VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: May 19, 2020
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PAKISTAN
Clerics announce resumption of congregational prayers at mosques: DAWN

Prominent clerics and noted scholars on Monday announced resumption of five-time congregational prayers at mosques across the country, hoping the government this time would not put any hurdle and saying uncertainty about the end of coronavirus could not stop people from activities of daily life and regular business. The congregations were banned when the countrywide lockdown was imposed in March to contain the spread of coronavirus. Click here to read....

AFGHANISTAN
Trump Denies Acting 'Impulsively' on Afghanistan: TOLO News

US President Donald Trump says he is not acting “impulsively” on the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, responding to a Wall Street Journal editorial saying he will pull American forces from the country before the United States Election Day in November. The US late in February agreed on a gradual reduction of its forces in Afghanistan as part of the deal signed with the Taliban, however, US military officials in Kabul have insisted that the withdrawal is dependent on the situation on the ground, leaving room for a change of plans. Click here to read....

BANGLADESH
Cyclone Amphan closing in with raging winds: Dhaka Tribune

Super cyclone Amphan is now only 700 kilometers away from Bangladesh coastal area with wind speed rising up to 245 kilometers per hour (kph), Bangladesh Meteorological Department said in a special bulletin. As of 9am on Tuesday, the cyclone was located at 845 kilometres southwest of Chittagong port, 795 kilometre southwest of Cox’s Bazar port, 730 south southwest of Mongla port and 725 kilometre south-southwest of Payra port. Click here to read....

MYANMAR
Shan drug seizures are largest in East, Southeast Asia: Myanmar Times

The Tatmadaw’s (military’s) latest seizures of synthetic drugs in Shan State are the largest in East and Southeast Asia, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a statement on May 18. The month-long operation in Kutkai Township in Shan netted about 18 tonnes of methamphetamine, 3748.5 litres of methyl fentanyl, and 35.5 tonnes and 163,000 litres of precursor chemicals, the largest and most successful counter-narcotics operation in the history of the country and region. Click here to read....

NEPAL
Cabinet endorses new political map that includes all territories that Nepal claims: The Kathmandu Post

The government has endorsed an updated political map of Nepal that includes contested lands on the northwestern edge of the country, up to Limpiyadhura. Minister for Land Management Padma Aryal had tabled the updated political map at Monday’s Cabinet meeting. The map was subsequently endorsed. “Today’s Cabinet meeting endorsed the updated map of Nepal proposed by the Ministry of Land Management,” said Yubaraj Khatiwada, the government spokesperson, at a press briefing following the Cabinet meeting. “The new map includes Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani.” Click here to read....

BHUTAN
PHPA I resorts to local materials and manpower: Kuensel

The Punatsangchhu I hydroelectric project (PHPA I) may be delayed for years, but with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the project, there are some positive developments at the project. With the lockdown in India and borders sealed, the PHPA I management resorted to recruiting Bhutanese nationals to fill the vacancies and using materials from home country such as cement and steel. Click here to read....

SRI LANKA
Security forces instructed to foil mass gatherings in the north: Daily Mirror

In a bid to control the spread of coronavirus, the Defence Ministry has instructed the security forces in the north to take necessary action to prevent gatherings and meetings from taking place in Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. “With information reaching the ministry that several groups have planned to gather individuals to commemorate the ‘Mullivaikkal Day’ ignoring advices given by provincial health authorities, the ministry instructed security forces commanders in the north to strictly follow provisions in the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance No.03 of 1897 amended by extraordinary gazette No.2167/18,” the ministry said. Click here to read....

CHINA
Virus Outbreak: WHA members delay vote on Taiwan to later in year: Taipei Times

At the start of their first-ever virtual World Health Assembly (WHA), WHO member states agreed to delay a controversial discussion on granting Taiwan observer status until later in the year. The agreement came after WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pledged to launch an independent probe to review the coronavirus pandemic response as soon as possible, and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) announced that China would provide US$2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout. Click here to read....

China Vows More Tariff Cuts, Broader Opening in Restructuring Agenda: Caixin

China will further reduce tariffs and nontariff trade barriers, expanding imports of goods and services to improve the balance of trade, according to a sweeping reform document issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the State Council on Monday. Click here to read....

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