Taliban is a Strategic Tool for Pakistan’s Foreign Policy

The Khaama Press | 26th March

After the Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan as an independent state on 14 August 1947, Islamabad military strategists have focused on the idea of strategic depth in Afghanistan: the notion that in any war with India, the defense of Pakistan’s eastern borders (specifically Kashmir) rests on its western boundaries with Afghanistan.

 

COVID-19: Maldives receives first shipment of staple food from India

The Edition | 28th March

The High Commission of India announced the arrival of the country's first batch of emergency staple provisions to Maldives.

For the first shipment, India sent 933 tones of rice and 500 tonnes of sugar from the Tuticorin Port, Thoothukudi.

According to the High Commission, an additional shipment carrying 1500 tonnes of rice and 500 tonnes of sugar had departed India.

 

Pandemic delays Myanmar peace talks

Myanmar Times | 26th March

The government and ethnic armed groups agreed to delay peace talks to the end of next month because of the increasing threat of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Government negotiators have been trying to revive the peace process, which almost ground to a halt last year due to disagreements over the establishment of a democratic federal union.

 

AFGHANISTAN


Govt. says peace team ‘final’

Afghanistan Times | 29th March

After the Taliban group has rejected to sit in talks with Kabul peace delegation, the Ministry of State in Peace Affairs emphasized that the delegation has been finalized after comprehensive consultations with several influential figures and that there would be no change in it.

Spokesperson for the ministry, said, “Comprehension and People’s inclusion have been considered in the formation of the delegation.”

Ex-Canada Envoy in Kabul Replaces UNAMA Head

Daily Outlook Afghanistan (Pajhwok) | 26th March

Former Canada ambassadress to Afghanistan Deborah Lyons has been appointed as the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) chief.

In a statement, the UN hailed services of the outgoing UNAMA head and UN secretary general’s special representatives in Kabul Tadamichi Yamamoto. Yamamoto has served in Afghanistan as special representative since 2016. Deborah Lyons has served as ambassadress for several countries, including Afghanistan.

New details emerge regarding the Indian man who attacked the Afghan Sikhs in Kabul

The Khaama Press | 28th March

New details emerged regarding the Indian man who attacked a Sikh temple in Kabul city, killing at least 25 people and wounding 8 others.

Officials from Intelligence Bureau confirmed that the real name of the Indian National who attacked the Sikh temple in Kabul city was Mohammad Muhsin.

Originally hailing from Kerala of India, Muhsin left for Afghanistan in 2018 to join the offshoot of the Islamic State terror group or the ISIS Khurasan.

  

BANGLADESH

 
PM asks to prepare list of Ministers, MPs who are not standing by people

Bangladesh Post | 29th March

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also the president of ruling Bangladesh Awami League, reportedly has asked to prepare a list of those ministers and lawmakers of the party who are not standing by the people of their own constituencies or localities at the prevailing circumstance, said sources in top level of the government as also the policy making level of ruling Awami League.

The directives came following allegations that a large number of ministers, lawmakers, including from ruling Awami League, are not standing by the people, rather they have gone hiding at the critical time leaving people in danger. Earlier, the Prime Minister, also the eldest daughter of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had asked all the ministers, lawmakers, elected representatives and also the party leaders and activists to remain stand by the people of the country.

Coronavirus: Bangladesh receives 300,000 masks from Jack Ma, Alibaba Foundations

Dhaka Tribune | 29th March

Some 30,000 more coronavirus testing kits arrived from China as a donation to Bangladesh by Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations.

After coronavirus testing kits, Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have sent 300,000 masks to Bangladesh.

Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport’s (HSIA) Director Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan said a flight from China, carrying the masks, arrived on Sunday afternoon.

Coronavirus: ADB provides $300,000 to support Bangladesh

Dhaka Tribune | 28th March

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $300,000 emergency grant to support Bangladesh’s fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The grant was approved.

The grant will support procurement of health safety materials including personal protective gears, N95 masks, safety goggles, aprons, thermometers, and biohazard bags. 

Bangladesh extends suspension of all int'l flights till 7 Apr

Prothom Alo | 28th March

Bangladesh extended the international passenger flights suspension to 7 April to stop the transmission of coronavirus in the country.

“Suspension of international scheduled passenger flights has been extended until 7 April instead of 31 March,” said a press release from Bangladesh Civil Aviation.

  

BHUTAN

 
Govt. starts providing economic relief package

Kuensel | 28th March

The government has already started to provide relief packages to sectors affected by the Covid-19 pandemic even before the economic stimulus plan is announced.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering informed the media that the government was bearing some portion of salaries of affected companies. In return, the companies have been asked not to lay off their employees.

About 12,000 have been affected due to loss of jobs, according to him. The government, he said, would take care of not only those that have lost jobs but also their dependents.

 

MALDIVES


COVID-19: ADB provides USD 5K in grant assistance to Maldives

Maldives Times | 29th March

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a USD 500,000 (MVR 7.7 million) grant from its Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund to assist finance Maldivian government’s response to COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Earlier, the ADB had provided a technical assistance grant of USD 100,000 for initial emergency support.

