VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 21st March, 2018
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PAKISTAN

Maulana Fazl to head recently revived Muttahida Majlis I Amal: Dawn
March 21, 2018

The recently revived Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal — a political alliance of five religious parties — announced on Tuesday that Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Liaquat Baloch would be the president and secretary general of the MMA, respectively. The names were formally announced at a joint press conference after a meeting of the leaders of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP), Tehreek-i-Islami Pakistan (TIP) and Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith (MJAH). Addressing the press conference here in Defence, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman announced that all the five parties would contest upcoming general elections from the MMA platform which would have one election symbol, one flag and one manifesto. He said the manifesto would be declared in the first week of April in Islamabad. He said their doors would be open to reach election understanding and to have seat adjustments with other parties. He added that the alliance would utilise all its energy to enforce the Islamic system in the country to resolve national issues and protect rights of religious minorities, oppressed and the deprived sections of society. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban needs to demonstrate readiness for peace talks: US: Pajhwok
March 21, 2018

Supporting the peace overtures of President Ashraf Ghani, the United States has said that onus is now on the Taliban to show that they are ready to discuss peace with the elected government. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, with a unified Government of Afghanistan alongside him, made clear that the door is open for peace with the Taliban, a State Department Spokesperson said. “The onus is now on the Taliban to demonstrate that they are ready to discuss peace with the elected government of Afghanistan,” the spokesperson told PAN. The spokesperson was responding to a question about a Taliban statement in which it welcomed and supported all genuine efforts for resolving the ongoing crisis in this war-torn country. “We support all efforts that lead to ending the ongoing crisis in this country,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement. Click here to read...

NEPAL

Election Commission lacked transparency, says EU Election Observer Mission: My Republica

EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has accused the Election Commission of lacking transparency and failing to publish critical information on polling center turnout and invalid votes. Unveiling a final report on Tuesday, a-five-month-long mission, that spent around Rs 3.5 million Euro during the election observation in Nepal, said that the Election Commission failed to provide sufficient information on polling center turnout and invalid votes. “Although the Election Commission (EC) of Nepal performed its duties impartially, enjoying public confidence, its work lacked transparency," reads the report issued today. Zeljana Zovko, Chief Observer of the EU EOM, however, lauded the election process saying that the 26 November and 7 December elections represented a key milestone in the implementation of the 2015 Constitution, with the legal framework providing a good basis for the conduct of the elections. Click here to read...

SRI LANKA

US says concerned about reports of Human Rights violations in SL: Daily Mirror
March 20, 2018

The US yesterday said it was concerned about ongoing reports of human rights violations and abuses in Sri Lanka by members of the security services and recent attacks targeting members of religious minority communities. In its statement to the 37th Session of the UNHRC, the Permanent Mission of the US in Geneva said it urges the Sri Lankan government to hold accountable all those responsible for human rights abuses and violations and to protect religious minorities and their places of worship. “We further urge the government to take additional steps to fully implement the commitments it made in HRC resolution 30/1 and reaffirmed in HRC resolution 34/1. We look forward to seeing Sri Lanka’s progress on implementing the UPR recommendations accepted by the government over the next five years as well,” it said. Click here to read...

MALDIVES

India temporarily stops issuing visa to Maldivians: Haveeru
March 20, 2018

The Indian High Commission has halted issuing visa to Maldivians starting Tuesday due to technical issues. An individual who visited the embassy stated that the High Commission would pause issuing visas until next week Tuesday. A spokesperson from the embassy confirmed this as well. As a rule, visas to travel to India can be obtained within three days. This halt would pose difficulty for several Maldivians planning to visit India during the coming mid-term break for schools. Click here to read...

CHINA

Xi: China poses no threat to other nations: China Daily
21 March, 2018

China will never seek its development at the cost of sacrificing other nations' interests, and its development will pose no threat to any other country, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark at the closing meeting of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing. Click here to read...

Reform aims to make SOEs more efficient: China Daily
21 March, 2018

The government has pledged to move swiftly to advance the reform and restructuring of State-owned enterprises. The reform will promote mixed ownership and encourage the inflow of foreign capital to foster more world-class, globally competitive companies. Click here to read...

Xi holds phone talk with Modi on bilateral ties: Xinhuanet
20 March, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday held a phone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Modi's invitation. Modi first congratulated Xi again on being elected Chinese president, saying it demonstrates that Xi enjoys the support of the whole Chinese nation. Both India and China are ancient civilizations with global influence, Modi said, adding that India will work with China to enhance high-level exchanges, deepen bilateral ties, strengthen coordination and cooperation in international affairs to further a closer developmental partnership between the two countries and promote global and regional peace and development. Click here to read...

Taiwan separatist attempts doomed to failure: mainland spokesperson: Xinhuanet
20 March, 2018

A Chinese mainland spokesperson on Tuesday said that Taiwan separatists will suffer by their own hand. The mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. As an inseparable part of China's territory, Taiwan has never been a country, and will not become a country, An Fengshan, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said in response to Taiwan-related remarks made by the island's executive head Lai Ching-te. Click here to read...

China discourages its hackers from foreign competitions so they don’t help others: South China Morning Post
21 March, 2018

China is discouraging its internet security experts from taking part in international hacking competitions because of national security concerns, according to a Beijing-based company that was informed of the decision. Click here to read...

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