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Xi concludes Russia visit with no breakthrough in Ukraine conflict

Xi’s visit ended with Beijing and Moscow concluding more than a dozen agreements bolstering cooperation in areas from trade and technology to state propaganda..reports Asian Lite News

Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday departed Russia after pledging to deepen ties with President Vladimir Putin, however, the talks failed to achieve a breakthrough in the Ukraine conflict, reported CNN.

Both leaders did not discuss a Kyiv-proposed peace plan to end the war in Ukraine, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. He said that Kyiv’s proposal was a matter of Sino-Ukraine relations.
The two leaders emphasized that peace talks should be used to solve the Ukraine crisis, but Kyiv and the West say any peace agreement must include the withdrawal of Russian troops, reported CNN.

The 10-point peace plan was first presented by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a video at a meeting of the Group of 20 nations in November.

The steps include a path to nuclear safety, food security, a special tribunal for alleged Russian war crimes, and a final peace treaty between Russia and Ukraine.

China released last month, a 12-point statement of broad principles on the war that called for respecting the sovereignty of all countries, abandoning the Cold War mentality, ceasing hostilities, resuming peace talks, resolving the humanitarian crisis, protecting civilians and prisoners of war (POWs), keeping nuclear power plants safe, reducing strategic risks, facilitating grain exports, stopping unilateral sanctions, keeping industrial and supply chains stable and promoting post-conflict reconstruction.

But Western leaders have expressed scepticism about China’s potential role as a peacemaker and its claimed neutrality. The United States and its allies have instead since last month warned that China is considering sending lethal aid to Russia for its war effort, which Beijing has denied.

Xi spent three days in Moscow this week. His visit ended with Beijing and Moscow concluding more than a dozen agreements bolstering cooperation in areas from trade and technology to state propaganda, according to a Kremlin list.

The leaders’ central statement focused on how the two countries would “deepen” their relationship.

However, the two sides failed to move the needle on bringing a resolution to the war, reported CNN.

Meanwhile, Peskov said that he is not surprised by what he called a “hostile” reaction from Western nations to the visit between Putin and Xi Jinping this week.

“As for the reaction of the countries of the collective West, the fact that on almost all issues this reaction is of an unfriendly, deeply hostile nature is no secret to anyone. The coverage of this important visit is no exception,” Peskov said.

“Of course, the most important thing is not the reaction of the West, but it’s the results of the negotiations that took place. The main thing is the results of the state visit itself,” he added.

Peskov’s comments came after John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesman, told that Beijing and Moscow are deepening their relationship in large part due to their mutual interest in challenging the US’ global influence, reported CNN.

Kirby also pushed back on China’s claim that it had staked out an impartial position regarding the war in Ukraine. (ANI)

ALSO READ: US raises concern over rights abuses in China, Pak

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Pakistan’s Parliament to table resolution against Imran’s PTI

The sources indicated that the resolution would pave the way for strong action against the former Prime Minister and his supporters….reports Asian Lite News

A joint sitting of the two-houses of Pakistan’s Parliament is underway on Wednesday as speculations continue that the ruling coalition is working on banning Imran Khan’s PTI party after its involvement in attacking the state institutions, including the armed forces, judiciary and law-enforcement agencies.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who appears rarely in Parliament, is likely to attend the session and deliver the policy statement about the present situation in the country, The News reported.

It has been reported that the parliament is to meet in a special joint session to take important decisions to enforce the state’s authority, the government said, a day after the major stakeholders of security agreed with the government that elections to the national and provincial assemblies should be held simultaneously.

The joint sitting will adopt a strong-worded resolution on condemnation of PTI and its Khan’s activities and “unjustifiable favours” he is getting from the judiciary, The News reported.

The sources indicated that the resolution would pave the way for strong action against the former Prime Minister and his supporters.

The resolution would display the will of the people of the country.

The coalition had condemned the attacks carried out allegedly on the orders of the PTI Chairman on police and Rangers, who were implementing the court orders when they went to his Zaman Park residence in Lahore and when Khan came to Islamabad sessions court along with his supporters over the weekend, The News reported.

