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March 12, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Pakistan elected OIC body`s deputy chairman
• Pakistan has achieved another milestone in parliamentary diplomacy by clinching the slot of deputy chairman of general body of the Parliamentary Union of OIC (PUIC).
• Besides this, Pakistan`s woman representative MNA Naureen Farooq has also been elected vice president of the 8th Muslim Women Parliamentarians Conference. According to an official announcement, Pakistan has been elected deputy chairman of PUIC`s general body on the first day (March 11, 2019) of its four day conference being held in Rabat, Morocco.
• Kashmir Committee chairman Syed Fakkhar Imam is leading a four member Pakistani delegation to the conference. Other members include Qasim Noon, Ahsan Iqbal and Naureen Farooq.
• The PUICis composed of parliaments of member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. It was established in Iran on June 17, 1999, with its head office situated in Tehran.
2. PM approves CPEC-style security force, incentives to spur investment in petroleum exploration
• Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 11, 2019 gave a go-ahead for the creation of a dedicated security force for petroleum exploration on the pattern of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) security arrangement in order to offer lucrative incentives for enhanced production of domestic oil and gas resources.
• While presiding over a meeting of the energy sector, the prime minister also approved a proposal of the Petroleum Division to shift the existing exploration and development policy from `approval regime` to `information regime` providing greater freedom to oil and gas companies in operations beyond discovery stage.
• On top of that, the premier also agreed to allow mid-tier exploration and production firms to enter exploration sector besides reducing timelines and stages for processing and approvals for all investors to push for aggressive search and development of local hydrocarbon reserves.
3. Govt implements Benami Act
• The government on March 11, 2019 implemented the much awaited Benami Act in line with its efforts to document the economy allowing tax officials to confiscate whole properties, expensive vehicles and bank accounts registered with fictitious individuals.
• The confiscation will involve all kinds of immovable and movable assets registered with fictitious individuals in order to avoid taxes. The implementation of the law will now come into effect after a delay of more than two years.
• The term `benami` refers to the practice of holding property/assets in the name of one person for the benefit of another. However, benami is often aimed at concealing ownership of assets acquired through illegal means, defrauding creditors, and/or evading payments of government fees, charges or taxes.
• Under the rules, the government has also announced hefty cash rewards for the whistle-blowers of the benami movable and immovable assets.
• The legislation was made through an act of parliament in Jan 2017 Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2017 but was put on the back burner owing to delay in finalisation of rules. On March 11, 2019, the FBR has notified the rules through a notification SRO326 of 2019.
4. Regulatory duty on mobile phone import restructured
• The government has introduced regulatory duty in flat rates for six different slabs according to import value of mobile phones in a move to lower tax on ordinary sets as compared to those having higher prices.
• The regulatory duty on import of mobile phones valuing up to $30 will now be charged at a flat rate of Rs1,800 per set as against the earlier Rs250, while it will be charged at the rate of Rs18,500 on import of mobile phones valuing more than $500 per set.
• Previously, the regulatory duty on import of mobile phones valuing up to $60 was Rs250 per set, while it was 10 per cent and 20pc of the import value for those with a price ranging between $60 and $130 and those valuing more than $130, respectively.
• The change in the regulatory duty structure made through the Finance Supplementary (Amendment) Bill 2018 will help in collection of maximum revenue by facilitating fair assessment of mobile phones at import stage.
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5. Model courts in each district to conduct day-to-day hearing
• Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa on March 11, 2019 announced the setting up of model courts in every district of the country to conduct daily trials so that speedy justice to the public could be provided and the massive backlog of cases could be reduced.
• The announcement was made during the meeting of the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPMC) at the Supreme Court building. The committee was presided over by the chief justice and attended by chief justices of the Federal Shariat Court and high courts. CJP Khosa explained that Article 37 (d) of the Constitution requires the state to provide expeditious and inexpensive justice thus under the light of this principle model trial courts will be established in the country to carry out trials daily.
• Firstly, a trial schedule will be provided to lawyers and prosecutors so that they can follow it to a tee. In case, the lawyers are unable to appear before the court on the day of the case, they will have to let the model trial court know who will replace them so that the trial is concluded within the stipulated time frame.
6. Pakistan returns Indian arrested in 2012
• Pakistan authorities returned an Indian prisoner to authorities of India`s Border Security Force (BSF) at the Wagah border crossing on March 11, 2019.
• According to an official, Ghulam Qadir had crossed the Line of Control in Kashmir and entered the Pakistan territory illegally in 2012.
• The official said that Qadir was arrested by the Pakistani security agencies but during interrogation he had failed to provide reasoning for crossing the border.
• He said Ghulam Qadir was later sentenced after the allegations against him proved true in the coun of law.
7. Pakistan hosting record four events as UN Commission on Women’s Status opens
• Pakistan is set to organise record four side-events dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women in the coming week as the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) holds its annual session at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
• This is the second biggest event in UN General Assembly’s calendar.
• Over 9,000 delegates from around the globe are taking part in the conference, which is a record. They include representatives of member states, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world.
• The theme this year is social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
8. Rouhani seeks to counter US pressure on first Iraq visit
• Iran`s President Hassan Rouhani hit back on March 11, 2019 against pressure from the `aggressor` United States on Iraq to limit ties with its neighbour, during his first official visit to Baghdad.
• Shia-majority Iraq is walking a fine line to maintain good relations with its key partners Iran and the United States which themselves are arch-foes.
• It has been under pressure from Washington not to get too close to the Islamic republic next door, particularly after the United States last year withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and hit Tehran with sanctions.
March 12, 2019: Sports Current Affairs
9. Zalmi warm up nicely for Qualifier with big win over Kings
• Peshawar Zalmi gained invaluable practice for the HBL Pakistan Super League`s playoff phase as they brushed aside Karachi Kings here at the National Stadium on March 11, 2019 with ridiculous ease in the last of a hectic 30-match preliminary round schedule.
• The result, however, had no bearing on the final team standings, barring Zalmi toppling Quetta Gladiators from the No.1 slot. Both franchises will now face each other in the Qualifier clash on March 13, 2019.
10. Consolation win for Sultans as Qalandars finish last, yet again
• If all dead-rubber fixtures are taken into consideration this was probably one of those forgettable encounters where the only thing at stake was pride as Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans battled it out for one final time in the HBL Pakistan Super League this year.
• The end result of this penultimate preliminary-round fixture at the National Stadium saw these two eliminated teams swap places in the final standings after both finished with identical record just three wins in 10 games. But Sohaib Malik`s Sultans signed off on a high by cruising to a seven-wicket victory midway through the 14th over and equaling their head-to-head record against the Qalandars at 2-2 in the two editions.