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World in Focus (Jan – Feb 2018)

World in Focus (Jan - Feb 2018)

NATIONAL

Jan 16: President of Pakistan Federation Baseball and ex-director general Sports Board Punjab Khawar Shah passed away. He was 68.

Jan 16: The government announced ‘Idea Award Scheme’ for asking bureaucrats to send suggestions for improving governance and decision-making process by offering them even cash prizes.

Paigham-i-Pakistan State Narrative Against Terrorism

Jan 16: Paigham-i-Pakistan, a document that offers counter-narrative to extremist ideas by collating edicts that declare all kinds of terrorism against the spirit of Islam, was launched .

Highlights

  • The 22-point Fatwa has been compiled through the efforts of the International Islamic University Islamabad.
  • It has been signed by 1,829 religious scholars — belonging to nearly all mainstream sects in the country.
  • It declares several actions like suicide attacks against the state, spreading sectarianism and anarchy in the name of religion and issuing a call to jihad without state’s consent as un-Islamic.
  • It denounces the use of force on the pretext of imposing Sharia, waging an armed struggle against the state, or employing violence and terrorist tactics to settle ethnic, geographical, religious and sectarian conflicts.

Analysis

Religious differences have for too long been exploited by various groups to acquire influence over society and in the political arena. Violence stoked by bigotry and prejudice has pitted Muslim against Muslim, sect against sect — aside from being the driving force for depredations against the minorities. There have been attempts earlier to forge a consensus to counter religious violence: in 2015, some 200 ulema issued a decree against suicide bombings; in May last year, 31 prominent religious scholars signed a similar fatwa. The latest document, however, not only encapsulates a wider range of crimes committed in the name of faith but is also a far more comprehensive representation of the diverse strains of religious thought in the country. At the same time, let us not deceive ourselves: Paigham-i-Pakistan will remain a declaration of intent alone unless followed by substantive steps. To put the counter-narrative into effect, reviving the moribund National Action Plan and follow its stipulations to the letter are inevitable. Until the state adopts a resolute, unequivocal approach, this country will continue its drift towards the right, and suffer the mayhem that comes with it.

Jan 17: Maqsood Ahmad, a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army, was appointed chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) for three years.

About the new Chairman

1. Maqsood Ahmad belonged to Frontier Force Regiment in the 61st PMA Long Course during April 1980.
2. After reaching the rank of Major General, Ahmad headed the 12th Infantry Division in Murree.
3. In 2013, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.
4. He also served as the Corps Commander of IV Corps, Lahore.
5. In August 2013, he was made Military Adviser for Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
6. He had also served as Deputy Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) under Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha and then under Lt Gen Zahirul Islam.

Jan 17: The 11th Pak-Saudi joint-ministerial commission meeting was held in Islamabad. During the meeting, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia agreed to set up a working group to promote food exports and training centre to meet job market needs in the Arab country.

Jan 18: The government appointed Shahid Mehmood as Executive Director to Asian Development Bank (ADB) for tenure of three years.

Jan 18: The 14th Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Summit was cancelled due to the refusal of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Iran.

Dr Ishfaq Ahmad 

Jan 18: Nuclear physicist and former head of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Dr Ishfaq Ahmad passed away. He was 87.

Dr Ahmad was among the handful of scientists who attended the historic meeting under the shamiana (tent) at the residence in Multan of chief minister Sadiq Qureshi where prime minister Z.A. Bhutto commissioned them to “give me fission in three years”.

He served as the chairperson of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission from 1991 to 2001 — the tenure during which Pakistan conducted its nuclear tests, in 1998.

He also worked as adviser to the prime minister for strategic and scientific programmes.

In recognition of his services in the field of nuclear physics, Dr Ahmad was awarded three of the highest civil awards of Pakistan — Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Hilal-i-Imtiaz and Nishan-i-Imtiaz.

His endeavours led to the creation of Global Change Impact Studies Centre in Islamabad where research on climate change is undertaken.

Jan 19: Renowned Urdu poet Saqi Faruqui passed away. He was 81.

Munoo Bhai 
A life well lived

Jan 19: Renowned journalist, playwright and poet Munoo Bhai passed away. He was 84.

