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World in Focus (May-June 2018)

World in Focus (May-June 2018)

NATIONAL

May 16: Husain Lawai was elected as the chairman of Pakistan Stock Exchange Limited (PSX).

May 16: The Exchange of Data Information (EDI) between Pakistan and China operationalized. Under the EDI, tax authorities of both countries would share imports and exports data through connected electronic software.

May 16: Salman Badeni, the Balochistan chief of proscribed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was killed during an intelligence-based operation in the Killi Almas area of Balochistan.

Orange Line Metro Train

On May 16, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated and completed a trial run of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT), the country’s first rapid mass transit rail project.

About the OLMT

1. The estimated cost of the project is around $1.65 billion while the provincial government earmarked Rs93 billion – the largest amount ever allocated to a single project – in the last budget.
2. It is the only project in the transport /mass transit sector funded by China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) so far.
3. It is being completed as a joint venture of the China Railways and Norinco, in association with the Lahore Development Authority.
4. Initially, the project will facilitate 0.25 million people daily, whereas by 2025, it is expected to facilitate 0.5m people every day.
5. Under the project, 27 trains — with five bogies each — will travel across the track in 45 minutes.
6. The OLMT route begins at Ali Town and ends at the Dera Gujran/Ring Road Interchange, with 26 stations – 24 Elevated and 2 Cut & Cover stations – on the route.
7. Total length of the route is 27.1 Km (Cut & Cover section: 1.72 Km; Elevated: 25.4)

May 18: The National Assembly approved a Rs5.247 trillion budget for the year 2018-19 as well as the Finance Bill-2018.

May 18: Acting President Sadiq Sanjrani conferred the Nishan-i-Imtiaz (Military) on the visiting vice chairman of the Chinese Central Military Commission, Gen Zhang Youxia.

May 19: The Kohat Police appointed Zobia Musarrat the first lady Muharrar of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

May 20: Karachi’s Archbishop Joseph Coutts was named among the fourteen new cardinals Pope Francis elevated.

He will be the second Pakistani archbishop to be honoured after Cardinal Joseph Cordeiro, who got this position in 1994.

May 21: A project for establishing the first National Centre for Cyber Security was inaugurated by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal at the Air University, Islamabad.

May 21: Pakistan defeated India in the final of the 2nd Kathmandu International Taekwondo Championship when Alamgir Ali of the Pakistan Army defeated his opponent in the final, to win the gold medal.

May 21: One of the oldest living Pakistan Olympian Raja Mohammad Fazil breathed his last. He was 92.
May 21: The Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) government promulgated the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018, which provides devolution of administrative authority and financial powers to the area.

A detailed article on the issue is included in this issue of JWT.

May 24: The National Assembly passed a constitutional amendment seeking the much-awaited merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a 229-1 vote.

Dawar Kundi, a PTI dissident, was the only dissenting vote.

May 24: Pakistan and China agreed to extend the currency swap agreement for another three years, and double its size.

May 25: The Fata merger bill sailed through the Senate.

May 26: Renowned novelist, Mazhar Kaleem MA, who was famous for writing spy novels, Imran Series, passed away at 75.

May 26: President Mamnoon Hussain set July 25 as the date for general elections in the country.

Under Section 57 (1) of the Elections 2018 Act, 2017, the president announces the date for elections in consultation with the ECP.

May 27: The nail-biting saga of the British-era law concluded with the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) finally getting merged with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the provincial assembly passed the landmark Constitution (Twenty-Fifth Amendment) Bill 2018.

Two highly informative articles on FATA are included in this issue of JWT.

May 28: The Pakistan Army set up a ‘court of inquiry’ to investigate former director general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen (R) Asad Durrani’s collaboration with A.S. Dulat, former chief of Indian spy agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), in writing a book titled: The Spy Chronicles.

May 28: The government and the opposition agreed on the name of former chief justice of Pakistan Nasirul Mulk as caretaker prime minister to supervise the upcoming elections.

May 28: Dr Tariq Banuri was appointed the chairperson of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

May 28: President Mamnoon Hussain signed the Fata Interim Governance Regulation, 2018.

May 28: Guinness Book of World Records approved Ahmad Amin Bodla’s record of 18,188 full contact punches in one hour holding 1kg weight in each hand.

It was Bodla’s 10th Guinness title.

