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South Asia Security Monitor - No. 292

Edited by Jeff M. Smith and Kunal Mehta
June 22, 2012


NASHEED NOMINATED FOR MALDIVAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE
 Former President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, clinched the Maldivian Democratic Party’s nomination in an uncontested poll and cementing his role as the party’s presidential candidate. Mr. Nasheed resigned as head of state of the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean in February, after riots erupted in the capital, Malé. He claims that he was forced out of office in a coup d’état orchestrated by ex- Vice President and current President Mohamed Waheed. He also accuses the island’s long-time authoritarian ruler, Maumoon Gayoom, of influencing his ouster and has decried President Waheed’s government as a puppet regime. Mr. Nasheed became the first democratically elected ruler of the forty-seven year old nation after winning elections in 2008. Though Mr. Nasheed has called for fresh elections as soon as possible, President Waheed has ruled out the possibility of a snap poll, proclaiming instead that elections will not take place before their scheduled date in July of 2013. India, the EU, and the US have all supported calls for early an election. (
Times of India June 17 2012)
 
 ECONOMIC REFORMS IN MYANMAR

 Myanmar’s reform-oriented president, Thein Sein, pledged to open up major sectors of the economy such as education, energy, forestry, health care, finance and telecommunications to competition and private enterprise. He called for a ‘second wave of reforms’ to replace the inefficient public sector monopolies that have dominated much of the impoverished country, making credit and basic commodities expensive and scarce. President Sein’s call for economic reforms, delivered in a major speech on the current situation in Myanmar, follow a series of drastic political reforms over the past year that have included greater freedoms for the media and political opposition, and the release of dissidents. President Sein predicted the economic reforms should triple per capita income over the next four years. Analysts assert that Myanmar’s economy can benefit tremendously from its rich resource deposits and proximity to major economies such as China, India and Thailand, but also caution that attention must be paid to ensure more equitable distribution of gains. (
New York Times June 20 2012; Wall Street Journal June 19 2012)
 
 INDIA, U.S. PLAN TRILATERAL TALKS WITH MYANMAR

 The Indo-U.S. strategic dialogue saw both counties issue a joint statement promising to hold trilateral consultations with Afghanistan to bolster peace, stability and socio-economic development in the war-torn country. Both India and the US already have separate agreements on dialogues in place with Kabul, with the recently proposed trilateral talks touted as a means to coordinate Indian and US efforts. America has been actively seeking to engage regional partners such as Turkey and India in resolving Afghanistan’s deteriorating security situation as the date of withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan next year looms closer, and U.S.-Pakistan ties remain plagued with problems. In a related development, India is hosting a U.S.-backed conference later this month to promote investment in Afghanistan. (
Hindustan Times June 14 2012)
 
 INDIAN FLEET GETS UNSOLICITED ESCORT FROM CHINA

 Four Indian Navy Ships, led by the frigate INS Shivalik, were making their way to the South Korea from the Philippines when they were unexpectedly contacted by a Chinese warship welcoming them to the South China Sea. The Chinese warships then proceeded to escort them along their route. The Indian fleet was on a month-long goodwill tour that included stops at ports in Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, Japan and, lastly, Shanghai. The greeting as well as the length of the escort, which lasted half a day, was seen as both an amicable gesture and a troubling assertion by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of its control of surrounding waters – an area containing several territories disputed between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors. (
The Hindu June 14 2012)
 
 TALIBAN CALLS A BAN ON POLIO VACCINATIONS

 Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a Pakistani Taliban commander, publically announced a ban on oral polio vaccination programs for children in the province of Northern Waziristan that is to remain in effect till the U.S. halts drone attacks on suspected extremist militants. Mr. Bahadur claimed that he consulted a council of local tribal militias before issuing the decree. The move can also be linked to Taliban commanders’ fears that anti-polio programs could be used by the CIA as a cover for espionage activities after Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor, assisted American intelligence in tracking down Osama Bin Laden. Pakistan is one of only three countries on earth where polio has not yet been exterminated. (
New York Times June 19 2012)
 
 INDIA GET U.S. WAIVER ON IRAN SANCTIONS
 The US exempted seven more countries, including India, from financial sanctions to be levied on any nation importing Iranian oil after the 28th of June. The waivers were justified by the U.S. administration on the grounds that recipient countries have taken efforts to significantly reduce their dependence on oil from Iran. The seven countries, which also include Turkey, South Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and South Africa, join the ranks of Japan and the 10 EU nations that had previously been granted six additional months to phase out Iranian oil imports. Major economic powers China and Singapore, however, have not yet been issued exemptions, with the former purchasing up to 20% of Iran’s oil and the latter being a major refining destination for it. (
Reuters
June 12 2012)


Related Categories: South Asia; South Asia Program

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