The collation parties decided to hold the joint sitting of parliament to take up the issues being confronted by the country.

The huddle had also strongly condemned a social media campaign being run from abroad against the state institutions, especially against Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, and asked the overseas Pakistanis not to be a part of this agenda.

ALSO READ: IMF in a bind over Pakistan funding sustainability

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IMF funding will lay foundation for a strong economy: Lanka President

The President told Parliament that the government also aims to reduce the inflation rate to 4 per cent to 6 per cent and bring it to a single digit by mid-2023…reports Asian Lite News

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Wednesday that the IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF) will restore the island nation’s international recognition amid the worst-ever economic crisis, ensure the country is not bankrupt and help banks regain international trust.

The credit facility amounts to approximately $2.9 billion over four years, with the first tranche of $333 million to be received, reports Xinhua news agency.

He said that the receipt of the IMF Facility is a step towards building a better future for the youth and uplifting the country.

Additionally, the country is expecting about $7 billion more in rapid credit support from other parties, Wickremesinghe told the lawmakers.

The IMF EFF will create opportunities for low-interest credit, restore foreign investors’ confidence and lay the foundation for a strong new economy, he said.

“We are now starting a new journey. We must introduce many economic reforms throughout the process,” the President noted.

Photo taken on April 19, 2022 shows the IMF headquarters in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua/IANS)

Some of these reforms have already been proposed and implemented through the interim budget of 2022 and the budget for 2023, Wickremesinghe said.

He added that the government aims to reduce the primary deficit to 2.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 and increase revenue to 14 per cent of the GDP by 2026.

Wickremesinghe noted the standard corporate income tax rate has been raised to 30 per cent, and sectoral tax holidays have been eliminated.

The pay-as-you-earn tax rate has been raised from 12 per cent to 15 per cent, and the tax exemption limit has been reduced from 300 million LKR to 80 million LKR, he said.

The President told Parliament that the government also aims to reduce the inflation rate to 4 per cent to 6 per cent and bring it to a single digit by mid-2023.

The government further plans to reduce the budget deficit and refrain from printing money.

“The forex market thresholds and guidelines will be relaxed while allowing market criteria to determine its activities. The Central Bank plans to purchase foreign currency to build up foreign reserves,” he said.

The President said that with regard to good governance, the IMF is preparing a report to assess the governance framework and corruption in Sri Lanka.

The government is drafting laws against corruption in line with UN conventions and will present a new Public Finance Management bill to introduce strong fiscal policies and laws regarding foreign loans.

The crisis-hit island nation had initially hoped to agree a new payment plan with China and India by the end of 2022.

Presently, Beijing’s lending to Sri Lanka stands at around $7 billion, while India is owed around $1 billion.

The Covid-19 pandemic, rising energy prices, populist tax cuts and inflation of more than 50 per cent has battered Sri Lanka.

A shortage of medicines, fuel and other essentials also pushed the cost of living to record highs, triggering violent nationwide protests which overthrew the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government in 2022.

As a result the country defaulted on its debts with international lenders last May for the first time in its history.

ALSO READ: Lanka bailout: IMF stresses anti-corruption, governance reforms

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Karzai slams Taliban for female education ban

Taliban has imposed draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and movement for women and girls…reports Asian Lite News

Banning females from attaining education is a very serious issue for Afghanistan and the children of our country, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement to a Canada-based news organisation, reported Khaama Press on Tuesday.

Calling girls’ education a ‘primary concern’ for the Afghan people, he added that education is the foundation of a country’s well-being, not only for Afghanistan but for every other society. He also expressed his concern about how young people are leaving the country at a tremendous rate since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, which in return has proved to be a massive loss for the country.

“Leaving people from the country, especially young, educated ones adding that this is a disaster and a massive loss for the country, as it is already suffering the lack of proper human capital,” Khaama Press quoted Karzai as saying.

