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December 22, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Justice Gulzar Ahmed takes over as 27th chief justice of Pakistan
• Justice Gulzar Ahmed was sworn in on December 21, 2019 to serve as the 27th chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) at the most challenging times in the country.
• CJP Ahmed has taken the responsibility to head the institution of judiciary in an environment of discomfort for the federal government and the Pakistan Army`s top leadership which seems to be not happy over two verdicts in the matter of giving an extension to the army chief and in the high treason case.
• President Dr Arif Alvi administered the oath to the new CJP at a ceremony held at the President House. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Supreme Court judges, federal ministers, senior lawyers and other government officials.
• CJP Ahmed, who enjoys the reputation of being one of the most honest and courteous judges, will serve at the most prestigious and coveted office until Feb 21, 2022
2. Pakistan receives 150 questions from FATF
• Pakistan has received a questionnaire – comprising 150 questions – from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
• The FATF has asked Islamabad details regarding the actions that have been taken to achieve the targets set by the intergovernmental organisation.
• The FATF has demanded Pakistan to sentence those who are associated with the banned outfits and summoned copies of cases registered against the outlawed organisations. Details have also been asked about legal steps taken concerning religious seminaries.
• It has been learnt that the questionnaire has been sent in response to Islamabad’s report that had been forwarded to the FATF on December 3. Pakistan has to respond to the questions by January 8.
3. Pakistan not pressured to skip Malaysia summit: S. Arabia
• As the four-day Kuala Lumpur summit comes to a close on December 21, 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia denied reports that Riyadh had exerted any pressure on Islamabad to keep it away from the event attended by the leadership of other Muslim countries.
• The Embassy of Saudi Arabia said the news promoted by some parties about any pressures exerted on Pakistan by Saudi Arabia to discourage it from participating in the summit were `baseless` and `fake`.
• The statement came on the day when Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad while addressing the closing ceremony of the event said that it was up to any country, including Saudi Arabia, to decide if it wanted to attend the KL summit.
4. HED introduces three categories of colleges
• The Punjab Higher Education Department (HED) has changed the nomenclature of all the colleges in the province, introducing three categories -community, graduate and postgraduate colleges.
• The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has directed the colleges and universities in the province to offer Associate Degree Programmes (ADP) in place of the two-year BA/BSc programmes to the post-higher secondary students.
• `A recent meeting of the Education Reforms Committee decided to end different nomenclatures, including post graduate, college of commerce, degree college, institute of commerce and college of home economics in the province, replacing these titles with community, graduate and postgraduate colleges,` said a senior HED official
5. UN moot adopts Pakistan`s resolution against corruption
• The eighth session of the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP) of the UN convention against corruption has unanimously adopted a Pakistan-sponsored resolution on strengthening the role of parliaments in preventing and combating corruption.
• According to a press release issued on December 21, 2019, the conference was held in Abu Dhabi from December 16-20.
• Pakistan`s initiative is in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to eliminate corruption.
• The unanimous adoption of the resolution was manifestation of the trust reposed by the international community in Pakistan`s leading role in the fight against corruption, the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.
6. France fines Google euro 150m for opaque advertising rules
• France`s competition watchdog fined Google euro 150 million ($167m) on December 20, 2019 for abusing its power over the treatment of advertisers, saying it applied opaque rules and changed them at will.
• With a market share of around 90 per cent in the online search business, Google has a responsibility to offer a fair access to Google Ads, the regulator added.
• Google said it blocked Gib media because it was running ads for websites that deceived people into paying for services on unclear billing terms
7. Turkish parliament okays Libyan military deal
• Turkey`s parliament approved a security and military deal with Libya`s UN-supported government on December 21, 2019 on the heels of a controversial maritime agreement earlier this month that has drawn international Ire.
• The deal allows Turkey to provide military training and equipment at the request of the Libyan government that controls the capital, Tripoli, and some of the country`s west.
• Forces loyal to a rival government based in Libya`s east opened a fierce new assault on the capital last week and on Friday, they gave the militias defending Tripoli a three-day deadline to pull out.
• The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by commander Khalifa Hifter, has been trying to capture the capital since April. The battle lines have barely changed in recent months.
8. Arizona officer kills Qatari man who attacked him
• An Arizona state trooper shot and killed a Qatari man who was in the US on a student visa after he violently attacked the officer patrolling for drunken drivers along with a member of the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
• The state trooper spotted 25-year-old Mohamed Ahmed Al-Hashemi throw a street sign onto a road in suburban Phoenix late on Thursday and ordered him to pick it up, said Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Department of Public Safety.
• Al-Hashemi wouldn`t pick it up, then began walking in the middle of the road and wouldn`t obey commands to stop, Milstead said.
• Trooper Hugh Grant used a stun gun but it didn`t sub-due Al-Hashemi, who then rushed the officer and punched and kicked him.
9. Muslim nations consider gold, barter trade to beat sanctions
• Iran, Malaysia, Turkey and Qatar are considering trading among themselves in gold and through a barter system as a hedge against any future economic sanctions on them, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on December 21, 2019.
• At the end of an Islamic summit in Malaysia, Mahathir praised Iran and Qatar for withstanding economic embargoes and said it was important for the Muslim world to be self-reliant to face future threats. “With the world witnessing nations making unilateral decisions to impose such punitive measures, Malaysia and other nations must always bear in mind that it can be imposed on any of us,” Mahathir said.
• U.S.-allied Arab states Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar about 2-1/2-years ago over allegations it backs terrorism, a charge Doha denies. Iran, meanwhile, has been hit badly after the United States reimposed sanctions on it last year
10. New Zealanders hand in 50,000 guns after assault weapon ban
• New Zealand authorities said December 21, 2019 their country will be a safer place after owners handed in more than 50,000 guns during a buyback program following a ban on assault weapons.
• But critics say the process was flawed and many owners have illegally stashed their firearms.
• The government banned the most lethal types of semi-automatic weapons less than a month after a lone gunman in March killed 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques.
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