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January 03, 2020: National Current Affairs
1. UAE urged to strengthen economic ties with Pakistan
• Prime Minister Imran Khan on January 2, 2020 urged the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to strengthen its economic ties with Pakistan.
• The prime minister pleaded for greater economic cooperation during his meeting with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Moha-med bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who visited Islamabad while returning from a hunting expedition in Pakistan`s countryside.
• `The prime minister stressed the imperative of deeper economic engagement,` the PM Office said in a statement after the conclusion of the crown prince`s trip.
2. Govt may accept Etisalat offer to settle dues row
• The government may settle for about $275 million payment being offered by the UAE`s Etisalat against $800m proceeds of the sale of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) outstanding for more than 13 years.
• `We want to move beyond the status quo maintained on the issue for over a decade and bring the matter to a final settlement beneficial for our country and our long-term business interests,` an official statement quoted Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh as saying.
• Dr Shaikh was presiding over an inter-ministerial meeting on pending payments by Etisalat against PTCL privatisation on the eve of the visit to Pakistan by Abu Dhabi`s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Minister for Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and secretaries of IT, Privatisation Commission and finance also attended the meeting.
3. Hindko-Pashto dictionary published
• The Gandhara Hindko Academy has published a dictionary of Hindko-Pashto common words.
• According to a press release issued here on January 2, 2020, the 330-page dictionary is the research work of a young writer and poet, Ali Awais Khiyal, who is a research assistant at the Hindko Academy. All the words are in alphabetical order and contain the required information.
• The publication, designed by Saqib Hussain, also carries the podraits of great Pashto mystic poet Rahman Baba and known Hindko sufi poet Sain Ahmad Ali.
• A senior Hindko writer, poet and research scholar, Mohammad Ziauddin, has written the foreword to the publication.
4. Abu Dhabi announces $200m for SMEs
• Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has announced an allocation of $200 million to support small and medium-sized enterprises in Pakistan, Finance Adviser to PM Abdul Hafeez Shaikh tweeted on January 2, 2020.
• The adviser said `the money will be spent on small business promotion and jobs.
• This support is testimony to the expanding economic relations and friendship between our countries.
5. Polio tally for 2019 rises to 123 cases
• The intense transmission of polio virus, due to a break in the vaccination campaign in April last year, has become a huge setback for the health authorities as the tally for the year 2019 has reached 123.
• `While we are in the year 2020,for about another one month more cases can be added to the total number of cases for 2019 as the date of collection of a sample is considered for placing a case in a certain year, rather than the date of confirmation of the case,` an official of the National Institute of Health (NIH) said.
• He said that the incubation period of the polio virus was almost three weeks; so cases were confirmed almost three weeks after the date of getting the samples
6. Taiwan`s army chief among eight killed in copter crash
• Taiwan`s top military official was among eight people killed in an air force helicopter crash in mountainous terrain outside Taipei on Thursday, the defence ministry said. Five others survived.
• As chief of the general staff, Gen Shen Yiming was responsible for overseeing the self-governing island`s defence against China, which threatens to use military force if necessary to annex what it considers part of its territory. The helicopter was flying from Taipei to the nearby city of Yilan for a New Year`s activity when it crashed. The victims included other senior military officials and the two pilots.
7. Turkish MPs vote to send troops to Libya
• Turkey`s parliament passed a bill on January 2, 2020 approving a military deployment to Libya aimed at shoring up the UN-backed government in Tripoli, at a time of intensifying international tensions over the conflict.
• The beleaguered Tripoli government has been under sustained attack since April by military strongman General Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Turkey`s regional rivals Saudi Arabia,Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
• Egypt strongly condemned the Turkish vote, saying it amounted to a `flagrant violation of international law and Security Council resolutions on Libya`.
8. On day 29, French rail strike makes history
• A labour walkout that has frustrated Paris commuters and marooned thousands of holiday travelers in France dragged into its 29th day on January 2, 2020, becoming the country`s longest continuous railway strike with no end in sight.
• The standoff over the government`s plan to merge 42 pension schemes into a single, points-based system has seen workers at the state-owned SNCF railway company and Paris` RATP public transport operator down tools since Dec 5.
• Hundreds of thousands of strikers and their supporters have turned out for three mass rallies in recent weeks.
9. Computer programme beats human breast cancer diagnosis
• A computer programme can identify breast cancer from routine scans with greater accuracy than human experts, researchers said in what they hoped could prove a breakthrough in the fight against the global killer.
• Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, with more than two million new diagnoses last year alone.
• Regular screening is vital in detecting earliest signs of the disease in patients who show no obvious symptoms.
• In Britain, women over 50 are advised to get a mammogram every three years, the results of which are analysed by two independent experts.
10. Austrian coalition agrees upon headscarf ban, preventive custody
• A deal between conservatives and Greens to form a governing coalition in Austria includes banning headscarves in school until the age of 14 and preventive custody for potentially dangerous individuals.
• The measures are part of what conservative leader Sebastian Kurz describes as his tough stance on illegal immigration and `political Islam` aimed at appealing to his base but also to disillusioned former supporters of the far right, whose coalition with his party collapsed in May.
• The agreement, whose details the parties outlined on Thursday, also contains concessions to Greens` environmentalist demands, including raising taxes on flights out of Austria
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