MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 23 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Farmers and agricultural workers attend a rally against farm laws, in Barnala, northern state of Punjab, India, Feb21, 2021. Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi’s border points for nearly three months to press for the repeal of the three agri laws enacted in September last year and a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP).
Pakistan efforts to mend fences with Saudi-led bloc bear fruit
Pakistan has suddenly found itself in stronger standing with a Saudi-led bloc of Arab nations, having managed to mend a rift while maintaining ties to another alliance that is challenging the Saudis' leadership of the Muslim world. The most recent sign of this rapprochement came last week when Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi visited Egypt to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, his counterpart Sameh Shoukry and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit at the organization's headquarters. Pakistan's foreign office says the discussions focused on economics, but experts believe they were a continuation of Pakistan's wider efforts to mend ties with the Saudi bloc that frayed in August when Qureshi issued a statement against the Saudi kingdom.
The UN’s concerns about IIOJK are valid
Fernand de Varennes and Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs on minority issues and freedom of religion or belief respectively, published their concerns about Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) last week. They criticised New Delhi’s August 2019 abrogation of Article 370 as “suggest[ing] the people of Jammu and Kashmir no longer have their own government and have lost power to legislate or amend laws in the region to ensure the protection of their rights as minorities.” The experts also warned that “The number of successful applicants for domicile certificates that appear to be from outside Jammu and Kashmir raises concerns that demographic change on a linguistic, religious and ethnic basis is already underway.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping may visit India for BRICS summit
China’s President Xi Jinping may travel to India in the second half of this year to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders’ meeting, if the summit goes ahead in person as is increasingly expected. The visit would come in the aftermath of the most serious border crisis between the neighbours in decades. China on Monday expressed its “support” for India hosting this year’s meeting, and said the meet would not be impacted by the border crisis.
Pakistani PM’s visit to Sri Lanka will ‘open new chapter’ in bilateral relations
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Sri Lanka will open a new chapter in bilateral relations, officials told Arab News on Monday. Khan is due to arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport at 4 p.m on Tuesday and will be given a special guard-of-honor ceremony. He will meet key leaders, including Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and will attend an investors’ forum on Wednesday. “Premier Imran Khan is making his maiden visit as prime minister to our country,” Rohan Welliwita, Rajapaksa’s media secretary, said. “This is a landmark visit which will open a new chapter in the Lanka-Pak relations.”
Bangladesh’s deafening silence on the Myanmar coup
Bangladesh has good reasons to refrain from taking a position on the February 1 coup in Myanmar, the country’s foreign minister told local media on February 3. It was the last official statement from Bangladesh after Myanmar following the military takeover. After the coup happened in Myanmar, the Bangladeshi government was mainly concerned only with two things: the future of import of 100,000 metric tons of rice, and Rohingya repatriation. Earlier in first week of February Finance Minister A. H. M. Mustafa Kamal told the press that the Bangladesh government had turned down a proposal to import rice from Myanmar due to the situation in the neighboring nation. But later the cabinet committee in charge of the decision changed its mind and said it approved the import of rice through a direct purchase method.
China sends US further message, urges repair of ties
China has once again sent a clear and concrete message to the US, calling for bringing bilateral ties to the right track after US President Joe Biden failed to agree with allies at the G7 summit and Munich Security Conference on confronting China together, as State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at a forum held in Beijing on Monday, urged the new US administration to adjust its problematic policies on China "as soon as possible."