May 29: The government appointed Principal Information Officer (PIO) Saleem Baig as the chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for four years.

May 29: Just two days before the expiry of its five-year term, the government approved the National Internal Security Policy (NISP) 2018-23.

A detailed article on the issue is included in this issue of JWT

May 29: The government unveiled the country’s first National Food Security Policy in an effort to eliminate hunger and malnutrition, and make food accessible for all.

May 29: A World Justice Project report said that people in Singapore feel the safest, while Pakistanis the least secure.

May 29: Air Marshal (R) Asim Suleiman was confirmed as new chairman of Pakistan International Airline (PIA).

May 30: A new channel PTV Parliament, meant for better coverage of parliamentary proceedings, was launched.

May 30: Pakistan’s new ambassador to the United States, Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, took charge of his post. He replaced career diplomat Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.

May 30: Turkey and Pakistan agreed on the sale of a batch of 30 Turkish-made T129 ATAK multirole combat helicopters.

Before the deal, the T129 went through various tests in Pakistan. Most recently, the T129 was showcased at the March 23 military parade for Pakistan’s National Day.

May 30: Prime Minister Abbasi appointed Zafar Hassan, an officer of grade 21 of PAS, as senior adviser to Executive Board (EB) in IMF at Washington DC for a period of three years.

Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan

On May 31, President of Pakistan, in his capacity as Chancellor of University of Baltistan, appointed Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan, Punjab University’s Faculty of Life Sciences Dean, the first VC of the university in exercise of powers conferred by Section 10 (3) of the University of Baltistan Order 2016.

Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan is a PhD in Zoology from the University of Guelph, Canada. He has served as Registrar Punjab University on different occasions and also as PU Director External Linkages. He has won numerous international awards including the prestigious Turkish “Mevlana (Rumi) Academic Exchange Programme Award 2017” four-month EU Erasmus Mundus Academic Staff Visiting Professor Fellowship for the University of Crete, Greece (2016); six-month EU Erasmus Mundus Post-Doctoral Fellowship for the University of Zagreb, Croatia (2015-16); FAO Global Fisheries Travel Award for Rome, Italy (2015), Norwegian Fisheries Award for Trondheim, Norway (2014); American Fisheries Society Travel Award for Mazatlán, Mexico (2014) and the World Aquaculture Society Travel Award for Adelaide, Australia (2014).

May 31: Zulfiqar Ali, a Pakistani citizen on death row in Indonesia for 15 years, died. He was 54.

May 31: President Mamnoon Hussain gave his assent to the recently-passed 25th Constitution Amendment Bill, paving the way for the much-delayed merger of FATA with KP.

May 31: The federal government approved a five-year tax holiday for now-defunct FATA and PATA.

May 31: Dr Mirza Habib was appointed the chairman of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR).

May 31: In its farewell meeting, the federal cabinet approved the National Transport Policy that seeks to upgrade and overhaul the country’s transport modes.

June 01: Prime Minister’s office replaced Fawad Hasan Fawad with Suhail Amir as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.

World in Focus (May-June 2018)June 01: The Lahore High Court (LHC) annulled the Parliament-prepared nomination papers, ruling that it was the domain of the ECP to make changes in nomination papers in line with the Constitution and Elections Act.

June 01: The Supreme Court resurrected political career of Khawaja Muhammad Asif by overturning the disqualification for life handed down by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

June 01: The United Nations honoured 128 military, police and civilian personnel from 38 countries, including seven Pakistanis, who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations during 2017.

The seven fallen Pakistani peacekeepers are: Sepoy Hazrat Bilal, Naik Abdul Ghafoor, Naik Muhammad Ali, Sepoy Muhammad Ishtiaq Abbasi, Sepoy Tariq Javed, Naik Attaur Rehman and Sepoy Yassir Abbas.

June 01: Two additional judges of the Peshawar High Court, Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim, took oath as the permanent judges of the PHC.

Strengthening Pakistan Navy

On June 01, Pakistan Navy purchased two multirole Type 054A frigates from China for bolstering its war-fighting capability.

