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Friday, October 31, 2014

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) - Welcome news

According to media reports, 25 countries have signed to develop Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with its headquarters in Beijing. At the signing ceremony held in Beijing, the Chinese president rightly said that if any country wished to prosper, it should improve its infrastructure.

Fortunately, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Qatar have already joined the AIIB. The bank will help member countries improve their infrastructure and exploit their natural resources. The AIIB will also provide funds for the construction of dams, power plants and seaports.

If reports are to be believed, China is the driving force behind this bank. Some political observers see the establishment of the AIIB as a natural consequence of the confrontation between Beijing and Washington. They claim that it is China’s attempt to weaken the hold of western financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Asian countries and to expand its influence in the region.

Whatever maybe the political reasons behind the establishment of this bank, I believe this is good news for countries like Pakistan, which is facing severe power crisis. I hope that with the help of the AIIB and China, the developing Asian countries will improve their existing infrastructure and resolve the problems facing their respective citizens. Undoubtedly, the dominance of the World Bank and the IMF has become a major issue for countries like Pakistan, which has to follow their diktats at the expense of their citizens’ welfare. I hope the AIIB succeeds in breaking this vicious circle and diminishing the role of the World Bank and the IMF in Asian countries.

 Khawaja Umer Farooq 

Main protest site one month after the Hong Kong police disperse protesters in Hong Kong

Umbrellas are opened as tens of thousands come to the main protest site one month after the Hong Kong police used tear gas to disperse protesters in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. A peaceful safe atmosphere remains at the massive protest site as artists freely express themselves and families bring their children to experience the Umbrella Revolution.

Sri Lankans stand on mud and sludge at the site of a mudslide

Sri Lankans stand on mud and sludge at the site of a mudslide at the Koslanda tea plantation in Badulla district, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) east of Colombo. Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera estimated the number of dead in Wednesday's disaster would be fewer than 100, although villagers said the figure could easily exceed 200.

Smoke rising from the Burkina Faso's Parliament

People stand in front of smoke rising from the Burkina Faso's Parliament, where demonstrators set cars on fire parked in a courtyard of the Parliament in Ouagadougou, as they protest at plans to change the constitution to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule. Police had fired tear gas on protesters to try to prevent them from moving in on the National Assembly building in the capital Ouagadougou ahead of a vote on the controversial legislation. But about 1,500 people managed to break through the security cordon and were ransacking parliament, according to AFP correspondents. Protesters ransacked offices, setting fire to documents and stealing computer equipment, and set fire to cars outside.