Bhargav Reddy – APAC Assistance Operations Assistant
Major Issues In SOUTH ASIA
THURSDAY, April 4, 2019
Pakistan debt at alarming levels. Finance Minister Asad Umar said yesterday that Pakistan’s basic debts have reached an alarmingly high level and that the country is near bankruptcy. Pakistan is in an economic crisis over mounting external debt, with more than USD 60 billion owed to China alone. Pakistan continues its prolonged negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and has entered a final round of talks last week with the aid agency for an economic assistance package. Asad Umar defended the economic policies of the government, claiming that the inflation has not increased to double digits despite the debt crisis.
(Update) Jute mill workers continue protests. Jute mills workers in different parts of the country continued their protests for the second day yesterday, blocking off railway tracks and highways over unpaid wages and other benefits. A shutdown was enforced by workers of nine state-owned jute mills across several districts including Khulna, Jessore, Rajshahi, and Chittagong, on the second day of the 72-hour strike. Protesters claimed that the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation promised to fulfill only one point of their nine-point demand, and did not give any directives regarding the other eight. Clients are advised to avoid all protests and employ high caution in the districts affected by the rallies and the blockades. Consider contingency plans for potential supply chain disruptions.
Colombo police use teargas on students. The police fired tear gas on protesting university students near the Parliament roundabout in Colombo yesterday. The protest forced traffic in the area to grind to a standstill. The students marched from Rajagiriya to the Parliament roundabout, demanding an audience with the Education Minister. The protest took place while Parliament sessions were underway, prompting the city police to block the road leading to the facility. The students then pushed down the barricades, forcing the police to fire tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd. Students are likely to continue their protest today. Student demonstrations near the legislature are common, and skirmishes between security forces and protesters do sometimes erupt. Clients are advised to avoid the vicinity of the Parliament building in Colombo while rallies are in progress. Special traffic measures may be implemented near Parliament and surrounding areas; seek road advisories and plan your routes accordingly.