‘Two-presidents dilemma’ rings alarm bells of ‘partition’
Afghanistan Times | 10th March
 
Amid risks of political polarization, the Senate has taken umbrage at acrimonious feud between the political rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah, warning that the parallel swearing-in ceremonies could present the insurmountable dilemma of ‘partition’.
Senators have warned that inauguration ceremonies of the two presidential rivals has rang the terrifying alarm bells of partition of Afghanistan. They urged both the political leaders to iron out their differences and unite for restoration of peace.

Indian funded project for the coastal protection of A.A. Rasdhoo inaugurated
Maldives Times | 9th March
 
The coastal protection project at Alifu Atholhu Uthuruburi Rasdhoo was inaugurated. The project is funded under the grant assistance of the Indian Government. A total of 8 million Rufiyaa has been allocated for this project. The Government of Maldives will also contribute 5.3 million Rufiyaa to the project.
The work has been contracted to the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) and is supervised by the Ministry of National Planning and Infrastructure.

 

India-Myanmar trade hit by border closures
Myanmar Times | 12th March
 
Trade across the India-Myanmar border slows due to the closure of border gates in Mizoram and Manipur, India, ordered by government of India as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus outbreak sweeping the world.
Chin State and Sagaing Region in Myanmar share borders with Manipur and Mizoram in India.
Myanmar traders say the state governments of Mizoram and Manipur ordered three border gates closed on March 9.

 

 

AFGHANISTAN

 

Ghani signs decree to release 1500 Taliban prisoners ahead of intra-Afghan talks
The Khaama Press | 11th March
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani signed a decree to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners ahead of the intra-Afghan talks, the ARG Palace said.
Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for ARG Palace said President Ghani signed a decree to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners from Parwan Prison with effect from 14th of March.
Sediqqi further added, President Ghani signed the decree as a gesture of goodwill and on the occasion of the launch of intra-Afghan talks between the government and the Taliban group.
 
Taliban Hopeful about Results of Intra-Afghan Talks
Daily Outlook Afghanistan | 10th March
Some members of the Taliban’s negotiating team have said that the intra-Afghan talks will be easier for them than their talks with the United States, which continued for 18 months concluded with a signed deal on Feb. 29.
The Afghan government and the Taliban are expected to attend the intra-Afghan negotiations by March 10, according to terms in the US-Taliban deal, which says up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners should be released from the government’s custody by the same date. Amir Khan Motaqi, a Taliban negotiator, who appeared with other members of the group in a video report by nunn.asia – a pro-Taliban website--said he is almost sure that an agreement will be achieved by the intra-Afghan talks.
 
Ghani dissolves Office of the Chief Executive
The Khaama Press | 11th March
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has dissolved the Office of Chief Executive amid looming political crisis following the controversial announcement of presidential elections.
Sources in ARG Palace have said President Ghani has issued a decree dissolving the Office of the Chief Executive.
The sources further added that the decree specifically states that none of the official letters issued from the Office of the Chief Executive status.
This comes as both Abdullah Abdullah and Mohammad Ashaf Ghani held parallel oath taking ceremonies in capital Kabul.
 
Taliban Rejects Afghan Govt Offer to Free 1,500 Prisoners Before Talks
Daily Outlook Afghanistan (TRT) | 12th March
After a series of delays, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree early Wednesday promising the release of 1,500 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture to get intra-Afghan negotiations started.
Taliban rejected the offer, saying all 5,000 prisoners must be freed for such talks to begin.
A recent peace deal signed between the US and the Taliban called for the release of up to 5,000 prisoners ahead of the much sought-after negotiations. But President Ghani has declined to release all 5,000 in one go. Instead, he has ordered the release of an initial 1,500, with the other 3,500 to be set free in parallel with progress in the peace talks.
 
Russia warns about the emerging internal political crisis in Afghanistan
The Khaama Press | 12th March
Russia has warned that the emerging internal political crisis, exacerbated by two parallel inauguration ceresmonies of Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah, could undermine the intra-Afghan talks.
Commenting on parallel oath taking ceremonies, the Foreign Ministry of Russia said “We call on all responsible political actors of Afghanistan to adhere solely to common national interests, to focus their efforts on national reconciliation process, which should lead to end of the civil war and to rebuilding of peaceful, united and independent state, free of terrorism and drug-related crime.”
         
 

BANGLADESH

 
 
Rohingya: Momen requests Vietnam to start process for creating observer group
Prothom Alo | 10th March
Bangladesh has requested Vietnam to initiate a process under the ASEAN framework for creating a civilian observer group that would monitor the return of the 1.1 million Rohingyas from Bangladesh to their homeland Myanmar.
Vietnamese ambassador to Bangladesh Pham Viet Chien met foreign minister AK Abdul Momen at his office in the foreign ministry and discussed the issue, reports UNB.
 
