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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2399

Monthly archive

Bildt with Clinton

Pregnant women among IDPs a top priority of the Sri Lanka Government

At least 3,000 pregnant women have fled the fighting in Northern Sri Lanka in recent days and some 350 will give birth in the next month, according to estimates by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. The Ministry of Health has dispatched another 100 doctors to the rehabilitation camps in the North to cope with the situation, a Ministry spokes man said. With increasing influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs), the UNFPA is also stepping up its support for the health and safety of women and girls affected by the conflict, particularly those who are pregnant.Around 15 percent of women giving birth will develop complications that require blood transfusions or emergency surgical care.

Sweden’s Foreign (Ethnic) Minister Carl Bildt renews old ties with Hillary Clinton

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune – A News Review

Bildt with ClintonWhen Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt met U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on May 5, it was the renewal of old contact between the two: Bildt was prime minister of Sweden when Bill Clinton was president, and thereafter Bildt and President Clinton were deeply involved in ethnic issues in the Balkan region and nation building in that part of the world. The cordial relationship that existed between the Clintons and Bildt hold steady this time as Hillary and Carl handle foreign affairs in their respective nations. Today the European Union is an important foreign policy plank of the Obama administration as it was during Clinton and Bush presidencies. And, Secretary of State Clinton will find it more comfortable dealing with the EU as Sweden is scheduled to head the EU for six months from July this year.

U.N. Human Rights Council Elections Under Scrutiny

By Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service

When the 192-nation General Assembly meets next week to elect 18 new members to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC), most of the candidates will win their seats without breaking a political sweat because of the almost entirely non-competitive nature of the vote. With the make-up of the 47-member HRC based on geographic composition, three out of five regional groups are fielding candidates to match the number of vacant seats, thereby "eliminating any meaningful competition and comparative scrutiny of candidates," according to a coalition of over 30 international non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

AfPak to improve border security

By Wajid Ali Syed – Washington Correspondent for Asian Tribune

The Pakistan and Afghanistan interior office chiefs announced Friday a plan to improve border security between the two countries. This also includes a system of providing identification documents to both countries expatriates who cross borders. At a joint press conference Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik and Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Abdul Hanif Autaf said a road map has been accepted to eliminate non-state actors. The Afghan minister identified four groups - responsible for terror activities inside Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka: North and East celebrated Vesak after 30 years

Hilary Rajakarunanayake, Editor – Sri Lanka, Asian Tribune

After 30 years, Buddhists in the Jaffna peninsula and in Batticaloa celebrated Vesak on Friday, commemorating the birth of Buddha, his attaining Enlightenment and his passing away into Nirvana. "With the dawn of peace into the North, this seems a significant development towards the government's effort to unite the country", a Batticaloa resident said. "Colorful lanterns made from bamboo frames, Buddhist flags and other decorations were on displayed everywhere, even in the Jaffna peninsula."

Sri Lanka troops find Tiger leaders underwater metal home

Sri Lankan troops battling the Tamil Tigers in their in the last leg of the humanitarian operation to rescue the remaining civilians trapped in the Safety Zone located in the northeastern area have discovered a metal structure, which the Army believes to be an underwater home for the rebel leaders. "This 360-ft long and 25 ft wide huge cylindrical metal structure in Irattavaikkal belonging to the LTTE, apparently compartmentalized into three major sections, i.e. front (engine), office and the rear (relatively bigger), has been made of strong iron, and set on iron rails, like a railway carriage.

Another notice sent to BNP chief Khaleda to vacate her Dhaka Cantonment house by next 15 days

M.A Qader-Asian Tribune Correspondent in Bangladesh

Main opposition BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain on Friday said the government sent the second notice to party chief Khaleda Zia on Thursday last regarding her house only to tarnish her image. In Thursday's notice, Khaleda was asked to show cause as to why she should not be asked to return the estate, including the house, within the next 15 days. However, BNP did not disclose receiving of notice till midnight. The BNP secretary general said the matter would be resolved in court. "It was needless to send the notice again as the matter is pending with the High Court," he said talking to reporters at his home in the city's Armanitola adding will give the reply of second notice as per law since his party chief Khaleda respects the law of the land.

