South Asia

South Asia Briefing: Complaint Registrations on Enforced Disappearance Begin, Afghanistan Rejects US Report on Rights Violations

A round-up of the most important stories from the South Asian region

Acting Nepali ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ananda Prasad Sharma. Credit: KathmanduPost

Acting Nepali ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ananda Prasad Sharma. Credit: KathmanduPost

NEPAL: CIEDP begins complaint registrations

On the first day of the opening of complaint registration, Nepal’s Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) received 15 complaints. The Kathmandu Post report questions whether there was adequate awareness about the registration, amid questions about the credibility of the process and the ability of the commission to deliver justice. While the official figure estimates about 1300 disappearances during the Maoist insurgency, CIEDP spokesperson tells Himalayan Times that they expect upto 10,000 complaints.

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The stabbing attack on Nepal’s acting ambassador to Saudi Arabia in his office by a Nepali migrant figured prominently on the front pages of local newspapers. The attacker, who had been given shelter in the embassy, was apparently unhappy for his return to Nepal being delayed, according to The Kathmandu Post.

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The Nepal-China friendship society organised a seminar on the ‘One Belt-One Road’, the proceedings of which were reported on the front page of The Republica newspaper.  The secretary of Nepal’s ruling party said that OBOR could be “very helpful” in transforming Nepal into a “land-linked” country.

MALDIVES: Maldivian opposition leaders meet Commonwealth secretary general

Ahead of the meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) later this month, Maldivian opposition leaders met with Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland, as reported by Sun and Maldives Independent. The CMAG meeting is scheduled to review whether the Maldives government has taken any steps towards talks with the opposition.

PAKISTAN: Panama Papers issue still on the boil

The Panama Papers leak continues to feature prominently, with Dawn reporting that Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of the prime minister, is apparently unhappy that the ruling party has not mounted a robust defence. Maryam and her two brothers are named in the papers, which has become a major political issue in Pakistan. The Pakistan Muslim League (N) will approach other political parties for suggestion on the proper forum for investigations, The News reported. While Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has gone gun blazing against the government over the Panama papers, the Pakistan Peoples Party’s subdued response has apparently led to murmurings within the party, reports Dawn.

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The Nation reports that India’s RAW is conducting an operation called Dhanush to free Kulbushan Yadav, who Pakistan claims is an Indian spy. According to The Nation, the plan, hatched by the Indian external intelligence agency and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, involves kidnapping Pakistani intelligence officers in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunwa provinces. The Pakistan foreign office spokesperson had stated in his weekly briefing that “some arrests” had been made as a result of Yadav’s interrogation.

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Among the English-language Pakistani papers, only The News and Dawn have front page reports on the clarification from the Pakistan foreign office on the peace process with India.

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The News editorial urges the Punjab government to allow the military to take over the operation against a criminal gang that has taken 22 policemen as hostages. Over a 100 Pakistan army officers landed in the Indus River’s riverine banks to launch operations on Friday. The Dawn’s resident editor in Lahore writes on the debate whether the police should have taken the lead in “one of the severest and most sustained operations” against the legendary Chotoo gang.

BHUTAN: India hands over Nu 7.7 billion for hydropower projects

As expected, the visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took up most of the media space in the Himalayan nation.

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Meanwhile, Kuensel reported that India has handed over Nu 7.7 billion (770 crore rupees) for hydropower projects in Bhutan. Meanwhile, Bhutan has to gear up to train at least 6500 personnel for its hydropower sector in the next four years.

AFGHANISTAN: Government rejects US report on human rights violations

The Afghan government rejected the US State Department’s report on human rights violations, stating that there was “no record that proves Afghan forces are involved in an arbitrary killing or actions without justice in the past one year”, according to the Pahjwok news agency.

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A day after 41 ISIS supporters were killed in Nangarhar province in an airstrike, the Afghan Ministry of Defence claimed the Afghan air force flew 83 missions in 24 hours, Khaama reports.

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A survey of 100 women journalists by a media watchdog, Afghanistan Journalists Safety Committee, found that most faced opposition from their family members. Also, 69% reported facing sexual harassment during their work.