The de facto authorities of Afghanistan, after seizing power in August 2021 have restricted women’s and girls’ freedom of movement, barred girls from attending secondary school, excluded women from the majority of the workforce, and forbade women from using public restrooms and gyms, reported the Afghan news agency.

Reverse decrees limiting women’s rights, UN urges Taliban.(Photo :

Taliban has imposed draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and movement for women and girls.

The Taliban’s decision to ban female students above grade six from going to school has drawn widespread criticism at the national and international levels.

A number of international bodies, including the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expressed concern over restrictions on women’s and girls’ education and work. Since the Taliban took control, the basic rights of women and girls have been violated. (ANI)

ALSO READ: US raises concern over rights abuses in China, Pak

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Xi’s renewed efforts to change West-led world order

The criticism of the western views from legal education in China is seen as a part of Xi’s reinvigorated efforts to change the US-led world order….reports Asian Lite News

Chinese President Xi Jinping has again taken a potshot at western education that talks about democratic values, as he takes over the reins for the third time, tightening his grip on China’s political, social, and cultural institutions. It may prove detrimental to the civil rights of Chinese people in the long term as Xi has openly called for opposing and resisting” erroneous Western views” such as constitutional government, separation of powers, and judicial independence.

The criticism of the western views from legal education in China is seen as a part of Xi’s reinvigorated efforts to change the US-led world order. Chinese efforts to diminish the US-led world order is expedited in Xi’s tenure. This involves discrediting global institutions, defying prescribed international rules and norms, and rejecting liberal values.3 Calling democracy the sole legitimate form of government hurts China’s ambition to reshape the world order and replace the US as the world’s superpower. Tuvia Gering, a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, said Chinese policymakers seek to make efforts that cause American decline and its ascent. “They need to lay the infrastructure for a more China-centric, or at least a less US-, Western-centric, world,” he said.

The Chinese government has been subjected to criticism from the international community over the lack of democratic rights and absolute control by the China Communist Party as well as human rights violations in Xinjiang and Tibet. Thus, the Xi government find western concepts such as constitutional government, separation of powers, and judicial independence problematic.

The information disseminated to the Chinese public is subject to the government’s scrutiny. However, there has been a greater intervention since Xi came to power in 2013. He has often criticised western education and values. Many professors, who talked about democratic values, were sacked or sent to jail by the Xi government. In 2015, the then-education minister Yuan Guiren said “Never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classes.” This had come after Xi had sought more involvement of the communist party in China’s universities.

President Xi Jinping. (Xinhua/IANS)

Millions of Chinese went to western countries for higher education in past few decades and some of them even ended up becoming top leaders in the country.

Interestingly, about 20 per cent of 370 members of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party pursued their education in foreign countries, mostly at western universities. Even the eight Chinese leaders in the current 24-member politburo studied in western countries.

Activists and leaders from the US and several European countries have been demanding action against Beijing over alleged crimes against humanity in Tibet and Xinjiang. It often puts China in a bad light over the allegation of autocracy, police action, ethnic cleansing, religious suppression, and a crackdown on civil liberty, among others. International media is quite critical of these issues, often termed ‘western propaganda’ by Beijing.

It has become quite comfortable for Beijing to target western countries and values propagated by them to distract the domestic audience from the variety of thorny issues such as violations of human rights, religious freedom, autocratic rule by the communist party, and even Covid mismanagement.

The spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign ministry, Wang Wenbin, had called the allegation of atrocities in Xinjiang a western conspiracy and political tool to demean China. A Chinese Uyghur Abduweli Ayup said antiWestern sentiment is really strong in China.

“All our history we learn that China is the victim, and all those countries around us are very bad,” he said.

The reiteration of anti-west remarks shows Xi has reinvigorated the efforts to the US-led world order. He seeks to dislodge the prevailing standards or replace them with Chinese ones that are endorsed by the communist party. The anti-west ideological campaign is allowing Xi to form a China-led group of nations as well as consolidate his power.

