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CrisisWatch Database

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Pakistan

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Supreme Court 5 Aug ruled in favour of Eighteenth and Twenty-first constitutional amendments, dismissing challenges to establishment of military courts to try suspects, including civilians, on terrorism charges; affirmed court's right to oversee military courts. In Karachi, ongoing security operation mainly targeted Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM); MQM Senator Nasreen Jalil 10 Aug said 41 party workers killed since start of operation in 2013, 150 people missing in past three months; interior minister refuted allegations. MQM members of National Assembly, Senate and Sindh provincial assembly resigned 12 Aug, calling for creation of monitoring committee to oversee security operation and judicial commission to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings of party workers and release of imprisoned members. Sindh chief minister 8 Aug extended Sindh Rangers’ policing powers by another 120 days. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for murder of judge in Rawalpindi 5 Aug. Drone strike killed five suspected militants in N Waziristan 6 Aug. Military reported 90 militants in N Waziristan and fifteen in Khyber agency died in airstrikes 16 and 17 Aug. Military launched new offensive against TTP 21 Aug. Three bodies found in Balochistan’s Turbat on 25 July, nine in Quetta and Pishin districts 10 Aug. Police killed leader of sectarian militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Malik Ishaq, two sons and over ten members 29 July; at Ishaq’s funeral violent demonstrators attacked Shia mosques and private property, two police killed in attack on police station in Gujrat. 16 Aug suicide attack killed Punjab home minister and sixteen others; attack reportedly claimed by LeJ, TTP faction Jamaat ul Ahrar and Khyber agency-based Lashkar-e-Islam.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Attacks on freedom of expression intensified, with fourth murder of secular blogger and further actions by executive and judiciary pressuring journalists and human rights activists. Secular blogger Niladri Chattopadhyay (Niloy Neel) hacked to death in Dhaka 7 Aug, fourth such killing in 2015. Ansar ul Islam, linked to al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), claimed responsibility; several members of radical Islamist Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) arrested in connection with killing. Three other ABT members arrested 17 Aug in connection with killings of bloggers Avijit Roy in Feb and Ananta Bijoy Das in May. Dhaka police 2 Aug released statement accusing prominent human rights organisations Odhikar and Bangladesh Human Rights Commission of acting illegally by reporting extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by police. Police 17 Aug arrested journalist Probir Sikdar for defamation against Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain in social media (Facebook) post. High Court 5 Aug rejected opposition BNP leader Khaleda Zia’s challenge to legality of 2007 graft case. Police 10 Aug arrested six BNP leaders in Savar, 31 BNP leaders and activists in Khuln, charged with subversive activities; 18 Aug arrested BNP’s chief advisor Shawkat Mahmud on arson charges. Jana Samhati Samiti (JSS) activists 15 Aug clashed with security forces in Rangmati, five JSS killed. Bangladesh and India 31 July exchanged control over 160 enclaves in historic land swap; residents previously considered stateless will be able to choose where they want to live and their citizenship.

Kashmir

  |  1 Sep 2015

Deteriorated

Clashes across the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir escalated, prompting UNSG Ban to express “serious concern” 18 Aug. Border security forces fired at each other 4 Aug near Sialkot in Pakistani Punjab; one Indian, two Pakistanis reported killed. UN Military Observer Group team visited area after Pakistan demanded inquiry. India 5 Aug reported arrest of Pakistani who allegedly attacked Indian Border Security convoy in India-administered Kashmir, killing two soldiers. India and Pakistan 15-16 Aug traded cross-border firing; three Pakistani and four Indian civilians killed, 40 injured. Pakistani sniper 25 Aug reportedly fired at Indian soldiers, killing one. Nine civilians reported killed, 63 wounded as Indian and Pakistani border guards traded gunfire near Sialkot 28 Aug. Countries 16-17 Aug summoned each other’s ambassadors to protest ceasefire violations. Planned talks between countries’ national security advisers cancelled at last minute 22 Aug; meeting of director-generals of Indian Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers reportedly planned for Sept.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Sep 2015

Deteriorated

Spate of insurgent attacks targeted Kabul, including bombings 7 Aug inflicting over 350 casualties, 50 killed. Govt blamed Pakistan for violence, claiming some bombs used military-grade explosives; senior delegation visited Islamabad 13 Aug for tense meetings with Pakistani officials about Kabul attacks. Acting defence minister 18 Aug said Pakistan had declared war against Afghanistan. Both sides also accused each other of initiating cross-border artillery exchanges: Afghanistan claimed eight security personnel killed in Kunar province, Pakistan accused Afghan forces of killing three paramilitaries, later in month said militants firing from Afghan territory killed four Pakistani soldiers. Govt 19 Aug lodged formal complaint with Pakistan’s ambassador, Pakistan 20 Aug summoned Afghan ambassador. Amid increased tensions with Pakistan and Taliban leadership struggle following disclosure of Mullah Omar’s death, fledgling peace process under which Pakistan had planned to host negotiations between Kabul govt and insurgents stalled. Officials 1 Aug reported at least 44 militants killed during clashes with security forces in NW Faryab province. Nangarhar province official 5 Aug reported at least 56 Taliban and Islamic State (IS) fighters killed in drone strikes. Residents of Dasht-e-Archi district, northern Kunduz province 10 Aug said Taliban forcing them to join their ranks, extorting money. Official 16 Aug said militants had blocked main route leading to Shohada district in N Badakhshan district. At least 29 members of pro-govt militia killed in Taliban suicide attack in Kunduz 8 Aug. Taliban 24 Aug captured Helmand’s Musa Qala district HQ; district recaptured by govt forces backed by NATO airstrikes 30 Aug. Two NATO forces killed in Helmand province 26 Aug; twelve people killed in bomb attack on NATO convoy in Kabul 22 Aug.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Sep 2015

Improved

Following acrimonious but largely peaceful campaign, 17 Aug parliamentary election saw United National Party (UNP)-led United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) win 106 seats in 225-member parliament, while former president Rajapaksa failed in bid to become PM in a United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) govt; result consolidated political shift begun by Jan victory of President Sirisena. UPFA won 95 seats. Sirisena 21 Aug appointed UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as PM; MoU between Sirisena’s SLFP and Wickremesinghe’s UNP signed same day to form two-year national govt. UPFA’s and Rajapaksa’s electoral failure appears to have convinced majority of SLFP parliamentary group to back Sirisena and national govt. Days before election Sirisena 14 Aug moved to take control of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and UPFA, replacing general secretaries and expelling a dozen members of SLFP executive committee; followed 13 Aug letter to Rajapaksa reiterating Sirisena’s determination to not appoint him as PM, and criticising Rajapaksa for “racist” UPFA campaign. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won respectable sixteen seats from north and east. Plans for national govt include drafting new constitution, electoral reforms, further reduction in presidential powers and possible expanded devolution of power to provinces.

