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Indian Army To Dispatch Teams To Afghanistan, Lanka, B’Desh, Bhutan To Battle COVID-19

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Amidst growing pandemic fears in the SAARC region, the Indian Army has extended a helping hand to the neighboring countries. The Army is preparing teams to station in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Afghanistan to help the impoverished countries fight the deadly virus.

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Last month, a team of 14 Indin army personnel were sent to the Maldives to help the country in setting up coronavirus testing laboratories and guide local medical specialists to battle the pandemic.

India has also promised to stand by its maritime neighbor Maldives in these tough times.  PM Modi in his recent tweet said  India and Maldives stand together to fight the common enemy.

Kuwait also received a 15 member team from India for helping the country in setting up the necessary pre-requisites for COVID-19 testing which is also a part of India’s bilateral relationship with the country.

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Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Afghanistan are also going to receive aid from the Modi government as teams are being readied by the Indian Army to help them tackle the pandemic.

This gesture is also a part of India’s ongoing effort to push for a common framework in fighting the pandemic in the SAARC region.

The contribution of resources and aid for other countries comes after PM’s video conference on March 15 where plans were pitched for formulating a joint strategy to fight COVID-19 in the SAARC region. PM Modi also proposed an emergency fund with an initial offer of USD 10 million.

India’s offer to help the SAARC countries which are now under severe economic impact due to the deadly virus has been widely appreciated. India also agreed to supply the anti-malarial HCQ drug 55 countries.  A number of countries including the US, Mauritius, and Seychelles have already received the drug.

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India is one of the largest producers of HCQ in the world and exports $50 m worth of it every year. India meets 80-85% of the medicine’s global demand and currently produces 10 metric tonnes (MT) and is estimated to increase to 40 MT by the end of the month.

Several countries in India’s neighborhood, such as the Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles, have been supplied the HCQ drug as part of grants. Several of these countries are dependent on India’s pharmaceutical industry to meet their needs. The exports were allowed only after a stock-taking by an empowered committee, the Indian Council of Medical Research, and the drug controller.

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Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s Cousin Shot Dead In Kabul- Unconfirmed Reports

A cousin of Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani found shot to death inside his home in Kabul, Afghanistan Media informed.

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Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s cousin ‘reportedly’ shot dead inside his home in Kabul.

This is a developing story.

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Americas

US To Conduct Biggest War Drills In South China Sea Amid India-China Border Tensions

The war-drills by the two aircraft carriers and four other warships comes after China expanded flights near Taiwan, engaged a brutal border clash with India and approved a national-security law to limit Hong Kong’s ‘promised’ autonomy. 

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Amid swelling India-China border tensions and Beijing’s unchecked belligerence in the South China Sea, the US is set to deploy two aircraft carriers with a clear message to China that it doesn’t appreciate Beijing’s hostility in the region, writes Alastair Gale for the WSJ.

Ladakh Now, Kashmir Next: Why India-China War Is An Attractive Option For Many In India?

The USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz are set to hold some of the U.S. Navy’s most comprehensive war drills in the South China Sea concurring with Chinese naval drills in the region.

With US-China tensions mounting over trade, COVID-19, and China’s crackdown in Hong Kong, U.S. officials said they wanted to challenge what they called Beijing’s illegitimate territorial claims.

After Ladakh, Andamans Could Be Next Big Flashpoint Between India & China

“The purpose is to show an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability,” said Rear Adm. George M. Wikoff, commander of the strike group led by the USS Ronald Reagan, in an interview.

The war-drills by the two aircraft carriers and four other warships will include round-the-clock flights testing the striking ability of carrier-based aircraft. It is rare for the US and China to hold naval drills concurrently in the region.

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The WSJ report says that Washington has sought to project military power and send a signal to Beijing as China has been ramping up pressure on other regional countries. Beijing has expanded flights near Taiwan, engaged a brutal border clash with India and approved a national-security law to limit Hong Kong’s ‘promised’ autonomy.

U.S. officials say China may be attempting to take advantage of the U.S.’s struggles with the pandemic by stepping up its venture in the South China Sea. An international tribunal ruled in 2016 that China’s claims in the sea—which overlap with those of other ASEAN nations—have no legal basis. China outrightly discarded the judgment and proceeded with its military buildup, writes WSJ.

India, Japan ‘Come Out In Open’ To Challenge Chinese Belligerence In The Region

The US and China signed a 2014 international pact devised to avert unintentional clashes between the navies of two nations by enhancing communications. But worsening diplomatic ties between the two countries have added to the uncertainty, said Lynn Kuok, an expert on Asia-Pacific security says. “The risk of accidental conflict is still below half but it’s increasing,” she said.

