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February 02, 2020: National / International Current Affairs
1. January inflation surges to 14.6pe, highest in 12 years
• The inflation rate has risen to 14.6 per cent in January from 12.6pc of the previous month, scaling the highest level in 12 years, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported on February 1, 2020.
• Inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), edged up 1.97pc over the previous month. Last time, the highest inflation in the country was recorded at 17pc in the year 2007-08.
• The data released shows that higher food prices, particularly of wheat and flour, pulses, sugar, gur and edible oil, have been the largest driver of overall inflation in January
2. Online sale, advertisement of tobacco products banned
• The government has imposed a ban on online advertisement of tobacco products and stopped tobacco companies from displaying power walls and posters at their sale points.
• `As per Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002, there is a ban on advertisement of tobacco products in print and electronic media. However, companies were allowed to display power walls and posters of tobacco products at the point of sale. Now they will not be allowed to do so.
• In the past companies were allowed to display A-4 size posters so they used to paste tens of posters at each sale point. Moreover, they used to paste them at eye level of children so that children would be attracted towards smoking
3. Women army officers awarded UN medal in DR Congo
• A 15-member group of the first-ever Pakistani Female Engagement Team (FET), deployed since June last year to work with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco), were awarded the UN Medal.
• The team that was recently honoured at Adikivu in South Kivu, one of the provinces of the central African country, includes psychologists, stress counsellors, vocational training officers, gender advisers, doctors, nurses, operations officers, information officers and logistics officers.
• `Throughout their deployment the Pakistani female officers worked hard to win the trust of the community,` according to a message received at the UN headquarters in New York. The Pakistani FET has implemented many successful projects including vocational training, medical outreach, regular sessions of support to students, local women and teachers exposed to trauma and psychological workshops for Congolese police personnel
4. Ordinance removes flaws from new anti-narcotics law
• The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has promulgated an ordinance for removing several flaws from a new provincial anti-narcotics law, whose enforcement led to the flooding of the Peshawar High Court with narcotics-related petitions seeking bail for the suspects.
• The KP Control of Narcotics Substance (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, which was published in the official gazette on Jan 31, introduces several amendments to the KP Control of Narcotics Substance Act (KPCNSA), 2019, including the provision of bail to the people arrested in connection with narcotics trafficking.
• One of the two reasons of an indefinite strike recently observed by the lawyers across the province was the flaws in the KPCNSA
5. Mandatory to show CNIC for purchases of over Rs50,000: FBR
• The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on February 1, 2020 notified that it was mandatory for a citizen to show his or her Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) in case he/she wanted to buy a product of over Rs50,000 from a sales tax-registered seller.
• FBR spokesperson Dr Hamid Ateeq Sarwar said the condition of showing CNIC at the time of purchase had been waived in July 2019 in an effort to facilitate traders. The condition is being enforced again with effect from Feb 1, 2020 (Saturday).He said the production of CNICs by individual consumers was not an issue. The board would only monitor business-to-business purchases to identify tax evaders. `We will connect our system with that of NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) to verify the validity of CNICs,` he said.
• Some traders were using fake CNIC numbers while recording their transactions. The verification system would only be used in case of traders involved in big transactions.
6. Palestinians cut all ties with Israel, US
• Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas announced on February 1, 2020 a cut of all ties with Israel and the United States, including security cooperation, after Washington unveiled a controversial Middle East plan seen as favouring Israel.
• His comments came as the Arab League rejected US President Donald Trump`s plan, which infuriated the Palestinians.
• `We are informing you that there will be no relations with you (Israel) and the United States, including on security cooperation,` Abbas said at an extraordinary meeting of the pan Arab bloc in Cairo.
• The Palestinian leader said the move followed the `disavowal of signed agreements and international legitimacy` by the US and Israel
7. British-Pakistani wins damages against UK paper for defamation
• British newspaper Mail on Sunday this week agreed to pay £180,000 to a former minicab licensing officer in the United Kingdom three years after publishing an article that falsely implicated him in facilitating a paedophile ring that was run by taxi drivers in Rockdale.
• In 2017, the paper published a story which falsely claimed that a British Pakistani man, Wajed Iqbal, was a `fixer` for taxi drivers `at a time when some local drivers were involved in raping underage girls as members of paedophile rings`. The article was written by a reporter by the name of David Rose, who is also at the centre of PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif`s recently filed damages claim.
8. Trump lifts US restrictions on anti-personnel landmines
• President Donald Trump`s administration on January 31, 2020 lifted US restrictions on landmines, saying new technology made them safer, outraging campaigners for the abolition of the explosives that maim thousands of civilians each year.
• In the latest reversal of a policy of his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump gave the green light to a new generation of `non-persistent` landmines that can be switched off or destroyed remotely rather than staying active in the ground forever.
• `The Department of Defence has determined that restrictions imposed on American forces by the Obama administration`s policy could place them at a severe disadvantage during a conflict against our adversaries,` a White House statement said
9. Bill Gates` daughter engaged to an Egyptian Muslim
• The eldest daughter of Microsoft founder Bill and Melinda Gates, Jennifer, is engaged to an Egyptian Muslim, Nayel Nasser.
• Both Nayel, 29, and Jennifer, 23, studied at Stanford. Reports in the US media said the couple have been together for just over two years and got engaged during a skiing holiday last week.
• They have a mutual love for equestrian sports. Nassar has qualified to represent Egypt in showjumping at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
• He is ranked 35th in the world. He grew up in Kuwait, where members of his family still live. Nayel now lives in Chicago.
• Jennifer broke the news to her 217,800 Instagram followers on January 30, 2020. Soon after, both took to Instagram to show off a huge diamond sparkler on her finger.
10. Maldives returns to Commonwealth after 40 months
• Commonwealth nations on February 1, 2020 welcomed back the Maldives 40 months after it angrily quit the organisation over criticism of its human rights record under strongman president Abdulla Yameen.
• The move is a new step in ending the international isolation that the Indian Ocean holiday destination suffered under Yameen`s rule from 2013 to 2018.
• The group of mainly former British colonies said an application to return made by the Maldives had been approved after `due diligence` including a country assessment.
• The country has sought to repair its image after Yameen suffered a shock defeat in a 2018 election to Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
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