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World in Focus (Oct-Nov 2018)

World in Focus

NATIONAL

Oct 16: The Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht unveiled Rs238 billion Annual Development Programme (ADP) for 2018-19, which is 62.51% down from Rs635bn set by the previous government for preceding fiscal year.

Oct 17: Pakistan slipped by one position in the Global Competitiveness Index 2018 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as compared to last year, ranking 107 out of 140 countries, with a score of 4.0.

With an overall ranking of 107 out of 140 countries, Pakistan was at 109 for institutions; 93 for infrastructure;127 for ICT adoption;103 for macroeconomic stability; 109 for health; 125 for skills; 122 for product market; 121 for labour market; 89 for financial system; 31 for market size; 56 for business dynamism; and 75 for innovation capacity.

Oct 17: As per the latest report titled “The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition,” published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world, with 208 million people and an annual population growth rate of 2.4pc.

Oct 17: Imran Ali, convicted of rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur, was hanged in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore.

Oct 17: Supreme Court disqualified two PML-N senators, Haroon Akhtar and Saadia Abbasi, for having dual nationality.

Oct 17: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Italy where he called on the Italian defence minister, army chief and secretary general of defence, and discussed with them enhancement in bilateral defence and security cooperation, including potential joint initiatives.

On Oct 17, Anna Burns won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction for “Milkman,” becoming the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the 50,000-pound prize.

About the Novel

Milkman is set in 70s Northern Ireland in the middle of the troubles, although its nameless 18-year-old narrator is not especially interested in political turmoil. She reads 19th-century literature obsessively “because I did not like the 20th century” while avoiding the sinister local figure who has claimed her, in the community’s collective imagination, as his own. He is the Milkman of the title.

The story of the novel is set in an environment when sectarian violence flared between Catholic republicans, who wanted Northern Ireland to become part of a united Ireland, and Protestant loyalists and British security forces. Burns’ sentences are short and arresting. The novel is deceptively easy to read, initially. You feel instantly immersed in a world and absorbed by it. Sometimes it’s cosy, sometimes sharp and shocking. But the novel touches on something universal: what violence, unpredictable, persistent and brutal, does to a person’s mind. From the opening line—in which a death is announced and a gun put to middle sister’s breast—Ms Burns plunges the reader into her heroine’s thoughts. A cat’s head is packed neatly into a handkerchief. There are poisonings and car-bombs. Women must defer to men and “things were not gentle, not ever.”

For all the horror and uncertainty, there is tenderness and humour in “Milkman”, too. It is a hauntingly original tale of everyday life amid terror.

Oct 18: The Supreme Court (SC) dismissed review petition of PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi against its judgement declaring Prime Minister Imran Khan as honest.

Oct 18: Chairman Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Shaukat Hussain tendered his resignation.

Oct 19: An 11-member Pakistan Army team won gold medal for the fourth consecutive time in the world’s toughest Cambrian Patrol competition held in Wales, UK.

Read More: World in Focus (June-July 2018)

The Pakistani team comprised a battalion of Northern Light Infantry, the brave soldiers of Gilgit-Baltistan.

As many as 134 teams from 31 countries participated in the two-week competition.

World in FocusOct 19: Pakistan defeated Australia, inflicting them their heaviest defeat in test cricket against Pakistan – 373 runs – to wrap up the two-match series 1-0. Medium pacer Mohammad Abbas took his maiden ten-wicket haul in a match to fire Pakistan to victory.

Oct 20: The Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) introduced an online portal for PSCA E-Challans.

Oct 20: “Perween Rahman: The Rebel Optimist” won yet another international award, this time at the 7th Delhi International Film Festival 2018.

Oct 20: Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said the Pakistani nation was confronting a hybrid conflict where focus was shifting to subversion on religious, sectarian, ethnic and social issues needing a comprehensive national response.

Oct 21: Hamdard Laboratories (Waqf) Pakistan CEO Usama Qureshi was chosen as the best CEO of the year 2018 by the Consumers Association of Pakistan (CAP).

Oct 22: The federal government appointed Lt Col (r) Hassan Immad Mohamedi as the managing director of Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC).

Oct 22: Pakistan Army handed over administrative powers of district Swat to the civil administration after a decade.

Oct 22: Pakistani and Russian troops held the third edition of their annual joint drills codenamed ‘Druzhba (Friendship)-III’.

The drills are being held since 2016 when Pakistan hosted the first edition.

Oct 23: Justice Muhammad Anwarul Haq took oath as 47th chief justice of the Lahore High Court.

Oct 23: Former Pakistan captain Sana Mir rose to first place in the ICC women’s ODI rankings for bowlers.

Oct 23: Saudi Arabia stepped forward with a $12 billion bailout package for Pakistan’s ailing economy. The package includes $3bn balance of payments support and another $9bn in deferred payments on oil imports.

Oct 23: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet approved the issuance of a certificate of sovereign guarantee for the sale of three JF-17 aircraft to Nigerian Air Force against a sum of $184.3 million, to support the declining foreign exchange reserves.

Oct 24: Pakistan crushed Australia by 66 runs in first T20 match of the bilateral series in Abu Dhabi.

Oct 24: Baba Haider Zaman, the chairman of Tehreek-i-Sooba Hazara, died. He was 86.

Oct 25: The government reinstated Mr Jameel Ahmad as Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for a period of three years.

Oct 25: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta) joined hands to counter extremism and terrorism through joint research and collaboration with a special focus on campus extremism.

Oct 25: Army defeated Wapda on penalties to clinch the National Women’s Football Championship.

Oct 26: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced a major reshuffle in diplomatic assignments abroad, including the proposed appointments of two career diplomats Dr Asad Majeed Khan and Nafees Zakaria as Pakistan’s new ambassador and high commissioner in Washington and London, respectively.

Oct 26: The late Asma Jahangir, a renowned human rights defender from Pakistan, was named by the United Nations as one of the winners of the 2018 UN Human Rights Prize.

About the Prize and the Winners

1. Others who share the 2018 award include Tanzanian activist Rebeca Gyumi, Brazilian activist Joênia Wapichana and a human rights organisation, Front Line Defenders.
2. Asma Jahangir is the fourth Pakistani woman to be awarded the UN Human Rights Prize. Before her, Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan (1978), Benazir Bhutto (2008) and Malala Yousufzai (2013) had been accorded the honour.
3. The ‘United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights’ is an honorary award given for outstanding achievement in human rights.
4. Previous winners have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Denis Mukwege, Malala Yusafzai, Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
5. The Prize, established by the General Assembly in 1966, was awarded for the first time in 1968 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on what is now known as Human Rights Day, 10 Dec.
6. This is the tenth award of the prize, coinciding this year with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Oct 26: The education ministry notified the appointment of heads for the three government universities in the capital as per the following details:

Prof Dr Mohammad Ali: VC Quaid-i-Azam University
Prof Dr Ziaul Qayyum: VC Allama Iqbal Open University
Dr Masoom Yasinzai: Rector Int’l Islamic University, Islamabad

Oct 26: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly passed Rs23.7 billion supplementary budget for financial year 2017-18.

Oct 26: Pakistan won the second Twenty20 international against Australia, and also clinched the series.

Oct 26: Punjab beat Balochistan to win the inaugural PCB Under-19 Pentangular Cup T20 cricket tournament.

Oct 26: The PCB formed a seven-member advisory cricket committee comprising former cricketers, including Mohsin Khan (head of the committee), Wasim Akram, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mudassar Nazar, Haroon Rasheed, Zakir Khan and former women’s team captain Urooj Mumtaz.

Oct 27: The Supreme Court (SC) imposed a ban on the transmission of Indian content on local television channels, setting aside an earlier verdict by the Lahore High Court.

Oct 27: According to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Asian Ranking 2019, the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) jumped to #87 in the Asian region.

Oct 28: Pakistan and India were declared joint winners of the Asian Champions Trophy after a thunderstorm and heavy showers forced the organisers to declare the final abandoned.

India earned the right to take home the trophy of the biennial tournament for the first year.

Pakistan’s Abu Bakar Mahmood won the Emerging Player of the Tournament award.

Oct 28: Pakistan formally signed ‘participation contract’ with Dubai Expo 2020 authorities.

The contract was signed by Ambassador of Pakistan to UAE Moazzam Ahmed Khan in his capacity as Commissioner General Expo 2020 and Assistant Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sultan Al Shamsi.

Oct 28: Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the Pakistan Citizens’ Portal (PCP) to address public complaints.

