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November 28, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Comedy of errors turns COAS extension into cliffhanger
• Not happy with what the cabinet did during its two sessions, the Supreme Court on November 27, 2019 provided last opportunity to the federal government to rectify the wrong in its move for granting extension to incumbent Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
• What disturbed the apex court was the fact that after Tuesday`s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan submitted a summary to President Arif Alvi for approval to `reappoint` the army chief on his retirement and the new appointment was made under Article 243(4) of the Constitution, but the notification later issued pertains to the `grant of extension` to the COAS for another term of three years.
• `The words even the nomenclature in the documents shown by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor regarding the cabinet decision of extending the service tenure are different [from one another],` wondered Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa while heading a three-judge bench in a packed to capacity Courtroom No 1.`No one even bothered to read what they are issuing,` the CJP observed regretting the way the law ministry dealt with the issue.
2. Israeli `spyware` invasion forces govt to discard WhatsApp
• The federal Ministry of Information Technology has issued a confidential letter to the authorities concerned, advising them not to use WhatsApp for official correspondence since an Israeli spyware stealthily installed on the software was being used to monitor users` activities, sensitive data and movements.
• `Hostile intelligence` agencies can try to gain access to sensitive information stored or communicated through mobile phones, the letter warned.
• Pegasus, the spyware, has sent a wave of concerns around the globe as it has already infected mobile devices of millions of WhatsApp users since April. WhatsApp has acknowledged the cyber attack and initiated a lawsuit against the Israeli maker of the software
3. First indigenous fast attack craft launched
• The launch ceremony of the first indigenous Fast Attack Craft (Missile)/FAC (M)-4, which is being built for Pakistan Navy, was held at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (K&SEW) on November 27, 2019.
• FAC (M)-4 is a state-of-the-art, multi mission vessel, 63 metres in length and displacement of over 560 tonnes. It is propelled by four shafts and has a speed of 30 knots. It will be equipped with locally built anti-ship missiles and sensors. The vessel has been designed by Maritime Technologies Complex (MTC).
• Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal congratulated Pakistan Navy, MTC and KS&EW for the remarkable achievement towards the national goal of indigenisation and self-reliance. She said that KSEW is one of the few public sector industries which have made a remarkable turnaround in the last decade and transformed into a sustainable profit generating entity of the Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP)
4. Nadeem Raza takes charge as chairman joint chiefs of staff committee
• Gen Nadeem Raza on November 27, 2019 took charge as new Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) in a low-key event at Chaklala.
• `General Nadeem Raza, HI (M) assumed appointment of Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee at Joint Staff Headquarters today,` military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted.
• Gen Raza was on Nov 21 appointed as the 18th CJCSC to succeed Gen Zubair Hayat, who has retired from service on completion of his tenure.
5. Pashto writer Ghazi Sial dies
• Renowned Pashto poet and scholar Ghazi Sial passed away on November 27, 2019 after brief illness.
• He was born in 1935 and was author of more than a dozen books. In recognition of his literary services, he was awarded President’s award for Pride of Performance.
• He has been given the title of ‘Baba Sandara’ in Pashto literature. The literary services of late Ghazi Sial are acknowledged not only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but also in Afghanistan.
6. ECP launches third Strategic Plan 2019-23
• The Election Commission of Pakistan November 27, 2019 launched its third Strategic Plan 2019-2023 as part of its initiative to continue to improve country’s electoral processes.
• Addressing the launching ceremony, Chief Election Commissioner Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza said that following a series of nationwide consultations, reviews and workshops, the ECP has developed this comprehensive third strategic plan document, which will go a long way in improving both the electoral process, and the internal capacity of the Organisation.
• He said the strategic planning process began with the ECP’s post-election review exercise, followed by consultations with all electoral stakeholders, including political parties, civil society, observer groups, women’s organisations, media, and electoral administrators at the district, regional, provincial and national levels and finally several workshops were conducted in coordination with ECP staff in order to fine tune the technical aspect of the process
7. Iran hosts Taliban to discuss Afghan peace process
• Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks in Tehran with a Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group`s founders, and discussed efforts to bring a negotiated end to Afghanistan`s 18-year war, the official IRNA news agency reported on November 27, 2019.
• Zarif expressed Iran`s willingness to support dialogue between all Afghan parties with the participation of the Afghan government, according to IRNA.
• Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted that the meeting took place on Tuesday.
• The Taliban have refused to talk to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani`s government, denouncing it as a US puppet
8. US sending 15 trade delegations to Pakistan next year: Wells
• The United States plans to send15 trade delegations to Pakistan next year to explore possibilities for expanding trade with the country, says Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells.
• The information is included in a paper Ms Wells read at a Washington think-tank, wilson Centre, last week, which focused heavily on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but it also included various suggestions for expanding US-Pakistan trade ties.
• The paper, now posted at the US State Department`s official site, says that the US Commerce Department has `already stepped up its activity in Pakistan with 15 trade delegations planned for the next year` And once the new expanded Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is up and running, `Pakistan is going to be a country of great interest` According to the paper, the DFC will have more than double the investment cap than the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), increasing from $29 billion to $60bn. OPIC is a US government agency which mobilises private capital for overseas investments.
9. US House Judiciary panel invites Trump to Dec 4 impeachment hearing
• The US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee invited President Donald Trump to its first impeachment hearing, scheduled for Dec. 4, starting a new phase of the inquiry that could lead to formal charges against the president within weeks.
• Trump is not required to attend the hearing. But the move allows the president and his legal team access to congressional impeachment procedures that he and other Republicans have denounced as unfair, partly because the White House has not been able to call or cross-examine witnesses. The House Intelligence Committee, which has led the impeachment investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine through weeks of closed-door testimony and televised hearings, is expected to release a formal evidence report shortly after lawmakers return to Congress on Dec. 3 from their Thanksgiving recess.
• The Judiciary panel will use the report to consider formal charges that it could recommend for a full House vote by mid-December. It gave Trump until 6 p.m. (2300 GMT) on Sunday to advise the committee on whether he would attend the hearing, and to indicate by then who would be his counsel
10. Over 1,200-yr-old tomb unearthed in China’s Hebei
• An ancient tomb dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) was found in north China’s Hebei Province, according to the local cultural relics protection department.
• The tomb, which experts believe dates back more than 1,200 years, was discovered by a villager when digging in Duanying Village under Cixian County. A tombstone, two porcelains, 12 potteries and some bronze pieces were also unearthed.
• The inscription on the square-shaped tombstone measuring 45 cm in length and 9 cm in thickness consists of 323 Chinese characters recording the name, birthplace and life story of the tomb owner, and its inscription year in 733. The tomb owner was believed to be a respectable man, said Zhao Xuefeng, a cultural relics expert, adding that the findings can serve as a reference for research on funeral customs and the village’s history.
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