VIF Neighbourhood News Digest - 20 Feb 2018


China in talks with Baloch militants to secure CPEC projects, says Financial Times: Dawn
20 Feb, 2018

China has been quietly holding talks with Baloch militants for more than five years in an effort to protect the $60 billion worth of infrastructure projects it is financing as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Financial Times claimed on Monday. Three people with knowledge of the talks told the paper that Beijing had been in direct contact with militants in Balochistan, where many of the CPEC-related schemes are located. “The Chinese have quietly made a lot of progress,” one Pakistani official told Financial Times. “Even though separatists occasionally try to carry out the odd attack, they are not making a forceful push.” For more than half a century, Beijing has maintained a policy of non-interference in the domestic politics of other countries. But that has been tested by its desire to protect the billions of dollars it is investing around the world under its Belt and Road Initiative to create a “new Silk Road” of trade routes in Europe, Asia and Africa. Click here to read...

122 ‘sectarian incidents’ took place in Pakistan since 2013, National Assembly told: Dawn
20 Feb, 2018

The National Assembly has been informed that 122 sectarian incidents have taken place all over the country since June 2013 and 10 banned organisations have claimed responsibility, or found involved during investigations, of 91 of them. According to a written reply to a question by MNA Saman Sultana Jafri of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal states that 56 sectarian incidents took place in Punjab, 40 in Balochistan, 23 in Sindh and three in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since June 2013. Sectarian incidents also covered targeted killings on sectarian grounds, killings in riots, etc. Ms Jafri told Dawn that she asked for five-year record of sectarian terrorism in the country, how many of them were claimed by banned outfits and what action the government had taken against these organisations. Click here to read...


2017 Was A Deadly Year For Taliban In Helmand: Tolo News
19 feb, 2018

Over 2,000 Taliban fighters were killed and wounded during the course of last year in Helmand province, local officials said on Monday. Provincial governor Hayatullah Hayat said that 2017 was one of the deadliest years for the Taliban after Afghan security forces used everything at their disposal to repel major Taliban offensives. “We have inflicted over 2,000 casualties to the enemy during the operations,” said Hayat. But, officials from Helmand provincial council have said that the Taliban are still recruiting new members from among the local youth. Click here to read...


UML, Maoist Centre agree to form CPN: Kathmandu Post
20 Feb, 2018

More than two months after the federal and provincial polls gave them a sweeping majority, two communist allies CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) agreed to the bases for merger on Monday night. A meeting of the Party Unification Coordination Committee (PUCC) held in Baluwatar spelt out seven points of agreement to further the unification process.The unified party will be named the Communist Party of Nepal. It will fall short of 10 seats for a two-thirds majority in the 275-strong Lower House. The UML has won 121 seats and the Maoist Centre 53 in the House of Representatives. The merger will ensure political stability at least for the next five years in the country where governments change almost every year.As per the agreement, two top leaders KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal will share the party chair in equal capacity. The duo would also share the five-year term of prime minister. Marxism and Leninism will shape the unified party’s political ideology, which will accept multi-party system as a form of democratic practice with the ultimate goal of socialism. Click here to read...


Parliamentary committee green-lights extension of emergency: Haveeru
19 Feb, 2018

The parliamentary Committee on National Security on Monday passed the resolution to extend the ongoing state of emergency for a duration of 30 days. President Abdulla Yameen had submitted a letter to the parliament on February 7, seeking to extend the emergency which was first declared to be 15-days on February 5. The parliament convened in an extraordinary meeting Monday to debate the resolution, a day before the initial period of 15 days expired. The National Security Committee reviewed the resolution behind closed doors. It was passed with six members of the ruling coalition, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), voting in favour, while two lawmakers of main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had voted against. Click here to read...


Myanmar delaying Rohingya repatriation: Hasina: Daily Observer
19 Feb, 2018

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said Myanmar is delaying the Rohingya repatriation. She said this at a press conference at her Ganobhaban residence in the afternoon. The press conference was arranged to brief the media about the outcome of her recent official visit to Italy and Vatican City According to bdnews24: Prime Minister said, “Myanmar agreed to take back 8,000 for now and we will watch how Myanmar behaves with these 8,000 refugees.” The premier said that the Rohingyas will be relocated to Bhasan Char and will stay there until repatriation, adding that there will be housing facilities for 100,000 Rohingyas in the island. She said Bangladesh wanted to have a solution through dialogue as Myanmar is a neighbouring country. "We want Myanmar to take back their nationals through negotiations. Click here to read...


Xinjiang ‘separatists’ and Tibet’s ‘Dalai cliques’ – targets in China’s latest organised crime crackdown: South China Morning Post
20 Feb 2018

“Dalai surrogates” in Tibet and Xinjiang “separatists” are among the groups of people targeted by regional governments in China’s latest national crackdown on “organised crime”. The authorities in the autonomous regions issued notices identifying the targets after a closed-door meeting of the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog in Beijing last month. Click here to read...

China Calls U.S. Proposal on Steel, Aluminum Tariffs 'Baseless': Caixin
19 Feb 2018

The latest U.S. Commerce Department recommendations to raise tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum imports are “baseless” and “totally inconsistent with the facts,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said. Director of the ministry's Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau, Wang Hejun, urged the U.S. to show restraint and comply with “multilateral trade regulations” in a statement published Saturday (Beijing time).Wang’s remarks come in response to a report on imports on steel and aluminum products by the U.S. Commerce Department Friday, which recommended implementing either a quota on each country’s steel imports, a tariff of at least 24% on steel imports from all countries, or a tariff of at least 53% on imports from 12 countries, including China. Click here to read...

Nepal leader vows to revive Chinese dam project, open to review pact over Nepalese soldiers in India: South China Morning Post
19 Feb 2018

Nepal’s new communist prime minister will restart a Chinese-led US$2.5 billion hydropower project that was pulled by the previous government considered friendly towards India, and wants to increase infrastructure connectivity with Beijing to ease the country’s reliance on New Delhi.He also wants to “update” relations with India “in keeping with the times” and favours a review of all special provisions of Indo-Nepal relations, including the long-established practice of Nepalese soldiers serving India’s armed forces. Click here to read...

Bridge signals boom for China's Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area: Global times
19 Feb 2018

Engineer Yu Lie has spent more than 30 years working on bridges, but one in particular is his pride and joy - the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Final touches are being added to the bridge, which will be the world's longest sea bridge that traverses over the most bustling waters in southern China. A technologically complicated bridge, it crosses shipping lanes in the Lingding Ocean and took seven years to build. The main structure measures 29.6 kilometers, consisting of a 22.9-km bridge section and a 6.7-km underground tunnel. Its total length is 55 kilometers. Click here to read...

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