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Ashraf Ghani Vows To Release 2000 Afghan Taliban Prisoners

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Afghan resident Ashraf Ghani has announced that Kabul will release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture in acknowledgement of Taliban’s calling for a three-day ceasefire on the occasion of Eid.

Aksai Chin Is No Doklam; Indian Army Will Pay ‘Heavy Price’ For Aggravating Border Dispute – Experts

The decision to free the captives was a  “goodwill gesture” and was taken “to ensure the success of the peace process”, Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi tweeted. Afghan President Ghani had earlier stated that he would fasten the process of freeing Taliban insurgents.

Before Sunday’s announcement, the Ashraf Ghani government has already released about 1,000 Taliban prisoners while the Taliban freed about 300 Afghan security forces. Ghani also said a government delegation was “ready to immediately start the peace talks” with the Taliban insurgents.

The Taliban offering of a cease-fire comes just days after leader Haibatullah Akhundzada urged the Trump administration “not to waste” the occasion offered by the pact with the US that set the stage for the removal of foreign troops from the Islamic republic.

US Special Representative to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated the deal tweeted that the ceasefire was “a momentous opportunity that should not be missed” while vowing that the Trump administration would “do its part to help”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also pushed the Taliban and Ashraf Ghani government to seize the opportunity to commence peace talks, with the release of prisoners as the first step. But he said in a statement Sunday that he expected “the Taliban to stick to their pledge not to allow released prisoners to return to the battleground”.

He also urged the two sides to avoid escalating violence after Eid.

Analysts, however, say the Taliban have been heartened with the US peace deal and the Afghan government officials have reported more than 3,800 attacks since it was signed, killing 420 civilians and wounding 906.

Earlier, on February 29, a peace treaty between the US and the Taliban was signed in Doha, Qatar. As a confidence-building measure, the Taliban agreed to release 1,000 prisoners, while the Afghan government agreed to free 5,000 Taliban insurgents and supporters.

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Asia Pacific

India, China Agree To Withdraw Troops From LAC; The Question Is Who Will Pull-Out First?

India, China have agreed to withdraw their frontline soldiers from the Line of Actual Control after elongated discussions between Indian NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Experts have questioned – who will withdraw first – Indian or Chinese soldiers?

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India and China have agreed to withdraw troops from the contested Line of Actual Control, the de-facto India-China border region, after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke on Sunday night.

Pakistan Undoubtedly The Biggest Beneficiary Of India-China Military Stand-Off – Experts

The Chinese Foreign Ministry released the contents of the discussion which revealed that India and China had reached an agreement on four key points. One is that they agreed to take guidance from the important accord reached by the top leaders (Modi and Xi), which attaches great significance to the stability of the border areas with the development of bilateral relations, and put border disputes in a proper perspective to evade heightening the border clashes writes the Chinese state media – the Global Times.

India and China also welcomed the progress achieved in the recent military and diplomatic meetings, agreed to stay in dialogue and consultation and emphasised the necessity to act on the agreement reached in the commander-level talks and to complete withdrawal of the front-line soldiers as soon as possible, according to the FM release.

International Report On Galwan Valley Clash Emerges As Families, Soldiers Share The Horrific Incident

In response to a question on whether China has withdrawn troops from the contested Galwan Valley, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that both sides have agreed on disengagements of border troops. “We hope the two sides could meet each other halfway in implementing these agreements,” Zhao said.

The present talks between China and India strive to prevent the border situation from worsening any further, and it is an agreement reached by the two sides to defuse the tensions, Qian Feng, director of the research department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University.

Galwan Valley Clash: Top Indian General Decodes Why India Lost 20 Soldiers In India-China Border Conflict

“Meetings of China-India Special Representatives are the top political measures to handle the border issues, only second to the summit of leaders from the two countries, and it is safe to say that the special representative agreements send a positive signal to ease border tensions,” Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies said.

CPEC Project A ‘Trillion-Dollar Blunder’, Pakistan Calls It ‘Outstanding Initiative’

The details of the pact, such as who will withdraw first – Indian or Chinese soldiers could be carried out in a “silent” manner, to avoid instigation public sentiments or provoking unreasonable emotions, especially in India, Zhao stated.

The India media reports that Chinese PLA troops have moved back tents, vehicles and soldiers by few kilometres from locations where disengagement was agreed upon at Corps Commander-level talks have not been confirmed by the Chinese officials.

Via: The Global Times

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Indo-Pak News

Pakistan Undoubtedly The Biggest Beneficiary Of India-China Military Stand-Off – Experts

India-China military standoff.: Exploiting India’s vulnerabilities is an essential element of China’s “contain India” policy”. Experts believe that Pakistan has been undoubtedly the largest beneficiary of the indo-Sino conflict.

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India-China military stand-off has tremendously benefitted Pakistan according to experts. Pakistan recently signed a $2.4 billion deal with China for a massive hydropower project in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir which shows how three nations (India, Pakistan and  China) are striving to out-do each other in the highly-contested region.

