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World in Focus (Feb-March 2015)

World in Focus

National, International News & MCQs

National

Feb 16: Pakistanis purchased properties in Dubai worth over 16 billion UAE dirhams during 2013 and 2014; becoming the second largest community in the list of expatriate property buyers in Dubai during 2014.

Feb 16: Shazia Hanjra, a special public prosecutor, announced to step down due to the non-cooperation of police in the Baldia Town factory fire case.

Feb 16: The National Vocational Technical Training Commission’s (NAVTTC) board of management approved the projects to impart vocational training to less educated jobless youth across the country.

Feb 17: Prime Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, reached Pakistan on a two-day official visit to further promote bilateral relations. During the visit, Mr Davutoglu met Pakistani Prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, the President, and the COAS General Raheel Sharif.

Feb 19: The Chief Executive Officer of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), Dr Seth Berkeley, committed $825 million support to strengthen immunisation services and health systems in Pakistan.

Feb 22: The Gilgit-Baltistan Police Department established a high altitude police unit in order to provide security to the foreign mountaineers and tourists in the region.

The unit will, initially, have 50 policemen.

Feb 23: A senior government official stunned members of a National Assembly committee when he told them that most of imported packed food items being sold in the country contained Haram ingredients.

Feb 23: The State of Industry Report released by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) revealed that the outages across the country are unlikely to end by year 2020.

Feb 24: Nabil Gabol, an MNA of MQM, submitted his resignation from his seat in the National Assembly.

Feb 24: Punjab Advocate General Muhammad Hanif Khatana, who was appointed as Assistant Advocate General during the Musharraf regime in 1999, resigned.

Feb 24: Punjab Information Technology Board Chairman Dr Umar Saif signed an MoU with Ken Imrie, Chairman of the Funding Lab, Scotland, for financial and technical assistance for Plan 9, an initiative of the Punjab government aimed at attracting foreign investment.

Feb 25: Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) inaugurated its first-ever Art Gallery after the artist’s name ‘Bodla Art Gallery’ to acknowledge Saeed Ahmad Bodla’s contribution to the art.

Feb 26: President Mamnoon Hussain approved the Prime Minister’s advice and signed/promulgated four Ordinances including the National Tariff Commission (NTC) 2015. Other ordinances signed by the President include the Anti-Dumping Duties Ordinance 2015, Countervailing Duties (CD) Ordinance 2015 and Safeguard Measures (SM) Ordinance 2015.

Feb 27: The Pakistan Navy took over the command of the Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) at a change of command ceremony held at its headquarters in Bahrain. Pakistan has previously led the multinational force five times.

The CTF-151 is responsible for counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and Horn of Africa under the ambit of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

Feb 27: The Senate was informed that the Cabinet Division was bearing the fuel and maintenance costs of a 6000cc bulletproof car being used by former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
The law ministry told the House that the former chief justice was availing the facility in addition to his entitlement, ordered by the Islamabad High Court on January 15, 2014.

Feb 28: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet gave formal approval to Rs960 million bailout package for Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

The PSM, which is not only the largest industrial complex, but also the only integrated steel mills in the country, is facing the worst financial and production crisis because of various reasons.

Mar 01: The Environmental Protection Agency-Punjab (Punjab-EPA) approved the 720 megawatt (MW) Karot Hydropower Project worth $1.4 billion.

Mar 02: Authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa arrested more than 470 parents for refusing to allow polio vaccination to their children.
Mar 02: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved 15 development projects with a total estimated cost of Rs333.5 billion. The committee also approved 70 per cent increase in cost of land for Diamer-Bhasha dam.

Mar 02: Baloch Culture Day was observed in Quetta and other areas of Balochistan.

Mar 03: Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, the first high-level Indian official to have visited Pakistan since the dialogue broke off in January 2013 because of hostilities along the Line of Control, came to Pakistan.

Mr Jaishankar held meeting with his Pakistani counterpart and also delivered a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from Indian Premier Narendra Modi.

Mar 03: Pakistan was awarded “Spectrum for Mobile Broadband Award 2015” at the prestigious Mobile World Congress 2015 of the GSM Association held in Barcelona, Spain.

Mar 04: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud emphasised the importance of Pakistan-Saudi relations and vowed to strengthen them in various fields.

The two leaders held extensive talks at the King’s Palace, covering bilateral relations, and regional and international issues.

Mar 04: The Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms signed $11.6 million agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to support implementation of key governance reforms at federal and provincial levels.

Mar 04: An election tribunal directed the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to verify thumb impressions of voters of two constituencies of Lahore, NA-122 and PP-147.

Mar 05: Election to the Senate of Pakistan was held. The ruling PML-N won all 11 Senate seats from Punjab; the PPP-MQM electoral alliance got all their candidates elected; PTI could with 6 seats from KP Assembly.

