China is focusing firmly on business and cultural diplomacy to expand its economic footprint across Afghanistan. It is also sparing no effort to promote and support the Taliban, which finds itself in near diplomatic isolation.
Latest media reports from Kabul and Beijing indicate “good” progress on Chinese investments and reconstruction projects, reported Policy Research Group-Poreg. Chinese businessmen like Yu Minghui, who stayed put after the US-led Nato’s withdrawal, have reaped benefits. He has four steel processing lines. The China Town, a 10-storey building, is the hub of Chinese business activity.
An industrial estate is coming up in the Kabul suburbs as the first Sino-Afghan joint venture at a cost of USD 216 million. There is talk of extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into Afghanistan and beyond. China has exempted 98 per cent of its Afghan imports from import duties.
China Metallurgical Group will soon start exploration and extraction at the Aynak copper mine. It is the biggest copper mining project in the country.
China has also stepped up its efforts to promote and support the Taliban, which captured Kabul a year ago. On the one hand, it is building a case for international recognition of the Taliban and lifting the travel ban on Taliban leaders.
Meanwhile, it is engaged in what is no more than business and cultural diplomacy to broaden its footprint in the economically deprived nation of nearly four crore people, reported Poreg.
It is towards this end that China is walking the extra mile to offer a helping hand to the Taliban regime, firstly in the matter of travel ban exemptions for Islamic Emirate leaders and secondly in grappling with its economic and humanitarian crisis. It has provided eight million US dollars’ worth of assistance to families affected by the recent earthquake, according to Global Times.
China is also giving a big push to its cultural diplomacy, befitting its position as the third largest trading partner of Afghanistan after Pakistan and Iran. It has deputed scholars to help protect cultural heritage in Afghanistan, reported Poreg.
China has thus far focused on the historical relics at the Mes Aynak copper mine (Logar province) and the Unesco heritage site, Bamyan Valley, where the Taliban 1.0 demolished a huge Buddha statue.
According to the Peshawar daily, The Frontier Post, Chinese archaeologists have given a fresh lease on life to the monuments and relics found in the copper mine belt “after scientific research” with a team of Afghan experts. Maulvi Atiqullah Azizi, Deputy Minister of Culture, was impressed by their work. A team of Afghan archaeologists will now travel to China “to gain scientific and professional experience’.
And, in the Bamyan Valley, besides a clean-up, most of the caves have been officially numbered and installed with introduction nameplates, under the guidance of Friends of Dunhuang, a Hong Kong-based non-profit organisation. Dunhuang, located in an oasis of the Taklamakan Desert in western China, was an important outpost on the Silk Road nearly two thousand years ago. Chinese scholars funded a programme to teach local children ways to preserve cultural heritage.
This level of interaction at the commercial and cultural level should have normally led to China recognising the Taliban 2.0 in the Kabul seat. But it has not, though Chinese diplomats, including Ambassador Wang Yu, frequently meet with senior Taliban officials, reported Poreg.
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Permanent UN seat India’s top priority, says Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that a permanent seat, as well as reforms of the UN Security Council, remains India’s main priority. He asserted that India voices the interest and aspirations of a broad set of countries and added that the contemporary global issues cannot be solved by few countries only.
Jaishankar was addressing Auckland Community business. He said, “There is a widespread acceptance that the problems of today cannot be solved by one, two or even five of the countries in the United Nations Security Council. When we look at the reforms at the United Nations Security Council, we have an interest in becoming a permanent member of the security council.”
Currently, United Nations Security Council, also known as the Permanent Five or P5, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States and India has been reiterating its bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
Over the multilateral Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) grouping, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar reiterated that not joining RCEP was the “right decision.”
During Jaishankar’s address to Auckland Community business, he noted, “When it came to the RCEP, we took a decision in 2019 not to proceed in joining the RCEP. We weigh the pros and cons. We did an evaluation and many of the critical issues were not addressed in the final outcome.”
He continued saying, “India went back to the other 15 countries and shared some of its anxieties with them but they collectively took the view that they had gone as far as they could. So we decided that it was not in our interest.”
India joined the 15-nation ‘Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations in 2012. In 2019, 15 nations, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand among others, signed the free trade agreement. However, India walked out of the negotiations, citing national interests.
Jaishankar also said that the entire world is suffering from the Russia-Ukraine war and mentioned the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan as also a big issue.
Govt begins probe after who links deaths in gambia to india-made syrup
The Union government has started an investigation into four cough syrups manufactured by a Haryana-based pharmaceutical firm after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that they could be linked to the deaths of 66 children in Gambia.
At the same time, the government on Thursday activated National Regulatory Authority, CDSCO who requested the World Health Organization (WHO) to share the report on the establishment of “causal relation to death” with the syrups manufactured by a Haryana-based company, Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited.
This comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an alert on four India-made cough and cold syrups used for paediatric groups. Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) took up an urgent investigation in this regard. WHO informed that the certificate of analysis will be made available to WHO in near future and it will be shared with the Indian Regulator which is yet to be done. The exact one-to-one causal relation of death has not yet been provided by WHO to CDSCO.
