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Pakistan Army Determined To Save The Country From Covid-19 As Cases Swell To 448

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The Pakistan Army is completely determined to check the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country, chief military spokesperson Major General Babar Iftikhar said.

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The DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) was addressing a joint press conference in Islamabad along with Special Assistant to the PM Imran Khan on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan and SAMP on Health Dr Zafar Mirza.

Iftikhar said that the army chief has ordered all the army formations across the country to support the civil administrations of all districts in all possible ways to cope with coronavirus pandemic. “We are also helping the civil administration in setting up quarantine camps,” he added.

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General Babar said Pakistan Army is collaborating with federal and provincial governments to defend the nation from Covid-19 and a medical plan of action has been prepared to deal with any emergency.

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Meanwhile, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan had jumped to 448 after Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa revealed an increase in infected people.

Meanwhile, China has provided aid worth $4 million to Pakistan, besides medical face masks and ventilators, Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar stated. In his tweet, Azhar expressed appreciation for Beijing and said that the ally had provided “grant assistance of $4 million along with 300,000 medical face masks, 10 ventilators, and other equipment”.

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Pakistan Army Ambushed in Balochistan, Upto 20 Soldiers Reportedly Killed

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that security forces were patrolling near Gichak valley in the Panjgur district of Balochistan when they came under attack. 

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Three soldiers of Pakistan Army were killed and eight others, including an officer, were injured in an ambush on their convoy near Gichak valley in Balochistan’s Panjgur district on Tuesday. The Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement issued after the ambush, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that security forces were patrolling near Gichak valley in the Panjgur district of Balochistan when they came under attack.

“Three soldiers embraced shahadat [martyrdom] while eight soldiers received injuries, including an officer. Five injured are critical,” the ISPR said. The injured soldiers were shifted to Combined Military Hospital in Quetta where 5 remain in critical condition.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said that the attack was a “condemnable act of terrorism”.

Senate Deputy Chairperson Saleem Mandviwala condemned the firing on security forces’ patrolling party in Balochistan, saying it was a plot to harm peace in Pakistan. “The entire nation stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the armed forces,” Mandviwala said. “Our soldiers have made many sacrifices to help establish peace in the country.”

Counter Claims

Contrary to Pakistani media claims, other news outlets report that the casualty figures are higher. In its report, Al Jazeera said that 8 Pakistani Army soldiers were killed in the ambush attack in Balochistan.

The BLF claimed responsibility for the attack and said that 20 soldiers had been eliminated. BLF spokesman Major Gwahram Baloch said that this morning Sarmachaars attacked a convoy of five vehicles of Pakistan Army in Gichk area of Panjgoor district.

At Mok-e-Kandag, Sarmachaars ambushed the occupying forces with rockets and automatic heavy weapons. The attack damaged all five vehicles and killed more than 20 personnel, including an officer on board.  The BLF has vowed not to stop the attacks until Balochistan attains independence.

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Middle East

Israeli Air Force Unveils New ‘Special Forces Squadron’, Experts Call It Blue Print For Indian Air Force

Could Israel’s Revolutionary Air Force Unit become the blueprint for future Indian Air Force (IAF) squadrons? Aviation experts suggest it could happen and much like the Israeli Air Force, it would revolutionize the IAF as well.

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Israel’s Air Force has unveiled a revolutionary unit which contains all the special forces of the aerial warfare branch, consolidating them under one command.

The 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing will combine all Israeli Air Force’s special forces under one command. Aviation experts in India believe that the revolutionary squadron from Israel could become a blueprint for future Indian Air Force (IAF) squadrons.

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According to an army press release, the 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing was established to meet operational needs and respond to changing and growing threats in the various arenas. The 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing will include search-and-rescue Unit 669, Shaldag commando unit and outfit that builds airfields behind enemy lines.

The move aims “to increase the operational effectiveness of the units. The wing will function as a complementary and unique component to Israeli Air Force activities through special depth, routine and emergency operations.”