Sri Lanka agrees to provide Maldives with medical personnel as aid

Maldives Times | 26th March

Maldivian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, held a telephone conversation with Sri Lankan counterpart Minister of Foreign Affairs Dinesh Gunawardena, in which the latter agreed to provide medical personnel as assistance, should the need arise, in combatting the global COVID-19 pandemic.

 

MYANMAR

 

Myanmar Orders Half of Govt Employees to Stay Home Over COVID-19

The Irrawaddy | 26th March

The Myanmar government has ordered half of its employees to stay at home as the country has confirmed its first three cases of coronavirus, but told the employees to be ready to report to work if it needed.

The Myanmar President Office said in a statement that all government staff, from Union to region and state-level, must follow the latest order to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Myanmar Govt Announces Loan Package for Coronavirus-Hit Businesses in Key Sectors

The Irrawaddy | 30th March

The Myanmar government has announced that local businesses that have been badly hit by COVID-19 can apply for loans as part of its initial stimulus package to cushion the impact of the global pandemic on the country’s economy.

A working committee to tackle the impacts of the global coronavirus outbreak on the country’s economy announced that the most vulnerable sectors—CMP (garment and manufacturing) and hotel and tourism businesses, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises owned by local businesspeople—can apply for loans from the COVID-19 fund set up by the state.
 

NEPAL

 
Home Ministry directs grocery stores and supermarkets to deliver goods to consumers during lockdown

The Kathmandu Post | 27th March

The Ministry of Home Affairs has directed businesses to deliver daily essentials to the people during the lockdown.

With the country going into lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, there have been widespread concerns among the general public as to how they can get the daily essentials as most of the shops are closed.

 

Farmers face nationwide lockdown heat

The Himalayan Times | 28th March

Farmers across the country are worried as their produce is not getting a market due to the ongoing lockdown in the country.

Supplies of perishable agricultural products have been affected since the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the country.

Even though the government had said that the movement of vehicles supplying food items would not face any obstruction during the lockdown, the farmers are still facing problems in supplying their produce, said Khom Prasad Ghimire, president of the Federation of Fruits and Vegetable Entrepreneurs.

Nationwide lockdown extended until April 7 midnight, ban on international flights until April 15

The Kathmandu Post | 29th March

The high-level coordination committee decided to extend the nationwide lockdown by a week, until April 7 midnight, and the ban on international flights until April 15.

The high-level committee for the control and prevention of Covid-19, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokhrel, took the decisions in view of the rise in the number of new cases of Covid-19, according to a government official.

 

PAKISTAN

 
PM Imran urges provinces to 'reassess' complete lockdowns as strategy against virus

Dawn | 25th March

Prime Minister Imran Khan while reiterating his hesitance in imposing a full-scale lockdown in Pakistan urged the country's leaders to "discuss and reassess" their strategies in order to find a way to tackle the situation brought about by the coronavirus outbreak.

The PM said imposing a national lockdown would be detrimental for the country's economy, adding that it was not possible to "rationally judge the repercussions of decisions taken out of fear and panic".

ADB approves $2m for Pakistan to combat COVID-19

The Express Tribune | 30th March

The Asian Development Bank approved a $2 million grant to support Pakistan’s efforts to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.

The grant, financed from the Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund, will help fund the immediate purchase of emergency medical supplies, personal protective equipment, diagnostic and laboratory supplies, and other equipment.

Govt will provide ration to deserving people: Dr Sania

The Nation | 28th March

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar says the government will provide ration to the deserving people amid coronavirus outbreak across the country.

Speaking in a program of Radio Pakistan, she urged people to adopt social distancing to avoid spread of the pandemic.

The Special Assistant appreciated President Dr. Arif Alvi for his initiatives for public awareness regarding coronavirus. She said at his request, Al Azhar University issued a Fatwa permitting governments to suspend congregations at mosques to contain spread of coronavirus. She said Islam teaches us to save human life at any cost.

  

SRI LANKA


Govt identifies period till April 10 as ’High risk’ - Bandula

Daily Mirror | 26th March

The government has identified the period till April 10 , 2020 as a high risk period for the spread of coronavirus and therefore the curfew situation in the western province will continue, a minister said.

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardane told Daily Mirror that this was discussed at a meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday evening.

Sri Lanka PM stresses the need to be prepared for a future global food crisis

Colombo Page | 28th March

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed the agriculture authorities to immediately implement large-scale programs to develop Sri Lanka’s agriculture to cope with a future global food crisis that could result from the coronavirus epidemic.

He said that by encouraging local food production, the country can strongly face the global food crisis.

The Premier has instructed the Commissioner of Agrarian Services and the Department of Agriculture, including Agriculture Officers to facilitate the cultivation of every inch of land with a focus on home gardening as well as large scale cultivations.

Japan, China donates drug for COVID-19

Daily Mirror | 29th March

Sri Lanka is to use anti-influenza drug ‘AVIGAN’ on COVID-19 patients on an experimental basis from next week, a senior Public official said.

Chairman of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) Dr. Prasanna Gunasena told Daily Mirror that a stock of 5,000 ‘AVIGAN’ tablets would be handed over to the SPC as a gift from Japan and China tomorrow (31) to be given to COVID-19 patients on a trial basis.

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