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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Bangladesh"

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of January 22, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Bacha-Khan-protest Civil society members take part in protest against the attack on Bacha Khan University at a demonstration in Peshawar, Pakistan, January 21, 2016. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Terrorists kill twenty-one in attack on Pakistani university. On Wednesday, gunmen stormed Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda district, killing twenty-one people and injuring dozens more. Four attackers were killed in an hours-long gun battle with security guards, local police, and the army in the attempt to secure the campus. Read more »

The Top Ten Stories in South Asia, 2015

by Alyssa Ayres
Afghans listen to a radio broadcast run by the Islamic State militants, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on December 19, 2015. Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the airwaves to win recruits as they try to build strength and replace the Taliban as the leading force in the Islamist insurgency. Officials have been increasingly concerned by the broadcasts, which encourage young people to find a sense of direction in the radical movement (Parwiz Parwiz/Reuters). Afghans listen to a radio broadcast run by the Islamic State militants, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on December 19, 2015. Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the airwaves to win recruits as they try to build strength and replace the Taliban as the leading force in the Islamist insurgency. Officials have been increasingly concerned by the broadcasts, which encourage young people to find a sense of direction in the radical movement (Parwiz Parwiz/Reuters).

Each of the past two years, I’ve done a roundup of the developments and stories that mattered the most in South Asia. In 2014, India’s historic national election and the coming together of Afghanistan’s hard-won unity government topped my list. The year before, Indian women’s political activism, and Nawaz Sharif’s election in Pakistan’s first transfer of power from one civilian to another, were my top two picks. Looking back at those posts compared with the ten events I’ve selected for 2015, this year suggests a markedly less hopeful mood. The most chilling development has been the steady trickle of reports about the self-proclaimed Islamic State and its presence in the region, particularly in Afghanistan, border areas of Pakistan, and possibly in Bangladesh. Other developments in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Maldives present a mixed picture of both progress and setbacks. Here is my selection of 2015’s most consequential stories in South Asia: Read more »

Fresh Upheavals in the South Asian Region

by Alyssa Ayres
Birgunj, Nepal: Madhesi protesters block the highway connecting Nepal to India in a general strike against Nepal’s new constitution on November 4, 2015 (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters). Birgunj, Nepal: Madhesi protesters block the highway connecting Nepal to India in a general strike against Nepal’s new constitution on November 4, 2015 (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters).

From the day he assumed office, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made clear his priority on establishing strong ties across the South Asian region. His open invitation to the leaders of all the South Asian countries to attend his inauguration set the tone for a foreign policy focused on building economic ties and regional connectivity, a pragmatic bid to overcome South Asia’s longstanding problem as one of the least economically integrated regions in the world. Initial Indian diplomacy with Bangladesh and Nepal helped deliver gains toward a more consolidated South Asian region, at peace and focused on development and economics. Political change in Sri Lanka ended the divisive Rajapaksa era, one of increased tensions with India, and Colombo’s new government immediately expanded ties—with a strong trade component—with India. The South Asian Area of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in November 2014 resulted in region-wide agreements on transportation connectivity, an important infrastructure step to enhancing economic ties. Read more »

Pakistan Is Failing Its Citizens, and Washington Offers Fighter Jets

by Alyssa Ayres
U.S. President Barack Obama meets Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on October 22, 2015 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama meets Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on October 22, 2015 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters).

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in Washington for long-awaited consultations with U.S. President Barack Obama. Press reports in the week preceding the visit flagged the possibility of a limited “civil nuclear deal” under discussion as a gambit to persuade Pakistan to stop developing battlefield tactical nuclear weapons, but that conversation ended when Pakistani officials told the media that “Islamabad will not accept limits on its use of small tactical nuclear weapons.” The strategic transaction from the Sharif-Obama meeting now appears, echoing the hoary past, to be another tranche of F16 fighter jets, only the latest in a long cascade of questionable hardware sales with unclear counterterror utility. Read more »

Bangladesh’s Descent into Chaos

by Joshua Kurlantzick
bangladesh-protests Activists of ruling party Bangladesh Awami League shout slogans as they try to attack the lawyers loyal to Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami during a protest in front of the Supreme Court in Dhaka on December 30, 2013. (Andrew Biraj/Reuters)

In the late 2000s and early 2010s, Bangladesh, which for years had been an international symbol of poverty and catastrophe, seemed to have reached a kind of stability. The country’s economy, powered by its garment industry and low-end manufacturing, was posting some of the highest growth rates in Asia, and grabbing textile jobs from China, Cambodia, and other countries. The Bangladesh government announced that Bangladesh could become a middle-income country by 2021. Read more »

With Little Fanfare, India Makes Big Security Advances Toward the East

by Alyssa Ayres
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (R) and Indian Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar shake hands after the signing of agreements ceremony in New Delhi on June 3, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Reuters). U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (R) and Indian Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar shake hands after the signing of agreements ceremony in New Delhi on June 3, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Reuters).

