Focus Neighbourhood -Daily Newsletter
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Highlights from the local media of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
 December 21st, 2015 | Volume: 1 - 15/12

PM Modi to inaugurate India-built Afghan Parliament building
Khaama Press | 20th December
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Kabul in near for inaugurating the India-built parliament building of Afghanistan, with its construction work scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.
Taliban capture government compounds in Helmand’s Sangin District
Khaama Press | 21st December
Taliban militants have captured government compounds including the police headquarters in Sangin District of southern Helmand province. Reports suggest that most areas in the district capital have fallen to the hands of Taliban and security forces have stepped back from those areas.
Conflict, natural disasters displace half a million Afghans annually: UNFPA
Afghanistan Times | 20th December
The United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) released a report on the State of World Population in 2015 and said that totally 7.4 million people in Afghanistan need humanitarian assistance and 3.4 million of them requiring critical lifesaving interventions. The report entitled “Shelter from the Storm” focused over casualties and damages of the years of conflicts and natural disasters in the world and Afghan state population.

Steady progress shows hope
The Daily Star | 21st  December
Bangladesh showed an extraordinary progress in human development index (HDI) with an average annual growth of 1.64 percent in the last two and a half decades, which is the highest among the eight South Asian countries.
BD to dislodge China as world’s largest cotton importer
The Financial Express | 19th December
Bangladesh is likely to become the world’s top cotton importer replacing China, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. “Bangladesh is raised 200,000 bales to 5.9 million on strong mill demand and larger recent shipments from India, to become the world’s largest importer,” the USDA said providing trade outlook for 2015/16 (till July 31). 
Uphold the dignity of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB): PM Hasina
The Financial Express | 20th December
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday expressed her firm optimism that members of the newly reformed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) would discharge their duties with utmost honesty and patriotism to uphold the goodwill and dignity of the border force and earn public confidence.

Education over quota to bring women into politics
KUENSEL | 19th December
A systematic education is what Bhutan needs right now to transform the mindset and foster greater acceptance of women’s equal social, economic and political status than reservation and quotas. This is the way forward in bridging the gap between demand and supply of women in politics, according to participants at the first electoral forum on ‘Women in Politics’ held in Thimphu.
Bhutan’s rupee position doubles to 20.3B
KUENSEL | 17th December
The country’s rupee reserve has more than doubled in three months – from Nu 9.7 billion (B) in July to Nu 20.4 B as of September this year. Royal Monetary Authority’s director for foreign exchange and reserve management, Karma Rinzin said that the increase in country’s gross international reserves, including the rupee, from USD 932.4M to USD 1.14B could be attributed to inflow of grants and aid.

India grants over $240k to setup aviation facilities in Maldives
Haveeru online| 20th December
India granted more than US$240,000 (MVR3.8 million) to the Maldives Sunday to establish facilities to operate and maintain two helicopters earlier donated by the South Asian neighbour.
Maldives to begin free trade pact discussion with China on Mon
Haveeru online| 20th December
Discussions to establish the Maldives-China free trade pact is scheduled to begin Monday in Bandos Island Resort. The discussion is being held under the MOU regarding free trade signed between the two countries last September.

Union Peace Conference date set
Mizzima | 19th December
The President’s Office announced yesterday that the Union Peace Conference has been scheduled to take place on 12 January 2016 as part of the peaceful solution to national reconciliation, ending armed conflict and solving political disputes through diplomatic means, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported on 19 December.
NLD, Ethnic Armed Groups Meet to Hash Out Peace Framework
The Irrawaddy | 18th December
At a meeting on Thursday, National League for Democracy (NLD) chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi revealed to signatories of Burma’s so-called “nationwide” ceasefire agreement why she opted not to sign the contentious pact and explained her plans for advancing the country’s peace process.

Cabinet decides to form panel for suggestions
The Kathmandu Post | 21st December
The government has decided to form a high-level political mechanism to redraw the borders of federal provinces outlined by the newly adopted constitution as part of its bid to end the prolonged Tarai crisis. An emergency meeting of the Cabinet on Sunday evening decided to form the mechanism with a mandate to submit reports with acceptable recommendations for all sides within three months of its formation. State delineation has become a major bone of contention between the agitating Madhes-centric parties and the government since the new constitution was adopted three months ago.
DPM Thapa to pay official visit to China
The Kathmandu Post| 20th December
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa is scheduled to pay an official visit to People's Republic of China at the invitation of the Chinese government from December 24-29. DPM Thapa will Thapa will be leaving for Chinese Capital Beijing on December 23, leading a Nepali delegation, a press statement issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed.

Pakistan recognises need to fight Afghan Taliban: Ambassador Richard Olson
DAWN | 21st December
There is an increasing recognition in Pakistan that to defeat the TTP, they must also fight the Afghan Taliban, says a senior US official. “And that creates an opportunity that we will want to pursue as much as possible,” Ambassador Richard Olson told the Senate Foreign Relation Committee.

40% Internally Displaced Persons returned to North Waziristan, Chief of the Army Staff told
The Nation | 19th DecemberNearly 40 per cent of the Internally Displaced Persons have so far returned to their homes, Army Chief Genral Raheel Sharif was apprised during his visit to the North Waziristan Agency. Appreciating the progress, he vowed to continue ops till total elimination of terrorists. Appreciating intense hard work by intelligence agencies and Law Enforcement Agencies, COAS said that terrorist networks and their linkages are being unearthed across the country and this nexus will be broken at all cost to bring enduring peace.
Pakistan-China joint anti-terrorism exercise in progress
The Nation | 21st December
China-Pakistan “Friendship -2015” joint anti-terrorism training is in progress at PLA’s Qingtongxia combined tactics training base in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
 According to Chinese media, this is the fifth joint anti-terrorism training between the land forces of China and Pakistan.

Sri Lanka PM speaks of strengthening defense ties with other countries to develop Army
Colombo Page | 20th December
Addressing an Army military passing out parade in the hill town of Diyathalawa, the Prime Minister said Sri Lanka needs to have strong defense ties with neighboring countries like India and Pakistan, as well as with militarily advanced nations like China, the United States and Britain in order to improve the standards of the army to suit international standards.
US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal arrives in Sri Lanka
Colombo Page | 20th December
The United States Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal arrived in Sri Lanka and is expected to hold talks with the key government officials including the Foreign Minister, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and President Maithripala Sirisena.
India says new Sri Lanka Government a valued partner
Colombo Gazette | 19th December
India says the new Sri Lankan Government is a “valued partner” with who bilateral cooperation is being expanded. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that India is also working with Sri Lanka on the ethnic problem.


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