About 054A Frigate

1. Type-054A is an extremely potent and state-of-the-art warship that is equipped with latest weapons, including long-range missiles and hi-tech sensors.
2. It is capable to undertake operations in all domains of naval warfare.
3. It has a stealthy design and is primarily designed for air defence.
4. It is also equipped to conduct anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions.
5. It has a length of 134m and a beam of 16m.
6. The standard displacement is 3,600t, while the full displacement is around 4,000t.
7. Each vessel is estimated to cost $250 million.
8. Type 054A frigates also have a helipad and a hangar and can accommodate a helicopter or unmanned aerial vehicles.
9. It is considered one of the major vessels of Chinese Navy.

June 02: Chief Justice Saqib Nisar inaugurated Pakistan’s first-ever International Institute of White Collar Crime Investigation at the Lahore Garrison University.

June 02: The Judicial Commission of Pakistan recommended the elevation of Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Yahya Afridi to the Supreme Court.

June 03: Distinguished translator, short story writer, critic, researcher and University of Wisconsin’s Professor Emeritus of Asian Languages and Cultures Department Mohammad Umar Memon passed away. He was 79.

June 03: Well-known poet and researcher, Professor Dawar Khan Daud, passed away in Peshawar. He was 78.

June 04: A Pakistan-sponsored resolution on improving access to Assistive Technology for the differently-abled, elderly and people with non-communicable diseases was approved unanimously in the United Nations, Geneva, by the World Health Assembly.

World in Focus (May-June 2018)June 05: A 6-member caretaker cabinet took the oath to run the day-to-day affairs of the interim government.

The six-member cabinet comprises former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Dr Shamshad Akhtar, senior lawyer Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, former ambassador of Pakistan to the United Nations Abdullah Hussain Haroon, educationist Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh, educationist and human rights expert Roshan Khursheed Bharucha and former federal secretary Azam Khan.

June 06: The Supreme Court ordered that intending candidates submit a separate affidavit along with new nomination forms for the 2018 general elections.

June 06: The Sindhi Language Authority (SLA) selected 8 best authors of 2017 in different genres of the language.une 07: The FPSC allowed physically-challenged candidates to apply for all the 12 occupational groups of civil service to appear in the Central Superior Service (CSS) examinations.

Earlier, candidates with physical disabilities could only apply to four groups, which include Postal Services, Information Group, Audit and Accounts and Trade and Commerce.

June 08: The KP government abolished the office of Political Agents and the collection of Agency Welfare Fund.

June 08: The Global Slavery Index ranked Pakistan 6th out of 167 countries.

June 11: CJP Saqib Nisar suspended the ‘exorbitant tax deductions from mobile phones prepaid calling cards and easy load by companies and FBR.

June 12: The Supreme Court dismissed Imran Ali’s plea against the death penalty in the rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur.

June 12: The COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa paid a daylong visit to Kabul. He was accompanied by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, ISI chief Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, DG Military Operations Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza and other military officials.

June 12: Mahvash Faruqi, cofounder of Zambeel Dramatic Readings (ZDR), passed away.

June 13: Pakistan completed a clean sweep of their two-match Twenty20 series against Scotland.

June 13: The Supreme Court declared Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed eligible to contest the 2018 general elections by dismissing a petition seeking his disqualification for life.

June 14: The ECP withdrew the ban on recruitments.

Pakistanis in the United Kingdom

The number of non-UK-born citizens living in the United Kingdom has risen once again, with Pakistanis becoming the eighth most common non-British nationality in the UK.

The number of Pakistani nationals living in the UK in 2017 was estimated to be around 188,000. The figure of 188,000 doesn’t add in the figure of around 1.4 million British Pakistanis or Pakistani origin British nationals.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the top 10 most common non-British nationalities in 2017 included

1. Poland 1,021,000; 2. Romania 411,000; 3. Republic of Ireland 350,000; 4. India 346,000; 5. Italy 297,000; 6. Portugal 235,000; 7. Lithuania 199,000; 8. Pakistan 188,000; 9. Spain 182,000; 10. France 181,000.

Performance of the 14th National Assembly

Despite political controversies in the past five years, the 14th National Assembly took up an unprecedented legislative agenda by approving 205 bills as compared to 134 and 51 bills passed by 13th and 12th National Assembly during their five-year terms, respectively, stated a report of the Free and Fair Election Network on Friday.

The House approved several important pieces of legislation, including five constitutional amendments during 56 sessions comprising 495 sittings, that provided for setting up military courts for an initial period of two years and their subsequent extension for another two years, reallocation of NA seats among federating units on the basis of fresh census results, electoral reforms and the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Likewise, The Elections Act, 2017, which reformed and consolidated the erstwhile eight separate election laws of the country, also saw light of the day during the term of the 14th Assembly.

