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World in Focus (March – April 2018)

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Mar 16: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had an unscheduled meeting with US Vice President Michael Pence at US Vice President’s residence at the US Naval Observatory.

Mar 16: WWF-Pakistan and Pakistan Customs signed an MoU to work together through innovative means to curb the illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan.

About WWF-Pakistan

1. WWF-Pakistan was formed in 1970.
2. WWF-Pakistan’s has its head office in Lahore, and regional offices in Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad and Quetta.
3. WWF-Pakistan is a member of the WWF International Network, one of the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation organizations.
4. Syed Babar Ali, an entrepreneur, industrialist and the brain behind the establishment of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in 1986, was the first chairman of WWF-Pakistan.
5. Its current chairman is Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a renowned lawyer and expert of International Law.

Mar 17: Pakistan team clinched Junior Davis Cup after defeating Pacific Oceania.

Mar 17: Lt Gen Ghayur Mahmood was installed as new colonel commandant of the Frontier Force (FF) Regiment.

Mar 17: During the 37th session of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights included Kashmir in the list of other urgent international conflicts, like Syria – first time in the history of the commission.

Mar 17: The Supreme Court constituted a four-member commission led by renowned surgeon Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi to formulate suggestions on how to curb the illegal trade of human organs in the country.

Mar 18: Pakistan’s own Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) pioneer Bashir Ahmad was inducted in the Hall of Fame at the World Martial Arts Summit and Festival, in Bangkok.

Mar 18: Federal Minister for Interior, Planning Development and Reform Prof. Ahsan Iqbal inaugurated University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore’s Narowal sub campus “Khan Bahadur Chaudhary Mushtaq Ahmad Para-Veterinary School” Narowal.

Mar 18: Punjab government and Pakistan Air Force signed an agreement for establishing Fort Munro Cadet College.

Mar 18: Pakistan’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt Gen (r) Nasser Janjua met Afghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul.

Mar 19: New Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan took over PAF as its 22nd chief.

About the New PAF Chief

1. Mujahid Anwar Khan was born on December 23, 1962.
2. He was commissioned in GDP Branch in December 1983.
3. He had received the coveted Sword of Honour, Best Pilot Trophy and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gold Medal.
4. During his tenure of service, he has held various Command and Staff appointments including Command of a Fighter Squadron, a Tactical Attack Wing, Base Commander of two elite F-16 Bases and Air Officer Commanding of Regional Air Command.
5. Air Marshal Mujahid Anwar is a qualified Flying Instructor and a graduate of Combat Commanders’ School, Command and Staff College, Jordan, Air War College, Faisal and National Defence University, Islamabad.
6. In recognition of his meritorious services, he has been awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military), Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Military) and Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Military).

Mar 20: Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Liaquat Baloch were appointed the president and secretary general, respectively, of the recently-revived Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, a political alliance of 5 religious parties.

Mar 20: Punjab clinched the 4th Inter-Provincial Games with 139 medals scoring 3235 points while hosts Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) ended runners-up with 120 medals followed by Sindh on third.

Mar 21: Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan was conferred Nishan-e-Imtiaz Military by President Mamnoon Hussain.

Mar 21: The 3-day Bolan Jeep Rally concluded with Jaffar Magsi emerging as winner.

Mar 22: The Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) inked a deal with China Great Wall Industry Cooperation (CGWIC) to acquire communication satellite PakSat Multi Satellite (PakSat-MM1).

The communication satellite will be beneficial in providing numerous communication services like Direct to Home (DTH). Also, apart from making the friendship stronger between the two countries, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative will also be strengthened by working together in the field of science and technology. Along with better 3G and 4G communication in Pakistan, the satellite will be able to give communication in remote areas of the country as well.

On Feb 28, the communication satellite PakSat-MM1 arrived at Pakistan’s geostationary orbital location of 38.2 East.

Mar 22: Sherry Rehman of PPP was notified as the leader of opposition in the Senate of Pakistan, the upper house of the parliament, becoming the first woman to get the office in its 45-year history.

Mar 23: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif inaugurated the Punjab Tianjin University of Technical Education in Township, Lahore.

China to build ‘world’s fastest’ wind tunnel

China has announced it is building the world’s fastest wind tunnel to develop a new generation of super-fast aeroplanes, but it could also be used for hypersonic missile technology.

