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August 10, 2018
- President calls new NA session on 13th
- President Mamnoon Hussain has summoned the new session of the National Assembly on Aug 13, approving a summary sent to him by caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk for the purpose.
- The prime minister forwarded the summary on August 9, 2018 after the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) called upon the interim govern-ment to summon the session of the lower house so that the process of formation of the new government could take place.
- The PTI also asked President Hussain to drop his plan to proceed to Ireland on a three-day official visit on Aug 16 as uncertainty prevails whether prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan can take the oath of his office on Aug 14 or not.
Quality of 2018 elections declined compared to 2013: Pildat
- An analysis has found that the quality of the 2013 election was better than the recently held polls marred by result transmission system (RTS) fiasco and complaints about the vote counting process.
- The Pakistan Insutute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) while assessing the quality of the 2018 polls at an overall score of 51.79pc said it dropped by 5pc against the quality of the 2013 election that was assessed to be at 56.76pc.
- The quality of the 2018 election has been assessed on 39 parameters under four broad categories of pre-poll, polling, counting of votes, compilation and transmission ofresults and post-poll phase.
- The pre-poll phase received an overall score of 50pc, polling day operations and arrangements for voting got the highest score of 64pc, counting, result compilation and transmission of results received the lowest score of 40pc and the post-poll phase received the score of 50pc.
- Each parameter was assigned equal weightage and graded on a scale of one to five with one indicating the poorest quality and five being the best.
- The assessment was a continuation of earlier similar assessments that had been carried out by the think tank after the general elections of 2002, 2008 and 2013.
- Similar assessments in the past assigned the overall score of 37.30pc to the quality of election 2002 and 40pc to the quality of the 2008 polls.
- The scores had improved for the quality of election 2013 to 56.76pc but dropped again to 51.79pc in 2018.
- This drop in quality is mainly due to poor quality of pre-poll phase which was largely attributable to the factors lying outside the direct remit of the ECP.
- While the quality of the pre-poll phase received an overall score of 50pc it declined nearly 12 percentage points in comparisonto the quality of pre-poll phase of the 2013 election which had received a score of 62.35pc.
Saudi-backed IsDB ready to help Imran-led govt with $4bn loan
- Pakistan plans to borrow more than $4 billion from the Saudibacked Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) as part of its attempts to restore dangerously low stocks of foreign currency, reported The Financial Times on August 9, 2018.
- The Jeddah-based bank had agreed to make a formal offer to lend Islamabad the money when Imran Khan took over as prime minister.
- The loan would not cover Pakistan`s expected financing gap of at least $25bn during this financial year but was `an important contribution`.
- The loan had the backing of the Saudi government, `which wants to play a part in rescuing Pakistan from its present crisis`.
- Despite the promise of money from the IsDB, economists warn that Mr Khan`s government will still have to enact potentially unpopular spending cuts and tax rises to help repair the government`s balance sheet.
US senators seek to block IMF bailouts for China`s allies
- A bipartisan group of 16 US senators urged the Trump administration to block the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from bailing out the countries that have obtained loans from China under its infrastructure development plan.
- The letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin mentions Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Djibouti among the countries that have accepted billions of dollars in loans from China but are unable to repay.
- The loans come from the $8 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that China says is meant to develop infrastructure in friendly countries for linking them to global trade routes.
- But US senators disagree.
- `We write to express our concern over bailout requests to the IMF by countries who have accepted predatory Chinese infrastructure financing,` the 16 senators said in the letter they sent to the two secretaries earlier this week.
- They claimed that China was using the debt to control the policies of the borrowing nations.
- The IMFis an internationallending institution and the United States is its largest contributor with some $164 billion in financial commitments.
- In 2016, the IMF agreed to pay Sri Lanka a $1.5 billion bailout loan to cover debts the country owes China.
- Recently, reports in the international media claimed that Pakistan may soon seek up to $12 billion from the IMF to overcome a widening foreign exchange deficit.
- But media reports claimed that Pakistan may use that money to repay the loans it borrowed for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is linked to the BRI. Pakistan rejected the claim, saying that it had no intention of using IMF money for repaying China.
New KP Assembly to meet on 13th
- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra has summoned the maiden session of the new provincial assembly on Monday (August 13) for the swearing-in of its members.
