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December 2018

Day by Day Current Affairs (December 31, 2018) | MCQs for CSS, PMS

Important Current Affairs Daily Updates
Written by Shahzad F. Malik

December 31, 2018: National Current Affairs

1. Pak-Qatar coordination to help stabilise Afghanistan: Qureshi

• Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has emphasised that close and regular coordination between Pakistan and Qatar would be helpful in the ongoing efforts to achieve a broad regional understanding for long term stability in Afghanistan and the region.
• During his daylong visit to Doha on December 30, 2018, the foreign minister briefed the Qatari leadership on recent developments concerning peace in Afghanistan and underlined the foresight of the Qatariemir in providing an early foundation for peace and reconciliation effortsin Afghanistan.
• Mr Qureshi called on Deputy Emir of Qatar Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Thani and Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani. He also held a meeting with his Qataricounterpart and Deputy Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani.
• The Qatari deputy emir reiterated his country`s desire for working to achieve peace and stability in the region.
• The two sides stressed the importance of synergy to overcome common hurdles and devise a consensus-based approach to achieve wider regional development and progress, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

2. Critic, writer Dr Saleem Akhtar passes away

• Renowned critic, short story writer and educationist Dr Saleem Akhtar passed away on December 30, 2018. He was 84.
• He was a giant of Urdu literature with a big contribution to it, not only in form of books he had written but a long career teaching. He wrote 88 books on different topics in various genres, including short stories, novelettes, travelogues, textbooks, criticism, psychology, religion and culture.
• Dr Saleem Akhtar was born in Lahore on March 11, 1934. He got his early education in Pune, India, where his father was posted in military accounts. He did matriculation from Faizul Islam High School, Rawalpindi, and BA from Govt Degree College, Lower Mall, Rawalpindi. After a brief stint with a newspaper in Peshawar, he left the job and did MA Urdu as a private candidate. He also did a diploma in Library Sciences. His master`s degree got him a job as a lecturer at Emerson College, Multan in 1962 where he taught for eight years before being transferred to the Govt College, Lahore. During his teaching career, he also completed his PhD. He retired from the college as assistant professor in 1994.

3. DR Congo votes after two-year delay

• After two years of delays, crackdowns and political turmoil, the Democratic Republic of Congo voted on December 30, 2018 in presidential elections that will determine the future of Africa`s notoriously unstable giant.
• The vote gives the DRC the chance of its first peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
• Analysts, though, say the threat of upheaval is great, given organisational hitches and suspicion of President Joseph Kabila, who refused to quit in 2016 after his two-term limit expired.
• The election`s credibility has been strained by repeated delays, fears of chaos on polling day and accusations that electronic voting machines would help to rig the result.
• On election eve, talks aimed at averting violence after the vote broke down.

4. GB team wins Naltar ski championship

• Showcasing some extraordinary performances, the GB Ski Association clinched the Sadia Khan Ski Cup 2018 on December 30, 2018.
• Skiers of different ski associations from all across Pakistan participated in the championship.
• The closing ceremony was held at the PAF Ski Resort Naltar on December 30, 2018.
• Civil and military officials were also present at the ceremony. Base Commander, PAF Base Kalabagh, Air Commodore Asim Ijaz was the chief guest.

December 31, 2018: International Current Affairs

5. Talks move to Saudi Arabia as US, Taliban mark positions

• Afghan Taliban said on December 30, 2018 they would meet US officials in Saudi Arabia next month as the Trump administration created more space for its negotiators to man oeuvre by not outlining a pullout plan.
• `We will meet US officials in Saudi Arabia in January and we will start our talks that remained incomplete in Abu Dhabi,` a member of the Taliban Leadership Council told Reuters news agency.
• Diplomatic sources in Washington said that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who visited Qatar on Sunday to discuss the Afghan peace initiative with Qatari leaders, may also visit Saudi Arabia soon.
• Last week, Mr Qureshi wrapped up a whirlwind, three-day tour ofAfghanistan, Iran, China and Russia to promote `a regional approach` for resolving the Afghan dispute.
• By December 30, 2018, it became clear that the US and Taliban were both marking their positions for the next round of talks in Saudi Arabia. While the US rescinded an earlier plan to recall half of its 14,000 troops from Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group wanted to reach an agreement with the US before engaging with the Afghan government.