Mar 05: The alliance of the National Party and Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party clinched three seats each in the Senate elections held in the Balochistan Assembly.

Mar 05: President Mamnoon Hussain approved a summary to confer Tamgha-i-Shujaat (the highest civil award for bravery) on the victims of the Peshawar Army Public School carnage.

Mar 05: The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) announced observing a “Black Day” every week against the establishment of military courts.

Mar 05: President Mamnoon Hussain, on the advice of prime minister, approved fixation of term of Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan, Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court, for a period of three years.

Mar 06: Anticipating a water crisis in the wake of extreme weather conditions, the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) asked the government to freeze the country’s entire development programme for five years and divert funds for construction of major water reservoirs on war footing as a national priority.

Mar 06: The Balochistan assembly unanimously adopted a resolution, demanding of the federal government to move the head offices of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) from Karachi to Quetta.

Mar 06: The Punjab Assembly passed 11 amendment bills, including the Punjab Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act 2015.

Mar 06: The Punjab Assembly increased the punishments for the guardian and Nikah Khawan for contracting marriage of a juvenile by passing amendments to the Child Marriage Act 1927.

Mar 08: The Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) began registering about 3,000 displaced families to be sent back to parts of South Waziristan Agency.

Mar 08: More than 40 million people in Pakistan do not have access to a toilet, forcing them to defecate in the open, which in turn is a major contributor to stunting in the country, a top Unicef official said.

Mar 09: The Islamabad High Court acquitted Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of then Punjab governor Salman Taseer, of charges of terrorism, but upheld his conviction under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Mar 09: Pakistan conducted a successful test launch of surface-to surface-ballistic missile Shaheen-III, which is capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 2,750 kilometres.

Mar 09: Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to set up a joint committee to work out a mechanism for documentation of unregistered Afghan nationals. But Islamabad has made it clear to Kabul that it has no intention to grant further extension to the refugees beyond the Dec 31 deadline.

Mar 10: The government completely reinstated capital punishment for all offences that entail the death penalty.

Mar 10: Pakistan has 10 more nuclear weapons in its arsenal than India with both the countries doubling their stockpiles since 2007, according to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ data.

The Nuclear Notebook Interactive Infographic provides a visual representation of the Bulletin’s famed Nuclear Notebook, which since 1987 has tracked the number and type of the world’s nuclear arsenals.

Mar 11: Rangers raided the Muttahida Qaumi Movement headquarters Nine Zero in Azizabad, Karachi. The Rangers detained several people and seized a large quantity of arms and ammunition.

Mar 11: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif laid the foundation stone of a motorway between Karachi and Lahore which will be completed in four phases.

Mar 11: President Mamnoon Hussain arrived in Azerbaijan’s capital on a four-day official visit. The president was received by Azerbaijan’s First Deputy Prime Minister Yaqub Abdulla Oglu Eyyubov on his arrival at the Baku International Airport.

Mar 11: Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif approved to rename the Metrobus Authority to Punjab Mass-Transit Authority while the award of contract for the cleanup of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Project was awarded to Rawalpindi Waste Management Company.

Mar 12: PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F took oath as Senate’s chairman and deputy chairman, respectively.

Mr Rabbani, who was the consensus candidate of all parties, including the ruling PML-N, was elected unopposed whereas Maulana Haideri was elected with a majority vote, defeating PTI’s candidate Shibli Faraz.

Mar 13: The army, for the first time, tested its pilotless drone ‘Burraq’ armed with laser-guided ‘Barq’ missile. Both Burraq drone and Barq missile, according to the army, have been indigenously developed.

Mar 14: Custom officials arrested model and actor Ayyan Ali from Benazir International Airport in Islamabad allegedly for money laundering. Ayyan was caught with $500,000 which she was allegedly smuggling to Dubai.

As per the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign exchange regulation, a passenger cannot carry more than $10,000, or the equivalent notes of another currency, out of the country.

Mar 14: PTI chairman Imran Khan launched dispute resolution committees with a view to dispense quick and cheap justice through local notables to people in the province.

Mar 14: The economic coordination committee (ECC) allocated 75% of 1.325 billion cubic feet gas per day to be imported from Turkmenistan under TAPI gas line project to Sui Northern and 25 per cent to Sindh.

Mar 14: A World Bank report warned that malnutrition costs countries up to 3.0 per cent of the yearly GDP and malnourished children lose 10 per cent of their lifetime earning potential stressing that malnutrition in Pakistan is the severest in the region.

Mar 14: A large number of fishermen, peasants, riverine community people and civil society members formed a human chain alongside the River Indus, showered rose petals in the stream to celebrate the International Day of Action for Rivers.

Mar 15: Shuzra Mansab (daughter of late Rai Mansab) of PML-N won NA-137 by-elections. She defeated Brig (R) Ijaz Shah who was supported by PTI.

