VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 5th April, 2018


Pakistan approaches World Bank after India builds Kishanganga on Neelum: Dawn
April 05, 2018

Having confirmed that India has completed the controversial Kishanganga hydropower project, Pakistan has asked the World Bank to recognise its responsibility under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 to address its concerns over two disputed projects. A government official told Dawn that power division of the energy ministry sent a fresh communiqué early this week to the bank’s vice president urging the international organisation to “recognise its responsibility” and play its role to ensure that India abided by the provisions of the 1960 treaty while building the projects. The official said there was no doubt that India had completed the 330MW Kishanganga project during the period the World Bank “paused” the process for constitution of a Court of Arbitration (COA) as requested by Pakistan in early 2016. The Pakistani request was countered by India by calling for a neutral expert. Click here to read...


US failed to raise a fully capable Afghan force: report: Dawn
April 05, 2018

An official US report to Congress warns that the United States has not succeeded in raising a “fully capable” Afghan military despite 16 years of hard work and after spending more than $70 billion on the project. The latest report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruc¬tion (SIGAR) also notes that Afghan ground forces now crave for air support and believe that an official Afghan Air Force is necessary for defeating Taliban insurgents. The report points out that developing “a fully capable” Afghan National Defence and Security Force (ANDSF) that is able to secure Afghanistan from internal and external threats and prevent the re-establishment of terrorist safe havens has also been a US national security objective. “Despite US government expenditures of more than $70 billion in security sector assistance to design, train advise, assist, and equip the ANDSF since 2002, the Afghan security forces are not yet capable of securing their own nation,” the report adds. Click here to read...


Missing Bangladesh Hindu lawyer’s body found: The Hindu
April 04, 2018

Bangladesh’s police on Wednesday recovered the bloodstained body of prominent Hindu lawyer Ratish Chandra Bhowmik, who had gone missing last week after he left home in the Rangpur district. The police also arrested four persons, including his wife, suspecting their link to the murder. Mr. Bhowmik, 58, had fought the state’s case in high-profile murder trials against Islamist extremists. “Their confessional statements led us to the dead body from an under construction building near Bhowmik’s own house,” said Benazir Ahmed, Director General of police anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion, referring to Mr. Bhowmik’s family. He added that the lawyer’s wife, a teacher, and one of her arrested colleagues, were directly involved in the murder. Click here to read...

China to now develop industrial zone in Bangladesh: Financial Express (Reuters report)
April 04, 2018

China is developing a 750-acre industrial park in Bangladesh which will largely be used by Chinese manufacturing firms, a Chinese official said on Wednesday, part of its push to expand links with South Asia and beyond. State-run China Harbour Engineering Company will hold a 70 percent share in a joint venture being formed for the park with the Bangladesh Special Economic Zone Authority (BSEZA), Li Guangjun, the economic and commercial counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Dhaka, said. “This is for the first time China has received such a facility from the Bangladesh government where Chinese investors will be able to set up industries, mainly manufacturing firms,” Li told Reuters. China is investing billions of dollars in building ports, power stations and roads in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan as part of its Belt and Road Initiative to build trade and transport corridors across Asia and beyond. The industrial park will be in Bangladesh’s main port city of Chittagong and will take five years to become fully operational. Li said Chinese investment in Bangladesh would soon reach $10 billion, mainly focused on power, road and infrastructure projects. Click here to read...


Nepal has Rs 9.5 billion in demonetised Indian notes and doesn't know what to do: Business Standard (Reuters report)

Nepali Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli will press India to exchange millions of dollars held in Nepal in banned high-value Indian bank notes during a visit this week to improve ties with its large southern neighbour. Nepal and India have yet to agree on how to exchange old Indian bank notes estimated to be worth $146 million held by individuals and informal sectors after India's shock announcement in 2016 to ban 500 and 1,000 rupee bills. As of Thursday morning that would amount to Rs 9.49 billion in Indian currency. India said the move was aimed at flushing out unaccounted wealth and hit the finances of militants suspected of using fake currency to fund operations. But it also caught countries such as Nepal and Bhutan, where the Indian currency is widely used, off-guard."The Indian demonetization has hurt Nepali nationals. I will raise this in my meetings with Indian leaders and request them to resolve the issue," Oli told Nepali parliament late on Tuesday. Click here to read...


Maldives to return India helicopter over local military exclusion: Haveeru
April 4, 2018

The Maldivian government has asked India to take back one of two naval helicopters the Indian government gifted to the island nation, over the lack of Maldivian military’s inclusion in their operations. Report of the Maldives looking to return the helicopter based in Addu Atoll’s Gan was first published by The Times of India (TOI), which had cited a top Maldives government source that President Abdulla Yameen’s government wanted a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft instead of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter gifted by India. TOI had also reported that the Indian government was looking into the real reason behind the issue. Speaking to Mihaaru regarding the report, a government official stated Wednesday that the reason for returning the helicopter was over the exclusion of the Maldivian military in helicopter operations, which are run solely by soldiers of the Indian navy stationed in the island nation. Click here to read...


China, Zimbabwe agree to deepen cooperation in key areas: China Daily
April 05, 2018

China and Zimbabwe on Wednesday agreed to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in key areas and promote their relationship to a new level. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Li said Zimbabwe is an important partner of China in Africa.Click here to read...

Donald Trump faces farmers’ wrath as China’s tariffs put US soybean exports at risk: South China Morning Post
April 05, 2018

US President Donald Trump will be under pressure from American farmers to tone down his tough approach with China after Beijing responded to US penalties on Chinese goods with punitive 25 per cent tariffs on US soybeans. Click here to read...

Chinese state investment firm to avoid US as trade row deepens and look to Europe in pursuit of tech assets: South China Morning Post
April 05, 2018

China Jianyin Investment, the equity investment group spun out from China Construction Bank, will avoid the US market in its pursuit of overseas technology acquisitions as trade tensions between the two countries increase. Click here to read...

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