VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 3rd April, 2018

US undermines Milli Muslim League effort to register as political party: Dawn
April 03, 2018

The US Department of State amended its designation of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) on Monday, identifying Milli Muslim League (MML) and Tehreek-i-Azadi-i-Kashmir (TAK) as LeT affiliates, which makes it impossible for them to register as political parties. The US Treasury Department also updated its list of individual terrorists, naming seven members of the MML leadership as LeT activists who were acting in MML on behalf of LeT. The State Department described the MML and the TAK as LeT ‘aliases’ and added their names to its lists of Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT). “In August 2017, LeT chief Hafiz Saeed created the MML to serve as a political front for the group. LeT members make up MML’s leadership and the so-called party openly displays Saeed’s likeness in its election banners and literature,” the State Department pointed out. Click here to read...

Pakistan Will Not Take Sides In any Wars: Khwaja Asif: Tolo News
April 03, 2018
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Monday that Pakistan will no longer take sides in another country’s war, Geo News reported.

He believes that Pakistan only bore losses and gained nothing after allying with the United States during the Cold War, Geo News stated. "The US has not threatened or put sanctions on any other country as it has on Pakistan in the last 40 to 50 years,” he said, adding “we have never been treated as an ally.” “We are fighting the war against terrorism and will no longer pick sides in any conflict. In case of another cold war, Pakistan will not side with any country,” he said. According to Geo News he speculated that there is a possibility of another cold war between Russia and US, given the current tensions between the two countries. On the presence of Daesh in Afghanistan, Asif said the terrorist group has not been wiped out but has only changed its address. He said Pakistan did not take part in the Yemen war, and that it wants Iran and Saudi Arabia to end their differences. Click here to read...

Bulk cargo transit deal on Oli-Modi meeting agenda: Kathmandu Post
April 03, 2018

An agreement on ‘bulk cargo’ movement through more transit points between Nepal and India is due to be signed during the state visit of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to the southern neighbour that begins on Friday, officials said. According to sources, New Delhi has expressed its readiness to provide bulk cargo facility at various border points with Nepal apart from Birgunj. The agreement will open the door for importing bulk cargo from third countries directly to Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj via railway. Such facility is currently available only at the Birgunj customs. Both the countries had been discussing the issue for long. Bulk cargo includes fertiliser, sugar, soybean, salt, plastic and feeds. Such cargo items brought from third countries via Kolkata, Haldiya and Vishakapatnam ports are imported to Nepal only via the Birgunj border at present. Businesspersons have been demanding bulk cargo handling from other border points too arguing that the single gateway had forced them to increase their investment in raw materials, causing Nepali products to lose their competitiveness. Citing a lack of railway infrastructure, India had been saying that it was difficult to provide bulk cargo facility at other border points. Click here to read...

Myanmar lures Bangladesh Buddhists to take over Rohingya land: Officials: Bangladesh Observer
April 02, 2018

Myanmar authorities have lured dozens of mainly Buddhist Bangladeshi tribal families to cross the border and resettle on land abandoned by fleeing Muslim Rohingya, officials said Monday. About 50 families from remote hill and forest areas on the Bangladesh side, attracted by offers of free land and food, have moved to Rakhine state in mainly Buddhist Myanmar—the scene of a brutal army crackdown which prompted hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee, AFP reports. The families from the ethnic Marma and Mro tribes have left their homes in the Bandarban hill district, local councillor Muing Swi Thwee told AFP. He said 22 families departed from their villages in the Sangu forest reserve last month. The families, mainly Buddhist but with some Christians, were being “lured by Myanmar” to Rakhine where they were given free land, citizenship and free food for five years, Muing Swi Thwee said. Click here to read...

India resumes issuing visa to Maldivians: Haveeru
April 02, 2018

The Indian High Commission has resumed issuing visas to Maldivians after a brief halt due to technical issues. An Indian High Commission spokesperson, on Monday, stated that Maldivians can now issue Indian visas without any hindrance. The halt earlier posed difficulty to several Maldivians who planned to visit India for medical treatment and for vacation during the schools’ mid-term break. Whilst India and Maldives have maintained a strong bilateral relationship, India had expressed concern over the recent state of emergency declared in the Maldives. However, with ties getting stronger between China and the Maldives, India had stated they will keep mum on the concerning situation of the Maldives. Click here to read...

New immigration department set up: China Daily
April 03, 2018

The State Immigration Administration was officially set up on Monday to improve China's immigration management and provide better services to foreigners. The new administration has integrated the entry and exit management and frontier inspection departments from the Ministry of Public Security, but is still under the ministry's management. In March, the State Council unveiled a major plan to deepen reform of government institutions. Click here to read...

Donald Trump’s trade endgame said to be the opening of China’s economy: South China Morning Post
April 03, 2018

Around the time President Xi Jinping took the reins of leadership in Beijing, some of his country’s highest-ranking officials were finishing up a blueprint of further reform for what had just recently become the world’s second-largest economy. Click here to read...

Slapping tariffs on 128 US items, China poised for further retaliation: People’s Daily
April 03, 2018

China on Monday hit back at US tariffs by suspending tariff concessions on 128 items of US products, including pork and fruits. The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council has decided to impose a tariff of 15 percent on 120 items of products imported from the US including fruits and related products, and a tariff of 25 percent on eight imported items, including pork and related products from the country, read a statement on the website of the Chinese Ministry of Finance. Click here to read...

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