He was laid to rest later in the day. A large number of people, including journalists, artists, intellectuals, writers, civil society members and his friends and colleagues, attended the funeral.

About Munoo Bhai

  • Munoo Bhai was born on Feb 6, 1933, in Wazirabad.
  • His real name was Munir Ahmed Qureshi.
  • He did his graduation from Rawalpindi and launched his journalistic career by writing columns for Imroze and Zamindar.
  • He began his professional journalistic career with Tameer in Rawalpindi.
  • He wrote his first television play, entitled Pull Sher Khan, in the second half of the 1960s.
  • As a pioneering playwright of the PTV, he has to his credit popular plays such as Sona Chandi, Jhok Siyal, Jheel, Dasht, Ashyiana and Ye Khanai Nahin.
  • He also wrote long plays for the PTV, Gumshuda and Khoobsurat being prominent among them.
  • As a poet of the Punjabi language, he has one anthology to his name, Ajay Qayamat Nayeen Ayee.
  • His column Gareban was extremely popular among newspaper readers.
  • He had established Sundas Foundation for blood cancer patients.
  • He was awarded the Pride of Performance in 2007.

Jan 20: The 10th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) on the subject “Shaping the Future of Livestock – sustainably, responsibly, efficiently” concluded in Berlin, Germany.

Jan 20: Razia Bano from Karachi clinched the National Women’s Boxing Championship.

Jan 21: The Pakistan army acquired latest drone technology to monitor CPEC, Sui gas pipeline, sensitive installations, bridges, dams and borders.

The Uqab, second drone, prepared by a private company Global Industrial & Defence Solutions (GIDS), Pakistan, has flight capacity of 15 hours; it can carry missile with weight of 1,000kg ammunition and can hit the target. It can be flown in the limit of 250km with remote control, and its range can be minimised after connecting through satellite.

Jan 23: Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa inaugurated working of Army Institute of Military History (AIMH) at the Army Auditorium, GHQ.

AIMH has been established to record, archive, preserve and compile the history of Pakistan Army and act as Center of Excellence for study of military history in the country.

Jan 23: Imran Ali, the culprit behind the brutal rape and murder of eight-year-old Zainab in Kasur, was arrested after DNA from his tissue samples matched samples obtained from the crime scene.

Jan 23: Retired judge of the Lahore High Court, Syed Asghar Haider, was appointed NAB prosecutor general.

Jan 23: The Senate Museum, which traces the evolution, history and reorganisation of the upper house of parliament, was inaugurated at Parliament House.

Jan 24: Noted industrialist and businessman Mohammad Azam Saigol passed away.

Jan 26: Indonesian President Joko Widodo addressed a joint sitting of the parliament of Pakistan. Without touching on the Kashmir that is considered the key issue between India and Pakistan, he hoped that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) might resolve conflicts involving the two countries through dialogue.

Jan 27: Dr Jaffar Khan, 34, a Pakistani surgeon, won the prestigious Young Investigators Award given by the British Cardiovascular Intervention Society.

Jan 27: The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) launched a child protection campaign in 40 districts of the country, to create awareness among children about how to save themselves from abuse.

Jan 28: Ahmed Baig became the first Pakistani Golfer to win the Qatar Open Golf title 2018.

Jan 29: Acclaimed writer and translator Shahid Hameed passed away. He was 90.

Jan 29: The Sindh government reappointed Dr Asim Hussain the chairman of Sindh Higher Education Commission for another term.

Jan 29: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated the Gwadar Expo 2018.

The two-day expo was jointly organised by the Gwadar Development Authority and China Overseas Ports Holding Company.

Jan 31: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, ordered immediate removal of the chairman of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Siddiqul Farooq, declaring him ineligible to hold the post.

Feb 01: The Supreme Court set aside the bail earlier granted to three accused – Shahrukh Jatoi, Siraj Talpur and Sajjad Talpur – in the Dec 2012 murder of Shahzeb Khan in Karachi and they were immediately arrested.

Feb 01: PPP Senator Haji Saifullah Bangash died at 70.