Wind tunnels test how air will pass over a solid object, helping designers improve aerodynamics or reduce stress points for objects as they reach high speeds.

State-run Xinhua news agency ran a report revealing the development of what it said would be “the world’s fastest hypersonic wind tunnel”.

“The 265-metre-long tunnel can be used to test hypersonic aircraft that can travel at speeds of up to Mach 25 (30,625 kph), 25 times the speed of sound,” Han Guilai, a researcher with China’s State Key Laboratory of High-Temperature Gas Dynamics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.

To compare, the current fastest generation of fighter jets can travel up to speeds of around 2.5 Mach. The revelation comes as the world’s leading military nations embark on a race to develop the next generation of hypersonic weapons, from missiles and spy planes to railguns, that can beat conventional defence systems.

Mar 23: The country displayed its military might at the joint military Pakistan Day parade in the federal capital.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was the guest of honour at the ceremony, which was also attended by a contingent of troops from the United Arab Emirates, a military band from Jordan and Egypt’s top cleric Dr Shawki Ibrahim Abdul Karim.

Mar 24: An anti-terrorism court acquitted 20 suspects allegedly involved in lynching incident of 2014 at a brick kiln of Kot Radha Kishan.

Mar 24: Former PML-N MPA Yasmeen Khan was found dead at her house in Lahore.

Mar 24: To mark the Earth Hour 2018, several landmarks across the country, including Lahore, switched off their lights at 8:30pm and joined WWF-Pakistan’s call to stand with millions of people to combat climate change and protect biodiversity and nature.

Mar 25: The final of Pakistan Super League was played in Karachi. Islamabad United emerged as the winners, clinching their second HBL PSL title.

Mar 25: The Trump administration added seven Pakistani companies to a list of foreign entities that presumably pose a significant risk to the national security and policy interests of the United States by allegedly engaging in nuclear trade.

Mar 26: A private channel Kohinoor News made history by hiring the country’s first transgender news anchor Marvia Malik. She has a bachelor’s degree to her credit and had applied for admission to an MA programme.

Mar 26: Air Marshal Arshad Malik was named as the vice chief of air staff (VCAS).

Mar 26: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reconstituted the 13-member Economic Advisory Council (EAC) led by former finance minister Shaukat Tarin to advise the government on economic policies.

Chairman

Shaukat Tarin (former Federal Finance Minister)

Members

1. Shahid Kardar (former Governor SBP)
2. Dr Ali Cheema (Professor LUMS)
3. Atif Bajwa (Banking and Financial Sector Specialist)
4. Ms Sima Kamil (CEO UBL)
5. Sultan Ali Allana (Chairman HBL Board of Directors)
6. Arif Habib, Fawad Anwar & Asif R. Tata (Corporate Sector)
7. Salman Akram Raja (Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan)
8. Muhammad E. Tasneem (Agricultural Policy Specialist, ex-chairman PARC, ex-member Planning Commission)

Ex-officio Members

1. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs, Dr Miftah Ismail
2. PM’s adviser on Revenue, Haroon Akhtar
3. Minister of State for Finance, Rana Mohammad Afzal
4. SBP Governor, Tariq Bajwa

Mar 27: Nine individuals from Pakistan featured on Forbes magazine’s annual ’30 Under 30′ Asia list. They are:

1. Momina Mustehsan          2. Muhammad Asad Raza
3. Abrahim Shaha                  4. Muhammad Shaheer Niazi
5. Adnan Shaffi                       6. Adeel Shaffi
7. Sadia Bashir                        8. Hamza Farrukh
9. Syed Faizan Hussain

Mar 28: Javeria Khan smashed the fastest T20I fifty for a Pakistani woman in a match against Sri Lanka women.

Mar 28: The federal cabinet approved signing of extradition treaties with China and Saudi Arabia for transfer of sentenced or convicted individuals.

Mar 28: Youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai reached Pakistan more than five years after she survived a Taliban attack in Swat.

Mar 29: Pakistan conducted another successful test fire of indigenous developed Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) Babur III.

