VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: August 11, 2021
ANDSF Repels Taliban Attack on Mazar-e-Sharif: Governor: Tolo News

The Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) pushed back a Taliban offensive on Mazar-e-Sharif city and retook Nahr-e-Shahi district, Balkh governor Mohammad Farhad Azimi said on Tuesday. Azimi said that on Monday night the ANDSF and the Taliban clashed in Nahr-e-Shahi district and Dehdadi district. He said the Taliban retreated from the area after facing strong resistance from the Afghan security forces. “The Taliban have focused their attention on Balkh province to take control,” said Azimi.Click here to read

Over 30,000 Kandahar Families Displaced in Fighting: Tolo News

The recent spate of violence has displaced between 20,000 and 30,000 people in the south of Afghanistan, particularly in Kandahar province, which has seen heavy fighting in recent months, according to government officials and elders. There are also many families who have been displaced in the provinces of Farah, Badghis and Helmand. There are accounts from some displaced families of the Taliban killing or abducting their men. Click here to read

Taliban enter third provincial capital in 12 hours, seventh in four days: The Khaama Press

Sources have told Khaama Press that the Taliban fighters have entered the northern provincial capital of Polikhumri, Baghlan province Tuesday evening August 10.As per the sources, the fighters have crossed security outposts of the center of the province and the Afghan Defense and Security Forces have retreated and people are horror escaping the city. Meanwhile, the Taliban spokesperson Zabiullha Mujahid in a Twitter post said that the fighters have entered the Polikhumri city and Faizabad city of Badakhshan province.Click here to read

Pakistan yet to provide Afghan delegation with evidence on abduction of ambassador’s daughter: The Khaama Press

Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement expressed concern over the level of cooperation by the Pakistani government with the Afghan delegation based in Islamabad regarding kidnapping and torturing Selsila Alikhilm, the daughter of the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad. Selsila Alikhil was manhandled and then tortured by unknown men in Islamabad on July 16th.The statement reads that Pakistan has not abided by the agreement made by the Afghan delegation and Pakistani side in Islamabad.Click here to read

13 Children En Route to Terrorist Training Rescued: MoJ: Tolo News

The Afghan Ministry of Justice said on Tuesday that the country's intelligence forces prevented 13 Afghan children from being taken to Pakistan and trained to be terrorists. According to the ministry, terrorists intended to take the children to the Khyber Agency in Pakistan's Balochistan province to provide them terrorism training after deceiving their families, but the Afghan security forces prevented it from happening.Click here to read

Preserve all documents of ‘71 war PM asks authorities- Daily Star

“"The Prime Minister asked the authorities concerned to collect and conserve all the War of Liberation related documents from various countries, especially from countries of Eastern Europe," Planning Minister MA Mannan quoted Hasina at the press conference after the meeting.”Click here to read

Aug 15 carnage was most brutal assault on Liberation War spirit: Quader- Dhaka Tribune

“Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader today said August 15 carnage was not only an attack on Bangabandhu family rather it was the most brutal assault on the spirit of the country’s independence which was earned through the bloodstained 1971 Liberation War.”Click here to read

Government eases strict Covid curbs- Dhaka Tribune

“The government is set to ease strict restrictions on public movement across the country from Wednesday, although it has stressed that health guidelines must still be maintained. The Cabinet Division on Sunday issued a circular confirming that the nationwide strict lockdown would not be extended past its current deadline on Tuesday.”Click here to read

Bangladesh vaccinates Rohingya refugees against Covid-19- Dhaka Tribune

“Bangladesh has started vaccinating the Rohingya refugees living in camps in Cox's Bazar from Tuesday as part of its nationwide mass vaccination drive. As many as 6,901 male and female refugees received Covid shots on the first day of the three-day program at 56 centres of 34 camps in Teknaf and Ukhiya.”Click here to read

Indian visa centres to reopen Wednesday- Dhaka Tribune

“In view of the lifting of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Indian Visa Application Centers in Bangladesh will resume operations from Wednesday. Applicants do not need to make an appointment or permission to apply for a visa at IVAC, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka on Tuesday.”Click here to read

Bangladesh awaits regional maritime security bloc’s membership- Dhaka tribune

“Bangladesh is set to become a full member of the Colombo Security Conclave (CSC), a grouping of Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives that focuses on maritime security, counter-terrorism and disaster relief.”Click here to read

