The writer | Credit: GMF - Photo: 2020

Strain in Relations Between India and South Asian Neighbours

News briefs compiled by Suresh Jaura*

TORONTO | NEW DELHI (IDN) – While India-Nepal territorial dispute escalated into a diplomatic crisis, Pakistan Prime Minister has been locked in a Twitter war with India on the long-drawn Kashmir conflict. At the same time, Pakistan has opened key border crossings with Afghanistan for trade.

Celebrating the 11th anniversary of the end of the over three-decade-long civil war against the LTTE, Sri Lanka has threatened to withdraw from any International Forum if ‘War Heroes’ (the country’s military) are targeted.

India-Nepal Dispute Escalates into Diplomatic Crisis

A dispute between India and its neighbouring country Nepal has escalated into a full-blown diplomatic crisis. Nepal will be issuing a new political map to regain the territories which belong to India according to its map, WION reported on May 16.

Nepal’s President, Bidhya Devi Bhandari has claimed that the territories of Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh belong to them. The government of Nepal is objecting to a road constructed by India.

This is a new link road to Kailash Mansarovar that goes through the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand. Nepal had issued a strong protest in the last week and summoned the Indian envoy to prove its seriousness regarding the whole issue.

And now, it has staked claim over Lipulekh pass, a territory that India controls 

India and Nepal were in the process of resolving this dispute. Foreign secretaries of both the nations were going to meet as well. However, the coronavirus outbreak has delayed the talks.

Pakistan PM Accuses India of Creating Opportunity for ‘False-Flag Operation’

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 17 accused India of attempting to create an opportunity to conduct a false-flag operation against his country by alleging that Islamabad was supporting terrorism in Kashmir, PTI reported from Islamabad.

Khan once again took to Twitter to allege that the Indian government was trying to deprive the Kashmiris of their right of self-determination by “illegal annexation of their territory”.

In a series of tweets, Khan alleged that India was “trying to show Kashmiris’ right to struggle for self-determination, guaranteed in UN Security Council Resolutions, as terrorism being abetted by Pakistan to create opportunity for a false flag operation against Pakistan while detracting world attention away from” Kashmir.

Khan’s statement came amidst the ongoing war of words between the two countries. Pakistan on May 16 rejected the Indian army chief Gen MM Naravane’s recent allegations of organising and supporting a new terror group in Kashmir, known as ‘The Resistance Front’.

Bomb Kills Six, Wounds Four in Southwest Pakistan

Six paramilitary soldiers were killed and four wounded in Pakistan’s restive southwestern province of Balochistan in a roadside bomb attack on their vehicle, AFP reported from Quetta.

The incident happened in the hilly areas of Bolan district, some 80 kilometres south-east of the provincial capital Quetta late on May 18.

Six soldiers were killed in a similar roadside bomb blast earlier this month. The incident was later claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army, a Baloch separatist group.

Mineral-rich Balochistan, bordering Afghanistan and Iran, is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.

Pakistan Opens Key Border Crossings with Afghanistan for Trade

Pakistan has reopened its major border crossings with Afghanistan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces for trade and movement of people, according to an official notification, PTI reported on May 17.

The border crossings at Torkham in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Chaman in Balochistan were closed on March 27 as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. In April, they were opened for three days a week.

According to the notification, a decision about the opening of the border was taken at the meeting of the National Command and Operation Center.

Both the border crossings will remain open around the clock for six days except for Saturdays which will be reserved for pedestrian movements. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will be implemented for pedestrians as well, the notification added.

During the six days, an unlimited number of trucks will be allowed to cross per day while ensuring proper SOPs and guidelines for both Afghan Bilateral Trade and Afghan Transit Trade.

Afghan President Ghani and Rival Abdullah Agree on Power Sharing

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing deal to end a months-long political stalemate – two months after both declared themselves the winner of last September’s presidential election, WION reported from Kabul on May 17.

The deal calls for Abdullah to lead the country’s National Reconciliation High Council and some members of Abdullah’s team would be included in Ghani’s Cabinet. The Reconciliation Council has been given the authority to handle and approve all affairs related to Afghanistan’s peace process.

A technical team will work on the implementation of the agreement and details will be shared later.

Abdullah had disputed the results of an election in September and announced the formation of a parallel government earlier this year, undermining Ghani’s administration at a time when the United States was trying to advance a peace process with the Taliban to end the 19-year Afghan war.

Myanmar Police Find the Largest Haul of Synthetic Drugs in South East Asia

Myanmar has made south-east Asia’s largest-ever seizure of synthetic drugs in raids that revealed ”unprecedented” production of opioids in the area, the UN has said. The seizures announced May 18 were conducted during a three-month operation that cantered around Lwe Kham village in Kutkhai Township in Myanmar’s north-east Shan state. Thirty-three suspects were arrested, WION reported on May 19.

Jeremy Douglas, the regional coordinator for the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said: “What has been unearthed through this operation is truly off-the-charts.”

Police seized nearly 200 million methamphetamine tablets, more than 500 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, and 35.5 metric tons and 163,000 thousand litres of precursor chemicals used to manufacture illicit drugs, Myanmar authorities and the UNODC said in a joint statement.

Sri Lanka to Withdraw from Any Int’l Forum if ‘War Heroes’ Are Targeted

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa warned on May 19 that Sri Lanka will not hesitate to withdraw from any international forum if the country’s “war heroes” were targeted or harassed as he addressed the 11th anniversary of the end of the over three-decade-long civil war against the LTTE, PTI reported.

Tamil separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which led an armed rebellion for over three decades against the Sri Lankan government to set up a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern province of the island nation was defeated by the Sri Lankan Army on May 19, 2009.

“Our troops were up against the world’s most feared terrorist group who paid no respect to the law. Even the world’s most powerful countries have told that they would not subject their troops to be harassed by anyone,” said Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the military campaign then as the top defence ministry bureaucrat.

“As such, in a small country like ours where our war heroes have sacrificed so much, I will not allow anyone or organisation to put pressure on them and harass them. We will not hesitate to withdraw from any organisation or agency if our war heroes are targeted,” Rajapaksa said at the War Heroe’s Day, marking the 11th anniversary of the military victory over the LTTE. [IDN-InDepthNews – 21 May 2020]

* Publisher and Managing Director of South Asian Outlook and Indo-Canada Outlook, which have meanwhile merged with IDN.

Photo: Indian PM Narendra Modi and Nepal’s PM KP Sharma Oli. Credit: ANI

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate. –

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