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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Criticized In European Parliament

Brussels (Belgium): 

The Members of European Parliament and scholars have strongly criticised the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while discussing the interrelated legal, geo-strategic, economic and environmental impacts at the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday.

They were speaking at a seminar “CPEC – East India Company Mark II?” which was organised by the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) under the aegis of Jonathan Bullock, the Member of European Parliament.

Junaid Qureshi, Director of EFSAS chaired the seminar. Geoffrey van Orden, Members of the European Parliament, analysed whether the building of the multi-billion Economic Corridor throughout Pakistan had parallels with the East India Company and argued that acquiring control of trade, inevitably translates into governmental influence, which is very well the case with China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

He further said the current China-Pak stalemate according to which, if the investments on behalf of China towards Pakistan are of such colossal magnitude and the obligations of Pakistan towards China are so unbearably high, Pakistan might find itself in a situation where the only possible solution for overcoming this issue is through its transfer of power, independence and sovereignty to Beijing.

Dr Paul Stott, Lecturer at the University of Leicester, focused on the evolution of the United States under President Donald Trump and his approach towards China and Pakistan.

He opined that “Pakistan has burnt its bridges with the United States and China is now one of its last options for salvage.”

Highlighting the current global balance of power, Dr Stott elaborated that the relationship Washington maintains with Islamabad is determined by the relation it maintains with Beijing, meaning that the US sees Pakistan through the prism of its connection with China.

Dr Matthew McCartney, Director of the South Asia Program, approached the topic of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor from an economic perspective.

He explained how China and Pakistan have extensive historical connections and that the two countries’ relations go back very far while arguing that the development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the natural course of action for the two countries and in essence is a connotation of projects that had been previously planned.

“The financing of infrastructure by China is more opportunistic for Pakistan since the money from the IMF or the United States would have more stringent conditions and regulations,” he claimed.

According to his findings, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is small in terms of proportions by historical standards and most likely will not make a large impact as may have been advertised. He further exhibited how infrastructure usually diminishes the disparity of prices of goods, yet since in Pakistan there already exists a low disparity, transportation and infrastructure are not the aspects which would drive prices in the country.

Dr McCartney stated that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will have little impact on the prosperity of the country and could prove to be negative for Pakistan.

Dr Doroth Vandamme, Research Associate at the University of Louvain, deliberated upon the role of the Pakistani Military Establishment in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

She explained, “The military establishment in Pakistan has vouched for a more influential and dominant role in the construction of the CPEC and the building of the CPEC has only further reinforced the role of the powerful Army”.

According to her, this has been displayed via the safeguarding of the CPEC project by armed personnel, providing security for Chinese workers and army personnel and thereby trying to ensure the stability and continuity of the project. According to her data, there have been 15,000 troops dedicated to this division, a number which is expected to rise to 25,000, while China remains Pakistan’s largest supplier of arms and continuously keep displaying the pattern of being more inclined towards negotiating with the Pakistani Military rather than with the civil government of Pakistan.

Mr Fernando Burges, Programme Manager at the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), provided his perspective on the negative repercussion stemming from the construction of the CPEC, which goes through Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

While arguing that in this backdrop, the CPEC is illegal, Burges said that the people of Gilgit Baltistan have been stripped away of their natural resources of their land and forced to accept the CPEC project without any compensation in return.

He highlighted the fact that those who have opposed the building of the corridor have been subject to violent crackdowns and enforced imprisonment under the pretext of Anti-terrorism laws.

Burzine Waghmar, Member of SOAS, University of London, examined in depth the historical genesis of the erstwhile Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir and the evolution of China-Pak relations.

Mr Waghmar said that it is necessary for Europe to begin to pay attention to Chinese expansionist designs, since Beijing is drafting its own parallel system of rules that can be seen mainly through its Belt and Road Initiative.

Munir Mengal of the Baloch Voice Association discussed the severe negative implications of CPEC on Balochistan and Jamil Maqsood of the United Kashmir People’s National Party elaborated upon the human rights violations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir due to the construction of this multibillion-dollar project.







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Kim Kardashian, Kanye West Donate $500,000

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and their three children were evacuated in California wildfire.

Washington: 

Kim Kardashian and her rapper husband Kanye West are doing their bit to help California rebuild, as the state grapples with the most destructive wildfire to date.

Kim Kardashian, who recently appeared on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’, announced two donations of USD 200,000 each- one going to the Wildfire Relief Fund and the other to the California Fire Foundation.