Other important government legislations included reforms in the criminal justice system providing for compensation of litigation costs, institutionalisation of alternate dispute resolution mechanisms, witnesses’ protection and expeditious disposal of law suits.

The House also legislated for the right to information, whistleblowers’ protection, climate change and institutional reforms. In addition to the legislation, the House adopted 209 resolutions making recommendations to the government on the issues concerning foreign affairs, economy, internal security, education, health and others.

WHO’s Essential Diagnostics List

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published its first Essential Diagnostics List, a catalogue of tests needed to diagnose most common diseases along with number of global priority diseases. It aims to address people’s inability to access diagnostic services, which results in them from receiving correct treatment.

Essential Diagnostics List

The essential diagnostics list concentrates on in-vitro tests like tests of blood and urine. It contain overall 113 products which comprises 58 tests for detection and diagnosis of a wide range of common conditions. Remaining 55 tests for detection, diagnosis and monitoring of ‘priority’ diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and human papillomavirus….

For each category of test, list specifies type of test and intended use, format and if appropriate for primary health care or for health facilities with laboratories. It also provides links to WHO guidelines or publications and to pre-qualified products. Some of tests enlisted in it are particularly suitable for primary health care (PHCs) facilities, where laboratory services are often poorly resourced and sometimes non-existent.

Updation WHO will update list on regular basis and will also issue call for applications to add categories to next edition. It is expected to expand expand significantly over next few years to incorporate other important areas including emerging pathogens, neglected tropical diseases, antimicrobial resistance and additional non-communicable diseases.

Significance

Essential Diagnostics List will provide uniform tool that can be useful to all countries, not only to test and treat health complications better but also to use health funds more efficiently by concentrating on the truly essential tests. It also provides an essential package that can form the basis for screening and management of patients. It similar to WHO’s essential medicines list, which has been in use for four decades and serve as reference for countries to update or develop their own list of essential diagnostics.

SCO-RATS Moot in Islamabad

Pakistan hosted its first ever Shanghai Cooperation Organisation-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) legal experts meeting in Islamabad. This was the first-ever SCO meeting being held in Pakistan since it became a permanent member of the organisation along with India in June 2017.

Key Facts

The three day meeting saw participation of legal advisors from eight SCO member states including India, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan, as well as representatives of the SCO and RATS Executive Committee.

The moot was held to discuss terrorist threats facing the region and ways and means to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation between SCO member states.

The member states discussed various proposals for enhancing regional cooperation in countering terrorism and extremism.

They also discussed administrative and organizational matters.

The meeting deliberated upon the agenda of the 33rd Session of the Council of SCO-RATS to be held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in October 2018.

About SCO-RATS

SCO-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is permanent organ of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). It serves to promote cooperation of member states against three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism. It is headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The Head of RATS is elected to three-year term. Each member state also sends permanent representative to RATS.

About SCO

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation which was founded on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai, China.

Its main goals include strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states; promoting effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.

INTERNATIONAL

May 16: England’s 1966 World Cup winning defender Ray Wilson died aged 83.

May 17: The EU-Western Balkans summit took place in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. The Summit brought together heads of state or government from EU member states and leaders from 6 Western Balkans partners: Albania, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia & Kosovo.

May 17: Five-time Olympic swimming champion Katie Ledecky broke her own 1,500m freestyle record by 5 seconds in her first race as professional.

May 17: An extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of Arab League countries was held in Cairo wherein they called for an international probe into crimes by Israeli forces against Palestinians.

May 17: Atletico Madrid won the Europa League for the third time.

May 18: An extraordinary summit of the leaders of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states was held in Istanbul, Turkey, to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and to denounce the relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, as well as the Israeli attacks that killed over 60 civilians in protests on May 14.

May 18: The UN Human Rights Council voted to send a team of international war crimes investigators to probe the deadly shootings of Gaza protesters by Israeli forces.

May 18: A Boeing 737 plane crashed shortly after taking off from main airport of Havana, the capital of Cuba, carrying 104 passengers plus crew on a domestic flight.

May 19: A political bloc led by populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of the US who also opposes Iranian influence in Iraq, won the parliamentary election in Iraq.