Nepal

  |  1 Sep 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Six-state federal model agreed 8 Aug between four major parties drew criticism from several constituencies including most plains-based Madhesi parties and groups, plains-based Tharu groups, and other ethnic/indigenous groups, for violating previous agreements and fragmenting regions where they held demographic majorities. Protests triggered in multiple districts including by groups demanding present regional administrative units remain intact; several protesters killed in police firing in separate incidents in the Tarai plains. Seven police and a child killed, over 40 security personnel injured 24 Aug in violent protests in Kailali demanding creation of Tharu-majority state; concerns raised over subsequent deployment of Nepal Army in protest-hit areas, local residents reportedly leaving villages. Over 100 arrested 16 Aug in nationwide strike protesting the deal, called by Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist-led alliance. Several Madhes-based parties called indefinite strike across southern districts beginning 18 Aug; Sadbhavana Party 18 Aug resigned from Constituent Assembly en masse protesting federal model and constitutional draft provisions. Fresh protests erupted 31 Aug in Parsa district, police fired into crowd of protesters, one killed. Three major parties revised federal model 21 Aug to add seventh state, recognising demands of some mid- and far-western groups; deal rejected by Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Loktantrik), fourth signatory of six-state agreement, for neglecting demands of Tharu community.

Afghanistan

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Govt officials met with Taliban leaders outside Islamabad 7 July, marking minor breakthrough in President Ghani’s efforts to restart peace talks. Senior Pakistani official said talks conducted with approval from Taliban leadership, apparently confirmed by 15 July statement signed by Mullah Omar; however, several insurgent commanders expressed scepticism. Second round of talks scheduled for end-July, but Taliban 30 July rejected participation after govt claimed to have “credible information” that Mullah Omar died in April 2013. Ghani facing continued opposition from lawmakers, who 5 July rejected his third nominee for defence minister. Security continued to deteriorate, with unprecedented number of insurgent attacks. Eighteen Afghan Local Police (ALP) members killed 3 July as insurgents overran outposts in Wardak province. In Faryab province hundreds of Taliban reportedly attacked parts of Qaisar, Almar and Pashtun Kot districts, took control of part of Almar district. Taliban reportedly captured Sar-e Pul province’s Kohistanat district late month. Khost provincial officials 12 July reported 27 civilians killed in suicide car bomb outside Khost city. Residents in northern Kunduz province 5 July complained about behaviour of some 7,000 irregular armed militiamen raised to block Taliban in north. Fighting between insurgent groups also reaching unprecedented intensity as Taliban battled self-declared Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) factions in east. Number of U.S. drone attacks doubled in July, with over 100 strikes, most prominently against IS targets. Avowed IS groups reportedly seized control of several Taliban enclaves in Nangarhar province but subsequently lost most to Taliban counter-offensives.

Kashmir

  |  3 Aug 2015

Deteriorated

Surge of clashes across Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir and Working Boundary dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir. Pakistan 6 July reported shelling near Sialkot from Indian side of Working Boundary; India 10 July said Pakistani sniper shot Indian border guard dead across Line of Control (LoC). 10 July meeting between Pakistani and Indian PMs on sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Russia issued short joint statement condemning terrorism, pledging to cooperate in eliminating it; agreed to meetings between national security advisors, between director generals of Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Security Force, and between directors general of military operations; sides also agreed to release detained fishermen, to discuss ways to expedite trial for 2008 Mumbai bombing. Despite statement, cross-border clashes intensified. Punjab Rangers 15 July said Indian Border Security Forces fired near Sialkot; India claimed to be responding to Pakistani shelling in which a civilian died. Pakistani military same day claimed it shot down Indian drone. Islamabad 17 July formally protested alleged Indian ceasefire violations to UN Military Observer’s Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), soon after a teenaged Pakistani girl reportedly killed in LoC crossfire. UNMOGIP members 20 July visited Sialkot district in Pakistan’s Punjab province to inspect sites reportedly affected by Indian shelling. Five people killed in series of attacks on Indian side around Sopore late month; one injured in Srinagar 24 July. Ten killed, including three militants, in day-long clash between police and gunmen in India’s northern frontier state Punjab 27 July; National Security Adviser Ajit Doval called incident “very serious”, other officials suggested Pakistani involvement.

Pakistan

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Media 3 July reported military had concluded operation “Khyber-II” 15 June, three-month operation intended to retake control over militant strongholds in Tirah and Bara valleys. Several soldiers killed in militant attacks in N and S Waziristan early July. Militants 9 July bombed school in Khyber Agency. Ongoing incidents in Balochistan included suicide bomb attack in Quetta marketplace 5 July injuring nineteen; gunmen killed two Balochistan Constabulary members 13 July; nine alleged militants killed in paramilitary operations in Khuzdar and Awaran districts 20 July. Balochistan’s apex committee 27 June announced amnesty package for Baloch insurgents who disarm and renounce violence, but with no commitment to address Baloch grievances, including military’s extrajudicial killings and other rights violations. Paramilitary Rangers 17 July conducted raid on Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) HQ in Karachi, detaining two senior MQM members and others for “facilitating hate speeches”; in subsequent raids reportedly arrested scores of MQM workers. Non-govt Human Rights Commission of Pakistan 15 July noted increase in extrajudicial killings in Karachi during Rangers-led counter-terrorism operation against criminal networks, from 191 in first half of 2014 to 255 in same period 2015. Sindh’s PPP govt 17 July extended Rangers broad policing powers in Karachi for another year. EU Council 20 July expressed concern about recent govt measures limiting NGOs’ freedom. Three-member judicial commission 22 July rejected allegations by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of organised rigging in 2013 election after three-month probe; PTI accepted findings.

Nepal

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Constituent Assembly 7 July endorsed draft constitution; major parties agreed to fast-track drafting process and aim for promulgation by mid-Aug. 8-23 July public opinion collection process truncated from one month to fifteen days, two days only allocated for consultations. Draft constitution widely labelled regressive, criticised for not addressing longstanding demands including delineation of federal provinces, entrenching secularism in preamble, and granting of citizenship by descent through mother. Demonstrations demanding amendments to these and other provisions in several southern Madhesi towns 20-21 July obstructed public consultation programs, dozens injured; police criticised for using excessive force. Right-wing monarchist Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal) also launched demonstrations 20 July demanding enshrinement of Hinduism as official state religion. Citing public feedback, major parties 27 July discussed replacing secularism provision—previously enshrined in 2007 Interim Constitution – with “religious freedom” in new constitution, casting further doubt on protection of minority religions. Breakaway faction of Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist launched nationwide strike 24 July against draft constitution and May 2015 India-China trade agreement for allegedly violating Nepal’s territorial sovereignty; vehicles torched, schools shut down, over 200 arrested.

Sri Lanka

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

President Sirisena’s 26 June dissolution of parliament triggered two weeks of battles within United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and its main constituent, Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Sirisena’s months-long effort to prevent former President Rajapaksa’s return to active politics ended 3 July, when UPFA announced it was nominating Rajapaksa for seat in 17 Aug parliamentary elections, angering supporters of Sirisena, still UPFA chairman. Sirisena 14 July speech reiterated his opposition to Rajapaksa’s candidacy, vowed never to appoint him as PM even if UPFA won majority of seats, announced he would not campaign for UPFA; speech seen as major political blow to Rajapaksa and UPFA’s chances of electoral victory and boost to coalition led by United National Party (UNP). Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Janath Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will run independent campaigns, also strongly opposed to Rajapaksa and UPFA. Rajapaksa 27 July launched UPFA manifesto with Sinhala nationalist themes, criticised TNA’s 25 July call for federal political solution; UNP and JVP also reiterated opposition to federalism. Election outcome expected to have major impact on the chances for further progress on rule of law reforms, post-war reconciliation and accountability. Northern Province Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran travelled to U.S. and UK, reiterating calls for international investigation into alleged genocide by govt against Tamils and Tamils self-determination. One person reported killed, 13 injured in shooting at election rally in Colombo 31 July.

