VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 3rd May, 2018

IMF sees mounting risks, sharp drop in growth for Pakistan next year: Dawn
May 3, 2018

The International Monetary Fund projected on Wednesday that Pakistan’s growth will moderate to 4.7 per cent in fiscal year 2019 from 5.6pc in 2018. In its regional economic outlook update for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan (MENAP) region on Wednesday, the IMF notes that “an increase in macroeconomic vulnerabilities and domestic policy slippages have weakened Pakistan’s economic outlook, with growth now projected to moderate to 4.7pc in FY19.” In January, the IMF said it expected growth in Pakistan to pick up in 2018-19. The government has targeted 6.2pc growth for next year in its latest budget. The report credits improved energy supply, investment related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and strong credit growth for the raise in Pakistan’s growth to an estimated 5.6pc in the outgoing FY18, from 5.3pc last year. Click here to read...

White House rules out changes in Afghan strategy: Pajhwok
May 2, 2018

Facing criticism for a series of high-profile attack in recent weeks, the White House on Tuesday ruled out any changes to its South Asia policy. “We laid out our Afghanistan strategy just a few months ago, and there's no change to that policy at this point,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters. Strongly condemning the suicide bombings in Kabul that killed more than 35 people, including at least 10 journalists, she said there was no justification for such a senseless and heinous act. “These journalists were in the area to cover a bomb blast when a second explosion occurred. Afghanistan’s press corps is a powerful illustration of how that country has transformed. There's absolutely no justification for such a senseless and heinous act,” she added. At the UN headquarters in New York, the Security Council also condemned the “heinous and cowardly” terrorist attacks that took place both in Kabul and Kandahar. In a statement, the council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constituted one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. Click here to read...

Special package on anvil for Janakpur: Kathmandu Post
May 3, 2018

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will announce a special package for Janakpur in Province 2 during his two-day visit to Nepal starting on May 11, an official said. Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said the special package would help conserve Janakpur’s heritage as well as its development or link the Ramayan Circuit with the city. This will be his third visit to Nepal as Indian PM of the National Democratic Alliance led by his party, the BJP. Modi and his delegation will reach Janakpur from the Indian city of Patna. He will head to Ram Janaki Temple where Prime Minister K P Oli will welcome him. Both prime ministers will jointly inaugurate the circuit at Ram Janaki Temple after Modi completes his special pooja in the temple. He will also take part in a civil reception at Barha Bigha hosted by Janakpur Sub-metropolitan City, said the official. Click here to read...

Govt to try to bring back Tarique Rahman: Hasina
May 2, 2018

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said government will try to bring BNP leader Tarique Rahman back from London as a convicted criminal. The Prime Minister said this while briefing the newsmen at her official residence Ganobhaban in Dhaka on Wednesday about the outcomes of her recent visits to Saudi Arabia, the UK and Australia, reports UNB. Replying to a question about bringing back BNP acting chairperson Tarique Rahman from London, Hasina said the government will surely try to bring him back as a convicted criminal. "He's a convicted criminal... we're in talks with the British government...we'll surely bring back a convicted criminal, and for that we'll carry out the necessary process as per the law." The Prime Minister also mentioned that an FBI agent had also been a witness in the case about the criminal activities that Tarique Rahman committed. She said Tarique has been convicted in two cases and there are some other cases pending with courts. Hasina mentioned the ten-truck arms smuggling case, money laundering case, various types of criminal activities like arson attacks and killings. Click here to read...

How a massive influx of Chinese migrants has changed Myanmar’s second-largest city Mandalay: South China Morning Post
May 1, 2018

Myanmar’s last royal capital harboured the most learned Buddhist monks and exquisite artists, citizens speaking the most refined Burmese and cooks who prepared the best curries in the land. Mandalay was rhapsodised as the nation’s cultural core. Today, along the grand moat of the former royal palace, Chinese music rings out as people perform tai chi exercises, a sign of an uneasy transformation taking place in Myanmar’s second-largest city. This once quintessential Burmese metropolis, residents say, is losing its traditions as a massive influx of Chinese migrants reshapes it in their own likeness.“I feel that I am no longer a resident of Mandalay,” said Nyi Nyi Zaw, a 30-year-old journalist, adding that problems between Burmese and Chinese caused by the changing dynamics have become a staple of his reporting. “They (Chinese people) look like the residents. They have money, so they have the power.” This makeover of Mandalay – located about 300 kilometres (185 miles) from China’s Yunnan province and at the crossroads of trade, transport and smuggling routes – reflects a Chinese footprint across Southeast Asia that has grown alongside Beijing’s economic and military clout. Click here to read...

Ex-president Maumoon’s daughter seeks India support for father’s release: Haveeru
May 2, 2018

Detained former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s daughter, Dunya Maumoon, has appealed neighbouring India to push for the release of her father and other relatives arrested over the alleged coup of February 1. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs made the strong appeal in an interview to Deccan Chronicle newspaper during her current visit to the United Kingdom. She declared that the future of the Maldives was “uncertain” and “democracy may be failing”. “Friends have to be there in times of need. It is important that India be with us and is seen to be with us, the Maldives and the Maldivian people in supporting the country and assisting in whichever way as possible, in a purely advisory role,” she told Deccan Chronicle. Touching upon the political fallout between her father and estranged uncle, the incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, she urged that “both sides in the conflict have a moral obligation to set aside personal grudges and prioritize on national interest. We all have a duty to ensure that this democracy survives this crisis and we leave a better nation for the future generations.” Click here to read...

Trade discussions to start in Beijing: People's Daily
May 03, 2018

China and the United States will hold talks on trade and economic issues in Beijing on Thursday and Friday, marking the first high-level meeting since the bilateral trade dispute escalated in March. Click here to read...

AIIB approves two new applicants, expands membership to 86: People's Daily
May 03, 2018

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) announced Wednesday that its board of governors has adopted resolutions approving applications from Papua New Guinea and Kenya to join the bank, bringing its total approved membership to 86. Click here to read...

China expresses support for DPRK-U.S. dialogue, improvement of inter-Korean relations: Xinhuanet
May 03, 2018

China hopes that the dialogue between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States will be smooth and achieve substantial progress, said visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi here Wednesday. During the talks with DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Wang said that China fully backs the DPRK's efforts to achieve the goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. Click here to read…

China ‘won’t bow to US pressure and is ready to fight to the end’ if a trade war breaks out: South China Morning Post
May 03, 2018

China has insisted that it will not succumb to US pressure to change its industrial policy nor offer major concessions on the bilateral trade deficit. A Chinese government official close to the high-level trade talks with America said on Wednesday that Washington should not set any preconditions for negotiations, adding that China had sufficient strength to fight to the end if a trade war broke out. Click here to read...

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