It’s been a stellar week for Indian security. First, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter visited India, and formally renewed the bilateral framework for defense cooperation with his counterpart Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar. This entire trip resulted in a brief, eight-point joint press release, which has garnered little attention, but cements forward progress in deepening security ties between New Delhi and Washington. But second, no less importantly, Prime Minister Modi set off for Dhaka on a visit slated to at last resolve one of the world’s most complex borders, and reset India’s ties with the world’s eighth-largest country. The two developments this week mark an intensification of India’s focus on its Asia-Pacific future, and U.S. support for an India with stronger links to its east. Read more »

Murdering the Idea of Bangladesh

by Alyssa Ayres
People attend a mass funeral as the body of Rajib Haider, an architect and blogger who was a key figure in organizing demonstrations, arrives at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka on February 16, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters). People attend a mass funeral as the body of Rajib Haider, an architect and blogger who was a key figure in organizing demonstrations, arrives at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka on February 16, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

Earlier this week, a young blogger, Washiqur Rahman, was hacked to death outside his Dhaka home. This is the third such attack— gruesome butcherings by machete—in the past two years, and all three have targeted “atheist bloggers.” With a third murder, we can no longer see these as purely isolated incidents; rather, they now form a chilling pattern. Read more »

IMF Worried About Bangladesh’s Growth

by Alyssa Ayres
Women work at Goldtex Limited garment factory inside the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar on April 11, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters). Women work at Goldtex Limited garment factory inside the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar on April 11, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

Bangladesh has been wracked by political protests over the past two years. Paradoxically, despite the country’s dysfunctional politics, its economy has done well. Last year, the all-important garment sector defied the odds and actually grew around 14 percent between July 2013 and May 2014. This insulation of the economy from the country’s toxic politics may be coming to an end, however. Since early January, the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has led street protests (hartals) along with transportation blockades. For the last two months, the daily strikes and protests have continued, keeping the country at a low boil, and resulting in the death of more than 120 people. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 27, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Supporters hold signs of Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, during a protest calling for better protection of migrant workers, outside the district court in Hong Kong February 27, 2015. Former beautician Law Wan-tung, 44, a mother of two, was found guilty of 18 of 20 charges including grievous bodily harm and violence against Sulistyaningsih and two other maids, also from Indonesia. She is due to be sentenced on Friday. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu (CHINA - Tags: CRIME LAW BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CIVIL UNREST) Supporters hold signs of Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, during a protest calling for better protection of migrant workers, outside the district court in Hong Kong February 27, 2015 (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy of Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, and Ariella Rotenberg look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Australian prime minister announces new strategy to confront terrorism threat. Following the release of an official report on the terrorist attack in Sydney in December, Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered an address at the Australian Federal Police headquarters announcing a new national counterterrorism strategy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 9, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A bouquet of flowers is pictured at the site of a memorial ceremony for people who were killed in a stampede incident last Wednesday during a New Year's celebration on the Bund, with Shanghai's Pudong financial district in the background, January 6, 2015. Chinese state media and the public criticised the government and police on Friday for failing to prevent the stampede in Shanghai that killed 36 people and dented the city's image as modern China's global financial hub. REUTERS/Aly Song (CHINA - Tags: DISASTER BUSINESS) A bouquet of flowers is pictured at the site of a memorial ceremony for people who were killed in a stampede incident last Wednesday during a New Year's celebration on the Bund on January 6, 2015 (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, Ariella Rotenberg, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. New  Year’s Eve stampede in Shanghai. A deadly stampede broke out among the hundreds of thousands of people gathered along Shanghai’s Huangpu River waterfront on New Year’s Eve, resulting in thirty-six deaths and forty-nine hospitalizations. This past Wednesday, grieving loved ones gathered in memorial of those lost. Ahead of the festivities, the government feared overcrowding and went so far as to cancel a planned light show along the Bund; predicting smaller crowds than in previous years, five thousand fewer officers were posted during the celebration, and those on duty were unable to control the crowds.  Read more »