Rising Desperation | Disabling Devolution | South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR), Vol. No. 11.51
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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 11, No. 51, June 24, 2013

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Rising Desperation
Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow; Institute for Conflict Management

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, in a ceremony held at the new National Defense University built to train Afghanistan's future military officers, announced on June 18, 2013, that his country's armed forces were taking over the lead for nationwide security from the United States (US)-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) coalition. Karzai declared, “From tomorrow all of the security operations will be in the hands of the Afghan security forces.” The 352,000 strong Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) will now execute all military operations across the 403 Districts of Afghanistan's 34 Provinces. Till the last phase of the handover, they were responsible for 90 percent of military operations in 312 Districts nationwide.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will now move entirely into a supporting role, and will provide support to ANSF on the battlefield when they require it. Explaining the future role of NATO forces, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen observed,
As your [Afghan] forces step forward across the country, the main effort of our forces is shifting from combat to support. We will continue to help Afghan troops in operations if needed. But we will no longer plan, execute or lead those operations. And by the end of 2014, our combat mission will be completed. At that time, Afghanistan will be fully secured by Afghans… From 2015, a new chapter will begin. Together with our partners, we are planning a new and different mission. The goal of the new mission is to train, advise and assist Afghan forces. We will also play our part in the broader international efforts, to ensure the long-term sustainment of the Afghan security forces.

Presently, there are about 100,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, drawn from 48 countries, including 66,000 Americans. According to the Inteqal (Transition) Framework defined at the London and Kabul Conferences on Afghanistan in 2010, and US President Barack Obama’s latest Afghan policy, by the end of the current year, 2013, NATO Forces in Afghanistan will be halved. At the end of 2014, all combat troops will have left and will be replaced, if approved by the Afghan Government, by a much smaller force that will only train and advise. A studied ambiguity has been maintained over the residual number of foreign troops that may remain after 2014. However, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Army General Martin E. Dempsey, stated on February 9, 2013, “we’re not going from number to mission, we’re going from mission to number”, and that the yet undefined mission in Afghanistan would determine the number of American troops to be deployed there after 2014.

Though the negative impact of the premature drawdown has been discussed elsewhere, the successful transition is an appreciable development and President Karzai was rightly buoyant in declaring it. However, his exhilaration was cut short by another development that took place, on the same day, June 18, far from the country frontiers, but which could have far-reaching impact in Afghanistan.

On June 18, while opening their office in Qatar in Doha, the Afghan Taliban declared that they were ready to talk with the US. The US reciprocated instantly, announcing that its officials would reach Doha ‘within days’ for the talks. Though none of these two statements had the potential to irk President Karzai, it is the background development which infuriated the Government of Afghanistan. After a meeting at President Karzai's palace, an Afghan Government statement declared, "The opening of Taliban office in Qatar, the way it was opened and messages it contained, contradicts the guarantees given by the US to Afghanistan."

Significantly, a sign outside the new Taliban office in Doha proclaimed it as representing the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan". Moreover, the Taliban claimed that the office would allow it “to improve its relations with countries around the world through understanding and talks as well as help them establish contact with the United Nations and aid groups, and to talk to the news media.” In addition, Taliban’s insistence that "first we talk to the Americans” and "after we finish the phase of talking to the Americans, then we would start the internal phase...” convinced Karzai that the Afghan Government had been sidelined in the ‘peace process’.

Kabul first objected to the use of the expression "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" by the Taliban, arguing that “such a thing doesn't exist”. Rejecting participation in the talks, Karzai insisted that the Doha Office would be activated as a forum to try to re-establish Taliban’s political legitimacy, especially in international circles, rather than confining itself to peace talks. Not surprisingly, Karzai halted negotiations with the US on the future Bilateral Security Agreement.

Subsequently, however, after constant US overtures, on June 20, 2013, Karzai’s spokesman Fayeq Wahidi disclosed that the Afghan President was willing to join peace talks with the Taliban if the US follows through with promises he said were made by US Secretary of State John Kerry over the phone. Wahidi said Kerry promised Karzai that the Taliban flag and the nameplate – "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" – would be removed and that the US would issue a formal written statement supporting the Afghan Government and making clear that the Taliban office would not be seen as an embassy or government-in-exile. Wahidi stated, "If all those assurances and commitments the US had given, if we are assured that they will be fully put in place on the issue of talks in Qatar, we would see no problem in entering into talks with the Taliban in Qatar.”