About SLCM Babur

1. Babur-III is a submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) having a range of 450 kilometres.
2. It was tested from a submerged platform off Pakistan’s coast in the Arabian Sea.
3. It is capable of delivering different kinds of payloads and employs underwater controlled propulsion, advanced guidance and navigation features.
4. The SLCM provides Pakistan credible second strike capability, augmenting the existing deterrence regime.
5. It is a sea-based variant of the Babur-2 ground-launched cruise missile, which was successfully tested in Dec 2016.
6. Its first test-firing was announced on 9 Jan 2017.
7. The successful test of Babur-III Cruise Missile completed the last leg of Pakistan’s nuclear triad.

Mar 29: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi launched the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Endowment Fund and Graduation Programme, announcing a grant of one billion rupees for the fund.

World in Focus (March – April 2018)Mar 30: Pakistan and India agreed to address complaints of harassment of diplomats in accordance with the bilaterally agreed 1992 ‘Code of Conduct’ on treatment of diplomatic and consular staff in each other’s country.

Mar 31: Khyber Greens Zmari successfully defended their Fata Super League title beating Bajaur Tigers in the final.

Apr 01: The All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) unanimously elected Hameed Haroon as President, Sarmad Ali as Secretary General, Kazi Asad Abid as Senior Vice President, Mehtab Khan as Vice President, Bilal Mehmood as Joint Secretary and Waseem Ahmed as Finance Secretary of the Society for the year 2018-19.

Apr 01: Muhammad Haseeb, a primary class student from Sindhilianwali (Pirmahal), stood first all over Punjab in the annual class five examination 2018 by securing 494 out of total 500 marks.

Apr 02: Minister of State for Petroleum Jam Kamal Khan resigned from the federal cabinet.

Apr 03: A doodle of Nazia Hasan with her flowing hair and dupatta with disco balls of the 1980s glinting appeared on the Google homepage to celebrate the late singer’s 53rd birthday.

Apr 03: Veteran journalist and scholar Syed Ghulam Sarwar Shah, lovingly called ‘Shah Jee’, passed away. He was 96.

Apr 05: Pakistan’s rookie weightlifter Talha Talib won Pakistan a bronze medal and also created a snatch record in the Commonwealth Games 62kg weightlifting competitions.

Apr 05: The government unveiled a populist economic reforms package (ERP) envisaging another ‘one-time’ amnesty scheme to whiten undeclared assets at home and abroad, reduction in income tax rates for existing taxpayers and issuance of dollar-denominated bond.

Apr 06: Gen Sir Nicholas Patrick Carter, Chief of General Staff (CGS) of the UK Army, visited Balochistan’s Girdi Jungle and Brabchah areas during a two-day official visit to Pakistan.

Apr 06: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) warned the general public as well as banks against trade in virtual currencies.

Apr 06: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) formally introduced a new livery and added a portrait of the Markhor on its aircraft, including a large one on the tail and two on the engines. The font of the PIA logo has also been changed and it has been added to the belly so it is visible when the aircraft is flying overhead. The previous livery was introduced 10 years ago and needed to be changed as per PIA administration.

Apr 06: The nation observed Kashmir Solidarity Day to condemn fresh wave of Indian brutalities against Kashmiris.

Apr 07: Journalists from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas were honoured for their work at the annual Lala Amir Ahmad Siddiqi Media Award, 2018.

Apr 08: President Mamnoon Hussain promulgated four ordinances to implement the Economic Reforms Package (ERP) envisaging “one-time” amnesty scheme to whiten undeclared assets at home and abroad, reduction in income tax rates, issuance of dollar-denominated bonds and barring cash transactions in non-filer accounts.

The ordinances promulgated are: Voluntary Declaration of Domestic Assets Ordinance 2018, Foreign Assets (Declaration and Repatriation) Ordinance 2018, Income Tax (Amendment) Ordinance 2018, and Economic Reforms (Amendment) Ordinance 2018.

Apr 09: Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb announced constitution of the Eighth Wage Board.

The Wage Board would comprise a chairman and representatives of the media organisations and owners of media houses.

Apr 09: Pakistan’s weightlifter Nooh Dastagir Butt smashed a record at the Commonwealth Games 2018 by registering the highest-ever weight by a junior in the +105kg event.

Nooh won a bronze after he bettered his previous record of 389kg at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship that also took place in Gold Coast, Australia, last year.

Apr 10: Pakistan-origin Robina Shah was appointed the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester, United Kingdom.

