The events that shaped South Asia in 2021

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

The events that shaped South Asia in 2021

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden at the first bilateral White House meeting held at the White House Washington on 17 September 2021 | Photo: Reuters


The Supreme Court of Pakistan orders the Pakistani government to rebuild a Hindu temple—the Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj Samadhi temple in Teri, Karak District. The temple was earlier destroyed by a mob of 1,500 local Muslims led by a local Islamic cleric and supporters of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party in December 2020. As a part of renovation, the temple plans to expand and the houses nearby will have to be razed, irking many locals and Islamists.


India and China agree to push for a mutually acceptable resolution of friction points at Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh in a steady and orderly manner. However, in subsequent months, there is little progress on border talks between the two countries.


On March 26 and 27, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Bangladesh at the invitation of his counterpart Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and takes part in two gala celebrations—the golden jubilee of the independence of Bangladesh and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the iconic leader of Bangladesh’s freedom struggle and the country’s first prime minister. Protests erupt across the country, with protestors accusing Modi of committing crimes against humanity during the 2002 Gujarat riots. They slam his anti-Muslim policies and India’s interference in Bangladeshi politics.


US troops

The United States decides to withdraw US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, stating that “there is no military solution to the challenges Afghanistan faces”. Then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomes the decision.


X-Press Pearl, a Singaporean container ship, catches fire off the Sri Lankan coast of Colombo, and was engulfed in flames on May 27. The Criminal Investigations Department of Sri Lanka arrests the ship captain in June after the incident draws global attention due its harm to the local biodiversity


Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives is elected new president of the United Nations General Assembly. Shahid pledges to push for equal access for coronavirus vaccines, a stronger and greener economic recovery and stepped-up efforts to tackle climate change.


Acclaimed Indian photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Danish Siddiqui is killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan on 13 July 2021. He was embedded with a convoy of Afghan security forces and covering a clash between the security forces and the Taliban near a border crossing with Pakistan.



Taliban returns to power in Afghanistan after two decades. Amid the chaos, incumbent Afghan President Ashraf Ghani escapes the country on August 15. America withdraws all its troops, to worldwide condemnation of its ‘hasty’ decision.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden hold their first in-person meeting during Modi’s US visit. Two leaders discuss trade, security and other regional issues. In 2021, India and the US come closer on many issues in the backdrop of souring India-China relations.


A mob damages 66 houses and sets on fire at least 20 homes of Hindus in Bangladesh over an alleged blasphemous social media post. This follows protests by the minority community against temple vandalism incidents during Durga Puja celebrations.

In a step towards resolving their boundary disputes, Bhutan and China sign a three-step roadmap to help speed up talks, at a video meeting of their foreign ministers. The roadmap is expected to kick-start progress on boundary talks that have been stalled for five years.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, not known for backing down from his political moves, announces the repeal of three new agricultural reform laws on November 19, on Guru Nanak Jayanti. The repeal forbids the entry of private players in farming which would have cut farmers’ income.


Bipin Rawat

India’s Chief of Defense Staff Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, and 11 others are killed in a Mi-17V5 chopper crash near Coonoor, Nilgiris district, in Tamil Nadu, on December 8. The four-star general is the single-point advisor to the Indian government on military matters.

Amid growing India-China and China-US rivalry, Russian President Vladimir Putin visits India to participate in India-Russia Summit. The two countries agree to enhance bilateral ties.