VIF Neighbourhood News Digest - 19 Feb 2018

Declaring Pakistan state sponsor of terrorism will not help: scholars: Dawn
19 Feb, 2018

Declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism will create a situation that will be difficult to reverse, will fail in forcing Islamabad to change its policies and will not help the US cause in Afghanistan. These were the arguments that all three panelists made this week in a discussion at a Washington think tank — Woodrow Wilson Centre’s Asia Programme — to reject the suggestion. Labelling a country “a state sponsor of terrorism, is not a surgical instrument, that’s a really, really heavy hammer”, argued Stephen Tankel, an assistant professor at School of Public Affairs, American University, Washington. “The sanctions that come with that pretty much obliterate any chance you have engaging on a whole host of other issues.” Click here to read...

Distribution of e-NIC to spark ethnic tensions, warns Ahmad Zia Massoud: Khaama Press
18 Feb, 2018

The former Presidential envoy for good governance Ahmad Zia Massoud has warned that the distribution of the electronic National Identity Cards will spark ethnic tensions among the people. Massoud made the remarks during a gathering amid ongoing controversies regarding the preliminary launch of the process for the distribution of the electronic National Identity Cards. He called the move by the government as a major corrupt step aimed at sparking tensions among the different tribes and ethnicities of the country. Massoud called on Afghans to stand against the government and ignore the electronic National Identity Cards which are due to be issued as per the amended census law. Click here to read...

Cabinet discusses PM’s core team: Kathmandu Post
19 Feb, 2018

The KP Oli government plans to have a strong Prime Minister’s Office, with key point persons at the PMO coordinating the line ministries and working as the primary channel of communication between the prime minister and the ministries, according to sources close to the PM. The second Cabinet meeting of the new government on Sunday discussed various proposals, including appointment of PM Oli’s “core team” but the decisions of the meeting have not been made public. The meeting also discussed the names to be recommended for National Assembly seats under the government’s quota, while scrapping the decisions made by the outgoing Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government. According to the sources, Bishnu Rimal has been proposed as the PM’s chief political adviser. Rimal had also served in the same capacity during Oli’s first stint as the prime minister in 2015. Click here to read...

BNP moves to unite grassroots: Daily Star
18 Feb, 2018

The BNP central leaders will start grassroots tour tomorrow and hold a series of meetings in efforts to keep intact the organisational unity as they fear the government is out to split the party ahead of the next parliamentary election. They will sit with the district and upazila units to ask party men to keep unity at any cost and not to make any reckless decisions, engage in violence and fall into government's trap, said insiders. The central leaders will also talk to the relatives of the party members now behind bars and will discuss the legal issues. A number of party leaders said they will also ask the grassroots to counter the government campaign to portray the Zia family as corrupt people. Click here to read...

Top court throws out case to annul declaration of emergency: Haveeru
18 Feb, 2018

The Supreme Court on Sunday threw out the case seeking to annul the Presidential Decree declaring the ongoing state of emergency in the Maldives. President Abdulla Yameen had declared a 15-day state of emergency on February 5 in the wake of a shock ruling by the Supreme Court to free nine high profile political prisoners. The case to annul the decree was filed at the top court by Yumna Maumoon, the daughter of arrested former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. In the court’s ruling to reject the case, it stated that there were no constitutional grounds to deem the presidential decree was in violation of Articles 253 and 254 of the Maldivian Constitution. The court highlighted that the decree stated that the National Security Committee had raised concerns of possible threat to the country’s security, and advised the president to take immediate action by declaring a state of emergency. The verdict noted that as Article 253 accords the president authority to announce a state of emergency “in the event of natural disaster, dangerous epidemic disease, war, threat to national security, or threatened foreign aggression”, the decree was in line with the Constitution. Click here to read...

Surveillance radar systems in Maldives stop transmission: India: Haveeru
19 Feb, 2018

Indian newspaper “The New Indian Express” reported that the Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems (CSRS) established in the Maldives have stopped transmitting. According to the newspaper, a source from the Indian defence establishment said that three CSRS were established in the Maldives, the last of which was set up in 2015. They also reported that India is facing difficulties due to the interrupted transmission. The report further noted that if the radars do not work, they would have to use the helicopters stationed in the Maldives to monitor traffic around the island nation, in particular the Chinese traffic movements. In response, the spokesperson of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) stated that they did not want to make any comments on the matter. While President Abdulla Yameen recently declared India to be the closest friend of the Maldives, India has been raising concerns ever since the declaration of state of emergency in the Maldives. Click here to read...

Factors and actors behind Beijing’s engagement with Myanmar: Myanmar Times
19 Feb, 2018

China has long emphasised its engagement with Myanmar owing to Beijing’s “peripheral diplomacy” since the 1990s, predating the Belt and Road Initiative which has caught plenty of attention these days. Examples include China assisting disaster-affected people in Myanmar in 2014, offering mediation efforts to Myanmar's peace process and calling on Chinese businesses to be more community-minded in the country. These diplomatic efforts and humanitarian intervention go far beyond the aspiration of the Belt and Road Initiative or considerations of an expanding national interest, and involve multiple actors and processes in Myanmar which are less coordinated and more contingent than traditionally assumed. Click here to read...

China’s economic ties with EU take hit as investment falls and distrust rises: South China Morning Post
19 Feb 2018

After years of growth, China’s trade ties with its biggest partner, the European Union, seem to be foundering, with frictions growing over a range of issues from steel overcapacity to market access, human rights and the South China Sea. Click here to read...

China to build platform for supervising environmental 'red lines': China Daily
19 Feb 2018

China is planning to complete the construction of a platform for supervising the "red lines" for the protecting important natural areas by 2020, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP). With total investment of 286 million yuan (about $45 million), the construction plan has been approved by authorities, an unnamed MEP official said. Click here to read...

China reiterates non-first-use principle of nuclear weapon: Global Times
18 Feb 2018

A senior Chinese diplomat said Saturday that China is committed to the principle of non-first-use of nuclear weapon, expressing concerns about the danger of nuclear development at present at the ongoing Munich Security Conference (MSC). "China maintains a very small nuclear arsenal, and China follows the policy of self-defense and minimum deterrence," said Fu Ying, a veteran diplomat and now chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature. Click here to read...

US launch probes on Chinese cast iron soil pipes: Global Times
17 Feb 2018

The US government on Friday launched an anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty probe into cast iron soil pipes imported from China, amid rising trade frictions between the world's largest and second-largest economies. The US Department of Commerce (DOC) said in a statement posted on its website on Friday that the probe was initiated to determine whether cast iron soil pipe from China is being dumped in the US or if Chinese producers are receiving unfair subsidies. Click here to read...

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