Feb 01: The Supreme Court convicted ruling party Senator Nehal Hashmi of committing contempt of court and sent him to jail for one month, besides disqualifying him from holding any public office for five years.

Feb 01: Seasoned Pakistan Peoples Party politician and senior Sindh minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani and his wife Fariha Razzak Haroon, a former provincial assembly member and long-time media professional, were found shot dead inside their house.

Feb 02: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) took action against PTI chairman Imran Khan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak for allegedly misusing official helicopters for private visits.

Feb 02: Live missile firing of JF-17 Thunder was displayed at the Sonmiani Firing Range. It is said that the successful testing of these sophisticated weapons was a testimony to JF-17 Thunder’s multirole capabilities.

Feb 03: The trophy of the FIFA World Cup, which was brought to Lahore as part of a journey that sees it travel to 51 countries and 91 cities across six different continents, was unveiled.

The current trophy was introduced more than four decades back in 1974, and is made of 18 carat gold with a malachite base. The trophy is approximately worth $150,000 according to research in 2017, and was made by Italian company Stabilimento Artistico Bertoni.

The trophy’s tour will end in May later this year, after which it will return to Russia.

Feb 03: Talks on Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) were held in Kabul where both sides agreed to carry forward their engagement despite deep-rooted mutual mistrust.

APAPPS is a Pakistani initiative for cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism and reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation, refugee’s repatriation and joint economic development. The plan enjoys the backing of both China and the US. The commencement of the dialogue on APAPPS is believed to have been made possible through US support.

Feb 06: Pakistan and China signed Executive Programme of Cultural Agreement for further consolidating cultural relations and promoting people-to-people contacts between the two states.

Feb 06: The federal cabinet approved the promulgation of Costs of Litigation Act, 2017 that will ensure dispensation of inexpensive justice to the litigants.

Feb 06: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly (AJK-LA) and Kashmir Council approved 12th Amendment to the Interim Constitution of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslim.

Feb 06: Abid Ali of Islamabad scored 209 not out, the highest-ever score recorded in Pakistan’s domestic cricket, surpassing 204 runs of Khalid Latif.

Feb 06: Veteran journalist Siddique Baloch, the editor of Quetta-based English daily Balochistan Express, and Azadi, an Urdu newspaper, passed away. He was 78.

Feb 07: Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali was sworn in as the 46th chief justice of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

About Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali

Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali, born on October 23, 1956, got his early education from Lahore and graduated in law in the year 1979. He started his legal practice in the Lahore High Court in 1980 and later became a Supreme Court lawyer in 1986.

He was appointed as a Lahore High Court judge in February 2010 and has a good experience in constitutional, administrative and human rights services.

Feb 07: Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar administered the oath of office to Justice Mansoor Ali Shah as a Supreme Court judge.

Feb 07: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) convicted 31 of the 57 accused in the Mashal Khan lynching case, awarding death sentence to the prime accused, life imprisonment to five other convicts and three-year jail terms to 25 others.

However, the court acquitted 26 other accused as the prosecution failed to prove charges against them.

Feb 08: The World Health Organisation (WHO) accredited the first-ever Pakistani drug, paving way for a major boost in the country’s drug exports which currently stand at only $110 million.

According to the WHO, tablet Moxifloxacin Hydrochloride 400mg manufactured by Karachi-based Getz Pharma Pvt Ltd has been included in the lists of pre-qualified products after a detailed inspection.

Feb 08: Pakistan and Jordan agreed to enhance bilateral trade as King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein opened his two-day working visit to Pakistan.

Feb 09: Pakistan and Jordan agreed to enhance cooperation in diverse areas, including education, culture, defence and through people-to-people contacts.

Feb 09: Quaid-i-Azam University broke into the top 100 universities of Asia while it was listed among the top 500 in the world, according to the latest rankings issued by the Times Higher Education (THE) at the 2018 Asia Universities Summit in China.

This year, Pakistan had only one varsity in the top 500 and a total of four in the top 1,000 universities in the world.

Feb 09: The deputy chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Khan Said Mehsud alias Sajna, who was head of the Mehsud faction of the Taliban, was killed in a drone strike in the Margha Area of Barmal in Afghanistan.