About PCP

1. Pakistan Citizens’ Portal is a complete grievance redressal system connected with all the government departments. The Prime Minister Office will monitor the entire procedure.
2. People can lodge complaint through a smartphone app, website, e-mail or Facebook. A complaint can also be registered through a toll-free number.
3. Government departments will also hold Khuli Kachehris (open courts) to receive people’s complaints.
4. All complaints will be resolved in a given time frame and a transparent manner to the satisfaction of the complainant.
5. It is an excellent step towards good governance, in fact a forerunner of E-Governance.

Oct 29: The National Assembly (NA) unanimously passed a resolution to condemn state terrorism by the Indian forces and blatant violation of international laws in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK).

The resolution was moved by the Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Khan Gandapur.

Oct 30: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) declared several provisions of the Fata Interim Governance Regulation, 2018, including assigning of judicial powers to administrative officers in the tribal districts being merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in conflict with the Constitution.

Oct 30: The federal government appointed health expert Dr Sania Nishtar as the chairperson of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

About Dr Sania Nishtar

Dr Sania Nishtar counts among the top healthcare professionals in the world and is considered one of the most influential women in Science in the Islamic World. In 1999, she left a lucrative career as Pakistan’s first woman cardiologist to establish the NGO think-tank, Heartfile which today is the most powerful health policy voice and catalyst for health reform in Pakistan, and is recognized as a model for replication in other developing countries. She is the founder of many other health institutions, Pakistan’s Health Policy Forum and Heartfile Financing, aimed at fighting medical impoverishment.

In 2013, Dr Nishtar served as a federal minister in Pakistan’s interim government, where she held four portfolios, and was instrumental in establishing Pakistan’s Ministry of Health.

During her professional career, Dr Nishtar has been part of different working groups and advisories of leading global organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Economic Forum and the Clinton Global Initiative. She is the author of 6 books, more than 100 peer review articles and around the same number of Op-eds. She was awarded coveted Sitara-i-Imtiaz for her contributions. In 2011, she received the prestigious Rockefeller Global Innovation Award, which was given only to four individuals in the world, one of them being President Bill Clinton. Sania Nishtar holds a Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians and a PhD from Kings College, London.

Dr Nishtar’s appointment, in fact, reflects the government’s commitment to achieve this policy objective by depoliticising BISP and providing it professional leadership.

Oct 30: Though Pakistan has shown improvement in the health sector during the last 18 years, it needs to do a lot more as the country is far behind in the region and across the globe, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report titled “Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3: Localisation in Pakistan,” said. The report says the maternal mortality rate in the country was 290 per 100,000 live births in the year 2000 which has dropped to 160. However, the SDGs require it to be reduced to less than 70 per100,000 live births by2030.

Oct 30: Chaudhry Mahmood Akhtar, 70, a former LHC judge who was practicing as a lawyer in Rawalpindi, was shot dead.

Oct 31: In a landmark judgement, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, convicted on a blasphemy charge and ordered her immediate release from jail.

Oct 31: Amanullah Kanrani of the Hamid Khan-led group of lawyers was elected as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).

Oct 31: Pakistan improved its ranking by 11 points, moving from 147th to 136th position in the ‘Doing Business Report: Training for Reform 2019′ published by the World Bank.

Nov 01: The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP), headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, recommended the appointment of Athar Minallah, senior puisne judge of the Islamabad High Court, as its next chief justice.

Nov 01: The federal cabinet approved the name of retired Justice Hasnat Ahmed as the chairman of the 8th Wage Board.

Nov 02: Pakistan Navy (PN) destroyers demonstrated their firepower (missile firing skills) in the North Arabian Sea during the culmination of the sea phase of Seaspark-18 exercise.

All operational units of Pakistan Navy, including ships, submarines, aircraft, UAVs, Special Forces and Pak Marines along with elements of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, Pak Army and Pakistan Air Force participated.

Nov 02: Additional Inspector General (AIG) of Police Mohammad Aamir Zulfiqar Khan was appointed police chief of the capital. He succeeded Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Jan Mohammad a grade-20 officer.

The Assassination of Maulana Samiul Haq

Nov 02: Former senator and chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Maulana Samiul Haq, was assassinated at his house in the strictly guarded Bahria Town’s Safari Villas II.