“There are nationalistic voices that are against everything – against the US is good, and are for anything that the US is against,” said Gu Su, a political scientist at Nanjing University, adding, “Many of the discussions are not about the actual rights and wrongs but only about picking a side between enemies and friends.” (ANI)

ALSO READ: US raises concern over rights abuses in China, Pak

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Putin accuses Ukraine of not wanting Chinese peace plan

There are plans to expand industrial cooperation, including aircraft and shipbuilding industries, and other high-tech sectors…reports Asian Lite News

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday a Chinese peace plan could provide a basis for a settlement of the fighting in Ukraine when the West is ready for it.

Speaking after talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Putin charged that Ukraine’s Western allies so far have shown no interest in that.

He also said British plans to provide Ukraine with ammunition for battle tanks containing depleted uranium signifies the West switching to supplying Kyiv with weapons containing nuclear components. He said that Russia will respond if it happens, but didn’t elaborate.

Speaking Tuesday at talks involving top officials from both countries, Putin said he wants to expand bilateral economic ties, noting Russian-Chinese trade rose by 30% last year to $185 billion. It’s expected to top $200 billion this year, he added.

Russia stands “ready to meet the Chinese economy’s growing demand for energy resources” by boosting deliveries of oil and gas, he said.

There are plans to expand industrial cooperation, including aircraft and shipbuilding industries, and other high-tech sectors.

Xi said he aimed to “strengthen coordination and interaction” with Russia, adding that it would help “the prosperity and revival of China and Russia.”

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused NATO of wanting to become the world’s dominant military force and said Moscow is trying to prevent it.

“That is why we are expanding our cooperation with China, including in the security sphere,” he said.

Western officials “have seen some signs” that Putin also wants lethal weapons from China, though there is no evidence Beijing has granted his request, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Tuesday.

“China should not provide lethal aid to Russia,” Stoltenberg said. “That would be to support an illegal war and only prolong the war.”

Japan in Ukraine

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made a surprise visit Tuesday to Kyiv, stealing some of the global attention from Asian rival President Xi Jinping of China, who is in Moscow to show support for Russia against the West.

The two visits, about 800 kilometres (500 miles) apart, highlighted the nearly 13-month-old war’s repercussions for international diplomacy as countries line up behind Moscow or Kyiv. They follow a week in which China and Japan both enjoyed diplomatic successes that have emboldened their foreign policy.

Kishida, who is to chair the Group of Seven summit in May, will meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital, coinciding with Xi’s talks for a second day with President Vladimir Putin in the Russian capital.

Kishida will “show respect to the courage and patience of the Ukrainian people who are standing up to defend their homeland under President Zelenskyy’s leadership, and show solidarity and unwavering support for Ukraine as head of Japan and chairman of G-7,” during his visit to Ukraine, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in announcing his trip to Kyiv.

Kyodo News said Kishida visited a church in Bucha, a town outside Kyiv that became a symbol of Russian atrocities against civilians, laid flowers at a church there and paid his respects to the victims.

“I’m outraged by the cruelty. I represent the Japanese citizens to express my condolences to those who lost their lives,” he was quoted as saying.

Kishida was the only G-7 leader who hadn’t visited Ukraine and was under domestic pressure to do so. U.S. President Joe Biden took a similar route to visit Kyiv last month, just before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

Kishida, Japan’s first postwar leader to enter a war zone, was invited by Zelenskyy in January to visit Kyiv.

Japan’s aid to Ukraine

Due to its pacifist principles, Japan’s support for Ukraine has been limited to equipment such as helmets, bulletproof vests and drones, and humanitarian supplies including generators.

Japan has contributed more than $7 billion to Ukraine, and accepted more than 2,000 displaced Ukrainians and helped them with housing assistance and support for jobs and education, a rare move in a country that is known for its strict immigration policy.

Two different European-Pacific partnerships

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel tweeted about the “two very different European-Pacific partnerships” that unfolded Tuesday.

