VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 16 March, 2018
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PAKISTAN
Envoy called from India for briefing on harassment: Dawn
March 16, 2018

The Foreign Office said on Thursday that the high commissioner to India had been ‘called for consultations’ over continued harassment of Pakistani diplomats and their families based there. “We have called our high commissioner to Pakistan for consultations,” FO spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal announced at his weekly media briefing. Pakistan first made a demarche to India last Saturday to protest over intimidation of diplomats and their families, and a few days later Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh was summoned to the Foreign Office over what was described as “total apathy and failure of the Indian government to put a halt to these despicable incidents”. The Indian authorities were also accused of being complicit. Click here to read...

Ismail Khan Invites Insurgent Groups To Talk With Mujahideen: Tolo News
March 16, 2018

Mohammad Ismail Khan, a former Jihadi leader and former Herat governor, on Thursday invited anti-government armed groups to hold talks with Mujahideens. Mohammad Ismail Khan, a former Jihadi leader and former Herat governor, on Thursday invited anti-government armed groups to hold talks with Mujahideens. Speaking at a gathering in Herat, Ismail Khan said that if anti-government groups do not negotiate with the National Unity Government (NUG) then they must start face to face talks with the Mujahideen to find a solution to the ongoing chaos in the country. He said that war is not the solution for ending the crisis. “I call on government oppositions, if you cannot talk with government, come and sit for a deal with the great family of jihad and find a solution that will actually bring an Islamic system,” said Ismail Khan. This come after the Taliban wrote a letter to Washington last month to begin talks. President Ashraf Ghani later offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group as part of a proposed process he said could lead to talks, but so far the Taliban had not responded to government’s offer. Click here to read...

NEPAL
Oli may appoint ministers today: Kathmandu post
March 16, 2018

A month after being appointed the prime minister, CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli is preparing to give the Cabinet its complete shape on Friday afternoon. PM’s Chief Political Advisor Bishnu Rimal confirmed the preparations. “The government is in touch with the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal but the PM is not in a position to wait for them if they refuse to join,” said Rimal, adding that new ministers would be appointed after the deputy Speaker election if everything went as planned. PM Oli has been consulting with CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal for the past three days for Cabinet expansion by inducting members from the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum, Nepal and the RJP-N. Cabinet expansion was delayed as the parties were busy with Speaker and presidential elections. The Maoist Centre has almost finalised the names of ministers. According to party sources, Barsaman Pun, Shakti Basnet or Janardan Sharma, Bina Magar and Girirajmani Pokhrel are the probable candidates. Click here to read...

MYANMAR
Myanmar willing to take back fewer than 400 Rohingya refugees: The Guardian
March 15, 2018

Myanmar has said it is willing to take back fewer than 400 Rohingya refugees of the 8,000 who have said they would voluntarily return from Bangladesh. U Myint Thu, Myanmar’s permanent secretary for foreign affairs, said that of the list of thousands of returnees submitted by the Bangladesh government, they had deemed only 374 eligible for repatriation. Myanmar blamed Bangladesh for the slow process, accusing its neighbour of submitting missing or “incomplete” information for the majority of the refugees, and accused three on the list of being terrorists. “These 374 will be the first batch of the repatriation,” said Myint Thu at a press conference in the capital Naypidaw. He did not give a timeline for the return, but simply said: “They can come back when it’s convenient for them.” Click here to read...

SRI LANKA
Extending state of emergency: PM to consult President: Daily Mirror
March 16, 2018

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is to discuss a request made by the defence authorities to extend the state of emergency with President Maithripala Sirisena, sources close to Mr. Wickremesinghe said yesterday. The defence authorities had suggested that it would be wise to delay lifting the state of emergency until the investigations on the recent incidents in Kandy are concluded. Sources from the Prime Minister's office said defence authorities, including the Chief of Defense Staff, had requested that the emergency is extended till investigations into the incidents in Kandy are completed. They had also informed the Prime Minister that 70 percent of the investigations had been completed as of now. Sources said the Prime Minister will refer the matter to President Sirisena when he returns from Japan today (16). Meanwhile, the Prime Minister had proposed that four ministries namely Buddha Sasana, Disaster Management, Posts and Muslim Affairs and Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms should jointly handle the task of assessing and paying compensation to those who were affected by the recent riots in Kandy. Click here to read...

CHINA
Will Wang Qishan’s new job become a problem for the Communist Party?: South China Morning Post
March 16, 2018

When China unveils the line-up of its top state leadership on Saturday, one man will probably receive more attention than President Xi Jinping – his trusted ally Wang Qishan. Click here to read...

Officials: Work ethic key to ending poverty: China Daily
March 16, 2018

Encouraging a work ethic and a spirit of self-reliance is essential to poverty relief, not just government policies, officials from impoverished villages said at a news conference held by the State Council Information Office on Thursday. "Poverty relief doesn't mean just giving money," said Zhao Huijie, Party secretary of the village of Xiaomiaozi in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. "The important thing is that individuals gain the determination to become better off through diligent work. It is just like blood transfusions and blood producing. The former can save a life, but the latter helps with health." Click here to read...

Candidate list for China's new state leadership put forward for deliberation: China Daily
March 16, 2018

The presidium of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) Thursday decided to send some key documents and a candidate list for the upcoming elections of state leaders for deliberation. Presided over by Li Zhanshu, the presidium's executive chairman, the presidium made a decision that the list of candidates to the president and vice president of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission of the PRC, as well as the 13th NPC Standing Committee chairman, vice chairpersons and secretary-general, will be sent to all NPC delegations for discussion and consultation. Click here to read...

Donald Trump’s threat to slap heavy tariffs on China ‘could ‘devastate US economy’: South China Morning Post
March 16, 2018

Donald Trump’s plan to impose heavy tariffs on China will have a “devastating impact” on the US economy, the US Chamber of Commerce has warned. Click here to read...

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