- Outgoing Speaker Asad Qaisar will administer the oath to the members-elect.
- After the oath-taking ceremony, the desiring candidates will file nomination papers for the offices of the speaker and deputy speaker the same day.
- He elections for the speaker and deputy speaker would take place on August 15 through secret ballot.
- Under Article 53 of the Constitution read with Article 127, the assembly shall, at its first meeting and to the exclusion of any other business, elect from amongst its members a speaker and a deputy speaker.
- Under Rule 8(2) of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules, the election for the speaker shall be presided over by the outgoing speaker and he will administer oath to his successor.
China to provide $14m for rebuilding schools
- China would provide $14 million to Pakistan for the reconstruction of fully damaged schools in Bara Khyber Agency to ensure improved education infrastructure and to restore enrolment of students post terrorism crisis situation.
- Pakistan and China on August 9, 2018 signed the implementations minutes on Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of fully damages government schools in Bara, Khyber Agency.
- The minutes were signed during a meeting of Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing and Secretary Economic Affairs Division Ghazanfar Abbas Jilani.
- The meeting was characterised by a spirit of friendship cooperation and a desire to make rapid advances in socio economic development.
Trump declares intent to create Space Force by 2020
- US President Donald Trump`s administration set a goal on August 9, 2018 of creating a sixth branch of the US military by 2020 known as the `Space Force` and said it would work to build bipartisan support in Congress for the plan.
- Critics view the creation of a Space Force as an unnecessary and expensive bureaucratic endeavour and scoff at comparisons to the foundation of the Air Force in 1947.
- US Vice President Mike Pence, in a Pentagon address, described the creation of the Space Force as `an idea whose time has come.` Trump, the champion of the plan, tweeted: `Space Force all the way!` `Ultimately, Congress must act to establish this new department, which will organise, train and equip the United States Space Force,` Pence said.
- The Pentagon report, however, included aplan to create a unified combatant command, known as the US Space Command, by the end of 2018. US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis threw his support behind that idea on Tuesday.
- The Pentagon report, however, recommended that the unified command be in the hands of the Air Force for now. The Air Force currently oversees some of the most critical space-based capabilities.
Argentina Senate votes against legalizing abortion
- Argentina’s senators on August 9, 2018 voted against legalizing abortion in the homeland of Pope Francis, dashing the hopes of women’s rights groups after the bill was approved by the legislature’s lower house months earlier.
- The vote, with 38 against, 31 in favor and two abstentions, capped a marathon session that began the day before and stretched into the early hours. Fireworks and shouts of joy erupted among anti-abortion activists camped outside Congress, while pro-choice campaigners, many decked in the green scarves that had come to symbolize their movement, were downcast.
- The bill was passed by Congress’s lower house in June by the narrowest of margins, but was widely expected to fall short of the votes needed to pass in the Senate.
- Lawmakers must now wait a year to resubmit the legislation.
Colombia recognizes Palestine as sovereign state
- Colombia recognized Palestine as a sovereign state in the days before new President Ivan Duque took office, according to a letter from the foreign ministry made public.
- “I would like to inform you that in the name of the government of Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos has decided to recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state,” said the letter dated August 3.
- The letter was signed by Santos’s foreign minister Maria Angela Holguin. New Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said he would review the “implications” of the previous government’s decision, in accordance with international law and good diplomatic practice.
Germany lifts ban on Nazi symbols in computer, video games
- Computer and video games can include swastikas and other Nazi symbols, a German industry body said on August 9, 2018, after a heated debate over the “Wolfenstein” franchise in which gamers battle Third Reich forces.
- The game was previously deemed to have fallen foul of the German criminal code, which bars any depiction of so-called “anti-constitutional” symbols, including Nazi swastikas.
- Accordingly in “Wolfenstein II”, images of Adolf Hitler were doctored to remove his moustache and the swastika in the Nazi flag was replaced with a triangular symbol.
- This sparked an uproar in the gaming community, prompting calls for games to be treated like films.
- Because movies are deemed works of art, they are exempt from the ban, similar to material used in research, historical or scientific purposes.
- Films set in the World War II-era, for instance, are allowed to be screened in Germany with Nazi symbols.
- The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) said video games will in future be examined as to whether they constitute such exceptions.