China, Saudi Arabia Among Others Participate in 14-nation
Air Force units from 14 nations, including China and Saudi Arabia, are taking part in an exercise hosted by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in one of its operational bases to showcase its capabilities and bolster international cooperation, media reports said here.
Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Trkiye, the UAE, and Uzbekistan are the countries that are participating in the air exercises that began on Sunday.
The exercise stands out as one of the mega aerial warfare exercises of the region and is marked as a significant milestone in the realisation of PAF's commitment to enhance its aerial capabilities alongside bolstering international cooperation, Samaa TV said.
Pakistan Air Force's 14-nation air exercise, Indus Shield 2023, is in full swing at an operational air base of the PAF, DGPR (Air Force), the official X handle of Pakistan Air Force said on Sunday.
“The top-notch exercise stands out as one of the mega aerial warfare exercises of the region and is marked as a significant milestone in the realisation of PAF's commitment to enhance its aerial capabilities alongside bolstering international cooperation,” it added.
At CSC Meet, Doval Underscores Importance of Regional Security for Stability Published 40 minutes ago
The national security advisers of India, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka, as well as delegates from the Seychelles and Bangladesh, participated in the 6th NSA-level meeting of the Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) on Thursday.
In his statement, Doval emphasised the crucial role of the CSC in ensuring regional security and stability and highlighted the significance of continued engagements under the different pillars of cooperation.
At the event in Mauritius, members also agreed on a Roadmap of Activities for 2024.
This forum is an initiative of India to counter China. The CSC has India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives as members. At the meeting, Mauritius was included as the fourth member.
The main thrust of this annual meeting was on collectively solving regional security issues approaching smaller countries so that they don't fall into the trap of China.
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Top EU Officials Meet with Xi in China Summit With Trade in Focus Published 6 minutes ago
Top EU officials met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday for their first in-person summit in four years to discuss issues ranging from trade imbalances to Ukraine, with an agenda full of tough rhetoric but light on deliverables.
During the meeting, Xi urged the EU to work with China to provide global stability, enhance mutual political trust and “eliminate all kinds of interference” in the bilateral relationship, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will also meet Chinese Premier Li Qiang on their one-day visit. It will be their last chance to get face time with top Chinese officials before the European Parliament elections kick off next year, triggering changes in the bloc's leadership.
Both sides have sought to play down expectations ahead of the summit, with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi warning Beijing-based diplomats from EU member states on Monday that Europe should choose “peace and stability” over a “new Cold War”.
A European official told journalists in Brussels earlier this week that “there's not a single outstanding deliverable that will be crowning the summit,” adding that there will not be a joint statement. In another blow to EU-China relations, member state Italy officially informed China “in recent days” that it is leaving the Belt and Road Initiative championed by Xi, Italian government sources told Reuters Wednesday.
A string of EU Commissioners have visited Beijing since China lifted pandemic border restrictions this year, including the bloc's trade and climate chiefs, but little progress has been made on core irritants in the relationship. Most recently, Borrell's chief of staff and senior EU diplomat Enrique Mora visited in November.
The European Union wants Beijing to use its influence on Russia to stop the war, and a main focus of the trip will be urging Xi to stop Chinese private companies exporting European-made dual-use items to Russia for its war efforts. Brussels initially left these Chinese firms off its latest Russia sanctions package unveiled last month, European officials said.
The bloc is also concerned about what it considers “imbalanced” economic relations, saying its near 400 billion euro ($431.7 billion) trade deficit with China reflects restrictions on EU businesses. China has previously pushed back against an EU anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicles and the EU's “de-risking” policy to reduce its reliance on Chinese imports, particularly of critical raw materials.
Last month, foreign minister Wang told visiting French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna the biggest risk is “the uncertainty brought by broad politicisation”, and that “the dependency most in need of reduction is protectionism”.
During Colonna's visit, China also offered visa-free entry to citizens of the EU's five largest economies in a bid to boost post-pandemic tourism and improve China's image in the West after ties deteriorated during the COVID pandemic. EU officials say the two sides could cooperate more on action to combat climate change and to promote biodiversity.
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India building world’s largest renewable energy project in salt deserts bordering Pakistan
Rising from the bare expanse of the large salt desert that separates India from Pakistan is what will likely be the world's largest renewable energy project when completed three years from now.
The solar and wind energy project will be so big that it will be visible from space, according to developers of what is called the Khavda renewable energy park, named after the village nearest to the project site.