Karzai’s concerns, it seems, have been somewhat met. The nameplate has been removed from the Taliban office. The flagpole inside the compound was apparently shortened and the Taliban flag — dark Quranic script on a white background — was still flying but not visible from the street. However, these moves have now made the Taliban unhappy. Senior Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail stated, in Doha, "There is an internal discussion right now and much anger about it, but we have not yet decided what action to take. But I think it weakens the process from the very beginning."

Whether the talks will really take place and the potential for their success are a different matter; what is of immediate importance is the volte face of the US. On October 27, 2011, the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, referring to talks with Taliban had observed, "We have been clear about the necessary outcomes of any negotiation. Insurgents must renounce violence, abandon al Qaeda, and abide by the constitution of Afghanistan, including its protections for women and minorities. If insurgents cannot meet those red-lines, they will face continued and unrelenting assault." However, it now seems that the apparent preconditions have themselves become the object of the negotiation. Jennifer Rene Psaki, spokesperson for the US Department of State, stated, on June 19, 2013, “We don't expect that they would decry al-Qaida and denounce terrorism immediately off the top – this is the end goal."

What prompted the US to get into talks with the Taliban is hardly a secret. Indeed, there has been little improvement in the security situation in Afghanistan. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Annual Report 2012, released in February 2013, the Country recorded 6,131 civilian casualties (2,179 civilian deaths and 3,952 injuries), as compared to 5,636 civilian casualties (2,208 civilian deaths and 3,428 injuries) attributed to Anti-Government Elements. Similarly, UNAMA documented 782 improvised explosive device (IED) incidents which resulted in 2,531 civilian casualties (868 civilian deaths and 1,663 injuries) as compared to 2,460 civilian casualties (949 civilian deaths and 1,511 injured) in an unspecified number of IED attacks in 2011. Ironically, while Washington was expressing satisfaction over the proposed Doha talks, the Taliban was attacking an American base outside Kabul, killing four soldiers in rocket fire. Elaborating on the ‘Doha Statement’, which indicated that the Taliban would continue to fight the US in Afghanistan, the Taliban spokesman bragged, "The Mujahideen of the Islamic emirate from the other side also have taken all the preparations that will be effective for the destruction of America's nests."

The peace initiative led by the US must be assessed within the perceived short and long term interests of the troubled superpower. Media reports suggest that an immediate US goal is to secure the release of US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, who is in Taliban custody since June 2009, in return for the release of five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Over the long term, the US seeks an assurance from the Taliban that its Forces will not attack convoys carrying equipment and weapons of US Forces who are preparing to leave Afghanistan.

The US’s latest outreach to Taliban is also to do with its realization that it needs Pakistan's help to exit from the land-locked Afghanistan at any cost. In return, it is trying to give some legitimacy to Pakistan’s Taliban proxies – the ‘Pakiban’ as some commentators now describe them – in Kabul, via their recognition in Doha. Kabul did make an indirect reference to Pakistan’s role in the context of the Doha office controversy, noting, "the latest developments show that foreign hands are behind the Taliban's Qatar office.” The US, however, publicly acknowledged, on June 21, 2013, the ‘constructive role’ played by Pakistan in bringing Taliban and the US administration closer to reconciliation. US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson stated, “We are working closely with Pakistan. Pakistan played a constructive role in the opening of Taliban office in Doha. This is a big step and we greatly appreciate Pakistan’s support.”

The present US initiatives are driven, overwhelmingly, by fears of a chaotic flight of its Forces in the last phases of the drawdown, under focused attack by the Taliban. In its moment of desperation Washington has, once again, fallen back on its unreliable ‘principal ally’, Pakistan, restoring the prime supporter of the Taliban and of terrorism in Afghanistan to a central role at the most sensitive phase of the ‘transition’. Though there are arguments that "the Taliban is changing", as claimed by Masoom Stanikzai, head of the Afghan Government's High Peace Council secretariat, it is useful to recall that the Malim Shah Wali, the head of the High Pece Council in the southern Province of Helmand, was killed by the Taliban as recently as on May 1, 2013. The US faith in Pakistan and a ‘peaceful’ Taliban is wishful thinking, and will only plunge Afghanistan, and the wider South Asian region, into a deeper and lasting chaos.