“Kishida stands with freedom, and Xi stands with a war criminal,” Emanuel said, referring to last week’s action by the International Criminal Court, which issued an arrest warrant for Putin, saying it wanted to put him on trial for the abductions of thousands of children from Ukraine.

Tokyo joined the U.S. and European nations in sanctioning Russia over its invasion and providing humanitarian and economic support for Ukraine. In contrast, China has refused to condemn Moscow’s aggression and criticized Western sanctions against Moscow, while accusing NATO and Washington of provoking Putin’s military action.

Japan was quick to react because it fears the possible impact of a war in East Asia, where China’s military has grown increasingly assertive and has escalated tensions around self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory.

At a meeting Tuesday with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Xi said he invited Putin to visit China later this year for a top-level meeting of China’s One Belt, One Road regional initiative, which seeks to extend Beijing’s influence through economic cooperation projects.

Moscow and Beijing have both weathered international condemnation of their human rights record. The Chinese government has been widely condemned for alleged atrocities against Uighur Muslims in its far western Xinjiang region. The allegations include genocide, forced sterilization and the mass detention of nearly a million Uighurs. Beijing has denied the allegations.

China looks to Russia as a partner in standing up to what both see as US aggression, domination of global affairs and unfair criticism of their human rights records.

ALSO READ-Putin welcomes Chinese peace plan for Ukraine

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Police target PTI second-tier leadership in Lahore

The police targeted the party’s second-tier leadership in a new round of raids in order to weaken its position…reports Asian Lite News

The Lahore police continued massive raids in various parts of the city, arresting dozens more Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers amid allegations of harassment and abuse of power, Dawn reported.

The police targeted the party’s second-tier leadership in a new round of raids in order to weaken its position. DIG investigation Sohail Akhtar Sukhera, who is in charge of the operations, is said to have directed the police to crack down on the PTI workers. Police officials are avoiding media inquiries about the number of arrests made on Monday. The PTI leadership, on the other hand, claimed dozens of arrests and said that the crackdown had intensified after midnight.

According to a report published in Dawn, several police teams were dispatched to the leaders’ and party workers’ homes, offices, and other possible locations to arrest them based on lists provided to them following high-level meetings.

The PTI leadership has accused the police of ‘misusing power,’ claiming that officers harassed their family members, including children and women while forcing entry into their homes.

They told the media persons that the police had launched action against the PTI’s leaders and workers in Lahore soon after Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi gave the police a free hand in the name of ‘the writ of the law’.

The police raided the homes of Hafiz Farhat Abbas, the PTI chairman’s political secretary, and Kiran Nadeem, the PTI candidate running in PP-158, as well as dozens of other party leaders and workers.

A mobile phone video of a police team going to the house of PTI leader Musarat Cheema at around 1:30 am on Monday went viral on social media.

The now-viral video shows police vans stationed outside her house and deployed force asking the family to assure that no family members, including children, would participate in anti-police street protests. The family claims that the police abused their authority by raiding their home in the middle of the night while the family members were sleeping.

According to reports, police detained Cheema’s employees after they were unable to locate her at home. She was not at her residence at the time of the raid.

A large police force raided the home of PTI leader Bajash Khan Niazi, who owns the city’s leading private transportation company.

In a video posted on his social media account, Bajash Niazi stated that the police raided and shut down his company’s office at 2 am. He also said that the company’s workshop and his brother Hammad Niazi’s office were raided and forcibly closed. He claimed that police raided not only his house but also his brother’s to intimidate them for supporting Imran Khan.

However, the police were unable to arrest him, his cousins, and other party members.

Bajash Niazi claimed in a media statement that the police committed brutality by targeting him, his relatives, and his business.

He claimed that he had submitted nomination papers for the PTI party’s PP-146 constituency two days prior and that the police were threatening to shut down his business if he continued to contest elections, according to Dawn.

According to reports, the police detained Jamaat-i-Islami leader Abdul Qayyum, a candidate for election in PP-166, Lahore.

