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March 20, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. Ties with Islamabad through diplomatic channels: US
• The Biden administration has indicated its desire to continue a careful engagement with Pakistan without committing to either improving or degrading ties with a country that was once a close ally.
• The indication came at a Friday afternoon news briefing at the White House when Press Secretary Jen Psaki ignored two provocative questions that she could have used to either criticize Pakistan`s current policies or to underline the US desire to repair ties with Islamabad.
• A Pakistani journalist reminded her that many, many months ago Prime Minister Imran Khan had `requested a telephone conversation` with US President Joe Biden. `We haven`t heard anything about that. Is there a specific reason for not communicating with the Pakistani leadership?` the journalist asked
2. Current account deficit shrinks 78pc in February
• The country`s current account deficit (CAD) shrank by 78.46 per cent to $545 million in February from a whopping $2.531 billion in January mainly on account of a sharp decline in the imports.
• However, during the first 8 months of FY22, the CAD crossed the $12 billion mark leaving no sign of improvement in the external account. In February 2021 the CAD was just $34m.
• The State Bank of Pakistan`s data issued on Saturday showed that the CAD widened to $12.099hn in 8MFY22 against a surplus of $994m in the same period of last fiscal year
3. Fourth ITI train departs for Turkey
• The fourth Islamabad-Tehran Istanbul (ITI) freight train carrying various high-value products in six containers has departed from Pakistan for Turkey`s Azakhel dry port.
• On the other hand, nine trains carrying rice have reached to Iran via Taftan so far since the resumption of the international freight train operation on December 211ast year.
• `The fourth ITI train having composition of three 40-feet long containers first reached at Rohri/Sukkar. Another train having goods in three containers reached from Karachi that were attached with the ITI train,` an official source in Pakistan Railways told Dawn on Saturday. `The train is likely to reach Istanbul via Tehran (Istanbul) by next week, the official, requesting anonymity, added
4. CTD constable martyred in Lakki Marwat attack
• A Counter-Terrorism Department constable was martyred when unknown motorcyclists opened fire on him in Naurang town of Lakki Marwat here on March 19, 2022.
• A police official said that Mohammad Bilal was on duty in the Naurang city when he was sprayed with bullets. He said Bilal received multiple injuries and died instantly, and the attackers escaped.
• `After the attack, a party of Shaheed Asmatullah Khan Khattak police station reached the place and found the body of Bilal lying in a pool of blood,` he added
5. Austrian FM calls for prevention of recurrence of missile accidents
• Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has emphasised the need for measures for prevention of recurrence of missile accidents in the nuclearised South Asian environment and called for more confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan.
• Speaking to Dawn during his visit to Pakistan, Mr Schallenberg expressed the hope that `all necessary measures have been taken to avoid another incident ` An Indian supersonic cruise missile, believed to be BrahMos, had on March 9 landed in Pakistan after flying in from across the border. It is feared that the missile could have hit one of the airliners that were flying nearby or worse it could have led to a retaliatory strike from Pakistan.
• Either scenarios could have been catastrophic