Looking around the Asian continent, this is a round-up of some bits of news that you may have missed
First up is news that the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) announced an indefinite ceasefire with the Pakistani government on Friday. The talks were mediated by the Afghani government. The TTP has been at war with Pakistan for years, trying to inflict a hardline Sharia law in areas of Pakistan that border Afghanistan. According to the BBC, the group has increased attacks in Pakistan since the Taliban took over Afghanistan last year.
Moving east to Nepal, the remains of an aircraft that crashed in the Himalayas was recovered. The propeller driven, Canadian made Twin Otter was carrying 19 passengers and two pilots. Rescuers have recovered all 21 bodies. Local media reported that two Germans, four Indians, and 13 Nepali passengers were on board, as well as two Nepali crew members. The aircraft, belonging to regional airline Tara Air, was on a 40-minute flight between Pokhara and Jomsom, both mountainous towns west of the capital Kathmandu.
Meanwhile, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi completed his 10-nation tour of the Pacific region. Timor-Leste was his last stop after visiting the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. Wang held talks with these countries to cooperate bilaterally in fields such as infrastructure, energy, poverty alleviation, education and health.
Malaysia is entering political turmoil as the country’s coalition backbone, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) party, is showing signs of faltering. The party is led by the country’s reformist idol Anwar Ibrahim, who has failed at multiple by-elections. There have been calls that he step aside. It has also been hit by defections and questions about links to Najib Razak, the scandal-haunted former prime minister.
Now, analysts say, according to the region’s leading newspaper, The Straits Times, the recent upset victory of Rafizi Ramli, a former deputy of Anwar, for the post of PKR’s deputy president, suggests party members are seeking a change in how the group approaches national politics, and expect a snap poll to be called.
And finally, extreme weather in the Indian capital. Heavy rainfall hit New Delhi this week, coupled with strong winds and thunderstorms. A ravaging thunderstorm with wind speeds of 100 km/h pummelled the national capital on Monday evening, uprooting trees, damaging property, disrupting the internet and power supply, and bringing traffic to a halt.
(Cover photo: An Afghan woman hands roses to Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers during a ceremony at the military base in Herat, northwest Afghanistan, January 13, 2015. /CFP)