Qaisar Sharif, a Jamaat-e-Islami spokesperson, confirmed Abdul Qayyum’s arrest, alleging that the police were conducting raids and harassing Jamaat workers.

The police also raided the Baghbanpura house of Mian Tariq, the office-bearer of the PTI’s ‘Tiger Force,’ to arrest him. Tariq was not present during the raid, according to sources cited by Dawn. Later, he said in a media statement that the police blatantly broke the law by scaling the boundary walls of his house to break into it. He accused the police of harassing his family’s women.

Raids were also carried out early on Monday at the homes of Khawaja Riaz Mahmood and his son Khawaja Salman in Gowalmandi.

Asif Jutt, the son of PTI worker Jamshed Jutt, was reportedly arrested from his home in Nishat Colony, Dawn reported. (ANI)

ALSO READ: IMF in a bind over Pakistan funding sustainability

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IMF in a bind over Pakistan funding sustainability

The political situation in Pakistan has become a factor in the deal’s postponement…reports Asian Lite News

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is in a dilemma regarding the sustainability of its funding in Pakistan, which would be difficult to defend in front of the Executive Directors of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), reported Islam Khabar.

Another issue is that the fund must address before disbursing the next tranche is Pakistan’s unfulfilled commitment to provide financing on the occasion of the approval of the 7th and 8th reviews in August 2022. If the commitments on external financing needs are not met within the timeframe specified, the IMF’s credibility is jeopardised. According to a report published in Islam Khabar, Pakistan has implemented a series of policy measures, including higher taxes, higher energy prices, and raising interest rates to their highest level in 25 years in order to unlock funding from the IMF’s stalled USD 6.5 billion lending programme. However, it has become a difficult situation for Pakistani authorities, who face a political uphill task ahead of the upcoming elections, which will determine the fate of the current government’s commitments. The IMF believes that the current government may or may not be able to carry out the agreement it signs.

The political situation in Pakistan has become a factor in the deal’s postponement. According to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan has met the most stringent IMF conditions, resulting in the burning of the masses. He also warned that the burden on ‘hardworking Pakistanis’ would increase in the days ahead as a result of these conditions. The IMF tranche is still out of reach.

Pakistan survived the Covid-19 pandemic, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, inflation, and supply chain disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The current crisis is so severe that foreign banks have refused to confirm letters of credit (LCs) for even crude oil imports. The only foreign bank currently confirming LCs for Pakistani crude oil imports is Saudi Arabia’s Al-Rajhi Bank.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has blamed the ‘trust deficit’ created by the previous government for the delay in concluding discussions with the IMF.

According to Islam Khabar, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also said that the IMF is not treating Pakistan fairly, claiming that the country is “in a perfect storm” of crisis. Islasmabad’s delaying tactics, motivated by a fear of making difficult economic decisions before the elections, have done more harm than good.

However, the future is less certain. According to State Bank of Pakistan Governor Jameel Ahmad, the country’s central bank, Pakistan must repay approximately USD 3 billion in debt by June, with an additional USD 4 billion expected to be rolled over. An earlier loan rollover from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China helped to relieve pressure on Pakistan. This year, the Pakistani rupee has lost nearly 20 per cent of its value. According to Fitch Ratings, Pakistan’s current rating indicates that default is a real possibility.

Critics claim that Pakistan has grown accustomed to being trapped in an unsustainable debt cycle. The IMF’s success in Egypt, which is based on policy and structural changes, could serve as a model for structural reforms in Pakistan. Cases of IMF lending in Serbia and Iceland are similar, Islam Khabar reported.

For Islamabad, the prospect of economic recovery is also a mirage. Pakistan’s infrastructure spending is only 2.1 per cent of GDP, the lowest in the region and far below the required national average of 8-10 per cent of GDP. Infrastructure spending is the most effective and critical long-term and sustainable economic growth and development accelerator. It is difficult for Pakistan to finance infrastructure development and maintenance due to a severe lack of capital.