At the site, thousands of laborers install pillars on which solar panels will be mounted. The pillars rise like perfectly aligned concrete cactuses that stretch as far as the eye can see. Other workers are building foundations for enormous wind turbines to be installed; they also are transporting construction material, building substations and laying wires for miles.
When completed, the project will be about as large as Singapore, spreading out over 726 square kilometers (280 square miles). The Indian government estimates it will cost at least $2.26 billion.
Shifting to renewable energy is a key issue at the ongoing COP28 climate summit. Some leaders have voiced support for a target of tripling renewable energy worldwide in any final agreement while curbing use of coal, oil and natural gas, which spew planet-warming gases into the atmosphere.
What makes this heavy industrial activity peculiar is that it's taking place in the middle of the Rann of Kutch in western India's Gujarat state. The Rann is an unforgiving salt desert and marshland at least 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from the nearest human habitation but just a short army truck ride away from one of the world's most tense international borders separating the two South Asian nations.
Ground zero of India's clean energy transition
When The Associated Press visited the renewable energy park, two days of unseasonal heavy rains had left the ground muddy and water logged since the only escape for water in this rough terrain is evaporation. This made it even harder for the workers to do their job.
Notwithstanding the tough conditions, an estimated 4,000 workers and 500 engineers have been living in makeshift camps for the better part of the past year toiling to get this project up and running.
Once completed, it will supply 30 gigawatts of renewable energy annually, enough to power nearly 18 million Indian homes.
As India aims to install 500 gigawatts of clean energy by the end of the decade and to reach net zero emissions by 2070, this project site will likely contribute significantly to the world's most populous country's transition to producing energy from non-carbon spewing sources.
As things stand, India is still mostly powered by fossil fuels, especially coal, which generate more than 70% of India's electricity. Renewable energy currently contributes about 10% of India's electricity needs. The country is also currently the third-largest emitter of planet-warming gases behind China and the United States.
“There are people working here from all over India," said KSRK Verma, Khavda project head for Adani Green Energy Limited, the renewable energy arm of the Adani Group, which the Indian government has contracted to build 20 gigawatts of the project. Verma, with over 35 years of experience building dams across turbulent South Asian rivers and enormous natural gas tanks under the Bay of Bengal, says this is one of the most difficult projects he's undertaken.
“It's not at all (an) easy site to work at, there is no habitation, the land is marshy, there are a lot of high winds, rains and this is a high earthquake prone area," said Vneet Jaain, managing director of Adani Green at its headquarters in the city of Ahmedabad.
Jaain who has overseen multiple ambitious projects for the Adani Group said the first six months were spent just building basic infrastructure. “From April this year is when we started working on the actual project," he added.
The Adani Group has been in the limelight this year ever since the U.S.-based short-selling Hindenburg Research firm accused the Group and its head, Gautam Adani, of “brazen stock manipulation" and “accounting fraud." Adani Group has called the allegations baseless.
Jaain of Adani Green says the allegations have had little impact on its ongoing projects including work at the Khavda renewable energy park.
An Example To Emulate
“Twenty years ago, India was exactly where a vast expanse of (the) developing world was," Ajay Mathur, director general of the International Solar Alliance, said of the country's renewable energy production. The alliance has 120 member countries and promotes renewable energy — primarily solar — across the world.
About 200 kilometers (124 miles) away in the industrial city of Mundra, also located along the Gujarat state's coastline, the Adani Group is manufacturing the solar and wind energy parts needed for the project. It's one of the few locations in India where most solar energy components are made from scratch. Some of the factories are run like laboratories, with protective gear, face masks and head covers required to avoid dust particles that can compromise solar cells.
The nearby wind energy factory aims to produce 300 turbines a year, with each blade stretching nearly 79 meters (86 yards) and weighing 22 metric tons (24 tons). Each wind turbine generator is capable of producing 5.2 megawatts of clean energy. They will be India's biggest.
As Mathur of the solar alliance said, “India has traveled a long way," and its largescale renewable energy projects including the Khavda park will be inspiring for other developing countries. “Here is a country that was exactly where they are today and was able to make the change," he said.
While acknowledging the importance of transitioning to renewable energy, environmental experts and social activists say India's decision to allow clean energy projects without any environmental impact assessments is bound to have adverse consequences.
“The salt desert is a unique landscape" that is “rich in flora and fauna," including flamingos, desert foxes and migratory bird species that fly from Europe and Africa to winter in this region, according to Abi T Vanak, a conservation scientist with the Bengaluru-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment. Vanak has overseen multiple environment-related research projects in the Kutch region.