May 19: Prince Harry and his actress bride Meghan Markle married in a dazzling ceremony.

May 19: Bernard Lewis, a preeminent scholar of Middle Eastern history whose work (The Arabs in History, The Middle East and the West, The Emergence of Modern Turkey) profoundly shaped Western views of the region including fears of a ‘clash of civilisations’ but also brought scorn from critics who considered his views elitist and favouring Western intervention, died. He was 101.

May 20: The chairman of LG Group, Koo Bon-moo, who helped transform South Korea’s fourth-largest conglomerate into a global brand, passed away.

May 20: An Indian diplomat Madhuri Gupta was jailed for 3 years on charges of passing state secrets to Pakistan’s ISI.

May 21: Venezuela’s National Election Council declared Nicolas Maduro the winner of country’s presidential election.

May 21: Gina Haspel was sworn in as the director of the CIA, becoming the first woman ever to lead the agency.

May 21: Nobukazu Kuriki, a celebrated Japanese climber who lost all but one finger to frostbite on Everest, died on his eighth attempt to reach the summit.

May 21: Former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series with Netflix.

May 22: The US Treasury blacklisted 5 Iranians who allegedly supplied ballistic missile technology to Yemen’s Houthis.

May 22: Prolific novelist Philip Roth, a dominant force in American literature throughout the latter half of the 20th century, died at 85.

May 23: Lebanon’s new parliament re-elected veteran speaker and Hezbollah ally Nabih Berri to a 6th consecutive term.

May 24: Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu resigned after Burkina Faso announced it was breaking diplomatic ties with the island.

May 24: Lebanese lawmakers designated Prime Minister Saad Hariri for a third term in office.

Lebanon’s unique sectarian power-sharing arrangements provide for parliament to be split equally between Christians and Muslims and stipulate that the president be Maronite, the premier Sunni and the speaker Shiite.

May 24: North Korea dismantled its nuclear test site, Punggye-ri facility in the country’s northeast, as a goodwill gesture ahead of a summit with the US.

May 24: A missile system from the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade of the Russian Armed Forces was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, prosecutors investigating the disaster said.

May 24: Ten families from Europe, Kenya and Fiji filed suit against the European Union, seeking to limit global warming’s threats to their homes and livelihoods.

The claim, nicknamed the ‘People’s Climate Case’, is the first of its kind brought against the EU.

May 25: Scientists in South Africa launched the world’s first optical telescope linked to a radio telescope, combining “eyes and ears” to try to unravel the secrets of the universe.

The device forms part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in the remote Karoo desert, which will be the world’s most powerful radio telescope system.

May 28: Mamoudou Gassama, the Malian ‘Spiderman’ who scaled four storeys to save a child dangling from a balcony was hailed as an ‘example’ and was offered the French citizenship by President Emmanuel Macron.

May 29: Azerbaijan inaugurated part of a pipeline complex that will eventually create the first direct route to transport Caspian gas from one of the world’s largest fields to Europe bypassing Russia.

World in Focus (May-June 2018)May 30: Saudi Arabia passed a new law to criminalise sexual harassment. The law envisages a prison term of up to five years and a maximum penalty of 300,000 riyals.

May 30: Indonesia and India pledged to step up defence and maritime cooperation, with plans to develop a strategic Indonesian naval port in the Indian Ocean, during Indian premier’s visit to Indonesia.

May 30: Forbes released its eighth annual list of The World’s 100 Most Innovative Companies. Cloud computing company ServiceNow debuted on the list at No. 1, seizing the title of the World’s Most Innovative Company of 2018. Another newcomer, Workday, comes in at No. 2, and former top-ranked Salesforce falls to No. 3.

May 30: US Treasury placed several Iranian state groups on its sanctions blacklist, accusing them of serious human rights abuses and censorship.

May 30: Austria-based Universal Peace Federation designated President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan as Ambassador of Peace.

May 30: Cricket’s world body decided against scrapping the toss in Test cricket, describing it an integral part of the game.

May 31: The Sleeping Lion, world’s largest known freshwater pearl, which once belonged to Catherine the Great of Russia, was sold in the Netherlands for 320,000 euros ($374,000).

May 31: The Pentagon announced the renaming of its oldest and largest military command, the storied US Pacific Command, or PACOM, which was formed after World War II, as the Indo-Pacific Command.

