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Deadly earthquake hits eastern Afghanistan.

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the eastern province of Khost, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, killing at least 1,000 people. The earthquake was felt across Pakistan, including in the capital, Islamabad. Afghanistan suffered the greatest damage and will need significant help from abroad. The reduction in international aid since the Taliban’s takeover last August has devastated the country’s already weak emergency response and health care capacity. Bad weather has further hampered rescue efforts. [Source: FP magazine]

Questions on the above paragraph..

1. Convert this sentence to passive form.
A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the eastern province of Khost, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, killing at least 1,000 people.
2. How are earthquakes measured?
3. What was the death toll in the earthquake? Do you think many more would have been maimed?
4. How far was the earthquake felt?
5. Which country bore the brunt of the deadly earthquake?
6. If you are in charge of selecting aid items to be sent to Afghanistan from Delhi, which items will you select for dispatch?
7. Why Afghanistan is unable to provide adequate relief to its affected people?
8. Generally, how does bad weather affect relief operations?
(Answers will be posted on 26th June.)

The earthquake came amid other natural disasters in South Asia, driven by climate change: Massive flooding has displaced hundreds of thousands of people in northeastern Bangladesh and neighboring India. According to the United Nations, up to 4 million people are in urgent need of help in Bangladesh, where early monsoon rains have flooded the Surma River. In Meghalaya, India, 38 inches of rain were measured on Sunday. The floods follow a heat wave that brought record highs to the region in April.

Protests over Indian military jobs program.

Protests against a controversial military jobs plan have spread across India, leading officials to cancel more than 500 train routes due to concerns about violence. The Agnipath (“path of fire”) initiative provides four-year contracts for soldiers between ages 17 and 23. The catch is that only 25 percent of soldiers will keep those jobs afterward—and then only for 15 years.
India’s government says the move intends to free up revenue, as long-term military salaries and pensions eat up the defense budget. Many of those protesting Agnipath are angry that they will be deprived of long-term, stable employment in the military, a top source of jobs in India. Some state officials said those that complete the contracts will be prioritized for policing jobs.
The issue reflects two familiar storylines in India. First, unemployment persists despite economic growth, which has prompted other recent protests. Agnipath is also the latest in a long line of policies implemented by the current government without much prior consultation with external stakeholders. (Other examples include a demonetization plan, the decision to strip the Jammu and Kashmir region of its autonomy, and the nationwide lockdown in 2020.)

Pakistan’s good news on terrorist financing.

Pakistan has moved closer to removal from a terrorist financing watch list that it has sat on for four years. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global terrorist financing watchdog, announced last Friday that Pakistan has completed its action plan and that FATF officials will visit the country later this year to verify it is following through; if so, it will be removed from the watch list.
The previous government, led by former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, has already claimed credit for the achievement. But Khan could also be faulted for taking four years to complete the action plan. Nonetheless, FATF’s announcement was met with relief in Pakistan. Watch list status leads some banks and investors to shy away from injecting capital into the financial system. Facing a significant economic crisis, Pakistan can’t afford to lose any more investment.

IMF talks begin in Sri Lanka.

This week, International Monetary Fund (IMF) negotiators arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for critical talks with the government on a potential bailout plan. The talks came as the government ordered schools and some offices to close to preserve scarce fuel supplies. On Thursday, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the Sri Lankan Parliament that the economy has “completely collapsed.” The IMF negotiators are expected to be in Sri Lanka until June 30.


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