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July 02, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. Inflation surges to 13-year high amid sky-high fuel prices
• Monthly inflation surged to 21.3 per cent in June, its highest pace in over 13 years, mainly fuelled by rising petroleum product prices.
• The spike comes as fuel prices have skyrocketed by around 90pc since the last week of May after the new coalition government scrapped costly fuel subsidies in an attempt to tame a surging fiscal deficit and revive a stalled International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme.
• It was a sharp increase in the headline inflation measured through the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 13.8pc in May 2022 and 9.7pc in June 2021, according to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. The last time prices accelerated so fast was in December 2008, when the CPI was recorded at 23.3pc.
• The index has since mostly remained below 15pc with a few exceptions
2. SC orders run-off poll for Punjab CM on 22nd
• Clearing the air about who gets to rule Punjab, the Supreme Court on July 1, 2022 ordered a run-off election for the office of the chief minister on July 22, after by-elections on 20 general seats are held, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) notifies five PTI candidates on reserved seats and some provincial lawmakers return after performing haj.
• However, until then, Hamza Shehbaz will continue to hold the chief executive`s office; he also assured a three-judge Supreme Court bench he would remain within the confines of the Constitution and the law and avoid harassment or witch-hunt of political opponents.
• Both Hamza and his opponent, Parvez Elahi, lauded the chief justice of Pakistan for coming up with a consensus decision
3. Funding stopped for low-cost housing, Kamyab Jawan schemes
• The government has put on hold the Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar (MPMG) and Prime Minister`s Kamyab Jawan Youth Entrepreneurship Schemes (PMKJ-YES), launched by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, and is reviewing the same.
• The MPMG low-cost housing scheme has been put on hold for two months while banks were advised by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to stop funding under the schemes. The former government had launched the MPMG scheme to provide low-cost houses for low income people. The loans were being provided at subsidised rates.
• The SBP said the government has decided to review and revise the scheme
4. US expands interview waiver eligibility for visa holders
• The United States Mission in Pakistan has expanded the interview waiver eligibility for Pakistani citizens renewing their B1/B2 tourist and business visas at the US embassy in Islamabad and the US consulate general in Karachi.
• `Pakistani citizens of ages 45 and older and whose B1/B2 visas are valid or have expired within the last 48 months are eligible to participate,` the US embassy said in a press release issued on July 1, 2022.
• This procedural change would improve customer service and efficiently process tourism and business visa renewals for qualified and eligible Pakistani citizens, it said.
• The B1/B2 visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows the holder to travel to the United States for business or tourism
5. India`s `Islamophobic streak` is worrying, PM tells US envoy
• Recalling the recent remarks by two leaders of India`s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on July 1, 2022 conveyed the sentiments of Pakistanis about rising Islamophobia in India to US Ambassador Donald Blome.
• According to the Prime Minister`s Office, the US ambassador called on the prime minister and discussed bilateral relations.
• `Sacrilegious remarks by two BJP leaders about the revered personality of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) have deeply hurt sentiments of Muslims,` the PM said while highlighting the rising wave of Islamophobia in India.
• He said Delhi was also committing grave violations of human rights in India held Kashmir