Analysis

The respected religious scholar wielded significant influence through his seminary Darul Uloom Haqqania based in Akora Khattak, which produced many leaders of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. He also wielded political weight, having served as a senator for many years, and was currently aligned with the ruling PTI. He was also connected to the politics in Afghanistan and was sought after for advice by many stakeholders.

His brutal killing coincided with violent protests over the Supreme Court decision that had brought life to a standstill in the country and heightened fears of the situation getting further inflamed. Good sense however prevailed. Maulana Samiul Haq was laid to rest in Akora Khattak where thousands of mourners were present to pay him a tearful farewell.

It is imperative that the police solve this tragic crime at the earliest and identify the culprits. Given the high- profile theories about the murder of the much-respected religious leader and teacher and the motives of the killers have already started swirling around the country. The Afghan media is also throwing around seemingly irresponsible conjectures that can fan the flames of suspicion far and wide. Only a swift and conclusive investigation can bring all such wild speculation to a close. His murder took place in a populated locality inside his house in the early hours of the evening and therefore the police should be able to utilise modern forensic tools at their disposal to figure out who could access the inside of the house at this hour and commit the heinous crime.

In the meantime, the government should take whatever measures necessary to assure the late scholar’s family and thousands of his followers that no stone would be left unturned to track down his killers and bring them to justice. The top priority for now is to make sure that Maulana Sami’s murder is not allowed to be given a political colour that can destabilise an already fragile situation in the country. Speed and thorough probe is of essence.

Nov 03: Pakistan and China signed 15 agreements and documents to deepen bilateral cooperation in multiple spheres. The documents were signed during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China at a ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People where the prime ministers of the two countries also held a bilateral meeting.

Nov 04: Pakistan’s Babar Azam broke Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli’s record of fastest to 1000 T20I runs. Azam achieved the milestone in 26th innings of his career in the shortest format of the game.

Besides being the fastest to 1000 T20I runs in terms of innings played, Babar has also taken the shortest period – two years, 58 days – to the milestone. Previously, England’s Alex Hales had reached the figure in two years, 262 days. Kohli took five years, 112 days for his 1000 T20I runs.

Nov 04: Singer and activist Fakhre Alam, reportedly, became the first Pakistani to circumnavigate the globe solo.

Nov 04: Veteran Kashmiri leader and chief of Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party (JKPP) Sardar Khalid Ibrahim died. He was 71.

Nov 04: Habib Bank Limited (HBL) defeated Wapda to win the Quaid-i-Azam One-day Cup.

Nov 05: The UNICEF launched the ‘Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge’ in Pakistan which will offer young people an opportunity to receive grants to test innovative ideas and solutions and stand a chance to win a grant of up to USD 20,000 for their initiatives.

The challenge, which is taking place in collaboration with the School of Leadership, has been launched in 16 countries worldwide, and aims to provide training and employment opportunities to youths with secondary education by 2030.

Nov 05: Prime Minster of Pakistan Imran Khan met his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of China International Import Expo, in Shanghai.

The two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation on multilateral forums, particularly the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. They also exchanged views on regional issues including situation in South Asia and Afghanistan.

Nov 05: Pakistan won a 4-year term (2018-2022) for the administrative council of the International Telecommunication Union during elections held in Dubai.

Nov 05: Pakistan and Russia completed the third edition of their joint counterterrorism drills named Druzba-III.

Nov 08: Parliament House got the Green Parliament Award “Energy Project of the Year 2018” by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) during 2018 World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC), which was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

Nov 08: Punjab won the National Triathlon Championship. The runners up position went to Balochistan while Pakistan Railways grabbed third position.

Nov 09: Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) and the Bank of Punjab signed an agreement for payment of E-Challans across the province.

Nov 09: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Anwarul Haq inaugurated the country’s first evening court in Lahore to deal with family and minors’ custody cases with a view to keeping children of separated parents away from traditional environment of courts.

Nov 09: Meezan Bank Limited won the 3rd Pakistan Banking Awards in the category of the Best Bank for 2018, while Habib Bank Ltd and Bank Alfalah fetched two awards in two different categories.

The jury decided to choose Dubai Islamic Bank as the Best Emerging Bank in Pakistan for 2018.

