VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 13th April, 2018

Foreign Office deplores attacks from across Afghan border: Dawn
April 13, 2018

Despite ‘operationalisation’ of a new framework for bilateral engagement — Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) — that calls for ending the blame game, Islamabad and Kabul continue to trade allegations. “Terrorist groups (based on Afghan soil) regularly undertake cross-border raids on our posts,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said in his weekly briefing which he addressed from Beijing via Skype. The spokesman is in Beijing to attend a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). This was the first briefing of its kind addressed from outside the country. The spokesman recalled that two Pakistani sldiers lost their lives in cross-border attacks on April 7 and 8, besides several others injured. Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed on making APAPPS functional during Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s day-long visit to Kabul last week. Click here to read....

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan Again Records High Levels Of Civilian Casualties: Tolo News
April 12, 2018

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Thursday reported that during the first three months of 2018, anti-government elements caused 1,500 civilian casualties - a six percent increase from the same period last year. Consistent with trends observed in 2017, the report noted that civilian casualties attributed to pro-government forces in the first quarter of 2018 reduced by 13 percent to 407 civilian casualties. As such, UNAMA renewed its call on all parties to the conflict to increase efforts to protect civilians, as the number of civilians killed and injured by armed conflict in the first quarter of 2018 remained at the same high level recorded in 2017. In its quarterly report, issued on Thursday, for the period 1 January to 31 March 2018, UNAMA documented 2,258 civilian casualties (763 deaths and 1,495 injured), reflecting similar levels of civilian harm documented in the first three months of 2017 and 2016. Click here to read....

China overtakes India as top source country for tourists: Kathmandu Post
April 13, 2018

China overtook longtime record holder India as the top source country for tourists to Nepal with a 22.57 percent jump in arrivals in the first three months of this year, the Department of Immigration said. According to the figures released by the department on Thursday, Nepal received 36,384 Chinese tourists from January to March. During the same period, the number of Indians visiting Nepal dropped by a marginal 0.98 percent to 34,133 individuals. Industry sources attributed the dramatic growth from China to its changed policy towards Nepal after the formation of the left alliance government. Moreover, China now has the most extensive air connectivity with Nepal. Currently, five Chinese carriers—Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines—operate flights to Nepal. However, no Nepali carrier serves China. The world’s most populous country became the second largest source of visitors for Nepal last year with arrivals totaling 104,664 individuals. Travel trade entrepreneurs said Chinese tourists were also the biggest spenders. Chinese arrivals to Nepal shrank sharply following the 2015 killer earthquake and India’s trade embargo, dampening the enthusiasm of tourism entrepreneurs who had got their hopes up because of the fast rising market. Click here to read....

Chief Justice, Judge Hameed’s trial to be held behind closed doors: Haveeru
April 12, 2018

The Criminal Court on Thursday decided to hold Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hameed’s trial behind closed doors. Judge Abdullah Saeed and Judge Ali Hameed were arrested under the state of emergency declared by President Abdulla Yameen in February, after the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling to free nine high-profile political prisoners. The Chief Justice has been charged with terrorism and obstructing the functioning of the state, while Judge Ali Hameed has been charged with terrorism. They have both been remanded until trial end and are suspended without any pay or allowances under the judicature act. The recently ratified amendment to the Judicature Act states that if an appellate court finds a judge guilty of a criminal offence, the procedures declared in Article 154 of the Constitution will not applicable and the judge will be removed from office. The government had proposed the new amendment at a time when Chief Justice and Judge Hameed were arrested over serious allegations. Click here to read....

President Xi reviews navy in South China Sea: People's Daily
April 13, 2018

President Xi Jinping reviewed the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the South China Sea Thursday morning, saying that the need to build a strong navy "has never been more urgent than today." The navy review is the largest of its kind in the People's Republic of China since its founding in 1949. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), called for efforts to build a first-class navy. Click here to read....

US accusation about China’s market access untrue: experts: People's Daily
April 13, 2018

The US accusation that China has put restrictions on US investment in China is false claim, according to experts from home and abroad. They explained that in recent years, China has expanded openness, and created a business environment of more stability, transparency and predictability for foreign enterprises. Click here to read....

China’s AI talent strategy: domestic boom, international lure: People's Daily
April 13, 2018

Sourcing skilled researchers remains a major bottleneck in the global advancement of AI. This holds even true for China, a country that vows to become a leading AI power by 2030. Progressing at a dizzying pace, China’s AI industry has now entered a battle of top-tier AI talents, with a focus on AI education and international brain gain. Click here to read....

China, Netherlands agree to exploit advantages of complementarities: Xinhuanet
April 13, 2018

China and the Netherlands on Thursday agreed to make use of their advantages of complementarities to promote pragmatic cooperation. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made the remarks while holding talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Beijing. Click here to read....

China to stage surprise live-fire navy drill to warn Taiwan and show support for Russia: South China Morning Post
April 12, 2018

In a surprise move, Beijing announced on Thursday that it would hold live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait next week - something that is both a message to Taipei and a show of geopolitical support for Russia during its time of friction with the United States, military observers said. Click here to read....

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