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Rahul Bhonsle

Aug 2, 2012

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South Asia in July 2012 - Monsoon Discords

            The rain god remained wary of showering blessings on the South Asian region. Almost all countries suffered the wrath with deficiencies varying from 20 to 50 percent. While encouraging break in weather in the beginning of August has seen possibility of making up the shortfall on the political front there appears to be no end to the stasis in many countries in the region. In Afghanistan the transition to indigenous security forces, Afghan National Army and Police is proceeding as per plan, however violence by the Taliban continues as they change tactics and targets. In July Members of Parliament, mayors and other officials were in their cross hairs. There is also limited progress in talks with the Taliban and with border trouble between Afghanistan and Pakistan how the situation develops remains to be seen?

Neighbouring Pakistan has not seen any relief from the conflict between the judiciary and the government/ ruling Pakistan People’s Party and all portends are leading to disqualification of another Prime Minister for his refusal to write to Swiss authorities on the Zardari case. Passage of bill providing immunity from Contempt of Court to prevent such a happening may not save the unfortunate Mr Raja. On the security front Balochistan and tribal areas remain a concern with attacks on a coast guard post near Gwadar port indicating that the state has no resolve to come to grips with the challenge of militancy and terrorism in many hues.

The political battles in Nepal, Maldives and Bangladesh continue though in Dhaka the tenor is far softer than that in Kathmandu and Male. The situation is easy to resolve but for lack of political will and renunciation of power by parties and leaders in these countries in transition to full fledged electoral democracies.  Myanmar is under severe pressure by international authorities for human rights violations in the Rakhine province, perhaps the first taste to the government having opened doors to the World after many years of isolation. Sri Lanka is charting elections as a slow route to reconciliation with the Tamils even though the distress in the community is leading to many seeking refuge outside the country.

India saw a new President in Mr Pranab Mukherjee the sheet anchor of the United Progressive Alliance government for the past eight years. This has set a bevy of changes at the highest level with the Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram who had successfully steered internal security of the country post Mumbai 26/11 shifted to possibly another crisis station, finance. As if to celebrate there were seven serial bomb incidents in the Western city of Pune on 01 August, a reminder that the country was far from free of the menace of terror. The Indian Mujahideen is the key suspect in the incident.

Meanwhile communal violence in Assam, in the Bodo dominated districts rocked the North East leading to 56 deaths and over 400,000 to seek refuge in camps a reminder of the delicate balance that exists in a multi ethnic, multi religious society. The only answer is holistic socio economic development to reduce economic competition at the subsistence level, which results in outbreak of animosities over scarce resources, Alas! For India this goal is distant given lack of will and sloth in governance as well as demand for accountability by the people at large.

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