Feb 10: Hailing from Dheri Lekpani area of Tehsil Katlang in Mardan, Sarah Farooq Khan won a won bronze and silver medal in her mentorship in the International Genetically Engineered Machine I-GEM competitions held at Boston, United States in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Feb 10: The Sindh government unveiled its first labour policy and termed it “a framework of industrial relations, social and economic well-being of the people of the province”.

Feb 11: Veteran television, radio, film and theatre artist Qazi Wajid died, bringing down the curtain on the career of one of the most versatile actors in Pakistan.

Feb 11: Ameer Khawar Khawaja of the Sialkot Golf Club won the Quaid-i-Azam Amateur Golf Championship.

Feb 11: Asma Jahangir, an iconic lawyer, activist and champion of human rights, passed away at the age of 66.

Feb 11: The federal government, through an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act, declared as terrorist the organisations that have been declared as such by the United Nations Security Council.

Feb 12: PML-N won the NA-154 by-election in Lodhran.

Feb 13: The federal government formally declared “Jundullah” as defunct, thus giving law-enforcement agencies powers to take action against the leaders and activists of this organisation.

Feb 13: ‘Chiefs of Defence Conference’ was held in Kabul which was attended by US Central Command Commander Gen Joseph Votel, commander of Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson, and the military chiefs of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

While speaking at the conference, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa reassured Kabul and Washington that Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations are targeting the elements that could be carrying out attacks in Afghanistan and called for a reciprocal action against the sanctuaries from where attacks against Pakistan were being directed.

Feb 14: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif formally launched the Punjab Public Health Agency.

Feb 14: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) launched the much-awaited Islamic Long-Term Financing Facility (ILTFF) based on Modaraba for exporters with a maximum limit of Rs1.5 billion.

Feb 14: Seventeen US intelligence agencies have warned Congress that Pakistan will continue to slip out of America’s influence and into China’s orbit in 2019, and will become a threat to Washington`s interests in the South Asian region.

Feb 15: The Islamabad High Court removed additional district and sessions judge Pervaizul Qadir Memon from service for acquitting Shoaib Sheikh, the CEO of Axact, in a fake degree case.

Feb 15: People of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) can now use Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) for identification instead of Watan cards.

World in Focus (Jan - Feb 2018)

INTERNATIONAL

Jan 16: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the construction of a $6.8 billion refinery in India’s western state of Rajasthan.

Jan 16: Indian government announced to end a decades-long policy of offering discounted airfares to Muslims embarking on the Haj pilgrimage.

Jan 17: Romania’s president named Viorica Dancila, a little-known MEP, as the EU country’s first female premier.

Jan 17: Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho formally confirmed his retirement from football.

Jan 17: Catalonia’s new parliament elected Roger Torrent, a pro-secession lawmaker, as its President.

Jan 18: Britain appointed Tracey Crouch, a junior minister for sport and civil society, a “minister for loneliness”.

Jan 18: India test-fired its Agni missile of 5,000km range from an island in India’s eastern coast in the Bay of Bengal.

Jan 19: Instagram and the Google+ social network agreed to join an EU-sponsored group of US internet giants to combat online extremism. The existing members of this group are: YouTube, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook.

Jan 19: The Trump administration issued the new US National Defence Strategy wherein countering China’s rapidly expanding military and an increasingly aggressive Russia were cited as the US military’s top national security priorities, outpacing the threat of terrorism.

Jan 20: Paul Bocuse, one of the greatest French chefs of all time, died aged 91. Dubbed the “pope” of French cuisine, Bocuse helped shake up the food world in the 1970s with the Nouvelle Cuisine revolution.

Jan 20: Turkey launched a new air and ground offensive “Operation Olive Branch” to oust Kurdish militia from a northern Syrian enclave.

Jan 20: India defeated arch-rivals Pakistan to retain the Blind Cricket World Cup title, in Sharjah.

Jan 22: Former football star George Weah was sworn in as the president of Liberia.

Jan 22: The world’s richest one percent raked in 82pc of the wealth in 2017 while the poorest half of the population received none, said Oxfam a British charity.