Canadian minister begins 3-day virtual visit to Bangladesh- Daily Observer

“Bangladesh Canadian Minister of International Development Karina Gould has started her three-day virtual visit to Bangladesh on Tuesday evening. Minister Gould will have the chance to meet with government officials and key partners to discuss Canada-Bangladesh cooperation, and the Rohingya response, a Canadian high commission's statement said here.”Click here to read

(Covid-19) The risk is not over- Kuensel

“A Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) document states that the Delta variant is as transmissible as the chickenpox virus, where an infected individual could infect around eight to nine more individuals, on an average. In comparison, the Wuhan strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was almost at the level of the common flu virus in terms of transmissibility.”Click here to read

Educate and prepare local communities on flash floods- Kuensel

“Experts say climate change is bringing in more water-induced disasters. Flash floods are becoming more common. It is the biggest threat in the country. With no control over it, the least we can do is to prepare the communities for such a disaster.”Click here to read

16th Japan-Bhutan annual consultation held virtually- BBS

“The 16th annual consultation meeting on economic cooperation between Bhutan and Japan was held virtually today. The two sides discussed Japan’s assistance to Bhutan and the progress report on the mid-term review of the 12th five-year plan. The meeting also discussed new project proposals submitted to the Japanese government and reviewed the ongoing projects in the country. The annual consultation between the two countries was constituted in 2006.”Click here to read

Nu 10bn trade deficit in first quarter of 2021: The balance of trade with India alone accounts for around Nu 9.9bn- Business Bhutan

“According to the provisional trade statistics for the first quarter this year, Bhutan imported commodities worth more than Nu 19.3bn, while its export value (including electricity) was recorded at around Nu 9.32bn.”Click here to read

Bhutan waters causing havoc in Bodoland

“Fed by Himalayan water from Bhutan the Four rivers – Aei, Champabati, Swrmanga and Makra – caused havoc in the BTR. The issue worried the State Assembly on Tuesday when UPPL MLA Jayanta Basumatary raised it. Basamatary said that waters from Bhutan flow to Assam through the bordering districts and cause floods and erosion, damaging human habitations and croplands annually.”Click here to read

Maldives has now “successfully” reached a new normal, says President Solih - Raajje

Maldives has now “successfully” reached a new normal, says an enthusiastic President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Addressing students and employees of the education sector during a special assembly to commemorate the new academic year at Rehendhi School in Hulhumalé, President Solih revealed that the reopening of schools mirrors the fact that the country is living in a new normal, as well as the fact that regular working hours at offices and businesses have been resumed.Click here to read

UK's COP26 Regional Ambassador meets with gov't officials during ongoing visit to Maldives - Raajje

Ken O'Flaherty, the UK government’s COP26 Regional Ambassador to Asia-Pacific and South Asia has conducted several fruitful meetings as part of his ongoing visit to the Maldives. The UK diplomat arrived in the Maldives on an official visit on Monday, and will be ending his three-day trip on Wednesday. The enthusiastic ambassador tweeted hopes to explores ways through which work may be conducted together to build the pressure for Climate Action ahead of the COP26 summit, slated for November, to be held in Glasgow, UK.Click here to read

Anas Abdul Sattar appointed new State Minister of Finance - Raajje

Anas Abdul Sattar has been appointed as the new Minister of State of Finance. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih presented Anas Abdul Sattar with his letter of appointment during a special ceremony held at the President’s Office on Tuesday afternoon. The new State Minister for Finance has a Bachelor of Laws L.L.B. (Hons.) Shari’ah & Law from the International Islamic University, in Islamabad, Pakistan. State Minister Sattar also serves the position of Managing Partner at Vakaalaath Chambers LLP since being appointed during January 2011.Click here to read

Suu Kyi’s lawyer forced to sign pledge not to speak to the media - Myanmar Now

Junta authorities last week forced a lawyer representing Aung San Suu Kyi to sign a non-disclosure agreement, in an apparent bid to stop statements from the detained civilian leader reaching the public. Police came to the Yangon home of one of the lawyers from Suu Kyi’s five-member defence team on Friday and forced them to sign a form promising not to talk to local or international media, a source familiar with the incident told Myanmar Now.Click here to read

Myanmar Military Shells Kachin Civilians - The Irrawaddy

Light Infantry Battalion 58 of Myanmar’s military, which is based in Waingmaw Township, Kachin State, reportedly shelled civilians on Sunday night. The battalion shelled for some 30 minutes, which was followed by rifle fire. Shells fell near a COVID-19 clinic, panicking patients, said a Waingmaw resident.Click here to read

