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China on October 15, 2018 endorsed Pakistan`s request to International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance for addressing its economic challenges, but cautioned that the facility should not affect economic cooperation between Islamabad and Beijing.
`As a member of the IMF, China supports the organisation in making an objective evaluation of Pakistan based on professionalism and earnestly helping it properly address the current difficulty,` Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at his press briefing in Beijing.
Pakistan had last week formally applied for IMF assistance to deal with the impending balance of payments crisis. Although, it isn`t clear as yet how much money Pakistan could be requiring, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the country could need around $12 billion to deal with the problem.
A team of IMF officials is scheduled to visit Islamabad on Nov 7 for talks on the size of the loan facility that Pakistan would be requiring. As IMF considers Pakistan`s request, its Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said that the lender would need to determine the debt sustainability of the country by having `a complete understanding and absolute transparency about the nature, size and terms` of its debt.
2. No new tax in Rs648 billion KP budget
The PTI government on October 15, 2018 unveiled its sixth consecutive annual budget for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The 2018-19 budget with an outlay of Rs648 billion, which also includes the estimates for the first four months of the fiscal year already authorised by the last caretaker government, carries a surplus of Rs30 billion.
No new provincial tax has been introduced in the budget proposals tabled by finance minister Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra in the provincial assembly.
Speaker Mushtaq Ghani chaired the budget session.
Unlike the previous governments in the centre and three provinces, the last PTI-led coalition government was unable to present the annual budget before the July 25 general elections due to a lack of adequate number of MPAs. Political uncertainty had forced it to skip the budget.
According to the budget estimates, the provincial government anticipates receiving Rs648 billion from various sources, which is almost 30 per cent higher than the actual receipts of the 2017-18 financial year.
Of the total budgeted revenue, Rs360 billion will be received from the federal tax assignments, Rs43.31 billion as compensation for war against terrorism, Rs22.324 billion on account of straight transfers, Rs25.293 billion as arrears of net hydel profit and Rs41.262 billion as own provincial receipts both tax and non-tax.
3. President inaugurates measles vaccination campaign
President Dr Arif Alvi on October 15, 2018 inaugurated the nationwide measles vaccination campaign by administering vaccine to a child.
During the two-week-long campaign from Oct 15 to 27 around 32 million children aging from nine to 60 months would be vaccinated across the country.
Children are the future of Pakistan so they should be protected from diseases. Moreover it is the right of every child to be vaccinated.
4. Navy’s exercise Seaspark-18 begins
Pakistan Navy’s maritime exercise Seaspark-18 began here on October 15, 2018.
The purpose of the exercise is to assess war preparedness and validate operation plans of Pakistan Navy taking cognizance of emerging regional and global challenges.
The exercise spanning over two months will be conducted in the Arabian Sea all along the Pakistan coast from Jiwani to Sir Creek.
All operational units of Pakistan Navy, including ships, submarines, aircraft, UAVs, Special Forces and Pak Marines along with elements of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), Pak Army and Pakistan Air Force are participating in the exercise.
At the opening ceremony, Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff (Operations) presented the overview of the exercise, followed by a presentation of operational plans by the Force Commanders.
5. Gen Hayat in Washington to attend military chiefs meeting
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat arrived in Washington on October 15, 2018 to attend an international conference on countering violent extremist organisations.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, hosts this annual event, known as the Chiefs of Defence conference.
This two-day event would be the third Joint Staff-sponsored conference on counter-terrorism and is expected to be the largest to date. The first meeting was held on Oct 16, 2016, at Joint Base Andrews, Md, while the second was held at Fort Belvoir, VA. Both bases are close to the US capital.
Approximately 40 chiefs of defence attended the first conference while more than70 participated in the second.
The main purpose of this event is to promote `unity of effort as well as for improved cooperadon and coHaboradon to counter violent extremism’.
October 16, 2018: International Current Affairs
6. China pledges access for Dutch companies
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed pledges on October 15, 2018 to open up his country to foreign investment as a way of promoting commerce between his country and the Netherlands.
However, Li said nothing about trade policies that are the target of US and European complaints and have triggered a damaging trade war with Washington.
Pointing to deals done in July with German companies, Li said his government would fast track Dutch applications to establish themselves in China.
Li said he expects contracts worth $10 billion (8.6bn euros) to be signed between Dutch and Chinese companies during his two-day visit to the Netherlands.
7. India, China agree to jointly train Afghan diplomats
India and China have launched a programme to impart training to 10 Afghan diplomats which will be followed by similar joint plans to help rebuild the war-torn country, said China`s Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui on October in a speech.
`This is just the beginning. China and India have respective advantages. For example, India has remarkable edge in agriculture and medical services, and China in hybrid rice and poverty reduction, he said.
In many of these countries, China is helping to build infrastructure as part of its Belt and
Road Initiative, which India see as a bid by China to expand its influence.
China`s call for partnership comes just a week after its embassy in New Delhi said India and China must deepen their cooperation to fight trade protectionism, as it criticised the United States for what it termed provoking disputes.
8. Turkey suspends over 250 officials for `terror links`
Turkey has suspended more than 250 senior local officials over alleged terror links and activities unrelated to their posts, the interior ministry said on October 15, 2018, in the latest purge of the country`s bureaucracy.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu removed 259 local neighbourhood heads known as `muhtar` in Turkish from their posts, his office said in a statement.
It did not provide further detail on what terror organisations the officials were allegedly linked to.
The muhtar is the elected chief of a village or a city neighbourhood, and responsible for day-to-day services for residents such as registration.
Turkey has suspended or sacked over 140,000 public sector employees because of alleged links to the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the July 2016 failed coup and Kurdish militants. Turkey claims Gulen ordered the coup but he denies the accusations.
9. Syria reopens key crossings with Jordan, Israeli-controlled Golan Heights
Closed for years due to the civil war, Syria on October 15, 2018 reopened a vital border post with Jordan as well as a crossing into the Israeli-controlled Golan, as President Bashar al-Assad`s regime bolsters its control after sweeping advances against rebels.
Two white jeeps crossed into Israeli-controlled territory during a low-key ceremony to mark the reopening of the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights, four years after it was closed when Syrian rebels seized nearby territory.
Dozens of kilometres to the south and three years after it too was closed, a black metal border gate opened at the Nassib crossing into Jordan as police and customs of ficials stood nearby.
The Jordan crossing was previously a major trading route, while the remote Quneitra post is used primarily by a United Nations force which monitors a ceasefire line separating Israeli-occupied parts of the Golan Heights from Syria.
10. Three million Afghans in `urgent` need of food: UN
At least three million Afghans are in `urgent` need of food and could f ace f amine if they do not get help, the United Nations warned on Monday, as the war-torn country battles the worst drought in living memory.
A dry spell mainly across northern and western Afghanistan has devastated crops, livestock and water supplies, forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
The drought comes at a terrible time for the country, which is already grappling with a 17-year conflict and preparing to hold a parliamentary election thatis three yearslate.
The United Nations is spearheading international ef forts to reach 2.5 million of the three million most in need of food by mid-December, said UN humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan Toby Lanzer.
`Those people are surviving onless than one meal a day and in all likelihood that meal is bread and tea,` Lanzer said.
Lanzer said the three million people hardest hit were in the `emergency` phase four of a widely-used food insecurity index one level below famine.
The figure was `among the highest in the world` and required `the most urgent response`.
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