May 31: Denmark banned the wearing of face veils in public, joining France and other European countries in outlawing the burqa and the niqab worn by Muslim women.

May 31: More than half of the world’s children are threatened by conflict, poverty or sexual discrimination, Save the Children said in a report entitled “Many Faces of Exclusion”. The study ranked 175 countries in terms of the threat of child labour, exclusion from education, child marriage and early pregnancy. It found that 1.2 billion children worldwide were at risk from at least one of the three main threats.

May 31: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane quitted the Spanish giants just days after winning the Champions League for a record third year in a row.

May 31: As many as 14 West Asian and South Asian countries joined hands in Saudi Arabia to launch South West Asian Football Federation (SWAFF) which will be an independent association to work for the development of the game in the region.

May 31: Fred Kovaleski, whose international tennis-playing career became his cover in the 1950s while he was working as a spy for CIA, died at 93.

June 01: Russia and Abu Dhabi signed a cooperation agreement to stabilise energy markets amid a rising trend in oil prices.

The deal was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

June 01: Spain’s parliament ousted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote. His Socialist archrival Pedro Sanchez took over as the PM.

June 01: International researchers found that Pluto, the dwarf planet, is covered with surprising dunes made of methane ice.

June 02: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in for a second 4-year term.

June 03: India successfully test-fired a surface-to-surface nuclear capable intercontinental ballistic missile Agni-V off Abdul Kalam Island in its state of Odisha.

June 03: Kagiso Rabada, the world’s number one Test bowler, was named South Africa’s Cricketer of the Year.

June 04: Madagascar’s president named Christian Ntsay, a senior official currently working at the UN, as the prime minister.

June 04: Ariya Jutanugarn won the 73rd US Women’s Open.

June 04: Saudi Arabia began issuing its first driving licences to women in decades.

June 04: Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Mulki resigned.

June 05: Kate Spade, a designer who built a fashion empire on the popularity of her signature handbags before selling the brand, was found dead in her New York City apartment.

June 06: Iceland was revealed as the best country in the world for excellent service. Ireland got second and the United Kingdom third place.

June 06: Myanmar and UN agencies signed an agreement that could eventually lead to the return of some of the 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled brutal persecution by the country’s security forces and are now crowded into makeshift camps in Bangladesh.

June 06: The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly elected Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces as its next president, making her only the fourth woman, and the first from South America, to lead the 193-member world body in its 73-year history.

Garces is a known poet in Latin America.

World in Focus (May-June 2018)June 06: Spin sensation Rashid Khan claimed four wickets to set up Afghanistan’s series-clinching win over Bangladesh in the second Twenty20 International.

June 07: Afghanistan announced ceasefire with the Taliban for Eid-ul-Fitr.

June 07: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates unveiled a raft of economic deals, including in the defence industry.

June 08: One of Turkey’s leading businessmen Erdogan Demiroren, who owned the country’s largest media group, Demiroren Group, died at 79.

June 08: The Golden Pen of Freedom Award, the annual press freedom award of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WANIFRA) was conferred on Maria Ressa, Co-founder, CEO and Executive Editor of news site Rappler.

June 08: The UN General Assembly elected Indonesia, Germany, Belgium, South Africa and the Dominican Republic as non-permanent members of the Security Council for a two-year term starting on January 1 next year.

June 08: President Xi Jinping gave China’s first friendship medal to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

China’s ‘highest honour’ is bestowed on foreigners who have made ‘outstanding contributions’ to the country’s modernisation drive and helped maintain world peace.

June 08: Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, host of CNN’s food-and-travel-focused ‘Parts unknown’, killed himself.

June 09: The 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council Heads of State Meeting opened in Qingdao, China.

June 09: Maria Bueno, the Brazilian “queen” of tennis, who won three Wimbledon and four US championship singles titles, died at age 78.

June 09: New Zealand’s women’s team posted the highest score in ODI when they made 490-4 against Ireland in Dublin.

June 09: British actress Eunice Gayson, who played the first Bond girl, died at the age of 90.

June 10: Bangladesh women won their maiden major title when they broke India’s stranglehold on the Asia Cup. This was the first Asia Cup win by a country other than India since its inception in 2004.

June 10: Rafael Nadal won his 11th French Open title after he demolished Austria’s Dominic Thiem.

