The Nations Next Door is a daily roundup of the most interesting news and views from across South Asia.
Pakistan and India to maintain peace on border via hotline contact
Pakistan and India have agreed to restore the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary, reported The Express Tribune. The sudden decision came Tuesday, after a ‘special hotline contact’ was established between the directors general of military operations (DGMOs) of the two countries.
An official announcement made by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the DGMOs reviewed the current scenario on the border and mutually agreed to undertake sincere measures to improve the prevailing situation. The top commanders also agreed that in case of any problem, they would practise restraint and resolve the issue through the existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings at the level of local commanders.
The agreement is a refreshing change from the extended border clashes between the security forces of the two countries. According to The Express Tribune, some observers said the major decision came about because Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been under pressure to review his “hard-line approach” towards Pakistan.
BCCI seeks clarification on India-Pak cricket series
Meanwhile, a top story in The News says that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has requested the Indian government to formally convey its position regarding the India-Pakistan bilateral cricket series. The series has been on hold since 2012 due to political tensions between the two neighbours. Quoting The Times of India, the story says the BCCI has repeatedly said it won’t be able to engage in bilateral contests unless the government gives clearance.
The cricket board reportedly wants a formal communication before approaching the International Cricket Council (ICC) Disputes Resolution Forum where it will have to counter the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB’s) compensation claim of $70 million for not honouring the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2014.
Pakistan PM calls for national debate on civil-military ties
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has called for a dialogue on civilian-military relations ahead of the 25 July general election, reports Dawn. He has also urged the nation to discuss the role of the judiciary, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and the media before the next government comes to power.
Abbasi claimed the government was unable to function due to the judiciary’s “interference in executive decisions” and the NAB “constantly asserting itself over the government”. The PM was clearly referring to the ouster of Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court.
“Who should be held responsible if a judicial decision has an impact of thousands of billions of rupees, and who should be held answerable if NAB cripples the government departments and no government functionary is ready to take decisions?” he asked.
Pak army spokesperson congratulates Shahid Afridi
The Pakistan army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor congratulated former Pakistan cricket team captain Shahid Afridi Tuesday for leading the ICC World XI against West Indies.
Even as the army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) ordered a formal court of inquiry into the contents of the book The Spy Chronicles and the role of former ISI chief Gen. Asad Durrani, Ghafoor took to Twitter to congratulate Afridi, calling the opportunity a “great honour” for Pakistan.
The Pakistani cricketer was asked to step in for the 31 May match at Lord’s after England’s Eoin Morgan pulled out due to a fractured finger.
Ghafoor had earlier shown support for the cricketer when he was criticised by Indians for tweeting about alleged atrocities on Kashmiri civilians. Ghafoor had replied to his tweet with a meme putting down India.
Nepal celebrates 11th Republic Day
Nepal celebrated its 11th Republic Day Tuesday, with functions organised across the nation. The main function was held at Army Pavilion in Kathmandu, which was attended by President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun, and Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, along with diplomats and dignitaries from other countries, DD News reported.
A minute of silence was observed during the celebrations to pay homage to the martyrs for the sacrifice they made for their homeland, Kathmandu Tribune reported.
In 2008, Nepal abolished its 240-year-old monarchy by declaring itself a federal democratic republic.
Two Bangladeshi players likely to contest general elections
Bangladeshi cricket players Mashrafe Mortaza and Shakib Al Hasan will contest the general elections to be held later this year, according to the country’s planning minister, AHM Mustafa Kamal, The Daily Star reported. Mortaza is the ODI captain, while Shakib is Bangladesh’s Test and T20 skipper.
The minister also said that Mashrafe will contest from the Narail constituency, but did not reveal which party they would represent. According to the Dhaka Tribune, both players have refused to confirm the news.
On the other hand, there are rumours that Mashrafe, popularly known as ‘Narail Express’, is keen on getting involved with social activities.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Chinese diplomats meet in Beijing
Senior diplomats from Pakistan, Afghanistan and China held a strategic dialogue Monday in Beijing to review preparations for the second trilateral meeting of foreign ministers to be held in Kabul later this year, reported Daily Times.
The dialogue was conducted among Pakistan foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua, China’s deputy foreign minister Kong Xuan and Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister Hekmat Karzai.
Janjua highlighted the measures taken by Pakistan to enhance bilateral trade, transit, people-to-people exchanges and deepen connectivity with Afghanistan, while reaffirming Islamabad’s commitment to continued efforts for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The trilateral meeting of foreign ministers, the first of which was held in December last year, focuses on three key areas — political mutual trust and reconciliation, development and connectivity, and security cooperation and counterterrorism.
Maldives firm ropes in China entity to install water pipes, fibre cables
The Maldives has asked China to install water pipelines and fibre networks through the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge being developed from the island country’s capital city Male to its suburban extension Hulhumale, Maldives Times reported Monday.
The Maldives Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) has contracted with the China Communications Construction Company Ltd Second Harbour Engineering Corporation (CCCC) to do the work.
The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge project was launched soon after Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to finance it during his visit to the Maldives in 2014. The bridge will connect Male to Hulhumale, also known as the ‘new youth city’, where the country plans to relocate 70 per cent of its population.
According to a report by the Maldives Independent, CCCC Second Harbour Engineering Corporation was blacklisted by the World Bank over alleged fraudulent practices during a road improvement project in the Philippines.
Is the Maldives bad news for the ambitions of Asian leaders?
Why has external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj declined four invitations from her Maldivian counterpart, Mohamed Asim? The Maldives Independent reported that all four refusals came because of Swaraj’s “concerns” that Male had not made any progress on all the issues she had raised with the country.
But an opinion piece in the same newspaper speaks of the shaky fate that has met several international leaders after their visit to ‘paradise’. Here’s a sample :
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff’s trip to the Maldives last year ended with him being stripped of his premiership. Then there was Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who visited the Maldives in December but was voted out of office in May this year by his mentor Mahathir Mohamed.
Compiled by Priyamvada Grover