6. Hasina ‘wins’ Bangladesh polls after deadly vote day

• Sheikh Hasina’s party, the Bangladesh Awami League, December 30, 2018 won controversial general elections marred by violence.
• The local media said that Hasina’s ruling Awami League party easily crossed the 151 seats needed to form a majority government.
• The Awami League and its allies had won 191 seats, said reports. While the Opposition coalition, which has called the results as “farcical”, managed only five seats.

7. India killed 355 Kashmiris in 2018

• A human rights organization says that a total of 355 people lost their lives to Indian state terrorism in Kashmir in 2018.
• The deceased included a 10-year-old boy, a pregnant woman, two-mentally challenged men, a senior journalist and three PhD scholars, according the report released by the International Forum for Justice and Human Rights (IFJHR).
• As many as 95 cordon and search operations took place in Kashmir in the year in which 120 houses were destroyed, reported the Kashmir Media Service (KMS) citing the report.
• It said in all 355 Kashmiri Muslims and 95 Indian forces’ personnel lost their lives in the year 2018.
• The report stated that Musharraf Fayaz (10) died after getting injured in an explosion in Shopian in January, while a pregnant woman, Firdousa, lost her life to troops’ bullets.
• Senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari was also shot dead outside his office at the Press Enclave.
• The report said November happened to be the bloodiest month with 49 killings. It marked April 1, as the deadliest single day, when 20 people were killed, while over 200 were injured in the occupied valley.

8. UK to establish new overseas military bases after Brexit

• Currently Britain has several overseas military bases, including bases on Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and the Indian Ocean, but is reportedly planning to expand its global military presence.
• London is planning to set up new military bases in the Caribbean and in Southeast Asia after it completes the Brexit process, The Sunday Telegraph reported, citing British Secretary of State of Defence Gavin Williamson. He reportedly called Brexit “the biggest moment” for the UK since the end of the Second World War and said that it would allow London to “recast ourselves in a different way” and “play the role on the world stage that the world expects [the UK] to play”.
• “For so long — literally for decades — so much of our national view point has actually been coloured by a discussion about the European Union. This is our moment to be that true global player once more”, he said.
• British artillery soldiers are pictured after a shooting session during the ‘Dynamic Front 18’ exercise in Grafenwoehr, near Eschenbach, southern Germany, on March 7, 2018.

9. Fire-resistant Xuan paper developed for precious calligraphy

• Today’s Chinese artists now have the opportunity to preserve their works much longer than the masters who painted hundreds of years ago.
• Chinese researchers have developed a non-flammable version of Xuan paper that has high thermal stability, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
• Xuan paper, a type of handmade paper, was originally produced in ancient China and used for both Chinese calligraphy and paintings. The procedure of making Xuan paper was listed as a world intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2009.
• The raw materials need to produce Xuan paper are found in Jingxian County, east China’s Anhui Province and as of late, are in short supply.
• The traditional handmade method of Xuan paper involves more than 100 steps and takes nearly two years. It has a low output and high cost. Xuan paper made with organic materials often suffers from degradation, yellowing and deteriorating properties during the long-term natural aging process.

10. China launches human voice speech synthesis system

• A Mongolian speech synthesis system that makes machines speak the language as naturally as humans has been launched in Hohhot, capital of north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
• The “Aoyun” Mongolian speech synthesis system was developed by the Mongolian text information processing technology lab under the College of Computer Science of Inner Mongolia University.
• The system adopts advanced deep learning technology and cloud service framework in text correction and special character conversion, and the resulting voice is as natural and fluent as a real person.

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