MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 12 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
A relative holds a picture of the missing worker Majid Ahmad, 22, from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who was working as a painter at the Rishiganga power project when a flash flood struck. Family members of 57 men who are still missing from the hydropower dam project, which was the first to be hit and was completely obliterated, said no efforts had been made by authorities to try to dig them out.
Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images
How viable is an economic alliance without China?
Trade alliances have to be built upon the structure and density of economic relationships between Alliance partner members. This is the central element of a successful alliance. New or more contemporary alliances involving countries already plugged into dense trade networks have much more limited prospects for prospering. The concluding observation of this would be that Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) initiative has a future only if China can be involved in this process. Based on the premise that every single member of the BBIN initiative's principal trading partner today – in terms of aggregations of import, export and accessing capital inflows – is China.
EU provided crowd control training to Myanmar police units
The EU provided crowd control training to specialist Myanmar police units alleged to have been involved in a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, but claims it shared defensive techniques only due to concerns about possible human rights abuses. European police have been working with their counterparts in Myanmar to develop a manual of crowd control techniques as part of a wider EU support scheme called Mypol. The project, initiated in 2012, provided training and equipment to help modernise Myanmar’s military-controlled police force along the lines of “international best practice and respect for human rights”.
India to start implementing CAA after end of Covid-19 vaccination: Indian home minister
India will start granting citizenship to refugees under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) after the Covid-19 vaccination process ends, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said Thursday. Addressing a Bharatiya Janata Party rally in Thakurnagar in North 24 Parganas near the border with Bangladesh, Shah accused the opposition parties of misleading Muslims on the CAA and said it would not impact the citizenship status of Indian minorities. The CAA seeks to give Indian citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists who migrated to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan till December, 2014 after facing "religious persecution" in those countries.
Indian cyber-spy ‘Confucius’ targets Pakistan, Kashmir: Security report
A hacking group with ties to the Indian military adopted a pair of mobile surveillance tools to spy on geopolitical targets in Pakistan and Kashmir amid persistent regional tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours, according to a report from a cyber security company. The group is known for commandeering legitimate web services in South Asia and embedding surveillance tools or malware inside apps and services to conduct espionage. Since 2017, and as recently as December, the hackers have relied on spyware to target Pakistani military officials, the country’s top nuclear regulator and Indian election officials in the disputed state of Kashmir, according to the report released by San Francisco-based Lookout Inc on Thursday.
Six Canadian MPs urge their foreign minister to speak up on farmers' protest in India
The United States State Department has clarified that there has been no change in America’s Kashmir policy and Washington still considers both Jammu and Kashmir as a territory disputed between India and Pakistan. The clarification, given at a news briefing on Wednesday afternoon, followed a string of statements by US President Joe Biden and senior officials of his administration, outlining their policies towards the South and Central Asian regions. The region includes India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China and the policy outlines indicate a gradual change of emphasis from Pakistan and Afghanistan to China. The statements also show a greater US reliance on India to help counter China’s growing influence in the region. But the clarification on the Kashmir issue shows that the Biden administration is not insensitive to Pakistan’s concerns either.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia reconcile amid shifting alliances
As it feels the heat of a new administration in Washington, Saudi Arabia has put the brakes on further deterioration of relations with its long-time ally Pakistan. Riyadh had already withdrawn $2 billion out of a $3 billion loan that it had extended to help Islamabad avoid a balance of payment crisis in 2018. In a move suggesting a thaw in Saudi-Pak relations, Riyadh did not withdraw its remaining $1 billion loan which matured last month. There are also expectations that Saudi Arabia could revive the $3.2 billion deferred oil financing facility to Pakistan. Why aren’t we talking about this?
Biden's Indo-Pacific team largest in National Security Council
The largest contingent of U.S. President Joe Biden's national security team will be the Indo-Pacific directorate, one filled with experts who have advocated a tough stance on China, Nikkei has learned. Led by Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell, the division at the National Security Council will combine the directorate for Asian affairs -- which traditionally covers China, Japan, the Koreas, Southeast Asia and Australia -- and the South Asia directorate which oversees India. About 15 to 20 members are expected to form the team.