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The Israeli Air Force routinely carries out military operations in the Gaza Strip, typically targeting installations of Hamas, as well as carrying out airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, as part of the effort by Israel to ensure Tehran does not expand its military presence in the war-torn country.

The new wing will contain the air force’s Unit 669, the elite search-and-rescue group; the Shaldag commando unit; the Frontal Landing Unit, which builds ad hoc landing strips behind enemy lines; a dedicated intelligence unit for the wing; and a special forces school.

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IAF Commanding Officer Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin has hailed the introduction of the 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing and has described it as moving into a new era in the history of Israeli Air Force.  “We are standing on the shoulders of our predecessors, who were courageous and took action, and now we are leading the way.”Today we move forward to a new chapter,” he said.

The introduction of 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing has generated a buzz amongst aviation experts and enthusiast in India who feel that this squadron could be the blueprint for future IAF squadrons.

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Surrounded by adversaries Pakistan and China, IAF is looking to increase its squadrons from 28 to 40. An IAF squadron modelled after the 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing would be ideal for India to counter any aggression by Islamabad or Beijing. It would also prepare India for a two-front battle, should that scenario ever become a reality, experts talking to EurAsian Times argue.

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Asia Pacific

India-China Economic Romance Cannot End With A Mere Border Clash – Chinese Experts

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India and China have been at each other’s throat for more than a month now. Aside from the military confrontation in Ladakh, India has also moved to disengage from China economically.

While the move has got the support from the majority of Indians, Cui Hui’ao of the China Global Television Network (CGTN) writes that disengaging from China might not be a choice for India and that economic de-coupling is driven politically by Narendra Modi.

As reported by Eurasian Times consistently during last month, the feud between India and China has been a rollercoaster ride. From military buildup, deadly clashes to de-escalation and eventual withdrawal, the clash of the two Asiatic giants has seen it all.

Cui writes that apart from the military confrontation, India has retaliated in the economic sphere, referring to the decision by the Indian government to ban 59 Chinese application including TikTok, WeChat and ShareIt and the call to boycott Chinese products.

The journalist at CGTN writes that decoupling from China may be easier said than done for India. He says that India is not a manufacturing powerhouse, so in terms of bilateral trade, it actually buys much more from China than the other way around.

Cui analyses trade data to support the fact that New Delhi will find it difficult to reduce its dependence on Chinese imports. Between April 2019 and March 2020, India imported over 65 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of goods from China.

Cui is of the opinion that the coronavirus pandemic has hit the Indian economy hard and in fact, the disengagement is driven by politics rather than economics. He finds it difficult to accept that India’s disengagement from China would take place at a time when the Indian economy is projected to contract by 4.5% according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Economic Disengagement Driven Politically 

Speaking to Cui, Cheng Xizhong, a visiting professor from Southwest University of Political Science and Law, says that the decision to de-couple from China economically is because of the domestic pressure on Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi.

‘’Since his second term began yet Indian economy is a mess. He has to find a way to shift the public attention elsewhere,” he said.

The author agrees with the point made by Cheng Xizhong and writes that pressure on the Indian PM Modi comes from multiple fronts, including his own supporters, businesses, and farmers union. But this time, the nationalistic voice is even louder.

Other experts interviewed by Chui agree that New Delhi would benefit more if it partnered with Beijing. Professor Cheng, a former Chinese military diplomat in South Asia, said that since India started its opening-up in the 1990s, its economic growth has been crippled by lack of high-quality infrastructure and it would wiser if India and China work together.

Similar views are shared by Indian economist Biswajit Dhar, who says that India’s decision to start producing domestically has to be strategic and it cannot take the decision to produce everything.”

While India and China disengage at the battlefront in Ladakh, the Indian government is looking for solutions to reduce its dependency on Chinese imports. PM Modi has encouraged all Indians to become self-reliant (Aatmanirbhar) by producing and purchasing indigenous goods and boost the Indian economy.

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