VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 22nd March, 2018

Pakistan reaffirms support for Afghan reconciliation process: Dawn
March 22, 2018

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan’s reconciliation process. “Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reiterated Pakistan’s support to the efforts for Afghan reconciliation under an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process,” said a statement from PM’s Office on the prime minister’s meeting with Afghan Ambassador Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal. The two discussed bilateral relations and initiatives for peace and stability in Afghanistan. The Afghan envoy conveyed to Mr Abbasi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s desire for meaningful engagement with Pakistan in all areas of interaction. Click here to read...

UN Condemns Kabul Bombing as Death Toll Rises to 32: Tolo News

Tadamichi Yamamoto, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has strongly condemned the suicide attack in Kabul that left at least 32 civilians dead and dozens more injured. “On behalf of the United Nations in Afghanistan, I condemn today’s attack in Kabul,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “As UNAMA continues to verify civilian casualties from the incident, initial reports indicate that at least 25 civilians were killed and many others injured,” read the statement. However, government officials revised the death toll late Wednesday to at least 32. Yamamoto said the explosion occurred in a “civilian-populated area of Kabul, where Afghans had gathered peacefully to celebrate Nawroz, the beginning of the new year. “I reiterate that under no circumstances are such attacks justifiable, and I once again call on all parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, at all times,” added the UN envoy. Click here to read...

Delhi proposes April 6-8 for Oli’s India visit: Kathmandu Post

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is likely to embark on a three-day official visit to India from April 6, his maiden foreign visit after being elected the prime minister last month. Unlike his last visit to Delhi as prime minister when he received a lukewarm welcome and many in his party even felt he was humiliated, Delhi seems very keen to put the past differences behind and start a “new chapter” in its relationship with Oli and the left alliance. The Oli government is backed by a strong political mandate and Nepal’s new prime minister will enjoys a huge leverage to execute the agreements signed during the visit, officials here stressed. Two top officials at the Indian External Affairs Ministry and the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi told the Post that dates of Prime Minister Oli’s India visit have been “under active consideration” since he took office more than a month ago. The formal announcement will be made once the Nepali side gives its concurrence to the proposed date—April 6-8, according to a senior official in Kathmandu.This will be the first foreign trip of the new prime minister will have taken after his current tenure started at Baluwatar after the left alliance secured close to two-thirds votes in the December elections and his government received a whopping three-fourths of support in the confidence vote in the House of Representatives. Click here to read...

No-faith motion against PM handed over: Daily Mirror
March 21, 2018

The Joint Opposition handed over the much-anticipated No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Government to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya this afternoon. Joint Opposition MPs, including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, were seen at the Speaker’s office during the handing over of the motion. Joint Opposition Parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardane told a media briefing that several Government MPs had also signed the motion together with the Joint Opposition MPs. Fifty-one MPs of the Joint Opposition had singed motion together with four SLFP MPs including Nishantha Muthuhettigamage, Susantha Punchinilame, T. B. Ekanayake and M. Cader Mastan. However, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has not signed the motion. The motion contained 14 allegations, which are mostly connected with the Central Bank Bond Scam and bringing in several legislations and getting the approval for them violating the Constitution. One significant allegation is the Premier alleged failure as the Minister in charge of Law and Order to control recent violence in Kandy. Click here to read...

Suu Kyi loyalist likely to be Myanmar president: The Straits Times
March 22, 2018

Myanmar is set to have a new president after incumbent Htin Kyaw resigned yesterday. He is likely to be succeeded by Lower House Speaker Win Myint, a secretary of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, who resigned on the same day. According to a presidential office statement, Mr Htin Kyaw, 71, resigned "in order to take rest from the current duties and responsibilities". NLD legislator Khin Maung Myint said Mr Htin Kyaw has colon cancer. Rumours about the state of his health had been circulating for some months. He had undergone an operation recently, and reportedly also received medical treatment in Bangkok and Singapore. Click here to read...

China’s domestic security commission gets renewed powers under restructuring plan: South China Morning Post
March 22, 2018

The top domestic security commission of China’s Communist Party looks set to regain its prominence under Beijing’s latest restructuring plan for state and party agencies. ¬¬The Central Politics and Law Commission was once an extremely powerful body, and until 2012 was run by then security tsar Zhou Yongkang. But after his retirement, and subsequent expulsion from the party and imprisonment on corruption charges, the organisation was downgraded. Click here to read...

Party plan for reform unveiled: China Daily
March 22, 2018

The Communist Party of China Central Committee unveiled a massive plan on Wednesday to deepen institutional reform of the Party, the top legislature, the central government, the top political advisory body and the armed police forces. The institutional reform will focus on enhancing the Party's overall leadership, modernizing the State governance system and capacity, promoting the coordination of the institutions and improving their work efficiency, according to the plan. Click here to read...

Xi reviews Political Bureau members' work: China Daily
March 22, 2018

Members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee must take an active role in working hard to serve the people and boost clean governance, General Secretary Xi Jinping said after his recent reviews of their work reports. It is the first time that the top officials of the 25-member Political Bureau reported their work to Xi after the adoption of a CPC regulation late last year. Click here to read...

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