VIF Neighbourhood News Digest – December 06, 2022

Zardari Expects to Talk With Kabul Over Threats Facing Pakistan: Tolo News

Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said they are expecting to work with an “interim authority” in Afghanistan to “address the challenges posed by the terrorist organizations.” He made the remarks in an interview with Al-Jazeera in response to a question asked about Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
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Mawlawi Yaqoob Meets with UAE President: Tolo News

Acting Defense Minister Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob, leading a delegation of the Islamic Emirate to the UAE, met with the President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, local news agencies reported.

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Iranian Envoy: US Seeks to Show Afghanistan in Shambles without Its Presence: The Khaama Press

Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian Special Envoy for Afghanistan, on Monday, December 5, said that the US has muddied the situation in Afghanistan by inflaming ethnic and religious conflict during the past year.
He further stated that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is still operational in Afghanistan, despite the military pullout, and that the US still has control over Afghanistan’s airspace.

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Signs of the economy turning around in November –Dhaka Tribune

Latest data from Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) shows that export earnings turned out to be a record $5.092 billion in November. The previous record was $4.9 billion in December last year.
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Dec 10 rally venue not fixed yet – The Daily Star

With only four days left for BNP’s December 10 rally in the capital, the complications over the venue are yet to be resolved. The party has sought the National Eidgah field for the rally after police denied the permission to hold it in the Arambagh intersection as an alternative to Nayapaltan and Suhrawardy Udyan. Police said they will not allow rallies or public gatherings on the streets of the capitals and such events can only be held on open grounds.
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Bad debts going worse – The Daily Star

Misgovernance, corruption, nepotism and subsequent bad debts keep plaguing the banking landscape of Bangladesh. Central bank data reveals that non-performing loans (NPL) have swelled to a whopping Tk 134,396 crore as of September this year, accounting for 9.36 percent of the total loans disbursed. Nearly 29 percent of the loans disbursed by the six state-owned banks have been defaulted on as of September. This is despite the relaxed loan classification rules to allow banks to window-dress their accounts and make their financial health look sound.
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Fighting corruption – Kuensel Online

A small country like Bhutan is finding it difficult to address corruption. For international visitors, this is something that they cannot comprehend. Why, they ask. We do not have adequate answers. In Bhutan, corruption cases are on the rise and are difficult to treat. This is from Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) annual report 2021-2022.
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BML celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities – Raajje

The country’s national bank revealed via a press release on Sunday, that they kicked off celebrations to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, in partnership with the Maldives Deaf Association (MDA). As such, a children’s evening was held in Guraidhoo island of Kaafu atoll to celebrate the day. More than 200 individuals from the Home for People with Special Needs, joined the event to participate in the activities.
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MNDF seize 3 Sri Lankan vessels fishing sharks in Maldivian territory – Edition

The Maldives authorities apprehended three Sri Lankan vessels that were illegally fishing sharks within Maldivian territory. Maldives National Defence Force’s (MNDF) Coast Guard discovered the vessels while patrolling the country’s borders. The boats were inside Maldives territory and a large quantity of sharks and other varieties of fish were found onboard the vessels, MNDF reported. MNDF is currently attempting to bring the vessels to Malé; the authority stated they will be able to dock them near Kaafu atoll Dhoonidhoo sometime around 01:00 am on Tuesday. The Coast Guard confirmed that two of the three vessels were taken into custody earlier on 30 November. The vessels, “Banuzan” and “Rathu 01” had six Sri Lankans crew members.
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Myanmar Resistance Inflicts More Casualties on Junta Forces – The Irrawaddy

The Myanmar junta’s military suffered casualties as People’s Defense Force groups (PDFs) and an ethnic armed organization (EAO) attacked regime targets across the country. Incidents were reported in Kachin and Mon states and Sagaing, Magwe and Mandalay regions. The Irrawaddy has collected the following reports of significant attacks from PDFs and the EAO. Some military casualties could not be independently verified.
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Myanmar Junta Takes Delivery of FTC-2000G Fighter Jets from China – The Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s military regime has taken delivery of six FTC-2000G fighter jets purchased from China, according to Myanmar-based observers monitoring the regime’s air force. The six fighter jets arrived in November and are currently being checked over at Meiktila airbase in Mandalay Region before their deployment to Namhsan airbase in southern Shan State, according to regime air force sources. The jets are likely to be used in the regime’s ongoing airstrikes against civilians and resistance forces fighting alongside ethnic armed groups across the country.
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Myanmar remains on US religious freedom blacklist – UCA news

Military-ruled Myanmar has been named among 12 countries by the United States that are of “particular concern” for religious freedom violations. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, joined China, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua and North Korea on Washington’s blacklist for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act 1998, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Dec. 2.
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India and Myanmar Junta Using Rakhine Truce to Finalize Trade Corridor – The Irrawaddy