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Disabling Devolution
S. Binodkumar Singh
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

On June 13, 2013, the Sri Lanka Cabinet approved two changes in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The first of these was to remove the provision for two or more Provinces to join together;  the second did away with the requirement that the consent of all Provincial Councils be obtained if there is to be constitutional change that impacts upon the Provincial Councils; the latter  was a safeguard to prevent the Central Government from legislating on subjects allocated to the Provincial Councils, without first obtaining their consent.

On June 17, 2013, Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne argued that giving Police and Land powers to Provincial Councils would create ‘needless issues’ in a small country like Sri Lanka and was not required at the present juncture. The land power requires the Government to consult the relevant Provincial Council with regard to the utilization of land and the Police power empowered Provincial Councils to legislate on any matter falling within the subject "Law and Order".

Later, on June 18, 2013, a Private Member’s Bill titled the “Twenty First Amendment to the Constitution” was presented to Parliament by the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), an ally in the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Government led Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), to abolish the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The Bill, presented by JHU Member of Parliament (MP) Ven. Aturaliye Ratana and seconded by United National party (UNP) Puttalam District MP Palitha Range Bandara (who threatened to form an alternative faction of the UNP and join the broad opposition coalition), states,
Sri Lanka is a free, sovereign, independent and unitary state and it is the duty of the state to safeguard the independence, sovereignty, unity and the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and the provisions of the 13th Amendment are a threat to the independence, sovereignty, unity and the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

The future of this Bill is, of course, a different issue; the JHU is just a small ally in the ruling coalition, with three seats in the current Parliament, and it is still unclear whether other parties will support it. However, the reasons behind these developments related to 13th Amendment are a matter of urgent concern.  

The 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution was an outcome of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord signed on July 29, 1987, and was passed on November 14, 1987. The Amendment focuses primarily on devolution of powers. On September 2 and 8, 1988, the then President Junius Richard Jayewardene issued proclamations enabling the Northern and Eastern provinces to be one administrative unit, administered by a single elected Council. This merger was declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on October 16, 2006, as the President had no powers to effect a merger of provinces under Emergency Regulation, and only Parliament could decide on the subject. The province was formally demerged into the Northern and Eastern provinces on January 1, 2007.

Indeed, with the much publicized and long delayed elections for the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) inching closer – the elections are schedule to be held in September 2013 - Colombo’s worries have increased, and the initiatives against the 13th Amendment are a manifestation of this rising anxiety. It is significant that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), considered to be the political proxy of the now defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, (LTTE), had won eight out of the 15 Parliamentary seats in the Northern Province during the 2010 General Elections (TNA had won 14 seats in total, across the country). Showing Colombo’s concern over the possibility that TNA might sweep the NPC elections, Defence & Urban Development Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had argued, on October 12, 2012, “The 13th Amendment and the Norway brokered CFA [Cease Fire Agreement finalized on February 22, 2002] didn’t serve the people of Sri Lanka. Instead, they facilitated interests of various other parties, including the LTTE.” Again, on May 23, 2013, referring to the TNA, he asserted, “Police powers in the hands of those still pursuing a separatist agenda can pose a severe threat to national security.”

Going a step ahead, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the strongest indication of a serious rethink on the concept of autonomy for Provinces in the country, had announced in Parliament, on November 8, 2012, that “a change in the prevailing Provincial Council system is necessary to make devolution more meaningful”.

