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World in Focus (June-July 2018)

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NATIONAL

June 18: The World Justice Project (WJP) issued its report for 2017-18, wherein it covered a total of 113 countries of the world. Among them, it listed Pakistan at number 107 in its evaluation of the country’s civil justice.

However, it placed Pakistan at number 81 in its reckoning of this state’s criminal justice.

June 19: Small Arms Survey 2018 was released, according to which Pakistan is on fourth position on the list of 25 countries in which civilians hold firearms. Out of the 857 million guns owned by civilians, Pakistani civilians held 43.9 million. The US is at the top with 393 million followed by India at 71 million and China at 49.7 million.

June 19: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) reported that Pakistan, with 140-150 nuclear warheads, continues to be ahead of India (130-140 warheads) when it comes to possessing nuclear warheads, with China having double what the quantity India has.

June 19: Pakistan Army won international military drill competition known as Pace Sticking Competition held at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK.

June 20: The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) issued the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Regulations, 2018. The new rules are in compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, needed to be adopted by the country as a member of the Asia Pacific group on money laundering.

June 20: The caretaker government appointed Barrister Khalid Jawed Khan the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP).

June 20: Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Poland on an official visit. During the meetings, matters of mutual interest including emerging geo-strategic environment, regional security situation and measures to further enhance bilateral defence cooperation were discussed.

June 20: Distinguished writer and arguably the finest humorist in the Urdu language Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi passed away. He was 94.

Antarctica Is Melting Three Times as Fast as a Decade Ago

A recent study, published in the journal ‘Nature’, has established that Antarctica’s rate of ice loss is speeding up, which is contributing even more to rising sea levels. Between 60 and 90 percent of the world’s freshwater is frozen in the ice sheets of Antarctica, a continent roughly the size of the United States and Mexico combined. If all that ice melted, it would be enough to raise the world’s sea levels by roughly 200 feet.

Between 1992 and 2017, Antarctica shed three trillion tons of ice. This has led to an increase in sea levels of roughly three-tenths of an inch, which doesn’t seem like much. But 40 percent of that increase came from the last five years of the study period, from 2012 to 2017.

Andrew Shepherd, a professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds and the lead author of the study stated that the rate at which Antarctica is losing ice has tripled since 2007, according to the latest available data. The continent is now melting so fast, scientists say, that it will contribute six inches (15 centimetres) to sea-level rise by 2100. That is at the upper end of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated Antarctica alone could contribute to sea level rise this century.

Even under ordinary conditions, Antarctica’s landscape is perpetually changing as icebergs calve, snow falls and ice melts on the surface, forming glacial sinkholes known as moulins.

June 20: Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf resigned.

June 20: The Supreme Appellate Court suspended the newly-promulgated Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018.

June 21: British boxer Amir Khan launched the Super Boxing League (SBL) in Pakistan.

June 21: Naeem Zamindar, Chairman Board of Investment, tendered his resignation.

June 21: Punjab University’s Centre for Coal Technology Director Prof Dr Shahid Munir won a research project award titled “Investigating the Nature of Lahore Winter Smog, Sources of Primary Pollutants and Mitigation Strategies” from Higher Education Commission of Pakistan under National Research Programme.

June 22: Amna Imran Khan, a senior officer from Pakistan Administrative Service, was nominated to head the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) as its first ever female director general (DG).

June 22: The caretaker government removed chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Marvi Memon from her office.

June 22: Pakistan’s new ambassador to the United States Ali Jehangir Siddiqui presented his credentials to President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House.

Cornell-educated, successful banker Ali Jehangir Siddiqui succeeds Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, who was a career diplomat, as Pakistan’s 28th Ambassador to the United States.

June 22: Sindh Advocate General Zamir Ghumro resigned.

June 22: Former chief justice of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Supreme Court and prominent jurist, Justice (retd) Raja Khurshid Kiani breathed his last at the age of 88.

He served as chief justice of the state for a decade from 1980 to 1990 besides serving as a judge of Supreme and High Court of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He also served as Advocate General of Azad Kashmir before his appointment as judge.

