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September 15, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. US expects Pakistan to keep up terror fight
• Formally announcing arrangements to service Pakistan`s fleet of F-16 aircraft, the US State Department said that it views Pakistan as `an important counterterrorism partner` and expects it to `take sustained action against all terrorist groups`.
• Last week, the US State Department approved the potential sale of sustainment and related equipment to Pakistan in a deal valued at up to $450 million, with the principal contractor being Lockheed Martin Corp.
• Responding to queries after his press conference on Tuesday, Spokesperson Ned Price said that as part of its longstanding policy, Washington provides `life cycle maintenance and sustainment packages for US-origin platforms`.
• Mr Price pointed out that the F-16 programme was `an important part of the broader US-Pakistan bilateral relationship, and this proposed sale will sustain Pakistan`s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats by maintaining the F-16 fleet.
2. $150m pledged, but only $38m received so far
• Responding to a flash appeal jointly launched by Pakistan and the United Nations for an initial funding of $160 million, pledges amounting to $150 million have been made and, so far only $38.35 million of this amount has been converted into assistance, the United Nations` Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harneis said.
• `We have been very successful in our fund-raising drive, and pledges of $150 million [arel excellent in the current circumstances. The main donors are the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Denmark, Australia, Singapore and others besides the Central Emergency Response Fund of the United Nations, which raised $10 million,` Mr Haneis told newsmen at a press briefing on relief operations being carried out by the UN.
• He said that although `funding is looking good` the needs across Pakistan in this emergency are fast-changing, with the health situation being especially worrying
3. PA passes local government bill of 2021
• The law governing the (nonexistent for over two years) local governments has been changed once again before even giving a try to the previous one, which was enacted less than three months ago.
• Amidst the boycott of the proceedings by the opposition PML-N and PPP and ignoring the lack of quorum in the house as pointed out by the opposition, the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday passed the Local Government Bill of 2021 repealing the Local Government Act of 2022. The latter was passed by the Hamza government on June 24, 2022.
• The bill has done away with the middle tier tehsil councils in rural and town councils in urban areas of the local government system that has been in vogue since 2002 and was also retained in the 2022 Act. It also reduces the number of seats in a union council: general seats of councillors from six to five, of women reserved seats from three to two and of youths from two to one, whereas three seats were reserved for technocrats and two for disabled persons were also abolished
4. EU seeks $140bn to cope with energy crisis as utilities teeter
• The European Union`s executive outlined plans on September 14, 2022 for raising more than 140 billion euros ($140 billion) to cope with an energy crisis that has increased the prospect of winter fuel rationing, corporate insolvencies and economic recession.
• European gas prices have rocketed this year as Russia has reduced fuel exports to retaliate for Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, leaving households struggling to pay energy bills and utilities grappling with a liquidity crunch.
• European governments have responded with measures ranging from capping prices on consumer electricity and gas bills to offering credit and guarantees to prevent power providers from collapsing under the weight of collateral demands
5. Israeli soldier, two Palestinians killed in West Bank clashes
• An Israeli soldier and two Palestinians were killed in pre-dawn clashes on September 15, 2022 near Jenin in the occupied West Bank, an area hit by waves of recent deadly unrest.
• Israel`s army said a major `was killed overnight during operational activity adjacent to the Gilboa Crossing during an exchange of fire with Palestinian terrorists`.
• The Palestinian health ministry confirmed `the martyrdom of the two young men` in clashes near the checkpoint, which is known to Palestinians as Jalameh, north of the militant stronghold of Jenin