“As a robust National Regulatory Authority, CDSCO has requested WHO to share at the earliest with CDSCO the report on the establishment of causal relation to death with the medical products in question etc.,” it added.
CDSCO said that Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited holds manufacturing permission for the products Promethazine Oral Solution BP, Kofexnalin Baby Cough Syrup, MaKoff Baby Cough Syrup and MaGrip n Cold Syrup for “export only.”
“From the preliminary enquiry of CDSCO, it has been made out that Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited, Sonepat, Haryana is a manufacturer licensed by the State Drug Controller for the products Promethazine Oral Solution BP, Kofexnalin Baby Cough Syrup, MaKoff Baby Cough Syrup and MaGrip n Cold Syrup under reference, and holds manufacturing permission for these products for export only. The company has manufactured and exported these products only to The Gambia,” the press release said.
The State Drug Controller had given licenses to the said Company only for exporting these four drugs namely Promethazine Oral Solution BP, Kofexnalin Baby Cough Syrup, MaKoff Baby Cough Syrup and MaGrip n Cold Syrup.
Further, all these 4 drugs manufactured only for exports by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited are not licensed for manufacture and sale in India. In effect, none of these four drugs of Maiden Pharmaceuticals is sold domestically in India, it added.
WHO on September 29 informed DCGI, the National Drug Regulator of India, that WHO is currently providing technical assistance and advice to The Gambia, where children have died.
World Health Organization expressed that a contributing factor is suspected to be the use of medicines which may have been contaminated with Diethylene glycol or Ethylene glycol (in some of the samples it was claimed to have been confirmed by further analysis conducted by WHO), the press release added.
CDSCO took up the matter immediately with the Haryana State Regulatory Authority, under whose jurisdiction the drug manufacturing unit of Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited, Sonepat is located.
Further, a detailed investigation was also launched to ascertain the facts/ details in the matter in collaboration with State Drugs Controller, Haryana.
It is a usual practice that the importing country tests these imported products on quality parameters, and satisfies itself as to the quality of the products before the importing country decides to release such products for usage in the country. As per the tentative results received by WHO, out of the 23 samples of the products under reference which were tested, 4 samples have been found to contain Diethylene Glycol/ Ethylene Glycol.
The samples (controlled samples of the same batch manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited for all four drugs in question) have been taken and sent for testing to Regional Drug Testing Lab, Chandigarh by CDSCO, the results of which will guide a further course of action as well as bring clarity on the inputs received from WHO.
More reports on page 5
India abstains from voting in UN on rights issue in Xinjiang
India on Thursday abstained from voting on a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution on holding a debate on the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang.
The draft resolution on “holding a debate on the situation of human rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China” was rejected in the 47-member Council after 17 members voted in favour, 19 members voted against, including China, and 11 abstentions, including India, Brazil, Mexico and Ukraine.
Indian student in US killed in campus, roommate arrested
A 20-year-old Indian-origin student Varun Manish Chheda was allegedly killed by his roommate in his dormitory in the US state of Indiana. The student was found with “multiple sharp force traumatic injuries” at a residence hall on the Indiana campus. The 22-year-old Korean roommate was taken into custody, according to media reports.
Chheda from Indianapolis, who was studying at Purdue University, was found dead in McCutcheon Hall on the western edge of campus.
Chheda was a 2020 graduate of Park Tudor, as per the Fox59, a tv station.
Meanwhile, one of his closest friends remembering Chheda said that he will be remembered as a kind, intelligent and passionate person, as per the tv station. A vigil was also scheduled for him.
Chheda’s roommate, a 22-year-old Ji Min “Jimmy” Sha, from Korea is now in police custody and is the prime suspect in the case. Sha is a junior cybersecurity major and international student from Korea.
At 12:45 am on Wednesday Sha called 911 to alert police about the death, Purdue University Police Chief Lesley Wiete said during a news conference on Wednesday morning, reported NBC.
No further details of the call and how the victim died in his room on the first floor of McCutcheon Hall were disclosed. In fact, the death of the student has left a number of questions unanswered behind as the preliminary autopsy results say that the manner of death was a homicide, while a section of the people called it a murder.
The police is treating the death as a homicide case. The chief and the Tippecanoe County Coroner Office identified the deceased as Varun Manish Chheda, a 20-year-old senior from Indianapolis who was studying data science.
An autopsy is scheduled for later in the day. Purdue University Police Chief Wiete said that the suspect has been taken into custody and transported to the police station for further investigation.
According to the Police Chief, the suspect has not been booked yet. She said that at the time of 911 call, only Chheda and Sha were in the room at the time. “I believe this was unprovoked and senseless,” she said, noting neither roommate was asleep when the Purdue President Mitch Daniels called the news “as tragic an event as we can imagine happening on our campus and our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by this terrible event.”
According to its website, Purdue has about 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled for the fall semester incident.
“I write to let you know that early this morning, one of our students was killed in his residence hall room. The suspect, the victim’s roommate, called police to report the incident and is in custody,” a message from the University’s President read. We do not have all the details yet, he added and said that Purdue University Police Department is conducting a thorough investigation of this incident so that they can learn more about what transpired.
“As is always the case, staff from our Office of the Dean of Students, our Residence Halls, and clinicians at Purdue’s Counseling and Psychological Services are providing support and are available to anyone who needs or wants their care,” the message added.
Purdue’s president assured that the safety and security of students is the single highest priority on the campus. “Purdue is an extraordinarily safe place on any given day, and compared with cities of Purdue’s population (approximately 60,000 in all), we experience a tiny fraction of violent and property crime that occurs elsewhere.”
“Such statistics are of no consolation on a day like this. A death on our campus and among our Purdue family affects each of us deeply. I am ever grateful to all of you who continually take the time to care for each other and know you will do so in the days ahead,” it added.
4 kidnapped Indian family found dead in California
An eight-month-old baby girl along with her Indian-origin parents and uncle living in the US, who were abducted at gunpoint earlier this week in California were found dead in an orchard in the US state, police said.
Bodies of four members of the family, who originally hail from Punjab were discovered lying close to each other, by a farm worker in a remote orchard in Merced county, Sheriff Vern Warnke said on Wednesday.
“Tonight our worse fears have been confirmed,” the Sheriff said addressing a press conference. “We found four people from the kidnapping. They are in fact deceased,” Sheriff Vern Warnke said.
“The family (of the victim) have been notified. We have made arrangements through other contacts to try and get them,” he said. The police will process the scene of crime to determine the motive for the killings, he said.
The family, according to authorities were taken by a convicted robber who tried to kill himself a day after the kidnappings.
The Sheriff described it as a “horribly senseless” act and said that the police did not know the “motivation yet.”
“We have a whole family wiped out and for what? We don’t know yet,” he said.
36-year-old Jasdeep Singh, 27-year-old Jasleen Kaur, their eight-month-old child Aroohi Dheri, along with 39-year-old Amandeep Singh were abducted, police said.
The news of the missing family was reported on Monday after local authorities found the missing victim’s truck on fire in a rural area outside the Merced Country.
A surveillance video that was released by the Twitter handle of the Merced County Sheriff’s office showed the suspect leading Jasdeep Singh who was carrying baby Aroohi in her arms into a truck and driving away.
California fire officials discovered Amandeep Singh’s truck ablaze in a rural area outside Merced.
“..received information that one of the victim’s ATM cards was used at an ATM located at a bank in the City of Atwater. Investigators obtained the surveillance photo of a subject making a bank transaction where the person is similar in appearance to the surveillance photo from the original kidnapping scene,” the Merced County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Mass shooting in Thailand kills 36, including 23 children
The killer of the massacre is an ex-cop who launches a frontal attack on a child care centre.
t least 36 people, including 23 children, were killed in a mass shooting at a nursery in northeast Thailand, local media reported on Thursday. The attacker was identified as Panya Kamrab, a 34-year-old former policeman who killed himself immediately after the attack. The brutal incident took place at the Child Development Center in Nong Bua Lamphu province’s Uthaisawan Na Klang district.
According to local police officials, the attacker was involved in an ongoing court case for allegedly selling drugs and had killed his wife and his stepson before taking his own life.
The region where the massacre took place is located approximately 540 kilometres (around 335 miles) northeast of Bangkok and is a peaceful area, not known for violence, CNN reported citing the officials.
The suspect had appeared in court in Nong Bua Lamphu province hours before “opening fire while the kids were sleeping,” according to Maj. Gen. Jirapob Puridet of the CIB. The former officer was dismissed from duty and “charged with selling narcotics” last year, Puridet told CNN.
His 2-year-old stepson was enrolled at the center he attacked Thursday, but was not present while the attack was carried out, according to a local police chief.
“(The shooter) went to look for his two-year-old son, but the boy was not there … so he started shooting as well as stabbing people at the nursery,” police spokesperson Maj. General Paisan Luesomboon told CNN.
One of the center’s teachers described a horrific scene to local media, explaining that the attacker entered the center around noon, while two other staff members were having lunch.
“I suddenly heard the sound just sounded like fire crackers. So I looked back [and] the two staffs just collapsed on the floor,” the teacher said.
“Then he pulled another gun from his waist…I didn’t expect he would also kill the kids,” they said.
Earlier, the prime minister’s office had urged all the securities officials to catch the culprit. In a statement it said, “The prime minister has expressed his condolences on the shooting incident.”
Mass shootings in the country are rare but in 2020 an incident saw a soldier killing 29 people in a shooting spree that began at a military site and then sent shoppers hunting for cover after the gunman entered a mall, reported CNN.
However, the rate of gun ownership is high compared with some other countries in the region, and illegal weapons are common.
The incident sparked international condemnation.
In a statement, UNICEF said it was “shocked” by the tragedy and sent its condolences to the families affected. It condemned the attack, saying: “No child should be a target or witness of violence anywhere, anytime,” adding, “Early childhood development centers, schools and all learning spaces must be safe havens for young children to learn, play and grow during their most critical years.”
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss said in a tweet that she was “shocked to hear of the horrific events,” and said that her “thoughts are with all those affected and the first responders.”
“The UK stands with the Thai people at this terrible time,” she said.
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