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13 October 2016, Daily National & International Current Affairs

National

Oct 13: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani dismissed a reference filed by a lawyer, Moulvi Iqbal Haider, seeking disqualification of eight MQM senators.

Oct 13: The Supreme Court adjourned a hearing on an appeal filed by Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, after Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman recused himself from the bench.

10 things you need to know about Pakistan’s blasphemy law

  1. The law has its roots in the Indian Penal Code of 1860

Pakistan’s version of the blasphemy law is an extension of offences relating to religion that were first codified by British rulers of the Subcontinent in 1860. Pakistan inherited these laws when it came into existence after the partition of India in 1947. The blasphemy laws were introduced through Sections 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code during the dictatorial regime of General Ziaul Haq.

  1. Blasphemy Law was meant to prevent religious violence

The law enacted by the British made it a crime to disturb a religious assembly, trespass on burial grounds, insult religious beliefs and intentionally destroy or defile a place or an object of worship. In 1927, the British colonial rulers of the sub-continent made it a criminal offence to commit “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religious belief”. The law did not discriminate between religions

  1. The death penalty for anyone found guilty of defaming the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was introduced in 1986

Pakistan’s late military ruler Ziaul Haq, who was in power for 11 years from 1977, made several additions to the blasphemy laws, including life imprisonment for those defiling or desecrating the Holy Quran

Section 295-C, which was added by an act of the parliament in 1986, made it a criminal offence to use derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).

  1. The option of life imprisonment was made defunct after a 1991 Federal Shariat Court judgement

In 1991, the FSC while deciding a petition of Mohammad Ismail Qureshi had held that the alternative punishment of life imprisonment provided in Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) was repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. The court further directed the federation to add a provision to the effect that any act of blasphemy upon other prophets should also be punishable with death. The government was told to amend Section 295-C by April 30, 1991. The federation filed an appeal against the FSC verdict but it was withdrawn.

  1. Prior to 1986, only a dozen cases pertaining to blasphemy were reported

Ten blasphemy cases were reportedly heard in court in the 58 years between 1927 and 1985, but since then more than 4,000 cases have been handled.

  1. Till date, no execution has taken place under the law

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy. Most of those given the death penalty have their sentences overturned or commuted on appeal. ICJ’s 2015 study on the implementation of blasphemy laws in Pakistan found that more than 80 per cent of convictions by trial courts are overturned on appeal, very often because appellate courts find evidence and complaints fabricated based on “personal or political vendettas”.

  1. Most of the cases are registered against non-Muslims

There have been at least 702 cases registered against minorities, which equates to 52 per cent of total cases against four per cent of the population of Pakistan. Critics say the fact that minorities figure so prominently in the cases shows how the laws are unfairly applied. Often the laws are used to settle personal scores and have little or nothing to do with religion.

  1. Two high-profile persons were murdered after they spoke out against the law

Taseer was killed in a hail of bullets by his bodyguard in 2011 for vocally seeking to amend the law and appealing for clemency for Asia Bibi; a Christian women on death row since 2010. A month after Salman Taseer was killed, Religious Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who spoke out against the laws, was shot dead in Islamabad, underlining the threat faced by critics of the law.

  1. 336 cases were filed in Punjab province alone in 2014

The seven districts that have contributed most to the blasphemy cases are Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala and Toba Tek Singh

  1. Asia Bibi’s is the first such case to be heard by the Supreme Court under section 295-C

The allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009, when she was labouring in a field and a row broke out with some Muslim women she was working with. Observers had warned of possible violence if Bibi’s conviction was overturned, with some calling the case a battle for Pakistan’s soul as the state walks a line between upholding human rights and appeasing hardliners.

Oct 13: Pakistan’s first ever day-night Test, against West Indies in Dubai, is their 400th match in the longest format. (See more : http://www.espncricinfo.com/pakistan/content/story/1061345.html)

Oct 13: The Emerging Markets, the newspaper which conferred Best Finance Minister of South Asia Award to Ishaq Dar and Best country in South Asia in infrastructure development to Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal, does not belong to International Monetary Fund, said Harald Finger, the IMF’s Mission Chief to Pakistan.

International

Oct 13: The Nobel Prize in Literature 2016

Winner: Bob Dylan, American songwriter, singer, artist, and writer.

For: having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

About Bob Dylan

  1. Bob Dylan was born as Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, on May 24, 1941.
  2. He adopted the name Dylan, after the poet Dylan Thomas.
  3. He moved to New York in 1961, and began performing in the clubs and cafes of Greenwich Village.
  4. His first album, Bob Dylan, was released in 1962.
  5. He later came up with a host of albums now regarded as masterpieces, including Blonde on Blonde in 1966, and Blood on the Tracks in 1975.
  6. His songs Blowin’ in the Wind and The Times They are A-Changin’ were among anthems of the anti-war and civil rights movements.
  7. Dylan’s many albums include Highway 61 Revisited in 1965, Blonde on Blonde in 1966 and Blood on the Tracks in 1975.
  8. He rarely gives interviews, and has a troubled relationship with the fame attached to his decades of popularity.
  9. As a musician, Dylan has sold more than 100 million records, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time.
  10. Dylan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  11. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture.
  12. In May 2012, Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
  13. He is the first songwriter to win the prestigious award.
  14. He is also the first American to win since novelist Toni Morrison in 1993.
  15. The award will be presented to him, alongside this year’s other five Nobel Prizes, on 10 December, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s 1896 death.