Economy

Feb 19: At the Pakistan-Turkey Business Forum held in Islamabad and attended by the prime ministers of both countries, the Board of Investment announced to establish a ‘Turkish Exclusive Special Economic Zone’ in Pakistan.

An important feature of the forum was business-to-business meetings between Pakistan and 15 private investors from Turkey.

Feb 19: An agreement of cooperation for wind technology projects was signed between the Punjab government and an international company of Denmark.

Feb 19: Pakistan has managed to secure a $21 billion long-term contract from Qatar to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) at a highly attractive price.

Feb 20: Karachi Stock Exchange in collaboration with Pakistan High Commission and London Stock Exchange organised the 4th Pakistan Capital Markets Day 2015. Citi Bank sponsored the event.

Feb 23: Tax authorities have withdrawn withholding tax exemption on capital gains for foreign institutional investors.

Feb 24: EFU Life Assurance Ltd has received the ‘CSR Business Excellence Award 2015’ during the 7th International CSR Summit, organized by National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) for the second consecutive year.

Feb 25: An international arbitration into a $573 million claim against Pakistan began in London under the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

The claim has been filed in the ICSID by a UK-based shareholder of Progas Pakistan Limited, a company now acquired by the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC).

Feb 27: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced that the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed Pakistan from its grey list and elevated it to white list following Islamabad’s legal and procedural actions vis-à-vis anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism.

Feb 27: The government formed a new ‘National Tariff Commission (NTC)’, abolishing the old one formed in 1990 for being ‘flawed’ and inappropriate to address international trade related issues.

Mar 09: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the first-ever Pakistan-US Economic Partnership Week to boost bilateral trade and investments.

Appointments & Postings

Feb 16: Chaudhry Muhammad Barjees Tahir, a PML-N loyalist, took oath as Governor Gilgit-Baltistan.

Feb 18: A special court under the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014 was established in Lahore with retired district and sessions judge Muqarrab Ali Khan as its presiding officer.

Feb 25: The government appointed Marvi Memon as chairperson of the Banazir Income Support Programme (BISP). She has replaced another PML-N leader, Enver Baig.

Feb 25: Pakistan’s outgoing Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Masood Khan, was appointed as Director General Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS).

Feb 25: Dr Samia Raheel Qazi, ex-MNA and daughter of late JI ameer Qazi Hussain Ahmad, was appointed as a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).

Feb 26: Dr Maleeha Lodhi assumed the charge as Pakistan’s first woman ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Mar 03: Abbas Raza was appointed as Chairman National Tariff Commission (NTC) on the recommendation of the selection committee headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Mar 09: The Judicial Commission for Appointment of Judges of Superior Court approved the name of Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik as next Chief Justice (CJ) of Lahore High Court (LHC).

Mar 10: The Lahore Stock Exchange appointed Khalid Mirza as the new chairman of the LSE’s board of directors.

Education

Feb 19: The report on the status of education in Balochistan during the year 2014 compiled by the Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) Pakistan, an NGO, said that about 33 per cent of children in Balochistan, aged between 6 and 16, are out of school and student competency in learning English and Arithmetic is deplorable.

Feb 23: The booming and flourishing business of guidebooks and guess papers, which has continued unchecked and unregulated over years, is going to be regulated at least in Punjab with the new Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board Act 2015.

The bill passed by the Punjab Assembly says: “No person shall print, publish, sell or prescribe in an institution any supplementary material including guides, guess papers, get through guides or any other reading material ancillary to a textbook, supports implementation and enhancement of learning in curricula” without prior approval of the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board.

Feb 24: The Government College University made its debut in the world ranking of universities with Middle East Technical University, Turkey Informatics Centre, grading it at number 1,509 around the globe.

The varsity in the fields of mathematical sciences and chemical sciences has earned 709th and 948th positions in the world, respectively.

Sports

Feb 17: Salman Virk of Railways captured his maiden men’s singles title of the Masters Cup by getting the better of Wapda’s Abdul Rahim.

Feb 20: Mohammad Imtiaz bagged a gold medal for Pakistan Army in the Shah Khan Ski Trophy that concluded at the Naltar Slci Resort.

Feb 20: Shaukat Javed was elected as chairman of the Pakistan Federation Baseball (PFB) while Khawar Shah became the president.

Feb 26: Pakistan’s wheelchair cricket team made history by beating the host Nepal in all three T-20 matches and won the International Wheelchair Cricket Winter Cup series.

Feb 27: Pakistan clinched the gold medal and thus retained the West Asian Baseball Cup at the Pakistan Sports Complex.

The green-shirts, who remained unbeaten throughout the tournament, trounced India 11-0 in the final.

Pakistan, India, Iran and Iraq participated in the12th edition of the tournament.

