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October 14, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. PM offers to host Saudi, Iranian leaders for talks
• In a bid to defuse rising tensions in the Gulf, Pakistan has taken an initiative by assuming the role of a `facilitator`, inviting both Iran and Saudi Arabia to Islamabad for a dialogue.
• Prime Minister Imran Khan, who met Iran`s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani during his official visit to Tehran on Sunday a couple of days before proceeding to Jeddah, said: `In the past, Pakistan had hosted Saudi Arabia and Iran and is again willing to facilitate the brotherly countries to iron out their differences.
• Mr Khan said it was his own initiative to act as a `facilitator as nobody had asked me to do so`.
• Addressing a joint press conference along with President Rouhani, PM Khan said: `The issue [of Saudi Arabia and Iran relations] is a complex one, but it is possible to sort out differences through dialogue.
2. Economy stagnating amid big deficit, low reserves: WB
• The World Bank has said Pakistan`s economy is slowing as it faces yet another macroeconomic crisis due to high twin deficits and low foreign reserves.
• In the latest edition of its report titled `South Asia Focus: Making (De) centralisation Work`, that was released on October 13, 2019, the Bank noted that with an IMF extended fund facility-supported stabilisation programme in place, the country`s economic growth was expected to remain low in the near term. The outlook for medium-term growth, meanwhile, hinged on the country`s ability to implement necessary structural reforms to boost competitiveness and achieve sustained growth, said the report.
• Progress on poverty reduction was expected to be limited during the macroeconomic adjustment period, it added.
• According to the report, measures to restore macroeconomic stability in Pakistan weigh heavily on growth, which is expected to have dropped to 3.3 per cent.
3. NA speaker to attend IPU Assembly in Belgrade
• National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser left Istanbul for Belgrade on October 13, 2019 to attend the 141st Assembly of the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU).
• The IPU Assembly will take place in Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia, from October 13-17.
• The speaker and the Pakistan parliamentary delegation will participate in the meetings of the governing council, standing committees, committees of parliamentarians on human rights as well as the Forum of Women Parliamentarians and the Forum of Young MPs.
• According to a statement issued by the NA Secretariat, Speaker Asad Qaiser will draw attention of the IPU fraternity towards the heinous crimes against humanity being committed in India-held Kashmir and to help the innocent people of the state in achieving their due right to self-determination, as pledged to them by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
4. Raza Rabbani elected member of IPU executive committee
• In a breakthrough at Belgrade, Senator Raza Rabbani emerged victorious on October 13, 2019 after India withdrew the candidature of Shashi Tharoor for a slot in the prestigious executive committee of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU).
• The IPU is holding its 141st general assembly in the Serbian capital. It opened with a meeting of the IPU`s Asia Pacific Group to decide about its joint nominee for a slot in the executive committee.
• Of the 34 members of the executive committee, Asia has three seats and two of them are already held by China and Thailand. Election to the third seat was to be held on October 13, 2019.
• The term of the executive committee`s member is three years.
5. Royal couple’s visit to cement Pak-UK ties
• The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, will arrive in Pakistan today (October 14) aiming to build a lasting friendship with Pakistan.
• A statement before the royal couple’s visit said they are “looking forward to building a lasting friendship with the people of Pakistan.”
• The royal couple will meet President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan tomorrow (October 15). Following their meeting with President Alvi and PM Khan, the royal couple will pay a visit to Lahore on October 16 and Chitral on October 17.
• The visit comes 13 years after Charles and Camilla – the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwell – toured the country in 2006. Pakistan still vividly remembers the late Princess Diana’s visit in 1996.
6. Japan announces $5.2m aid to support Pak agriculture industry
• Pakistan and Japan are looking for increasing bilateral cooperation in agricultural-based industry and value addition as Japan has already announced grant aid to enhance productivity and capacities in relevant agricultural fields.
• Recently Japan has announced a grand aid of $5.2 million to support Agri-Food and Agro-Industry development in the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces through the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Minister and Deputy Head of Mission.
• The senior diplomat said that this amount would be utilised for enhancement of productivity and capacities of relevant sectors in the cattle meat value chain in districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Abbottabad, Kohistan and D I Khan and apple value chain in province of Balochistan in Quetta, Killa Abdullah and Pishin.
7. IGP posts Zahid Marwat as Kasur DPO
• Punjab Inspector General of Police Arif Nawaz Khan has ordered for the permanent posting of Additional Inspector General (Complaints) and CPO Punjab, Zahid Nawaz Marwat as DPO Kasur.
• This was done in recognition of his meritorious and untiring efforts for tracing and nicking the accused who killed children after sexual assault in Chunian, Kasur. Different businessmen, lawyers and civil society activists from across district Kasur have welcomed the posting of Nawaz Marwat as DPO Kasur and hoped that ever increasing crime rate would drop in his tenure.
October 14, 2019: International Current Affairs
8. Syrian troops sent north to `confront` Turkish attack
• The Syrian army has sent troops to `confront the Turkish aggression` in the north of the country where Ankara is battling Kurdishled forces, the state news agency SANA said on October 13, 2019.
• `Syrian … army units move north to confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory,` SANA said, without giving further details.
• The report came as a Kurdish official said that `negotiations` were underway between the Kurds and the Damascus government.
• `All the options are being examined in the face of the Turkish offensive,` the Kurdish official said.
9. Trump tells Pentagon to begin withdrawing remaining troops from Syria
• The United States is poised to move about 1,000 US troops from northern Syria amid an ongoing Turkish incursion into the region, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on October 13, 2019, calling the situation `untenable` for US forces.
• The pull-back of troops from the region dovetails with President Donald Trump`s long-standing desire for the United States to extract itself from foreign conflicts. It comes after Trump a week ago withdrew some US troops deployed to support Kurdish forces in the fight against the militant Islamic State group.
• That decision, which came under heavy fire from fellow Republicans and allies, helped open the door for Turkey to launch an offensive against the US-backed Kurdish forces, part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who have been America`s most capable partners in quashing IS.
10. UK to send spider robot to moon
• The UK’s first-ever moon rover will launch into space in 2021 in a bid to unlock the secrets of the lunar surface. The tiny, spider-esque robot – which will be the world’s smallest robotic moon rover – will crawl across the moon to take photographs and gather data.
• Developed by London-based star-up Spacebit, the robot forms part of a collaborative mission with US company Astrobotic.
• NASA announced in May that Astrobotic was to be awarded a $79.5m (£65m) contract to transport 14 instruments from various partners to investigate the moon’s “volatile elements” such as hydrogen and oxygen, which could be used for astronaut life support and rocket fuel in the future.
• SpaceBit will be one of those partners, sending the rover to the surface inside Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander.