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June 28, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Islamabad, Kabul agree to reboot ties
• Pakistan and Afghanistan on June 27, 2019 agreed to reboot their bilateral relations, which have remained mired in mistrust for long, by developing a `forward-looking vision` based on cooperation instead of political competition.
• This consensus was reflected in a statement issued by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) after Prime Minister Imran Khan`s one-on-one meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and delegation-level talks between the two sides in which the state of relations was reviewed.
• President Ghani is on a two-day visit to Pakistan.
• The visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation in political, trade, economic and security fields and forging stronger and multifaceted ties. The visit is, moreover, taking place amid hopes of progress in US-Taliban talks leading to initiation of intra-Afghan dialogue, and ahead of Afghan presidential elections scheduled for September.
2. Final version of budget to be shared with IMF by July 1
• The government is expecting final passage from the National Assembly of the Finance Bill 2019-20 on Friday (June 28, 2019), after which the next stop will be the International Monetary Fund (IMF) board meeting, which is currently scheduled for July 3.
• The final budget measures passed by the assembly along with a report on compliance with all prior actions will be key elements in the board`s decision to grant Pakistan`s request for accession to a $6 billion bailout facility. The final, approved version of the budget and finance bill are expected to be transmitted to the Fund by Monday, a senior government official familiar with the process told Dawn.
• `Completion of all prior actions has paved the way for the board meeting on third of July. Sharing of budget approved by the parliament was one of the prior actions, said a senior official of the ministry of finance on condition of not being named in view of the board meeting`s sensitivity. He said the budget approval was the final thing for Pakistan to deliver before the IMF meeting. `The latest exchange rate, SBP policy rate, electricity and gas rates and budget approval were the key prior actions,` the official said.
3. AJK assembly passes Rs121.56 billion budget
• The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly on June 27, 2019 passed the budget for 2019-20, amounting to Rs121.
• 56 billion, including Rs 97 billion for recurring expenditures and Rs 24.56 billion for developmental activities.
• Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Nagi presented a total of 32 demands for grant which were unanimously approved by the treasury benches in the absence of the opposition.
• Many of the 11 opposition lawmakers had opted to stay away from the budget session for one or the other reason and the few who were present also staged a walkout on a trivial issue at the time of presentation of demands for grant.
4. Statue of Ranjit Singh unveiled on his 180th death anniversary
• In a colourful ceremony, the statue of the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh was unveiled at the Lahore Fort, at the Mai Jinda`s Haveli, on June 27, 2019 evening. The nine feet tall statue, made of cold bronze, shows the regal Sikh emperor sitting on a horse, sword in hand, complete in Sikh attire.
• Sculpted by local artists, under the aegis of the Fakir Khana Museum, the statue is meant to invoke the feeling of the emperor being present, with its real life proportions, and was unveiled on his 180th death anniversary. Ranjt Singh passed away in 1839.
• The unveiling ceremony was highlighted by some daring `gatka` performances, or Sikh martial arts, where young boys displayed the different styles of attacking and sparring with various tools, including sticks that intend to simulate swords, a spiked ball and chain, and other weapons.
June 28, 2019: International Current Affairs
5. US-Taliban talks resume tomorrow
• The next round of peace talks between the United States and Taliban begins in Doha, Qatar, on June 27, 2019 amid renewed hopes for a rapid progress in ending the 18-year-old war.
• Both sides are hoping to finalise a draft text, addressing key issues like withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, a nationwide ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks.
• A Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told US broadcasting network, VOA, that the Afghan peace process was `progressing …steadily (and) gradually`. He hoped that the process `may gain momentum, paving the way for the Afghans to sit together and chart a roadmap for a future Islamic system and government`.
6. Controversial South America-Europe trade deal `up in the air`
• A blockbuster trade deal between Europe and South America remained uncertain on June 27, 2019 as key negotiators tried to clinch a breakthrough and deliver a blow against Trump-led protectionism.
• Ministers from the South American trade bloc known as Mercosur were locked into a second day of negotiations with top EU officials in hopes of sealing what would be one of the world`s biggest regional trade deals.
• The EU has been in talks with the countries of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) for two decades, with talks stumbling repeatedly over the highly sensitive beef market, with cattle farmers in Europe furiously against any deal.
7. Indonesian court upholds President Widodo`s victory
• Indonesia`s constitutional court on June 27, 2019 rejected a bid to overturn President Joko Widodo`s re-election victory and dismissed his defeated challenger`s claims of widespread voter fraud as groundless.
• The court threw out the case lodged by ex-general Prabowo Subianto, saying he did not prove he lost the April vote because of widespread cheating and voter fraud allegations that sparked deadly rioting in the capital of the world`s third-biggest democracy. `The plaintiff`s case is legally groundless,` said chief Justice Anwar Usman. `We reject [his] demand in its entirety.
• The ruling paves the way for Widodo and vice-presidential running mate Ma`ruf Amin to be inaugurated later this year.
8. Twitter announces action against politicians` rule-breaking tweets
• Twitter said on June 27, 2019 it would label and `deprioritise` tweets from officials and politicians that violate its rules a move potentially affecting the prodigious output of US President Donald Trump.
• The new policy enables Twitter to move against rule-breaking comments on the short-messaging service while enabling messages and announcements that are important for public debate.
• In these cases, users will see a notice about a tweet which violates the rules and must then tap or click through to see the message.
• Twitter also will `take steps to make sure the tweet is not algorithmically elevated on our service, to strike the right balance between enabling free expression, fostering accountability, and reducing the potential harm caused by these tweets` according to a statement from the Twitter safety team.
9. Russia releases first whales held in ‘jail’
• A number of whales and orcas captured to perform in aquariums and held in cramped pens have been released into the wild, but experts warned the mammals may not survive after being held in captivity for months.
• The release of six beluga and two killer whales into the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia’s far east came after a huge international outcry over the holding in captivity of nearly 100 of the marine mammals.
• However, scientists and activists criticised the move, saying it was not transparent and did not follow a previously agreed roadmap. They also warned the orcas may not survive in the wild.
June 28, 2019: Sports Current Affairs
10. Kohli`s India end West Indies World Cup hopes
• Skipper Virat Kohli`s gritty half-century and an incisive bowling performance powered India to a comprehensive 125-run win over West Indies at Old Trafford on June 27, 2019, all but assuring them of a spot in the World Cup semifinals.
• Kohli top-scored with 72 to lay the foundations for India`s 268 for seven after electing to bat first.The Indian bowlers, led by paceman Mohammed Shami, then dismissed West Indies for 143 in 34.2 overs to end the West Indies` hopes of progressing.
• India, who have displaced England as the top-ranked ODI team, remain the only unbeaten side in the tournament and need just one victory from their remaining three league games to guarantee a semi-finals berth. West Indies joined Afghanistan and South Africa as the three teams to bow out of the race for the final four so far.