Mar 04: Swashbuckling Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi joined the 8,000 one-day run club during his 21 not out against the United Arab Emirates in the World Cup.

The 35-year-old became the fourth Pakistani after Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Saeed Anwar to make 8,000 ODI runs and the 27th of all time.

Mar 09: Former world youth champion Moiz Baig won the Premier category of Danpak’s 8th Ranking Scrabble Tournament.

Mar 11: Pakistan Army clinched the title of the 4th All-Pakistan Cross Country Ski Championship held in the Rattu District in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Mar 15: Pakistan bodybuilder Atif Anwar won a title at the Arnold Classic body building competition held in Australia.

Obituaries

Feb 20: Prof Dr Shahid Nawaz Malik, the head of the cardiology department at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), died.

Feb 23: Justice Rana Bhagwandas, the second non-Muslim and the first Hindu head of the country’s judiciary, passed away.

Chief Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius, an Urdu-speaking Christian born in Agra, was the first non-Muslim jurist who served as the 4th chief Justice of Pakistan from 1960 to 1968.

Feb 24: Professor Dr Nazeer Ahmad Chaudhry former Dean, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, died. He was 91.
Mar 06: Punjabi novelist, poet and political and rights activist Anwar Chaudhry passed away. He was 68.

Mar 07: Mir Abdul Rehman Khan Jamali, younger brother of former prime minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, passed away. He was 69.

Mar 09: Senior progressive Pashto poet Shamsul Qamar Andesh breathed his last.

Mar 12: Renowned Urdu poet Ada Jafri passed away after a long illness. She was 90.

Mar 14: Comrade Aslam Raheel Mirza died. He was 88.

People in News

Reginald Foulds

Feb 17: Reginald Foulds, ex-military pilot from Pakistan Army Aviation Corps, was named among the 1,000 shortlisted candidates for a trip to Mars. Foulds had served as a helicopter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force before retiring in 1992.

Afzal Ahsan Randhawa

Feb 23: The Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture (Pilac) announced Shafqat Tanvir Mirza Award-2015 for Afzal Ahsan Randhawa, known Punjabi novelist, poet, playwright and short story writer.

Aleem Khan Abbasi

Feb 28: Raja Mohammad Aleem Khan Abbasi was elected as president of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Bar Association.
Pir Masood Chishti

Feb 28: Former law secretary Pir Masood Chishti was elected president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association for year 2015-16.

Gen Raheel Sharif

Mar 08: The World Islamic Forum (WIF), a think tank of Muslim countries, conferred the ‘Istanbul Special Islamic Award’ on Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif for demonstrating leadership in the struggle against terrorism with clarity, commitment and courage.

Gulalai Ismail

Mar 11: Gulalai Ismail, a 28-year-old rights activist belonging to Marghuz village of Swabi district, received ‘Youth Award for Excellency in Development’ in London, United Kingdom.

She is the daughter of Prof Mohammad Ismail, a known social worker of the region.

Places in News

Islamabad

Feb 17: An All Parties Conference (APC) was organised by the Awami National Party (ANP). The participants vowed to resist the government’s alleged plan to change the route of the Pakistan China Economic Corridor.

Lahore

Feb 17: The launching ceremony of Rabia Hassan’s book “Ethics of Killing” was held at the Lahore Press Club. I.A. Rehman, Hussain Naqi, Pervaiz Hassan, Mak Lodhi and Rabia Hassan addressed the function.

Islamabad

Feb 19: The 7th Pakistan Energy Forum 2015 concluded in Islamabad with speakers providing insight on all critical issues and opportunities in the sectors of oil, gas, power and alternatives industry in Pakistan.

The theme of the event was “Streamlining Energy Priorities for Developmental and Economic Growth.”

Jaipur, India

Feb 20: Kunwar Karni Singh Sodha of Umarkot district of Sindh in Pakistan tied the knot with Padmini Rathore of Kanota royal family of Jaipur district of Rajasthan in a lavish ceremony held in Jaipur.
Islamabad

Feb 24: The 7th International CSR Summit was held in Islamabad.
Islamabad

Mar 08: The two-day 6th Conference of the World Islamic Forum (WIF), a think tank of Muslim countries, concluded in Islamabad.
The forum also issued an Islamabad Declaration, reiterating its resolve to institutionalise itself as the voice of Muslim intellectuals, opinion leaders and thinkers.

It will hold a Muslim Women’s Summit in Kuala Lumpur in September, while the next WIF will be hosted by Iran.

International

Feb 16: India sealed a nuclear energy agreement with Sri Lanka, its first breakthrough with the new government of the tiny Indian Ocean island.

Feb 16: Central African leaders began talks in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde on a joint strategy to tackle the extremist Boko Haram group.

Six heads of state attended the meeting held under the aegis of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), while four other countries sent delegates.