New Delhi is using the informal truce between Myanmar’s military regime and the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State to finalize its mega transport project linking the two countries. Indian Consul Jay Krishna met junta-appointed Rakhine State chief minister Dr. Aung Kyaw Min for talks on the India-backed Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project on Friday, just days after the ceasefire began. The transport project, which is considered crucial for New Delhi’s ambitious Act East Policy, has been delayed partly by the fighting between junta forces and the AA, an ethnic armed organization that operates in Rakhine and parts of Chin State along the border with India and Bangladesh.
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Four ruling parties agree to continue partnership – The Kathmandu Post
With the count of first-past-the-post votes completed and that of the Proportional Representation ballots nearing end, the ruling coalition partners held their first meeting at Baluwatar and decided to continue with the existing five-party alliance led by the Nepali Congress.
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Embankment row highlights urgency of settling border issues with India – The Kathmandu Post

Earlier in the day, Nepalis and those on the Indian side had chanted slogans against each other and pelted stones. At the root of the dispute is the ongoing construction of the embankment. Earlier, there had been an agreement between Nepali and Indian officials whereby both sides would refrain from constructing embankments along the disputed parts of the river.
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NC stands first in PA seat tally, clinches 110 out of 330 seats – Khabarhub

Out of 330 PA members elected from seven provinces, and the major ruling NC has won 111 seats. The party has emerged the largest party in three provinces: Bagmati, Gandaki and Sudurpaschim while the main opposition CPN-UML is the largest party in the Province 1, Madhes province and Lumbini province. UML has won a total 91 seats.
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Nepal opens nighttime business to boost its ailing economy, tourism income – The Kathmandu Post

After almost a decade and a half, the Nepali authorities have adopted a “liberal policy” to allow nighttime businesses across the country to flourish, thereby giving a boost to economic activities. Economists say it’s a landmark decision because the local economy benefits a great deal from a vibrant nightlife. But the policy is still restrictive.
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PDM amenable to ‘unconditional’ talks with Imran: Dawn

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Monday expressed its willingness to engage former prime minister Imran Khan in a dialogue to break the prevailing political impasse, but said it wanted the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to let go of its conditions.

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Pakistan concedes to China’s demand: The Express Tribune

Pakistan on Monday caved in to China’s demand for opening a revolving bank account that would partially save Chinese power plants from circular debt but it may cause concern among officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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President’s caution to Imran Khan about ‘red barrier’: The News

PTI chairman Imran Khan was reportedly cautioned after the change of command in the army by President Arif Alvi to strictly direct his leaders and social media team not to attack the new army chief and the military. PTI chairman Imran Khan was reportedly cautioned after the change of command in the army by President Arif Alvi to strictly direct his leaders and social media team not to attack the new army chief and the military. A PTI source while sharing a screenshot of the Whatsapp message conveyed to the party leadership and the social media team, claimed that President Alvi conveyed to Khan that the new military establishment respect of the institution is like a ‘red-barrier,’ which should not be crossed.

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Stalemate on 9th review: IMF to stay engaged with govt on targets: The News

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will continue its dialogue and engagement with Pakistan on policies and reforms needed to keep bailout programme’s targets on track and to complete the pending ninth review, a Fund official said on Monday. An IMF review for the release of the next tranche under bailout funding has been pending since September, though Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s last week said that Pakistan met all targets for the 9th review.

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Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan leaders’ commitment to economic revival through reforms highly appreciable, ADB Vice President – Daily News

Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President Shixen Chen said international monetary agencies are highly impressed with the strength of the Sri Lankan leadership and its commitment to achieve speedy economic revival through reforms in monetary sectors. He stated this when he called on Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday (5) at the Prime Minister’s Office in Colombo. He said the current visit is aimed at finalizing proposed ADB projects for next year and assured ADB’s support for the country’s development and its efforts to overcome economic and fiscal challenges.
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President says no plans for reforms; stresses need for new economic model – Daily Mirror

“What is the plan for reform? Frankly, I have no plan for it. What reforms when we don’t have an economy,” Wickremesinghe told the inaugural session of Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2022, themed ‘Resetting from turmoil to opportunity’. The annual event, which was kicked off yesterday, is organise by the country’s premier business chamber, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. “The government will not have plans for reform. What we want to do is to build a new economy. But is the private sector ready for it? Can you handle the pain,” Wickremesinghe asked the business leaders present in the audience, who appeared shocked for a moment.
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Australian High Commissioner visits Hambantota Int’l Port – Daily News

As part of their visit to the Hambantota International Port (HIP) last week Australian High Commissioner Paul Stephens and his entourage learned about the activities and operations of the port. The High Commissioner who was visiting the South of Sri Lanka for the first time, showed special interest in the port’s ongoing business and the value addition HIP brings to the table, which would be a winning factor for possible collaboration in future. The entourage toured the port following the discussion.
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