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November 08, 2018: National Current Affairs
1. No troops being sent to Yemen, FM assures Senate
• Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has told the Senate in clear terms that Pakistan will not send troops to Yemen to lend support to the Saudi-led forces engaged in fighting there.
• Speaking in the upper house of parliament on November 7, 2018, he said Pakistan enjoyed friendly relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran and was trying to play a mediatory role between them. Both countries gave importance to Pakistan due to the neutrality maintained by it.
• During his recent visit to Islamabad Iran`s foreign minister had said that Tehran would respond positively if Pakistan wanted to play some role in the conflict in Yemen.
• A similar effort had been made when Nawaz Sharif was prime minister; Iran had agreed to Pakistan`s suggestions but Saudi Arabia had refused.
2. Talks with IMF on bailout package get under way
• Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) formally began two-week talks on November 7, 2018. The talks will aim to ascertain the size of the `funding gap` facing Islamabad that must be plugged to avert a balance of payments crisis.
• The funding gap to be determined at the end of the talks will become 13th IMF bailout package for Pakistan since the 1980s.
• The talks would cover data sharing in the First three days. The policy dialogue, according to the official, will start from Monday onwards.
• The available IMF funding quota for Pakistan is approximately $6-6.5 billion. The official said that in some facilities this limit could be exceeded. However, the actual quantum of the package will be finalised by Nov 20.
3. ADB loan for improving civic facilities
• The Asian Development Bank has approved a loan of $200 million for launching the first phase of the Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Programme (PICIIP).
• The ADB also plans to sanction further $250 million in future for the second phase of the PICIP a programme aiming at introducing various interventions for improvement and provision of civic facilities, including the Solid Waste Management, in various cities of Punjab.
• `The PICIIP`s first phase will support interventions in two Punjab cities of Sialkot and Sahiwal.
• Total cost to be incurred on phase-I is $250 million that includes $200 million being financed by the ADB and $50 million to be provided by the government, equivalent as counterpart funds,` reads a letter of Nov 6 written by PICIIP`s Programme Director (Local Government and Community Development Department) to the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) reads.
4. Khattak elected head of parliamentary body on polls
• The members of a special parliamentary committee, constituted by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to probe allegations of rigging in the July 25 general elections, unanimously elected Defence Minister Pervez Khattak as its chairman on November 7, 2018.
• As per understanding with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Mr Khattak`s name was proposed by Ayaz Sadiq of the Pakistan Muslim LeagueNawaz (PML-N) and seconded by Syed Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), according to an official handout issued by the NA Secretariat.
• The chairman-elect asked the treasury and opposition benches to nominate eight members on a parity basis to appoint a sub-committee with a mandate to frame terms of reference for the committee.
• The speaker had on Oct 16 constituted the 30-member bipartisan and bicameral parliamentary committee to probe charges of rigging in the last general elections.
5. Portfolios of 11AJK ministers reshuffled
• AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider has shuffled the portfolios of his 11 cabinet members to accommodate the recently inducted seven ministers.
• A notification to this effect was issued by the Services and General Administration Department on November 7, 2018.
• Senior Minister Chaudhry Tariq Farooq was dispossessed of agriculture and animal husbandry but physical planning and housing and irrigation remained with him.
• Barrister Syed Iftikhar Ali Gillani was relieved of higher education but he continued to hold elementary and secondary education and Muzaffarabad City Development Project.
• Additionally, he was also given environment.
• Higher education was given to retired Col Waqar Ahmed Noor who was earlier holding the portfolio of planning and development.
• Finance department was withdrawn from Dr Najeeb Naqi but health remained with him.
6. Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to follow timeline for refugees return
• Pakistan and Afghanistan on November 7, 2018 agreed to follow the `decided timeline` for the repatriation of Afghan refugees.
• The agreement was reached during the second meeting of the Refugee Working Group (WG) under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability (APAPPS).
• Safron Secretary Muhammad Aslam led the Pakistani side at the meeting whereas the Afghan delegation was headed by Deputy Minister for Afghan Ministry of Refugee Affairs Dr Alema.
• The two sides discussed ways to enhance mutual cooperation for `a dignified, gradual, time-bound and complete return of Afghan nationals to their country`.
• `It was decided to observe the agreed timelines and procedures for repatriation of various categories of these people to Afghanistan,` a Foreign Office statement said.
7. Pakistan, Russia to beef up naval cooperation
• The Pakistan and Russian navies on November 7, 2018 agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation to deal with challenges related to maritime security.
• According to Pakistan Navy`s media directorate, during their meeting at Saint Petersburg, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi and Commander-in-Chief of Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Korolyov decided to step up `efforts to effectively confront the trans-national challenges and threats in the maritime domain` Admiral Abbasi is on a visit to Russia. The navy expects that the chief`s visit to Russia would strengthen defence ties between the two countries.
• Admiral Abbasi and Admiral Korolyov in their meeting deliberated on various avenues of cooperation between the two navies.
November 8, 2018: International Current Affairs
8. Democrats regain control of US House after eight years
• Democrats won the House of Representatives on November 7, 2018, ending one-party rule in the United States after two years of a wild ride for President Donald Trump who trampled on all opposing forces.
• But the Trump charm worked in the Senate, where Republicans outperformed expectations, expanding their lead in the 100-seat body.
• The results of these mid-term elections leave the political picture even more blurry than it was before Tuesday.
• If it was a referendum on Mr Trump`s performance, as predicted during the campaign, the results confirmed that he remains hugely popular among his voters, middle-aged, working class whites.
• But his divisive policies also united his opponent’s women, immigrants, LGBTs, liberals who came out in record numbers to show their resentment. The New York Times estimated that some 114 million ballots were cast this year, well above the 83 million votes cast in 2014 and 91 million ballots cast in 2010.This surge particularly among suburban voters propelled Democrats to reclaim a majority in the House after eight years, heralding a new era of divided government in Washington. By Wednesday afternoon, the Democratic Party had picked up more seats than the Republicans. So far, Democrats have won 220 seats in the House while 194 have gone to Republicans. The House has a total of 435 seats. In the Senate, Republicans maintained majority of 51 out of a total of 100. Democrats now have 45, down from 49 in the previous Senate.
9. Italy`s senate passes tough anti-migrant decree
• The Italian senate on November 7, 2018 cleared the way for far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini`s tough anti-migrant and security decree to become law following a confidence vote.
• The populist government of Salvini`s League and Luigi Di Maio`s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) won the vote with 163 senators for, 59 against including five M5S members and 19 abstentions.
• The lower house of parliament now has until the end of November to approve the decree, which the coalition first put forward in September and makes it easier to expel migrants and strip them of Italian citizenship.
• The government opted for a confidence vote to get the decree through the senate after M5S members tabled a slew of amendments. It should have no problem passing the lower house given the coalition`s majority.
10. Kiwis beat Pakistan after Boult`s hat-trick jolts top order
• Fast bowler Trent Boult became the third New Zealander to record a hat-trick in a one-day international as the Kiwis beat Pakistan by 47 runs on November 7, 2018.
• Boult (3-54) nailed Pakistan`s top order with the wickets of Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez off successive deliveries after New Zealand posted a decent 266-9.
• Taylor and Latham shared a brilliant 130-run fourth-wicket stand before Pakistan hit back in the last 10 overs with its ace leg spinner Shadab Khan (4-38) claiming three wickets in four balls and fast bowler Shaheen Afridi ending up with 4-46.