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May 11, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. Govt advises vigilance in view of new Covid variant
• On the directions of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the federal and provincial health authorities as well as representatives of the army gathered on May 10, 2022 to discuss the situation emerging after the first case of a more transmissible variant of Covid-19 was detected in the country.
• The meeting created an impression that the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), which dealt with Covid-19 for two years, had been revived. Electronic media also reported the news, attributing it to the prime minister and the information minister.
• However, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) clarified that the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre at National Institute of Health (NIH) had already replaced the NCOC and will continue functioning till eradication of the pandemic
2. Resolution against president a non-starter in `friendly` NA
• Despite the absence of a full opposition bench, the government on May 10, 2022 failed to move a planned resolution in the National Assembly to `condemn` President Dr Arif Alvi for allegedly violating the Constitution by delaying and then rejecting the prime minister`s advice regarding the removal of the Punjab governor.
• However, a small opposition group managed to disrupt proceedings of the house by pointing out lack of quorum, forcing the chair to abruptly adjourn the sitting until Wednesday.
• The quorum problem was pointed out by Ghous Bux Mahar of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) when two federal ministers belonging to the ruling PML-N Ayaz Sadiq and Javed Latif had already delivered speeches after Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf allowed a debate on the president`s conduct
3. Level of Pakistan`s participation in UN food meeting still unclear
• The UN food security meeting that Pakistan has been invited to starts next week but it`s still not clear if Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will physically attend the meet.
• `He has both options, to be in New York for the meeting or address it virtually from Islamabad,` a diplomatic source told Dawn.
• A source at the Foreign Office in Islamabad said the foreign minister is likely to decide about his participation in a day or two. In the meantime, Mr Bhutto-Zardari and his close aides are holding consultations over the matter
4. Govt assures WB of reform push in upcoming budget
• Amid a rising fiscal deficit because of heavy fuel and energy subsidies, Pakistan on May 10, 2022 assured the World Bank (WB) it would push through reforms in the upcoming budget for fiscal consolidation to build economic resilience.
• The assurance was given by Minister of Finance Miftah Ismail to a WB delegation led by Hartwig Schafer, Vice President, South Asia Region, at the conclusion of a two-day visit during which they held meetings with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and ministers for planning and energy.
• Critical of the tariff subsidies at the rate of Rs5 per unit announced by former prime minister Imran Khan on February 28 in the middle of a political crisis, WB has been asking the authorities to withdraw or phase out the fresh subsidy package because the circular debt was estimated to increase by more than Rs500 billion during the current fiscal year.
5. Sindh cabinet approves draft law on e-tagging of habitual criminals
• The Sindh cabinet on May 10, 2022 took a decision with a majority vote on e-tagging of habitual criminals in view of an alarming surge in street crimes in the metropolis.
• The cabinet meeting, presided over by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, decided to allow afExing of an electronic device to the body of habitual offenders for effective monitoring of their movement. The decision was taken although some members of the cabinet opposed it, arguing that the measure was a violation of human rights.
• E-tagging is a tool of surveillance through the device and is proposed to be affixed to the body of a criminal or suspected criminal at large on bail or parole