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August 23, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. NACTA slaps ban on two more organisations
• The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has declared two more outfits Hizbul Ahrar and Balochistan Raaji Ajoi-R-Sangar (BRAS) proscribed organisations under Section 11-B of the Anti-Terrorism Act, putting their members and activities under surveillance.
• The interior ministry has placed the two organisations on the list of proscribed outfits. Seventy one such organisations are already on the list.
• Jamaatul Dawa was declared proscribed organisation in March, along with its several affiliates.
2. Govt appoints ECP members from Sindh, Balochistan
• In a move immediately rejected by the opposition, the government on August 22, 2019 appointed its nominees as members of the Election Commission of Pakistan(ECP) from Sindh and Balochistan.
• The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs issued a notification, a copy of which is available with Dawn, stating that President Dr Arif Alvi had appointed Khalid Mahmood Siddiqui and Munir Ahmad Khan Kakar as ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan, respectively.
3. World Bank president to visit Pakistan in November
• World Bank President David Malpass will visit Islamabad in the first week of November to finalise enhanced financial support for institutional reforms and growth agenda.
• World Bank`s country director in Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan and his team called on Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to apprise him of the upcoming visit of Mr Malpass to Islamabad.
• The delegation conveyed `a strong desire from the World Bank management to work with Pakistan to drive institutional reforms and support the growth agenda of the government through any technical or financial assistance required from the bank`, said a statement.
• The visit follows Prime Minister Imran Khan`s meeting with the WB president during his recent visit to the United States.
4. Pakistan become the first country in South East Asia to have tested 5G
• China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak), popularly known as Zong, carried out the first official test of its 5G network on August 22, 2019.
• The Secretary Information Technology, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority chairman, economic and commercial counsellor of Chinese Embassy along with the dignitaries tested Zong`s 5G network at the ceremony.
• `Zong has become the first and only operator to officially test 5G services in the country,` it added.
• The company`s competitors Jazz and Telenor have earlier released statements saying that they have also conducted in-house tests of their 5G equipment, but rollout for both companies has been hit by issues arising from their licence renewal.
August 23, 2019: International Current Affairs
5. Pakistan, India doing nothing to fight Afghan militants: Trump
• US President Donald Trump has complained that America is fighting terrorists in Afghanistan despite being 7,000 miles away while Pakistan and India are right next door, but they are not doing so.
• The US leader also emphasised the need for other countries in the region to combat these militants who, he said, posed a greater threat to them than they did to the United States.
• `Look, India is right there. They are not fighting it. We are fighting it. Pakistan is right next door.
• They are fighting it very little. Very, very little. It`s not fair,` he said. `The United States is 7,000 miles away.
6. Pentagon chief confirms death of Hamza bin Laden
• US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper has confirmed the death of Hamza Bin Laden, the son and designated heir of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
• `That`s my understanding,` Esper said in an interview late Wednesday with Fox News, when asked if Hamza bin Laden was dead. `I don`t have the details on that. And if I did I`m not sure how much I could share with you,` he added.
• US media reported at the beginning of August that bin Laden was killed during the last two years in an operation that involved the United States, citing US intelligence officials.
• But President Donald Trump and other senior officials have refused to confirm or deny it publicly. `I don`t want to comment on it,` Trump told reporters when asked.
7. Tehran displays domestically built missile system
• Iran displayed what it described as a domestically built long-range, surface-to-air missile air defence system on August 22, 2019, at a time of rising tension with the United States.
• Iran shot down a US military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surf ace-to-air missile in June. It says the drone was over its territory, but the United States says it was in international airspace.
• State television showed President Hassan Rouhani attending an unveiling ceremony for the mobile Bavar-373 system, which Iranian media have described as a competitor to the Russian S-300 missile system.
8. Russia sends its first humanoid robot into space
• Russia on August 22, 2019 launched an unmanned rocket carrying a life-size humanoid robot that will spend 10 days learning to assist astronauts on the International Space Station.
• Named Fedor, short for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, the robot is the first ever sent up by Russia.
• Fedor blasted of f in a Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft at 6:38am Moscow time (0338 GMT) from Russia`s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz is set to dock with the space station on Saturday and stay till Sept 7.
• Soyuz ships are normally manned on such trips, but on Thursday no humans are travelling in order to test a new emergency rescue system. Instead of cosmonauts, Fedor, also known as Skybot F850, was strapped into a specially adapted pilot`s seat, with a small Russian flag in hand.
9. Crucial round of US-Taliban peace talks opens in Doha
• The United States and the Afghan Taliban have resumed peace talks in Qatar to try to conclude an agreement that would bring an end to the longest US overseas military intervention.
• The crucial ninth round of talks in the yearlong dialogue process got under way Thursday in the Qatari capital of Doha amid expectations it will lead to the much-awaited peace agreement between the two adversaries.
• The talks come a day after clashes with Taliban insurgents in northern Afghanistan killed two American soldiers, bringing the number of US military fatalities in the country this year to 14, exceeding the 2018 total.
10. Ecuador city recycling plastic bottles for bus tickets
• Looking after the environment is paying off in Ecuador, at least for public transport users in the business hub of Guayaquil.
• A new scheme aimed at combatting garbage and pollution allows people to exchange recyclable plastic bottles for money to buy bus tickets. The port city, in Ecuador’s southwest, is the second most populous city in the country with 2.7 million inhabitants, but it generates the most waste. “Imagine: Two cents (a bottle) for 15 bottles you get 30 cents, that’s already a Metrovia ticket,” said bus passenger Cristian Car denas.
• So far there’s only one machine but there are plans for a dozen, all to be placed in bus terminals.