VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 27th April, 2018
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PAKISTAN

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif disqualified under Article 62(1)(f): Dawn
April 26, 2018

A three-member special bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday disqualified Khawaja Asif as a member of the parliament under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution for not disclosing his employment in a UAE company as an occupation as well as the monthly salary he was receiving. Addressing the argument by Asif's legal team that "since copies of the passport attached with the nomination paper also contained a copy of the 'iqama', therefore there was no misrepresentation or concealment", the judgement days: "Iqama is merely a residence visa issued by the immigration officials. In the instant case, the non-disclosure was that of the employment as an occupation and the salary per month received there under." Click here to read...

'GDP to grow 5.8pc in FY17-18': PML-N government unveils election year report card: Dawn
April 27, 2018

Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Miftah Ismail on Thursday jointly unveiled the Pakistan Economic Survey 2017-18, a scorecard of the government's performance on economic management. "Energy, economy, elimination of extremism and education were the 'four Es' that we [the PML-N] had discussed in our manifesto," Iqbal recalled in his brief speech. "We created two plans ─ one was an immediate plan, the other was Vision 2025," he explained. Federal Minister of Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Miftah Ismail showing off the PES 2017-18. The PML-N government faced "major constraints and bottlenecks [in attaining its goals] as a development framework was not present [when it took over]," he said. Click here to read...
AFGHANISTAN

Taliban’s Spring Offensive A War Propaganda: Ministry of Defence: Tolo News
April 26, 2018

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) declared Taliban’s announcement of its spring offensive ‘a war propaganda’, saying the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) are fully ready to deal devastating blow to the militants and foil their so-called offensive. “Tonight, they (Taliban) coordinated their attacks in 20 provinces. But they have sustained major setbacks on all fronts and have suffered heavy casualties,” said Major Gen. Afzal Aman, Commander of Kabul Garrison. Meanwhile, acting US Secretary of State John Sullivan said the Taliban’s announcement of their spring offensive underscored the group’s “responsibility for the insecurity that destroys the lives of thousands of Afghans each year.”

“There is no need for a new ‘fighting season’,” Sullivan said. “Still, the Taliban announced another campaign of senseless violence targeting the democratically elected and internationally recognized Afghan government and their fellow Afghans.” Click here to read...
NEPAL

Trial run boosts tri-nation bus, cargo services plan: Kathmandu Post
April 27, 2018

Two buses with delegates from Nepal, India and Bangladesh on board arrived Kathmandu on Thursday. The buses started on Tuesday, from Bangladesh capital Dhaka, as part of a trial run ahead of starting passenger and cargo services between the three countries. The two buses covered the distance of 1,197 km--488 km in Bangladesh, 50 km in India, and 699 km in Nepal. The trial run is an important step towards the Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) endorsed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN). Bhutan pulled out in April 2017 after its government failed to ratify the agreement. The parties signed the MVA agreement in June 2015. They had planned to start within a year. The respective parliaments of Bangladesh, India and Nepal endorsed the agreement, but Bhutan did not. Bhutan has said its next government, after the 2018 elections, may take it up. The MVA allows member states to operate their cargo and passenger services in each other’s territories without having to clear customs formalities at the border check posts. Click here to read...

BANGLADESH

India hands over helicopter, tanks to Bangladesh as 1971 memorabilia: Business Standard
April 26, 2018

India has handed over to Bangladesh a Mi-4 helicopter and two PT-76 tanks as part of the 1971 Liberation War memorabilia, officials said here today. "The gifts are to be showcased at the Bangladesh army and air force museums," a defence ministry spokesman said today. He said the helicopter and the tanks were part of gifts given by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her Bangladesh visit last year. The memorabilia included 25 weapons like pistol, rifles, machine guns and mortars alongside a large number of artefact, historical photographs, archival audio and video clipping, maps and battle records related to the 1971 Liberation War. "While most items of memorabilia have been handed over to the Bangladesh National Museum; the larger items ie PT-76 Tanks and Mi 4 Helicopter are now being handed over to the Bangladesh Army and Air Force," Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla said. Click here to read...

MALDIVES

President Yameen compares Feb 1 to coup of Nov 1988: Haveeru
April 26, 2018

President Abdulla Yameen compared the landmark ruling issued by the Supreme Court on February 1 to the attempted coup of November 3, 1988, declaring that the two incidents had taught similar lessons. The president made the remark at a function held late Wednesday in Kalhuthukkalaa Koshi to mark the 126th anniversary of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). Looking back at one of the bloodiest dates in the recent history of the Maldives when two conspirators had paid a Sri Lankan militant organization, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, to help overthrow the then Maldivian government, Yameen declared that February 1 with the Supreme Court’s verdict to free political prisoners was also a similar “attack”. The verdict in question had been issued unanimously by the five justices of the Supreme Court. Subsequently it was alleged that some of the justices and parliamentarians had been bribed to manipulate the SC’s decisions to stage a coup, and President Yameen had declared a state of emergency on February 5. Click here to read...

CHINA

China tells Donald Trump: we can help make America’s infrastructure great again: South China Morning Post
April 27, 2018

China has offered to take part in US President Donald Trump’s US$1.5 trillion plan to repair and upgrade America’s infrastructure, saying it would complement Beijing’s own Belt and Road Initiative. Click here to read...

China values U.S. willingness to address trade friction through dialogue, communication: premier: People’s Daily
April 27, 2018

China values the willingness the United States has shown to address the current trade friction through dialogue and communication, Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday, adding that China's door for negotiation was always open. Li made the remarks when he met with Elaine Chao, the U.S. secretary for transport, in Beijing. Click here to read...

Xi calls for high-quality growth through developing Yangtze River economic belt: People’s Daily
April 27, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday called for achieving high-quality economic growth through developing the Yangtze River economic belt. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at a symposium on promoting the development of the Yangtze River economic belt in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province. Click here to read...

Xi-Modi meeting to promote free trade, strengthen unity: Chinese envoy: People’s Daily
April 27, 2018

Both China and India's development goals are similar and the April 27-28 informal meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will promote free trade, strengthen unity among developing countries and uphold the principles of equity and justice, wrote Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui in an article published in a leading English daily in New Delhi on Thursday. Click here to read...

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