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November 14, 2018: National Current Affairs
1. FBR policy, administrative functions to separate in 100 days, IMF assured
• The government on November 13, 2018 promised the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to separate policy and administrative functions of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) within first 100 days of its tenure and undertake a full-fledged effort for maximum recovery of more than Rs2 trillion tax and power dues.
• In a change of mind, the government has also planned to seek maximum financial support from the IMF to tide over its external account gap instead of earlier indications that it wanted smaller size of the ballout to keep conditionalities of the programme to a bare minimum.
• IMF would obviously like to keep its share on the lower side and expect us to chip in other sources as well. The government was in contact with other lending agencies and friendly countries as well on the sidelines and would keep the IMF posted in a run up to conclusion of talks on November 22.
2. Pakistan, Iran to improve cooperation in railways
• Pakistan and Iran have agreed to constitute a technical committee in order to resolve issues pertaining to railways of the two countries.
• The decision was taken at a meeting between Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Hoonardost at the Ministry of Railways.
• Both Mr Rashid and Mr Hoonardost underlined the importance of the Quetta-Taftan railway section between Pakistan and Iran.
• The two sides also agreed to enhance cooperation in railways.
3. Over 22m children out of school in Pakistan: HRW report
• Nearly 22.5 million children in Pakistan are out of school, the majority of them girls, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a new report released on November 13, 2018.
• The report titled `Shall I feed my daughter or educate her`: Barriers to girls` education in Pakistan` concluded that many girls simply had no access to education, including because of a shortage of government schools especially for girls.
• The report revealed that 32 per cent of primary school age girls were out of school in the country, compared with 21pc boys. By ninth grade, it added, only 13pc of girls were still in school.
• As of 2017, it said, Pakistan was spending less than 2.8pc of its gross domestic product on education far below the recommended four to six per cent.
• `The Pakistan government`s failure to educate children is having a devastating impact on millions of girls,` said HRW women`s rights director, Liesl Gerntholtz. `Many of the girls we interviewed are desperate to study, but instead are growing up without the education that would help them have options for their future,` she said.
• The HRW interviewed 209 people for the report in all four provinces, most of them girls who have never attended school or were unable to complete their education.
4. TAPI pipeline to move forward
• The TAPI pipeline project to supply Turkmenistan`s gas to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan is moving closer to securing funding and a final investment decision could be made next year, its chief executive said on November 13, 2018.
• The development, a key step forward for the project after decades of delays, could see the new pipeline link the energy-rich central Asian nation to some of the strongest growth markets in the region.
• Muhammetmyrat Amanov, chief executive of the TAPI Pipeline company, told an industry conference in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi that the cost of the pipeline had been reduced to $7 billion from an initial estimate of $10bn.
November 14, 2018: International Current Affairs
5. Turkey withdraws from Libya summit in Italy
• Turkey has withdrawn from a two-day summit about Libya that is being held in Italy with deep disappointment.
• Current Turkish Vice President: Fuat Oktay
• `Any meeting which excludes Turkey would prove to be counter-productive for the solution of this problem,` Oktay said. Italy`s populist government organised the two-day conference in hopes of making progress on ending Libya`s lawlessness and promoting a UN framework for eventual elections.
• But expectations were limited, with Hiftar`s camp making clear that he wasn`t participating in the conference itself but rather meeting with leaders of neighbouring countries on the sidelines. Neither Hiftar nor el-Sissi posed for the final conference group photo.
• And Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay pulled out before it ended, citing his exclusion from the morning mini-summit.
6. Pakistan, US enhance co-op to placate Taliban
• Pakistan and the United States have enhanced cooperation to placate Taliban for peace in the war-torn Afghanistan.
• Senior officials at the foreign ministry told that the latest release of the two Taliban leaders was also part of the peace plan.
• The US was ‘reasonably satisfied’ with Pakistan efforts for peace in Afghanistan but still wanted more action. They are still demanding more but have started to acknowledge our efforts. They (the US) are offering to be helpful.
• The Taliban leaders were being released under the new peace plan. “Pakistan has always supported talks and if release of the Taliban leaders can help, we are ready to go ahead. All efforts (by Pakistan and the US) are aimed at placating the Taliban,”.
• This week, Pakistan had released two Taliban officials as US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visits the region. Taliban control nearly half of Afghanistan.
7. Nine Pak firms participating in Foodex Saudi
• Nine Pakistani companies, including the top exporters dealing in rice, fruits and vegetables, processed food, ready to eat, beverages, spices, bakery and confectioneries, were participating in the Foodex Saudi 2018 exhibition being held in Jeddah from November 12 to 15.
• TDAP, in collaboration with Commercial Section Consulate General of Pakistan, had selected nine well established companies to offer their range of quality products for Saudi market.
• This was 6th edition of Foodex Saudi Exhibition Jeddah organized by Reed Sunaidi Company at Jeddah Center for Events & Forums. The Exhibition was inaugurated by Prince Abdulaziz bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, head of Tourism & Entertainment Committee at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce.
8. Iran to host major int’l Islamic conference in Nov
• Iran’s capital Tehran will host a major Islamic conference attended by representatives from more than 80 countries later in November.
• The 32nd International Islamic Unity Conference, organized by the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought (WFPIST), will be held on Nov. 24-26.
• High-ranking political officials and religious figures, including 10 ministers and 40 Muftis, most senior religious scholars, are expected to participate in the international event.
• Current Iranian President: Hassan Rouhani
• Current Iranian Parliament Speaker: Ali Larijani
9. New 3D bioprinter to be sent to ISS on Dec 3
• A duplicate magnetic 3D bioprinter, which was lost during the October incident with Soyuz-FG launch vehicle, will be sent to the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) on board the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft on December 3.
• “Duplicate equipment for the magnetic 3D bioprinter will be delivered to the station on board the Soyuz MS-11 cargo spacecraft,” the training center said, citing Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko. On October 13, Yousef Hesuani, the co-founder of the 3D Bioprinting Solutions company, the manufacturer of the bioprinter, said the firm was preparing to send the duplicate equipment in the near future.
• On October 11, the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle failed to take the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft with the new ISS crew into space. Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and Nasa astronaut Nick Hague managed to eject in a rescue capsule and make an emergency landing in Kazakhstan unharmed. This became the first failure of a manned space launch in modern Russian history
10. Scientists engineer human tissues for transplants
• Israeli researchers have developed a method to engineer human tissues for transplants from a tiny fat tissue of the patient himself.
• The method makes it possible to produce any tissue in the body in a personalized manner for the patient without risking rejection by the immune system.
• So far, synthetic or animal-derived substances that cause an immune response in the patient have been witnessed and therefore immunosuppressive drugs were required.
• In tissue engineering, synthetic or biological polymers are used as extracellular material, which gives support to the cells and enables the creation of functional tissue.
• So far, the extracellular material, which is now considered the best for transplants, is taken from pig tissue. In the process all the pig’s cells are removed, and the remaining material grows human cells.