VIF Neighbourhood News Digest - 08 Jan 2018
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Pakistan

Pakistan cautions US about consequences of anti-Taliban offensive: Dawn

Pakistan is believed to have told US interlocutors that a major military offensive against the Taliban from both sides of the Afghan border, if ending in failure, will have negative consequences for the entire region. Diplomatic sources, who spoke to Dawn, believe that the key element in the new US strategy for Afghanistan is to launch a two-pronged military offensive that inflicts a military defeat on the Taliban and forces them to join the Afghan reconciliation process on Kabul’s conditions.

Pakistanis do not disagree with the basic thrust of the Ameri­can argument but they have one major worry: What if it fails?Click here to read...

IS footprint on the rise in Pakistan, claims report: Dawn

Footprint of the militant Islamic State (IS) group is continuously on the rise in the country, especially in northern Sindh and Balochistan, as over the past one year responsibility for as many as six deadliest attacks, in which 153 people were killed, was claimed by this outfit. This has been claimed in a report, ‘Pakistan Security Report 2017’, released by a think-tank, Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), on Sunday. The organisation compiled its findings on the basis of its multi-source database, coupled with interviews and articles by subject experts. Click here to read...

Bangladesh

Interview: Bangladesh looks to China for investment in power hub: Xinhua

Bangladesh is looking to China for help to build a 12-billion-U.S. dollar major power hub at Payra, 204 km south of capital Dhaka, Bangladeshi State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said. In an exclusive interview with Xinhua recently, Hamid said the Bangladeshi government plans to develop the power hub which has a combined electricity generation capacity of about 9,000MW.

"We're thinking of generating at least 9,000 MW of power from here, investing 10-12 billion U.S. dollars in this area. China can be one of the big investors to make finance of this construction and take the advantage of this huge infrastructure."

In March 2016, Bangladesh signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with the consortium of two Chinese firms for the installation of some 1.56-billion-U.S. dollar coal-fired power plant in the Payra Power Hub. The Chinese consortium has already started constructing the country's first eco-friendly power plant with ultra modern clean coal technology at the electricity hub. Click here to read...

Bhutan

GST shatters the Dungsam dream: Kuensel

Dungsam Cement Corporation Limited (DCCL), which was called the country’s cash cow when it was first established, is down before it could stand on its own feet. DCCL, A Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) owned company, started with losses in billions. At a time the company was about to come out of the red, the India’s goods and services tax (GST) has killed all its dreams. The real impact was brought by the 15.125 percent tax implication, which has actually created a level playing field between local cement industries like DCCL and Indian cement manufacturers. After the implementation of GST, in India on July 1, 17 forms of state and central taxes were subsumed under one regime. Exports going out of India are zero taxed while imports to India come with IGST (integrated goods and services tax). This means a level playing field is facilitated between inter-state trade and imports into India in terms of taxes.Click here to read...

Nepal

UML, Maoist Centre agree to kickstart merger process: Kathmandu Post

A much awaited meeting between two top leaders of the left alliance has paved the way for unification of the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) “within a few days”, leaders said. Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had reached UML Chair KP Sharma Oli’s residence in Balkot on Sunday evening soon after arriving from Chitwan. Negotiations that lasted two hours are said to have resolved a number of outstanding issues. “We’ve decided to finalise the merger process within a few days,” Dahal said after the meeting. However, the two leaders have not revealed the modalities of power-sharing in the new government and the unified party. Fearing that the merger process may derail if too many leaders are involved in talks, Oli and Dahal have been entrusted by their parties with agreeing to a merger roadmap. Click here to read...

Srilanka

Japanese FM visits Colombo port: Daily Mirror

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has visited the port of Colombo in Sri Lanka on Friday. Kono was briefed by Sri Lankan government officials about a project under consideration to expand the port. It is the largest port in Sri Lanka, which is a strategically important point in Indian Ocean sea lanes. The Japanese government has been involved in building port facilities there for many years. Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers on a counter-piracy mission off Somalia have made calls at the port. The Japanese government wants to promote cooperation for the port expansion project. China is increasing involvement in port development in Sri Lanka. Before the port visit, Kono told reporters that projects to build ports and other infrastructure should be open to any country. Click here to read...

Afghanistan

Noor Ready to Run for President: Tolo News

Atta Mohammad Noor, the ousted governor northern Balkh province says he would consider running for president in the 2019 presidential elections if the leadership of Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan asked him to. “If the leaders of Jamiat and members of Jamiat and our allies ask me to accept this responsibility, I will be a candidate,” Noor said on Sunday. In an interview with Reuters, Noor who also serves as the chief executive of the party said that the leadership of national unity government has lost the trust of the Afghan public. Noor also blasted CEO Abdullah Abdullah and said that Abdullah has lost trust among Jamiat-e-Islami leadership. He described Abdullah a weak leader, adding that Jamiat will no longer trust him.Click here to read...

Myanmnar

Western FDI to fall in 2018 as Rakhine crisis continues: Myanmar Times

Foreign direct investments (FDI) to Myanmar from the West are expected to be less than previous years’ as a result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in northern Rakhine, said U Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) and general director of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA). “We do not expect high volumes of FDI from the West over the next 2-3 years,” U Aung Naing Oo said. “Instead, we will rely on the continuous flow of investments from the East Asian countries.” Click here to read...

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