January 2019

Day by Day Current Affairs (January 28, 2019) | MCQs for CSS, PMS

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January 28, 2019: National Current Affairs

1. Taliban, US, Pakistan hail progress in peace talks

• Afghan Taliban on January 27, 2019 acknowledged that progress had been made in talks held last week in Qatar but denied reaching any agreement with their American interlocutors on a ceasefire and talks with the Afghan government.
• In a brief statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the meeting between their political of fice in Doha and special US representative Zalmay Khalilzad held for six consecutive days had finally come to an end.
• `In accordance with the agenda,this round of negotiations revolving around the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and other vital issues saw progress,` he said.
• `But since issues are of critical nature and need comprehensive discussions, therefore it was decided that talks about unresolved matters will resume in similar future meetings in order to find an appropriate and effective solution and also to share details of the meetings and receive guidance from their respective leaderships, the statement read.It made it clear that until the issue of withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan was agreed upon, progress on `other issues i s impossible`.
• The statement ran counter to media reports about a `rather definitive` agreement on the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

2. Work on 900km Pak-Afghan border fence completed: army

• The army has said that work on a 900-kilometrelong portion of fence along the Pak Afghan border has been completed.
• Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said work on about 1,200km chunk the most sensitive portion out of the total 2,600km border with the war-torn country had commenced last year.
• The project would cost about Rs70 billion, which included the cost of gadgets and surveillance equipment to keep strict vigil on the illicit movement from across the border.
• The fence had helped check the movement of terrorists from across the border and the situation would further improve after the completion of the project next year.
• About 1,200km of the total 2,600km border with Afghanistan was in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the rest in Balochistan.

3. Pakistan makes poor use of its water resources: report

• A new report of the World Bank says Pakistan gets a poor economic return from its significant water resources, observing that the best use of water endowment is not made in the country.
• The economic costs from poor water and sanitation, floods and droughts are conservatively estimated to be four per cent of the GDP, or around $12 billion per year. These costs are dominated by the costs of poor water supply and sanitation, says the report titled `Pakistan Getting More from Water`.
• The economic costs of degradation of the Indus delta are estimated to be around $2 billion per year, while the costs of pollution and other environmental degradation have not been assessed.
• These estimates of economic benefits and costs cannot be directly compared or aggregated, but they demonstrate that the country gets a poor economic return from its significant water resource.
• The country does not make the best use of its water endowment and the water use is heavily dominated by agriculture, which contributes around one-fifth of the national GDP, but less than half of this is from irrigated cropping.
• Irrigation contributes around $22 billion to annual GDP.
• The four major crops wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane that represent nearly 80pc of all water use generate less than 5pc of the GDP around $14 billion per year. Other economic contributions from water are difficult to accurately assess, but hydropower generation is economically significant, with a current market value of $1 billion to $2 billion.

4. Water experts reached in India to inspect projects

• A three-member delegation of Pakistani water experts reached India through Wagha border crossing on January 28, 2019 to inspect hydro-power projects being undertaken by India at Chenab Basin.
• Led by Pakistan`s Indus Water Commissioner Syed Mehr Ali Shah, the delegation will visit Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai, Ratle and other projects on the Chenab during its six-day stay in India. It will return on Feb 1.
• The visit is being undertaken as an obligation under the Indus Waters Treaty signed between Pakistan and India back in 1960.
• The agreement mandates the water commissioners of Pakistan and India to inspect sites and works on both sides of the Indus basin in a block of five years.
• At least 118 visits on both the sides have been undertaken since signing of the treaty.
• The first visit of the current five-year block, which ends in March 2020, was kept pending by India. Earlier, it was scheduled in October 2018 but New Delhi delayed it on the excuse of local body elections in occupied Kashmir.

