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March 16, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Pakistan, Iran vow to boost counter terrorism cooperation
• Pakistan and Iran on March 15, 2019 renewed their resolve to intensify their cooperation in counterterrorism and other aspects of bilateral relationship. This was the upshot of a telephonic conversation between Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Iran`s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi.
• The telephonic contact followed last week`s conversation between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Hassan Rouhani in which the two leaders had agreed to `closer cooperation among the two [countries`] intelligence agencies in combating terrorism`.
• Although there was no formal statement, both Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman and Mr Aragchi tweeted about the telephonic conversation.
2. PM forms board to promote tourism
• Prime Minister Imran Khan has constituted the National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB) and nine working groups for promotion of tourism in the country and for better coordination between the provinces and regions.
• Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari has been appointed acting chairman of the NTCB, while four provinces of the country, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan have representation in the board.
• According to a notification issued by the cabinet secretariat recently, the joint secretary of the cabinet division will be secretary of the board, while provincial ministers and secretaries of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, AJK and GB and chairmen of the Pakistan Association of Tour Operators, Travel Agents Association and Pakistan Hotel Association will be its members.
• Private members of the board include Kamaran Lashari, Ali Asghar, Aftabur Rehman, Sirajul Mulik, Samina Baig, Behram Avari, Muhammad Ayub Baloch, Yasir Rafiq and Zulfiqar Ali.
3. Pakistan registers complaint against India in UNEA for destroying forest area
• Pakistan on March 15, 2019 registered a complaint with the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) regarding India`s unlawful incursion into the country and destroying forest areas recognised under the Global Bonn Challenge and are a worldwide valued natural asset.
• `A brazenly unlawful air incursion into our territory, while hastily fleeing, Indian air force dropped its entire payload onto a pristine reserve forest and an area protected for natural regeneration under our flagship `Billion Tree Tsunami` initiative,` adviser to the prime minister on climate change, Malik Amin Aslam told UNEA.
• In his speech before participants from around the world at the fourth UNEA session being held in Kenya, Malik Amin Aslam said that the deplorable `strike` was clearly a strike against nature.
4. SHOs in Punjab regain `judicial powers` of granting bail
• In what appears to be a major development, station house officers (SHOs)in Punjab have regained their `judicial powers` of granting bail to accused in both bailable and non-bailable of fences under the rules vested in them over a century back during the British era.
• The Punjab police chief recently issued a circular to all heads of the police to ensure implementation of the standing orders in letter and spirit.
• The in-charge of a police station was vested with powers under sections 169, 496 and 497 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1898.
• The initiative was taken af ter the steering committee on police reforms in a meeting held recently in Islamabad took some decisions for reforms in the police, prosecution and judiciary.
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March 16, 2019: International Current Affairs
5. New Zealand in a daze after mosque attacks
• At least 49 people were shot dead and 48 others, including four Pakistanis, wounded during March 15, 2019 prayers in a ghastly attack on two New Zealand mosques that shocked the world as it was live-streamed on social media after the attacker had apparently published a `manifesto` denouncing immigrants.
• Forty-one people were killed at Al Noor mosque in the Christchurch city, seven at a nearby mosque in the Linwood neighbourhood and one died in hospital, police said. Hospitals said children were among the victims. The Bangladesh cricket team narrowly escaped the attack as they were about to enter the mosque when the gunman wearing a helmet started shooting at everyone inside, according to witnesses.
6. Washington, Kabul publicly disagree over talks with Taliban
• Differences between the US and Afghan governments over the peace talks became public this week after a senior Afghan official criticised Washington for talking to the Taliban while the Trump administration summoned him to the State Department to convey its displeasure.
• `Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale summoned Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib to reject the public comments attributed to Mr Mohib criticising the US approach to reconciliation,` State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said after the meeting between the two officials.
7. Russian spacecraft docks to ISS
• The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft carrying three crew members successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on March 15, 2019, Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos said.
• Soyuz MS-12 docked with the Rassvet module at 04:01 Moscow time (0101 GMT), Roscosmos said in a press release.
• A Soyuz-FG rocket carrying the spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 22:14 Moscow time on Thursday. Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague, who survived unscathed an aborted launch in October 2018, as wwell as NASA astronaut Christina Koch, are on board the spacecraft.
8. All US diplomats have left Venezuela
• The United States has withdrawn all remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Caracas as the crisis in Venezuela deepens.
• “Today, all US diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country. I know it is a difficult moment for them,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on March 14, 2019.
• “US diplomats will now continue that mission from other locations where they will continue to help manage the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people and support the democratic actors bravely resisting tyranny,” Pompeo said. A convoy was seen leaving the US embassy in Caracas on Thursday morning and the American flag was no longer flying outside.
9. N Korea may break off US talks, resume missile tests
• North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may break off denuclearisation talks with the US and resume missile and nuclear testing, a senior official says.
• Vice Foreign Minister Choe Sun-hui told foreign diplomats the US threw away “a golden opportunity” at a recent summit between President Trump and Mr Kim.
• North Korea had offered to dismantle its main Yongbyon nuclear complex. But talks collapsed after Mr Trump refused to lift sanctions unless North Korea destroyed all its nuclear sites.
• Mr Kim is set to make an official announcement on his position regarding future talks with the US soon, Ms Choe said in Pyongyang.
March 16, 2019: Sports Current Affairs
10. Clinical Zalmi dethrone United, enter PSL final
• Peshawar Zalmi produced top-drawer teamwork to dethrone Islamabad United as HBL Pakistan Super League champions by storming into the final with a clinical victory in Eliminator 2 at the National Stadium on March 15, 2019.
• Darren Sammy was overjoyed at not only leading Zalmi into their third final in four seasons but also avenging last year`s defeat in the title-decider on this very ground.
• Incredibly for the tournament, Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators, who are already in Sunday`s final after their 10-run win in Wednesday`s qualifier, will face each other for the fourth time in this edition.