Jan 22: US fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the most famous female science fiction writers in history, died. She was 88.

Jan 23: The US State department designated Siddhartha Dhar, an Indian-origin militant, and Mohammad Emwazi, also known as ‘Jihadi John’, a Belgian citizen of Moroccan origin as global terrorists.

Jan 24: Chinese scientists cloned monkeys using the same technique that produced Dolly the sheep two decades ago, breaking a technical barrier that could open the door to copying humans.

Jan 27: A bomb hidden in an ambulance killed at least 95 people and wounded about 158 in Kabul.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide blast. But, an interior ministry spokesman blamed the Haqqani network, a militant group affiliated with the Taliban.

Jan 28: Ingvar Kamprad, a farmer’s son turned multi-billionaire who founded the Ikea empire that revolutionised furnishing, died aged 91.

Jan 28: French mountaineer Elisabeth Revol was rescued from Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth highest peak, in extreme weather by volunteers from a Polish expedition with the help of Pakistan army.

Jan 30: Saudi Arabia recovered $107 billion in a major crackdown on high-level corruption. 56 suspects were still being investigated.

Jan 30: Andrew McCabe, who served as acting FBI chief for more than two months after Trump fired Director James Comey, stepped down.

David Bowdich, the No. 3 FBI official, took over as acting deputy director.

Jan 30: Clive van Ryneveld, the former South African captain, passed away at the age of 89.

Jan 31: The United States put the head of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, on its terror blacklist and slapped sanctions on him.

Jan 31: British Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a three-day visit to China.

Jan 31: The UN Human Rights Commissioner indefinitely postponed the publication of a ‘blacklist’ of Israeli and international companies operating in the occupied territories.

Feb 01: Russia successfully launched 11 satellites from its Vostochny cosmodrome.

Feb 01: The United Arab Emirates claimed a record with the opening of the world’s longest zip line, measuring 2.83 kilometres in length.

Guinness World Records officials also certified the zip line in Ras al-Khaimah.

Feb 02: Fidel Castro DiazBalart, the eldest son of late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, committed suicide. He was a nuclear scientist and was also known as ‘Fidelito’ or Little Fidel, because of how much he looked like his father.

Feb 03: India beat Australia to win the ICC U-19 World Cup for a fourth time.

Feb 03: Maldivian authorities announced an indefinite postponement of parliament – the People’s Majlis – followed by an order by the country’s Supreme Court to release nine political dissidents.

Feb 03: The UK government introduced new rules giving unprecedented powers to law-enforcement agencies to crack down on properties and assets amassed through ‘dirty money’.

Under the new rules, authorities are allowed to freeze and recover property of more than 50,000 pounds, if individuals cannot explain why they own assets worth more than their income and show they have acquired them legally.

Feb 03: Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain was appointed the new chief justice of Bangladesh, replacing Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah who tendered his resignation.

Feb 04: Mominul Haque became the first player from Bangladesh to score a century in both innings of a Test.

Feb 04: Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades won re-election for a second term.

Feb 04: Tawakkol Karman, who won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her role in Arab Spring protests that ousted authoritarian President Ali Abdullah, was suspended from Islah party, an ally of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after she accused the Saudi-led coalition that backs him in the country’s civil war of acting as occupiers.

Feb 04: Adelaide Strikers claimed their first Big Bash League title after defeating Hobart Hurricanes in the final.

Feb 05: Dubai airport was named the world’s busiest for international passengers in 2017 for the fourth year running, with 88.2 million travellers.

Feb 06: The Maldives’ Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another Supreme Court judge were arrested after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in the honeymoon islands.

Feb 06: Brazilian jockey Jorge Ricardo got his 12,844th victory, an achievement that equalled the extraordinary world record held by his career-long Canadian rival Russell Baze.

Feb 07: DNA from a 10,000-year-old skeleton found in an English cave suggests the oldest-known Briton had dark skin and blue eyes.

Scientists from Britain’s Natural History Museum and University College London analysed the genome of ‘Cheddar Man’, who was found in Cheddar Gorge in southwest England in 1903.

