By Tushar Kumar
Tracking events that made the news over the last week in the South Asian neighbourhood.
In Bangladesh, poll preparations are underway, casualties from road accidents are on the rise and the anti-narcotics drive continues. In Nepal, Prime Minister K.P. Oli returned from a successful visit to China, and the Supreme Court turned down an offer for financial assistance from the United Nations Development Programme. In Pakistan, the big political parties are gearing up for the July 25 general election, even as the probe into the Sharif family’s dealings progresses.
Poll preparations underway
The elections in Bangladesh picked up the pace with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warning leaders from her Awami League (AL) party against infighting, and saying controversial candidates would not be given a ticket in the general election. She also cautioned that grassroots members would be held responsible for any losses.
The Gazipur mayoral polls, won by the AL candidate, saw some controversy, with the opposition Bangladesh National Party claiming harassment, alleging booth capturing in centres and calling for a reelection. The Election Commission, meanwhile, said the vote was free, fair and credible. The polls were calmer than previous such exercises and saw very less violence.
High casualties in road accidents
The number of people dying and being injured in road accidents has been on the rise, with the Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh claiming that 52 died and over 150 were injuries in road accidents in a single day. This comes after 339 people died in road accidents during Eid. Around half of the accidents occurred due to careless driving. As a result, the prime minister issued directives to help curb the high incidents of accidents.
Anti-drug drive continues
The home minister warned that the anti-narcotics drive would continue till drug trade comes under control. About 160 people have been killed and over 22,000 incarcerated since operations began over two months ago. He said that the government did not wish to kill people but with drug dealers possessing arms, gunfights occur, which result in injuries on both sides.
Oli visits China
Prime Minister K.P. Oli completed his visit to China at the start of last week. The visit saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the development of railway link between Kathmandu and Kerung in Tibet, China. The Chinese rail is expected to reach the Nepalese border by 2022. Nepal and India had signed an accord earlier this year to connect Raxual in Bihar to Kathmandu. This opens ups the possibility of a Trans-Himalayan railway line connecting the three nations.
Oli announced that 22 deals—13 at government level and 9 in private sector—were signed during his visit., including agreements for a cross-border transmission line to trade power and cooperation in trade.
Plan to protect overseas nationals
The government has also raised concerns about the 20 Nepali nations who are currently in a coma in several Gulf countries. Nepali workers are said to suffer in challenging conditions, workplace accidents and from occupational diseases. About 335 Nepali workers are said to be in jail and 477 died in the previous year while working in foreign countries. Meanwhile, the cabinet announced a plan to provide legal aid to its nationals working overseas.
No, thank you
The Supreme Court turned down the UN Development Programme’s offer of financial support amounting to Nepali Rs 460 million. The proposed funds were meant to strengthen rule of law and human rights in Nepal. In line with the government’s policy on accepting foreign aid in key strategic areas, the court deemed the offer inappropriate and said it was better to seek funds from the government if it falls short of money.
Poll preparations underway
The PML-N finalised its list of candidates for Punjab for the general elections. Party president Shahbaz Sharif launched the party’s campaign from Karachi, promising special package for the city and on its loss-making state enterprises.
The National Accountability Bureau, the country’s chief anti-corruption organisation, stated that it will file references in the ongoing mega corruption cases in the court. The probe majorly targets the previous PML-N government and its leaders, especially members of the Sharif family in the Panama Papers case.
A high court overturned a lower court order barring former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from contesting elections from his home constituency, Muree.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan started his poll campaign from his native town Mianwali. He accused the PML-N government of bankrupting the country and increasing its debt over the past five years. The Election Tribunal also disqualified its leaders from contesting elections.
The Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari-led Pakistan People’s Party is hoping to improve its 2013 tally of one seat in Karachi. He launched the party’s election manifesto, and expressed concern over media censorship and the manipulation of democracy in the country.
Meanwhile, the military approved the deployment of troops for security duty for the July 25 general poll. The army will guard all polling stations, with security cameras being installed at sensitive stations.
The Election Commission announced the extension of poll time by an hour for a total of a 10-hour window on poll day.
Tax amnesty scheme
The country saw massive response to the tax amnesty scheme initiated by the outgoing government. Over 5000 people filed returns by June 28, ahead of the June 30 deadline to file asset declarations, with the government collecting Rs 80 billion. A Karachi-based billionaire declared assets worth over $ 1 bn outside of Pakistan. The total final amount collected is expected to be higher.
Tushar Kumar is a writing analyst at Qrius.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius