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February 23, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. Cyber law changes assailed in high courts
• Premier lawyers` bodies across the country have stepped up to denounce the government for introducing oppressive amendments to the controversial electronic crimes law, which have been challenged in the Islamabad and Lahore high courts and are set to land in the apex court soon for curbing basic freedoms and fundamental rights of the people.
• On February 22, 2022, the presidential ordinance that criminalises online defamation was challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) by a faction of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and will be taken up by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Wednesday (today).
• The petition states that the respondents tried to sneak in amendments to Peca at the eleventh hour when only a daybefore the promulgation of the ordinance, the Senate was in session. It appears the respondents had already prepared the draft of the ordinance and were waiting for the session to end so they could circumvent the due process of legislation
2. PA adopts resolution about relief for Afghanistan
• The Balochistan Assembly on February 22, 2022 evening adopted a resolution for immediate relief for Afghanistan.
• Presenting a joint resolution in the assembly, Shahina Kakar of the Awami National Party (ANP) said the house was concerned over the changing situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
• Afghanistan is currently facing one of the worst financial crises and food shortages in history, as confirmed by the United Nations.
• The deteriorating situation in the neighbouring country is likely to affect the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that are adjacent to Afghanistan. The house asked the federal government to approach the international community especially the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the European Union to help ease the crisis
3. SBP to provide unlimited loans for agri warehousing projects
• The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is ready to provide unlimited loans for warehouse infrastructure projects in rural areas, central bank governor Dr Reza Baqir said on February 22, 2022.
• Speaking at the Launch & Roadshow of Electronic Warehouse Receipt Financing (EWRF) for Maize Crop at Kasur`s district`s Chunian tehsil, the SBP governor said the commercial banks to provide loans for warehouse infrastructure development projects at six per cent markup. The aim is to support and enhance the scope of agri-financing via EWRF for farmers across the country, he added.
• Dr Baqir said the central bank`s top priority is to help growers increase their per-acre yields, build and upgrade their social status. `The agriculture sector in Pakistan contributes 40-50pc in our economy (directly and indirectly). Among all growers, 90pc are the small ones out of which only 40pc become able to avail the credit facility.
4. ITFC approves $1.2bn for Pakistan
• The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the Islamic Development Bank, has approved a $1.2 billion financing under the annual plan to provide Pakistan integrated trade solutions to support the energy and agriculture sectors.
• The annual plan agreement for calendar 2022 includes financing for the import of essential commodities such as crude oil, refined petroleum products, LNG, food and agricultural products in addition to implementing trade related technical assistance intervention to ensure trade development impact.
• The annual plan was signed during a ceremony in ITFC headquarters in Jeddah between ITFC and a delegation of the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Monday
5. Ethiopia to Set up permanent M1SS10n in Pakistan
• Ethiopia is set to establish its permanent mission in Pakistan soon, a top Ethiopian official said on February 22, 2022.
• Ambassador Redwan Hussein, the Ethiopian state minister for Foreign Affairs, made this announcement during an interaction with Board of Investment (BoI) Chairman Azfar Ahsan.
• The minister identified value-added agro-processing and garment manufacturing as sectors of potential investment in Pakistan, saying that experience sharing in poverty alleviation represents promising avenues for both countries.
• Ambassador Redwan also said that his country was looking for joint ventures with Pakistan in value added agriculture and food processing