The current position of the Government is in complete contrast to its earlier rhetoric. On July 11, 2006, for instance, at the inaugural meeting of the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC) and its multi-ethnic Experts Committee appointed by the President to assist the APRC, President Rajapaksa stated:
People in their own localities must take charge of their destiny and control their politico-economic environment. … In sum, any solution needs as a matter of urgency to devolve power for people to take charge of their own destiny… Any solution must be seen as one that stretches to the maximum possible devolution without sacrificing the sovereignty of the country given the background of the conflict.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, had even talked of going beyond the 13th Amendment, describing his position as a “13th Amendment plus approach”. In January 2009, according to WikiLeaks,  the US Embassy in Colombo reported in a cable that, in discussions with India’s then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, President Rajapaksa declared that “he supports a 13th Amendment-plus approach, but did not specify what the ‘plus' would entail.”

The virtual turnaround is a clear demonstration of the hardening of ethnic faultlines in Sri Lanka, and the official justification that the “LTTE threat still exists” can hardly stand up to scrutiny. Though Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in January 2012, claimed that there is a possibility of the re-emergence of LTTE in Sri Lanka, as LTTE sympathizers abroad were still struggling to achieve the LTTE's separatist ideology in the country, not a single incident of violence has taken place since the defeat of the LTTE in 2009.

Needless to say, it will be an uphill task for the Government to retreat from its earlier promises, as there are groups which are vehemently opposing the Government’s moves.

The TNA, which still exercises enormous influence in the Northern Areas, warned, the Government on May 28, 2013, that TNA would boycott Parliament if the 13th Amendment is abolished.

The TNA has already received assurances of support from three Leftist Ministers in the Government – Leader of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and Minister of Technology and Research, Prof. Vitarana; General Secretary of the Communist Party (CP) and Minister of Human Resources, D.E.W. Gunasekera; and Leader of the Democratic Left Front (DLF) and Minister of National Languages and Social Integration, Vasudeva Nanayakkara. Separately, all the eight MPs of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), on June 11, 2013, came to the decision unanimously to oppose any moves that curtail the powers allocated to the Provincial Councils.

More importantly, the main opposition party, UNP, has declared itself against the changes in 13th Amendment. John Amaratunga, the senior Parliamentarian from the Gampaha District in a media interview on May 12, 2013, stated: “If the Government is strong and capable of governing the country to the satisfaction of all its subjects, irrespective of caste, creed or race, it needs not withhold any rights of people to whichever community they may belong. When such withholding and deprivation of rights of the people take place, then that section of the people will revolt against the Government. At the same time, the ruling party should maintain writ authority over the periphery so that divisions will not take place among the communities or territories…” He was responding to the question that “your party is committed to devolution of power, in favour of the 13th Amendment. Don't you see the danger involved in land and police powers being devolved when the LTTE's notorious expropriation of State land and its own police force and court system are still fresh in the public mind?”

The 13th Amendment was adopted by the Sri Lankan Parliament and is very much part of the Constitution. The cost of tampering with the existing 13th Amendment will eventually express itself in a politics that is even more confrontational and radicalized than the existing ethnically polarized situation in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, both international pressure and domestic politics have tended, over the past years, to push the Rajapaksa Government into a posture of defiance and hardening Sinhala triumphalism. While such a position may yield short term political gains, it will rebound, eventually, to the enduring detriment of the nation. If the 13th Amendment requires any re-examination, this is best accomplished through a consensual, rather than confrontational process. 


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
June 17-23, 2013



Security Force Personnel





Islamist Extremism






Jammu and Kashmir






Left-wing Extremism








Total (INDIA)








Gilgit Baltistan


Khyber Pakhtunkhwa





Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Around 60 underground groups operating in State, says Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam Golmei: Deputy Chief Minister (CM) Gaikhangam Golmei on June 17 told the State Legislative Assembly that there are about 60 Under Ground (UG) outfits operating in the State. The number of UG organizations is on the rise day by day. He noted that earlier the number of UG outfits stood at 50. Kangla Online, June18 2013.

Central Government to implement livelihood-security plan in 12 worst LWE-affected Districts: 'The Central Government will roll out a livelihood-security programme in 12 worst Naxal [Left-Wing Extremism-(LWE)] affected Districts from July 1, 2013. Named as Governance and Accelerated Livelihood Security (GOALS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-assisted plan will be implemented in Jharkhand's West Singhbhum, Latehar, Palamu, Gumla Districts; Chhattisgarh's Sukma, Bijapur, Balrampur, Narayanpur Districts; and Malkangiri, Koraput, Kalahandi and Nuapada Districts of Odisha. Economic Times, June 18, 2013.

