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January 30, 2020: National / International Current Affairs
1. Govt to sell off 6 public sector entities in 2020-21
• The government on January 29, 2020 announced to complete privatization of six Public Sector Entities (PSEs) within the current fiscal year that would generate more than Rs150 billion that government had projected in the annual budget as privatization proceeds.
• Federal Minister for Privatization Muhammad Mian Soomro said that the privatization process would be completed with transparency and efficiency. The government is following privatization ordinance, Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules, and past court judgments while carrying out the privatization of the state-owned entities, the minister said in a press conference along with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan and Secretary Privatization Rizwan Malik.
• The PSEs include SMEs bank, First Women Bank, two RLNG power plants including Haveli Bahadur Shah and Balloki, government’s 18.5 percent shares in Mari Petroleum Company Limited as well as Services International Hotel Lahore and Jinnah Convention Centre Islamabad. The government has also planned to sell up to 7 percent stakes of the Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) and 10 percent shares of Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL).
2. Torkham closed after Afghan mortar attack
• The Torkham border remained closed for some hours on January 29, 2020 after an early morning mortar attack from the Afghan side.
• A projectile fired from across the Afghan border landed and exploded at an open space near Iqbal check post on the Torkham border. However, the blast caused no damage.
• Soon after the incident, the border authorities closed the border crossing which halted the movement of all types of vehicles and pedestrians on both sides of the border.
• Border officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan later held a flag meeting during which the security situation on both sides of the border came under discussion
3. Navy offers Sri Lanka help in fighting drug trafficking, human smuggling
• Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi on January 29, 2020 completed his five-day official visit to Sri Lanka aimed at strengthening naval ties between the two countries and offering help to the island nation in combating organised transnational crime at sea.
• Admiral Abbasi, according to Pakistan Navy, during his stay in Colombo met Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary retired major general Kamal Gunaratne and three Sri Lankan services chiefs.
• During his various meetings, Admiral Abbasi offered help in fighting drug trafficking and human smuggling activities, increase in intelligence sharing, and greater cooperation between Pakistan Maritime Security Agency and Sri Lanka`s coast guards
4. EU announces strict 5G rules, but no Huawei ban
• EU countries could ban telecoms operators deemed a security risk from critical parts of 5G infrastructure under guidelines issued on January 29, 2020, amid US pressure to shut out Chinese giant Huawei.
• The EU plan, which closely mirrors rules set out on Tuesday by Britain allowing a limited role for Huawei, stops short of barring the company from the next-generation communications network designed for near instantaneous data transfers.
• It leaves member states with the responsibility to ensure the safe rollout of 5G and warns them to screen operators carefully, saying security of the network will be critically important for the entire EU
5. Syrian army claims retaking key town
• Syrian government forces recaptured a strategic northwestern highway town from jihadist and allied rebels January 29, 2020, in the latest blow to the country`s last major opposition bastion.
• Maaret al-Numan, a former anti-government protest hotspot turned ghost town after weeks of bombardment, lies on a key highway connecting the capital Damascus to second city Aleppo.
• The M5 artery has long been in the sights of the government as it seeks to revive a moribund economy ravaged by almost nine years of war
6. Israel postpones vote on West Bank annexation
• A senior Israeli minister said on Wednesday that a cabinet vote to endorse annexation of parts of the West Bank will not take place early next week, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s pledge a day earlier to act quickly after the US released a plan to end the conflict that was rejected by the Palestinians.
• Netanyahu said he would ask the cabinet to advance the extension of Israeli sovereignty over most Jewish settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley, a move that would likely spark international outrage and complicate the White House`s efforts to build support for the plan.
• Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told Israel Radio that a cabinet vote on annexing territories on Sunday was not technically feasible because of various preparations, including bringing the proposal before the attorney general and letting him consider the matter.
7. WHO to determine if coronavirus is global emergency
• The World Health Organization (WHO) has called a meeting of its emergency committee on January 30, 2020 to determine whether the outbreak of the novel coronavirus constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
• `Stopping the spread of this virus both in China and globally is WHO`s highest priority,` said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus while addressing an online news conference from Geneva. `We are monitoring the situation every moment of every day,` he added.
• The emergency committee will also make recommendations on how to manage the crisis
8. Tears, cheers as EU lawmakers give final nod to BREXIT
• The European Parliament gave final approval to Britain`s divorce from the European Union on January 29, 2020, paving the way for the country to quit the bloc on Friday after nearly half a century and delivering a major setback for European integration.
• After an emotional debate during which several speakers shed tears, EU lawmakers voted 621 for and 49 against the BREXIT agreement sealed between Britain and the 27 other member states last October, more than three years since Britons voted out.
• Thirteen lawmakers abstained and the chamber then broke into a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, a traditional Scottish folk song of farewell.
• Britain`s 73 departing EU lawmakers headed for an `Au Revoir`party in the EU chamber after the vote.
9. Indian airlines ban comedian for midair rant
• Four Indian airlines have banned a top stand-up comic over a midair confrontation with a star political television presenter that has become an internet sensation.
• Kunal Kamra was banned for six months by Indigo the airline carrying him during the incident while Air India, GoAir and Spice Jet barred the outspoken comic `until further notice`.
• Kamra said that when he saw Arnab Goswami on the Mumbai-Lucknow flight, he `politely asked` to have a conversation but the presenter `pretended to be on a phone call
10. Former Pakistan fast bowler Munaf passes away
• Former Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Munaf passed away on January 28, 2020 in Amsterdam where he had been living since retirement from PIA. He was 84.
• A right-arm fast bowler, Munaf was educated at the historic Sindh Medressa tul Islam school alongside Little Master Hanif Mohammad who was to later become his team-mate in the Pakistan team.
• Munaf`s bowling partner was Ikram Elahi and both formed a deadly pair on a number of overseas tours undertaken by Pakistan team as well as Pakistan Eaglets. Tall and handsome, Munaf was born in Bombay in 1935 in a Kokan family. He was one of the three Kokans from West coast of Maharashtra to represent Pakistan.
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