Bangladesh

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Amid allegations of corruption and criminality, and accusations of inept and repressive governance, PM Sheikh Hasina mid-July undertook major cabinet reshuffle, reportedly considering action against corrupt ministers, Awami League (AL) parliamentarians, advisers, and senior/mid-level party members. Senior leader of Jubo League, AL’s youth wing, expelled mid-July over extortion allegations. Cabinet 13 July approved draft “Public Services Act, 2015”, requiring law enforcers to obtain govt permission before filing charges against public officials; prompted criticism from civil society groups. Addressing parliament 7 July, PM Hasina said special tribunal would be formed to try cases against Zia and 37 other Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) members under 2009 Anti-Terrorism Act. BNP’s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, arrested Jan on charges of vandalism and arson, released on bail 14 July. Zia appeared before court trying two graft cases against her 23 July. Former telecommunications minister Abdul Latif Siddique, charged with hurting religious sentiments, released on bail 29 June; some Islamist parties and groups mobilised demanding death sentence. Police 27 July arrested eight suspected extremists including Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen head. Controversial International War Crimes Tribunal 1 July decided to try Razakar (militia) commander and three other militia members accused of committing atrocities during 1971 independence war; 16 July sentenced a Jamaat-i-Islami leader to death for war crimes; Supreme Court 29 July upheld death sentence against former minister and senior BNP member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, convicted by ICT in 2013.

Kashmir

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Month saw increasingly aggressive rhetoric by Pakistani and Indian officials, including implied threats of a military confrontation. Pakistan Army Chief Raheel Sharif speaking at National Defence University in Islamabad 3 June said Pakistan and Kashmir inseparable. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif next day reiterated claim that India’s main intelligence agency supporting terrorism in Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan. On 7 June visit to Dhaka, Modi said Pakistan “promotes terrorism”. In apparent bit to ease tensions, Modi 16 June called PM Sharif, offered to release detained Pakistani fishermen. U.S. Sec State Kerry same day called Sharif to voice concerns about rising India-Pakistan tensions; UNSG Ban also encouraged sides to engage. Pakistan 18 June released 113 Indian fishermen, New Delhi three days later released 88 Pakistani fishermen. Indian authorities 25 May reported three soldiers and a militant killed in clashes along Line of Control (LoC). Indian soldiers 6 June reportedly shot dead three Pakistani militants attempting to cross LoC. Former militant Aijaz Ahmad Reshi killed 15 June, fourth such incident in week involving alleged separatists in Sopore; separatist leaders of Hurriyat Conference and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front 17 June called for complete strike in J&K, accusing militias backed by Indian security forces of murders. Two suspected militants and one civilian killed in gun battle, Indian-administered Kashmir 21 June.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Jul 2015

Deteriorated

Taliban captured and maintained control of district administration centres (DACs) in north for first time since beginning of insurgency, including Yamgan, Chardara and Dashte Archi districts, increasing military pressure on govt positions near Kunduz and underscoring intensity of 2015 fighting season. Afghan security forces fighting to regain lost territory late June, re-captured Yamgan. Interior minister 14 June said foreign militants, having fled Pakistan, infiltrated northern provinces including Baghlan, Takhar, Faryab, Kunduz and Badakhshan. Uruzgan province official 7 June said Taliban had captured twelve security outposts, warned insurgents could take control of entire district; Sar-e Pul province officials 9 June said Taliban captured thirteen villages in Sozma Qala district. At least seventeen police reported killed in Taliban attack on police post in Musa Qala, Helmand 12 June. Eleven soldiers reported killed in clash with militants in Herat 28 June. Suicide car bomb attack in Kabul 30 June killed one civilian. Fighting also reported in east between Taliban and rival insurgent groups swearing allegiance to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg 25 June said alliance would decide how quickly to scale back Afghan forces training mission in function of their performance during 2015 fighting season. Confirmation hearing of acting Defence Minister Masoom Stanekzai interrupted 22 June by Taliban attack on parliament, killing two and injuring 40. President Ghani 19 June issued decree extending term of parliament, originally set to expire 22 June; new election date yet to be announced. Chairing 1 June Council of Ministers meeting, Abdullah denounced MoU on information sharing/cooperation between National Directorate of Security and Pakistan military’s intelligence agency, implying it would undermine national security. Urging Taliban to agree to ceasefire 17 June, Abdullah said fighting and peace talks could not happen simultaneously. Leaked UN report on police corruption heightened debate over control of donor funds for police salaries, to be transferred to Kabul under 29 June agreement.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Fallout of Jan-April violent confrontation between AL and opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) continued. Dhaka court 8 June issued arrest warrants for 28 leaders and activists of BNP-led opposition alliance; 22 June issued arrest warrants for senior BNP leader and 32 other party officials for violence during BNP-led strike and transport blockade late Jan. High Court 18 June directed BNP leader Khaleda Zia to surrender in two months to trial court, rejecting her petition challenging legality of graft case. International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) 9 June awarded death penalty in absentia to former militia leader Hasan Ali for war crimes committed during 1971 liberation war. High court 16 June upheld Jamaat secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed’s death sentence for similar crimes; Jamaat responded with call for 24-hour countrywide hartal (strike), largely ignored. Several media reports of increased activism by religious extremists and recruitment on college campuses, continued attacks on religious minority symbols, including desecration of Hindu idols in Bogra 1 June. Indian PM Modi visited Dhaka 6-7 June for joint ratification ceremony of historic land swap agreement ending decades-old border dispute between countries, representing significant political victory for PM Sheikh Hasina; also extended new $2bn line of credit. Modi met Zia, who reportedly raised AL’s failure to uphold democratic principles and rule of law, assured Modi that a BNP govt would seek good relations with India. Govt under continuing pressure to take steps to stop human trafficking, including by protecting victims, taking action against traffickers.

