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October 10, 2018: National Current Affairs
1. Govt removes Punjab IG, police reforms head `resigns`
- The federal government on October 9, 2018 removed the Punjab inspector general of police (IG) and subsequent reports, unconfirmed ones, about the resignation of the much hailed police reforms commissioner added to the complexity of the situation.
- Amjad Javed Saleemi replaced Mohammad Tahir as Punjab IG in a surprise move.
- Tahir was in the post for only four weeks. Later on, a senior police official tweeted that Nasir Durrani, head of police reforms commission and a favourite with Prime Minister Imran Khan, had stepped down.
- However, the Election Commission of Pakistan suspended the notification regarding the IG`s replacement, citing it as a violation of the ECP directive barring transfer and
- posting of officials before the Oct 14 by-elections.
- In a letter sent to the establishment division just hours after the issuance of the notification, the Director General (Elections) of the ECP, Chaudhry Nadeem Qasim, sought an explanation from the establishment division secretary within two days as to why the Sept 3 instructions regarding transfers and postings of ofhcials had not been complied with.
2. Use of papers with verses as wrappers banned
- The capital administration has banned the use of rough papers, including newspapers, having holy words or verses printed on them for wrapping and packing different commodities.
- The administration has sought the assistance of mosques and seminaries to check the use of such papers.
- The violators of the ban would be dealt with according to law in the court of magistrates.
- `It has been observed that rough papers, including newspapers, having holy words and verses printed on them are being heavily used by traders for wrapping up and packing commodities and are also being used in different ways for preserving commodities,` said an order issued by District Magistrate Mohammad Hamza Shafgaat.
- `It is a matter of grave concern as this practice is tantamount to disrespecting holy words and verses which cannot be condoned at any level.
3. SBP to issue coin in memory of Sir Syed
- The State Bank of Pakistan will issue commemorative coin of Rs50 denomination on Oct 17 in memory of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.
- Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was a renowned author, educationist and Muslim reformer of 19th Century, who laid the foundation of Muslim renaissance in the subcontinent, which ultimately led to the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
- The coins will be issued through the exchange counters of all field offices of the SBP Banking Services Corporation from Oct 17
4. Pakistan`s BASEL ranking up
- Pakistan`s ranking on the BASEL anti money laundering index improved by 0.08 points increasing country`s current rating to 6.49 points, according to BASEL Anti-money Laundering Report 2018.
- BASEL observes anti-money laundering framework of 129 countries around the world. Finland currently has best score of 2.57 points on the index with Tajikistan with the highest risk at 8.3 points.
- Around $500 billion to $1 trillion is laundered worldwide
5. Pakistan, US agree to placate Taliban
- Pakistan and the United States October 9, 2018 agreed to work jointly to placate the Taliban and bring them on the talks table.
- After meetings between US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua the two sides decided to use their influence for regional peace, especially in Afghanistan.
- The two countries are hoping to move and improve ties. Joint efforts in Afghanistan are key to Pak-US relations. Both countries will try to placate Taliban and start a dialogue process for peace.
- The US has asked Pakistan to show its ‘seriousness’ by helping the US to hold talks with Taliban.
- In his meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that Pakistan will continue to play its role for political solution of the Afghan conflict. The foreign minister said Pakistan welcomed the US efforts for peace in Afghanistan. “Both leaders agreed to continue cooperation on Afghan reconciliation process,” said an official statement.
- The US envoy is leading an interagency delegation to the region. Khalilzad will be in Afghanistan and Pakistan from October 4 to 14.
6. Devaluation pushes up total debt by Rs900bn
- Pakistan`s total debt and liabilities have increased by almost Rs900 billion in a single day and Rs1.4 trillion since Aug 18 because of steep currency devaluation.
- The erosion in exchange rate by about Rs9.50 against dollar on October 9, 2018 was a signal that the government was completing prior actions to secure another programme from the International Monetary Fund that required Pakistan to allow a full free noat exchange rate and increase policy rate and utility tariffs.
- The government has already increased gas prices by a record 35pc last month and is in the process of finalising increase in electricity tariff, proposed by the regulator at Rs3.90 per unit or about 33pc from the existing rate. The cost of production would go up with all these factors over the coming months.
- The government had signalled devaluation after consecutive meetings with the prime minister, including one before the departure of Finance Minister Asad Umar to Bali, to request an IMF support package. There was no reason for the dollar to appreciate so much in a day when there was no hefty repayment due.
October 10, 2018: International Current Affairs
7. IMF warns Pakistan against `excessive loans` from China
- Pakistan has not yet formally approached the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance, but if bailout talks get underway this week, the goal will be to help Pakistan reach its full potential, the IMF`s chief economist said on October 9, 2018.
- Addressing a news conference at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Bali, the IMF`s Maurice Obstfeld cautioned that increased Chinese involvement in Pakistan`s economy could bring both benefits and risks.
- Obstfeld said Pakistan is facing financing gaps as it has been hit by a large fiscal and current account deficit, a low level of reserves and a currency he described as `too rigid` and over-valued.
- Finance Minister Asad Umar said on October 8, 2018 the government would seek to open talks with the IMF in Ball this week for emergency financial assistance.
- Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier sought alternatives to a second bailout programme in five years from the IMF as it impose austerity and limit his vision of an Islamic welfare state.
- Obstfeld said that if the IMF does enter into talks with Pakistan this week on a possible new financing programme, the goal would be reforms that would help Pakistan reach its `immense potential` without providing specific details.
8. Nikki Haley resigns as US envoy to UN
- The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, announced her resignation on October 9, 2018, but said she would not run for president in the 2020 presidential election and instead would campaign for President Donald Trump.
- Sitting beside Mr Trump in the Oval Office, Ms Haley said her 18-month stint at the UN had been an honour of a lifetime.
- Mr Trump thanked Ms Haley for her services and said she would stay on until the end of the year.
- There was speculation in the local media that Ms Haley might seek office in the 2020 presidential election which she had laid to rest for the time being.
- A former governor of South Carolina, Ms Haley had been an early and frequent critic of Mr Trump, so when he named her the envoy to the world body weeks after his election in November 2016, the appointment was seen as an olive branch.
9. Indian-Russian missile engineer held for spying
- Indian law-enforcement officers have arrested an engineer of the Indian-Russian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace on charges of allegedly spying for Pakistan.
- Very sensitive information was found on his personal computer.
- The person in question is the employee of the technical research section named Nishant Agrawal, who has worked in the company for four years and was characterized by his colleagues as an outstanding engineer.
- Agrawal was arrested during a joint operation, which was conducted by the Indian military intelligence together with the police of the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
10. Virgin Galactic to launch space flight ‘within weeks’.
- British entrepreneur Richard Branson said he expects his Virgin Galactic company to conduct its first space flight “within weeks, not months” in comments broadcast October 9, 2018.
- The billionaire Virgin founder said the company was “more than tantalisingly close” to launching its first mission to space, and that he himself hoped to briefly leave Earth within “months not years.”
- “We will be in space with people not too long after that,” he added. Branson’s Virgin Galactic is racing against Amazon creator Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to launch the first out-of-this-world passenger flight and take paying passengers into space.
- Both companies will offer customers a weightless experience that will last just minutes, passing through the imaginary line marking where space begins – either the Karman line, at 100 kilometres (62 miles), or the 50-mile boundary recognised by the US Air Force.
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