VIF Neighbourhood News Digest - 5 March 2018


Pakistan loses 50 percent market share in Kabul: Dawn
March 04, 2018

India has succeeded to penetrate in Kabul slashing the market share of Pakistan by more than 50 per cent in the last two years, Chairman Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry Zubair Motiwala told Dawn on Friday. Motiwala who recently visited Kabul said the penetration of India and China has limited Pakistan’s option to retain its market share while India subsidises heavily on its exports. He said Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan fell to $1.2 billion from $2.7bn within in the last two years and the country has been losing even the traditional markets of flour, men and women’s clothes and red meat. India has been providing goods at subsidised rates to capture the market and are providing air tickets with a 75pc rebate, said Motiwala, adding that Afghans find it easy to travel to India with cheap tickets and free multiple visas without police checks. Click here to read...

Pentagon urges Pakistan to avail new opportunities for defeating terrorism: Dawn
March 05, 2018

As the United States and Pakistan reengage on Tuesday in efforts to improve their ties, the Pentagon reminded Islamabad that war against terrorism in the South Asian region has reached an inflection point and it should use this opportunity to defeat terrorists. “With respect to Pakistan we believe that Pakistan can do more to combat terrorism,” Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White said at a weekend news briefing in Washington.“This is an inflection point and this is an opportunity and Pakistan has an opportunity to do more,” she added. “They’ve been victims of terrorism. So, we’ll look forward to continuing to work with them to see where there are opportunities.” Click here to read...


Taliban Group Ready To Join Peace Process: Tolo News
March 05, 2018

A group of 70 Taliban militants are ready to join the peace process in support of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, local officials said late Sunday night. Herat provincial council chairman Kamran Alizai said they held negotiations with the group of Taliban, which numbers 70. According to him, the militants are prepared to join the peace process. Alizai said the group has some preconditions for joining the peace process, one of which is that they are given jobs.
“The armed group who has taken up arms and fights against government has suggested to the provincial council that they will join the peace process if they are employed on the TAPI project and also, they will take part in maintaining the project’s security,” said Alizai.
Herat governor Mohammad Asif Rahimi meanwhile welcomed the group’s move and said local government will provide them with employment opportunities after they join the peace process. Click here to read...


Pakistan PM arrives today: Kathmandu Post
05 March, 2018

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Pakistan is arriving in Kathmandu on Monday, on a two-day official visit to “an important regional country and a close friend” of the Islamic republic.The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement that PM Abbasi’s visit comes in line with his country’s pro-active efforts to engage with neighbours. The foreign ministries of Nepal and Pakistan officially announced the visit on Sunday. Diplomatic sources said the sole purpose of the visit was to take forward the stalled Saarc process, with Pakistan seeking to host the deferred summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation at the earliest in consultation with Nepal, the current chair of the regional grouping. If Nepal commits to the process, the Pakistani side will start consultations with member states to hold the 19th Summit in Islamabad. The 19th Saarc Summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November 2016 was postponed after Bangladesh and India refused to attend it citing the situation there. Click here to read...


US to stand by Bangladesh in resolving Rohingya crisis: Daily Observer
March 04, 2018

Visiting Deputy Assistant to the US President and Senior Director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council Lisa Curtis today said the USA will remain with and stand by Bangladesh in resolving the Rohingya crisis. She made the vow while held a meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP, at the latter's office this morning, BSS reports. The Donald Trump's aide said the USA offers further assistance to deal with the upcoming challenges, especially when the monsoon is approaching soon. Curtis deeply appreciated Bangladesh's role in sheltering the persecuted Rohingyas and providing necessary support to them. Click here to read...


Myanmar puts off border pact with India: The Hindu
March 04, 2018

Myanmar has indefinitely deferred signing an agreement with India to streamline the free movement of people within 16 km along the border. India is keen to sign the agreement but Myanmar — citing “domestic compulsions” — has asked more time before the agreement is sealed. On January 3, the Union Cabinet had approved the agreement between India and Myanmar on land border crossing to enhance economic interaction between people of the two countries. To give it shape, the Centre had asked four States — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram — that share the unfenced border with Myanmar to distribute “border pass” to all the residents living within 16 km from the border. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been deferred twice in the past seven months.Click here to read...


Chinese shops mushrooming- President Sirisena: Daily Mirror
March 04, 2018

President Maithripala Sirisena has raised concerns about the mushrooming of Chinese shops throughout the country, at the recently held Cabinet meeting. Chinese shops have increased in numbers in Colombo and Kandy and convening of Chinese shop owners to Sugathadasa Stadium on Tuesday (06) is an disadvantage to the local shop owners, President has told the Cabinet. The actions taken by the former Minister of Finance has distanced the minor shop owners of the country from the government with displeasure, he has further told the Cabinet. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has reminded that opening of Chinese shops had begun from 2001. Click here to read...


China's parliament session: Xi Jinping's power grab to dominate: CNN
March 05, 2018

China's largely ceremonial parliament opens its annual session Monday, with delegates poised to endorse controversial measures that will allow the country's leader Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely. Nearly 3,000 legislators from around the country will attend the two-week gathering of China's National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing -- a highly prescriptive show of unity and enthusiasm that will see key legislative and personnel decisions approved. Click here to read...

China sets economic growth target of 6.5 percent: China Daily
March 05, 2018

China will continue to pursue stable economic growth this year, setting its GDP growth target at around 6.5 percent and reducing its fiscal deficit ratio target to 2.6 percent, according to the annual Government Work Report to be delivered by Premier Li Keqiang on Monday morning. Li is scheduled to present the report at the first session of the 13th National People's Congress. Click here to read...

China's defense budget to increase in 2018: China Daily
March 04, 2018

China plans to raise the defense budget by 8.1 percent to 1.107 trillion yuan ($175 billion) in 2018, according to the budget report. Click here to read...

Donald Trump praises Xi Jinping over move to end term limit: South China Morning Post
March 04, 2018

Beijing does not intend to export its governance model or ask other countries to follow its lead, a government official told media on Sunday, hours after US President Donald Trump praised Xi Jinping over a move to scrap the presidential term limit. Click here to read...

PLA non-battle personnel downsized as part of military reform: report: Global Times
March 04, 2018

A report in the newspaper of the People's Liberation Army of China implied a large reduction in non-battle personnel has been conducted, a move Chinese military experts said would improve combat capability, quality and efficiency. According to a PLA Daily report on Sunday, during military reform the group armies of the PLA ground force have experienced great changes which would bring new tests to daily management and combat readiness training. For instance, the number of group armies had been reduced from 18 to 13, according to the article. Click here to read...

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