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Asia Pacific

Ladakh Now, Kashmir Next: Why India-China War Is An Attractive Option For Many In India?

I now believe that a big event is needed for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, and the India-China war could be that big thing – J&K resident 

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As India-China border standoff continues in Ladakh, people living in the Kashmir Valley see war as an attractive option. Kashmiris living in Jammu and Kashmir are rejoicing at the prospect of a war between India and China and expect something positive from the border clashes.  

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Kashmiris have taken to social media to share computer-generated images sarcastically reminding India about its inability to halt Chinese aggression. The pictures shared in Kashmir are completely in contrast to the anti-China images being shared in other parts of India.

Images shared include Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing a traditional Kashmiri garb preparing a traditional wazwan meal while another image shows Xi’s face superimposed over a local bus driver who is calling out to commuters that the bus is headed to Ladakh – the place where Indian and Chinese troops clashed.

Apart from the trolling on social media platforms, Kashmiris are also discussing the possibility of Chinese military occupying the disputed region. “Ladakh Kheow Chenan (Ladakh has been taken over by China)” is the most discussed topic these days. During a demonstration on June 21 in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir’s largest city, protesters mocked the police by chanting “Cheen aya Cheen aya (China is coming)” slogans.

According to experts at EurAsian Times, discontent and gloom amongst Kashmiris have been on the rise since the abrogation of Article 370. The scrapping of Article 370 took away the special status enjoyed by the Kashmir and divided the state into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Most importantly, the abrogation of Article 370 by PM Narendra Modi led Indian government quashed the possibility of an independent Kashmir, a dream envisaged by many Kashmiris.

Following the historic decision, Kashmiris living in the union territory have complained about increased military presence, detention of people on arbitrary grounds and, lack of internet services and lockdowns.

Speaking to Nikkei Asian Review, Waqas Ahmad from Srinagar said that abrogation of Article 370 was the last nail in the coffin and it broke the back of every Kashmiri and the fear of settlement of outsiders seems a reality to all Kashmiris.

So far, the Indian government has granted 25,000 domicile certificates to non-locals which allows them to get a residency certificate for education, employment and buying land.

For Kashmiris, China Brings Hope

While Chinese aggression has been condemned by Indians across the length and breadth of the country, Kashmiris have endorsed China’s aggressive move. For them, the introduction of China spells ‘hope’.

Younis Ali, a political science student in Pulwama, explains the logic behind supporting the Chinese. He says that Kashmiris have tried everything to forward their cause including peaceful protests and militancy, but neither has yielded any results.

”I now believe that a big event is needed for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, and the India-China war could be that big thing,” Ali says.

Specialists on Kashmir also agree with what locals say. Gowhar Geelani, an experienced journalist Kashmir, says that people are of the view that a new geopolitical situation could be to their advantage in terms of ending the political uncertainty in Kashmir. He also noted that Pakistan’s weak economy and military “has also led some to pin their hopes on a stronger China.”

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, explains that Kashmiri joy stems from seeing their oppressor bogged down by an emboldened, aspiring superpower that is a bitter rival of New Delhi and a close friend of Islamabad.

Speaking about human rights violation in the region, Ashok Swain a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, says that Kashmiris are excited about the Ladakh clash because of the perception that China has become a party to the Kashmir conflict, after experiencing hopelessness and despair with “the near silence of the international community over serious human rights violation.

According to a report on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir that covers the first six months of this year, at least 229 killings in different instances of violence have taken place in the region.

The report cites “extrajudicial executions of at least 32 civilians in J&K, besides killings of 143 militants and 54 armed forces personnel.” It was put out by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a prominent human rights group.

Swain adds that with the introduction of China into the Kashmir conflict, India has lost the military and diplomatic advantage it enjoyed over Pakistan.  China’s open opposition Article 370 as well as the strength it showed in the border clash have revived the hope of Kashmiris of an open alliance between Pakistan and China on the Kashmir issue.

At present, New Delhi and Beijing are looking for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ladakh. Today PM Narendra Modi flew to Leh, Ladakh to take stock of the situation, boost the morale of troops and send a covert message to Beijing.

China was quick to announce its displeasure over Modi’s surprise visit to Ladakh and warned Indian from taking any action that may escalate the situation.

New Delhi and Beijing have been at each other’s throats since the first week of June. Both countries have engaged in the rapid military infrastructure development, troop buildup, air patrols, weapon deployment and even fistfights, which ended with casualties on both sides.

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