Awards and Honours: 11 Grammy Awards, Golden Globe Award and Academy Award (Oscar). The Pulitzer Prize jury had awarded him a special citation in 2008 for his profound impact on popular music and American culture.

About Nobel Prize in Literature

As per Alfred Nobel’s will dated 27 November 1895, by which he gave the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes, one part was dedicated to “the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”.

Recent Winners

2015: Svetlana Alexievich (Belarus)

2014: Patrick Modiano (France)

2013: Alice Munro (Canada)

2012: Mo Yan (China)

2011: Tomas Transtromer (Sweden)

Oct 13: The UK’s Metropolitan Police closed an investigation into possible money laundering by MQM chief Altaf Hussain.

Key Facts

  1. During the course of investigation, six people were arrested, 11 others interviewed under caution and nine premises searched.
  2. The police said that despite their long running investigation they didn`t have that evidence.
  3. Over £500,000 in cash will now be returned to the MQM.
  4. £30,000 seized from the London home of Karachi businessman Sarfraz Merchant will also be returned.

Oct 13: Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, died at 88.

About King Bhumibol Adulyadej

  1. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri Dynasty as Rama IX.
  2. Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he was, at the time of his death, the world’s longest-serving head of state.
  3. He was also the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, serving for 70 years, 127 days.
  4. During his reign, he was served by a total of 30 prime ministers beginning with Pridi Banomyong and ending with Prayut Chan-o-cha.
  5. Bhumibol was born at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts, United States, on 5 December 1927.
  6. He was the youngest son of HRH Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, the Prince of Songkla.
  7. Bhumibol is the only monarch to be born in the US.
  8. His father died of kidney failure in September 1929, when Bhumibol was less than two years old.
  9. Bhumibol ascended the throne on 9 June 1946following the death of his brother, King Ananda Mahidol.
  10. He was crowned as the king on May 05, 1950. The date of his coronation is celebrated in Thailand as Coronation Day, a public holiday.

For further details: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/13/asia/thai-king-bhumibol-adulyadej-dies/

Oct 13: Dario Fo, the Italian playwright, director and performer and the winner of 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature, died at 90.

Oct 13: The Maldives announced to leave the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations.

Oct 13:  Twenty-one of the schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014 by Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria, have been freed. According to reports, several militants were freed in a swap.

Oct 13: Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres was officially appointed as the next UN Secretary-General.

Oct 13: South Africa whitewashed Australia in one-day international series. It was the first 5-0 ODI bilateral series defeat for the Australians

Oct 13: England won the one-day series against Bangladesh.

Oct 13: The Turkish Armed Forces sacked 109 military judges.

Oct 13: Six years after a souring in ties between, Israel and Turkey agreed to deepen cooperation in the energy sector.

Key Facts

  1. At stake are under-sea natural gas reserves worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
  2. To exploit them, Israel will likely require the cooperation of Turkey.
  3. Israel had so far discovered around 900 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

Oct 13: Envoys from nearly 200 nations meet in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, to discuss ridding the world of HFCs, gases introduced to save the ozone layer only to unwittingly assail Earth’s climate.

Key facts

  1. HFCs were introduced to limit damage to the ozone layer, but cause much greater levels of global warming than CO2.
  2. Concern over a growing hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica saw the Montreal Protocol agreed back in 1987.
  3. Found in hairsprays, refrigeration and air conditioning, CFCs were ultimately replaced by factory-made hydrofluorocarbons, which essentially do the same job but without the damage to the Earth’s protective layer.
  4. HFCs are several thousand times better at retaining heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
  5. HFCs have helped the ozone layer, but exacerbated global warming.

What are HFCs?

Hydrofluorocarbons or ‘HFCs’ have been increasingly used in the last decade or so as an alternative to ozone damaging CFCs in refrigeration systems. Unfortunately, though they provide an effective alternative to CFCs, they can also be powerful greenhouse gases with long atmospheric lifetimes.

The three main HFCs are HFC-23, HFC-134a and HFC152a, with HFC-134a being the most widely used refrigerant. Since 1990, when it was almost undetectable, concentrations of HFC-134a have risen massively.

HFC-134a has an atmospheric lifetime of about 14 years and its abundance is expected to continue to rise in line with its increasing use as a refrigerant around the world.

Human Impact

The widespread use of HFCs as refrigerants will inevitably lead to increases in their atmospheric concentrations. HFCs have provided an efficient and cost effective alternative to the use of the ozone destroying CFCs, now banned under the Montreal Protocol. However, with HFC-134a and, in particular, HFC-23 having such long atmospheric lifespans (14 and 260 years respectively) HFCs do pose a significant greenhouse gas problem.

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