MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 15 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
A health worker (L) gestures while receiving a dose of the Chinese-made Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, at a vaccination centre in Karachi. Pakistan on Wednesday started vaccinating frontline health workers against the coronavirus amid a steady decline in confirmed cases and fatalities. The start of the vaccine campaign comes days after Pakistan received half a million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China.
'Amit Shah has plans to form BJP govts in Nepal, Sri Lanka': Tripura CM Biplab Deb
Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb has revealed that Amit Shah has plans to establish BJP governments in Nepal and Sri Lanka, according to a report published by East Mojo. Deb said that Shah had told a party meeting at Rabindra Satabarshiki Bhavan, during his visit to Tripura on Saturday, that BJP wanted to establish the party and form governments in neighbouring countries after winning all states in India. “We were talking in the state guest house when Ajay Jamwal (northeast zonal secretary of BJP) said that BJP had formed its government in several states of India. In reply, Shah said that now Sri Lanka and Nepal are left. We have to expand the party in Sri Lanka, Nepal and win there to form a government,” East Mojo quoted Deb as saying.
Human rights violations continue in J&K, Indian govt still prioritising counter-insurgency: Report
The Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir has, in its latest report, highlighted how counter-insurgency concerns continue to be prioritised over public, civilian and human security, leading to the vitiation of protections such as habeas corpus, prevention of illegal detention and strict restrictions on arrest and detention of children. In its second report, the Forum, which comprises an informal group of concerned citizens, has noted that denials of the right to bail and fair and speedy trial remain, coupled with misuse of draconian legislation, such as the Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), to stifle dissent. It has also said that partly due to these actions, “rates of militant recruitment, which had fallen, have started to rise again, rendering 2020 as the year with the second-highest militant recruitment in a decade.”
India reasserts itself in Sri Lanka after failing to swing Easter Container Terminal
Since the coup in Myanmar, Bangladesh has discussed the situation in Myanmar with four countries including China and the US. In these discussions at different levels, Bangladesh has tried to assess the position of the countries on Myanmar. The issue of peace and security and peace in Myanmar features significantly in these discussions for the sake of regional stability. Diplomatic sources in Dhaka told Prothom Alo on Monday and Tuesday that Bangladesh has held separate meetings with the US, China, the Netherlands and Sweden at senior diplomatic levels over the last two days. With the changed scenario in Myanmar, Bangladesh wants to move very cautiously to resolve the Rohingya issue.
‘Democratic’ India threatens Twitter with punitive action
The Indian government reacted with fury, and even threatened Twitter with punitive action if it did not comply with a request to again block the said accounts connected to tweets about farmers’ protests that the government says are inflammatory. The notice by the Indian government also threatened Twitter’s employees with up to seven years in jail. As this controversy raged, Twitter sent a legal notice also to a Brussels-based Kashmiri news platform #KashmirWatch. It said “Twitter has received official correspondence from the Government of India regarding your Twitter account, @KashmirWatch, The correspondence claims that your account is in violation of India’s Information Technology Act, 2000. Please note we may be obligated to take action regarding the content identified in the complaint in the future.” Interesting, isn’t it? India complaining of violations of its law by a firm based in Belgium and which supports the cause of Kashmiri Muslims and the Sikh protests.
There is no point to extending commitments in Afghanistan
In a recent press conference, Pentagon officials signaled hesitation on the part of the United States to adhere to last year’s peace deal with the Taliban, blaming the group for Afghanistan’s recent streak of violence and saying such actions jeopardized the planned US troop withdrawal. At the bottom, this signals a continued belief in Washington that Afghanistan’s internal state of affairs can justify a US troop presence. Given the failure of the US war effort, however, this belief deserves closer scrutiny. Should Americans choose how other nations are governed?
China has already won Asia's arms race
There has been much chatter over recent years about an Asian arms race triggered by China's surging military expenditure. This, it is argued, is reflected in increased defense budgets and new equipment programs announced by a number of Asian countries. But one of the oddities of Asian geopolitics is that, if China's neighbors are fearful of its growing hard power capabilities, there is little evidence of urgency in their responses. As China's People's Liberation Army has become more advanced and capable, many neighboring militaries have stagnated. If there is a regional arms race, it has few participants and China has won it before the starting gun has even been fired.