Ready for talks with Maoists, says Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah: The State Government is ready to hold talks with the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and it would welcome any Maoist who wanted to surrender themselves and join the mainstream of life, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said in Bangalore on June 18. Asked whether Karnataka's stand on the issue was not contrary to the Union Government's decision to act tough on Maoists, Siddaramaiah said, "This is the stand of [my] Government. We appeal to all those involved in these activities to come forward for a dialogue across the table." He maintained that the Left-wing Extremism (LWE) problem was 'not very serious' in Karnataka. The Hindu, June 19, 2013.

NDFB founder 'chairman' Ranjan Daimary released on bail: National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)'s founder 'chairman' Ranjan Daimary was released on bail from the Guwahati (Assam) Central Jail on June 23. Following his release, Daimary said that he will take part in the proposed peace talks. Daimary had obtained bail in all the 14 cases in which he is an accused. Ranjan Daimary, was handed over to the Indian Administration by the Bangladesh Authorities on May 1, 2010. Assam Tribune; Telegraph India, June 24, 2013.


18 of the 33 parties in CPN-Maoist-Baidya-led alliance decide to participate in CA elections: Eighteen of the 33 parties in the alliance led by Mohan Baidya's Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist-Baidya) have said they are going to take part in the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections scheduled to be held in November 2013. The 18 parties announcing their decision at a press conference on June 21 also formed a separate alliance, called 'Progressive Democratic National Front'. Nepal News, June 22, 2013.


50 civilians and 16 militants among 73 persons killed during the week in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: At least 15 Shia persons were killed and 25 others injured in a suicide attack at an Imambargah in largely Shia area of Gulshan Colony on the edge of Peshawar (Peshawar District), the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on June 21.

At least six Security Force (SF) personnel were killed and three others injured when a convoy of the forces came under attack in Sra Khawra area of Matani town in outskirts of Peshawar on June 19. The sources said four of the militants were also shot dead when the SF personnel retaliated.

At least 35 persons, including a newly-elected Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Imran Mohmand, were killed and over 57 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a funeral prayer in Shah Zaman Qala village of Shergarh town in Mardan District on June 18.

At least seven militants were killed and several others were injured in a clash between two militant groups in Bosti Khel area Darra Adam Khel town of Kohat Districton June 18. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today; Pakistan Observer, June 17-24, 2013.

36 civilians and three SFs among 40 persons killed during the week in Sindh: At least five parsons were killed in separate incidents in Karachi (Karachi District), the provincial capital of Sindh, on June 23.

At least nine persons were killed in separate incidents in Karachi on June 21.

At least 12 persons, including three Policemen and two activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), were killed in separate incidents in Karachi on June 20.

At least six persons, including MQM and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) workers, were killed in separate incidents in Karachi on June 18. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today; Pakistan Observer, June 17-24, 2013.

11 persons including 10 foreign tourists killed by TTP in Gilgit Baltistan: A total of 11 persons, including 10 foreign tourists-cum-mountaineer, were killed on June 23, when militants wearing paramilitary uniforms attacked a base camp of Nanga Parbat mountain range in Bonar area of Diamer District in Gilgit Baltistan region of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), The Nation reports. One Pakistani woman guide was also killed in the incident. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 'spokesperson' Ehsanullah Ehsan while claiming the responsibility said that killing was revenge against the United States' (US) drone attacks and killing of TTP 'deputy chief' Waliur Rehman Mehsud. He also revealed that a new faction of the outfit, named Junud-e-Hafsa, carried out the attack. The Nation, June 24, 2013.

Punjab Government allocates millions of rupees for JuD: The Government of Punjab Province on June 18 allocated millions of rupees in its budget for fiscal 2013-14 for the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Besides a grant-in-aid of over PKR 61 million for the JuD centre known as 'Markaz-e-Taiba', the provincial Government also allocated PKR 350 million for setting up a 'Knowledge Park' at the centre and other development initiatives. Details of the allocations were presented in budget documents tabled in the Punjab Assembly on June 17 by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Government led by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Times of India, June 19, 2013.