June 22: Pakistan was ranked among the 10 worst countries in the Rule of Law Index 2017-18 issued by World Justice Project (WJP).

Pakistan rose one position for overall rule of law performance (from 106 in the WJP’s Rule of Law Index 2016-17) to 105 out of 113 countries in the 2017-18 edition.

June 23: The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) confirmed the death of its chief Mullah Fazlullah in a US drone attack in Afghanistan and appointed Mufti Noor Wali of South Waziristan district its new chief and Mufti Hazrat his deputy.

Jamsheed Marker The diplomat who made friends

On June 21, veteran diplomat Jamsheed Kekobad Ardeshir Marker, better known as Jamsheed Marker, passed away. He was 95.

One of Pakistan’s finest diplomats, Jamsheed Marker was a man of the world, well-versed in its ways. Apart from his sterling diplomatic career, he wore many other hats with equal ease, including that of a soldier, cricket commentator, businessman, writer, academic and family man.

Jamsheed Marker was born on Nov 24, 1922 in Hyderabad Deccan and was educated at the prestigious Doon School in Dehradun, India, and Forman Christian College, Lahore. A promising student, he read economics and received a gold medal, graduating with honours. He served with the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve in World War II; he saw action in Burma (now Myanmar) where he fought the Japanese.

He would later engage his one-time adversaries in diplomacy as Pakistan’s man in Tokyo.

Mr Marker was awarded the Victoria Medal for his military service, along with other decorations. He was also conferred a number of Pakistani and foreign civil awards.

Amb. Marker’s career spanned three decades, during which he represented Pakistan in 10 foreign posts, with nine concurrent accreditations. His first assignment, offered to him by then foreign secretary Aziz Ahmad, was high commissioner to Accra, capital of the newly independent Ghana, in April 1965. His stint in Ghana came during the height of independence leader Kwame Nkrumah’s popularity, though Amb. Marker also witnessed the charismatic African leader’s downfall.

During his three-decade-long diplomatic career, he worked and socialised with some of the most powerful men in the world — men who would shape large parts of the history of the 20th century.

He met Charles de Gaulle and Richard Nixon during his posting in Romania, while an encounter with Saddam Hussein in Moscow in 1969 was described by him as decidedly unpleasant. Mr Marker served in Moscow — then the heart of the Soviet empire — at the height of the Cold War, from 1969 to 1972. He had his work cut out for him when Pak-USSR relations nosedived as the East Pakistan debacle unfolded.

Amb. Marker also served in Washington DC from 1986 to 1989 as an epic Cold War battle was playing itself out — the Afghan ‘jihad’. He had a close working relationship with the Reagan administration and brought the United States and Pakistan, which have had complicated relations, closer. American officials have acknowledged his role in the negotiations that led to the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Pakistan’s neighbour, Afghanistan, in 1989, 10 years after they invaded.

In the 1980s, when news spread of Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear network in the West, India increased pressure on the US to stop General Zia’s march to get nuclear weapons. Hence, Amb. Marker got his chance to settle scores with India. To counter India, he launched an information blitzkrieg with interviews on US mainstream radio and TV channels. In the end, he outwitted Indian diplomacy with a clever mix of policy advocacy among the US Congress and the people.

Later, Amb. Marker moved from Washington to New York, serving as Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations from 1990 to 1994. Following this, he was appointed the UN Secretary-General’s envoy to East Timor; it is said his efforts were instrumental in resolving the crisis, for which he won praise from Kofi Annan.

After leaving the Foreign Service, Amb. Marker taught international relations at Eckerd College in Florida, US. He was multilingual, able to communicate in English, French, German, Russian, Urdu and his native Gujarati.

Amb. Marker also served as ambassador in France, the Soviet Union, Canada, Japan, West Germany and East Germany — where he opened the Pakistani Embassy. Despite being a non-Muslim in conservative Muslim Pakistan, he was broadly respected at home and had close relationships with several leaders of the country.

