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India, Pakistan & Iran Join Hands To Battle ‘One Common Enemy’ From Balochistan

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With hostile border conflicts rangings all over, India, Pakistan and Iran are coordinating to fight one common enemy which has origins in Balochistan. Despite being gripped by COVOD-19 pandemic, India, Pakistan and Iran have joined hands to control the spread of the deadly locusts.

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New Delhi says that India is waiting to hear from Pakistan on a proposal for a collaborative action to battle the issue of desert locusts, according to reports. Meanwhile, Iran has already acknowledged and responded to the Indian action plan, which includes an offer to provide pesticides to restrain locust populations in Sistan-Balochistan and South Khorasan regions.

The action plan was recommended after reports emerged that swarms of the destructive pests were heading towards Indian after breeding and maturing in Iranian provinces and Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

India proposed the joint response to check desert locust populations to Iran and Pakistan as part of attempts to promote regional collaboration. India had proposed to Pakistan that the two countries could coordinate locust control operations along their border and Delhi could expedite the supply of the pesticide Malathion to the Islamic Republic, according to reports.

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According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), hopper bands of locusts are growing in the southwestern coastal plains of in Iran, and another generation of breeding has started in the region where hatching is taking place on the coast and in the interior of Sistan-Baluchistan.

In Pakistan, adult groups of locusts are moving towards the Indian states after breeding in Balochistan, where hopper groups are present, and from Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

FAO reports hints the desert locust population is anticipated to shift from spring breeding regions in Balochistan to summer breeding along the India-Pakistan border. In India, more adult groups and small swarms have been reported which have impelled into Rajasthan.

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India has an existing regulated structure with Pakistan for such collaboration, including regular border meetings between locust officers of two nations. Six border meetings, led by plant protection officials of India and Pakistan are held every year from June to November.

There is consensus that the desert locusts could pose a serious issue in 2020. The agriculture ministry has already initiated plans to counter the problem. Earlier, Indian minister of state for agriculture participated in a virtual meeting for the southwest Asian region coordinated by FAO to discuss regional alliance to battle the desert locust problem,” an unnamed official said.

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Buddhist Sites Defaced In Gilgit Baltistan – India Conveys ‘Serious Concern’ To Pakistan

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The Indian Ministry of External Affairs says they have communicated their concerns to Pakistan over the reported vandalism, defacement and destruction of Buddhist heritage in Gilgit-Baltistan, a region claimed by India and controlled by Pakistan.

Responding to media queries Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson said: “We have conveyed our strong concern at reports of vandalism, defacement and destruction of invaluable Indian Buddhist heritage located in so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ area of the Indian territory under illegal and forcible occupation of Pakistan.”

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MEA spokesperson – Anurag Srivastava said it was a matter of serious concern that the Buddhist symbols are being destroyed and the religious and cultural rights and freedoms are being crushed with impunity in the Indian territories under illegal occupation of Pakistan. He added – “Egregious activities of this nature which display contempt for the ancient civilisational and cultural heritage are highly condemnable.

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“We have sought immediate access for our experts to the area in order to restore and preserve this invaluable archaeological heritage. “We have once again called upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all illegally occupied territories and end the gross violation of the political, economic and cultural rights of people living there.”

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Coronavirus In Tibet: Limited Impact Of COVID-19 In High Altitude Regions Like Tibet?

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Scientists are now investigating the link between COVID-19 and high altitude regions like Tibet after a study published in the journal Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology suggested that there is a decrease in prevalence and impact of COVID-19 in populations living at higher altitudes. 

The study takes into consideration the COVID-19 cases in Tibet and high-altitude regions of Bolivia and Ecuador in comparison to the low lying regions. It suggested that the population in Bolivia, Ecuador and Tibet living above 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) reported significantly lower levels of confirmed infections than their lowland counterparts.

In the plateau region of Tibet, Qinghai and part of Sichuan, with a population of 9 million, there are only 134 confirmed cases which are drastically low in comparison to the number of cases in rest of China.

Ecuador is one of the worst-hit countries by COVID-19 in South America with more than 40,000 confirmed cases and over 3,000 deaths. The centre of the virus is the Pacific port of Guayaquil. There are fewer infected cases in the capital Quito, which is about the same size but is 2,800 metres above sea level.

Similarly, Bolivia has over 10,000 positive cases with over 300 deaths. The cases are concentrated in Santa Cruz which is 400 metres above sea level. It is home to about 15% of the population of the country but accounts for two-thirds of the virus cases. Whereas, in La Paz and its surrounding area, which is a highland area in Bolivia, has about 500 positive cases.

The reason explored by the study includes environmental factors including dry mountain air, high levels of UV radiation and the possibility that lower atmospheric pressure reduces the virus’s ability to linger in the air.

“The reason for decreased severity of the global COVID-19 outbreak at high altitude could relate to both environmental and physiological factors,” states the study.

