MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 26 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
A military supporter points a sharp object as he confronts pro-democracy protesters during a military support rally in Yangon, Myanmar, Feb 25, 2021.
Pakistan-Afghanistan border fence, a step in the right direction
Pakistan is about to reach a new milestone in its fight against terrorism. The fence barrier it is building on the Durand Line, the 2,640km (1,640-mile) land border between Afghanistan and Pakistan that passes through rugged mountains, densely forested valleys and narrow rock passages, is nearing completion.
What’s behind the planned Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan railway?
In Tashkent on February 2, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan agreed to a roadmap for the building of a 573-kilometer route from Mazar-e-Sharif to Peshawar, via Kabul. This project, at an estimated cost of $5 billion, will open Pakistani seaports on the Arabian Gulf to Uzbekistan and continue Afghanistan’s gradual integration into the Central Asian economic system. Within Uzbekistan, the agreement has been hailed as the “event of the century” by the chairperson of the Senate, Tanzila Narbaeva, who called it another example of Uzbekistan “actively pursuing an open and pragmatic foreign policy.” However, such a potentially momentous accord needs to be couched in the realities of the region.
India's silence toward Myanmar shows its wariness of China
While Western nations condemn the military coup in Myanmar, India is taking a cautious approach as it bolsters its connectivity to Southeast Asia and attempts to curb China's influence. Myanmar and India share a 1,600 km border, giving India a gateway to greater economic integration with Southeast Asia. As such, the country is crucial to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Act East policy.
Imran Khan’s Sri Lanka visit may foster strategic partnership
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Sri Lanka this week is part of Pakistan’s proactive strategy aimed at engaging South Asian countries amid worsening ties with longtime rival India, experts say. The two-day visit, they believe, could turn into a strategic partnership if the island nation accepts Islamabad’s invitation to join the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The two countries have agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations in diverse areas, including trade, and tourism through enhanced connectivity.
Why the 2020 violence in Delhi was a pogrom
After the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December 2019, India’s Muslim community, civil rights activists and concerned citizens, occupied public spaces in an unprecedented manner to register their protest and protect India’s constitutional promise of secularism. The protesters, however, faced vilification, police violence and a harsh media trial that branded them “anti-national” and “jihadi”. This perception was built by the governing Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as they led one of the most communally charged electoral campaigns in Delhi ahead of the regional elections.
Wang Yi and Dinesh Gunawardena show common view on human rights
On Wednesday, February 24, the Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone conversation with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at the latter’s request. According to a Chinese embassy press release, Gunawardena told Wang that some Western countries, including the United States, have once again exploited the human rights issues, and baselessly accused developing countries including Sri Lanka in the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. He expressed his hope that China will continue to uphold justice and stand with developing countries. Wang said that the two countries are “strategic cooperative partners of sincere mutual assistance and lasting friendship.”
Joe Biden speaks to Saudi Arabia's King Salman before release of Khashoggi murder report
Joe Biden has spoken with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for the first time as president, ahead of the publication of a US intelligence report expected to implicate the Saudi crown prince in the 2018 murder of dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. A White House account of the call did not mention the report, but did say, in another context, that Biden “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law” and that the two discussed working on “mutual issues of concern”.