June 23: Due to the failure of the caretaker government to deposit Rs15 billion security guarantee, a stay order in favour of Pakistan on the execution of the $846 million (Rs84.6 billion) arbitration cost awarded to the Turkish firm, Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim (Karkey) in the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) case, was vacated.

June 24: The University of Sargodha became the first public sector university from Pakistan to join China’s Belt and Road (South-South Cooperation Agricultural Education, Science & Technology Innovation League).

June 24: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Advocate General Abdul Lateef Yousafzai resigned.

June 26: The caretaker Prime Minister Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk appointed Rukhsana Yasmeen (BS-22) the new chairperson of the Board of Revenue (FBR).

June 26: Pakistan emerged as the 4th most popular country in the world when it comes to freelancing and generated a significant calculated amount of $0.5 billion entirely from freelancing, according to the Online Labor Index published in 2017 by Oxford Internet Institute (OII).

June 27: Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (retd) Nasirul Mulk accepted the resignation tendered by the National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt. Gen (retd) Nasir Khan Janjua.

June 27: The government ordered to unfreeze assets of Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi and removed a ban on his Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) movement.

June 27: The government added two more federal ministers – former defence secretary Lt Gen Naeem Khalid Lodhi and a prominent businessman Mian Misbahur Rehman – to the cabinet.

June 27: Pakistan was officially placed on FATF’s grey list.

June 28: Pope Francis appointed 14 new cardinals, a diverse selection from all over the world including Iraq, Pakistan, Madagascar and Japan. Joseph Coutts from Karachi, Pakistan, is also among those elevated to this position.

Michigan Micro Mote World’s Smallest Computer

On June 23, researchers at the University of Michigan in the US made the world’s “smallest computer” – a device measuring just 0.3 mm to a side, completely dwarfed by a grain of rice.

In addition to the RAM and photovoltaics, the new micro-computing device — Michigan Micro Mote —has processors and wireless transmitters and receivers.

As the Motes are too small to have conventional radio antennae, they receive and transmit data with visible light. A base station provides light for power and programming, and it receives the data.

June 28: Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth took oath as the chief justice of the Peshawar High Court.

June 28: PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz was convicted by the Supreme Court of committing contempt and was sentenced to imprisonment ’till the rising of the court’.

June 28: Muhammad Saleem was appointed the Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on contract basis, for a period of four years.

June 29: The United States moved Pakistan from a watch list to another group of countries that have taken significant steps to curb human trafficking.

June 29: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) officially notified Pakistan on its ‘grey list’.

June 29: The interim government made another round of large-scale changes in the federal bureaucracy.

Dr Muhammad Suleman Khan, the director general of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), was made national coordinator of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta). His predecessor retired Lt Cdr Ihsan Ghani will now head the IB.

June 29: Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz submitted his resignation.

 The CPIC, a private investment group, launched “Prosperous Pakistan” campaign on London’s iconic red double-decker buses to project Pakistan’s image as an important and emerging player in the world economy.

June 30: The Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (Abad) created a seed fund of Rs1 billion for construction of affordable low-cost housing throughout Pakistan.

June 30: The government extended the tax amnesty scheme for one month with a cut-off date of July 31.

July 01: China lent Pakistan $1 billion to boost the country’s plummeting foreign currency reserves.

July 01: Pakistan was ranked 75th with a score of 3.99 in the biannual Global Real Estate Transparency Index 2018.

A New Space Era

On July 09, with Chinese help, Pakistan launched two satellites – the Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite-1 (PRSS-1) and Pakistan Technology Evaluation Satellite-1A – from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Centre on top of a three-stage launch vehicle the Chinese Long March 2C’s SMA version.

About the Satellites

PRSS-1

The 1,200 kg satellite PRSS-1 is the first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan by China. It will operate at an altitude of 640 kilometres and will enable Pakistan to meet its imagery requirements in the areas of land mapping, agriculture classification and assessment, urban and rural planning, environmental monitoring, natural disaster management and water resource management for socio-economic development. It will also be used to provide remote sensing information for the Belt and Road region.

