The Nations Next Door is a daily roundup of the most interesting news and views from across South Asia.
Pakistan in talks with China for another billion-dollar loan
The Pakistan government is currently in negotiation with China to secure fresh loans worth $1-2 billion in order to keep its balance-of-payment crisis at bay, according to a government source speaking to Reuters.
Pakistan’s foreign reserves have been in a dangerous place over the last five years, falling to $10.3 billion last week from $16.4bn in May 2017, making the country heavily dependent on loans. China’s loans to the country will now amount to $5 billion.
Pakistan’s increased dependency on China is also a result of the country’s fractured relations with the US, which has lead to it curtailing financial aid to its erstwhile ally.
Musharraf suggests a ‘give-and-take’ deal for Afridi release
Former Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said he would have bartered Dr Shakil Afridi’s release with the US in a ‘give-and-take’ deal had he been in office. Afridi is the former surgeon who is said to have led US forces to Osama bin Laden’s home in Abbottabad. He has been in Pakistan’s Adiala jail since Osama’s house was stormed and the terrorist reportedly killed in May 2012.
“Well, with a deal, yes. With a deal. A deal is a give-and-take. Yes, indeed it can be resolved. I don’t think it is such a serious thing that it cannot be resolved,” Musharraf told Voice of America, exploring the possibility of exchanging Afridi’s release with the capture of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah.
Meanwhile, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has told a US Congressional committee that he would work “diligently” to get Afridi out of prison.
High-powered Afghan delegation meets Gen Bajwa to discuss security
An Afghan delegation led by national security adviser Hanif Atmar, along with interior minister Wais Ahmad Barmak and head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, arrived in Pakistan Sunday and met Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The meeting took place hours after the merger of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) was formalised, which Afghanistan had opposed. However, Atmar told Gen Bajwa that with mutual cooperation, the two countries could “allay each other’s concerns”, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement released Sunday night.
Gen Bajwa was also quoted as saying, “We must begin with the trust that neither covets an inch of the other’s territory nor is letting its land being (sic) used against the other.”
The meeting also comes in light of the ‘Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS)’ agreement, signed earlier this month with an aim of building a cooperation mechanism between the two countries and strengthening mutual trust.
In Afghanistan, 3.4 million people register to vote in October elections
Afghanistan will finally go to the polls in October, and the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) Sunday said over 3.4 million people had registered to vote, according to Tolo News.
But several concerns are being raised on the IEC’s failure to establish a proper database so as to prevent voter fraud, with observers alleging that officials and criminals in provinces “have been seen to put stickers on fake ID cards”.
As many as 468 Sikhs have registered since the start of the registration process, which began on 14 April and will go on for another 10 days. A total 3,475,388 people have registered across the country — of which 1,070,145 were women, 2,336,144 were men and another 68,631 were Kuchi tribals.
In Nepal, Communists withdraw support from govt in Madhesi-dominated Province 2
The 32-member unified Communist Party of Nepal has withdrawn support to the Madhesi-dominated government in the Terai’s Province 2, according to the Kathmandu Post.
Province 2 was the only one won by the unified Madhesi parties, and the only province the Communists lost, in the December 2017 elections.
The Communists said that the government had done nothing in its first 100 days of governance, “only indulged in corruption”, and that the provincial governor had disrespected opposition parties.
In the provincial assembly — in which the Nepali Congress has 19 lawmakers, and the united Communists have 32 — the Madhesi parties named the Nepali Congress the principal opposition, to which the Communists objected.
Bangladesh’s war on drugs raises moral questions
The country’s ongoing nationwide anti-narcotics raids have lead to the arrest of hundreds of people. The raids by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), however, have opened up several moral questions. Several residents in the slums of Mohakhali, Karwan Bazar and a Geneva camp for Pakistanis say only petty peddlers and drug users were detained, while top drug dealers fled before the raids after being tipped off by police, the The Daily Star said.
“No drug peddlers will be spared, no matter how powerful they are socially or politically. Law enforcement agencies will continue the drive against them to bring them to justice,” Prothom Alo quoted home minister Asaduzzaman Khan as saying.
Former president of Maldives offers reconciliation to president Yameen ahead of elections
Self-exiled former president of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed urged the current president, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to set aside political rivalry and reconcile.
In a video message for a campaign rally held in Alif Alif Atoll Ukulhas Island, Nasheed urged president Yameen to free jailed political leaders like Gasim Ibrahim, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, Colonel Mohamed Nazim, and others immediately. He further insisted that the political leaders come together to ensure an inclusive presidential election.
“If we all reconcile and sit-down together, we can find the solutions Maldives need,” Nasheed was quoted as saying by Avas.
By Priyamvada Grover and Sharanya Munsi