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May 11, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Pak-IMF talks extended for two days
• Talks between Pakistan and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for new loan programme ended inclusively on May 10, 2019 mainly due to the differences on increasing taxes to control deficit in upcoming budget.
• The government and the IMF were supposed to announce a staff-level agreement yesterday (Friday). However, talks are extended for another two days to make a breakthrough after both sides failed to make consensus on loan deal. “Pakistan and the visiting IMF Mission have made good progress in their discussions. Consultations will continue over the weekend,” the ministry of finance said in a brief handout.
• Pakistan has accepted all IMF’s conditions except imposing taxes worth of Rs700 billion in budget for next fiscal year. The IMF is asking Pakistan to impose massive taxes equivalent to 1.7 percent of the GDP (Rs700 billion) to control the widening budget deficit. However, the government believes that massive taxation would result in increase in inflation rate, which is already on the way up. Inflation had touched 5-year highest level of 9.41 percent in March this year. The government has assured the Fund that it would impose taxes worth of Rs500 billion while rest of the amount could be collected through enforcement measures. However, the proposal was turned down by the IMF.
2. Iran ‘disrupting’ border fencing
• Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan, a paramilitary force, May 10, 2019 informed the Senate panel that Iran was creating hurdles in Pakistan’s effort to fence the Pak-Iran border.
• Lt Colonel Hussain of the FC (South) informed the Senate Standing Committee on Interior that Pakistan was “facing resistance from Iran, not overtly but covertly, in its efforts to fence the border” to block infiltration of terrorists as well as smuggling.
• “When we start fencing work, Iran creates problems for us,” the official said adding that though Iran officially used to say that it was ready to help Pakistan in fencing the border.
• The official was responding to the questions of lawmakers regarding the Ormara incident. JUI-F lawmaker Senator Talha Mahmood had inquired from the FC whether it was not a failure of the civil armed force that more than 15 terrorists allegedly came from Iran and killed 14 passengers near Ormara area of Balochistan.
3. Vice Admiral Niazi takes over as Karachi commander
• Vice Admiral Mohammad Amjad Khan Niazi assumed office as Karachi Commander while Vice Admiral Asif Khaliq took over as Pakistan Fleet Commander in separate ceremonies held at the Pakistan Navy Dockyard and PNS Bahadur on May 10, 2019.
• Upon assumption of command, Vice Admiral Niazi is now the commander of all training units of the Pakistan Navy in Karachi.
• Whereas, Vice Admiral Khaliq is now the Operational Commander of Pakistan Navy`s fleet, including ships, fast attack craft (missile), submarines and aviation units.
• Vice Admiral Mohammad Amjad Khan Niazi joined Pakistan Navy in 1983. Also a recipient of the Sword of Honour, the officer has an illustrious career with wide-ranging experience of various command and staff appointments. His major command appointments include commanding officer of PNS Badr, commanding officer of PNS Tariq, commander 18th Destroyer Squadron, commandant PNS Bahadur and commandant Pakistan Navy War College, Lahore. His distinguished staff appointments include director naval operations, principal secretary to Chief of the Naval Staff, director general naval intelligence, deputy chief of the naval staff (training and evaluation) at the Naval Headquarters and chief naval overseer (China).
4. Alpine Club, ministry join hands to launch Clean and Green Pakistan drive
• The Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) has joined hands with Ministry of Climate Change for launching a Clean and Green Pakistan drive.
• The Alpine Club of Pakistan National Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Federation itself and through its affiliated units would mobilise 100,000 people to engage them in voluntary work. Seminars, workshops, clean and green hikes, photographic and painting competitions and exhibitions as well as conferences on various themes of caring for the environment would be organised.
• A letter of understanding was signed between Climate Change Secretary Hassan Nasir Jamy and ACP President Abu Zafar Sadiq.
May 11, 2019: International Current Affairs
5. Indian jets intercept foreign cargo plane flying from Karachi
• Indian Air Force fighter jets forced a Georgian cargo plane flying from Karachi to New Delhi to land in Jaipur on May 10, 2019 after it allegedly violated Indian airspace.
• The An-12 aircraft was intercepted by two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets after it deviated from its scheduled flight path, the Indian Air Force (IAF) said.
• `The aircraft did not follow the authorised Air Traffic Services route and was not responding to radio calls from Indian controlling agencies,` the IAF said in a statement. `The aircraft was shadowed and forced to land at Jaipur for necessary investigation.
• Hundreds of commercial and cargo flights have been affected by continuing tensions between India and Pakistan after their tit-for-tat air strikes in February.
• Restrictions over Pakistani airspace have forced international airlines, including those from India, to take costly and lengthy detours.
6. China indicts former Interpol chief on bribery charges
• Chinese prosecutors indicted former Interpol president Meng Hongwei on May 10, 2019 on charges of accepting bribes, the latest development in a case that began with his disappearance while on a journey to Beijing.
• The announcement from the prosecutor`s office in the northeastern city of Tianjin said Meng had abused his positions, including as a vice minister of public security and head of the maritime police to `illegaly accept cash and property in return for performing favours for others.` `The amounts were especially huge,` the statement said.
• Earlier, the ruling Communist Party`s disciplinary committee said an investigation found that Meng abused his power in order to satisfy his family`s `extravagant lifestyle.` Meng was formally arrested last month afterbeing expelled from public office and the party. While serving at Interpol, Meng retained his title as a vice minister of public security.
7. Israel lifts Gaza fishing ban as calm returns
• Israel lifted a ban on May 10, 2019 on Palestinian fishing boats operating off Gaza, an Israeli military body said, ending a measure imposed during a deadly flare-up of violence earlier this month.
• The fishing union in Gaza confirmed the lifting of the ban, saying the new limits imposed by Israel were 12 nautical miles in the southern half of Gaza, and six nautical miles in the north.
• The Israeli navy often fires on Gazan boats it says have exceeded the limits.
8. US B-52 bombers land in Qatar after unspecified Iran threat
• B-52 bombers ordered by the White House to deploy to the Persian Gulf to counter unspecified threats from Iran have arrived at a major American air base in Qatar, the US Air Force acknowledged on May 10, 2019.
• Images released by the US Air Force`s Central Command show B-52H Strato fortress bombers arriving at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on May 9, 2019 night.
• Others landed at an undisclosed location in `southwest Asia,` the Air Force said. The US military in the past has described its presence at both the Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates and Al Udeid as `southwest Asia.
• The Air Force identified the aircraft as coming f rom the 20th Bomb Squadron of Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
9. Conflicts displaced over 10m people last year, says study
• Conflict forced more than 10 million people to flee their homes to live elsewhere within their own country last year, bringing the total number of people internally displaced by violence to a record high.
• The new figure brings the total number of people currently living in internal displacement due to violence to 41.3m, an all-time high, according to a report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
• `It is really a mind-boggling figure,` NRC chief Jan Egeland told reporters in Geneva.
May 11, 2019: Sports Current Affairs
10. Former Sri Lankan cricketers charged with match-fixing
• Former Sri Lankan Test players Nuwan Zoysa and Avishka Gunawardene have been charged with match-fixing and given two weeks to respond, the International Cricket Council announced May 10, 2019.
• The charges against the two cricketers relate to a T10 league played in the United Arab Emirates in December, the ICC said.
• Zoysa was charged under four counts, including for `being a party to an agreement to influence improperly the result, progress, conductor the respects of a match`.
• The ICC slapped two charges against Gunawardene, one for soliciting a match-fixing breach and the other for failing to inform the Anti-Corruption Unit of the ICC.
• The charges are the latest in a spate of match-fixing controversies to hit former world champions Sri Lanka in recent months.