PakTES-1A

Another flagship satellite, the Pakistan Technology Evaluation Satellite-1A (PakTES-1A), which was indigenously designed and developed by Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) engineers, has also been co-launched with PRSS-1 by the same launch vehicle.

PakTES-1A is a 285-kilogram satellite equipped with an optical payload commensurate with national needs. It has a design life of three years and will operate at an altitude of 610km.

The launches are the 279th mission of the Long March rocket series. It is also the first international commercial launch for a Long March-2C rocket within nearly two decades after it carried Motorola’s Iridium satellites into orbit in 1999.

The SUPARCO and the China Great Wall Industry Cooperation (CGWIC) signed an agreement for the development and launch of the PRSS-1 in 2016.

July 04: In its detailed judgement in the Khatm-i-Nubuwat case, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) said the functionaries of the law ministry deliberately changed the affidavit about the finality of Prophethood.

July 04: The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered immediate construction of two dams – Bhasha and Mohmand – in the country and also formed committee headed by Chairman WAPDA for implementation of the order.

July 04: The Supreme Court of Pakistan summoned details of assets possessed by former presidents, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, and former Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum.

July 05: The United States health officials issued travel alert for Pakistan owing to the outbreak of drug-resistant typhoid in the country.

Did You Know?

Typhoid, caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria, is highly contagious and spreads by contaminated food and water. Areas with poor sanitation are worst affected. Symptoms include fever, stomach pain, headache and constipation or diarrhoea. If left untreated, it can kill. Each year, there are an estimated 21 million cases worldwide, with more than 200,000 deaths.

July 05: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested senior bureaucrat Fawad Hassan Fawad, who has of late served as principal secretary to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in some corruption cases, including the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam.

July 05: The District and Sessions Judge of Islamabad convicted Shoaib Sheikh, the Axact group’s chief executive of ficer, as well as 24 others in the fake degrees scam case and awarded them 20 years’ imprisonment.

About the Axact Case

The Axact scandal surfaced in May 2015, when The New York Times published a report claiming the company sold fake diplomas and degrees online through hundreds of fictitious schools, making “tens of millions of dollars annually”. After the issue surfaced, the offices of the company were sealed and its CEO and other officials were arrested. A senior manager of the company, Umair Hamid, was sentenced to 21 months in a US prison in August 2017 for his part in Axact’s fraud.

The Supreme Court, hearing the suo motu notice of the Axact scandal on February 9 this year, had ordered the Islamabad and Sindh high courts to wrap up the appeals against the suspects’ acquittal within weeks.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had also filed an appeal with the Islamabad High Court against the trial court’s order acquitting all the accused in the case.

The IHC had then declared the acquittal of Axact CEO Shoaib Sheikh and others void. It had ordered the sessions court to again listen to the arguments and announce a verdict.

July 05: Renowned musician from Gilgit-Baltistan Imtiaz Karim died. He was 40.

July 06: The National Security Committee (NSC) reaffirmed its commitment to implement the action plan agreed with the FATF, the international illicit financing watchdog for checking terror financing and money laundering.

July 06: Former premier Nawaz Sharif was awarded 10 years in prison by an accountability court in the Avenfield properties reference, while his daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Muhammad Safdar were sentenced to seven years’ and one-year imprisonment, respectively, for abetment.

Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court also ordered forfeiture of their property in the Avenfield Apartments, Park Lane, London and imposed £8million (approx. Rs1,292m) fine on Nawaz Sharif and £2 million (approx. Rs323m) on Maryam Nawaz.

July 07: Film director Altaf Qamar died. He was 50.

The list of world’s 25 most powerful countries, published by US News and World Report – an American media house publishing since 1933 –placed Pakistan at the 22nd spot, a ranking better than Singapore, Spain, and Brazil.

July 08: Opening batsman Fakhar Zaman smashed 91 off 46 balls as Pakistan romped to six-wicket win over Australia in the Twenty20 International tri-series final in Harare, Zimbabwe.

July 08: The United Nations appointed Javaid Rehman, a British-Pakistani legal scholar, as UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran.

Mr Rehman succeeds Asma Jahangir who passed away in February at age 66.