Myanmar Military Conducts Raids in Yangon as Anti-Junta Attacks Pick Up - The Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s military regime has launched a series of raids to sweep up and arrest civilians in Yangon after the city saw a surge in attacks against the junta recently. Since late last week, the country’s commercial hub has witnessed a series of bombings and deadly gun attacks against security forces and their associates in several of the city’s townships.Click here to read

Revenge Porn Has Become a Political Weapon in Myanmar - The Diplomat

Every three or four days in Myanmar, an infamous Telegram account reappears. The account has been taken down many times, usually after being reported for posting sexually explicit images. But each time it is removed, it has sprung up again shortly after in a different guise. The account belongs to Han Nyein Oo, once considered one of the main sources for celebrity gossip and yellow journalism in Myanmar. But these days, it distributes intimate photos – both real and faked – of young female activists opposing Myanmar’s February military coup.Click here to read

Govt issues white paper, paints grim situation of national coffer- The Himalayan

“Presenting the white paper at the Federal Parliament, Minister for Finance, Janardan Sharma stated that the national coffer has a deficit of Rs 143 billion. Meanwhile, the finance minister has also announced that this government would present a new budget.It is to be noted that the erstwhile Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel of KP Sharma Oli led government had announced the federal budget for the fiscal year 20/ on May 29.”Click here to read

Climate change in Nepal Policies on impact adaptation needed- The Himalayan

“For adaptation planning, it is essential to understand how the climate might change in the future and how the change might impact the hydrological regime. Climate modeling has been an important tool to understand how the climate might evolve in the future while hydrological modelling can provide insights on how the projected climate might impact the hydrological system of the river basins.”Click here to read

From shortage to surplus: Power Sector- Kathmandu Post

“Nepal has approached Punjab State Power Corporation Limited in its effort to sell 40 megawatts of electricity. The deal is yet to be finalised, but if it eventually goes through, it will be the first time for Nepal to sell its electricity to a foreign country and enter a new phase of income generation through energy sales that has remained a national fantasy as of now.”Click here to read

Nepal Gets a New Health Minister- Nepali Sansar

“Prime Minister Sher Deuba has inducted Umesh Shrestha as the Minister for Health and Population. The cabinet of five ministers is expanding with Umesh’s entry. Umesh, who also happens to be the owner of Little Angel’s School, has been a member of the Nepali Congress party for a few years now.”Click here to read

Maiden Expedition To Nepal-China Border Pillar No. 3 Successful- Rising Nepal

“For the first time ever, a team of Armed Police Force (APF) has reached the Nepal-China Border Pillar No. 3 located at Chimla Bhanjyang of Namkha Rural Municipality Ward No. 5. Since its erection, the pillar had remained unattended, that is until now. “At the government-level, the border pillar has been monitored for the very first time,” informed APF’s DSP Gahendra Bhandari.”
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NRNA Urges Govt to Sort out Citizenship Issue- Rising Nepal

“A delegation of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) on Tuesday met Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and drew his attention towards the pending Non-Resident Nepali citizenship bill in the parliament. The delegation led by its president Kumar Panta also wished for the successful tenure of Prime Minister Deuba.”
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Construction of Border Outpost Completes In Tinkar- Rising Nepal

“Construction work on the Armed Police Force’s Border Outpost (BOP) at the Nepal-China border in Tinkhar of Vyas Rural Municipality, Darchula, has completed. Yogesh Bohara, a local contractor who was assigned with the responsibility of the outpost construction expressed his exuberance over completing the project in less than a month.”
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Oli asks: What will you do about MCC Mr PM?- Setopati

“CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli has questioned the government about exclusion of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in the common minimum program published by the ruling coalition. Speaking in the House during the special hour on Tuesday former Prime Minister (PM) Oli asked "What will you do about MCC Mr PM?"
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Pakistan’s top diplomat in UK hopeful of red list exit: Dawn

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK Moazzam Ahmad Khan on Tuesday said he is optimistic that the British government will remove Pakistan from its red list in the upcoming travel update on August 26. In a briefing to journalists here, Mr Khan outlined the mission’s engagement with British authorities on their decision to keep travel from Pakistan restricted, and said officials here should re-examine data from Pakistan taking all elements into account.
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Daily number of Covid-19 cases falls by 20pc: Dawn

As the number of Covid-19 cases has decreased by 20 per cent in the country due to steps taken by the provinces, particularly the Sindh government, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has advised people to avoid Majalis at homes and follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) during mourning processions. On the other hand, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has voiced concern over the rapidly increasing number of doctors falling prey to Covid-19.
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US defence chief wants to ‘improve’ Pak-US relationship: The Express Tribune

Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin on Tuesday discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan amid an escalation of violence in the war-torn country. According to a press release issued by the Pentagon, Austin and General Bajwa had a telephonic conversation to discuss 'mutual goals of security and stability in the region'.
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China reaffirms support to Pakistan as ‘strategic partner’: The Express Tribune

China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong on Tuesday called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and discussed matters of mutual interest, military said.The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement that during the meeting matters of mutual interests including defence collaboration, progress on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and regional security were discussed in detail.
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Foreign aid weakened Pakistan: PM: The News

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said early completion of federal government projects in Karachi and the early launch of newly-announced development work were among government's key priorities. He also directed all officials concerned to ensure completion of all projects within the time-lines committed by them, as he was keen to inaugurate them as soon as possible for the welfare and benefit of the people of Karachi.
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Remittances decline by 2pc in July, but still over $2bn: Dawn

Overseas Pakistanis working around the world sent $2.71 billion last month. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Tuesday said that this was the second highest level of remittances reported in the month of July. The inflow of remittances continued with over $2bn for the 14th consecutive month.“In terms of growth, remittances increased by 0.7 per cent over previous month and showed a decline by 2.1pc over the same month last year,” said the SBP.
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Sri Lanka
France lists SL as an orange-zone country - Ceylon Today

Sri Lanka has been listed as an orange-zone country in the recent travel restrictions imposed in France. Accordingly, Sri Lankans who have received both doses of either the Pfizer, Moderna, COVISHILED or AstraZeneca vaccine two weeks prior to their arrival in France, or persons arriving in France four weeks after being administered with the Janssen, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be permitted to enter. All vaccinated arrivals are required to carry valid proof of vaccination (vaccination certificate) with them.
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Govt. expresses readiness to face 48th UNHRC session next month - Daily FT

The Government yesterday expressed confidence in facing the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva next month. “The Foreign Affairs Ministry, together with the Ambassadors, have held discussions in this regard. We remain steadfast as a country,” Co-Cabinet Spokesman and Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said, responding to a query posed during the post-Cabinet meeting media briefing yesterday. The draft program of work shows Sri Lanka is on the agenda of the opening day of the 48th UNHRC Session. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is listed to present an oral update on Sri Lanka as the session opens on 13 September
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Protest crackdown worst since 2008: FUTA - The Morning

The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) yesterday (10) alleged that the recent actions of the Government in response to their protests against the proposed General Sir John Kotelawala National Defence University (KNDU) Bill were the worst that they had experienced since 2008. “In July 2008, the then-Education Minister threatened us. In 2012, during our 99 days of protest, we faced a major threat as well. The Education Minister at the time threateningly told the then-FUTA President that he would like to meet him. But the threats in 2021 are more fearful that either of those incidents,” said former FUTA President Prof. Rohan Fernando.
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US investments in SL remain disappointingly small: Ambassador Teplitz - Daily FT

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina Teplitz recently remarked US investments in Sri Lanka over the past five years have remained “disappointingly constant and frankly disappointingly small”. She expressed the above views whilst addressing the fifth Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka – USA Business Council (SLUSABC) of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, held in Colombo. Ambassador Teplitz lamented “the level of interest from investors in Sri Lanka has recently halved”, noting it could be much higher. Often, interest hasn’t translated into real deals and more of that should actually come to fruition. US foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka was $ 13 million in 2020, bringing cumulative investment in the country from the US to $ 274 million.
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2,922 persons test positive for COVID-19 - Daily FT

A total of 2,922 persons tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, raising the country’s COVID-19 detections to 339,092. According to Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, a 30% increase in the number of patients and a 48.8% increase in the number of COVID-19 fatalities was seen last week compared to the week before. The patients detected yesterday include 2,904 patients from the New Year cluster, which had a total patient count of 233,748 at 10 a.m. yesterday. The Peliaygoda cluster had 82,785 patients, the Prisons cluster had 7,932 patients, and the Divulapitiya cluster had 3,059 patients. The cumulative patient count of the four clusters is 327,220.
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Cabinet reshuffle imminent - Daily FT

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is to reshuffle the Cabinet with changes likely to key Ministries, including Foreign Affairs and Health. Key changes to Ministries, including Foreign Affairs, Health, Tourism, Education, Media, and Power portfolios. The others set to undergo portfolio changes include Education, Tourism, Power, and Media, the Daily FT learns. Education Minister G.L. Peiris is slated to be the new Foreign Minister while Dinesh Gunawardena, who currently holds the post, is tipped to be made the Minister of Higher Education.
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