Apr 10: Military authorities transferred their responsibilities to civil administration after 10 years in Lower and Upper Dir districts.

Apr 10: The five Chinese engineers and workers who clashed with police in Khanewal were deported to China.

Apr 10: Cricket’s Asia Cup was moved from India to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over Pakistan’s refusal to cross the border.

Apr 11: The National Assembly unanimously passed The Comsats University Islamabad Bill, 2017.

Already passed by the Senate, the bill will be sent to the president and as soon as he signs it, Comsats will be declared a university.

Apr 11: The ECP put a temporary ban on recruitment of public servants in the federal, provincial and local government institutions in view of the upcoming general elections.

Apr 11: The SBP granted the Bank of China permission to establish yuan settlement and clearing mechanism.

Apr 12: The Supreme Court appointed Dr Farrukh Saleem to formulate terms of reference for identifying causes of ever-increasing losses of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

Apr 13: Nazeer Sultan, the last serving member of the National Assembly who signed 1973 Constitution, bade farewell to politics.

Apr 13: The Supreme Court shut the doors of parliament permanently on the politicians disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution by ruling that such ineligibility is for life.

The unanimous decision of a five-judge SC bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah on the question of Mr Nawaz’s disqualification was the latest blow to the embattled PML-N.

Apr 13: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The run-of-the-river power scheme is designed to divert water from the Neelum River to the power station on the Jhelum River and will produce 969MW of electricity.

Apr 13: A bill seeking to extend jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) sailed through the Senate.

Apr 14: Pakistan joined the list of gold medal-winning nations at the 21st Commonwealth Games when wrestler Mohammad Inam Butt, displaying a powerful performance in the 86kg category, overcame his formidable opponent Melvin Bibo of Nigeria to clinch the first gold medal for his country.

Apr 15: The Gender Guardian, an education and vocational training school for Pakistan’s transgender community, opened in Lahore. It is Pakistan’s first-ever transgender school.

Apr 15: Pakistan finished overall at the 24th spot in the 21st Commonwealth Games claiming 1 gold and 4 bronze medals.

Apr 15: A Pakistani student Yasir Jan Notezai bagged second position in the International Climate Olympiad held in Kenya.

Nuclear Club

The world’s nuclear club is an exclusive group – and it has become even more dangerous with the relatively recent and unwelcome addition of North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un.

The United States wants the rogue regime to give up its nuclear-weapons ambitions, and President Donald Trump aims to achieve that goal, possibly through direct diplomacy.

North Korea is the only country to test nuclear weapons this century, and Kim has emphasized that nuclear weapons are a fundamental part of his regime’s national security. North Korea is one of nine nations to have stockpiled nuclear weapons – about 14,500 total worldwide, a figure that has declined since the Cold War.

Below is a breakdown of how many weapons exist, according to estimates from the Arms Control Association and Federation of American Scientists.

North Korea: Total nuclear weapons: 10 to 20: Total nuclear tests: 6: First tested: October 2006: Most recent test: September 2017. Israel: Total nuclear weapons: 80: Total nuclear tests: 0: First tested: No confirmed tests: Most recent test: No confirmed tests

India: Total nuclear weapons: 120 to 130: Total nuclear tests: 3: First tested: May 1974: Most recent test: May 1998.

Pakistan: Total nuclear weapons: 130 to 140: Total nuclear tests: 2: First tested: May 1998: Most recent test: May 1998.

United Kingdom: Total nuclear weapons: 215: Total nuclear tests: 45: First tested: October 1952: Most recent test: November 1991

China: Total nuclear weapons: 270: Total nuclear tests: 45: First tested: October 1964: Most recent test: July 1996.

France: Total nuclear weapons: 300: Total nuclear tests: 210: First tested: February 1960: Most recent test: January 1996.

United States: Total nuclear weapons: 6,550: Total nuclear tests: 1,030: First tested: July 1945: Most recent test: September 1992

Russia: Total nuclear weapons: 6,800: Total nuclear tests: 715: First tested: August 1949: Most recent test: October 1990.

INTERNATIONAL

Mar 16: Thirteen African and European countries and the EU held ministerial-level talks under the “Conference on Coordination of the Struggle against Traffickers of Migrants” in Niamey, the Capital of Niger.

