VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 4th February, 2019
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PAKISTAN
Taliban talking to US from position of strength: Ahmed Rashid: Dawn
February 4, 2019

While sharing his views about the ongoing negotiations between the United States and the Taliban, renowned foreign policy author Ahmed Rashid on Sunday said the Taliban were talking from a position of strength as they controlled more territory than the Afghan government. “What I think is crucial is that the Taliban have now found an America that is willing to talk. Even the initiative taken by Richard Holbrooke and other American diplomats in the past – never had the full backing of the President or the US establishment. Now the Taliban are finding that Trump is determined to pull out and this was his promise to his own voter base in the US,” said Mr Rashid. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
Atmar Calls Moscow Talks ‘A Starting Point’: Tolo

Former National Security Advisor and presidential candidate Mohammad Haneef Atmar has confirmed that he will attend the Moscow talks along with other “leaders of the country”, calling it an important step and a starting point for inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations. Former president Hamid Karzai, former vice president Mohammad Yunus Qanuni, former Balkh governor and Jamiat-e-Islami member Atta Mohammad Noor, Jamiat-e-Islami member Mohammad Ismail Khan, second deputy chief executive and Wahday party member Mohammad Mohaqiq, head of National Islamic Front of Afghanistan Sayed Hamid Gailani, former member of Taliban Abdul Salam Zaeef and Zabihullah Mujaddedi, son of former president Sebghatullah Mujaddedi are Afghan politicians who will reportedly attend the meeting. Click here to read...

NEPAL
Nepal to resume talks with Bhutan on refugee repatriation: Kathmandu Post
February 4, 2019

Nepal has decided to resume talks with Bhutan to repatriate the remaining 6,500 Bhutanese refugees who are living in two camps in Jhapa. The initiative will be first in the last one and a half decades after the 15th round of ministerial-level talks with Thimphu failed in 2003. A Cabinet meeting on December 3 had decided to resume talks with Thimphu and mandated three ministers and as many secretaries to prepare policy, strategy and work plan for the repatriation of refugees. Click here to read...

SRI LANKA
73 Indians Arrested In Sri Lanka For Visa Violations: NDTV
February 2, 2019

Seventy-three Indians have been arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities for violating visa norms this year, officials said on Saturday. A total of 49 Indian nationals were arrested on Saturday from a factory in Matugama, about 60 km from Colombo, the Immigration and Emigration Department officials said. They were staying beyond the visa term, they added. Last month, 24 Indians, who were employed in a factory at Ingiriya, were arrested for staying beyond their visa term, officials said. Click here to read...

CHINA
Celebrating Spring Festival far out at sea: People's Daily
February 4, 2019

The Chinese New Year will begin on Tuesday, marking the start of the Year of the Pig. The brave men and women crewing the Chinese naval escort fleet curtailing piracy and escorting civilian ships in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia, embrace festivities for the New Year in their own way-far away from home. The People's Liberation Army Navy celebrated the 10th anniversary of escort missions in the region in December. Over the last decade, China has dispatched 31 escort task forces, which included more than 100 ships and 26,000 personnel, and has helped escort around 6,600 vessels-half of which were foreign owned. Click here to read...

Is China’s corruption-busting AI system ‘Zero Trust’ being turned off for being too efficient?: South China Morning Post
February 4, 2019

What would you do if you had a machine to catch a thief? If you were a corrupt Chinese bureaucrat, you would want to ditch it, of course. Resistance by government officials to a groundbreaking big data experiment is only one of many challenges as the Chinese government starts using new technology to navigate its giant bureaucracy. According to state media, there were more than 50 million people on China’s government payroll in 2016, though analysts have put the figure at more than 64 million – slightly less than the population of Britain. Click here to read...

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