The current crisis in US banks, as well as Credit Suisse, will make the global business environment more volatile. It is difficult to imagine Islamabad’s economic revival while it is unable to meet its short-term foreign debt obligations and is mired in the current forex crisis. Finally, it is the poor Pakistanis who bear the brunt of the country’s political impasses and developmental failures over the last seven decades, Islam Khabar reported. (ANI)

ALSO READ: MEA among least funded Central Ministries: Parliamentary panel

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Kishida’s visit boosts India-Japan economic cooperation

PM Modi and his Japanese counterpart spoke about the newly established India-Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership, and they acknowledged its success…reports Asian Lite News

On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, pledged to expand their countries’ global strategic partnership, citing its significance in promoting a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, as well as benefiting both nations in various areas.

They met in New Delhi after Japanese Prime Minister Kishida arrived in India on Monday for a two-day visit aimed at boosting bilateral ties in multiple fields, besides exploring the convergence between India’s G20 presidency and Japan’s G7 presidency to tackle global issues. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed trade, defence, health, digital partnership, and the importance of reliable supply chains for critical technologies like semiconductors.

The meeting holds tremendous importance for India-Japan Economic Cooperation, as the partnership between both countries has made remarkable progress in recent years, covering all aspects of mutual engagement, including the growing convergence of political, strategic, and economic interests.

During the meeting, PM Modi emphasized that the India-Japan relationship is one of the most natural partnerships in the region, built on shared values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the rule of law. He added that economic cooperation is a vital component of the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership, which is crucial for promoting peace, prosperity, and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Apart from this, the two leaders also held substantive discussions on key topics of bilateral cooperation, including defense and security, climate and energy, people-to-people exchanges, skill development, and innovation. The leaders also discussed regional issues of significance, with a particular emphasis on economic cooperation.

Additionally, India and Japan have set ambitious targets for themselves in the economic sphere, and the two countries are committed to working together to achieve them. Japan has set a target of investing 5 trillion yen in India over the next five years. The two leaders expressed satisfaction with the progress made toward achieving this target.

Moreover, PM Modi and his Japanese counterpart spoke about the newly established India-Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership, and they acknowledged its success.

Their meeting also provided an opportunity to review the progress on the High-Speed Rail (Bullet Train) project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

India and Japan signed documents for the fourth tranche of the Japanese loan for the project. The exchange of notes for a loan of 300 billion Yen took place on the sidelines of the meeting between Prime Modi and Japanese PM Kishida in New Delhi.

This was the fourth tranche of the total of Rs 18,000 crore loan by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the High Speed Rail project.

The project will use Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet Train) technology. It is envisaged that the 508-km distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will be covered in two hours and seven minutes with a maximum operational speed of 320 kilometer per hour (kmph).

ALSO READ- Kishida announces over $75 bn assistance for Indo-Pacific 

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CBI seeks to restore Interpol red notice on Choksi

A case was registered against Mehul Choksi and others on February 15, 2018 for defrauding Punjab National Bank….reports Asian Lite News

The Interpol had earlier on several occasions dismissed the plea of fugitive criminal diamantaire Mehul Choksi who is wanted in Rs 13,000 crore fraud case in Punjab National Bank, the CBI said in a statement.

“Facing possibilities of imminent extradition from Antigua and Barbuda, Choksi again with a view to create diversions from the ongoing process and derail the ongoing extradition proceedings, with false claims, concocted dramatic stories and imaginary narratives, approached various international forums and also approached Commission for Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) in July 2022 to revise its earlier decision of 2020. CCF consulted the CBI and the ED on the matter and the factual situation on the narrative of Choksi being wholly unsubstantiated and without an iota of evidence were put forth to the CCF. It was clarified that Choksi had been making all possible attempts to derail ongoing extradition proceedings in Antigua and Barbuda, to evade the process of law in India,” the agency stated.

