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February 11, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Accord on $6bn IMF package likely by April
• With the highest-level intervention, Pakistan is expecting to complete its talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for up to $6 billion bailout package `very soon` to make it part of the 2019-20 budget.
• `The technical staff-level contact through video-link is due this week and may be followed up by Finance Minister Asad Umar next week,` said a senior government official, adding the two sides might still meet at the staff level if needed.
• `A lot of work still needs to be done, but a final agreement should be in place by April and implementation start rolling in June, said the official, adding that all policy actions would revolve around the next year budget. `We have reached broad understanding and will stay engaged.
• The revenue collection target for the next fiscal year would be worked out by the IMF and it could be well above Rs4.7 trillion, compared to about Rs4.39tr this year fixed by the government. More upward adjustments in central bank`s policy rate and exchange rate depreciation would be part of the understanding, they said.
2. HEC, Moroccan authorities to collaborate on education, research
• The Higher Education Commission (HEC) will take steps for developing academic relations with Morocco in order to promote higher education and collaborative research between higher education institutions of both countries, said HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri.
• The HEC chairman was meeting with the Ambassador of Morocco, Mohamed Karmoune during the latter`s visit to the Commission Secretariat, an HEC statement issued on February 10, 2019 says.
• Mr Banuri is quoted as saying that HEC will build linkages with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Morocco through the Moroccan Embassy in Islamabad.
3. Dams fund received Rs9.695b so far
• The Prime Minister and Chief Justice of Pakistan Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dam Fund has so far received Rs 9.6957 billion.
• The countrywide contribution to the fund stood at Rs 8.332 billion while the remaining Rs 1.364 billion were contributed by the expatriate Pakistanis, according to an update issued by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
• Pakistanis living in US remained the top among the foreign countries who donated Rs 462.6346 million followed by UK from where a sum of Rs 351.419 million had been transferred to the dams fund so far.
• Similarly, the fund also received Rs 137.59 million through the SMS service of various cellular companies in Pakistan.
• According to details issued by the SBP, the top 10 institutional donors include Employees of government of Punjab with contribution of Rs 1.09 billion, Pak Army Rs 582.071 million, HQ CWO SPD Rs 201.093 million, Bahria Town, Rs 110.12 million and PAF with Rs 100.28 million.
February 11, 2019: International Current Affairs
4. Ashraf Ghani offers Taliban office in Afghanistan
• President Ashraf Ghani, who visited Nangarhar province on February 10, 2019, said the Afghan government is ready to allow the Taliban to open an office in Kabul, Kandahar or Nangarhar.
• Ghani said “a sustainable peace and a peace with dignity” will come to the country and for this, he is ready to even sacrifice his life.
• But remarks like this are not new as Ghani has made such statements in the past.
• However, despite these offers, the Taliban have until now refused to hold talks with the Afghan government.
5. African Union baton passes on from Rwanda to Egypt
• Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led an active, reformist tenure as African Union chair, on February 10, 2019 passed the baton to Egypt, seen as more likely to focus on security issues than expanding the body`s powers.
• Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi officially took over the rotating post of ceremonial head of the AU at the start of a two-day summit in Addis Ababa. The meeting highlighted the `links between the Mediterranean and Lake Victoria`, as a metaphor for sub-Saharan Africa.
• Kagame`s leadership of the AU focused on institutional and administrative reforms. Sisi however is expected to focus more on security, peacekeeping and post-war reconstruction, issues closely tied to the AU`s 2019 theme of `Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons`.
6. US special envoy resumes Afghan peace diplomacy
• US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad left Washington on February 10, 2019 on yet another peace mission that includes talks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Qatar.
• In Washington, the US State Department said Ambassador Khalilzad and his interagency delegation would also consult officials in Belgium, Germany and Turkey before arriving in the region for further talks.
• The trip, which began on Sunday, will continue till Feb 28, when the chief US negotiator is expected back in Washington for consultations.
7. South Korea, US sign cost-sharing deal for American troops
• South Korea and the United States struck a new deal February 10, 2019 that increases Seoul’s contribution for the cost of the American military presence on its soil, overcoming previous failed negotiations that caused worries about their decades-long alliance.
• South Korea last year provided about $830 million, covering roughly 40 percent of the cost of the deployment of 28,500 U.S. soldiers whose presence is meant to deter aggression from North Korea. President Donald Trump has pushed for South Korea to pay more. On Sunday, chief negotiators from the two countries signed a new cost-sharing plan, which requires South Korea to pay about 1.04 trillion won ($924 million) in 2019, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
8. China’s MA700 plane conduct maiden flight in 2019
• China-developed MA700, a new model of high-speed turboprop regional aircraft, is expected to conduct its maiden flight in 2019, according to its developer. That means the “Morden Ark(MA)” regional airplane family will embrace its third member following the MA60 and MA600.
• The MA700 was developed by the AVIC XAC Commercial Aircraft (AVIC XACC) in Xi’an, in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. It is designed with high speed, economic efficiency and adaptability to various airport conditions and air routes.
• The model is part of China’s plan to develop two trunk jetliners and two regional aircraft, with the other models being the C919 narrow-body and CR929 wide-body passenger aircraft, as well as the ARJ21 regional jetliner. The MA700 is expected to receive the type certificate (TC) from civil aviation authorities by 2021, according to AVIC.
• To date, the MA700 has received 185 intended orders from 11 customers at home and abroad
9. 5G self-driving bus tested in Chongqing
• A self-driving bus assisted by the 5G mobile network is on a test run in Chongqing, a vehicle-manufacturing powerhouse in southwestern China.
• The bus, equipped with technologies such as Controller Area Network and laser radar, is able to complete all autonomous operations with the assistance of the 5G mobile network. The electric-powered 12 seater has a designed maximum speed of 20 km per hour
February 11, 2019: Sports Current Affairs
10. New Zealand seal India T20 series in tight finish
• Colin Munro`s explosive 72 set up a thrilling four-run win for New Zealand over India in a cliff-hanger finish to February 10, 2019`s Twenty20 International in Hamilton, handing the hosts a 2-1 series victory.
• India looked to be on the ropes when they needed 47 off the last three overs at Seddon Park. But Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya together plundered 32 off overs 18 and 19 before Tim Southee restricted the duo to 11 in the 20th.
• The morale-boosting victory for New Zealand gave captain Kane Williamson something to smile about after they were whipped 4-1 by India in the preceding One-day International series.