June 11: Panama’s former president Ricardo Martinelli was extradited from the United States to his home country.

June 11: Scotland’s cricketers pulled off the greatest victory in their history when they beat England for the first time.

June 12: The United States unveiled a new $255 million de facto embassy in Taiwan, as the self-ruled island comes under increasing pressure from China.

June 12: US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un held a historic summit in Singapore. President Trump offered an unexpected concession to the North, saying he would halt joint military exercises with South Korea.

June 12: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan held a ceremony to mark the start of supplies of gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey through the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP).

The $7.99 billion pipeline, carrying gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field, is also a major step in the European Union’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian gas by developing the so-called Southern Gas Corridor.

June 12: Greece and Macedonia reached a ‘historic solution’ to a longstanding row by agreeing to rename his country the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

June 13: Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili announced his resignation.

June 13: A Saudi-led alliance of Arab states launched an attack on Yemen’s main port city in the largest battle of the war.

June 14: Drummer D.J. Fontana, the last surviving member of Elvis Presley’s original band, died.

June 14: Veteran Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead in Srinagar.

June 14: New Zealand teenager women cricketer Amelia Kerr shattered a world batting record in women’s One-day International cricket with a blistering 232 not out against Ireland.

June 14: Afghanistan became the newest team to join the club of test-playing nations, with their first test started against India.

World in Focus (May-June 2018)

June 15: US President Donald Trump imposed a 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods, further aggravating the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

June 15: Senior American and Afghan officials confirmed that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah was killed in a US drone strike on June 13.

June 15: Afghanistan’s fairytale entry into Test cricket ended in a bruising defeat inside two days by world number one team India.

June 15: Portugal’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill to legalise marijuana-based medicines.

June 15: France, Britain and the United States put a hold on a request from the Central African Republic for UN Security Council approval of Chinese weapons deliveries for its national forces.

Urbanization on the rise

Sixty-eight percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by the year 2050, the United Nations said, up from 55 percent at present. The UN report predicted an extra 2.5 billion people living in ever-expanding cities in the next 30 years, with as much as 90 percent of the urban growth centred on Asia and Africa.

The boom in city-dwellers will be concentrated in certain countries, with 35 percent of urban expansion occurring in India, China and Nigeria alone between 2018 and 2050.That will add up to an extra 416 million people in towns and cities in India, 255 million in China and 189 million in Nigeria. The number of people living in urban areas worldwide has risen rapidly from 751 million in 1950 to 4.2 billion in 2018. Despite its lower rate of urbanization, Asia contains 54 percent of all urban residents in the world, followed by Europe and Africa with 13 percent each. The general migration from rural to urban areas, combined with overall population growth, will lead to the planet having 43 megacities by 2030, each home to more than 10 million people. Tokyo is currently the largest city on the planet with 37 million inhabitants, followed by New Delhi with 29 million, Shanghai with 26 million and Sao Paulo and Mexico City with 22 billion a piece. Cairo, Mumbai, Beijing and Dhaka are all closing in on the 20-million inhabitant mark.

Man Booker Prize 2018

Olga Tokarczuk of Poland became the first-ever Polish writer to win the Man Booker International Prize. She was awarded on the English translation of her novel Flights.

Flights is a novel about travel in the 21st century and human anatomy. From the 17th century, we have the story of the real Dutch anatomist Philip Verheyen, who dissected and drew pictures of his own amputated leg, discovering in so doing the Achilles tendon. From the 18th century, we have the story of a North African-born slave-turned-Austrian courtier stuffed and put on display after his death in spite of his daughter’s ever more desperate protests, as well as the story of Chopin’s heart as it makes the covert journey from Paris to Warsaw, stored in a tightly sealed jar beneath his sister’s skirt. From the present, we have the trials and tribulations of a wife accompanying her much older professor husband as he teaches a course on a cruise ship in the Greek islands, the quest of a Polish woman who emigrated to New Zealand as a teenager but must now return to Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and the slow descent into madness of a young husband whose wife and child mysteriously vanished on a vacation on a Croatian island and then appeared again with no explanation.

Through these narratives, interspersed with short bursts of analysis and digressions on topics ranging from travel-sized cosmetics to the Maori, Flights guides the reader beyond the surface layer of modernity and towards the core of the very nature of humankind.

World in Focus (May-June 2018)



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