The UN special rapporteur can hold office for six years at most.

July 08: Syed Saleem Shahzad, a former senior leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and an ex-MNA, passed away.

July 08: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Captain (R) Muhammad Safdar.

July 09: The National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) announced that a team of its surgeons successfully implanted the Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), commonly known as a ‘mechanical pump’, in the chest of an elderly woman patient whose heart desperately needed mechanical support to properly pump blood into her body.

July 09: The three-day Shandur Polo Festival ended at the world’s highest polo ground.

July 10: Awami National Party (ANP) senior leader and provincial assembly candidate for PK-78 Haroon Bilour was killed, along with 13 others, in a suicide attack on a corner meeting of the party.

July 12: Pakistan Navy ship Saif visited Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, during the first regional maritime security patrol (RMSP) deployment instituted recently by the PN.

July 12: Pakistan hosted an unprecedented meeting of heads of intelligence agencies from Russia, China and Iran to discuss counter terrorism cooperation, with particular focus on the buildup of Islamic State in turmoil-hit Afghanistan.

July 13: Former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were arrested just after their flight landed at Allama Iqbal International Airport, flown to the Islamabad airport on a private plane before being shifted to Adiala jail.

July 13: In a gruesome attack on his election rally, Nawabzada Siraj Raisani of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and 128 other people were killed. The death toll later rose to more than 150.

Siraj Raisani was younger brother of Nawab Aslam Raisani (former CM Balochistan), and Haji Lashkari Raisani.

Pak-China Optical Fibre Cable Project

On July 13, Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk inaugurated the Pak-China Optical Fibre Cable project that would serve as the first land-based communication link between Pakistan and China.

The cable connects Rawalpindi with Khunjerab on the Pakistan-China border at an altitude of 4,700 metres, the highest fibre cable project in the world. Later, the cable will be extended to Gwadar, which will fully connect Pakistan and China.

It is the first project under the early harvest programme of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the only information and communication technology (ICT) project under CPEC.

Total cost was estimated at $44 million and Exim Bank of China provided 85% of loan at a concessionary rate.

The project is owned by SCO and its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor was Huawei.

Construction work on the project started in March 2016 and ended in June 2018. The cable covers an area of 820 km. There are 26 microwave transmission nodes from Rawalpindi to Karimabad and 171 km of aerial fibre cable from Karimabad to Khunjerab as a back-up.

The optic fibre cable will provide direct connection between Pakistan, the Middle Asia and East Asia and minimise the risk of disruption to international traffic. It will also provide multiple international links with the new Gwadar landing station in order to reduce discontinuity issues.

The project will help improve the telecom and ICT industry of Pakistan, promote tourism and create trading opportunities for northern areas of the country. It will also provide the ICT infrastructure for 3G/4G services in the northern areas and enhance communication security with an alternative fibre route.

July 14: Special Communication Organisation (SCO) and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) signed an agreement to provide connectivity between China and major international destinations transiting through Pakistan.

July 14: Pakistan’s wonder boy Nooh Dastagir Butt became the first youngster from the country to ever win a gold medal at the International Weightlifting Federation 2018 World Junior Championships.

He lifted 228 kg in the clean and Jerk competition of the +105kg event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

He bagged three medals; one gold and two bronze, in the heaviest weight category at the championships where he was the sole player representing the country.

July 15: PAF Hercules, a C-130 aircraft of Pakistan Air Force, was adjudged runner up in the prestigious Royal International Air Tattoo Show-2018, held in the United Kingdom.

INTERNATIONAL

June 17: Greece and Macedonia signed a historic preliminary agreement to rename the small Balkan nation the Republic of North Macedonia, ending a row that has poisoned relations between the two neighbours since 1991.

June 18: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its yearbook 2018 in which it reported that the world’s nuclear powers are reducing their arsenals but they are also modernizing them. Sipri, a respected authority, said nine countries – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – had 14,465 nuclear warheads at the beginning of this year, of which 3,750 were actually deployed.

June 18: Iraq’s first Kurdish airline launched with a flight to Sweden.