Ecnec approves Tk 17,777cr Matarbari Project
Bangladesh Post | 10th March
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved nine projects to be implemented at an estimated cost of Tk 24,113.27 crore. Of the projects, seven are new and two are revised projects, including Matarbari Port Development Project at Tk 17,777.16 crore in a bid to enhance the cargo handling capacity of the country.
The approval came at a meeting held at NEC conference room in the city’s Agargaon area on Tuesday with ECNEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said, “Of the total project cost, Tk 6,151.26 crore will come from the Government of Bangladesh, Tk 2,213.25 crore from the concerned organization’s own fund while the rest of Tk 15,748.76 crore as project assistance,”
 
Bangabandhu’s birth centenary Modi to join celebrations online
Bangladesh Post | 11th March
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join the birth centenary celebrations of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on March 17 next through videoconferencing, reports UNB.
He will send a video message on the occasion, said Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Wednesday.
India will also provide 150 ambulances to Bangladesh, he said.
 
Govt cancels parade, gatherings on Independence Day
Prothom Alo | 12th March
In the wake of the detection of coronavirus in the country, the government has decided to suspend the Independence Day parade this time, according to UNB.
The cabinet division issued a notification on the revised national programmes of the Genocide Day and Independence Day.
Some other programmes will continue as usual, it said.
The death toll from coronavirus or Covid-19 has reached 4,633 globally as of Thursday.
 
 

BHUTAN

 
 

Stronger Together Against COVID-19 In The land of Happiness
Daily Bhutan | 10th March
On the morning of 6th of March, In the isolated kingdom of Bhutan reported the first case of coronavirus that tested positive from an American tourist travelling to Bhutan. The patient is a 76 years old man who entered the South Asian country on Match 2nd of this year and had previously been in India since Feb 18 with his 59-year-old partner.
The news made people panic and angry that it was tourists who bought in the coronavirus to Bhutan. The government announced two weeks restriction on all the incoming tourists from immediate effect. Schools in Thimphu and Paro were shut down followed by schools in Wangdue Phodrang and Phuntsholing.
 
Labour minister among Young Global Leaders for 2020
Kuensel | 12th March
The minister of Labour and Human Resources, Ugyen Dorji, is one of the 15 Young Global Leaders of 2020. Lyonpo has been recognized as one of the Forum of Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum – joining a community of people dedicated to changing the world for the better.
The Forum of Young Global Leaders is an area where leaders from different areas share their ideas and passion for the community’s success and development. The Forum of Young Global under a rigorous process identify world’s most promising and compelling leaders under the age of 40, according to the Forum’s website.
 

 

MALDIVES

 
 

Abu Dhabi Fund for Development to finance $50mln for Maldives projects
Maldives Times | 11th March
The Abu Dhabi Fund for DevelopmentADFD, the leading national entity for economic development aid, signed an agreement with the government of Maldives to provide funding support to the tune of US$50 million (AED184 million) for infrastructure development projects in the Maldives.
The agreement was signed by Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, ADFD Director-General, and Abdulla Shahid, Maldives’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the presence of several senior officials from both sides.
 
OIC hails Maldives' decision to intervene at ICJ for Rohingya
The Edition | 11th March
Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Tuesday welcomed the decision of the Maldivian government to intervene at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in support of the persecuted Rohingya people.
Pakistan welcomed Maldives' decision on behalf of the OIC while delivering the organisation's statement during the discussion on Secretary-General’s Oral Update on the Involvement of the United Nations in Myanmar. Pakistan declared that the island nation's declaration to file an intervention at the ICJ added crucial momentum to pursuing justice for the Rohingya.
 
 
  

MYANMAR

 
 
Myanmar Touts $200M in Drug Seizures in Military-Backed Militia Territory
The Irrawaddy | 11th March
The Myanmar military has seized more than 121 million stimulant tablets and other precursor materials and equipment used in drug production, valued at 267 billion kyats (US$199 million), over 11 days in Kutkai Township, northern Shan State, according to the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services.
Busts at drug production facilities have been ongoing since Feb. 28 and have yielded larger hauls than in years past. The military’s seizures of drugs across all of Myanmar from Jan. 1 to Aug. 15, 2019 were valued at 217 billion kyats.
 
Myanmar’s Military Retains Important Political Role as NLD’s Key Charter Reforms Fail to Pass
The Irrawaddy | 10th March
More than a year of effort by the National League for Democracy (NLD) to reduce the political role granted to the Myanmar military under the 2008 Constitution ended in failure as a series of key charter amendment proposals failed to receive the required support of more than 75 percent of lawmakers.
The Union Parliament voted on amendments to 14 provisions of the Constitution, including proposals that sought to end the defense services’ national political leadership role, gradually reduce the military’s share of seats, and end both the commander-in-chief’s role as the supreme commander of the armed forces and his right to take power during an emergency.
 