“At sea-level, when people get coronavirus and their lungs get destroyed, it is as if they are climbing Mount Everest in just a couple of days, without oxygen,” said Gustavo Zubieta-Calleja, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology. But “the low rate of infection in Bolivia’s high-altitude population is remarkable and clearly does not follow the often exponential infection rates reported in many countries”, concluded the scientists.

However, experts have questioned these factors. “The virus likes people. It doesn’t care about altitude,” says Peter Chin-Hong, who studies infectious diseases at the University of California at San Francisco. “But we’re still learning so much about this disease, and this does provide us with some good clues to try and understand its progression,” he added.

According to Clayton Cowl, a pulmonologist at the Mayo Clinic and a former president of the American College of Chest Physicians, that the trend might be related to acclimatization, the body’s ability to adjust temporarily to altitude, than to DNA.

Just three populations in the world have been found to have genetic adaptations to altitude: Himalayans, Ethiopian highlanders and Andeans. This is why the coronavirus is exploding on Peru’s Pacific coast, particularly Lima, where most residents descend from Andean ancestors, while the country’s mountain communities are thus far not greatly affected by the virus.

Andrew Luks, professor of medicine at the University of Washington, said that while the proposed link was “intriguing”, it “by no means establishes that high-altitude residence or high-altitude locations are protective against coronavirus”.

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Amidst India-China Standoff, India-Pakistan ‘Limited War’ Over Kashmir Remains High: Experts

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As India-China standoff in Ladakh grabs worldwide attention, the Indian Army continues to engage – what Delhi terms as ‘Pakistan-backed militants’ in Kashmir with many experts speculating a ‘limited war’ between two nuclear-armed nations.

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Cross-border infiltration and militancy have been on a sudden rise in the along the LoC and Kashmir valley and at the same time, Pakistan has consistently warned the international community of an Indian ‘false flag’ operation.

Despite being heavily involved in the conflict between India and China in Ladakh, the Indian Army remains proactive in Kashmir. The valley has not seen any drop in the engagement level of the Indian armed forces as they continue to batter militants and foil infiltrations bids.

In their latest mission, the security forces eliminated three militants of the Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) in an encounter. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) expert was also identified amongst the slain militants.

According to sources, a joint contingent of police, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Indian Army laid siege around Kangan village of Pulwama district after receiving intelligence reports highlighting the presence of militants in the area.

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As the armed forces conducted door to door searches, the militants opened fire and later died in the heavy gun-battle which ensued. Defence spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia said in a statement that the militants were offered an opportunity to surrender but decided not to do so.

The three militants neutralized in Pulwama add to the 13 terrorists that Indian security forces claimed to have eliminated recently. As earlier reported by EurAsian Times, Indian armed forces eliminated three terrorists in the Naushera Sector and an additional 10 heavily-armed terrorists in Mendhar along the Line of Control (LoC).

The armed forces also recovered arms and ammunition including 2 AK assault rifles, a US-made M-16A2 rifle, a 9MM Chinese pistol, a UBGL with 6 grenades, 5 hand grenades and knives. Medicines, Indian currency amounting Rupees 17,000 and food packets were also recovered from encounter sites.

Ever since the dastardly attack in Pulwama in 2019 in which more than 40 CRPF soldiers were killed, the Indian armed forces maintain extra vigilance in Kashmir. Near the end of May, Indian security forces foiled Pulwama 2.0, a plot to recreate the fatal attack of 2019.

False Flag Operation

While the Indian military is busy engaging infiltrators and militants in Kashmir, Pakistan is raising concerns about a ‘false flag’ operation. The concerns are led by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who has on several occasions tweeted about an impending ‘false flag’ operation by India.

The allegations from Khan came at the heels of reported ceasefire violations by India following its counter-insurgency operations.’’I am reiterating again that a false flag operation is imminent from India in order to divert world attention away from its ongoing genocide in India Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoJK),’’ Khan had earlier tweeted.

Khan’s warning of a ‘false flag’ operation was later echoed by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Qureshi not only supported Imran Khan but also urged the United Nations to block any military confrontation between New Delhi and Islamabad and offered UN Observer Groups to visit the LoC.

Qureshi also highlighted the intentional targeting of innocent civilians by India during cross-border shelling.

India claims that Pakistan is involved in harbouring terrorists who train militants to infiltrate the LoC and wreak havoc in Kashmir. The Indian army has recognized 15 terrorist launch pads across the LoC which are used for the purposes mentioned above.

Pakistan refutes these allegations and believes that India plans to conduct a ‘false flag’ operation under the disguise of these claims. Qureshi had also rejected the ‘launch pad’ allegations as baseless.

While India and China lock horns in Ladakh, experts at EurAsian Times believe that the international community should keep a close eye on Kashmir. Nitin J Ticku, an expert on Kashmir, says while tensions with Beijing will not escalate into a  war, however, the possibility of a ‘limited’ military conflict with Islamabad remains high.

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