VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 17th May, 2018
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PAKISTAN
Decision on Fata merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa left to next government: Dawn
May 17, 2018

Finally after a year-long debate in the parliament on much-awaited merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the government on Wednesday passed the buck to the next government on the decision regarding the controversial issue. It is believed that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) made this decision apparently to avoid annoyance of its two allies — Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) — when general elections are just around the corner. JUI-F emir Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PkMAP president Mehmood Khan Achakzai have been strongly opposing the merger plan on the pretext that it is against the will of Fata people. On the other hand, major opposition parties — the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) — are in favour of the merger. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
US troops help repel major Taliban attack in Afghanistan: CNN
May 16, 2018

The US military helped Afghan troops repel a major Taliban attack on the Afghan provincial capital Farah on Tuesday and Wednesday that punctured the security perimeter surrounding the city, US and NATO officials tell CNN. It was unclear how close the Taliban came to capturing the city, which would have represented a major blow to the Afghan government. The insurgents claimed they briefly seized the city center, while the NATO-led coalition said it saw no direct evidence that they ever made it into the city. A spokesman for the coalition said the Taliban began their attack on government checkpoints on the city's outskirts very early Tuesday morning, and that by the time US MQ-9 drones arrived overhead a couple of hours later there was no evidence of Taliban fighters in the city. Click here to read...

NEPAL
Oli and Dahal shake on Nepal Communist Party: Kathmandu Post
May 17, 2018

Eight months after the initial agreement between the CPN- UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) on a party unity, the two ruling left parties have reached closer to sealing the deal. The announcement will be made on Thursday. Two separate meetings—UML’s standing committee and Maoist Centre’s headquarter—on Wednesday evening decided to seal the merger. The new party will be known as ‘Nepal Communist Party’. The breakthrough deal came after a two-hour-long meeting between Prime Minister and UML Chairman KP Oli and Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Wednesday morning. Then UML’s standing committee meeting and Maoist Centre’s headquarter meeting closed the deal. Oli and Dahal agreed to announce the merger on Thursday, coinciding with the 25th death anniversary of former UML general secretary Madan Bhandari. As per the agreement, the new party will have 441-member central committee—with 241 members from the UML and 200 from the Maoist Centre. It will have a 43-member standing committee with 25 UML representatives and 18 from the Maoist Centre. The party will have ‘Sun’ as its electoral symbol that has been used by the UML for long. Click here to read...

MYANMAR
Officials to meet in Dhaka today about speeding up Rohingyas’ repatriation: Myanmar Times
May 17, 2018

A Myanmar delegation is meeting with Bangladeshi authorities in Dhaka today in a bid to break a deadlock and speed up the repatriation of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled violence in Rakhine State to Bangladesh over the past two years. The talks aim to find ways to boost cooperation between the two countries and set up a mechanism to expedite the return of the refugees, said U Win Myat Aye, minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. “We will discuss with Bangladesh implementing the repatriation as soon as possible, but Bangladesh needs to cooperate more,” he said. Led by Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary U Myint Thu, the Joint Working Group of Myanmar includes senior officials from the ministry, said U Win Myat Aye. Defending Myanmar’s position in the United Nations Security Council, Myanmar’s ambassador to UN U Hau Do Suan has accused Bangladesh of “deliberately making excuses one after another” to delay the repatriation. He also called for “sincere cooperation” from the neighbouring countries in returning the refugees. Click here to read...

CHINA
Xi demands high-level research institutions for strong military: People’s Daily
May 17, 2018

President Xi Jinping Wednesday stressed accelerating the development of modern military science, and building high-level military research institutions to support the building of a strong military in the new era. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks during an inspection of the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Science. Click here to read...

Xi backs DPRK development: China Daily
May 17, 2018

China supports the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in developing its economy and improving the people's livelihood, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday. Xi made the remark while meeting with a high-level delegation led by Pak Thae-song, a member of the Political Bureau and vice-chairman of its Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The delegation consisted of senior officials from all provinces and cities of the DPRK. Click here to read...

UN: China cities to undergo heavy urban growth by 2050: People’s Daily
May 17, 2018

By 2050 almost 20 percent of China’s residents could be living in the country’s cities or other urban areas, according to a new United Nations (UN) report released Wednesday by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), highlighting the need for more sustainable urban planning and public services. DESA released the findings in its annual World Urbanization Prospects 2018 which also said the global population increase is expected to happen in highly-concentrated areas and only in a handful of countries. Click here to read...

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