Feb 16: A wave of cyber attacks since 2013 cost banks around the globe up to $1 billion, according to a report by Russian computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

Feb 18: An Indian Coast Guard official claimed responsibility for blowing up a suspected Pakistani boat in the Arabian Sea on the New Years Eve.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar maintains that the boat’s crew had blown themselves up on December 31 last year.

Feb 18: India’s government cleared a $8 billion plan to build the country’s  most advanced warships, just months after ordering new submarines to close the gap with the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean.

Feb 18: The year 2014 was the deadliest for civilians caught up in Afghanistan’s war since the United Nations began keeping records in 2009.

Feb 19: The Indian government cleared the indigenous construction of seven stealth frigates and six nuclear-powered submarines to bolster its naval power.

Feb 19: Denmark unveiled a 130-million-euro ($150-million) plan to combat terror at home and abroad.

Feb 19: India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missile with a strike range of 350 km.

Feb 20: The world’s oldest leader, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, turned 91.

Feb 20: The United States and Turkey signed a deal to train and equip thousands of moderate Syrian rebel forces.

Feb 21: Sri Lankan troops rescued a Dutch honeymooner who became the first person to survive a fall from the World’s End, a 4,000-foot (1,200-metre) cliff that is one of the country’s main tourist attractions.

Feb 24: A US jury in New York held the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian Authority responsible for a series of attacks in the early 2000s in Israel that killed or wounded several Americans.

Feb 24: France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine called for a total ceasefire in eastern Ukraine as London announced it was sending troops to train government forces fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Feb 24: India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party BJP and the regional rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agreed to form a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Feb 25: Four French lawmakers met Syrian President Bashar al Assad during a private trip to the war-torn country, despite a breakdown in diplomatic ties between Paris and Damascus.

Feb 25: French warplanes carried out first strikes in the fight against jihadists in Iraq.

Feb 25: World leaders have proved “shameful and ineffective” in failing to protect civilians from groups like Islamic State (IS), Amnesty International said, calling 2014 a “catastrophic” year.

The five permanent UNSC members Britain, China, France, Russia and the US “consistently abused” their veto right to “promote their political self-interest or geopolitical interest above the interest of protecting civilians”, the report added.

Feb 25: The head of the United Nations Panel on Climate Science, Rajendra K. Pachauri, resigned after allegations of sexual harassment were filed against him in India, where he lives and works.

Feb 26: India notified the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a banned terrorist organisation.

Feb 26: Jordan and Israel signed a deal to build a pipeline to link the Red Sea with the shrinking Dead Sea and combat regional water shortages.

Feb 26: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades signed an agreement to give Russian military ships access to Cypriot ports.

Feb 27: The US and Cuba held a second round of negotiations restoring diplomatic relations after a half-century interruption.
Feb 28: India announced a 7.9 per cent increase in defence spending for the fiscal year starting April 1.

Mar 01: New ruling coalition in Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir region was sworn in. India’s ruling party BJP and Kashmir’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) nominated 11 and 12 ministers respectively who took the oath of office under the watch of Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, founder and head of PDP.

Mar 02: The US and Russian foreign ministers expressed cautious optimism after holding talks in Geneva to end fighting in Ukraine.

Mar 02: Namibia’s outgoing president, Hifikepunye Pohamba, won the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s $5 million African leadership prize — an award meant to recognise good governance that had only been presented only three times before in eight years.

Mar 02: Top diplomats from Iran and the US began a new round of marathon talks in Montreux on a nuclear deal.

Mar 02: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met and discussed regional issues such as the ongoing war in Syria, Iran nuclear talks and turmoil in Yemen.

Mar 02: Dr Zakir Naik, a famous Indian television preacher and the president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, was awarded one of Saudi Arabia’s most prestigious prizes for “service to Islam”.

Mar 02: Bill Gates stood atop Forbes magazine’s annual list of the world’s richest people, as Facebook Inc’s Mark Zuckerberg joined the top 20.

Gates’ net worth rose to $79.2 billion from $76bn a year earlier, putting the Microsoft Corp co-founder at the top for the 16th year in the last 21.

Barcelona, Spain

Mar 03: The prestigious Mobile World Congress 2015 of the GSM Association was held in Barcelona, Spain.

Mar 03: India’s Maharashtra state extended a ban on killing cows to bulls and bullocks. President Pranab Mukherjee also gave his assent to the long-pending Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill.

Mar 03: American archaeologists discovered a 3000-year-old tomb with beautifully painted walls belonging to a nobleman who guarded the temple of the ancient deity Amun, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities said.

Mar 03: The controversial head of Norway’s Nobel Peace Prize committee, Thorbjoern Jagland, was removed and demoted to the rank of mere member in an unprecedented move. He had drawn criticism after becoming committee chairman in 2009 for awarding the prestigious Nobel to newly-elected US President Barack Obama. He will be replaced by current Deputy Chair Kaci Kullmann Five.

