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Ready to engage with Pakistan in terror-free atmosphere: MEA
- India has once again made it clear to Pakistan that terror and talks cannot go together.
- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, New Delhi is ready to engage with Islamabad in an atmosphere free from terror.
- Swaraj was speaking during an event in Delhi. She said, Islamabad should take the strictest action against terrorism and must stop sponsoring it.
- Saying that some people are of the view that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is a statesman, Mrs. Swaraj said, if he is really generous, Mr. Khan should hand over Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Masood Azhar to India.
Election Commission holds central observers’ meet
- The Election Commission held a meeting of central observers in New Delhi on Thursday as part of preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
- The meeting was held to brief them about their roles and responsibilities during election duty.
- This is the first such meeting since election dates were declared earlier this month.
- The observers are drawn from various central services, such as the Indian Revenue Service, the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service.
- They are considered to be on EC duty till the elections process ends.
New Delhi, Islamabad agree to work on operationalizing Kartapur corridor
- India and Pakistan have agreed to work expeditiously on operationalizing the Kartapur corridor.
- The corridor will facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit the holy shrine of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan.
- The agreement was reached during the first meeting between the representatives of the two countries held at Attari in Punjab on Thursday.
- The External Affairs Ministry, in a release, said, the two sides agreed to hold the next meeting at Wagah on 2nd of next month.
- The Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, S C L Das while Pakistan delegation was led by Director General for South Asia and SAARC Dr. Mohammad Faisal.
World Kidney Day being observed today
- Today is World Kidney Day. The day is observed annually on the second Thursday in March to create awareness on the importance of kidneys and reducing the frequency and impact of kidney diseases.
- The theme this year is, ‘Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere’. It calls for universal health coverage for prevention and early treatment of kidney diseases.
- Several events are being held across the country on the occasion to raise awareness about kidneys and highlight that diabetes and high blood pressure are key risk factors for Chronic Kidney Diseases.
- Professor in Nephrology Department in AIIMS, RK Yadav said, one should control blood sugar and avoid pain killer to avoid kidney-related diseases.
Election Commission introduces mobile app for observers
- The Election Commission has for the first time started using a mobile application that will help poll observers to submit reports.
- The electoral body held a meeting with more than 1,800 IAS, IPS and IRS officials, besides some others from the Central services, who are to be deployed as observers in the coming Lok Sabha and State Assembly polls.
- “These officers are being deployed as general, police and expenditure observers,” said the Commission.
- They will get all the important notifications, alerts, and urgent messages through the “Observer App”.
- It will help them get their deployment status, download the ID card and update their profile.
- As the observers will be closely involved in real-time disposal of Model Code of Conduct and expenditure violation cases received through another mobile application “cVIGIL”, those details will also be available on the “Observer App.”
- The observers can make a written observation after the flying squads have investigated the matter.
- Reminding the observers of their role, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said they needed to ensure that no mistakes were committed in the process of conducting elections.
- He said in the recent State elections, it took only a minuscule percentage of slippages in following the laid-down protocol for EVM-VVPAT procedures or missing out on few names from the electoral roll to undo all the good work they did.
- Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa said the cVIGIL app had helped empower every citizen.
- The Commission also could keep a close eye on Model Code violations through the mechanism and alert officials on the ground.
GS-II ( International Affairs)
British lawmakers vote in support of delaying Brexit
- British lawmakers have voted to seek a delay to the 29th of this month’s deadline for the UK to exit the European Union (EU). The motion was passed in the House of Commons last night by 412 votes to 202.
- The MPs, however, rejected an amendment to the motion that sought to hold another referendum during the delayed period.
- The delay in the Brexit process would now require the unanimous approval of all 27 remaining EU member states, which in effects gives the 28-member bloc the power to dictate the terms of an extension.
- EU Council Chief Donald Tusk said, the bloc could approve a long postponement if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it.
- Last night’s vote follows a rejection by Parliament on Wednesday to rule out leaving the EU without any deal.
- May will make a third attempt to get her withdrawal deal pass through next week, after it was rejected by huge margins on two previous votes.
- The UK had voted to leave the EU in a referendum in June, 2016.
All American diplomats have left Venezuela, says US Secretary of State
- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the United States has withdrawn all remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Caracas as the crisis in Venezuela deepens.
- He said, all US diplomats remaining in Venezuela have departed the country.
- He said, US government is fully dedicated to its mission of supporting the Venezuelan people’s aspirations to live in a democracy and build a better future for their families. Venezuela is gripped by an acute economic crisis that has fueled the rise of opposition leader Juan Guaido, the national assembly speaker who in late January declared himself to be the interim leader.
- Pompeo said, the United States government, at all levels, remains firm in its resolve and support for the people of Venezuela and Interim President Juan Guaido.
- The US has already imposed sanctions designed to choke off Venezuelan oil sales, the lifeblood of the leftist government led by embattled President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas.
United States slams China for its human rights violations in country
- The United States has slammed China for its human rights violations in the country.
- Talking to reporters in Washington, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted the abuses in China, Iran, South Sudan and Nicaragua in the state department’s annual reports on Human Rights Practices.
- He said, China was in a league of its own, when it comes to human rights violations.
- Head of State Department’s human rights and democracy bureau Michael Kozak said, the sort of abuses China had inflicted on its Muslim minorities had not been seen since the 1930s.
- He said it is one of the most serious human rights violations in the world today.
- In response to this, China’s Foreign Ministry said, the report was filled with ideological prejudice and groundless accusations.
- Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing today that China hoped the United States would take a close look at its own rights record.
US Senate votes to end support for Yemen war
- The US Senate rebuking Donald Trump’s foreign policy and his alliance with Riyadh has voted to end support for the bloody Saudi-led war effort in Yemen.
- The Senate’s bipartisan vote was 54 to 46, with seven Republicans defying the President and aligning with Democrats.
- Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled chamber approved a historic curtailment of the Presidential war powers.
- It directs Mr. Trump to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen within 30 days.
- The text will now move to the Democrat-led House of Representatives which is likely to pass the latest effort.
- However, the White House has threatened a veto, calling the measure “flawed” and saying it would harm bilateral relationships in the region and hurt Washington’s ability to fight extremism.
- But its full passage would set a historic marker as it would be the first measure passed by Congress to invoke the 1973 War Powers Resolution to directly curtail a president’s use of military powers.
Special Olympics World Games begins in Abu Dhabi
- The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 kicked off with a spectacular ceremony on Thursday evening.
- The Games were declared open by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
- The ceremony was an internationally star-studded affair, with Avril Lavigne, Tamer Hosny, Luis Fonsi, Hussain al Jassmi giving breathtaking performances.
- 7,500 special athletes from 200 countries marched at the Zayed Stadium to the rousing ovation of the 40,000 strong crowd.