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August 10, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Pakistan formally suspends trade with India
• Pakistan on August 9, 2019 formally downgraded its trade relations with India to the level of Israel with which Islamabad has no trade ties at all.
• In reaction to India`s decision to revoke Article 370 of its constitution that granted occupied Kashmir a special status, Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic relations with India and now suspended bilateral trade with it.
• On August 9, 2019, the federal cabinet headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan endorsed the decisions taken by the National Security Committee and the joint session of parliament, which include suspension of trade ties with India.
• Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, replying to a question at a media briefing, said that Pakistan had also suspended import of Indian goods under the Pak Afghan transit treaty.
2. Thar Express, Dosti Bus Service to India suspended
• Pakistan decided on August 9, 2019 to shut down Thar Express the second train service to India and Dosti Bus Service following the mounting tension between the two countries in the wake of New Delhi`s decision to annex Jammu and Kashmir.
• In a tweet, Minister of State for Communications Murad Saeed said: `In line with the decisions of NSC [National Security Committee] PakIndia bus service is suspended.
• Similarly, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced at a news briefing at the Press Information Department (PID) that the government had decided to close down Thar Express the train service running between Kholchrapar (Pakistan) and Munabao (India). The last train departed for India on August 9, 2019 night.
• It was the second train service between Pakistan and India to be suspended after Samjhauta Express was shut down on Thursday. Thar Express runs from Karachi to Zero Point via Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas every Friday and every Saturday from Zero Point.
• The railways minister said Samjhauta Express and Thar Express would remain suspended and there was no chance of them being restored in future.
3. Balochistan announces first mineral policy
• The Balochistan government announced its first mineral policy here on August 9, 2019.
• Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, while announcing the mineral policy 2019 at a ceremony, said it would help in winning the confidence of local and foreign investors interested in Balochistan`s mineral sector. He said that without introducing reforms and an effective mineral policy, the province could not attract investors, boost its economy and generate revenue.
• Provincial Ministers Mir Zahoor Buledi, Engineer Zamarak Khan Achakzai, Saleem Khosa, Noor Mohammad Dummar and Nasibullah Marri, Mines Secretary Zahid Saleem, Additional Chief Secretary of P&D Abdul Rehman Buzdar and Bushra Rind attended the ceremony.
4. KP cabinet okays bill to form integrated tourism zones
• The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet on August 8, 2019 approved a bill proposing the formation of integrated tourism zones across the province, where several crucial laws for the protection of forests, environment, wildlife and rivers will lose effect.
• Briefing reporters after the cabinet`s meeting, senior minister Mohammad Atif Khan and spokesman for the government Ajmal Wazir said the cabinet had approved the proposed KP Tourism Act, 2019, which would be presented in
the provincial assembly for consent.
• Besides other things, the bill also proposed to dissolve the Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) and directorate of culture, and form the KP Tourism Authority in their place.
• Under the law, employees of these bodies running into hundreds will either be placed at a surplus pool at the establishment department, absorbed in other departments or will be part of the new authority as decided by a scrutiny committee.
5. Seven months into his term, SECP chairman is replaced
• Within seven months of their appointments, the Federal Cabinet on August 9, 2019 changed chairmen of both Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and its Policy Board ending a longstanding dispute between the two.
• Replacing Farrukh Sabzwari, the cabinet has approved the appointment of Aamir Khan as chairman SECP for a period of three years with immediate effect while Syed Masoud Ali Naqvi has been appointed chairman of the SECP Policy Board in place of Khalid Mirza.Mr Sabzwari and Mr Mirza developed differences over policy issues eventually leading to the dismissal of both.
6. Islamabad launches diplomatic campaign on Kashmir
• Pakistan has been encouraged by the United Nations chief Antonio Guterres’ statement on Kashmir after India unilaterally merged the disputed territory into its union.
• Antonio Guterres’ statement would help Pakistan as Islamabad takes the case to the world body.
• “We are ready to take the issue to the UN Security Council. The UN Secretary General’s words are encouraging,” one official told The Nation on August 9, 2019.
• Pakistan had launched a diplomatic campaign to ‘expose’ India’s ‘hegemonic’ designs.
• “Foreign Minister (Shah Mehmood Qureshi)’s visit to China is part of the campaign. He will visit more countries soon,” he added.
• Last day, United Nations expressed deep concern over the abolition of occupied Kashmir‘s special status with abrogation of the Article 370 and warned India to refrain from changing its legal status.
August 10, 2019: International Current Affairs
7. No change in Kashmir policy: US
• The US has announced that there was no change in its policy on Kashmir while calling on India and Pakistan to maintain calm and restraint.
• Responding to questions about the changed status of Kashmir and the U.S. policy towards the region, the State department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said, “If there was, I certainly would not be announcing it here, but no, there’s not.”
• For long, the U.S. has maintained that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and in its statements always encouraged the two countries to resolve concerns of mutual interest through dialogue. However, it also offers to bring the two countries together.
8. Unilateral Indian action to fuel tensions, cautions China
• China on August 9, 2019 cautioned India against unilateral actions saying those could further complicate the escalating tensions on held Kashmir as it pledged to continue supporting Pakistan at multilateral forums.
• Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, according to a press statement, during his meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Beijing said:`China is seriously concerned about the latest escalation of tensions in Kashmir. The Kashmir issue is a dispute left from the colonial history. It should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreement. China believes that unilateral actions that will complicate the situation should not be taken.
• Mr Qureshi is visiting China for consultations with the Chinese leadership on the aggravating situation in the region after Delhi revoked India-held Kashmir`s autonomous status and split the region into two Union territories Jammu and Kashmir; and Ladakh.
9. Iceye satellites return super-sharp radar images
• US-Finnish space start-up Iceye has once again given an impressive demonstration of its novel technology’s capabilities. The company’s radar satellites are now returning sub-1m resolution images of the Earth’s surface.
• This level of performance is expected from traditional spacecraft that weigh a tonne or more and cost in excess of one hundred million euros. But Iceye’s breakthrough satellites are the size of a suitcase and cost only a couple of million to build.
• The Helsinki-based outfit is leading a group of “New Space” companies that aim to fly constellations of such radar images.
• This is something that would have seemed technically very challenging and prohibitively expensive just a few years ago.
August 10, 2019: Sports Current Affairs
10. Cabinet approves PCB’s new constitution
• The federal cabinet on August 9, 2019 approved the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) new constitution that brings significant changes to the body’s domestic structure as well as a formation of the board of governors.
• According to the new constitution, the chief executive officer (CEO) would have the most powers, including all executive powers. There would be no role of a managing director, which means that the MD would become the PCB CEO.
• The chief operating officer’s (COO) position would remain but he would operate on the directions of the PCB Board’s chief executive officer. On the other hand, the new constitution also approved a new design for the PCB’s Board of Governors, which would — for the first time — have four independent directors, including a woman.
• The 11-member Board would also have three cricket associations as members on a rotation basis, two representatives of the chairperson (one of them could be the chairperson themselves), the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination’s (IPC) secretary, and the PCB CEO.
• The new constitution also abolished the existing domestic structure — which had city-based regional associations and departments — to be replaced by six cricket associations based on the provinces. These would include Southern Punjab, Central Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Northern Areas.