Mar 04: Vienna, Austria’s elegant capital on the Danube river, was again commended as offering the best quality of life in the world. Baghdad, once more, was deemed the worst to live in.

Mar 05: Boko Haram fighters killed 68 people, many of them children, in northeast Nigeria, as militants began amassing in the strategic town of Gwoza against a possible fight-back by military forces.

Mar 05: Liberia discharged its last confirmed Ebola patient.

Mar 05: Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, cannot be touched and people do not get swayed by slogans anymore, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti asserted, days after her party’s coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) agreed to maintain status quo on the controversial issue.

Mar 05: The US-based World Resources Institute think-tank and four Dutch research groups estimated that India, Bangladesh and China are most at risk from river floods.

Mar 05: US Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was slashed in the face by a Korean nationalist in an attack at a breakfast forum in Seoul to discuss Korean reunification.

Mar 06: Germany’s Parliament approved a quota system that will require leading companies in Europe’s biggest economy to have at least 30 per cent women on their supervisory boards starting next year.

Mar 06: The naming ceremony of Cruise ship Britannia was held. The ship is capable of carrying more than 3,600 passengers and 1,350 crew. The 1,082-ft-long vessel is the largest cruise ship and has been designed specifically for British tourists.

Mar 07: Participants in three civil rights marches a half century ago are being recognised with Congressional Gold Medals, the highest honour awarded by Congress.

President Barack Obama signed legislation awarding the medals as he flew to Selma, Alabama, for commemorations of the ‘Black Sunday’ protest march of March 7, 1965.

Mar 08: Saudi Arabia overtook India in 2014 as the world’s biggest importer of defence equipment, fuelled by tensions in the Middle East, according to a study published by respected analysts IHS Jane’s.

Global defence trade currently stands at $64.4 billion, said the report from the London-based defence specialists.

Mar 08: Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group. The Nigerian group’s leader Abubakar Shekau made the announcement in an audio message, describing it as a religious duty.

Mar 08: Nuclear competition in South Asia is “dangerous” while territorial disputes and cross-border terrorism complicate the situation further, warns a US think-tank.

Mar 09: The Arab League called for the creation of a regional force to combat militants as countries face a growing threat from Islamic State and other groups.

Mar 10: Forty-seven Republican senators wrote an open letter to Iran’s leaders, urging them not to sign a nuclear deal with the United States. President Barack Obama condemned the Congressional move that has no precedence in international diplomatic history.

Mar 10: Iran’s Assembly of Experts, the clerics who appoint and can dismiss the country’s supreme leader, picked an ultraconservative as their new chairman in a surprise appointment.

Mar 10: Despite the gains women have made in education, health and even political power in the course of a generation, violence against women and girls world-wide “persists at alarmingly high levels,” according to a United Nations analysis that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon presented to the General Assembly.

About 35 per cent of women world-wide — more than one in three — said they had experienced physical violence in their lifetime, the report finds. One in 10 girls under the age of 18 was forced to have sex.

Mar 11: Iraqi forces entered Tikrit, dodging bombs and sniper fire in search of their biggest victory yet against embattled militants who tried to light new fires elsewhere in Iraq and Syria.

Mar 12: Cuba is allowing free, public Wi-Fi service for the first time at a Havana cultural centre.

Mar 12: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi secured agreements to develop islands in Mauritius and Seychelles in an early success for his drive to wrest back influence in the Indian Ocean from China.
China has invested millions of dollars in recent years building seaports and highways in countries stretching from the Maldives to Sri Lanka that lie on vital shipping lanes through which much of its energy supplies and trade passes.

Mar 12: Russian scientists discovered seven giant craters in remote Siberia.

Mar 12: Google launched a virtual tour of Nepal’s Everest region, allowing armchair tourists a rare glimpse of life in one of the toughest and most inaccessible places on earth, home to the world’s highest mountain.

Mar 13: Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed was convicted of a terrorism charge by a criminal court and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Mar 13: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for greater security cooperation with Sri Lanka during a landmark visit to the strategically located Indian Ocean island.

Mar 14: A statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled at the symbolic heart of the British establishment.
Gandhi joins figures including Britain’s World War II leader Winston Churchill, who described him as a half-naked “fakir”, in London’s Parliament Square, opposite Big Ben and the House of Commons.

Mar 14: A terrifying Super Cyclone Pam, one of the region’s worst weather disasters, smashed into Vanuatu in the South Pacific and wreaked widespread devastation.

Mar 14: Identifying Pakistan along with Iraq, Syria and North Korea as global hotspot, America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has said these countries pose strategic and tactical challenges to policymakers.