Kutch and other similar regions are classified as “wastelands," by the Indian government — and Vanak says this is extremely unfortunate. “They are not recognized as valid ecosystems," he said.
With renewable energy projects exempt from environmental impact assessments, “There is no system in place" to determine the best places for them, according to Sandip Virmani, an environmentalist based in Kutch.
At a little over 45,000 square kilometers (17,374.5 square miles), the Kutch district is as big as Denmark and is India's largest district. Given this, Virmani said there is enough land in Kutch for various renewable energy projects. But he fears that dairies and other local businesses in the region might be impacted by large-scale projects. “It has to be in the context of not compromising on another economy," he said.
Meanwhile, longtime residents are still waiting to see how this huge project near their village will affect them.
Hirelal Rajde, 75, who has spent most of his life in Khavda, is mindful of the upcoming energy project as well as the increase in tourism in recent years in this otherwise desolate region. “I think these developments are both good and bad," said Rajde.
“I think overall though it will benefit more than it will cause problems," he said. "I tell everyone who lives here to hold onto their land, don't sell it. In a few years, I tell them they'll have so much business that they won't be able to rest even at night."
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Source: Live Mint
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Pak would have taken Poonch
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference (NC) President Farooq Abdullah defended Jawaharlal Nehru, correcting Home Minister Amit Shah's ‘Nehruvian Blunder’ remark.
Farooq Abdullah said that ‘Lord Mountbatten and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had also suggested that this (Jammu and Kashmir debate) should go to the United Nations'.
Amit Shah on Wednesday blamed the first prime minister of Independent India Jawaharlal Nehru for Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK). In a boldly worded speech replying to questions on the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, tabled in the Lok Sabha, Amit Shah said ‘PoK is ours'.
Farooq Abdullah said, “...At that time, the army was diverted to save Poonch and Rajouri. If it had not been done, Poonch and Rajouri would have also gone to Pakistan...There was no other way than this, Lord Mountbatten and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had also suggested that this should go to the United Nations..."
Source: Live Mint
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China Formally Accords Diplomatic Recognition to Taliban Govt in Afghanistan Published 54 minutes ago
China has become the first country to confer diplomatic status to a Taliban-nominated official as Afghanistan's Ambassador to Beijing, thereby formally recognising the Taliban-run administration as a legitimate government in Kabul.
As a long-standing friendly neighbour of Afghanistan, China believes that Afghanistan should not be excluded from the international community, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing on Tuesday when asked whether China recognised the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
Earlier reports from Kabul said China has given Bilal Karimi, a Taliban nominee the status of Ambassador and he has submitted his credentials to the foreign ministry.
China along with Pakistan and Russia maintained its embassy in Kabul after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021 following the withdrawal of American troops from the war-ravaged country.
While maintaining close contact with the Taliban interim administration, Beijing withheld recognition, especially over global criticism of the Taliban's treatment of women and girls, excluding them from educational institutions.
No other country has formally recognised the Taliban government, which has been criticised over human rights violations and crushing women's rights.
Defending China's move, Wang said, We hope Afghanistan will further respond to the expectations of the international community, build an open and inclusive political structure, adopt moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, firmly combat all forms of terrorist forces, develop friendly relations with other countries, especially with its neighbours, and integrate itself into the world community. We believe that diplomatic recognition of the Afghan government will come naturally as the concerns of various parties are effectively addressed, Wang said.
China, which shares borders with Afghanistan, also has serious concerns over the regrouping of East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a banned outfit comprising Uighur militants from the volatile Xinjiang province, and pressing the Taliban administration to crack down on the outfit.
Significantly, China's diplomatic recognition comes at a time when Pakistan, Beijing's all-weather ally, is having serious problems with the Taliban which it once nurtured.
Pakistan is now blaming the Taliban government for recurring terrorist attacks in the country and criticised it for not cracking down hard on Pakistan Islamic militant groups, especially the Pakistani Taliban, operating from Afghanistan.
In retaliation, Islamabad has ordered forceful evacuation of thousands of Afghan refugees living in the country for decades.
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Seven Persons Killed in Terror Attack in Pakistan's Gilgit Baltistan Updated 1 hour ago
At least seven people were killed and eighteen injured as terrorists opened fire on a passenger bus in restive northwest Pakistan on Saturday, police said. The bus was travelling from Ghizer district in Gilgit Baltistan to Islamabad when terrorists opened indiscriminate fire, an official said.
