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US asks India, Pakistan to cool down after Myanmar strike

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Washington: While declining comment on India’s strike on militants in Myanmar, the US has asked India and Pakistan to take steps to reduce tensions and move toward resuming dialogue.

“I don’t have a comment on that specific operation,” US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters on Friday when asked if the US supported or was concerned over India’s cross border strike in Myanmar, a move that has raised hackles in Pakistan.

But “we encourage India and Pakistan to take steps to reduce tensions and to move towards resuming talks,” he said.

“The relationship between India and Pakistan is critical to advancing peace and stability in South Asia, so we welcome any steps India and Pakistan can take to reduce tensions and move toward resuming dialogue,” Rathke said.

“We encourage India and Pakistan to take those kinds of steps, and we believe that India and Pakistan each have a mutual interest in addressing the threat posed by violent extremism and terrorism,” he said.

Asked if the US had reached out officially to India or Pakistan to defuse tensions over the Myanmar strike, Rathke said: “Well, we’ve encouraged a reduction of tensions on both sides at high levels, so that’s something we’ve mentioned.”

The spokesman also expressed concern over Pakistan’s crackdown on Save the Children organisation.

Rathke could not say whether the issue had been discussed in Islamabad, “but it’s certainly a matter of concern to us.”

“Save the Children is an international nongovernment organization. They do important work,” he said.

Rathke also did not have an update on expression of similar concern over India blacklisting some NGOs a few weeks ago.

“We expressed our concerns and we’ve raised those with the Indian authorities. I don’t have an update to offer here.”

Earlier in a press statement, Department Spokesperson John Kirby said the US was “concerned about Pakistan’s crackdown on international charitable organizations and other NGOs.”

(IANS)

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Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater -- 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater -- 12 per cent of the global total.

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Global groundwater depletion - where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally - increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India's rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period. Pixabay

As many as one billion people in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress, according to a new report.

Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid.

This number is expected to go up to five billion by 2050, said the report titled “Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019”, released to mark World Water Day on March 22.

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Pure water droplet. Pixabay

Physical water scarcity is getting worse, exacerbated by growing demand on water resources and and by climate and population changes.

By 2040 it is predicted that 33 countries are likely to face extremely high water stress – including 15 in the Middle East, most of Northern Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Spain. Many – including India, China, Southern Africa, USA and Australia – will face high water stress.

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Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid. Pixabay

Global groundwater depletion – where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally – increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India’s rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period.

Also Read: Beware! Sipping Hot Tea Raises Risk of Esophageal Cancer

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater — 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater — 12 per cent of the global total.

The WaterAid report warned that food and clothing imported by wealthy Western countries are making it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get a daily clean water supply as high-income countries buy products with considerable “water footprints” – the amount of water used in production — from water-scarce countries. (IANS)