Nov 10: Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the first shelter home “Panah Gah” in Lahore. Panah Gah project would benefit the homeless and needy. The visitors would be offered quality food to be provided by philanthropists.

Nov 12: The government approved Rs53 billion bailout packages for the national airline and power companies to avoid a halt to their operations.

Nov 12: The Punjab government removed Dr Umar Saif from the posts of Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) chairman and Information Technology University (ITU) Vice Chancellor.

Nov 15: International Institute for Justice Excellence named Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, the former Chief Justice of Pakistan, as the recipient of the International Justice Excellence Award.

Nov 15: The body of slain Superintendent of Police (SP) Mohammad Tahir Khan Dawar was handed over by Afghan officials to the Pakistani authorities at the Torkham border.

Nov 15: Rs360 million were transferred from the bank account of Ishaq Dar to the Punjab government.

Nov 15: Authors Kamila Shamsie and Mohsin Hamid were shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

Nov 15: The ruling PTI won two seats in the Senate by-election held in the Punjab Assembly. Waleed Iqbal and Seemi Ezdi won the two seats which fell vacant owing to disqualification of two PML-N senators Haroon Akhtar Khan and Saadia Abbasi on the charge of having dual nationality.

INTERNATIONAL

Oct 16: During a committee hearing on artificial intelligence and ‘the fourth industrial revolution, a walking and talking robot appeared in Britain’s parliament for the first time.

Robot, named Pepper, is a white female creation with an excruciatingly thin waist and a tablet computer stuck to her chest to answer some basic questions.

Oct 16: The US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on an Iranian paramilitary group along with a network of more than 20 businesses, known as the Bonyad Taavon Basij, alleging that it was financing the Basij Resistance Force, a component of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Oct 16: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed unveiled a downsized cabinet where, in a first, half the members were women, becoming the second African nation after Rwanda to achieve gender parity in its cabinet.

Oct 16: China successfully tested the world’s largest unmanned transport drone “Feihong-98 (FH-98)”, which can carry a payload of 1.5 tonnes.

Oct 17: Indian state Uttar Pradesh’s Cabinet cleared the proposal to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj.

1. The city, home of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru is located 650km southeast of New Delhi.
2. Before 1575, it was known as Prayag.
3. Some medieval texts including Akbar’s court historian Abul Fazl called it Piyag.
4. In 1575, the city was named Illahabad meaning ‘abode of God’ by the then Mughal Emperor Akbar when he visited the place.
5. Later in the time, it came to be known as Allahabad.

Oct 17: The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) revealed that desperate Rohingya families living in camps in Bangladesh are selling girls into forced labour to raise money.

Oct 17: The UNGA unanimously approved a resolution that will enable Palestine to chair Group of 77, a major group of developing countries, at the United Nations in 2019.

Oct 18: A Maldivian court overturned the 19-month jail term of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a former president of Maldives. Gayoom ruled the largely Muslim island nation for 30 straight years until he was defeated at the country’s first multi-party elections in 2008.

Oct 18: General Abdul Razeq, one of Afghanistan’s most powerful security commanders, was killed in a shooting attack by a bodyguard.

Oct 18: Bhutan’s voters gave an overwhelming victory to Lotay Tshering, a new party, headed by a surgeon, in only the third democratic election held by the Himalayan kingdom.

Bhutan, a country of 800,000 people is wedged between giant neighbours China and India.

Oct 19: Several countries including the United States and China agreed “in principle” to multilateral guidelines to manage unexpected encounters between their military aircraft. The agreement, signed by defence ministers of the 10-member Asean at a conference in Singapore, includes a region-wide pact on the exchange of information on terrorism threats.

Oct 19: The European Union and Singapore signed a landmark trade deal on the sidelines of a Europe-Asia summit.

Oct 19: At least 50 people were killed after a train ploughed into revellers celebrating a Hindu festival in Amritsar, India.

Oct 20: China’s home-grown amphibious aircraft AG600, claimed by Beijing as the world’s largest, carried out its first take-off and landing on waters. Code-named “Kunlong”, the AG600 is the 3rd member of China’s “large aircraft family” following the large freighter Y-20 and passenger aircraft C919.

Oct 20: Saudi Arabia admitted that the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its Istanbul consulate.

Oct 20: Parliamentary polls, the third since the Taliban’s fall in 2001, were held in Afghanistan.