FACT CHECK: 100 Chinese Soldiers Killed In India-China Border Clash At Galwan Valley?

Experts have claimed that China is prioritizing dam and hydropower construction projects in Pakistan-controlled-Kashmir over other BRI corridor projects to spite New Delhi.

Amid the flaring tensions between India and China that led to a bloody clash between the troops of two neighbouring countries on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) leaving 20 Indian troops dead and an unknown number of Chinese casualties, Islamabad has been surprisingly silent on the issue, given the close ties between China and Pakistan.

The hydropower project marks the largest power sector investment by an independent power producer under China’s multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

India has opposed the CPEC project stating that carrying out of such projects in territories under Pakistan’s illegal occupation was illegal. “Our position is consistent and clear that entire territory of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been, are and will continue to be integral and inalienable part of India,” said the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi.

“We have consistently conveyed our protests and shared concerns with both Pakistan and China on all such projects in the Indian territories under Pakistan’s illegal occupation,” it said.

Border and Road Initiative (BRI) launched the CPEC programme in 2015 intending to connect Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes. The program was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

After completion of key projects in the first phase, “the second phase will focus on the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), strengthening trade and cultural ties through joint ventures and exchange of delegations,” said Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan.

“Exploiting India’s vulnerabilities is an essential element of China’s “contain India” policy,” said Mohan Malik, a professor of strategic studies at the National Defense College UAE. He added that Pakistan is undoubtedly the largest beneficiary of the China-India military face-off. “The looming threat of a two-front war with China and Pakistan is New Delhi’s worst-case scenario,” he said.

According to NAR, it was revealed in an audit report by the power division of Pakistan that two Chinese companies had inflated the costs of power projects in the corridor by $3 billion. The revelation has made it easy for Pakistan to ask China to delay repayment schedules for corridor power project loans.

Malik said that Islamabad could take advantage of the crisis to renegotiate unfavourable loan terms regarding financially unviable projects.

Last week, Pakistan’s Stock Exchange in Karachi was attacked by four gunmen. The attack was orchestrated by Balochistan Liberation Army, which has been demanding for separation of the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces for decades now.

Incidentally, Chinese companies have a 40% stake in the Stock Exchange. However, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was quick to blame India for the attack. “By blaming India for [the] stock exchange attack, Pakistan has tried to gain the sympathies of China,” said James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the RSIS at Singapore. Dorsey added that Pakistan is trying to exploit Indo-China border tensions for its own financial benefit.

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Asia Pacific

On Dalai Lama’s 85th Birthday, Is It Time For India To Reset ‘One China’ Policy?

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As the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama celebrates his 85th birthday, there is a debate amongst experts whether India should reset its ‘One China’ policy. The discussions began after a host of Indian politicians sent wishes to His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama in the midst of the feud with China. 

FACT CHECK: 100 Chinese Soldiers Killed In India-China Border Clash At Galwan Valley?

The ‘One China’ policy is the diplomatic acknowledgement of China’s position that there is only one Chinese government. Under the policy, countries recognise and have formal ties with China rather Taiwan and consider disputed territories such as Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong an inseparable part of China.

For years, India has maintained a low profile when it comes to Tibetan politics and gone at lengths to ensure that the ‘One China’ policy is not violated. In 2018, the Government of India ordered its officials to stay away from a rally marking 60 years of Dalai Lama in India.

Tibet has been a bone of contention between New Delhi and Beijing since 1959 when Dalai Lama escaped to Assam after a failed revolt against the Chinese. After India gave him refuge and allowed an exiled Tibetan government to operate from Dharamsala, China has viewed India with suspicion and blamed New Delhi for supporting anti-China activities.

According to experts at EurAsian Times, the fact that Indian politicians today extended wishes to Dalai Lama mark a major departure from India’s policy from two years ago.

Birthday greetings were sent by Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Pema Khandu, chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, RK Mathur, the lieutenant governor of Ladakh.

India should make Tibet a Key Issue

Speaking to Economic Times, Lobsang Sangay, President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said that India should make Tibet one of the key issues in Sino-India policies. Similar views are shared by Indian experts who believe it is time India re-assessed its ‘one China’ policy.

The 51-year old spoke about the strategic significance of Tibet — historically, geopolitically, culturally and ecologically as Tibet is the water tower of Asia and stressed on the importance of Tibet in being part of Indian policies with regards to China.

India is home to the largest Tibetan population in exile and has always found support from the community whenever New Delhi has clashed with Beijing.

Recently, Indian-Americans, Tibetan-Americans and Taiwanese-Americans took to the streets in New York to protest against increased Chinese aggression in the midst of a global pandemic. The group held placards of “Boycott China” and “Stop Chinese Abuse” as they shouted slogans against the country.

India is not the only country at the receiving end of Chinese aggression. Beijing has also clashed with Bhutan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and the United States.

The Sino-Indian dispute in Ladakh seems to have cooled down after both countries retreated and established a 4-kilometre no-man zone earlier today. The dispute with China in Ladakh has been going on since the first week of June and so far has resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and unconfirmed numbers on the Chinese side.

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