VIF Information Alerts - 23th May 2018
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Trump's Pick to Oversee Afghanistan Could Signal a New Approach
Published: Time
23 May 2018

Army Lt. Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller has been tapped to be the next commander of U.S.-led military forces in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said, as waves of attacks continue to rock the wartorn nation after nearly 17 years of conflict. Miller, who spent much of his 35-year career commanding Special Operations forces, will step from the shadows to lead a war effort that has seen few strategic successes since President Donald Trump announced his new strategy nine months ago. Click here to read...

Baby powder helping fund Islamic State in Afghanistan: report
Published: Reuters
23 May 2018

Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from illegal mining of talc, much of which ends up in the United States and Europe, advocacy group Global Witness reported on Tuesday. About 500,000 tonnes of talc, used in products ranging from paint to baby powder, were exported from Afghanistan in the year to March, according to Afghan mining ministry figures cited in the group’s report. Click here to read...

Julie Bishop raises objections to China's activities in South China Sea
Published: The Guardian
22 May 2018

Julie Bishop has raised objections to China’s militarisation of the South China Sea after weekend reports that a Chinese bomber capable of carrying a nuclear warhead had been on the disputed Paracel Islands. With relations between Canberra and Beijing tense, courtesy of the Turnbull government’s pursuit of a crackdown against foreign interference, the Australian foreign minister has held a lengthy meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Argentina. Click here to read...

No agreement with Pakistan on resolving Indus Waters dispute: World Bank
Published: Hindustan Times
23 May 2018

The World Bank has said it failed to arrive at an agreement with a visiting Pakistani delegation on a way forward to address Islamabad’s concerns regarding the Indus Waters Treaty with India. Over two days –Monday and Tuesday-- a high-powered Pakistani delegation led by Attorney General, Ashtar Ausaf Ali, met with Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank chief executive officer, and the regional management for South Asia.

During the meetings, held at Pakistan’s request to discuss issues regarding the Indus Waters Treaty and opportunities within the treaty to seek an amicable resolution, “several procedural options” for resolving the disagreement over the interpretation of the treaty’s provisions were discussed, the bank said. Click here to read...

Manmohan Singh borrowed economic reforms strategies from Pakistan and successfully implemented, says top minister
Published: Financial Express
22 May 2018

Pakistan has squandered the economic growth opportunity in the past because of political instability, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has said, asserting that “tanks and missiles” alone cannot save a country. Iqbal, who is also the Minister for Planning and and Development, claimed that during the 90s then Indian finance minister Manmohan Singh borrowed economic reforms strategies from his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz and successfully implemented them in India, the Express Tribune Reported. He said Bangladesh also successfully used the same strategies but Pakistan could not put its own plans to use as the decade was lost to political instability. Click here to read...

Rohingya militants massacred Hindus in Myanmar, says Amnesty
Published: The Guardian
22 May 2018

The Rohingya military group Arsa carried out deadly massacres and abductions of the Hindu community in Myanmar’s Rakhine state last year, a new report by Amnesty International has revealed. Testimony collected by Amnesty from dozens of witnesses and survivors of the attacks in Rakhine in August have detailed how up to 99 Hindu men, women and children were killed by Arsa militants armed with knives, swords and sticks. Only those who agreed to convert to Islam were spared. Click here to read...

Bangladesh launches 'Philippine-style' war on drugs
Published: Deutsche Welle
21 May 2018

Security forces claim that 26 suspected drug dealers were killed during several raids in different parts of Bangladesh. At least nine suspected traffickers were killed on Monday alone in the government's crackdown on the "drug menace." "We've contained (Islamist) militancy,'' said Bangladesh's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina. "Now we've taken an initiative to save the country from this drug menace."

Bangladeshi authorities have increasingly focused their attention on illegal drugs, particularly yaba, a mixture of caffeine and methamphetamine. Anti-narcotics officials said they seized a record 40 million yaba pills last year but admitted that an estimated 250-300 million pills entered the market. An official at Dhaka's Department of Narcotics Control said about $600 million (€509 million) worth of yaba, which is popular with the youth, could be consumed in Bangladesh this year. Click here to read...

Sri Lanka finance minister warns on worsening debt crisis
Published: Public Finance International
22 May 2018

Sri Lanka’s debt crisis will worsen as a series of costly projects commissioned by the former government has resulted in record-high repayments, the country’s finance minister has said. Mangala Samaraweera said payment of capital and interest would reach $2.84bn this year. “The crisis will further worsen next year,” he said, adding that repayments are forecast to reach $4.28bn in 2019. "Repayments will go to pay the debts that were obtained during the Rajapaksa regime,” he added. Click here to read...

Indian embassy's camp office in Nepal's Biratnagar to be shut down
Published: DNA
22 May 2018

Indian embassy’s camp office in Nepal’s Biratnagar will soon be shut down and re-located, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Monday. During his visit to Nepal last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed this decision to Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. The Biratnagar camp office, according to the MEA, was opened in 2008 to deal with the situation arising out of devastating Koshi floods. Click here to read...

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