Pakistan

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Govt and military officials 13 June marked one-year anniversary of Zarb-e-Azb, military operation in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)’s North Waziristan agency, declaring ongoing success against militant groups, including killing over 2,700 insurgents. Militant attacks in FATA continued, including 1 June roadside bomb in S Waziristan that killed three, 8 June clash near Dattakhel in N Waziristan in which seven soldiers and nineteen militants reported killed, and 17 June bombing of primary school in Bajaur. Attacks on Quetta’s Shia Hazara community continued. Eight police shot dead in Quetta 6, 11 June; several police also killed in attacks in Peshawar and Karachi. Paramilitary Frontier Corps 1 June claimed to have killed thirteen Baloch militants involved in 29 May attack on bus killing 22 Pashtuns. In review headed by PM and Army Chief, senior civilian and military officials 27 May noted poor implementation of National Action Plan against terrorism, particularly regarding action against banned jihadi groups, foreign terrorism funding, hate speech and madrasa reform. Anti-terrorism court 5 June freed eight of ten people implicated in Oct 2012 attack on Malala Yousafzai; police cited insufficient evidence. Former President Asif Ali Zardari 16 June criticised military for overstepping its authority in Karachi, amid concerns about moves to oust Pakistan Peoples Party’s Sindh govt. Interior ministry 11 June reportedly ordered nine international NGOs to leave country within fifteen days; following pressure from U.S. and UK suspended order. Govt criticised as over 1,000 died in heatwave in Karachi.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

President Sirisena 26 June dissolved parliament and called elections for 17 Aug; followed deepening political deadlock and uncertainty, after months of negotiation for a 20th constitutional amendment establishing new mixed electoral system failed to reach consensus and threatened to shatter fragile coalition of parties and civil society organisations that backed Sirisena’s election. Public campaign in support of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s return as PM and rift within Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) strengthened, with pro-Mahinda rally 12 June attended by 75 parliamentarians; Sirisena 19 June reiterated that Rajapaksa will not be nominated as PM or MP. However, negotiations continue within SLFP and United Freedom People’s Alliance (UPFA) that it leads, with neither Sirisena nor Rajapaksa factions wanting to be blamed for splitting party and coalition as it faces strong challenge from United National Party, which has led minority govt since Sirisena’s January election. UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo 5 June announced plans to support range of govt reconciliation-related initiatives, including support to recently established Office of National Unity and Reconciliation and Northern Provincial Council and “quick impact resettlement initiatives” for north and east. FM 24 June said govt war crimes investigation, originally set to begin June, to be delayed until Sept in view of impending parliamentary elections. Global Tamil Forum 7-8 June hosted meeting in London with Sri Lankan FM and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to discuss confidence-building measures to strengthen reconciliation.

Nepal

  |  1 Jul 2015

Improved

Major political parties 8 June signed historic sixteen-point agreement on long-awaited constitution, which envisions eight federal provinces; hailed as “major milestone” by UNSG Ban, who called on leaders to implement agreement. Supreme Court (SC) 19 June ordered temporary halt to implementation of agreement, saying it violates provisions of interim constitution; parties criticised SC move as judicial intervention. Drafting Committee 29 June endorsed first draft of new constitution to be submitted to Constituent Assembly for deliberation; describes country as “secular, inclusive and multi-ethnic”.

Kashmir

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Following Lahore court’s April release of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) operative and UN-designated terrorist Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, charged with masterminding 2008 Mumbai attack, India’s permanent representative to UN early May requested UN act against his release; U.S. ambassador to India said release “a mistake”. Pakistan army 5 May issued statement accusing India’s intelligence agency of “involvement in whipping up terrorism in Pakistan”; FM Chaudhry reiterated accusation 14 May. J&K chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed 16 May pledged to improve cross-LoC travel and trade. India’s foreign ministry 12 May summoned Chinese envoy to object to passage of proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through Gilgit-Baltistan, which India considers part of Kashmir and thus disputed territory. Pakistan early May refused request by Afghan President Ghani to allow trade between India and Afghanistan to transit through Pakistan’s Wagah border. Several Indian army personnel and militants reported killed in clashes during month.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Jun 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Tens of thousands fled fighting outside northern provincial capital Kunduz early month amid deteriorating security situation, as govt 7 May launched major counteroffensive against Taliban’s Azm offensive, which was launched late April and quickly advanced on outskirts of Kunduz, routing several hundred Afghan security personnel in three districts. Situation in Kunduz stabilised end-May, but further unrest expected after planned withdrawal of two battalions of Afghan soldiers deployed to counteroffensive. More than two dozen security forces killed in Taliban attacks in Helmand, Paktika and Wardak 25-26 May. Govt organised militias to bolster security in Kunduz and other provinces, raising concerns about irregular/semi-regular forces. Govt worried about risks of district centres falling to insurgency in Kunduz, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Ghor, Badghis, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces, reflecting broad geographic spread and unprecedented intensity of fighting. Insurgents reportedly aided by foreign fighters, including Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). First deputy chief executive Mohammed Khan 3 May warned Lieutenant-General Carsten Jacobson, commander of NATO's Resolute Support mission, that insecurity in north would spread if not contained with active support of international forces. Ministry of Interior 12 May said security forces had regained control of Jawand district of Badghis province, which fell to Taliban 10 May, but many parts of province remain contested. Delegation of Taliban leaders met with govt representatives for informal talks, hosted by Pugwash, 2-3 May in Qatar; participants expressed desire for political solution to conflict, agreed on shared opposition to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL), Taliban reiterated demand for complete withdrawal of international forces. Meeting condemned by Afghan leaders concerned that peace talks would mean surrender; criticism of negotiations intensified after Afghan and Pakistani govts 18 May announced as yet informal intelligence cooperation agreement. NATO 13 May said it will maintain presence in Afghanistan even after current training mission ends late 2016, to “advise and instruct”. Five killed in Taliban attack on Kabul hotel 14 May. Kidnappers 11 May released nineteen of 31 passengers seized in southern Zabul province in Feb, in apparent prisoner swap for Uzbek militants held by Afghan govt.

 

Pakistan

  |  1 Jun 2015

Deteriorated

Criminal and terrorist violence continued in Karachi, despite govt claims 18 May that targeted killings in city had halved since Sept 2013 launch of paramilitary Rangers operation; gunmen 13 May attacked bus with members of Ismaili Shia minority on board, executing 45. Police 19 May said four members of militant group “inspired by al-Qaeda” arrested and confessed involvement in attacks on Ismaili and Bohra communities and on social activist Mahmud, U.S. educationalist Lobo and police officials. Militant violence in FATA and adjacent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) continued, contradicting army chief’s 18 May claims that army had “cleansed large remote areas of terrorists”. Militants attacked military checkposts in Bajaur and S Waziristan agencies; military claimed to have killed 56 militants in N Waziristan and 56 in Khyber agency in airstrikes. Peshawar police counter-terrorism department deputy superintendent killed 20 May in TTP-claimed shooting. Drone strikes in N Waziristan’s Shawal region 16 and 18 May reportedly killed six suspected militants. Paramilitary Frontier Corps 7 May claimed they had killed thirteen Baloch militants including Baloch Liberation Army commander south of Quetta. At least twenty bus passengers shot dead in Balochistan attack 29 May.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Opposition BNP leader Zia and 37 other BNP leaders charged 7 May with murder and arson for 23 Jan attack on bus in which one person died and 27 injured; first time that Zia has been charged in criminal (rather than corruption) case. Among those charged is BNP joint Secretary Salahuddin Ahmed, who went missing two months ago and reappeared 10 May in India. Masked men attacked and killed secular blogger and editor Ananta Bijoy Das 12 May, third blogger to be hacked to death in 2015. Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) 3 May issued video claiming responsibility for Avijit Roy’s murder, killed in Dhaka 26 Feb. Controversial International Crimes Tribunal 20 May sentenced to life imprisonment Muslim League members Mahidur Rahman and Afsar Hossain Chutu for crimes committed during 1971 independence war. Indian parliament 7 May unanimously ratified 1974 Land Boundary Agreement; agreement, hailed by both PM Sheikh Hasina’s govt and BNP opposition as historic, paves way for exchange of land on each other’s territory, potentially affecting 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India and 100 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh, home to more than 50,000 people.

