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March 23, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. Recalling failures, PM seeks `Islamic unity`
• Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 22, 2022 urged unity among Muslim countries for protecting their interests in a divided world as he ruled the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation`s (OIC) failures on Kashmir and Palestine disputes and Muslim leaders` infirm stance on Islamophobia and extremism.
• The prime minister, addressing the inaugural session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers` 48th meeting at Parliament House in Islamabad, noted that a new cold war had already begun, which would leave the world split in blocs. `Unless we are united, unless we take a united stand, we will be nowhere,` he cautioned.
• This year`s CFM is being held under the theme of `Partnering for Unity, Justice and Development`. Member states participating in the conference would review the progress made by the 57-member organisation on the resolutions previously adopted by the council and deliberate on the challenges confronting them and the Muslim world in general.
2. Cabinet okays Rs8bn Ramazan package, wheat policy
• The Punjab government held a five-hour long provincial cabinet meeting with nine point agenda at chief minister`s secretariat late on March 22, 2022 and approved Rs8 billion Ramazan package and wheat procurement policy.
• The 52nd meeting also discussed the political situation in the wake of no-confidence motion at the Centre and `disgrunded` factions, particularly the Jahangir Tareen group, within the party. The Tareen group has the support of two ministers and four advisers.
• The group had already boycotted the provincial cabinet meeting taking a plea that its members would not attend any meeting chaired by Chief Minister Buzdar since it was demanding removal of the CM.
3. US-Pakistan talks to focus on regional security issues
• The United States and Pakistan will hold bilateral talks on March 23, 2022, focusing on regional security developments, Afghanistan and Ukraine.
• US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya arrived in Islamabad on Monday to attend the OIC Foreign Ministers Conference, which began on Tuesday.
• Islamabad is holding the two-day conference, despite intense political instability triggered by a no-confidence move against the PTI government. Both opposition and ruling parties agreed to pause their protests and counter-protests for two days to allow OIC delegates to meet and disperse before the infighting resumes.
• Under Secretary Zeya is representing the United States at the conference, which is also attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wi.
4. IMF asks for changes to personal income tax
• At a time when the economy is grappling with political uncertainty, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reiterated its earlier demand asking Islamabad for changes in personal income tax (PIT).
• A staff mission of the IMF held a first round of discussions with tax officials last week and raised the issue of reforms in the PIT to raise maximum revenue, especially from salary incomes.
• Last year, the government did not accept the same demand of the Fund
5. `WB indirectly funding Pakistan coal projects`
• The World Bank has been actively funding coal projects in Pakistan despite making a global no-coal-finance pledge back in 2013, said analysts at a seminar on March 22, 2021 organised by the Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy, a coalition of energy-sector think tanks.
• `The World Bank`s assistance led to a surge in coal investments and over 7,000 megawatts of coal-fired power in Pakistan…
• its rhetoric on coal is different from reality,` said Heike Mainhardt, senior adviser at Urgewald, a Germany-based non-profit organisation