Myanmar’s Suu Kyi Still Barred From Presidency as Proposed Charter Change Fails
The Irrawaddy | 11th March
A constitutional provision that bars Myanmar’s de facto leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, from becoming president remains in place, as the National League for Democracy (NLD)’s proposal to scrap the internationally and domestically notorious restriction failed to garner the required support of over 75 percent of lawmakers during a vote.
The Constitution’s Article 59(f) prevents a person from becoming president if their spouse, either of their parents, any of their children or their children’s spouses are citizens of a foreign country. The article is widely viewed as targeting a specific individual: State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whose children are British, as was her late husband.
 
 

NEPAL

 
 
India assures Nepal of facilitating energy export
The Himalayan Times | 11th March
The India government has again assured it would import electricity from Nepal in the near future.
During a meeting between Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barsha Man Pun and Indian Power Secretary Sanjiv Nandan Sahai, both the governments have agreed to expedite the implementation of existing power trade agreement between the two countries.
In the meeting, Minister Pun urged neighbouring India to purchase electricity from Nepal.
 
Govt announces sweeping travel restrictions
The Himalayan Times | 13th March
The Department of Immigration under the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued an urgent notice with travel restrictions as a measure against COVID-19.
The department issued the notice considering World Health Organization’s declaration that coronavirus outbreak was now a pandemic.
 
Nepal government puts all tourist visas on hold and cancels all spring climbing expeditions
The Kathmandu Post | 12th March
The Nepal government, decided to temporarily stop issuing on-arrival tourist visas to all countries and has put an end to all spring mountaineering expeditions, including Everest ascents.
The decision comes a day after the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic and urged countries to take precautionary measures.
“The visa suspension, which excludes diplomatic and official visas, will come into effect on March 14 and last until April 30,” a government official told the Post on condition of anonymity.
 
 

PAKISTAN

 
 
 PTI govt approves Rs23b subsidy for five export sectors
The Express Tribune | 12th March
The federal government approved Rs23 billion worth of subsidy for providing cheap electricity to five major export sectors in the current fiscal year by diverting funds meant for the supply of cheaper gas and utilising savings in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
For the next fiscal year 2020-21, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet also approved a subsidy of Rs20 billion for the five export-oriented sectors, which will be allocated in the next budget.
 
Pakistan, Canada agree to further boost Parliamentary linkages
The Nation | 12th March
Pakistan and Canada agreed to further boost parliamentary linkages to mutually benefit from social, cultural and economic prospects in both the countries.
This was deliberated in a meeting of Canadian High Commissioner Wendy Gilmour with Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani here at Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services, said a press release issue here.
The chairman senate said that Pakistan and Canada enjoyed bilateral trade and economic cooperation, but there was huge potential to further promote it.
 
Pakistan's top security panel to discuss Covid-19 action plan today
The Express Tribune | 13th March
Prime Minister Imran Khan will chair the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting today (Friday) to hammer out a strategy to deal with coronavirus as the army chief ordered his top commanders to gear up “in support of a national effort” to counter the pathogen.
According to sources, the meeting of the top consultative body will be attended by services chiefs including army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed apart from top advisers and cabinet ministers.
 
 

SRI LANKA



Queen discusses intensifying ties between UK & SL
Daily Mirror | 12th March
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and newly appointed Sri Lankan High Commission to United Kingdom Saroja Sirisena held discussions on deepening and intensifying the longstanding political, economic and cultural relations between the two countries.
This was revealed during a discussion between the Queen and High Commissioner Sirisena. Mrs Sirisena presented Letters of Credence to Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremonial event held at the Buckingham Palace.
 
Accepting nominations of candidates for the General Elections from today
Colombo Page | 12th March
Accepting nominations of candidates for the 2020 Parliamentary Election will commence, March 12th and conclude at 12 noon on the 19th March. Nominations will be accepted at respective District Secretariats.
Deposits from Independent Groups to contest the election will be accepted till noon, on the 18th of March while recognized political parties are not required to place deposits to contest Parliamentary Elections.
According to the National Election Commission 16,263,885 registered voters can exercise their franchise at the 2020 parliamentary elections scheduled to be held on 25th April.
 
Sri Lanka signs new agreement with Japanese company for Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) Terminal-2 Project
Colombo Page | 13th March
Sri Lanka’s Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited Thursday signed a new agreement with Japan’s Taisei Corporation for the second Passenger Terminal at the country’s main International Gateway - the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).

The much awaited and long overdue project to build a multilevel terminal building at the Bandaranaike International Airport will finally commence in three months and will be completed in three years said Airport and Aviation Services Ltd, (AASL) Chairman G.A. Chandrasiri.

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