Some news in brief from South Asia.



Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC), while welcoming signing of three trade accords between India and Pakistan has called upon the two governments not only to ensure the strict implementation of these agreements but also to follow it up with some essential steps towards facilitating people-to-people contacts at various other levels.


In a statement here on Friday, PPC said that in the context of the not so happy relations between Pakistan and India, the outcome of the just-concluded talks between the commerce ministers of the two countries in Islamabad should be considered as a major step in the direction of improving our mutual relations.


While welcoming the signing of several agreements related to promotion of trade and the promise of a relaxed visa regime for businessmen of the two countries, Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC) has suggested the following measures:


1. The visa relaxation facilities being offered now to businessmen, such as exemption from police reporting and removal of city-specific limitation be extended to cover all the citizens of the two countries without discrimination.

2. The cumbersome exercise of having to attach a slew of different documents with the visa applications be made easier.

3. Issuing of normal Tourist Visas be resumed to enable people to visit popular historical and scenic spots in the two countries.

4. Students and youth of the two countries be encouraged to visit each other’s country by further liberalizing the visa regime for them.

5. Consulates be re-opened in Karachi and Mumbai respectively at the earliest.

6. Newspapers, magazines, books and other publications be allowed unrestricted movement between the two countries.

7. T.V. news channels of the two countries be freed from the existing restrictions.

8. Karachi-Mumbai-Karachi sea route be re-opened for movement of people and cargo.






President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put their heads together at the third trilateral summit to forge regional cooperation in multifaceted areas. The three neighbours declared they would not allow any threat emanating from their respective territories against each other…


(SAMN, February 18, 2012; supplied by ACHA)





(Supplied by ACHA, Feb 18, 2012;


Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma says, “India, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan have a combined hydropower potential of 200GW, of which more than three-quarters is yet to be harnessed.” India has made a strong pitch for setting up a $300-billion trans-national power grid in South Asia which would enable the region to trade in electricity…





(SAMN, Feb 18, 2012; Supplied by ACHA)


Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai says that economic integration is the key to the progress of the backward South Asian countries, and points out that in spite of abundant natural resources, the Himalayan nation remains among the most backward regions in the world today. Delivering the inaugural address at the second edition of the Global Bihar Summit — a meeting designed to showcase a resurgent Bihar — here, Dr. Bhattarai said democratic process was the best solution…




(Jamie Choi – <>;  Feb 17, 2012)


In days, a multi-billion dollar Swiss pharma company may get the Indian Supreme Court to shut down our supply of affordable medicines. If Novartis wins, it will threaten Indian companies’ ability to produce low-cost medicines for malaria, AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening diseases, depriving millions around the world of the treatments they desperately need and threatening thousands of Indian jobs. But people power can push Novartis to drop the suit before the final ruling.


India is a shining light in the global health community — as the world’s largest supplier of affordable medicines, it has saved the lives of millions across the developing world who otherwise cannot afford sky-high Western prices for essential drugs. India’s patent law, which prevents big pharmaceuticals from keeping expensive patent deadlocks on life saving medicines, has made this possible. But for years, big pharmas have tried to overturn this vital law in hopes of unlocking a goldmine, at the expense of the world’s sick and poor.


Novartis has hired an army of lawyers to kill the patent law and win monopoly rights over an essential cancer drug. If Novartis wins, the price of the drug would increase 10-fold to a whopping Rs.1,28,000 per month! Even worse, it would clear the way for big companies to patent all sorts of essential drugs, jeopardizing the future of the Indian pharmaceutical industry and the lives of millions who rely on Indian medicines.




Vikas Bajaj (The New York Times ; February 13, 2012)


Full: <>


In the midst of the political turmoil racking this tiny Indian Ocean nation of 1,200 islands, a half-dozen men stormed into the museum last Tuesday and ransacked a collection of coral and lime figures, including a six-faced coral statue and a 1 1/2-foot-wide representation of the Buddha’s head. Officials said the men attacked the figures because they believed they were idols and therefore illegal under Islamic and national laws.


