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February 25, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. At height of crisis, Imran regrets Ukraine escalation
• Prime Minister Imran Khan conveyed to Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, 2022 that he regretted the situation developing between Russia and Ukraine, adding that Islamabad had hoped that military conflict could be averted through a diplomatic solution.
• PM Khan and his entourage, who concluded the historic visit to Moscow after a working lunch meeting which lasted over three hours, left the Russian capital around 9:30pm local time.
• A communiqué issued after the meeting stated that PM Khan stressed that conflict was not in anyone`s interest and that developing countries were always hardest hit economically in case of conflict. `He underlined Pakistan`s belief that disputes should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy.
• PM Khan reaffirmed the importance of Pakistan-Stream Gas Pipeline as a flagship economic project between the two countries and also discussed cooperation on prospective energy-related projects
2. Noor Mukadam`s murderer sentenced to death
• A sessions court on February 24, 2022 sentenced Zahir Jaffer to death for the murder of Noor Mukadam.
• The court also found Jaffer the main accused in the gruesome murder of Ms Mukadam guilty of rape and handed him 25 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs200,000.
• In a packed court room on Thursday morning, Additional District and Sessions Judge Ata Rabbani announced the verdict which was reserved on Feb 22.
• The court sentenced two co-accused Mohammad Iftikhar and Jan Mohammad both domestic servants at Jaffer`s house to 10 years` imprisonment. Iftikhar and Mohammad, who were working as watchman and gardener, respectively, were punished for aiding in the abetment of crime
3. ECC clears legal mechanism for barter trade with Iran, Afghanistan
• Pakistan on February 24, 2022 cleared a legal mechanism to provide for barter trade with two sanctions-hit neighbours Iran and Afghanistan.
• The decision was taken at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet which also decided to build 500,000 tonnes of strategic reserves of sugar and lift 1.2 million tonnes of wheat at a minimum support price of Rs1,950 per 40kg amounting to Rs65 billion.
• The meeting, presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, didnot approve Utility Store Corporation`s (USC) Ramazan subsidy scheme and subsidy on five key items for first 23 days of February but cleared it for March and the six remaining days of February
4. Senate body passes Healthcare Facilities Management Authority Bill
• The Islamabad Healthcare Facilities Management Authority Bill, 2022 was passed by the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS) on February 24, 2022.
• The bill seeks to provide better management, supervision and administration of healthcare facilities in the jurisdiction of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
• The bill will enable the authority to approve its budget and allocate funds to health institutions under its supervision; it will also ensure that there is transparency of procedure for appointment, terms and conditions of services, disciplinary matters and other service matters for all employees under the direct or indirect authority of the International Health Management Associates (IHMA)
• Another bill titled, The Pakistan Nursing Council Amendment Bill 2022 was also passed. A third bill titled, Pakistan Psychological Council Bill, 2021 was referred back to the Secretariat.
5. Current account deficit hits all-time high in January
• Pakistan`s monthly current account deficit (CAD) hit an all-time high of $2.55 billion in January against $219m in the same month last year mainly driven by surging imports amid higher commodity prices.
• In December 2021, the CAD was $1.9bn.
• However, the increasing imports along with a rapid increase in the oil prices almost destroyed the struggle to bring the CAD from the highest-ever level of over $20bn in 2018. The data shows the imports of petroleum products were the main item that increased the bill but the services imports were also increased by 39pc to $6.174bn compared to $4.426bn in the same period of last year.