The bus caught fire after lethal firing by the terrorists, the police said. The dead and injured included military servicemen as well as civilians.
The assailants managed to escape from the scene after the attack. The injured have been transferred to a nearby hospital, the police said.
It said the condition of several persons is critical and that the death toll is expected to rise further. The police said an investigation has been launched into the attack and a search operation is on to apprehend the terrorists.
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Communist Party of China Under President Xi to Intensify Crackdown on Corruption Published 14 minutes ago
China's ruling Communist Party headed by President Xi Jinping has warned of intensifying the crackdown against corruption, saying that despite the decade-long fight against the menace, the problem is prevalent among thousands of cadres and officials.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has been busy overseeing a massive anti-graft campaign since Xi assumed power in 2012 under which over a million officials including top military personnel were punished.
The intensity of the campaign also attracted criticism that Xi, 70, has made effective use of it to silence his critics and rivals within the party.
The CCDI said corruption was becoming harder to detect and its plan to extend the crackdown on extravagant government spending would be stepped up as the festive season, especially the Spring festival and Chinese New Year approaches.
During the festival season, Chinese officials in the past used to accept extravagant gifts to clear projects. In a post on its website and social media accounts on Monday, the CCDI said that in the first 10 months of the year, it investigated nearly 80,000 violations of the anti-extravagance regulations and some 114,238 people were placed under investigation and received a warning.
Of those, as many as 80,096 have faced party or administrative disciplinary action. The CCDI also said corruption was taking new forms and becoming harder to detect.
At present, the soil where unhealthy tendencies can thrive still exists, as does the risk of a rebound in corruption cases, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted CCDI as saying.
The anti-graft watchdog said the four forms of decadence had become better hidden or transformed and called for more investigation into the specific corruption activities taking place across regions and industries so that precise supervision could be carried out.
China uses four forms of decadence to describe formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance — the problems it considers to be the most prevalent among the tens of millions of party cadres and government officials in China.
In his work report submitted to the party's Central Committee in February, Li Xi, who heads the anti-corruption watchdog, vowed to crack down on wasteful expenditure by naming and shaming those responsible.
He said graft-busters would dig deeper to tackle new forms of corruption such as bribes delivered via AirDrop on smartphones, those given in the form of inflated fees for lectures or consultancy work, and extravagant gifts such as luxury wine, mooncakes and cigarettes.
Also, Xi, who is currently touring Shanghai, called for strong confidence in the country's political system and firm commitment to the leadership of the party to the state system of people's democratic dictatorship, and to the political system of people's congresses, all of which are mandated by the Constitution.
Xi, also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party, emphasised the need to implement the thought on socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics for the new era.
He stressed efforts to accelerate the improvement of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics with the Constitution at its core, and continuously enhance constitutional implementation and oversight.
Xi urged the vigorous promotion of the spirit of the Constitution and the spirit of socialist rule of law, ensuring the implementation of the Constitution as a conscious action of the Chinese people.
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Bilal Karimi is Taliban’s First Ambassador to China as Beijing Accepts Credentials Published 28 minutes ago
The credentials of Taliban government's new ambassador to China, Bilal Karimi, have been accepted by Beijing — the first time Afghanistan's rulers have officially sent an ambassador to another country since returning to power more than two years ago. According to Afghan foreign ministry spokesperson, Karimi was accepted as the official ambassador of the Islamic Emirate in China.
Karimi handed over a copy of his credentials to Hong Lei, the chief ceremonial officer of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
No country recognizes the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, but some, including China, have embassies in Kabul. Many other diplomatic missions were shuttered and their staff evacuated as Taliban fighters bore down on Afghanistan's capital in August 2021.
China is of particular importance to the Taliban, who are courting foreign investment and regional alliances amid their continued isolation on the international stage because of their restrictions on Afghan women and girls.
The previous Taliban official sent to run the Afghan embassy in Beijing was a charge d'affaires, a post that does not require presentation of ambassadorial credentials to the host, a step that depends on formal recognition of the envoy's government.
In September, China became the first country to formally name a new ambassador to Afghanistan since the takeover. Several other nations have charges d'affaires or ambassadors who presented their credentials under the previous NATO-backed government.
According to an Associated Press report, Bilal Karimi, who has no diplomatic experience and is in his late 20s or early 30s, was a spokesman in the Taliban-controlled administration and worked with its chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, who is close to the Taliban supreme leader.