June 18: US President Donald Trump ordered the establishment of a sixth branch of the military to clear the way for American dominance of space.

June 18: Puan, world’s oldest known Sumatran orangutan, died aged 62 in Australian zoo.

Puan was given to Perth zoo in 1968 and is believed to have been born in Sumatra 1956.

The Gaming Disorder

June 18: In its latest revision to a disease classification manual, the UN health agency (World Health Organization — WHO) said that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a mental health condition.

What is gaming disorder?

Gaming disorder is defined in the draft 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

What is the International Classification of Diseases?

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions.

The inclusion of a disorder in ICD is a consideration which countries take into account when planning public health strategies and monitoring trends of disorders.

WHO is working on updating of the ICD. The 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) is scheduled for publication in mid-2018.

June 19: England broke their own all-time record for the highest total ever scored in a men’s ODI when they posted 481 for 6 against Australia at Trent Bridge.

June 19: India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quit the ruling coalition in India-held Jammu and Kashmir state.

June 19: The United States withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council, which it accuses of bias against Israel.

This is the first time any country has voluntarily left the Human Rights Council. The only other member to leave was Libya, whose membership was suspended in 2011 after the UN General Assembly deemed the government responsible for human rights violations.

June 19: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited China to brief Chinese President Xi Jinping about his historic summit with US President Donald Trump.

June 19: The Central Intelligence Agency, in its recent edition of the ‘World Factbook’, named the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal as “terrorist organisations”.

June 19: By the end of 2017, a record 68.5 million people were forced flee their homes due to war, violence and persecution, notably in places like Myanmar and Syria, according to a report by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

June 19: In the FIFA World Cup, Japanese team, also called the Blue Samurai, beat Colombia, becoming the first Asian side ever to beat a South American team in this event.

June 20: President Trump ordered an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents at the US border.

June 20: Indian President Ram Nath Kovind approved the imposition of Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir.

June 20: Hungary’s parliament adopted a controversial package of laws penalising NGOs that help migrants. The package of legislation has been named the ‘Stop Soros’ laws, after liberal US billionaire George Soros who is accused by the government of orchestrating migration to Europe.

June 21: Koko, a western lowland gorilla said to have mastered American Sign Language, died aged 46.

June 21: The Saudi Stock Exchange, Tadawul, was upgraded as an emerging market by global index provider MSCI.

June 22: A radical Indonesian cleric Aman Abdurrahman was sentenced to death for masterminding a 2016 Islamic State terror attack that saw a suicide bomber blow himself up at a Starbucks cafe.

June 22: China and Nepal agreed to build a railway connecting Tibet with Kathmandu, among a raft of deals signed during the Nepali prime minister’s visit to Beijing.

June 23: Kim Jong-pil, founder of South Korea’s spy agency, and a former prime minister, died. He was 92.

June 24: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared victory in a tightly-contested presidential election.

June 24: Saudi women steered their cars through busy streets for the first time after the world’s last remaining ban on women driving was lifted.

June 25: Nine EU countries – France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Estonia, Portugal and Spain – signed up to a French plan for a European defence intervention group.

June 26: The US Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s ban on travellers from 5 mostly Muslim countries.

In a majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court ruled 5-4 that the most recent version of the ban, which the administration claims is justified by national security concerns, was valid.

June 26: Myanmar’s military sacked Maj Gen Maung Maung Soe, a top military official named in fresh EU sanctions against security officials accused of serious rights violations in the Rohingya crisis, including killings and sexual violence.

June 26: A bill enacting Britain’s decision to leave the European Union became law. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which repeals the 1972 European Communities Act through which Britain became a member of the bloc, was given the formal royal assent by Queen Elizabeth II. The bill transfers decades of European law onto British statute books, and also enshrines Brexit day in British law as March 29, 2019.

June 27: The world’s chemical weapons watchdog won new powers to assign blame for attacks with banned toxic munitions. Member states of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) voted in favour of a British-led proposal by a 82-24 margin, easily reaching the two-thirds majority needed for it to succeed.