Feb 07: Saudi Arabia granted approval to Air India to use its airspace to operate direct flights from New Delhi to Tel Aviv, indicative of a thaw in relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Feb 07: The world’s most powerful rocket, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, blasted off on its highly anticipated maiden test flight, carrying CEO Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster towards an orbit near Mars.

Feb 08: A Bangladesh judge convicted opposition leader Khaleda Zia of corruption and sentenced her to five years in jail.

Feb 08: The Gambia was readmitted to the Commonwealth, following the democratic election of President Adama Barrow who reversed the shock pullout of 2013. His predecessor Yahya Jammeh suddenly withdrew the impoverished west African nation in October 2013.

Feb 09: The world’s first passenger drone named EHang 184 made its first public flight in south China’s Guangzhou City of Guangdong Province.

Feb 09: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) imposed a Rs 1.358 billion fine on Google for “search bias” and abusing its “dominant position”.

Feb 09: Facebook announced to issue up to $10 million (8.2m euros) in grants to help support and train community leaders around the world. The Facebook Community Leadership Programme will offer residency, fellowship and training opportunities, as well as community leadership circles and specialised assistance on the social networking platform.

Feb 09: Scientists succeeded for the first time in growing human eggs in a laboratory from the earliest stages in ovarian tissue all the way to full maturity – a scientific step that had previously been taken in mice.

Feb 09: Sohini Roy Chowdhury, an eight-year-old Indian-origin schoolgirl, entered the UK’s Mathletics Hall of Fame, an online mathematics-based competitive tool aimed at primary school pupils.

Feb 09: The European parliament voted to launch an inquiry into financial crime, tax evasion and tax avoidance, saying the Paradise Papers had revealed the “unfinished work” needed to secure fair taxation.

Feb 09: The International Cricket Council (ICC) appointed Indra Nooyi, an Indian American businesswoman and the current Chairwoman and CEO of PepsiCo, as its first female Independent Director.

Nooyi will join the board in June 2018 for a term of two years, following which there’s a provision for reappointment for two more terms, with a maximum six-year consecutive period of service.

Feb 09: The two Koreas marched together and South Korea’s president shared a historic handshake with Kim Jong Un’s sister as the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opened in a spirit of intense rapprochement.

Feb 09: Australia’s champion javelin thrower Jarrod Bannister died at 33.

Feb 10: Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit the occupied West Bank where he held talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas as part of a Middle East tour.

Feb 10: US President Donald Trump accused the Democrats of playing politics with classified information, asserting that their memo countering GOP allegations about the conduct of the FBI’s Russia probe was a trap meant to ‘blame the White House for lack of transparency’.

Feb 10: Turkey launched a domestic messaging app to rival Facebook’s popular WhatsApp Messenger service. The app, called PttMessenger after Turkey’s Post and Telegraph General Directorate (PTT), was introduced in a limited roll-out to state institutions and some private companies.

Feb 11: Dubai, on its never-ending quest to break records, announced the opening of the ‘world’s new tallest hotel’, pipping another towering landmark in the city for the title.

The gleaming gold 75-storey Gevora Hotel stands 356 metres, or nearly a quarter of a mile, tall. The new record-holder is within view of its predecessor, Dubai’s JW Mariott Marquis just one metre shorter.

Feb 12: Australia cricket captain Steve Smith capped off a golden 12 months by winning his second Allan Border Medal.

Feb 13: New Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra resigned, after admitting he had lied about his presence at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Feb 14: South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma caved to pressure and resigned from his office.

Feb 14: Metallica an Afghan music institute that has empowered girls and metal pioneers, shared the Polar Music Prize, often called music’s Nobel.

Feb 15: President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries violates the US Constitution by discriminating on the basis of religion, a federal appeals court ruled.

Feb 15: Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn submitted his resignation.

Feb 15: Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as South Africa’s new president after the resignation of Jacob Zuma.

Feb 15: K. P. Sharma Oli, the leader of Nepal’s largest Communist party, was sworn in as prime minister of the country.

Feb 15: Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland opened fire at his schoolmates, killing at least 17 people.

World in Focus (Jan - Feb 2018)

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