As always, this year too witnessed some dramatic political developments in South Asia. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigned, Nepal held historic local elections, India witnessed divisive sectarian politics as well as an increase in hate crimes against muslims, and there was renewed interest in Afghanistan after US announced its South Asia policy. Here’s what was best on politics on South Asia @ LSE.
Chandra R. de Silva reviews the achievements of Sri Lanka’s new regime led by President Maitripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in 2016. He also assesses the challenges that lie ahead in 2017, as political divisions are likely to intensify over local and regional government elections, and foreign loans and inefficient state enterprises could disrupt the country’s positive economic outlook.
It has been 20 years since local elections were held in Nepal, and as a result a whole generation of young people have been deprived of their right to exercise their citizenship in this context. In this article, Thaneshwar Bhusal welcomes the government’s recent announcement that local elections will be held in May, while also outlining key challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
The 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan made provisions for substantial devolution of power to provincial and local government. However, Asmat Kakar writes that provinces have been slow to establish local institutions, dragging their heels on holding elections and on handing over the necessary funds and power for the new bodies to function effectively. He makes suggestions as to the steps which need to be taken to strengthen democracy in Pakistan.
The Lingayats have demanded that they be recognised as an independent religion and a minority. Manu V. Devadevan traces the the history of the Lingayats and concludes that engaging in such parochial politics, involving the mobilisation and radicalisation of a sixth of the Karnataka’s population, is dangerous.
The death of Junaid Khan at the hands of a mob sparked rallies, followed by widespread criticism of the protesters. Maitreesh Ghatak writes that the danger of dismissing reactions against mob violence is that it perpetuates the view that everything is partisan political fight and references to human rights are just ruses to gain an advantage. He argues that while it is useful to question and understand the context of any incident, we should separate that from the issue of justice and recognise that no violent act is justified.
On August 21st, US President Donald Trump outlined his long awaited strategy for ending conflict in Afghanistan. Sayed Jalal Shajjan questions the civilian cost of this approach, and whether Afghanistan will ever find peace.
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