The 38-year-old also expressed gratitude to the firefighters who saved their homes. “We’re so grateful to them. Honestly, we couldn’t do it without them,” she said, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

The reality TV star also donated USD 100,000 to a firefighter who lost his house in the Woolsey fire while helping to save other homes. “We obviously have all the firefighters that have helped, but to know that you lost your home, Kanye, Yeezy and Adidas wanted to donate to you guys $100,000 so that you guys can begin to pick up the pieces,” she explained.

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and their three children were among thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes after California was hit with the deadliest wildfire in its history. The blaze had moved towards Malibu and the Pacific Ocean, prompting evacuations in Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Malibu and other neighbouring regions.







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Sri Lanka’s Largest Mass Grave Discovered With 230 Skeletons In Mannar Town

Apart from human remains, porcelain, ceramic and metal objects were also found. (Representative)

Colombo: 

Over 230 skeletons have been found in a mass grave discovered earlier this year in Sri Lanka’s Mannar town that has turned out to be the country’s biggest such site.

A court has ordered detailed excavations at the site – a former co-operative depot near the main bus terminus – after human remains were found by workers digging foundations for a new building in August, reports the BBC.

It is still not clear who the victims were or how they died.

“We have excavated more than 230 skeletons so far,” professor Raj Somadeva, a forensic archaeologist from the University of Kelaniya near Colombo who is leading the team at the site, told the BBC today.

“According to my experience this is the largest mass grave ever excavated,” he added.

He said apart from human remains, archaeologists also found porcelain, ceramic and metal objects, in addition to some jewellery worn by the victims.

“The bones are scattered and (it’s) very difficult to trace the stature of the bodies,” Mr Somadeva said, adding “some bones were missing… It’s chaotic.”

The town of Mannar is dominated by ethnic minority Tamils and community leaders say hundreds of people from the region went missing during the decades-long conflict between Sri Lankan security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.

While Mannar remained mostly under army control during the civil war, Tamil Tiger rebels dominated its surrounding areas and many other parts of the district.

A number of mass graves have been unearthed in Sri Lanka’s former war zone since the conflict ended.

The remains of 96 people were discovered in 2014 at a site in another part of Mannar – adjacent to Thiruketheeswaram, a prominent Hindu temple.







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South Korean Pastor Jaerock Lee Raped Followers, Said Was Carrying Out God’s Order

Accusations that Jaerock Lee was abusing his power to have sex with women have circulated 20 years (AFP)

TOKYO: 

The controversial leader of a South Korean megachurch, Jaerock Lee, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday for raping eight female followers, after telling them he was carrying out “an order from God.”

Lee is the head of the Manmin Central Church, which claims to have 133,000 followers and 10,000 branch and associate churches around the world.

Lee has long been a controversial figure: he was ejected from the Christian Council of Korea in 1999 for his “heretical” beliefs and was branded a “cult leader” by the Korean Ministry Association after claiming he was sinless and exempt from dying.

“The victims who attended the church since childhood believed that obeying Lee as a god-like figure is the path to heaven,” the court said in its verdict. “Apparently the victims were psychologically positioned to be powerless to disobey Lee, and Lee took advantage of their status to commit the crime.”

The court said Lee even denied “objective facts” during the investigation and had shown no regret in the courtroom. It said Lee, 75, was around 50 years older than his victims.

“The victims believed him to be a divine being who wields divine power,” the court said. “They would have accepted Lee’s behavior as a divine act rather than a sexual one, and gave up questioning him thinking that it would constitute a sin.”

Accusations that Lee was abusing his power to have sex with female followers have circulated for two decades. In 1999, around 300 of his supporters stormed a Korean television station after it broadcast a critical documentary about Lee’s claims he could cure illness: his sect had previously obtained a court order preventing the Munhwa Broadcasting Corp. from screening a story about Lee’s sex life.

Lee was also invited to preach all over the world, with his church claiming he performed miraculous acts of healing.

“At each overseas crusade, countless have received God’s healing of such incurable and terminal diseases as AIDS, cancer, and the like on the spot when Rev. Dr. Lee prayed not by placing his hand on each of the sick but merely for all from the pulpit,” the Manmin church said on its website.

In August, South Korean cult leader Shin Ok-ju was arrested on her return to Seoul from Fiji, amid accusations she had stranded hundreds of followers there for years after predicting famine would strike the Korean Peninsula and subjected them to violent rituals. A video later emerged of her beating followers and ordering them to strike each other.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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