VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 28th May, 2018
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PAKISTAN
Number of non-Muslim voters in Pakistan shows rise of over 30pc: Dawn
May 28, 2018

The number of voters belonging to religious minorities in the country has climbed to 3.63 million from 2.77m registered in electoral rolls for the 2013 general elections — registering an increase of 0.860m or 30 per cent in five years. According to the latest official document available with Dawn, Hindu voters continue to maintain their majority among the minorities, but they no more constitute over half of total non-Muslim voters as was the case in 2013. The number of Hindu voters before 2013 polls was 1.40m while total number of voters of minority communities was 2.77m — the former being higher than the collective number of all other minorities. The number of Hindu voters now stands at 1.77m. They are mostly concentrated in Sindh where in two districts they form over 40 per cent of total registered voters. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
Afghanistan Criticizes Pakistan’s Unilateral Decision Over FATA: Tolo
May 27, 2018

Afghanistan has strongly criticized Pakistan’s unilateral decision on merging the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, saying the move was in contravention of the 1921 treaty signed between Afghanistan and the then British India. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s former president Hamid Karzai has said that the merge of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province will not impact the Durand Line. “While we are very happy to see the removal of the oppressive FCR and the mainstreaming of FATA, I remind the government of Pakistan of the verdict of the Afghan people regarding the nonrecognition of Durand Line,” Karzai tweeted. “The Afghan government by realizing the colonial and inhuman oppressive system in the tribal regions believes that the unilateral decision aimed at stripping the autonomy of tribal regions is not the solution while we have not the consensus of the people and the suggestion of the Afghan government regarding the issue,” said deputy presidential spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal. Click here to read...

NEPAL
Survey paints bleak financial picture: Kathmandu Post
May 28, 2018

As Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada prepares to unveil the budget for the next fiscal year on Tuesday, he faces an uphill task of oiling the state machinery with the federal government reeling under financial stress, mainly due to growing budget deficit and depleting foreign reserves. Outlined in the Economic Survey 2017-18, the financial stress could force the government to dig deep into the tax base to generate enough resources for financing the next fiscal plan. The survey presented to both the Houses of Parliament on Sunday projected Nepal’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at 5.9 percent to Rs3 trillion this fiscal year. This is the second highest growth rate achieved by the country in the past decade. While the survey highlights some positive indicators such as rises in per capita income and foreign direct investment (FDI) commitments, GDP growth of around six percent and better revenue mobilisation, the country’s economy is also challenged by a balance of payment (BoP) deficit, ever widening trade deficit, slowdown in remittance growth rate and rising inflation. Click here to read...

BANGLADESH
Changes to Citizenship Act stuck over inclusion of Bangladesh: Hindustan Times
May 27, 2018

Caught between apprehension by some Opposition parties and public protests in parts of Assam, the proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act may hit a roadblock unless the government is willing to remove refugees from Bangladesh as beneficiaries, according to people familiar with the developments. The Congress and the Left are not in support of the bill in its current form and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has made it clear that it wants Bangladesh to be excluded from the purview of the bill, the people in the know said. The joint House panel headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Rajendra Agarwal cancelled its latest meeting on May 25, which according to a panel member who asked not to be named, was “an indication that the panel wants to tread cautiously and not prepare the report in haste”. Click here to read...

MALDIVES
Electoral watchdog green lights President Yameen's re-election bid: Haveeru
May 28, 2018

Elections Commission (EC) has revealed that ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)'s approval for President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s re-election bid is in accordance with the party charter. The electoral watchdog had investigated the approval of incumbent president’s re-election bid amidst allegations that the party council’s approval was in conflict with its charter. EC member Ahmed Akram stated that the ruling party had earlier submitted the bid to the commission along with its party charter. According to Akram, Section 69 of PPM’s charter allows the outgoing president to seek re-election on behalf of the party, provided there are no objections from the party council. Therefore, the electoral watchdog has concluded that the council's decision was made in line with the party’s regulations. The PPM party charter states that if another member or members show interest in partaking in the run for presidency, the member will be required to compete against the party leader in the party primary elections in order to run for presidential candidacy. Click here to read...

CHINA
China firmly opposes US provocation in its territorial waters: China Daily
May 28, 2018

China resolutely opposes two US warships trespassing into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands, said a Ministry of National Defense spokesperson on Sunday. Without the permission of the Chinese government, the two US warships trespassed into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands on Sunday, spokesperson Wu Qian said. The Chinese navy dispatched vessels and aircrafts immediately to identify, warn and expel them. Click here to read...

China races to be world’s leader in big data industry: People’s Daily
May 28, 2018

China is racing to be the world's leader in the big data industry, which is expected to improve people's lives, Chinese observers said. But they warned that data protection still remains a problem. China will become the world's largest data producer, accounting for about a fifth of global data by 2020, as the nation ramps up resources to integrate cutting-edge information technologies into the real economy, Chen Zhaoxiong, vice-minister of industry and information technology, said at the start of the China International Big Data Industry Expo 2018, which opened Saturday in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China's Guizhou Province, gog.cn, a news site affiliated with Guizhou provincial government, reported on Saturday. Click here to read...

China steps up pace in new nuclear arms race with US and Russia as experts warn of rising risk of conflict: South China Morning Post
May 28, 2018

China is aggressively developing its next generation of nuclear weapons, conducting an average of five tests a month to simulate nuclear blasts, according to a major Chinese weapons research institute. Click here to read...

China’s schools are quietly using AI to mark students’ essays ... but do the robots make the grade?: South China Morning Post
May 27, 2018

One in every four schools in China is quietly testing a powerful machine that uses artificial intelligence to mark pupils’ work, according to scientists involved in the government programme. The technology is designed to understand the general logic and meaning of the text and make a reasonable, human-like judgment about the essay’s overall quality. Click here to read...

Xi urges joint push for globalism: China Daily
May 26, 2018

President says China, France can work together to promote world economic growth. China would like to make joint efforts with France to uphold multilateralism, cope with global challenges, promote free trade and facilitate investment, President Xi Jinping said on Friday. Xi made the remarks while meeting with Francois Hollande, former French president, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. Click here to read...

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