The vandalism was reminiscent of the Taliban’s demolition of the great carved Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in early 2001, and it has raised fears here that extremists are gaining ground in the Maldives, a Sunni Muslim country that historians say converted from Buddhism to Islam in the 12th century. The country has incorporated elements of Islamic law into its jurisprudence for years. Idols cannot be brought into the country, for example, and alcohol and pork products are allowed only at resorts that cater to foreigners.


The statues were destroyed on the same day that Mohamed Nasheed, who won the presidency in 2008 in the country’s first democratic election, resigned his office. Mr. Nasheed said he was forced to do so in what amounted to a coup; his opponents say he went voluntarily. For nearly a month leading up to his resignation, Islamic and other opposition political parties staged protests. Some of them criticized Mr. Nasheed for not cracking down on brothels that masquerade as massage parlors and for proposing that hotels be allowed to serve alcohol on islands where Maldivians live; under current law, alcohol can be served only at the airport or on resort islands with no native population.


Ali Waheed, the director of the National Museum, which was built by China as a gift to the country, said on Monday that officials might be able to restore two or three of the damaged statues, but that the rest were beyond repair. “The collection was totally, totally smashed,” Mr. Waheed said. “The whole pre-Islamic history is gone.”




According to a report in the Hindu (February 19, 2012), senior journalist  Chandrika Rai (42), his wife Durga (40) and their two teenage children — son Jalaj (19) and daughter Nisha (17) — were murdered  at their residence ON February 17, 2012 in Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled  Madhya Pradesh’s Umaria district.  Read more…..


Chandrika Rai was a freelance journalist who contributed regularly to the Hindi daily Navbharat and English daily The Hitavada. He had been writing consistently against the illegal coal mining in the region. He had written a series of articles alleging the involvement of a local BJP leader in

illegal mining.


The district is known for the Umaria coalfield under the control of the South Eastern Coalfields Ltd. However, illegal coal mining is also rampant in the region.


“The local illegal mining mafia has resorted to this horrific crime to silence the power of his pen,” said Congress MLA and leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Ajay Singh. “The BJP government gives open protection to the local mining mafia. Recently Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and some of his Ministers were seen sharing the stage with wanted criminals. In such a situation, criminals have no fear of the law and commit such mind-numbing crimes with impunity whenever their interests are harmed.”


DGP Raut visited the crime scene on Sunday and has ordered an STF probe. Umaria SP Manohar Singh Jamara  assured the journalists that the criminals would be brought to book as soon as possible.




PTI, February 22, 2012 (Supplied by ACHA)


Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has floored an audience that included her Pakistani counterpart, senior ministers and parliamentarians by delivering a speech in flawless Urdu laced with couplets from Firaq Gorkhpuri, Majrooh Sultanpuri and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. At a dinner on Tuesday night hosted by Fehmida Mirza, the speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly or lower house of parliament, Kumar was repeatedly applauded by the gathering as she interspersed her speech with Urdu couplets…




Posted on January 16, 2012 by HRCP


Lahore, January 16: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned the attack on a Chehlum procession in Khanpur and said that sympathetic attitudes towards religious extremism in all institutions of the state are responsible for the failure to confront the menace of sectarian terrorism.


“It is a welcome change that the leader of at least one religious-political party has condemned the killings in Khanpur. HRCP hopes that other parties and groups, especially the religious ones,  would also not have any reason to hesitate in condemning this act of terrorism as such. It is of vital importance that all segments of civil society that believe in tolerance play their role in unison to expose the passive response to such barbaric brutalities and also the reasons for that. But the state must allow the citizens due space to register their concerns and wishes. Any delay in taking decisive action amounts not only to negligence but complicity. The state must also reach out to the affected community in a manner that demonstrates its concern and shame in failing to protect citizens’ lives and try to promote tolerance after having tried the opposite for so long.” Zohra Yusuf (Chairperson)

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