VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 7th May, 2018
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PAKISTAN
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal survives assassination bid, hospitalized: Dawn
May 07, 2018

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal narrowly escaped an assassination attempt during a corner meeting in his constituency in Narowal on Sunday — an act that was condemned by prominent individuals, political parties and other institutions in the country, which is set to go to the polls in a few months’ time. Inspector General of Police (IGP) retired Capt Arif Nawaz told Dawn that they had arrested a suspect, a 22-year-old man, from the spot in the Kanjroor town of the Shakargarh tehsil, who confessed to opening fire on the minister due to the Khatm-i-Nubuwat issue. The IGP said they were also investigating involvement in the incident of any facilitators.

District Police Officer (DPO) Imran Kishwar told reporters the suspect — Abid Husain, a resident of nearby Verum village — had managed to slip into the corner meeting. He apparently carried a 30-bore weapon, which he pulled out and fired at the minister from a distance of some 15 yards. The incident happened moments after Mr Iqbal had finished his speech. The police officer said the minister suffered a bullet wound in his right shoulder, whereas later reports said the bullet had landed in Mr Iqbal’s abdomen after grazing his arm. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
54 Percent of Afghans Live Below Poverty Line: Survey
May 07, 2018

A joint survey carried out by the Central Statistics Organization (CSO) and ICON International shows that almost 54 percent of the population in Afghanistan live below the poverty line. The survey which is titled ‘The living conditions in Afghanistan’ indicates that more than 16 million people in Afghanistan, which constitutes half of the population, live like this. The survey was carried out two years ago and the percentage of those living below the poverty line is now likely to be higher. Based on the survey, the number of people who cannot afford their basic needs is around 15 percent while the unemployment rate is recorded at around 24 percent. “According to calculations, if a person spends less than 2,064 in a month, then he lives below the poverty line, this is the national explanation,” said Haseebullah Mawahid, technical deputy head of CSO. “Insecurity, political instability which has been reported during the elections, electoral aftershocks which also affected the balance of investments in Afghanistan are among key factors,” said Mustafa Mastoor, economy minister. Click here to read...

Access to internet services is 4 percent of the population, and access of 98 percent to electricity is part of the survey index.

NEPAL
China to conduct feasibility study: Kathmandu Post
May 07, 2018

A team of Chinese engineers and officials are set to arrive in Kathmandu within a couple of weeks for conducting a feasibility study of the Kerung-Kathmandu railway line. The development follows understanding between Nepal and China that it is possible to develop the project, which lies in a difficult terrain, at a recent meeting held in Beijing. China Railway First Survey Design Institute Group has been appointed to conduct the study. delegation led by Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Secretary Madhusudan Adhikari had been to China last week to discuss the matter. “During the meeting in Beijing, the Chinese side had informed us that a team will arrive in Kathmandu at the earliest to study the overall aspect of railway line,” said Prakash Bhakta Upadhayaya, spokesperson for the DoR. He added that the team will submit its report by August 2018. Following a preliminary study on railways in Nepal in the second week of November 2017, a Chinese delegation had concluded that two rail routes—Kathmandu-Kerung and Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini—could be developed in the country. The team led by Zheng Jian, the deputy director (Vice-Minister) of National Railway Administration of China, had made field trips to Kerung, Pokhara and Lumbini as part of the study. Click here to read..

BANGLADESH
Make India observer in forum of Islamic nations: Bangladesh
May 07, 2018

In a move likely to displease Pakistan, Bangladesh has sounded the first official call to induct countries with large Muslim populations, like India, as observers to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, a club which has only Muslim majority countries as its members. At a meeting of OIC foreign ministers in Dhaka on Saturday, Bangladesh minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali called for reforms in the organisation that can pave the way for countries like India, which are not Muslim majority, to get an observer seat in the OIC. Though Pakistan is unlikely to welcome the proposal as it uses the forum to regularly target India, the list of likely candidates also includes its “all-weather” ally China and Bangladesh has also put forward the “inclusion” argument to say that large Muslim populations should not be denied a say at the OIC. Muslims in India constitute 10% of the global adherents of the faith. Click here to read...

India funds flood, earthquake warning systems in Myanmar: Mmtimes
May 07, 2018

India has launched a flood and earthquake early warning systems in Myanmar aimed at helping the country mitigate the effects of natural calamities that affect millions of people every year. Vikram Misri, India’s ambassador to Myanmar, inaugurated on Friday the New Delhi-financed project to develop the Long-Lead Flood Early Warning System and Earthquake Monitoring System in Myanmar, which is expected to give the government more information on mitigating the effects of disasters. “Both systems will be housed in the Department of Meteorology and Hydrography (DMH) of the Ministry of Transport and Communications in Nay Pyi Taw,” according to a statement issued by the embassy on Friday. The systems have been tested and verified and are now fully integrated with existing Myanmar disaster mitigation systems. “Under the Flood Warning System, 12 automatic water level stations and 3 automatic weather stations have been established, and under the Earthquake Monitoring System, 10 telemetered seismic stations have been added to the 8 station network of the DMH,” the embassy statement said. Misri said that the activation of the two early warning systems is timely as the country just marked the 10th anniversary of Cyclone Nargis, which was estimated to have killed more than 140,000 people when it struck the country in 2008. Click here to read...

CHINA
Chinese premier arrives in Indonesia for official visit: People's Daily
May 06, 2018

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Jakarta Sunday for an official visit to Indonesia, the first stop on his first overseas trip since the new cabinet took office in March. Li's visit comes as this year marks the 5th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Indonesia comprehensive strategic partnership and the 15th anniversary of the strategic partnership between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Click here to read...

Both U.S. and China benefit from deepening economic integration: former U.S. envoy to China: People's Daily
May 07, 2018

The U.S.-China relationship established four decades ago is the most important bilateral ties in the world today and peoples in both countries are benefiting from the deepening economic integration, former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke has said. Click here to read...

Consider 'dual-track' approach: China Daily
May 07, 2018

China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi called on parties involved in the Korean Peninsula issue during a Saturday phone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to maintain the positive momentum that could lead to a resolution. Click here to read...

Japan and China ‘won’t mention disputed islands’ in sovereignty hotline talks, avoiding potential rough waters: South China Morning Post
May 07, 2018

Japan and China are unlikely to mention that the waters and airspace around a group of uninhibited islets controlled by Tokyo and claimed by Beijing are subject to a bilateral communication mechanism aimed at averting unintended clashes, a Japanese government source said on Monday. Click here to read...

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