June 27: Qatar brought a case against the United Arab Emirates at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague accusing it of fostering an “environment of hate” against Qataris. In a surprise tit-for-tat move, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi also announced to file their own case at the UN’s top court against Doha.

June 27: Joe Jackson, the father of the King of Pop Michael Jackson, died. He was 89.

June 28: The Israeli army graduated the first four women from its tank commanders’ school.

June 28: The President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom appointed Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi the new Chief Justice of the country’s supreme court.

June 29: The United States formally ended seven decades of military presence in Seoul, South Korea’s capital.

June 29: The member states of International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Migration Agency, elected Portugal’s António Manuel de Carvalho Ferreira Vitorino as its next Director General.

About IOM

Established in 1951, IOM is an inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.

With 172 member states, a further 8 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.

IOM initiated its work in Pakistan in 1981 following a government request for assistance with the influx of Afghans into the country. Pakistan signed as a Member State of IOM in 1992 and established a Cooperation Agreement with IOM in October 2000.

June 29: EU leaders clinched a hard-won migration deal. The 28 leaders agreed to consider setting up “disembarkation platforms” outside the bloc, most likely in north Africa, in a bid to discourage migrants boarding EU-bound smuggler boats. Member countries could also set up migrant processing centres – but only on a voluntary basis – to determine whether they returned home as economic migrants or admitted as refugees in willing states.

June 30: The 42nd session of World Heritage Committee (WHC) meeting of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was held in Manama, Bahrain.

June 30: Unesco added eight pre-Islamic Iranian archaeological sites, Mumbai’s Art Deco buildings, seven ancient Korean mountain temples and a dozen Christian locations in parts of southern Japan to its World Heritage List.

2018 additions

Here’s the list of sites added to the UNESCO list in 2018:

Denmark: Aasivissuit – Nipisat. Inuit Hunting Ground between Ice and Sea
Saudi Arabia: Al-Ahsa Oasis, an evolving Cultural Landscape
Oman: Ancient City of Qalhat
Spain: Caiphate City of Medina Azahara
Turkey: Göbekli Tepe
Japan: Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region
Italy: Ivrea, industrial city of the 20th century
Germany: Naumburg Cathedral
S. Korea: Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea
Iran: Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region
Germany: The Archaeological Border Landscape of Hedeby and the Danevirke
Kenya: Thimlich Ohinga Archaeological Site
India: Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai
South Africa: Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains
France: Chaine des Puys – Limagne fault tectonic arena
China: Fanjingshan
Colombia: Chiribiquete National Park — “The Maloca of the Jaguar”
Canada: Pimachiowin Aki
Mexico: Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley: originary habitat of Mesoamerica
Russia: Bikin River Valley

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The World Heritage Sites are the sites selected by UNESCO, having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance and are legally protected by international treaties. The list is maintained by international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The committee comprises 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by UN General Assembly. Each World Heritage Site included in the list remains part of the legal territory of the state where it is located. But inclusion of sites in the by UNESCO is in interest of the international community to preserve each site. Presently, Italy with 50 sites is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites.

July 02: Russia started a case at the World Trade Organisation against steel and aluminium tariffs imposed by the US.

July 02: Anti-establishment leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador swept to victory in Mexico’s presidential election.

July 01: The 5th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) intersessional ministerial meeting was held in Tokyo, Japan. At the meeting, trade ministers and officials from 16 Asian countries agreed to speed up negotiations on outstanding issues and reach a basic agreement on a regional trade pact by the end of 2018.

About the RCEP

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six Asia-Pacific states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand). RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. The free trade agreement is scheduled and expected to be signed in November 2018 during the ASEAN Summit and Related Summit in Singapore, after the first RCEP summit was held on 14 November 2017 in Manila, Philippines. The RCEP, when realized will become the largest trade bloc in terms of population with nearly 3.5 billion people. It will also have an estimated 40% of world’s GDP and dominating 30% of global trade.

RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement which includes several Asian and American nations but excludes China and India.

July 02: Australia ended direct aid to the Palestinian Authority because “Australian donations could increase the self-governing body’s capacity to pay Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence.”