Mar 16: Belgium took back control of the Grand Mosque of Brussels by terminating Saudi Arabia’s lease – 99-year rent-free use – of the building with immediate effect over concerns it promotes radicalism.

Points to Note

1. The Grand Mosque is Brussels’ biggest mosque, located near the European Union’s headquarters.
2. Belgium leased it to Riyadh in 1969.
3. The lease gave Saudi-backed imams access to a growing Muslim immigrant community, mostly from Morocco and Turkey in return for cheaper oil for its industry.
4. It has been run by the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL), a Saudi-funded society.

Mar 16: Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey held talks on Syria in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan.

Mar 17: Former Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, who helped strengthen ties with the US, died at the age of 85.

Mar 17: FIFA lifted its three-decade ban on Iraq for hosting international football.

Mar 17: Russia announced to expel 23 British diplomats and close a British consulate following London’s “provocative measures” over the poisoning of a double agent that triggered a fierce diplomatic row.

Mar 17: China’s parliament unanimously handed President Xi Jinping a second term and elevated his right-hand man, Wang Qishan, to the vice presidency.

Mar 17: Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, resigned after being embroiled in a scandal over use of a credit card to buy luxury personal items.

Mar 18: Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Britain’s first Muslim female cabinet minister and former Chair of the Conservative Party, won libel damages and legal costs from the influential Jewish News over an article that wrongly suggested she had sought to excuse the actions of Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.

Mar 18: Vladimir Putin won Russia’s presidential election with almost 74 percent of the vote.

Mar 18: Brazil – the country with the world’s greatest freshwater reserves – hosted an international conference on growing fears over the fragility of drinking water supplies in a heating planet. Under the slogan “sharing water,” the 8th World Water Forum brought together 15 heads of state and government, 300 mayors and dozens of experts in the Brazilian capital Brasilia for the 6-day event.

Mar 19: China elevated the status of its current foreign minister Wang Yi, to make him a state councillor, a ranking member of the country’s “cabinet”. It also selected General Wei Fenghe as the country’s new defence minister.

Mar 19: Britain and the European Union reached a landmark deal on a transition phase that will see London follow the bloc’s rules for nearly two years after the Brexit divorce.

Mar 20: Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands won the prestigious Abel Prize for developing a programme connecting representation theory to number theory.

About the Abel Prize

1. The Abel Prize was established by the Norwegian government in 2002 on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Niels Henrik Abel’s birth.
2. The Abel Prize recognizes contributions to the field of mathematics that are of extraordinary depth and influence.
3. The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters awards the Abel Prize on recommendation from the Abel committee.
4. It is the second top award in the field of mathematics worldwide after Fields Medal.
5. The prize carries a cash award of 6 million NOK and has been awarded annually since 2003.
6. The Abel Prize complements its sister prize in the humanities, the Holberg Prize.
7. The ceremony takes place in the Atrium of the University of Oslo’s Faculty of Law, where the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded between 1947 and 1989.

Mar 20: Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, died in Kenya at the age of 45, after becoming a symbol of efforts to save his subspecies from extinction, a fate that only science can now prevent.

Mar 21: Israel admitted for the first time that it was responsible for a top-secret 2007 air raid against a Syrian nuclear reactor.

Tear gas used in Kosovo parliament to delay vote

Mar 21: Kosovo’s opposition held up ratification of a border agreement with Montenegro, which they regard as a sell-out, releasing tear gas at a parliamentary session called to push the deal through.

Approving the 2015 border deal is a key condition for Kosovo to gain visa-free travel to the European Union, but the opposition party Vetevendosje is adamantly against it, claiming it will wrongly surrender some 20,000 acres of Kosovan territory to its neighbour.

Opposition lawmakers threw tear gas canisters into the chamber to block discussion and a vote, causing deputies to withdraw choking and spluttering.

The session was adjourned to allow the chamber to ventilate but as MPs started going back into the room, more tear gas was released.

The EU commissioner for enlargement, Johannes Hahn, condemned the action in a tweet, saying: “Such behaviour has no place in a democracy.”

Mar 22: John Dowd, President Donald Trump’s lead lawyer in the US investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, resigned.

Mar 23: Famed Iranian philosopher Dariush Shayegan, who challenged Western domination of philosophical thought and wrote the book “Cultural Schizophrenia: Islamic Societies Confronting the West,” passed away at the age of 83.

