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March 11, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Red tape blamed for delay in release of $2.3bn by WB
• More than $2.3 billion disbursement by the World Bank committed for the current fiscal year has been held up due to bureaucratic hurdles as the government banks on short-term loans from friendly countries to meet its foreign exchange needs.
• 27 development projects under the federal and provincial governments were not getting the planned funding by the World Bank during the current year. The delays in current year`s disbursements could also affect the project pipeline for the fiscal year 2019-20.
• Such delays are not only affecting flow of funds from the World Bank but also from other lending agencies and most of these development loans are relatively cheaper and involve decades of repayment schedules, including grace periods. `Some of these loans are repayable in more than 30 years when their net present value (NPV) actually becomes negative or neutral,` Senior government official said.
2. Khasadar, Levies personnel to get policing powers in tribal districts
• The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has sent two separate ordinances to the governor to be promulgated for regulation and maintenance of Levies and Khasadar forces functioning in the erstwhile Fata.
• The ordinances were likely to be promulgated on March 11, 2019 after seeking approval of Governor Shah Farman. The provincial cabinet had recently approved the ordinances. Levies and Khasadar forces have been operating in the seven merged tribal districts and six sub-divisions.
• Significantly, Khasadar and Levies forces will enjoy parallel policing powers as assigned to KP Police under the code of criminal procedure. Secondly, both the forces will also perform such institutional and organisational functions and duties provided in the KP Police Act, 2017.
• Comprising 25,551 personnel including 15,673 khasadars, the two forces would get the powers of the provincial police.
• Unlike Levies personnel, khasadars are considered ill-disciplined, untrained and loosely organised.
3. PM okays health cards for govt employees
• Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved health cards for the government employees, and directed the authorities concerned to prepare a plan for that.
• It is not clear how long would it take the administration to come up with a plan; however, it is expected that the policy in this regard would be announced in the next year’s budget.
• Meanwhile, the Punjab government is starting sanitation week from March 18. In rural areas, the campaign will be started from April 18
4. Pak-China-Afghan meeting in Kabul today (March 11, 2019)
• Officials from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan will meet in Kabul on March 11, 2019 (today) to discuss cooperation in various fields.
• Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Idrees Zaman will preside over the trilateral meeting to follow up the agreements on practical cooperation mechanism between the three countries.
• Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Zahid Nasrullah Khan will represent the country.
• The trilateral forum at the level of foreign ministers was launched in 2017 at the initiative of China when relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan was at lowest ebb.
• Pakistan wants to improve relations with Afghanistan as part of its efforts for economic development in the region.
March 11, 2019: International Current Affairs
5. Abbas picks ally as new Palestinian premier
• The Palestinian president on March 11, 2019 chose a longtime adviser, Mohammed Ishtayeh as his new prime minister, a step that deepens the rift with the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas militant group.
• The official Wafa news agency made the announcement, saying “President Abbas has given Mohammed Ishtayeh a mandate to form a government.”
• The announcement puts a strong proponent of peace talks with Israel, and a fierce critic of Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, in charge of day-to-day Palestinian affairs.
• Ishtayeh, a British-educated economist, is a top official in Abbas’ Fatah movement and veteran of past rounds of peace talks with Israel.
6. Tunisia`s health minister quits over deaths of newborns
• Tunisia`s health minister has resigned after the sudden deaths of 11 newborn babies at a state maternity hospital sparked an outcry in the country.
• Prime Minister Youssef Chahed accepted Abderraouf Cherif`s resignation.
• `Those responsible for any negligence will f ace legal proceedings,` the prime minister said at the maternity hospital in the capital.
• Leading newspaper Essafa on March 10, 2019 cried foul and compared the deaths of the babies to a `state crime`.
7. 157 people killed in Ethiopian plane crash
• A Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 crashed six minutes after an early-morning takeoff from Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew on board, Ethiopian Airlines said as world leaders offered condolences to distraught next-of-kin.
• People holding passports from 32 countries and the UN were on board the plane which ploughed into a field, just 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, the carrier`s CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told journalists in the capital, lamenting this `very sad and tragic day`. The crash came on the eve of a major, annual assembly in Nairobi of the UN Environment Programme, which learnt of the crash with `deep regret` but did not say whether any delegates were on the plane.
• State-owned Ethiopian Airlines, Africa`s largest carrier, said the ill fated Boeing 737-800MAX had taken off at 8:38am from Bole International Airport and `lost contact` six minutes later. Scheduled to land in Nairobi at 10:25am, it came down instead near the village of Tulu Fara outside Bishoftu.
8. China’s Long March rockets complete 300 launches
• With a Long March-3B rocket putting a new communication satellite into orbit on March 10, 2019, China’s Long March carrier rocket series completed 300 launches, having sent more than 500 spacecraft into space since 1970.
• “This is a milestone for China’s space industry development,” said Wu Yansheng, board chairman of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
• The Long March carrier rocket series, developed by CASC, is responsible for about 96.4 percent of all the launch missions in China. It took 37 years for the Long March rockets to complete the first 100 launches, 7.5 years to complete the second 100 launches, and only about four years to accomplish the final 100, with the average number of launches per year increasing from 2.7 to 13.3 and then to 23.5.
9. N Korea holds parliamentary elections
• North Koreans voted in parliamentary elections on March 10, 2019, with only a single candidate registered for each constituency.
• North Korea will elect deputies for the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly, Yonhap news agency said in a report. Polls are held every five years to elect rubber-stamp parliament in the North Korea.
• North Korea held first parliamentary elections in 2014, under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, in which 99.97 percent of all registered voters had participated.
• North Korean voters, aged 17 or older, have started to cast their ballots at 9 a.m. local time.
March 11, 2019: Sports Current Affairs
10. PSL-4: Karachi Kings surprise Gladiators in a thriller
• Karachi Kings owed a huge debt to Usman Khan Shinwari for taking them through to the HBL Pakistan Super League playoffs with an unbelievable one run victory over Quetta Gladiators at the National Stadium, Karachi on March 10, 2019.
• The Kings were down and out when the Gladiators required a simple job of scoring five runs from the final over in pursuit of a 191run target, with Ahmed Shehzad in sight of what would have been a superb century.
• But the eventful over saw both Shehzad and his team denied their goals.