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Showing posts from February, 2020

The Greater Caspian region: A new Silk Road, with or without a new belt

Atlantic Council SAT, FEB 29, 2020 Long Take   by   Matthew Bryza An aerial view of the Caspian Sea near the city of Baku is pictured through the window of Turkish Airlines airplane, ahead of Europa League Final, in Baku Azerbaijan May 27, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh With the signing of a  US-Taliban peace agreement , now might be a good time to look ahead to how Afghanistan might strengthen its economic connectivity with both its neighbors and more distant markets. Now, there will be a 135-day period of de-escalation of violence. If there are no major attacks, then the path will be clear to negotiate to add the Afghan Government to the agreement structure. This will be tricky, as today’s agreement also commits the Afghan Government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, and the Taliban to release 1,000 captured Afghan Army soldiers. As a potential permanent peace inches closer in Afghanistan, US policy for the “Greater Caspian region,” the area stretching from India to the Black and

OBOR. Concerns in the Belt and Road Initiative.

          0  comment On the SOAS lecture day, Professor Kerry Brown from the Lau institute at King’s College London gave us an introduction to China’s One Belt One Road scheme (OBOR), in which he listed the following key points:    1. The geopolitical significance of OBOR - it is practically a modern ‘silk road’. It was hoped to establish trilateral relationships between the USA, China and the Roman Empire.  2. China has had the ambition to establish a trade zone since the financial crisis in 2008 - the OBOR scheme is an opportunity to open up new markets.   3. This is said to be a scheme ‘to open up the west’, to establish a long-lasting relationship between the east and west.  4. A propaganda zone.    In fact, he also mentioned that because China is the second largest economy, so the scheme is what the world has long expected. The Belt and Road Initiative is expected to cost more than $1tn. (£760bn), and it means that Chinese firms are engaging in construction work across the globe o

A lifesaving project under threat Political Economy Adnan Aamir March 01,2020 MERC, an ambulance service in Balochistan, may be shut down due to non-payment of approved funds O n January 19, Assistant Professor Dur Muhammad Pirkani of the University of Balochistan left for Karachi from Quetta by road with his family. In the evening, he was crossing the Sakin area of Lasbela district when a truck, coming from the opposite direction, lost control. While trying to overtake a vehicle, it collided with Pirkani’s car. Munir Jalib Baloch, also traveling in the car, suffered minor injuries but others were badly wounded. Baloch called the nearest hospital in Lasbela for help but there was no response from them. Someone on the scene told him to call the Medical Emergency Response Centre (MERC) at 1122. “The MERC ambulance arrived within minutes and carried all of us to their centre after providing first aid,” he tells  TNS . Dur Muhammad Pirkani succumbed to his injuries. His young daughter, Nimra Pirkani, a buddi

Will coronavirus affect CPEC and Pak economy?   Top Story Fakhar Durrani February 07, 2020 Thousands of Chinese nationals working on CPEC projects left for China last month to celebrate the New Year and might not be returning anytime soon without proper screening ISLAMABAD: Can coronavirus outbreak create havoc in Pakistan and hamper the ongoing progress on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects? The question has put Pakistani authorities in a catch-22 situation. Thousands of Chinese nationals working on CPEC projects left for China last month to celebrate the New Year and might not be returning anytime soon without proper screening. Their return can possibly cause the coronavirus outbreak in Pakistan as some of the Chinesemight be potential carrier of latent and/or active coronavirus. If they don’t return soon, the progress on CPEC projects will be halted. Pakistani officials believe the coronavirus will have no repercussions on the CPEC projects and China will not send any of its national to Pakistan

252 pilgrims declared coronavirus free by Balochistan health officials Pakistan Web Desk February 29, 2020 Trade activities remain suspended for seventh straight day at the Pakistan-Iran border Photo: File Balochistan's health officials on Saturday declared 252 pilgrims from Iran free from coronavirus after putting them under quarantine for 15 days, reported Geo News. According to Levies officials, the pilgrims were cleared after they were screened by the health officials. Meanwhile, District Health Officer Abdul Ghani said the new pilgrims which arrived last night have been shifted to Pakistan House, adding that their screening will be conducted after 48 hours. Special Assistant to PM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Friday said the government now has a plan to deal with the situation of pilgrims coming to Pakistan from Iran — which has been hit with the coronavirus epidemic. Dr Mirza said he has reviewed the situation at the Taftan-Zahedan border and that the government would gradually allow the pilgrims from Iran in batches after full hea