Nepal

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Continuing relief efforts following April earthquake amid renewed international focus on Nepal’s longstanding political impasse and inability to reach consensus on new constitution; four former PMs spoke in parliament 9 May underscoring need for a national govt to cope with country’s challenges. Over 8,500 confirmed to have died in April earthquakes, close to 18,000 injured; another strong earthquake hit 12 May.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Much-anticipated 6 May meeting between President Sirisena and former President Rajapaksa – first since election – saw Sirisena reject Rajapaksa’s demands to be made SLFP’s PM candidate and to call off multiple criminal investigations into Rajapaksa family and political associates. Supreme Court 13 May granted Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s request to stay possible arrest by police Financial Crimes Investigation Division, investigating several cases against Gotabaya. Decision to dissolve parliament and go for elections continues to be delayed by negotiations on 20th constitutional amendment for new electoral system; parties split over details of plan to create mostly first-past-the-post system with some degree of proportional representation. Slow action by police in 13 May rape and murder of 18-year-old Tamil student led to violent protests and clashes with police in Jaffna 20 May; Sirisena visited victim’s family 25 May, promised swift justice. Sinhala nationalist politicians criticised govt over alleged threat of renewed Tamil militancy. Govt held 19 May “remembrance day” event (renamed from “victory day”) to commemorate end of war in 2009; in north, Tamils allowed for first time to commemorate publicly those who died in war, though intense police surveillance and intimidation reported. Ex-President Rajapaksa and supporters held alternative victory day rally 20 May, following political rallies 1 and 18 May. Challenges facing govt’s promise of effective accountability brought into relief by 7 May appointment of Major General Jagath Dias as army chief of staff, despite strong evidence implicating 57th Division he commanded in 2009 in war crimes. U.S. Sec State Kerry visited 2-3 May, urged effective investigations and accountability for rights abuses.

Kashmir

  |  30 Apr 2015

Deteriorated

Region saw sharpest rise in violence in months. Indian army 13 April reportedly killed two men in southern Kashmir, militant and his non-combatant brother. Violent protests erupted next day, injuring at least six; police placed separatist leaders Yasin Malik and Masarat Alam under preventive custody. Separatist Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Geelani called for strike, which saw violence break out in several areas as police clashed with protesters. Police shot dead 16-year-old boy during protest outside Srinagar 18 April. Pakistani soldiers patrolling Working Boundary between Pakistan and India-administered Kashmir on high alert after Indian army shelling reportedly damaged houses near Pakistani Punjab’s Sialkot district 16 April. Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) operative Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, charged with masterminding 2008 Mumbai attack, released on bail 10 April after Lahore High Court dismissed govt detention order; Punjab govt 14 April petitioned Supreme Court to overturn decision.

Afghanistan

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Lower house of parliament 18 April confirmed all President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah’s sixteen ministerial candidates, bringing protracted process of finalising govt formation near completion; defence now only portfolio without minister. Second VP Mohammed Sarwar Danish 1 April announced parliamentary elections scheduled for 2015 would be postponed for a year to allow for electoral reforms. Senate chairman Fazl Hadi Muslimyar 12 April said electoral reform commission illegal, national assembly would have no legal status if parliamentary elections are postponed. MP Ghulam Hussein Nasiri 11 April argued weak govt performance and differences between Ghani and Abdullah had created conditions for rising insecurity and emergence of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) in Afghanistan. 2015 reportedly most violent spring season since 2001. Violence during month included 2 April suicide attack in Khost province killing seventeen; 10 April attack in which insurgents overran army outposts in Badakhshan province, killing at least eighteen soldiers and reportedly beheading some; and 18 April suicide bombing in Jalalabad that killed 38. President Ghani blamed IS for Jalalabad attack; Ministry of Defence spokesperson and NATO officials refuted IS involvement in or support of attack. District police chief in NW province Faryab 9 April said group of insurgents had seized control of three areas, displacing thousands of families.

Sri Lanka

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Parliament 28 April approved President Sirisena’s signature 19th amendment to constitution to reduce presidential powers. Amendment delegates considerable powers to PM, re-imposes two-term limit, restricts president’s immunity and ability to dissolve parliament and establishes series of independent oversight commissions. Passage came a week after end of Sirisena’s ambitious 100-day agenda and followed efforts by section of Sirisena’s own SLFP party to delay and weaken law; parliament likely to consider 20th amendment to reform electoral system before being dissolved for fresh elections later in year. Police 22 April arrested former Minister Basil Rajapaksa and two others on corruption charges; Bribery Commission 23 April questioned former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is due to interview former President Rajapaksa, despite public protests by pro-Rajapaksa faction of Sirisena’s UPFA coalition. Series of international visitors encouraged govt to deepen progress on human rights and reconciliation, including 2 April Sri Lanka-EU Joint Commission; negotiations begun to restore GSP+ trade benefits removed in 2010. UN Special Rapporteur on transitional justice following late March visit welcomed govt’s initial moves on reconciliation, outlined major challenges for effective transitional justice. Rajapaksa-appointed commission on missing persons 3 April presented unpublished interim report to Sirisena, reportedly recommended further investigations into certain cases of Army and LTTE “wrong-doing”.

Pakistan

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Army Chief Sharif 2 April approved first sentences issued by military court under new powers granted under 21st constitutional amendment (passed 6 Jan), including six sentenced to death. Supreme Court 16 April issued stay on any death sentences awarded by military courts until judges decide on legal challenge against 21st amendment. According to govt reports on implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) to combat violent extremism in wake of Dec Peshawar school attack, law enforcement agencies arrested over 32,300 people as of 25 March, but found fewer than 1% linked to terror groups. Gunmen 11 April killed twenty Sindhi and Punjabi workers in Balochistan’s southern district Kech; separatist Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) claimed responsibility. Paramilitary Frontier Corps claimed it had killed thirteen BLF militants, including those responsible for attack, in operation around Turbat. U.S. drone strike in S Waziristan 12 April killed four. Supreme Court 8 April formed judicial commission to investigate allegations of rigging in 2013 elections. Parliament 10 April unanimously passed resolution calling for neutrality in Yemen conflict, while pledging to help defend Saudi Arabia against violation of its territorial integrity. Prominent activist Sabeen Mahmud shot dead in Karachi 24 April after organising event on Balochistan, originally meant to be hosted by Lahore University of Management Sciences 9 April but canceled reportedly under pressure from military intelligence agency.

Nepal

  |  30 Apr 2015

Deteriorated

Powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck 77km NW of Kathmandu 25 April causing widespread devastation, directly affecting a quarter of population; over 5,500 confirmed dead with numbers expected to increase, 1.4 million reportedly in need of food aid. Disaster struck amid ongoing impasse between Nepal’s political parties on overdue draft constitution; 30-party alliance of opposition parties led by Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and two major Madhesi groups declared three-day nationwide strike 6 April to protest against adoption of constitution by majority vote instead of by consensus, but called strike off next day in response to anger over disruption, violent clashes between protesters and police.