Mar 23: The United States formally approved weapons sales to Saudi Arabia totalling more than $1 billion.

Mar 23: Poland signed an offset deal with the United States ahead of final agreement to buy a Patriot anti-missile system.

Mar 23: European Union leaders approved guidelines for the next phase of Brexit talks with Britain, but set a June deadline for progress on the key issue of Northern Ireland.

Mar 23: US President Donald Trump named John Bolton, a hardliner US diplomat that is Trump’s third adviser in a little more than a year, as his new National Security Adviser, replacing Gen H.R. McMaster.

Mar 23: Afghanistan qualified for the 2019 cricket World Cup.

Mar 24: US President Donald Trump rolled back his blanket ban on transgender people serving in the military – but they will still face major restrictions in the American armed forces.

Mar 24: Martin Vizcarra was sworn in as Peru’s new president.

Mar 24: Scottish author Philip Kerr, the creator of the Nazi-era thrillers featuring detective Bernie Gunther, died at 62.

Mar 24: Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame, a French police officer who offered himself up to an extremist gunman in exchange for a hostage was honoured as a national hero of ‘exceptional courage and selflessness.’

Mar 24: The ‘Kangaroo Route’ from Australia to Britain became a shorter hop when the first direct passenger service left Perth for London, with the 17-hour flight set to break aviation records.

Qantas’14,498-kilometre journey from the south-western city to London is the world’s third-longest passenger flight, and the first-ever regular service to connect the two continents directly.

Mar 25: China and India signed 101 agreements as a trade promotion group organised by China’s Ministry of Commerce visited India to strengthen economic and trade ties and pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.

Mar 26: The UAE announced that one of four nuclear reactors at its debut plant has been completed as it moves closer to becoming the first Arab nation to produce atomic power.

The plant west of Abu Dhabi is being constructed by a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). Nuclear and renewables, which currently make up a small portion of the federation’s energy sources, are slated to contribute around 27 percent to UAE electricity needs by 2021. The second reactor is 92 percent complete, the third 81 percent while 66 percent of the fourth has been completed.

Mar 26: The United States, Canada and 16 European countries announced the expulsion of over 100 Russian diplomats in an expression of solidarity with Britain over a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England.

Mar 27: French actress Stephane Audran, best known for her leading role in the Oscar-winning ‘Babette’s Feast’, died at 85.

Mar 27: The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and more than a dozen other national delegations declared their support for the peace process in Afghanistan after talks in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

Mar 28: SoftBank Group Corp. announced a $200 billion solar power project in Saudi Arabia, that will be ‘the world’s biggest solar power generation plant’.

Mar 28: Poland signed the largest arms procurement deal in its history, agreeing with the United States to buy Raytheon Co’s Patriot missile defence system for $4.75 billion.

Mar 28: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged his commitment to denuclearisation and to meet US officials, China said after his meeting with President Xi Jinping.

Mar 28: Myanmar’s parliament elected Win Myint, a longtime loyalist of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s new president.

Mar 29: Russia ordered to expel 60 US diplomats, in a retaliatory move against Washington which expelled a similar number of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a Russian spy in England.

Mar 29: US President Donald Trump sacked his Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and nominated White House doctor Ronny Jackson as his successor.

Mar 31: Scientists discovered interstitium – a previously undetected feature of the human anatomy – that could be the largest organ of the human body.

Mar 31: The Syrian army declared victory in eastern Ghouta after opposition fighters evacuated from most of the area.

Apr 01: Former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who seized power in a 1982 coup, died.

Apr 02: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was re-elected with 97 percent of votes.

Apr 02: The Tiangong-1, a Chinese space lab, disintegrated under intense heat as it hurtled through Earth’s atmosphere and plunged towards a watery grave in the South Pacific.

Tiangong-1 – or “Heavenly Palace” – was placed in orbit in September 2011, acting as a testing ground for China’s efforts towards building its own space station by 2022, but it ceased functioning in 2016.

Apr 02: Emmanuel Cauchy, a French doctor and mountain guide whose high-altitude work earned him the nickname “Doctor Vertical,” was killed in an avalanche in the Alps.

World in Focus (March – April 2018)Apr 02: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, an anti-apartheid campaigner and second wife of the late Nelson Mandela, passed away. She was 81.