Mar 15: The son of Iran’s former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was sentenced to 15 years in jail after being convicted of security offences and financial crimes.

Economy

Feb 18: The US government established a policy for exports of military and commercial drones, including armed ones, and plans to work with other countries to shape global standards for the use of the controversial weapons systems.

Feb 21: Europe granted Greece a crucial four-month extension to its massive debt bailout.

Feb 25: The European Union’s executive unveiled a vast plan to boost coordination between the EU’s 28 national energy markets to wean Europe off unstable Russian gas supplies and provide cheaper energy for consumers.

Feb 28: Lithuania signed a trade agreement to buy liquefied natural gas from the United States in a move aimed at reducing the EU Baltic state’s heavy dependence on Russian gas deliveries.

Mar 02: The Nasdaq Composite Index bolted above 5,000 for the first time in 15 years, recovering nearly all the ground since the massive dot-com crash of 2000.

Mar 09: Apple unveiled its entry in the smart watch market, a high-end device that allows users to make and receive calls and messages and track health and fitness.

Mar 11: British lawmakers voted in favour of forcing tobacco firms to sell cigarettes in plain packaging despite fierce opposition from the industry.

Mar 13: Gulf Arab allies pledged a further $12 billion of investments and central bank deposits for Egypt, a big boost to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he tries to reform the economy after years of political upheaval.

Mar 13: Britain applied to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), making it the first Western nation to embrace the China-backed institution.

Mar 14: German industrial giant Siemens AG signed a $10.5 billion (10bn euro) deal with Egypt to build power plants that will boost the country’s electricity generation capacity by up to a third.

Elections & Appointments

Feb 26: President Barack Obama nominated a career diplomat, Katherine Dhanani, to be the first US ambassador to Somalia since 1991.

Sports

Feb 16: Ireland caused the first upset of the 2015 cricket World Cup with a four-wicket victory over West Indies at Saxton Oval in Nelson.

Feb 17: Scotland equalled the ‘unwanted’ record of most ducks in an innings in World Cup when five batsmen unable to open their account against New Zealand.

Feb 18: Shakib Al Hasan became the first Bangladesh cricketer to make 4,000 One-day International runs against Afghanistan.

Feb 19: Mohammed Tauqir, at 43 years and 32 days, set the record of being the oldest skipper in World Cup when leading the United Arab Emirates against Zimbabwe. The previous record holder was Steve Lubbers of the Netherlands, who was 42 years and 347 days when he last led his side.

Feb 22: Mahela Jayawardene became the fourth Sri Lankan after Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva and Kumar Sangakkara and 15th batsman overall to score 1000 runs in World Cup.

Feb 24: Chris Gayle smashed the highest-ever individual World Cup score of 215 and his first century in 20 months as the West Indies flattened Zimbabwe on a record-shattering day.

Feb 26: The Afghan cricket team brought joy to its fans when it beat Scotland by one wicket with three balls remaining to claim its first win.

Feb 27: South Africa captain AB De Villiers hammered the second-fastest century in World Cup history when he hit 162 off just 66 balls against West Indies.

Mar 02: Austria’s Anna Fenninger made it back-to-back World Cup wins when she took the super-G at Bansko.

Mar 02: Jagmohan Dalmiya, who turned India into cricket’s financial powerhouse, was elected unopposed as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in place of the sport’s scandal-hit global supremo Narayanaswami Srinivasan.

Mar 04: Merciless Australia hit the highest ever World Cup score when they piled-up 417-6 in a record 275-run triumph over Afghanistan.

Mar 08: Kumar Sangakkara became only the second batsman to pass 14,000 career runs in one-day international cricket after Sachin Tendulkar.

Mar 08: Frenchman Yohann Diniz broke the 20-km race walk world record at the French championships. Diniz, who also holds the 50-km world record, clocked one hour 17:02 minutes.

Mar 09: England were knocked out of the World Cup by a spirited Bangladesh who grabbed a quarter-final spot following a dramatic 15-run victory in a tight match.

 Serena Williams won her first match at Indian Wells since 2001, beating Monica Niculescu in straight sets.

Mar 15: Algeria rider Youcef Reguigui captured the 20th Tour de Langkawi, despite finishing 10th in the event’s eighth and final stage.

Obituaries

Feb 16: Veteran French actor Louis Jourdan, who starred in “Gigi” and “Octopussy”, died at the age of 93.

Feb 16: Philip Levine, a former United States poet laureate, died. He was 87.

Feb 17: Lesley Gore, who recorded hit songs about heartbreak and resilience in 1960s, died. She was 68.

Feb 18: Belgium’s former world cycling champion Claude Criquielion died aged 58.

Feb 22: Jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, whose seven-decade career as a leader of big bands and sideman spanned a golden era of 20th century jazz, died at 94.