Bangladesh

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

After Dhaka court granted her bail in two corruption cases, opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia returned home 5 April, ending 92-day confinement in her Dhaka office. Police prevented Zia’s supporters from carrying out rally upon her return. Court scheduled next hearing for 5 May. Ahead of 28 April Dhaka and Chittagong mayoral elections, in which BNP decided to back candidates, assailants 20 April attacked Zia’s motorcade during Dhaka campaign rally, injuring some of her security entourage and journalists; BNP called for nationwide strike, excluding Dhaka and Chittagong. Election Commission decided to deploy army to ensure security at elections. On day of vote 28 April BNP announced boycott, claiming polls rigged; PM Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League (AL) won; some reports of violence at polling stations. Police 8 April finally submitted charge sheet in April 2014 murder of local AL mayor and six others in Narayanganj district, accusing 35 people including Narayanganj ward councilor who fled to India after killings, and three former members of elite paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion. Senior Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) member Muhammad Kamaruzzaman hanged 11 April for committing atrocities in 1971 liberation war, after Supreme Court rejected review petition. JI called daylong strike 13 April; one JI student wing activist killed in clashes with police.

Kashmir

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Indian FM Jaishankar visited Pakistan early March, met with PM Sharif and FM Chaudhry; Pakistan’s foreign ministry described visit as “ice-breaking development”, Jaishankar said countries “agreed to work together to find common ground and narrow differences”. Followed 26 Feb visit by Pakistani army chief Raheel Sharif to locations in Punjab along working boundary separating Pakistan and India-administered Kashmir, during which he said “any provocation along the LoC (Line of Control) or the Working Boundary will meet a befitting response”. Six people including two terrorists, three security forces and a civilian killed in militant attack on police station in Jammu 20 March. Indian Defence Minister Parrikar 21 March said security forces had killed 26 terrorists so far in 2015. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mufti Mohammed Sayeed sworn in as chief minister of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir 1 March, 7 March ordered release of separatist leader and general secretary of All-Parties Hurriyat Conference Masarat Alam Bhat, provoking strong opposition from coalition govt partner PM Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. Islamabad High Court 13 March ordered release on bail of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba operative Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, charged with involvement in 2008 Mumbai attack, provoking strong reaction from New Delhi; Rehman detained by Punjab govt.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Govt and international backers hopeful of kickstarting peace talks with insurgents: President Ghani's special representative on reforms and good governance 12 March said Taliban had shown willingness to meet officials. Ghani 14 March reportedly visited Riyadh to consult with Saudi govt on potential talks; Pakistan and China also reportedly taking steps to facilitate process. Taliban deny taking part in negotiations. Ghani visited U.S. late month, addressed Congress; President Obama 24 March announced U.S. will slow withdrawal of troops, to train and assist Afghan forces in face of increased Taliban aggression: will maintain 9,800 troops till year-end, stick to 2017 exit plan. Series of kidnappings targeting Hazaras raised concerns about sectarian conflict and extremist groups claiming to have connections with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). Zabul province’s police chief 3 March said at least 60 militants killed/wounded in operations to rescue 31 Hazaras kidnapped 26 Feb. Other insurgent attacks included: over a dozen killed in/around Lashkar Gar 10, 18 March; at least seven police killed in Kunduz province ambush 12 March; gunmen shot dead at least thirteen on Kabul-Kandahar highway 24 March; nine killed in two suicide attacks in Kabul late March. Govt reported army killed ten insurgents in Helmand 15 March; authorities reported U.S. drone strikes killed twenty Pakistani militants in Nangarhar province late March. Independent Electoral Complaints Commission 1 March said at least 10,000 temporary and twenty permanent officials of Independent Election Commission involved in fraud during 2014 elections. Visiting Indian FM Jaishankar reportedly reiterated plans to develop mineral resources. Deputy chairman of High Peace Council 11 March complained body being sidelined by presidential palace amid preparations for peace talks with insurgents.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Govt 23 March tabled draft bill for 19th constitutional amendment, key component in President Sirisena’s 100-day agenda. Amendment limits presidential powers, expands powers of PM, establishes series of independent oversight commissions. Sirisena 23 March appointed group of SLFP ministers to UNP-led government in bid to win SLFP support and two-thirds parliamentary majority for 19th amendment. Tensions in Sirisena’s broad coalition deepened over dates of parliamentary elections and introduction of new election laws. Supporters of ex-President Rajapaksa, including some SLFP MPs, held large rallies 6 and 26 March calling for his return as PM in next parliament. Indian PM Modi visited mid-March, called for full implementation of 13th amendment and “going beyond”. Sirisena visited China late March amid tension over suspension of work on key Chinese-funded development projects following corruption allegations. Sirisena visited London 8-10 March to attend Commonwealth meetings. UK PM Cameron pressed new govt to cooperate with OHCHR war crimes investigation. Sirisena promised domestic accountability mechanism, UN to play no role beyond offering advice. UN special rapporteur on transitional justice visited Sri Lanka end March. Govt 10 March released activist Balendran Jayakumari on bail, released some military-held land in north, allowed national anthem to be sung in Tamil. Multiple investigations into financial fraud by UPFA politicians underway, several corruption-related arrests made, court placed travel ban on Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Pakistan

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Head of National Counter Terrorism Authority Hamid Ali Khan 8 March reportedly said govt had decided to drop three of twenty points in new counter-terrorism National Action Plan, namely actions against banned militant organisations, madrasa reform, and repatriation of Afghans; Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali refuted claim. After saying late Feb that govt plans to repatriate all Afghans, federal minister for state and frontier regions Abdul Qadir Baloch 11 March said govt instead planned to register 1.4 million unregistered Afghans. Suicide attacks on two Lahore churches 15 March killed seventeen, injured more than 70; amid countrywide demonstrations against attacks 17 March, Christian protestors allegedly killed two men by setting them on fire. Paramilitary Rangers 11 March raided Karachi HQ of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), detaining 100 and recovering weapons it claimed were stolen from NATO shipments (denied by U.S.). MQM alleged Rangers killed one of its members in raid; Rangers denied. Four suspected Taliban killed in clash with security forces in Karachi 10 March; two police killed in bomb attack in city 27 March. Spokesperson of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) breakaway faction Jamatul Ahrar 13 March announced his group and Khyber agency-based Lashkar-e-Islam merging with TTP. Former TTP commander in N Waziristan 16 March reportedly announced his newly-created breakaway faction Jaish-e-Muttaqi had reached peace deal with govt. Army 16 March announced successful end of its operation in Khyber agency; reported scores of militants killed in airstrikes and ground offensives in area in second half of month. Two polio vaccinators and police escort shot dead 17 March in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Mansehra district; another vaccinator killed in FATA’s Bajaur agency next day. Defence Minister Asif in talks with Saudi Arabia 31 March on whether to join Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen against Houthi rebels.

