of the President. On the international front, the Prime Minister designate and his BJP party were quick to condemn the attack on the Indian Consulate in Heart, Afghanistan, and were quick to laud the bravery of both Indian and Afghani security forces. President Karzai assured Prime Minister Modi that he would do everything in his power to protect India’s mission in Afghanistan.
Relevant News Stories
Indian Economy to Grow by 5 Per Cent in 2014: UN Report (NDTV)
Enter a Pragmatist: Indian Foreign Policy Under Modi (LobeLog)
In the Newly Elected Indian Parliament, Worrying Trends (New York Times)
Narendra Modi: India’s Strongman (The Economist)
The media fiasco, which started in Pakistan last month has reached new heights as it has reportedly caused newer and deeper chasms between the government, the army, and the media itself. In the face of this political and social crisis, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) has largely failed to play its due role while the military, currently riding on a wave of popular public support, has asserted its authority within the parameters of the constitution. It all started on April 19 when Hamid Mir, a senior journalist associated with a popular media group was shot at in Karachi. His and family and the media group he works for held the nation’s military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), responsible for the attack. The incident, resulted in the temporary suspension of the licenses of three television channels of the media group. The political situation in the country is further exacerbated by the massive rallies that are being staged nationwide by an alliance between the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, the Jamaat-e-Islami, and the Pakistan Awami League. The rallies demand electoral reforms and are seen as protests against the evolving power crisis, inflation and the deterioration of law and order in the country.
Relevant News Stories
Well on the road to chaos (The News)
Senators say ban on any media organization unacceptable (Dawn)
Pakistan condemns attack on Indian consulate in Afghanistan (Express Tribune)
Pakistan wants talks with new Indian, Afghan govts: Nawaz (The News)
As NATO troops plan to withdraw from Afghanistan, the underlying weaknesses of the country’s internal security forces and the inherent conditions causing instability come to the fore. The Taliban took control of Yamgan district in Badakhan province, which was only to be reclaimed after severe fighting by the Afghan National Security Forces. In a separate incident, the Indian High Commission in Heart was attacked by four gunmen armed with heavy weapons including rocket propelled grenades. Although the attack was successfully defended and all four attackers were killed in the cross fire without causing any casdualities or injuries to the staff of the commission, the incident illustrates the maginuted of the security task at hand for the incoming Afghani President.
Relevant News Stories
Indian consulate in Heart, Afghanistan attacked (BBC News)
US military chief calls on Taliban to seize the moment to negotiate peace (KHAAMA Press)
Afghanistan close to be blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (Wadsan)
Prosecutors in Bangladesh charged two senior officers of an elite police unit, the Rapid Action Battalion, for the execution-style killings of seven people in an unprecedented move against members of the country’s powerful law enforcement agencies. The Rapid Action Battalion is a paramilitary crime-fighting unit whose members are drawn from the armed forces and the police. The two officers of the elite force were sacked and taken into custody following a court ruling ordering their arrest. A spokesman for the RAB said the force had formed a four-member committee to investigate the allegations against its unit and had already carried out an administrative reshuffle. The spokesperson also noted that the RAB had achieved significant success in bringing criminals to justice since it was formed 10 years ago. Meanwhile Indian officials met their Bangladeshi counterparts to evolve a strategy to supply a 100MW of power from Tripura, a state in Northeast India to Bangladesh. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has a longstanding desire to import power and energy from neighboring India.
For the first time in six years, Iran has addressed the “possible military dimensions” of its nuclear program according to a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The report indicated that Iran has sharply cut its most sensitive nuclear stockpile under the interim pact with the six world powers. Moreover the report revealed that Iran has begun finally engaging with a long-stalled IAEA investigation into suspected weapons research and in doing so, Tehran has handed over information related to detonators that can be used for a nuclear weapon. The report further detailed that since January, which is when the interim deal took effect, Iran had reduced its stockpile of higher grade enriched uranium gas by more than 80 percent. The amount of remaining higher grade enriched uranium gas, which is a relatively short technical step away from weapons-grade material, is now at 40kgs which is significantly below the 250kgs of material that experts say is required for the production of single nuclear bomb.
Relevant News Stories
Iran cuts nuclear stockpile, engages with bomb probe – IAEA (Reuters)
The Kiss That Sent Iran Crazy and an Actress to Be Flogged in Public (Daily Beast)
Report: Iran Court Orders Instagram Blocked (Associated Press)