VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 19th April, 2018
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PAKISTAN

Pakistan reducing dependence on US arms: Financial Times report
April 19, 2018

Pakistan is gradually reducing its dependence on American military technology and China is filling the gap, says a Financial Times report, which also warns that this shift will have geo-political repercussions as well. The long, almost 2,000-word report notes that the shift started in the last few months of the Obama administration, when Congress blocked the sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. In Islamabad, this move was seen as a confirmation of Pakistan’s fear that the United States “could no longer be relied on as their armed forces’ primary source of advanced weapons”, the report adds. “The shift coincided with Islamabad’s growing suspicion about the closeness between the US and India, but was accelerated by the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil in 2011, which badly damaged relations with the US,” the report added. Click here to read....

Pakistan government to file counter rejoinder in Jadhav case by July 17: Dawn
April 19, 2018

Islamabad is expected to file its counter rejoinder on or before July 17 in the Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav’s case as New Delhi has submitted its rejoinder to Pakistan’s counter memorial to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The office of the attorney general for Pakistan, which is overseeing the case, is expected to receive the copy of the Indian rejoinder in a day or two after it is received by the embassy of Pakistan in The Hague. On Dec 13, 2017, Pakistan filed its counter memorial before the ICJ, a world court that sits at the Peace Palace in The Hague and is seized with the Indian complaint on the conviction of the Indian spy. On May 18, the ICJ through an interim order had stayed Jadhav’s execution after which the Foreign Office communicated to the ICJ that the government of Pakistan had instructed relevant departments to give effect to the order of the world court. Click here to read....

AFGHANISTAN

Pakistan ‘Agrees’ To Remove Check Posts On Afghan Soil: Tolo News
April 18, 2018

Afghan and Pakistani military official held talks for the second time in just a few days to discuss “incursions by Pakistan” against Afghanistan along the Durand Line. Clashes erupted between Afghan border forces and Pakistani military in Khost and neighboring Paktia provinces earlier this week. At Wednesday’s meeting, which was held in Dand-e-Patan district in Paktia, Afghan officials said Pakistani authorities admitted that they have built “structures” on Afghanistan’s soil. Officials also raised the issue of Pakistan misleading the public by reportedly saying the Afghan security forces along the border are being backed by Indian troops. “Your intelligence is promoting wrong propaganda against us (Afghan government forces) and saying that Indian forces are with Afghan border forces. This is not good,” said Colonel Mohammad Osman Janbaz, the commander of the army’s 2nd battalion in Paktia. At this meeting, Afghan officials asked Pakistani military authorities to remove the structures built on Afghanistan soil. Click here to read....

NEPAL

Beijing pitches for trilateral links: Kathmandu Post
April 19, 2018

China reiterated the idea of linking Nepal, India and China to develop a trans-Himalayan economic corridor through infrastructure projects—or the ‘tri-lateral cooperation’. Addressing a joint press conference with Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday said, Nepal, China and India were ‘natural friends.’ “I believe that China, Nepal and India are natural friends and partners. We are neighbours connected by the same mountains and rivers,” Wang said while pushing the idea of trilateral cooperation that has been under discussion in Kathmandu and Beijing since 2008. “As we say in China, family members and neighbours wish each other well,” he said. “Nepal’s development should be a common understanding between China and India.” He said China and India would support Nepal on its new development following its successful political transition. Nepal wants to connect with China and India for its development. Nepal stands as a natural beneficiary from co-operation and development from China and India, Wang said. Click here to read....

SRI LANKA

China’s $1 Billion White Elephant: Bloomberg
April 18, 2018

The eight-year-old Hambantota port -- with almost no container traffic and trampled fences that elephants traverse with ease -- has become a prime example of what can go wrong for countries involved in President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” trade and infrastructure initiative. Sri Lanka borrowed heavily to build the port, couldn’t repay the loans, and then gave China a 99-year lease for debt relief. The experience has fueled fears that Xi’s plans to finance more than $500 billion in projects could see China take control of strategic infrastructure that also has military uses. But the massive state-owned Chinese conglomerate that took over the port in December wants to prove the skeptics wrong. China Merchants Group -- whose 2017 revenues of $93 billion dwarf Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product -- is aiming to use its experience stretching from China to Europe to make the port profitable. During a rare look inside the grounds late last month, executive Tissa Wickramasinghe told Bloomberg News it had already nearly doubled the number of ships visiting the port. Click here to read....

CHINA

New agency's goal to promote development, peace overseas: China Daily
April 19, 2018

The China International Development Cooperation Agency was launched on Wednesday in Beijing as a "major measure" to maintain world peace and promote common development, a senior official said. Yang Jiechi, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, made the statement at the agency's inauguration. Click here to read....

Former Justice Ministry official tried: China Daily
April 19, 2018

Lu Enguang, a former senior official with the Ministry of Justice stood trial on Wednesday facing bribery charges. Lu, former head of the political department of the Ministry of Justice, is accused of bribing government workers with more than 12.7 million yuan ($2 million) to provide fake information regarding his age, his family members, his education and employment background and documents to join the Communist Party of China, obtain an honorary title and promotions between 1992 and 2016, the prosecutor said at the trial in Anyang Intermediate People's Court in Henan province. Click here to read....

PLA's aviation brigade holds live-fire exercise: China Daily
April 19, 2018

An aviation brigade of the People's Liberation Army Ground Force held a live-fire exercise off the country's southeastern coast on Wednesday, according to a statement from the PLA Ground Force. The statement, which was released on Thursday morning, said multiple types of armed helicopters took part in the drill that lasted until late night at sea and verified the brigade's all-day combat capability on the sea. Click here to read....

US media mogul Michael Bloomberg vows to stop Donald Trump’s trade war with China: South China Morning Post
April 19, 2018

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will be in Washington this week to lobby against US President Donald Trump’s plans to impose punitive tariffs on goods from China. Click here to read....

China calls on India to get on board with Nepal projects: South China Morning Post
April 18, 2018

China has called on India to get involved in its connectivity projects with Nepal, saying they should both support the landlocked nation’s development in an apparent bid to play down concerns over rivalry between the two Asian giants. Click here to read....

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