Oct 21: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appointed academic Farhad Dejpasand the country’s new economy and finance minister.

World in Focus

Oct 21: US President Donald Trump announced that Washington would exit the Cold-War era treaty that eliminated a class of nuclear weapons due to Russian violations.

Oct 22: North and South Korea and the UN Command agreed to withdraw firearms and guard posts in the demilitarised zone village of Panmunjom.

Oct 22: The navies of China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) kicked off their first joint maritime exercises, in an effort to ease regional tensions linked to rival claims in the South China Sea.

Oct 23: An ancient Greek trading ship dating back more than 2,400 years was found virtually intact at the bottom of the Black Sea, the world’s oldest known shipwreck.

Oct 23: China opened the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge linking Hong Kong to the mainland, a feat of engineering carrying immense economic and political significance.

Oct 23: The UN Human Rights Committee said that France’s ban on full-face Islamic veil was a violation of human rights.

Oct 23: The United States, Saudi Arabia and five other Gulf states sanctioned nine Taliban functionaries, claiming they were working with Iran to undermine the stability of the Afghan government.

Oct 24: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) won a $777 million (680 million euro) order from India to buy defence systems for its navy.

The deal with India’s state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited to supply the marine version of the Barak 8 air and missile defence system for seven more warships follows a $630 million (551 million euro) order placed last year.

Oct 24: The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly for an EU-wide ban on single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery, cotton buds and balloon sticks.

Oct 24: Italy’s competition authority fined Apple and Samsung 10 and 5 million euros respectively for the ‘planned obsolescence’ of their smartphones.

Oct 24: Bangladesh sealed a 3-match series against Zimbabwe.

Oct 24: Nato began its biggest military exercises since the end of the Cold War in Norway. Around 50,000 soldiers, 10,000 vehicles, 65 ships and 250 aircraft from 31 countries took part in Trident Juncture 18.

Oct 25: Afghan Taliban announced that their former deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar had been set free by Pakistani authorities.

Oct 25: Saudi Arabia signed $56 billion of deals at an investment conference held in Riyadh.

The three-day Future Investment Initiative conference drew hundreds of businessmen and government officials from around the world.

Oct 25: Ethiopian lawmakers unanimously elected Sahle-Work Zewde as the country’s first female president. She has succeeded Mulatu Teshome.

About the New President

1. Ms Sahle-Work is an experienced diplomat who has now become Africa’s only female head of state.
2. She has served as an ambassador for Ethiopia in Senegal and Djibouti. She has also held a number of UN positions, including head of peace-building in the Central African Republic.
3. Immediately before becoming president, Ms Sahle-Work was the UN representative at the African Union.
4. According to Ethiopian law, the prime minister occupies the highest seat of power, but the position of president carries important symbolic weight and social influence.

Oct 25: Japan’s Shinzo Abe and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang commemorated the 40th anniversary of a friendship treaty, at the start of a rare trip to Beijing by the Japanese prime minister, who is seeking to repair frayed relations.

Oct 25: The European Court of Human Rights rejected a plea by an Austrian woman that her conviction for blaspheming the Holy Prophet (PBUH) breached her freedom of speech.

Oct 26: Billionaires made more money in 2017 than in any year in recorded history. The richest people on Earth increased their wealth by a fifth to $8.9tn, according to a report by Swiss bank UBS.

Oct 26: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in its new report recorded the killing of 182 journalists in 2016-17, a slight decrease in the number of fatalities compared to the previous 2-year period.

In 2017, the largest number of fatal attacks (27 killings) took place in Asia and the Pacific region, representing 34 percent of the total, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean with 28pc (22 killings). In the Arab states region.

Oct 26: Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as prime minister of the country, after President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Rajapaksa’s Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Oct 26: Outspoken Irish singer Sinead O’Connor converted to Islam and changed her name to Shuhada.

Oct 27: The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany called for a ceasefire around the last major rebel-held bastion of Idlib in Syria to be preserved.

Erdogan, along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, France’s Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met to try and find a lasting solution to the Syrian conflict, in which more than 360,000 people have been killed since 2011.

Oct 27: Microsoft Corp regained its spot as the second most valuable US company after a disappointing quarterly report from Amazon.com wiped $65 billion off the online retailer’s market capitalization.

