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Afgan-Pak: Why China is Playing Mediator

By Fanny Ragot Recently, a new strategic dialogue was held between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the Taliban leadership in the hill city of Murree, Pakistan. These negotiations were coordinated by China, illustrating Beijing’s recent commitment to support Kabul in pacifying its country. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, elected in mid-2014, has been reaffirming his willingness to set the wheels of negotiations in motion. It implies engaging in negotiations with Pakistan to resolve the problem of Pakistan’s support for the Taliban, across the Durand Line. While the dialogue is still new, China appears to be brokering these discussions. That Beijing is evidently involving itself in shaping the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan ...

August 15, 2015 at 10:54 am | News Desk

The Iran Nuclear Deal: Securing President Obama’s legacy

History shows us that America must lead not just with our might, but with our principles. It shows we are stronger not when we are alone, but when we bring the world together."  ~President Barack Obama The historic and monumental Iran Nuclear Talks have finally concluded successfully on July 14, 2015. This is a highly significant factor which lays the foundation in establishing President Obama's legacy. [caption id="attachment_6253" align="aligncenter" width="500"] U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif before a meeting in Geneva January 14, 2015. Zarif said on Wednesday that his meeting with Kerry was important to see if progress could be made in narrowing differences on hi...

August 14, 2015 at 3:18 pm | News Desk

The right lessons from Greece

THE implosion of the Greek economy, the rise of Syriza and the implicit blaming of Greece’s creditors for the country’s woes present important lessons that should be drawn upon. The danger is that many people, including in Pakistan, are preparing to draw the wrong set of lessons. Greece got itself into a mess by not taxing sufficiently its richest elites, and by overspending on a bloated, overpaid and underworked public sector. Poor choices by politicians for decades, fully supported by a complicit populace that was only too happy to condone the perpetual postponement of serious structural reform, have finally caught up. Despite the massive and heartrending current suffering of ordinary Greeks, the foregoing is the sorry story of the...

August 14, 2015 at 2:59 pm | News Desk

Pakistan, India to join China security bloc

BEIJING (Reuters) - Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India will start the process of joining a security bloc led by China and Russia at a summit in Russia later this week, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, the first time the grouping has expanded since it was set up in 2001. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) groups China, Russia and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, while India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers. "As the influence of the SCO's development has expanded, more and more countries in the region have brought up joining the SCO," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told a news briefing."...India and Pakistan's admission to the SCO...

July 6, 2015 at 3:17 pm | News Desk

Greece enters uncharted territory after referendum ‘no’ vote

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece lurched into uncharted territory and an uncertain future in Europe's common currency Sunday after voters overwhelmingly rejected demands by international creditors for more austerity measures in exchange for a bailout of its bankrupt economy. Results showed about 61 percent voted "no," compared with 39 percent for "yes," with 100 percent of the vote counted. The referendum — Greece's first in more than four decades — came amid severe restrictions on financial transactions in the country, imposed last week to stem a bank run that accelerated after the vote was called. Thousands of jubilant government supporters celebrated in Syntagma Square in front of Parliament, waving Greek flags and chanting "No, ...

July 6, 2015 at 2:57 pm | News Desk

F-35, Most Expensive Fighter Jet Ever, Can’t Dogfight Well

The makers of one of the most expensive weapons programs in history went on the defensive today, saying a recent report on the F-35 fighter jet’s failures in old-school dogfighting against a decades-old, much cheaper legacy fighter “does not tell the whole story.”The report in question, posted on the national security news website War Is Boring, was based on an internal five-page brief in which an F-35 test pilot wrote a scathing criticism of the next-generation jet’s abilities in a January dogfight with an F-16, one of the planes the F-35 is designed to replace. Essentially, the pilot reportedly wrote, the F-35 was no match for the F-16 in close-up, high maneuvering fighting -- whether the F-35 was trying to get the F-16 in its si...

July 2, 2015 at 3:49 pm | News Desk

Swedish woman gets $18M in sex harassment suit

NEW YORK (AP) — A young Swedish woman who sued her former Wall Street executive boss over lurid allegations of sexual conquest, betrayal and stalking was awarded $18 million by a federal jury Monday. Hanna Bouveng, 25, accused Benjamin Wey in an $850 million lawsuit of using his power as owner of New York Global Group to coerce her into four sexual encounters before firing her after discovering she had a boyfriend. The jury in federal court in Manhattan awarded her $2 million in compensatory damages plus $16 million in punitive damages on sexual harassment, retaliation and defamation claims. It rejected a claim of assault and battery. Bouveng, who was raised in Vetlanda, Sweden, testified that soon after Wey hired her at New York...

July 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm | News Desk

Southeast Asia to set up fund to help boat people

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Southeast Asian countries will establish a humanitarian fund to help boatloads of Rohingya Muslim and Bangladeshi immigrants who have recently landed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, a Malaysian minister said Thursday. Singapore has pledged $200,000 to the fund, Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Zahid Hamidi told a news conference after chairing a special regional meeting on the refugee crisis. Since early May, more than 4,600 boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh have come ashore in Southeast Asian waters, after human smugglers abandoned their boats amid a regional crackdown. Some are Bangladeshis who left their impoverished homeland in hope of finding jobs abroad. But many are Rohingya...

