MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 02 MARCH
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Bangladeshi students clash with police during a protest. About 300 activists rallied in the capital to denounce the death in prison of Mushtaq Ahmed, a writer and commentator who was arrested last year on charges of violating a sweeping digital security law that critics say chokes freedom of expression.
Mahmud Hossain Opu/AP
Diverse dimensions of Pakistan’s outreach to Sri Lanka
On February 23, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan embarked on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka to reinvigorate ties. He held comprehensive talks with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He also addressed a bilateral investment conference and spearheaded several other critical engagements. The visit encompassed three major realms: defense, economy, and culture. However, it must be noted that Khan’s visit to the country strategically located in the Indian Ocean appears to have had a strong geopolitical aspect, as it came against the backdrop of the brewing power competition between India and China.
India versus Bangladesh over new Rohingya crisis ahead of PM Modi's Dhaka tour
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to tour Bangladesh's capital Dhaka on March 26. During his three-day tour, PM Modi will join Bangladesh's celebrations of 50 years of independence. Right before PM Modi's Bangladesh visit, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar too will travel to Dhaka as the two countries aim look to sign a comprehensive treaty for economic cooperation. This is PM Modi's first foreign visit since the coronavirus pandemic began, and it shows how much importance India attaches to Bangladesh with China rooting itself aggressively in the country. However, just ahead of PM Modi's Bangladesh visit, a fresh Rohingya crisis has brought India and Bangladesh on opposing ends. More than 80 Rohingya refugees are facing an uncertain future in the Andaman Sea as Bangladesh has refused to take them back.
US envoy in Kabul as questions over troop withdrawal swirl
The US special envoy to Afghanistan touched down in Kabul on Monday for meetings with local officials in a bid to revive a flagging peace process as violence soars in the war-weary country and a deadline for US troop withdrawal draws closer. Zalmay Khalilzad’s arrival marks the first time he has returned to Afghanistan since US President Joe Biden took office in January and asked him to stay in his post. Speculation is rife over the US’ future in Afghanistan after the White House announced plans to review a withdrawal deal brokered by Khalilzad and the Taliban in Doha last year. Under the agreement, the US is set to withdraw from Afghanistan in May, but a surge in fighting has sparked concerns that a speedy exit from the country may unleash greater chaos as peace talks between the Kabul government and Taliban continue to stall.
'Myanmar is like a battlefield': UN says at least 18 dead as security forces fire on protesters
At least 18 people have been killed, according to the UN, after security forces in Myanmar used lethal violence against anti-coup protesters in the most deadly crackdown since the military seized power at the start of February. Live bullets, stun grenades and teargas were fired at demonstrators in several towns and cities as police, backed by troops, attempted to stamp out countrywide rallies held in defiance of the junta. At least 18 people are believed to have been killed, and 30 injured, according to the UN human rights office, which strongly condemned the escalating violence against peaceful protesters. The deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago and Pakokku, it said.
How India’s regional strategy is adapting to the post-Trump reality
India surprised many of its critics by successfully carrying out the synchronised disengagement of its forces along the northern Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China as well as agreeing to a de facto ceasefire along its western LAC with Pakistan. These developments prove that India’s regional strategy is adapting to the post-Trump reality. The South Asian state will still remain among America’s top strategic partners anywhere in the world, but the Biden Administration doesn’t seem as interested in instrumentalising this relationship as part of its declared “Great Power competition” as the previous one was.
President Biden Lets a Saudi Murderer Walk
The United States government publicly identified Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia as the murderer of an American resident, and then President Biden choked. Instead of imposing sanctions on M.B.S., Biden appears ready to let the murderer walk. The weak message to other thuggish dictators considering such a murder is: Please don’t do it, but we’ll still work with you if we have to. The message to Saudi Arabia is: Go ahead and elevate M.B.S. to be the country’s next king if you must.