Nepal

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

As parties again failed to overcome deadlock on overdue draft constitution, specifically over issue of federalism, 30-party alliance of opposition parties led by Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) announced fresh protests, nationwide strike early April. Constituent Assembly chair Subhash Nemwang extended deadline for agreement on constitution again.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Bangladesh National Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia failed to appear at her trial for corruption 3 March despite threat of arrest; her lawyer said she was willing to appear and surrender to police if security was guaranteed, she was allowed bail and could return to her party office. Next court hearing scheduled for 5 April. BNP 9 March suspended ongoing 48-hour hartal (strike) before restoring strikes 10-13 March. Zia allowed to address press conference from her office 13 March, first since early Jan; reiterated demands for fresh election under neutral caretaker set-up, end to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, and dialogue to resolve political crisis. PM Sheikh Hasina next day ruled out fresh dialogue. Although Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League (AL) and BNP remain intractable in public positions, senior party officials from both sides have expressed willingness to talk, contingent on BNP ending violent street agitation, and govt ending abuse of human rights and fundamental political freedoms. Despite lower death toll in street clashes between pro-govt supporters and BNP-led opposition, political tensions and sporadic violence continue. Police 2 March arrested alleged activist of banned Hizb ut-Tahrir as prime suspect in murder of well-known Bangladeshi-American activist writer Avijit Roy, hacked to death on street in Dhaka 26 Feb; murder compounded public fears of extremists taking advantage of political crisis. Blogger Washiqur Rahman hacked to death in another attack in Dhaka 30 March. BNP’s SG Salahuddin Ahmed disappeared after being apprehended 10 March by men identifying themselves as police; police inspector general denied any agency under his control had Ahmed in custody. Five killed in arson attacks 19 March. Chief Election Commissioner 18 March announced long-overdue Dhaka and Chittagong mayoral polls for 28 April; BNP yet to decide if it will take part.

Kashmir

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Shelling continued across Line of Control (LoC) and India-Pakistan working boundary; Pakistan accused India of killing civilian 14 Feb. Pakistani PM Sharif 5 Feb addressed representatives of separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day: reiterated support for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination, peaceful resolution of conflict. Pakistani Senate and National Assembly passed resolutions pledging support for Kashmiris, condemning “farcical” state elections in India-administered Kashmir. Trade and travel resumed across LoC 17 Feb after being halted following Indian arrest of truck driver accused of smuggling narcotics early Feb. At least six militants reported killed by Indian forces late Feb including two in Shopian district 25 Feb.

Afghanistan

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Delay in forming new unity cabinet continued, paralysing parts of administration and reducing customs revenue representing key source of govt income. New Interior Minister Nur-ul-Haq Ulumi early Feb travelled to outlying provinces to review security situation following parliament’s rejection of President Ghani’s defence minister nominee; Ulumi 14 Feb promised reform to stem rising police combat deaths. President Ghani 4 Feb threatened to fire any defence officials not ensuring weapons supplies and logistical support for soldiers, reflecting widespread concerns about lack of battlefield supplies. Govt forces mid-month launched major operation against insurgents in Helmand province. Turkish soldier killed in Taliban suicide attack on NATO vehicle in Kabul 26 Feb. Pakistani military officials 18 Feb claimed Taliban ready to begin peace talks with Kabul as early as March. UN 18 Feb reported 25% increase in civilian deaths in 2014 over 2013; ICRC reported collecting twice as many bodies from battlefield in 2014 than 2013.

Sri Lanka

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Month saw new coalition govt make some progress on promised reform although at slower pace and with less public consultation than expected by many supporters: critics pointed to lack of concrete anti-corruption measures, including arrests of former officials; Tamils criticised continued army occupation of land in north and east, failure to release detainees held for years without charges. UN HRC 16 Feb approved six-month deferral of OHCHR report on alleged war crimes during civil war; govt promised to establish domestic accountability mechanism with consultation and support from OHCHR, agreement on details pending. Postponement of OHCHR report criticised by many, especially Tamil groups, who held large demonstrations in north and east. Northern provincial council 10 Feb passed resolution requesting UN investigation of alleged genocide against Tamils. Parliament 20 Feb approved long-promised victims and witness protection bill; text appeared largely unchanged from draft proposed by ex-President Rajapaksa’s govt. Supporters of Rajapaksa 18 Feb held major rally in Colombo calling on Rajapaksa to stand as PM candidate for former ruling coalition, United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), in general elections expected in June; rally joined by Buddhist militant group Bodu Bala Sena.

Bangladesh

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged Risk Alert

Political crisis continued, threatening severe destabilisation of country: over 100 killed and hundreds injured since early Jan in violent anti-govt protests and country-wide transport blockade led by opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP); anti-corruption court 25 Feb issued warrant for BNP leader Zia’s arrest for non-appearance, raising fears of escalating violence in case warrant executed. PM Hasina 6 Feb compared actions of BNP and Islamist ally Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) to actions of Middle Eastern jihadi group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). Several civil society groups demonstrated for resolution to crisis, criticised negative economic impact including in country-wide protests early Feb; newly-formed committee of prominent jurists, retired officials and other civil society actors also pressed for AL-BNP dialogue; UNSG Ban mid-month urged Hasina and BNP leader Zia to engage in constructive dialogue. Zia remained confined to BNP offices in Dhaka; police 11 Feb temporarily blocked food and water supplies. Hasina 18 Feb promised govt action against newspaper for reprinting poster of banned Islamist group Hizb-ut Tahrir. Controversial International Crimes Tribunal, tasked with prosecuting war crimes committed during 1971 liberation war, 18 Feb sentenced senior JeI member Abdus Subhan to death.

Pakistan

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Uneven progress in implementing new counter-terrorism “National Action Plan”, adopted following deadly Dec attack on Peshawar school; army 13 Feb said nine militants arrested out of 27 linked to attack. Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT, also known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa) 5 Feb held rallies in several major cities after interior ministry official late Jan admitted neither LeT nor Haqqani Network added to list of banned terrorist organisations, contradicting earlier official claims. Punjab home minister 15 Feb said forty terrorism cases referred to military courts since Jan empowerment of courts to try civilian suspects under 21st constitutional amendment and Pakistan Army Act (amendment) bill; President Hussain 12 Feb extended latter to cover Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), allowing military courts to try terrorism suspects there. Pakistan Bar Council and Supreme Court Bar Association 9 Feb jointly challenged 21st amendment in Supreme Court: said it was passed under military pressure, undermines fundamental rights and judicial independence. Sectarian attacks and other militant violence continued: 22 killed in attack on Shiite mosque in Peshawar 13 Feb, another three killed in attack on mosque in Rawalpindi 18 Feb; paramilitary forces 15 Feb reportedly killed commander of Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), accused of masterminding deadly late Jan bombing of Shiite mosque in Sindh; several members of Sunni extremist group Sipah-e-Sahaba (also known as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat) killed in targeted attacks, including three in Karachi 1 Feb; eight killed in suicide attack near Lahore police HQ 17 Feb. Military operation continued in NW: army claimed at least 25 militants killed 4 Feb. Fifteen separatist militants, one soldier reported killed in Balochistan province 10 Feb.

Nepal

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Prospective Constituent Assembly vote on draft constitution, pushed for by ruling parties following failure of political parties to meet 22 Jan deadline for reaching consensus, postponed indefinitely mid-month to allow resumption of negotiations; United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) leader Baburam Bhattarai late month said talks will resume following scheduled 28 Feb opposition demonstrations. Govt 10 Feb set up committees to investigate alleged human rights abuses and disappearances during civil war era; Supreme Court 27 Feb rejected amnesty provision in April 2014 bill offering possible amnesty for human rights offenders.