July 03: Aaron Finch of Australia smashed 172 off only 76 balls against Zimbabwe and broke his own world record of highest individual score in a Twenty20 International.

Finch and his opening partnership with D’Arcy Short put up 223, another world record.

July 06: Shoko Asahara, the charismatic, near-blind leader of the Aum Shinrikyo sect, the Japanese doomsday cult that carried out a deadly 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway, was executed along with six of his followers, decades after the horrific crime.

July 08: Turkish authorities ordered the dismissal of more than 18,632 state employees, including police officers, soldiers and academics, over suspected links to terror organisations that “act against national security”.

July 08: The Kolkata police arrested five men with one kilogramme of uranium.

July 09: South Korea-born American Kevin Na captured his first US PGA title in seven years.

July 09: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson followed Brexit minister David Davis in resigning over PM Theresa May’s master plan for Britain’s future outside the EU.

July 09: The Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki inked a ‘Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship’ which declared that the ‘state of war that existed between the two countries has come to an end. A new era of peace and friendship has been ushered (in).’

July 09: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in for his second term as head of state of Turkey, taking on greater powers than any Turkish leader for decades under a new system.

July 09: Samsung Electronics formally opened a new factory in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, which the South Korean tech group says is the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturing plant.

July 09: The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2427 which is aimed at further crystallizing the protection of children in armed conflicts, including by combating their recruitment by non-State armed groups and treating formerly recruited children primarily as victims.

World in Focus (June-July 2018)

July 10: A daring rescue mission in the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in northern Thailand saved all 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep within the labyrinth, ending a gruelling 18-day ordeal.

July 10: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promoted Turkey’s army commander General Yasar Guler to armed forces chief. The outgoing top General Hulusi Akar was appointed the defence minister.

Did You Know?

Turkey has the second largest force in Nato after the US which has almost 1.5 million.

July 12: New Zealand scientists performed the first-ever 3-D, colour X-ray on a human, using a technique that promises to improve the field of diagnostics.

The new device, based on the traditional black-and-white X-ray, incorporates particle-tracking technology developed for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, which in 2012 discovered the elusive Higgs Boson particle. The CERN technology, dubbed Medipix, works like a camera detecting and counting individual sub-atomic particles as they collide with pixels while its shutter is open.

July 12: A Turkish court sentenced 72 defendants to life in prison for their role in killing 34 people when rogue soldiers seized control of a suspension bridge in Istanbul two years ago during an attempted coup. Another 27 defendants were sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for helping that effort.

July 12: Turkey’s new parliament elected former prime minister Binali Yildirim, a loyalist of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose post was abolished after the June 24 elections, as the speaker of the 600-member Turkish parliament – The Grand National Assembly of Turkey.

July 12: Abbas Amir-Entezam, a former Iranian deputy prime minister who spent years in jail on charges of spying for the US, died at the age of 86.

July 12: A raucous and divisive NATO summit concluded in Brussels with all 29 NATO member states agreeing that there still is a common commitment to the military alliance.

July 13: Iceland was elected to take up the seat left vacant at the United Nations Human Rights Council after the United States quit the body.

July 13: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan, nearly five years after civil war erupted in the country.

July 13: The US Army turned to a tech-savvy city in Texas to host a new command – the Army Futures Command – aimed at innovating and preparing to fight future wars. It will be established in Austin, the booming capital of Texas.

July 14: Belgium beat England 2-0 in the World Cup third place play-off to secure their best ever finish at a World Cup.

Belgium have had 10 different goal-scorers at this World Cup equalling the record set by France in 1982 and Italy in 2006.

July 14: Angelique Kerber became the first German woman to win Wimbledon for 22 years as she defeated Serena Williams, shattering her bid for Grand Slam history.

July 15: Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic claimed a fourth Wimbledon title as he beat giant South African Kevin Anderson.

July 15: France won the World Cup for the second time by ending hard-battling Croatia’s dream of a first title with a 4-2 victory in an entertaining and action-packed final.

World in Focus (June-July 2018)

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