5. Govt imposes ban on import of furnace oil

• After protests by local refineries, the government has notified a complete ban on import of furnace oil, ending an earlier exemption allowed to K-Electric.
• The decision was reportedly taken at a recent meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE), presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The government had ordered a ban on import of furnace oil last month, but the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) was granted an exemption in the case of the furnace oil. However, local refineries protested over the decision. The PSO has a long-term furnace oil supply contract with the KE.
• Chairman of Oil Companies` Advisory Council (OCAC) Adil Khattak who was also managing director of Attock Refinery wrote letters to the petroleum division questioning the justification for allowing furnace oil imports for KE which was the only constant consumer with 4000-5000 tonnes per day consumption.
• He believed that the ban on import of the product for other power plants was meaningless given their seasonal needs only at the time of canal closures and low gas supplies.

January 28, 2019: International Current Affairs

6. Malaysia stripped of sports event over Israeli ban

• Malaysia has been stripped of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships for threatening to refuse to allow Israeli athletes to take part, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on January 27, 2019.
• The decision was taken after the Malaysian authorities `failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli Para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination, and safely in the championships`, the IPC said in a statement.
• IPC President Andrew Parsons said: `When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new championships host. All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination.
• The championships, a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, were due to take place in Kuching from July 29 to Aug 4.

7. Finland breaks European record for lowest temperature

• Winters in Finland are often frigid but meteorologists say the Nordic nation’s Lapland region has produced Europe’s coldest temperature this winter at minus 38.7 degrees Celsius (minus 37.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
• Meteorologist Ari-Juhani Punkka from the Finnish Meteorological Institute told Finnish public broadcaster YLE on Sunday that Finland and northeastern Europe were now hosting the continent’s coldest air masses, ones that “are Arctic in nature.”
• This winter’s coldest temperature in Europe outside of Russia was measured early on Sunday in the Sodankyla municipality, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of the Arctic Circle.
• Frigid temperatures are common in Lapland, the northernmost part of Finland, which covers one-third of the nation’s land mass and is a popular tourist destination

January 28, 2019: Sports Current Affairs

8. `Racist remark` brings Sarfraz four-match suspension

• The International Cricket Council handed Sarfraz Ahmed a four match suspension on January 27, 2019 after a `racist remark` made by the Pakistan captain was picked up by a stump microphone in South Africa last week.
• Sarfraz was heard making a comment in Urdu about Andile Phehlukwayo during last week`s one day international in Durban, where the South African all-rounder formed a match-winning partnership with Rassie van der Dussen.
• The comment could be translated as: `Hey black guy, where`s your mother sitting today? What (prayer) have you got her to say for you today?` The global cricket governing body`s chief executive David Richardson while announcing the ban said that the ICC `has a zero-tolerance policy towards conduct of this nature`.
• The ICC said Sarfraz would undergo a programme to educate him on issues directly relevant to the offence he had committed and would work with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to determine when and how this would take place.
• Sarfraz later apologised for the comment.

9. Pakistan hammer SA to force series decider

• Pakistan shrugged off a four match suspension imposed on captain Sarfraz Ahmed with a crushing eight-wicket win over South Africa in the fourth One-day International at the Wanderers Stadium on January 27, 2019.
• The result levelled the five-match series at 2-2. The deciding match will be in Cape Town on Wednesday.
• Pakistan`s bowlers set up the win, bowling out South Africa for 164.
• Imam-ul-Haq made 71 before playing a loose shot when the scores were level as Pakistan cruised to victory with 18.3 overs to spare.

10. Devastating Djokovic routs Nadal for record seventh Australian Open title

• In a breathtakingly mistake-free performance that yielded a remarkably lopsided result, the top-ranked Djokovic overwhelmed Nadal 6-3, 6-2,6-3 on January 27, 2019 night to win a record seventh Australian Open championship and a third consecutive Grand Slam title, raising his count to 15 overall.
• Novak Djokovic was so good, so relentless, so flawless, that Rafael Nadal never stood a chance.
• Djokovic reduced one of the greats of the game to merely another outclassed opponent as he condemned Nadal to the most stinging defeat in their long Grand Slam rivalry.

Day by Day Current Affairs (January 27, 2019) | MCQs for CSS, PMS

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