July 2, 2015 at 3:35 pm | News Desk

New US military strategy is confrontational: Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Thursday a new U.S. military strategy was confrontational and would not help improve relations with Moscow, strained by the crisis in Ukraine.   The strategy, released by the Pentagon on Wednesday, said Russia had repeatedly demonstrated it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and that it was willing to use force to achieve its goals. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed regret about the content of the document and said it indicated a "confrontational attitude, devoid of any objectivity towards our country". "Of course this will hardly contribute to attempts to steer bilateral relations in the direction of normalization," he told reporters during a conference call. R...

July 2, 2015 at 3:24 pm | News Desk

U.S., Cuba restoring diplomatic ties after 54 years

HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Cuba formally agreed on Wednesday to restore diplomatic relations on July 20, setting up a trip to Havana by John Kerry, who would become the first U.S. secretary of state to visit the country in 70 years. Sealed by an exchange of letters between U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, the deal fulfills a pledge the former Cold War enemies made six months ago. It also attempts to end the recriminations that have predominated ever since Fidel Castro's rebels overthrew the U.S.-backed government of Fulgencio Batista on Jan. 1, 1959. The letters set a date of July 20 for the re-establishment of relations, and embassies could be opened at that time or later. Kerry...

July 2, 2015 at 3:17 pm | News Desk

Greece debt crisis: Global stock markets slide

Stock markets in Europe and Asia have seen big falls after Greece closed its banks and imposed capital controls. The moves by the Greek authorities came after the European Central Bank decided not to extend emergency funding. London's FTSE 100 index fell 2% in early trade. Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei index fell nearly 3%. On the currency markets, the euro had fallen to $1.0953 at one point in Asian trading from $1.1165 on Friday, but it then recovered some ground. Elsewhere in Europe, Germany's Dax share index and France's Cac 40 were both down more than 3%. The Athens Stock Exchange and Greek banks are closed all week. Greek contagion The euro has weakened against the British pound, as investors worry about the singl...

June 29, 2015 at 2:20 pm | News Desk

EU climate chief criticises UK wind farm policy

The UK's decision to stop subsidising new onshore wind farms will make it harder to meet renewable energy targets, the EU's climate chief says. Miguel Arias Canete said the EU had already calculated that the UK was not on track to meet legally binding goals. Asked by EA if the wind decision would make the task harder he replied: "Of course". His officials have expressed bemusement at the decision to end subsidies for onshore wind energy a year early. They said onshore wind was by far the cheapest way to hit the target of 15% of all energy from renewables from 2020. 'Mind-boggling' The SNP estimate the change will cost bill payers up to three billion pounds. After a media briefing on climate policy at the European Commission, one ...

June 24, 2015 at 6:05 pm | News Desk

Israeli minister’s wife sorry for ‘Obama coffee’ gag

JERUSALEM: The flamboyant wife of Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom published an “inappropriate joke” on Sunday about US President Barack Obama on her Twitter account, only to later delete it and apologise. “Do u know what Obama Coffee is? Black and weak,” Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes wrote to her 74,400 followers. Online shock, condemnation and accusations of racism later led her to delete the incriminating tweet. “I apologize, that was a stupid joke somebody told me,” she wrote on her @JudyMozes Twitter account in English. “President Obama I shouldnt have written the inappropriate joke I heard”, she also wrote, addressing the US leader directly. “I like people no matter about their race and religion”. “Sor...

June 23, 2015 at 2:42 pm | News Desk

India extends crackdown to Catholic charity

NEW DELHI: India has placed the Catholic charity Caritas on a government watch list, an official and news reports said Tuesday, in a growing crackdown on foreign organisations operating in the country. A home ministry official told AFP that Caritas had violated India's foreign funding laws by financing groups that were working “against the country”. He said Caritas had been placed on a list of organisations needing prior government approval to receive or distribute funds in India, a move also reported by the Indian Express daily. “There was clear violation of foreign funding law,” said the official, who asked not to be named, citing funding for groups which protested against a nuclear plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. T...

June 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm | News Desk

Iran MPs pass bill to safeguard nuclear ‘rights’

TEHRAN: Iran's parliament passed a bill on Tuesday obliging the government to safeguard the country's “nuclear rights and achievements,” despite talks with global powers on curbing the Islamic republic's disputed atomic programme. The measure was met by anger from President Hassan Rouhani's government, with a spokesman saying the draft law was unconstitutional as it contravened the country's defence and security policies. The bill's adoption reflects tension between Rouhani, a moderate who aims to end Iran's diplomatic isolation, and a conservative-dominated legislature, where hardliners often dispute the worth of negotiations with the West. The bill, which still has to be signed into law by Iran's Guardian Council, says the governme...

June 23, 2015 at 2:21 pm | News Desk

The China-Pak Economic Corridor: An Evaluation

In the contemporary world, economy is treated as a religion. The time has gone when the superpowers had large arsenals and extensive colonies. This is the era of economic independence and self-reliance. Currently, the nations which are economically independent, sovereign and self reliant are dominant. The story behind the success of the Western powers, China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other fast progressing countries is their economic independence and self- reliance. But unfortunately, the situation in Pakistan is totally reversed. Although Pakistan is rich in natural resources, it is very poor in management. Sixty seven years have passed since the inception of the country but none of its systems has been developed properly. In Pak...

June 22, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Zulqarnain Sewag

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