Oct 28: Elina Svitolina claimed the biggest title of her career with a gritty comeback victory against Sloane Stephens at the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore.

She is the first player to go through the WTA Finals undefeated since Serena Williams in 2013.

Oct 29: Brazil entered a new era after electing its next president, Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right congressman who vowed a fundamental change in direction for the giant Latin American country.

Oct 29: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which was launched earlier this year, set a new record for becoming the closest human-made object to the Sun.

“The spacecraft passed the current record of 26.55 million miles (42.73 million kilometres) from the Sun’s surface. The previous record for closest solar approach was set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976.”

Oct 30: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif reached Islamabad on a trip to follow up on the issue of abducted border guards and discuss regional developments.

Oct 30: Five members of the Afghan Taliban, who had been freed from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in 2014 in exchange for captured American army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, joined the group’s political office in Qatar.

Oct 31: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the world’s biggest statue to mark the 143rd birth anniversary of Indian independence hero Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

About the Statue

The statue is more than twice the size of New York’s Statue of Liberty and also dwarfs the 128m-high Spring Temple Buddha in China, the world’s next-biggest statue.

It is made up of nearly 100,000 tonnes of concrete and steel.

The statue has been sculpted by the famous Indian father-son duo of Ram and Anil Sutar, noted for their depictions of various Indian politicians. But it has been cast entirely in China, with individual bronze pieces shipped to Gujarat to be assembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Nov 01: The UN General Assembly called for an end to the decades-old US embargo on Cuba, adopting a resolution by an overwhelming majority and rejecting US moves to criticise Havana’s human rights record.

It was the 27th time that the 193-nation assembly issued the call to lift the embargo imposed in 1962.

Nov 02: The Trump administration announced the reimposition of all US sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, with effect from Monday, 05 November 2018.

It was the second batch of penalties that the administration reimposed since President Donald Trump withdrew from the landmark deal in May this year.

Nov 03: Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and the Istanbul-based Orthodox patriarch signed an accord that paves the way for the recognition of an independent Ukrainian church.

Nov 03: American Superstar Simone Biles became the first-ever gymnast to win 13 world championship gold medals with victory in the individual vault competition in Doha.

Nov 05: India’s first domestically built nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant completed a ‘deterrence patrol’, giving it the capability to fire nuclear weapons from land, air and sea in the event of any ‘misadventure’ by enemies.

Nov 06: Indian Skipper Rohit Sharma smashed his fourth century in a T20 match against West Indies. He now holds the record of scoring most centuries in the shortest format.

Nov 06: China unveiled a replica of its first permanently crewed space station, which would replace the international community’s orbiting laboratory, and symbolises the country’s major ambitions beyond Earth.

Nov 06: The ninth Web Summit, one of the tech sector’s largest global conferences, was held in Lisbon, the capital and the largest city of Portugal, whereby women leaders in technology called for more to be done to drive equality in the male-dominated industry now hit by the #MeToo debate.

Nov 06: Zimbabwe recorded their first overseas Test win in 17 years, and their first since 2013, with a victory over Bangladesh.

Nov 06: Midterm Elections were held in the United States. Democrats won the House of Representatives ending one-party rule in the United States after two years of a wild ride for President Donald Trump.

Trump’s Republican party, however, outperformed expectations by securing 51 seats in the 100-seat Senate.

Nov 06: Americans created history when they elected two Muslim women Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to the US House of Representatives.

New Hampshire elected an Afghan woman, Safiya Wazir to the state legislature. She is the first Muslim woman and the first former refugee to win from there.

The midterm elections also brought a record number of women, 98, to US Congress from across the political spectrum, 84 Democrats and 14 Republicans.

Nov 08: Shanghai SIPG won the Chinese Super League to end Guangzhou Evergrande’s seven-year reign as champions.

Nov 09: Under China’s Belt and Road project, a deal between China and Myanmar to develop a multi-billion-dollar deep sea port in latter’s Kyaukpyu town along the Bay of Bengal, was signed.

Nov 09: Former Philippine first lady, and currently a congresswoman, Imelda Marcos was found guilty of corruption and handed a minimum of six years behind bars for each of the seven charges she wasd prosecuted for.

