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August 24, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Centre announces Rs125bn Sindh barrage project
• The federal government announced on August 23, 2019 an ambitious Rs125 billion Sindh barrage project on the River Indus, winning support from the provincial government to build a huge structure 45km from the sea in the south of Thatta and east of Karachi to address environmental issues of sea intrusion and land degradation.
• The unusual consensus between the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf at the Centre and the Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh was reached at a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at the CM House. It was attended by a federal government delegation led by Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain and senior officials from both sides.
• The good thing is that during the meeting the Sindh chief minister also agreed to share the cost if we need that in case of shortage from the Centre. But right now we are very much hopeful that the federal government would bear the cost of this project,` he added.
2. Alyani lays Gwadar energy project`s foundation stone
• Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani on August 23, 2019 laid the foundation stone of phase III of the Green Energy Project being executed under the Gwadar Development Project.
• The initiative an important step towards the progress of the province.
• The chief minister called Gwadar one of the top emerging investor-friendly cities of the world that would meet all demands of international investors.
3. Fata Development Authority dissolved
• The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet on August 23, 2019 approved dissolution of the Fata Development Authority (FDA) and handing over of 383-kilometre highways in the merged tribal districts from the communication and works department to the Pakhtunkhwa Highways Authority.
• The cabinet also approved the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Levies Force Act, 2019, and Khasadar Force Act, 2019, and as such around 28,000 personnel would get all powers of the police force.
• Before merger of the tribal districts with the province, these two forces were functioning under the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions.
• Chief Minister Mahmood Khan chaired the cabinet meeting.
August 24, 2019: International Current Affairs
4. Taliban, US agree on troop pullout time frame
• The Afghan Taliban and the United States have reached an agreement on a time frame of pullout of foreign forces from Afghanistan, Taliban chief spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said on August 23, 2019.
• `We have an agreement on a time frame for the withdrawal“ he told Dawnfrom Doha over the phone. `Discussions are now focused on its implementation mechanism.
• `We have had general discussions today,` he said about the day two of the ninth round of talks between the United States and the Taliban representatives that started on Thursday in Qatar.
• `Tomorrow, we shall have discussions on the implementation part.
• The US and the Taliban have held eight rounds of negotiations in the past year on issues, including a US troop withdrawal, a ceasefire, intra-Afghan negotiations to follow and Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will not be a launch pad for global terror attacks.
5. UN rights chief urged to ask India to end abuses in IHK
• Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on August 23, 2019 called upon the UN human rights chief to ask India to end rights abuses in held Kashmir.
• In a letter addressed to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the foreign minister asked her to tell India `to rescind its unilateral actions, lift the curfew and other draconian measures and restore fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people`.
• The letter said that ever since India annexed occupied Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 of its constitution earlier this month, the valley has been put under curfew and communications blackout for suppressing protests against the Indian action.
• Moreover, massive additional troop deployment has been made by India in what is already one of the world`s most heavily militarised zones.
6. Ambassadors retain right to speak in personal capacity: UN
• The United Nations has said that its goodwill ambassadors in their personal capacity retain the right to speak about issues that interest or concern them.
• The statement came from Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in the light of pro-war comments made by United Nations Children`s Fund (Unicef) Goodwill Ambassador and Indian actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas in February that were highlighted recently by an activist.
• On Wednesday, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari had written to the UNICEF head, asking her to remove Ms Chopra as its goodwill ambassador over her pro-war comments.
• The minister`s move came days after Ms Chopra was accosted at an event in the United States by Pakistani-American activist Ayesha Malik over a tweet posted by the actor earlier this year in favour of the Indian army.
7. Myanmar troops show `genocidal intent` for Rohingya: UN
• Sexual violence committed by Myanmar troops against Rohingya women and girls in 2017 indicated the military`s genocidal intent to destroy the mainly Muslim ethnic minority, United Nations investigators said in a report released on August 22, 2019.
• The panel of independent investigators, set up by the UN Human Rights Council in 2017, accused Myanmar`s government of failing to hold anyone accountable and said it was responsible `under the Genocide Convention for its failure to investigate and punish acts of genocide`.
• A military crackdown in Myanmar`s Rakhine state that began in August 2017 drove more than 730,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. Myanmar denies widespread wrongdoing and says the military campaign across hundreds of villages in northern Rakhine was in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents.
8. Kashmir is silent as a graveyard, says US media report
• Kashmir is silent as a graveyard,` Vrinda Grover, an Indian human rights lawyer tells The New York Times, which published a 1,500-word report on Kashmir on August 23, 2019, along with pictures and videos depicting the situation in the occupied valley.
• Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a public intellectual, tells the Economist magazine that the act of supposedly integrating the former state more fully into India has begun by casting the mostly Muslim inhabitants of the Kashmir valley `under a pall of suspicion`.
• `Kashmiris` first experience of Indian law as a union territory is of untrammeled executive power,` Mr Mehta adds.
• In an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Salman Soz, a Kashmiri at the World Bank, rejects his claim that the move aimed at integrating the valley with the union to bringing prosperity and development to it.
9. Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings
• Russia launched the world`s first floating nuclear reactor on August 23, 2019, sending it on an epic journey across the Arctic, despite environmentalists warning of a `Chernobyl on ice`.
• Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov lef t the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometre voyage to Pevek in northeastern Siberia.
• Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant in isolated places where ground is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.
• The new reactor is part of the new floating energy and heat plant, which will be a `key element in the development of the Northern Sea Route` and will help Russia `realise large infrastructural projects` in the region, Rosatom said in a statement.
August 24, 2019: Sports Current Affairs
10. Chechnya inaugurates Europe’s biggest mosque
• Authorities in the Russian region of Chechnya on August 23, 2019 inaugurated what they said was the largest mosque in Europe in a pomp-filled ceremony attended by local and foreign officials.
• Named after the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), the marble-decorated mosque has capacity for more than 30,000 people and has been described by the Chechen authorities as the “largest and most beautiful” mosque in Europe.
• Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said the mosque — located in Shali, a town of 54,000 just outside the regional capital Grozny — was “unique in its design, and majestic in its size and beauty”.
• The mosque’s grounds, planted with flowers and sprinkled with fountains, can host an additional 70,000 worshippers, local authorities said.
• Kadyrov, who was appointed by Putin to rule the Muslim-majority region in 2007, has spearheaded a revival of Islam in Chechnya, including by building opulent mosques.
• In 2008 he unveiled the “Heart of Chechnya”, a mosque with a capacity of 10,000 worshippers in Grozny, a city that had been ravaged by two wars between Moscow and separatists after the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.