“However, based on mere imaginary conjunctures and unproven surmises, a five member CCF chamber has taken a decision on deletion of Red Notice, communicated in November, 2022. Thereafter, CBI has taken up with CCF the serious shortcomings, procedural violations, overreach of mandate and mistakes committed by CCF in the manner of reaching this unfounded and perfunctory decision,” said a senior CBI official.

A case was registered against Mehul Choksi and others on February 15, 2018 for defrauding Punjab National Bank. The CBI has already filed two charge sheets in the case against Choksi and others under sections 120-B read with 409, 420, 477A, 201 of IPC and sections 7 & 13(2) read with 13(1)(c)&(d) of PC Act.

In 2022, the CBI registered five more criminal cases against Choksi and others for defrauding banks and financial institutions.

“The CBI as National Central Bureau for Interpol had issued a diffusion to locate Choksi in February 2018. The movements of the criminal were tracked by the CBI in close direct coordination with foreign law enforcement agencies and he was geo-located to Antigua and Barbuda. Extradition request against Choksi was sent through diplomatic channels to competent authorities of Antigua and Barbuda in August 2018,” the official said.

In 2018, Choksi approached CCF making a request for non-publication of Red Notice. CCF is a separate body within Interpol that is not under the control of Interpol Secretariat and is mainly staffed by elected lawyers from different countries. CCF had studied his request and consulted the CBI. CCF dismissed representation of Choksi and Interpol published a Red Notice.

Interpol published a Red Notice against Choksi in December 2018 on request of the CBI and the ED. This was subsequent to geo-location by the CBI of wanted criminal and subsequent to initiation of extradition request. The purpose of a Red Notice issued by Interpol was to seek location of a wanted person and to seek their detention, arrest or restriction of movement for purpose of extradition, surrender or similar action.

“It may be noted that Choksi was already located prior to publication of Interpol Red Notice and steps also initiated for his extradition. Although the primary purpose of Red Notice was already achieved, the same was retained as a precautionary measure.

As the extradition proceedings against Choksi were proceeding in Antigua and Barbuda, Choksi had been approaching various international forums with fully concocted and imaginary narratives to create diversions. In 2019, Choksi again approached CCF seeking removal of Red Notice. CCF studied his request, consulted the CBI and based on inputs, again in 2020, dismissed his plea,” the CBI said.

Later on, when he again reached the Interpol and concerned authorities, a decision was taken in his favour.

Thereafter, CBI took up with CCF the serious shortcomings, procedural violations, overreach of mandate and mistakes committed by CCF in the manner of reaching this unfounded and perfunctory decision. CBI continues to exercise available remedial and appellate options within Interpol for rectification of this faulty decision and for restoration of Red Notice. CBI pointed out that even Antigua authorities consider there is sufficient evidence to substantiate that the applicant concealed material facts or made false representation when he applied for his Antigua and Barbuda citizenship, a fact which reflects on previous conduct of this criminal.

CCF has subsequently clarified to CBI that its decision in no manner has any determination on any guilt or innocence of Mehul Chinubhai Choksi for crimes he remains charged in India. CCF has reiterated that it has not established factual certainties and there is no factual finding in their decision that Choksi will not have fair trial. Based on new information and serious errors in the decision, CBI is taking steps for the decision of CCF to be revised.

The CBI remains in active communication with CCF and other bodies in Interpol in an ongoing process relating to this case.

It may be noted that an Interpol Red Notice is neither a pre requisite nor a requirement for extradition proceedings. The Global Operations Centre of CBI continues to closely monitor movements of wanted criminals like Mehul Choksi in close direct coordination with foreign law enforcement agencies and not reliant only on Interpol channels. Extradition request made by India is under active consideration before authorities in Antigua and Barbuda and remains fully unimpacted by Red Notice related communications with Interpol.

The CBI remains committed seeking return of fugitives and criminals to India to face process of criminal justice. Systematic steps have been initiated in close coordination with foreign law enforcement agencies for geo-locating and return of wanted criminals and economic offenders. In the last 15 months, over 30 wanted criminals have returned to India.

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