Kashmir

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Firing across Line of Control and India-Pakistan working boundary continued: fifteen soldiers and civilians reported killed late Dec/early Jan. Governor’s rule imposed on Jammu and Kashmir 9 Jan after caretaker chief minister resigned following failure of parties to establish coalition govt after Nov-Dec state elections. Several militants reported killed by police, including five in Shopian district 15 Jan; army officer, policeman killed by militants in Pulwama district 27 Jan.

Afghanistan

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) 1 Jan assumed formal responsibility for all combat missions following conclusion of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and its transition into follow-up mission “Resolute Support”. President Ghani 12 Jan announced cabinet nominees after months of delay; proposed cabinet seen as implying reduced influence of former mujahidin figures, increasing influence of former members of Soviet-backed govt. Several candidates mid-month withdrew nominations, some claimed parliamentarians demanded bribes or jobs for constituents in exchange for approval. Eight nominees approved by parliament late Jan including for interior, foreign affairs and finance ministries; approval process expected to continue into Feb. Violence continued across country including Taliban deputy shadow governor for Kapisa province reported killed 15 Jan. Army commander 18 Jan confirmed some insurgent factions swore allegiance to jihadi group Islamic State; observers estimated factions only loosely affiliated with militants in Iraq and Syria, play limited role in insurgency.

Nepal

  |  2 Feb 2015

Deteriorated

Political parties failed to reach consensus on constitution draft before 22 Jan deadline despite reportedly reaching agreement on several core issues 19 Jan. Scuffles broke out in parliament during Constituent Assembly sessions around deadline as ruling parties tried to push vote on draft; Maoist opposition organised general strike, rallies. Ruling parties 25 Jan tasked committee with resolving contentious issues before vote; Maoists vowed one-month boycott of committee and more protests, insisted on consensus decision.

Bangladesh

  |  2 Feb 2015

Deteriorated

Month saw escalating political crisis, violent clashes between opposition and govt supporters around first anniversary of disputed Jan 2014 elections boycotted by opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP); at least 36 killed. Escalation raised fears about possible military intervention or exploitation of crisis by extremist and criminal networks; ruling Awami League (AL) denied country faces crisis, called BNP actions terrorism. Govt 3 Jan confined BNP leader Khaleda Zia to Dhaka BNP office in anticipation of BNP-led protests around 5 Jan election anniversary; move triggered deadly clashes between BNP and AL activists, at least four BNP workers killed, including two reportedly by security forces, leading Zia to call for indefinite countrywide strike, transport blockade. Zia released 19 Jan; said blockade would continue until govt agreed to dialogue, announced 48-hour strike in Dhaka, Sylhet and Khulna. Zia implicated for instigating two cases of arson during blockade; her son Tarique Rahman charged with treason 8 Jan.

Sri Lanka

  |  2 Feb 2015

Improved

Long-time President Rajapaksa conceded defeat to joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in 8 Jan presidential election; polling day largely peaceful despite widespread violence during campaign. Sirisena gained overwhelming support from Tamil and Muslim voters, about 45% of Sinhala votes. Senior members of new govt alleged Rajapaksa early morning 9 Jan attempted to declare state of emergency, called on army to stop vote-count and annul vote; move reportedly blocked by attorney general, head of police and army commander. Police subsequently launched investigations into incident and other alleged abuses of power by Rajapaksa, members of former administration. Sirisena 14 Jan announced new cabinet, dominated by United National Party, with members from all other joint opposition parties and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members who backed him during election. Rajapaksa 16 Jan ceded leadership of SLFP and United People’s Freedom Alliance (UFPA) to Sirisena, formerly Rajapaksa’s health minister. Sirisena 15 Jan removed northern governor with history of obstructing work of Tamil National Alliance (TNA)-led provincial council; new PM Ranil Wickremasinghe said govt will allow council to exercise full powers under thirteenth amendment although appearing to rule out fuller devolution of power demanded by Tamil parties. Wickremasinghe and FM Mangala Samaraweera confirmed govt will establish domestic investigation into alleged war crimes during civil war, expressed willingness to engage with UN HRC; govt 16 Jan lifted restrictions on foreigners traveling to north, 28 Jan reinstated chief justice impeached by former government in 2013; justice resigned next day, Tamil candidate sworn in 30 Jan.

Pakistan

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Govt and parliamentary opposition continued to cede control over national security policy to military following deadly mid-Dec Peshawar school attack by Pakistani Taliban (TTP); 6 Jan passed 21st constitutional amendment and Pakistan Army Act (amendment) bill 2015, overriding many fundamental rights and allowing military courts to try civilian terrorism suspects. Supreme Court 22 Jan decided to consider petitions against 21st amendment after Lahore High Court Bar Association 2 Jan passed resolution against military courts, Sindh High Court Bar Association 14 Jan challenged amendment through constitutional petition; outcome of consideration seen as defining test of court’s willingness to uphold judicial independence, fundamental rights. Govt closed 40 printing presses and stores, reportedly arrested 157 for hate speech or publishing hate material following late Dec adoption of counter-terrorism “National Action Plan”; 20 prisoners executed by mid-Jan following lifting of moratorium on death penalty. Jamaat-ud-Dawa (formerly Lashkar-e-Tayyaba) and other jihadi groups continued to operate freely despite govt pledges to end distinction between “good” and “bad” militants, latter targeting Pakistani state, former neighbouring countries. At least 60 killed in bombing of Shiite mosque in Sindh province’s Shikarpur district 30 Jan. Dozens of militants reported killed in U.S. drone strikes including six in N Waziristan 19 Jan. Military operation continued in NW; army claimed 92 militants killed in airstrikes 27 Jan.

Kashmir

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Final four phases of Jammu and Kashmir state elections held 2-20 Dec; People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won 28 seats, PM Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) second with 25 seats. Militants launched several deadly attacks during election period, including at least 21 reported killed in four separate attacks 5 Dec. Four Pakistani, one Indian soldier reported killed in cross-border firing 31 Dec.

Afghanistan

  |  5 Jan 2015

Deteriorated

Unprecedented wave of insurgent attacks continued in Kabul, raising concerns over viability of new govt: suicide bomber 11 Dec killed German citizen, mortally wounded Afghan journalist at French cultural institute; suicide bombers killed at least thirteen Afghan troops in attacks on military transport vehicles 11 and 13 Dec; two NATO troops killed in suicide bombing outside Bagram airbase north of Kabul 12 Dec. UN 20 Dec said record number of civilians killed in 2014: death toll up 19% by late Nov compared to 2013. U.S. Sec Defence Hagel 6 Dec announced 1,000 additional U.S. troops to remain in country past 2014, raising total to 10,800. Delay in naming new cabinet persisted, indicating continued tensions between supporters of President Ghani and govt “chief executive” Abdullah. Two Taliban leaders reported killed in Baraki Barak district, Logar province 7 Dec; militants next day killed eleven when storming administration complex in Kandahar’s Maiwand district. Security forces mid-Dec began operation in eastern border areas after Pakistani army requested help targeting Pakistani Taliban (TTP) hideouts in response to deadly mid-Dec TTP attack on Peshawar school (see Pakistan); four TTP militants, seven others reported killed in U.S. drone strike 16 Dec.

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