Anti-Baloch policies of state continue unabated, says Baloch Republican Party: The anti-Baloch policies of Pakistan continue unabated in Balochistan, said a statement issued by the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) on June 20. According to the statement, the state forces are carrying out a lengthy military offensive in Kalat District for the past many days. Several areas, including Kabu, Isplinji and Mangochar, have been attacked by the forces and Baloch residents are being targeted indiscriminately. Dozens of the houses of Baloch civilians have been attacked, looted and destroyed. Every kind of medical and food access has been denied to the residents by the forces since the start of the offensive on June 1. Casualties are also feared as the areas remain under tight siege and continuous assaults of the forces. Daily Times, June 21, 2013.

Abduction-for-ransom 'industry' booming in Karachi, says Citizens Police Liaison Committee: According to the Citizens Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), abduction-for-ransom 'industry' is booming in Karachi as this industry has generated huge money at the cost of life and peace in metropolis. The data available to the sources in CPLC says that within few months, from January to June 2013, about 74 such cases have been registered. In year 2012, there were 132 such cases registered at various Police Stations of the city. Daily Times, June 24, 2013.

Militant activities within Pakistan are no jihad, says LeT founder Hafiz Saeed: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder and Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on June 17 said that militant activities within Pakistan cannot be considered a part of jihad (holy war) and asked terrorists to desist from carrying out attacks in the country. "Militant activities in Pakistan do not fall in the category of jihad. I appeal to all jihadi organizations not to carry out attacks inside Pakistan as it is not jihad. America and India are taking benefit from their activities. They want infighting among different schools of thought to achieve their vested interest," Saeed said in a statement. Times of India, June 18, 2013.

TTP not ready for peace talks: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on June 16 said they will not change their decision of withdrawing an offer of peace talks to the Government because they are still mourning the killing of their 'deputy chief', Waliur Rehman, in a United State (US) drone strike on May 29. "We are still in a state of shock at the martyrdom of our deputy chief and there is no change in our decision of not talking to the government," TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ihsan said. The TTP withdrew its offer of dialogue with the new Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Government a day after Ehsan confirmed on May 30 that Rehman was killed along with six other militants in a US drone strike in North Waziristan Agency of FATA. Times of India, June 17, 2013.

Pakistan raises a 25,000-strong special force and put in place extensive measures to protect and manage its strategic assets, says Federal Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar: Pakistan has raised a 25,000-strong special force and put in place extensive measures to protect and manage its strategic assets, including its nuclear arsenal, Federal Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar said on June 22. "A special security force of 25,000 personnel, who have been specially trained and provided sophisticated weapons, has been deployed to protect (the nuclear assets)," Dar told the National Assembly. Pakistan has raised a special response force, a special escort force and a marine force to protect and guard its strategic assets, he said without giving details. Times of India, June 24, 2013.


JHU presents Bill to abolish the 13th Amendment to the Constitution: A Bill was presented to Parliament on June 18 by the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), an ally of the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) to abolish the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The Bill was presented by JHU Member of Parliament (MP) Ven. Aturaliye Ratana and is titled the 'Twenty First Amendment to the Constitution'. The Bill states that the 13th Amendment seeks to weaken the Government of Sri Lanka whilst strengthening the Provincial Councils and thereby destroying the unitary character of the state, territorial integrity, and the sovereignty of the people. The Bill has been introduced based on the premise that the 13th Amendment did not get the unanimous approval of the Supreme Court. Daily News, June 19, 2013.

Minister of Mass Media and Information explains Government's moves to amend the 13th Amendment to the Constitution: Minister of Mass Media and Information Keheliya Rambukwella on June 20 explained the reasons behind the Government's initiative to revise the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Minister Rambukwella said the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the Indo-Lanka Agreement were imposed on the country without the consent of the people. The Minister said that a country has the right to change agreements with foreign countries in conformity with the aspirations and mandate of the people of the country as the sovereignty of the people is supreme. ColomboPage, June 21, 2013.

PSC on constitutional changes for 13th Amendment appointed: Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on constitutional changes for the 13th Amendment was appointed on June 21. It comprises 19 members and is headed by Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva as its Chairman. Daily Mirror, June 22, 2013.

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