Poisoned gifts to Nepal from China

Asia Times The beneficiaries of China’s apparent largesse are expected to demonstrate simpering gratitude By  NEVILLE SARONY FEBRUARY 29, 2020 “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” – that was Laocoon’s warning in relation to the wooden horse, packed with soldiers, that the Greeks tricked the Trojans into taking into their besieged city. Put another way, it is prudent to ask why someone makes a gift of something to you for no apparent reason. The people of Nepal do need to ponder this question in the light of the assistance that China is giving, for example, in the form of restoring temples destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. The relationship of donor and recipient in the sphere of foreign aid is rife for exploitation by the party making the donation. It creates an unequal distribution of power. Only the most naïve of politicians would regard foreign aid as entirely altruistic. Regrettably, Nepal has a long history of such innocents. Ever since the country overthrew the Rana family oligarchy,

Pakistan Military's Constructive rolemin Balochistan

B alochistan  is Pakistan’s largest province as well as its most backward. Subsequent governments have ignored Balochistan at their own peril. The province is rich in minerals, has a 771 kilometers long coastline and lies at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz. Its strategic location and being the shortest route from seaports to Central Asia, has placed the otherwise desolate region in the scope of competing for global interests for all of recorded history. China’s developing the Gwadar Port and launching the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has focused international attention to the province. Since the partition of India in 1947 and accession of the princely state to Pakistan, the region has been in a state of turmoil. Various elements have stoked the fires of separatism and insurgency kept the province in a state of unrest. The callous attitude of numerous political governments both at the center and in the province have ignored Balochistan for decades. The provincial government

Pakistan allows 300 pilgrims to enter Balochistan from Iran

SAMAA |  Noor Ul Arifeen  - Posted: Feb 28, 2020 | Last Updated: 9 hours ago File photo: AFP Around 300 Pakistanis, who were stuck in Iran amid the coronavirus outbreak, have been given permission to enter Pakistan from Taftan border, an official of the Balochistan government confirmed Friday. Liaquat Shahwani, the spokesperson for the provincial government, told  SAMAA T V that around 5,000 Pakistani pilgrims are currently in Iran and 300 of them were allowed to leave by the Iranian government. He added that the pilgrims will undergo screening process and will spend 10 days in quarantine. A Balochistan government official said that more pilgrims will be allowed to enter Pakistan later in phases. Sindh, Balochistant to share data of pilgrims The Sindh government and the government of Balochistan have agreed to share the details of 7,000 to 8,000 passengers coming from Iran via Taftan border so they could be screened. This was decided during a meeting of the Coronavirus taskforce meetin

Ban on new constructions lifted in Gwadar after four years

BEHRAM BALOCH GWADAR: An around four-year-old ban on issuance of no-objection certificates (NOCs) for any kind of construction and development activities in Gwadar was on Friday lifted with immediate effect. The director general of the Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) lifted the ban that was imposed during the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government at the centre. A notification issued in this regard reads: “In exercise of powers conferred under Section 9 of the GDA Act 2003, and with the prior approval of the competent authority, it is hereby notified that the ban on all kinds of NOCs for housing, commercial, industrial, recreational, warehouses and all types of construction and development activities within the jurisdiction of Gwadar Development Autho­rity is here lifted with immediate effect.” In 2016, the GDA had imposed the ban initially for a period of six months on the grounds that it was in the process of revision of the Gwadar master plan as a “smart port city maste

Connecting the Blue Dots February 26, 2020 The photo of planet Earth from distant space that Carl Sagan made famous—“the pale blue dot”— turned thirty  this month. The popular astronomer might be flattered, or puzzled, to have inspired an effort today by the United States and two of its allies to promote high-quality global infrastructure: the Blue Dot Network (BDN). The initiative holds promise and should be encouraged, but it also raises nearly as many questions as the cosmos. The BDN was  announced  by the United States, Japan, and Australia in November 2019 at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Thailand. Together, the three allies aim to certify infrastructure projects around the world that meet high standards of transparency, sustainability, and developmental impact. They seek to accomplish for “quality infrastructure” what Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has accomplished with energy efficiency in buildings or the Forest Stewardship Council has accomplished with certified log

Pakistan says US invited to invest in CPEC

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's adviser on commerce Abdul Razak Dawood on Thursday said the government made the offer during a meeting with the US trade delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday, The Express Tribune report... By  PTI  | Updated:  Feb 28, 2020, 04.01 PM IS BCCL Sharing details of the meeting, Dawood said the US officials have also expressed interest in promoting e-commerce. Islamabad: In an interesting move, cash-strapped Pakistan has invited the US to join the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an ambitious infrastructure project looked with suspicion by the Trump administration for being non-transparent. Pakistan Prime Minister  Imran Khan 's adviser on commerce Abdul Razak Dawood on Thursday said the government made the offer during a meeting with the US trade delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday, The Express Tribune reported. ADVERTISEMENT Interestingly last month, senior US diplomat Alice Wells