Apr 03: James Anderson of England achieved the record of having bowled more deliveries in Test cricket than any another pace bowler: 30,020.

The previous record belonged to another fast bowler of great longevity, Courtney Walsh, and now ahead of Anderson are three of the greatest ever spinners: Shane Warne, Anil Kumble and Muttiah Muralitharan.

Apr 03: President Vladimir Putin embarked on a two-day visit to Russia’s increasingly close partner Turkey to launch the construction of its first nuclear power plant and coordinate policy on the war in Syria.

Apr 03: The United Nations started investigating “disturbing reports of serious harm to civilians” in an Afghan airstrike on a religious school in Kunduz that left a large number of children dead or wounded.

Apr 03: Vernon Philander grabbed six wickets in a devastating spell of seam bowling as South Africa crushed Australia by a record 492 runs to clinch the four-match Test series 3-1.

Apr 04: Former England, Chelsea and Manchester United mid-fielder Ray Wilkins died at the age of 61.

Apr 04: Turkey, Russia and Iran held a summit in Ankara. After the summit the three countries’ leaders said they were committed to achieving a “lasting ceasefire” in Syria.

World in Focus (March – April 2018)Apr 05: The German military put a short-range air defence unit with about 450 soldiers under Dutch command, further deepening ties between the two Nato allies.

Apr 05: Indian movie actor Salman Khan was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted in a 19-year-old blackbuck poaching case by a court in Jodhpur.

Apr 05: China launched a World Trade Organisation challenge against Washington’s proposal to slap $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports over Beijing’s alleged theft of intellectual property and technology.

Apr 06: Malaysian Premier Najib Razak dissolved the parliament, paving the way for general election.

Apr 06: South Korea’s disgraced former president Park Geun-hye was jailed for 24 years for corruption, completing a dramatic fall from grace for the country’s first woman leader who became a figure of public fury and ridicule.

Apr 08: Brazil’s leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva started his 12-year prison sentence for corruption.

Apr 10: French and Saudi companies signed draft agreements worth a total of $18 billion during a trip to Paris by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Apr 10: The United States and Russia both failed in their attempts at the United Nations Security Council to set up a mechanism for determining the blame for a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Apr 10: Seven Myanmar soldiers were sentenced to jail with hard labour for their part in the extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya Muslim men last year.

Apr 10: Donald Trump’s top homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, announced his resignation.

Apr 10: Researchers unveiled what they billed as the world’s first 3D-printed house to serve as a home in the French city of Nantes, with the first tenants due to move in by June.

World in Focus (March – April 2018)

Apr 11: Azerbaijan strongman Ilham Aliyev secured a fourth consecutive term in a snap election.

Apr 11: Against the backdrop of growing challenges to journalists in Commonwealth member states, six Commonwealth organisations unveiled a 12-point code of conduct focused on the media’s role in good governance.

Apr 11: Algeria suffered its deadliest air catastrophe when a military plane crashed near the capital, killing 257 people on board, mostly army personnel and members of their families.

Apr 11: Mongolia´s anti-graft agency arrested two former prime ministers as part of an investigation into suspected misuse of power by officials during two rounds of negotiations involving a big copper-gold mine.

Apr 11: Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, announced a $44-billion deal to build a giant refinery complex in India with three Indian firms – Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation. The refinery at Ratnagiri on the west coast will handle up to 1.2 million barrels of oil a day.

Apr 13: Spain and Saudi Arabia signed a framework agreement to sell the Gulf Arab state warships under a deal estimated to be worth around 1.8 billion euros ($2.2 billion).

Apr 13: US President Donald Trump pardoned a former White House aide convicted of lying to the FBI in connection with the leak of a CIA operative’s identity.

Apr 14: The United States, France and the United Kingdom launched a missile assault on the Syrian regime and warned another attack could follow if Damascus were to unleash more chemical weapons.

The combined US-French-British operation, which saw more than 100 cruise missiles smash into three chemical weapons facilities, came in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Douma.

Apr 14: The US Treasury added India to its watch list of countries with potentially questionable foreign exchange policies, joining China and four others.

Apr 14: Oscar-winning Czech-born film director Milos Forman, known for ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘Amadeus’, died aged 86.

World in Focus (March – April 2018)

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