Feb 22: Ernest J. Sternglass, whose research in radiation physics laid the foundation for important technological advances and who became a prominent opponent of nuclear weapons, died. He was 91.

Feb 23: Dr. John C. Willke, an obstetrician who helped establish the modern anti-abortion movement died at 89.

Feb 23: Reuters’ bureau chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan Maria Golovnina, 34, died in the news agency’s Islamabad office.

Feb 27: Leonard Nimoy, the actor known and loved by generations of “Star Trek” fans as the pointy-eared, purely logical science officer Mr Spock, died. He was 83.

Feb 28: Yasar Kemal, one of Turkey’s most celebrated writers, a traditional storyteller with a social conscience and an outspoken champion of the Kurdish cause, died at the age of 92.

Feb 28: Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis, was shot dead near Kremlin.

Mar 09: Vinod Mehta, the last of India’s great editors, died. He was 73.

Mar 10: Sam Simon, a nine-time Emmy winner and co-creator of The Simpsons, died. He was 59.

Mar 12: Terry Pratchett, the British author whose fantasy novels sold in tens of millions worldwide, died. He was 66.

Mar 12: Richard Glatzer, the co-director and co-writer of “Still Alice” died aged 63.

People in News

Narendra Modi

Feb 20: A jacket worn by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he hosted US President Barrack Obama in Delhi was sold for Rs43 million at an auction.

Kristen Stewart

Feb 21: “Twilight” megastar Kristen Stewart won best supporting actress for her role in “Clouds of Sils Maria” at the Cesar awards becoming the first American actress to ever take home the award often called the French Oscars.

Hana al-Omair

Feb 25: A female Saudi film-maker Hana al-Omair took the Golden Palm Tree prize for the best drama for “Complain”. The five-day festival was only the second in seven years, and aired films at an arts and cultural centre in the Gulf coast city of Dammam.

Martin Crowe

Feb 28: Former New Zealand skipper Martin Crowe was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.

Jihadi John

Feb 28: Mohammed Emwazi, named by British and US media as the Islamic State executioner known as “Jihadi John”, has been described as a quiet but intense young man who gradually developed a taste for war.

Phlona Mutesi

Mar 01: Uganda’s Phlona Mutesi, who was a famished nine-year-old girl foraging for food when she started playing chess. Now, she is a chess champion who competes internationally.

Her tale of triumph over adversity is being turned into a Hollywood epic with Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o tipped to play her mother.

Misao Okawa

Mar 05: The world’s oldest person Misao Okawa, who lives in western Japan, turned 117.

Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi

Mar 10: 83-year-old Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who was a deputy speaker of parliament after the 1979 Islamic revolution and who headed the judiciary for a decade until 1999, was elected as Chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts.

Amelie Jeffett, David Hall and Nancy Jeffett

Mar 10: Former world number one Amelie Jeffett of France, Australian wheelchair star David Hall and industry leader Nancy Jeffett were announced as 2015 inductees into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Places in News

Yaounde, Cameroon

Feb 16: A meeting of Central African leaders held under the aegis of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to begin talks on a joint strategy to tackle the extremist Boko Haram group.
Six heads of state attended the meeting, while four other countries sent delegates.

London, UK

Feb 19: Christians, Jews and Muslims from all walks of British life made a pilgrimage through central London, in a show of unity against the hatred that drove recent attacks in France and Denmark. More than 100 people, including faith leaders, children and pensioners, walked in the rain from London’s main mosque at Regent’s Park to the Central Synagogue and then through the bustling crowds of Soho to Westminster Abbey.

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Feb 22: International Defence Exhibition and Conference was held at Abu Dhabi. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif visited the stalls of various countries, including China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

Rome, Italy

Feb 25: Medics at Turin’s university hospital centre in Rome replaced the pelvis of an 18-year-old anonymous Italian suffering from bone cancer with a titanium transplant in what is being said as the world’s first.

Wills Tower, Chicago

Mar 05: Chicago’s Wills Tower (C), formerly known as the Sears Tower, the building that was completed in 1973 and was the world’s tallest for more than two decades, is now up for sale with an asking price of $1.5 billion.

Trafalgar Square, London

Mar 05: A sculpture of a strutting horse skeleton was unveiled in London’s main Trafalgar Square wearing a London Stock Exchange prices ticker in an allusion to the City’s financial power.

Entitled ‘Gift Horse’, the riderless bronze sculpture, by 78-year-old German-US artist Hans Haacke, is in residence on the empty fourth plinth in the British capital’s central square.

New York, USA

Mar 08: On the eve of International Women’s Day, hundreds of women participated in a march in New York City to promote gender equality by 2030. Senior United Nations officials, including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, highlighted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that set the agenda for realising women’s rights.

International and National MCQs

International and National MCQs 1

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International and National MCQs 3

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