Sri Lanka Army re-demarcates new safety zone

Hilary Rajakarunanayake, Editor – Sri Lanka, Asian Tribune

The Sri Lanka Army, which is in full control of more than two third of the existing Puthumattalan "Safety Zone" has now officially anounced the newly re-demarcated safety zone. According to Sri Lankan Army’s announcement of Friday (08 May), the previously defined safe zone for civilians on the Northeastern area has been re-demarcated , restricting the strip to south of Karyamullivaikkal including Vellamullivaikkal

$1.9 billion aid for Pakistan approved

By Wajid Ali Syed – Washington Correspondent for Asian Tribune

US House Appropriation Committee has approved $1.9 billion supplemental aid for Pakistan to help IDPs, food security and counter insurgency. The designated amount is above than the requested; Pakistan’s Ambassador to US informed the media. At a briefing today Ambassador Haqqani said the allocation means that the misconception about Pakistan, among the Congressmen, has been washed away. The funding actually required presidential report to Congress on whether Afghanistan and Pakistan were demonstrating the necessary commitment, capability and conduct.

Of humanitarians and bullies

By Dimuth Gunawardena

Sri Lanka is a sovereign territory that is now being fundamentally battered by two major forces in their bid to save the LTTE leadership. One the UK, USA, EU, India led western strategic alliance within and outside the UN system. The other is the local NGO and INGO groups working hand in glove with the above forces. One of their main gripes is about INGOs, NGOs and the media not being given full access to the few square kilometres in which Prabhakaran and his remaining cadres are trapped. It is not an easy demand for any self-respecting Government to concede given the long and considerable history of overt and covert support that INGOs, NGOs and personnel therein have given the LTTE. It is natural, therefore, for the Government of Sri Lanka to err on the side of caution, for there is no telling what these individuals may do and because there is reason to believe that their activities may very well compromise national security interests.

Pakistan Army launches full-scale operation against militants : 143 militants killed; humanitarian crisis worsens

By Farzana Shah-Asian Tribune Correspondent in Pakistan

About 143 militants have been killed during the military offensive in Swat in the last 24 hours, Pakistan army says on Friday. Addressing a press conference on Friday, Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said the security forces will remain in the valley until the government's writ is established. ‘The army is now engaged in a full-scale operation to eliminate miscreants,’ Major General Athar Abbas said. ‘They are on the run and trying to block the exodus of civilians from the area. During the last 24 hours approximately over 140 militants have been killed in different areas,’ he said.

Sri Lanka Tourism rebrands in Brussels

The Sri Lanka Embassy in Brussels, on behalf of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, together with SriLankan Airlines launched the new brand of Sri Lanka Tourism, Sri Lanka – Small Miracle in the Belgian market last week. The objective of re-branding was to create a core idea that can change the traveller's perception of the country, encapsulating its diversity, authenticity, compactness and its geographical location identifying Sri Lanka from its competitors. The launch coincides with Sri Lanka moving into a post- LTTE period.

Indices touch new high for 2009

By Quintus Perera – Asian Tribune

Acuity – the stock brokering arm of HNB and DFCC indicated that Market opened on a positive note this week and remained bullish with the indices touching a new high for 2009 on improved activity. Investors continued to pick undervalued blue chip counters, pushing indices to the highest close since November 2008. All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed the week at 1896.0 points improved by a notable 57.6 points or 3.1% compared to the last week, while the Milanka Price Index (MPI) was up by 98.3 points or 5.0% to close at 2061.4 points. JKH remained the hot pick this week as the counter traded 4.0 million shares, adding closer to 25% or Rs.306.1 million towards week’s turnover amidst a string of crossings. JKH saw its share price rise by 8.3% during the week, to close at Rs.78.00 per share, while trading at a high of Rs.78.75 and a low of Rs.72.50 per share.

Medical Tourism

By Atul Cowshish - Syndicate Features

It cannot be said if shifting the great Indian cricket 'tamasha' called the India Premier League to South Africa has sent a 'wrong' message which will see considerable drop in arrival of visitors from abroad, but what is certain is that the number of 'medical tourists' in India will continue to grow by leaps and bounds irrespective of IPL’s current or next venue. That prediction is based on two premises. One, in a little over two years the figure of ‘medical tourists’ to India has jumped from about 200,000 a year to 450,000; two, the economic meltdown in the West (traditionally the richer part of the world) will force more and more less affluent patients to go abroad for medical treatment.

China will give US $ 1 million in humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka

Hilary Rajakarunanayake, Editor – Sri Lanka, Asian Tribune

China will give US $ 1 million in humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka to help the civilian Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by the conflict, China’s Foreign Ministry has announced. This announcement comes in the wake of an attack on the Chinese Embassy in London a few days ago, by LTTE hooligans and thugs as a protest for Chinese support to the Sri Lankan Government. "China had paid great attention to Sri Lanka’s internal situation", said ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu at a news briefing. He said it was in the fundamental interests of the Sri Lankan people to maintain social stability and realize national reconciliation, and it was expected by the international community. "We hope to see the early realization of peace, stability and development of Sri Lanka," Ma Zhaoxu said.