Her husband Ferdinand Marcos, who along with his cronies was accused of pilfering $10 billion from the Philippines, fled with his family to the US after a people’s uprising ended his 20-year rule in 1986. He died in 1989 while still in exile. But his heirs later returned to Manila and have since staged a political comeback.

Nov 09: Mina Toglukdemir of Turkey won girls singles title of the ITF Junior Pakistan Tennis Championships (I)-2018. She defeated Sara Yigin (Germany) in the final.

Nov 09: A Taliban delegation attended an international diplomatic conference in Russia for the first time. The Kabul government sent no official representatives, instead members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a body which oversees peace efforts but does not represent the government, attended the event.

Nov 09: President Donald Trump signed a proclamation that effectively will suspend the granting of asylum to migrants who cross the US border with Mexico illegally for up to 90 days.

The order means that migrants will have to present themselves at US ports of entry to qualify for asylum.

Nov 09: Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the nation’s parliament and called snap polls on Jan 05.

Nov 10: US President Donald Trump met French President Emmanuel Macron for talks in Paris ahead of a weekend of World War 1 commemorations.

Nov 11: Fifty-one states, including all EU members, signed up to a so-called “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace,” wherein they pledged support for a new international agreement to set standards on cyberweapons and the use of the internet.

China, Russia and the United States did not sign the pledge.

Nov 12: Stan Lee, who dreamed up Spider Man, Iron Man, the Hulk and a cavalcade of other Marvel Comics superheroes that became mythic figures in pop culture with soaring success at the movie box office, died. He was 95.

Nov 12: Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim became the first wicketkeeper-batsman in history to score two double hundreds in Tests.

Nov 13: ‘Make-A-Wish Foundation Pakistan’ founder Ishtiaq Baig was elected to the board of directors of ‘Make-A-Wish Foundation Int’l USA’.

Nov 13: Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court overruled President Maithripala Sirisena’s dissolution of parliament.

BREXIT DEAL?

On Nov 13, Britain struck a draft divorce deal with the EU after more than a year of talks.

About the Deal

Here is an overview of the key takeaways from the drafted deal:

Citizenship rights

1. The rights of EU citizens in the UK, and of UK citizens in the EU will be protected
2. UK citizens who have lived in the EU continuously for five years by the end of the implementation period will have the right to reside permanently in that member state. The same rules apply for EU citizens living in the UK.
3. EU citizens living in the UK can be joined by close family members — spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and dependent parents or grandparents — who live in a different country at any point in the future.
4. Workers and self-employed people will be broadly guaranteed the same rights they currently enjoy.

Transition period

1. There will be a 21-month transition period ending on December 31, 2020.
2. The transition period can be extended so long as an extension agreement is agreed to before July 1, 2020.
3. EU rules would continue to apply in the UK subject to the terms set out in the Brexit agreement.
4. After the transition period, a joint committee co-chaired by the EU and the UK would police the final withdrawal agreement, taking decisions by mutual consent. Committee’s verdicts would be binding.

Financial settlement

1. The UK will participate in EU annual budgets in 2019 and 2020.
2. Even if the transition period is extended, the UK will cease taking part in EU budget talks after 2020.
3. The UK will pay its share of outstanding budget commitments and its share of liabilities as at the end of 2020.
4. The entire “financial settlement” is expected to be between 35 billion to 39 billion pounds ($45-$51 billion).

Ireland and customs union ‘backstop’

1. Both parties will “use their best endeavours” to have a trade agreement in place 6 months before the end of the transition period, whether it is Dec. 2020 or another agreed upon end date.
2. If appropriate customs arrangements are not agreed to, a backstop arrangement would kick in. A joint “single customs territory” between the EU and UK would apply from the end of the transition period “unless and until… a subsequent agreement becomes applicable.”
3. The “single customs territory” would cover all goods except fishery products.
4. Under the backstop arrangement, the UK must observe “level playing field” commitments on competition, state aid, taxes and employment and environment standards.
5. The backstop plan, designed to be temporary, would prevent the implementation of a hard border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland.
6. The UK is committed to avoiding any hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and upholding the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the peace deal that ended three decades of conflict and created the present-day political institutions.

Nov 14: The UN Security Council lifted sanctions on Eritrea, following a landmark peace deal with Ethiopia and a thaw with Djibouti that have buoyed hopes for positive change in the Horn of Africa.

World in Focus

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