Hong Lei welcomed Karimi and called his appointment an important step in the development of relations between the two countries, a Taliban statement said. Lei said Karimi's credentials will be presented to Chinese President Xi Jinping in a special ceremony.
Karimi praised China's positive policies toward Afghanistan, especially for not intervening in domestic issues, and said the country was a “good neighbour”.
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India Overtake Rivals Pakistan to Set New Record After They Clinch T20I Series Against Australia Published 19 minutes ago
As India managed to seal the five-match T20I series against Australia thanks to the all-round efforts of various players. India will now head to the final game with nothing to lose as they have already clinched the series 3-1.
Team India has had a long history in the shortest format. They started in the T20 scene in 2006-07, where they went up against South Africa in a one-off game. The legendary opening batter, Virender Sehwag, led the side and since has come a long way.
READ MORE: Harmanpreet Kaur to Lead as India Announce Squads For T20I and Test Series Against England and Australia
Mahendra Singh Dhoni led a young Indian side into the inaugural edition of the World Cup as well where they went on to defeat Pakistan in the 2007 T20 World Cup to become the first-ever champions in the format as well.
Since then India has gone on to play many more T20Is and after their win over Australia in Raipur managed to set a new record with the most wins in T20I history. India managed to pip their arch-rivals Pakistan to set a new record. The Indian side now stands at 136 T20I wins getting over Pakistan at 135 wins.
India was able to do this thanks to contributions from various players in the fourth T20I match. Rinku Singh and Jitesh Sharma managed to hold their own in the latter stages of the innings to push India to set a target of 175 runs for the Aussies.
READ MORE: Axar Patel Traps Aussies in His Vicious Web After Rinku Singh Sets up Tone in Raipur for India's Series Win
Despite the quick start from Travis Head, the Indian spinners were able to dominate the proceedings from the powerplay to restrict the Australian side to just 154 runs. Bishnoi picked up the one-wicket for just 17 runs and Axar Patel was the star with the ball picking up three wickets which included the likes of Travis Head, Ben McDermott and Aaron Hardie for just 16 runs to help seal the series for India.
India will now travel to Bengaluru where they go against Australia for the final match of the series and will look to best prepare themselves for the T20 World Cup 2024 jointly hosted by the West Indies and the United States of America where the Men in Blue will look to get their hands on the title which has eluded them since the inaugural edition.
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New Maldives President skips India for first official visit
Mohamed Muizzu, the new president of the Maldives, has broken with tradition by travelling to Turkey for his first official visit. This has attracted attention since previous leaders of the island nation have chosen India as their first port of call, given the close relationship between the two countries. Mint breaks down the issue.
What is the situation?
Mohamed Muizzu, who took charge as president of the Maldives earlier this month, chose to visit Turkey for his official visit. Newly elected Maldivian leaders have generally chosen to visit India first as it has long been the security and trade partner of choice for the island nation. However, Muizzu has made a point of projecting a more balanced foreign-policy position.
He recently asked India to withdraw its military personnel in the Maldives, and the latest development is being seen as another push to court new partners and diversify the country's diplomatic relationships.
What is Turkey?s relationship with the Maldives?
Experts point out that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to raise his country's profile in South Asia, particularly in Bangladesh and Afghanistan. He has also intervened on matters of crucial interest to India, such as Kashmir. With Erdogan pushing a pan-Islamic foreign policy, inviting the Maldivian president to Turkey makes strategic sense. The two sides discussed trade and defence cooperation during Muizzu's visit.
What does this mean for India?
The development is another reminder of how much India's strategic backyard has changed. While countries like the Maldives were once seen as firmly in the India's sphere of influence, matters have since become more complicated. The increased presence of the United States and China in the Indian Ocean has made it clear that India's neighbours are much sought after as geopolitical allies. India's approach to these countries will have to change accordingly. Turkey's overtures show that even middling powers located half a world away can woo key Indian partners.
How will India react?
New Delhi has made clear that it would prefer to continue strong engagement with the Maldives. The country is strategically located in the Indian Ocean and India will not want to risk its position as a leading partner. Faced with increased pressure from China, India has responded by, among other things, funding big connectivity projects. In short, India has focused on increasing its attractiveness as a partner.
However, it is not above showing displeasure. When Muizzu invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his inauguration he sent a cabinet minister instead, which seen as a diplomatic snub.
Source: Live Mint
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