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World in Focus (May-June 2017)

World in Focus (May-June 2017)

NATIONAL

May 16: The Senate of Pakistan approved the draft of Companies Act 2017, replacing 33-year-old Companies Ordinance, 1984.

May 16: Pakistan signed an MoU with the Alibaba Group to promote country’s worldwide exports by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through e-commerce.

May 16: MSCI, a New York-based company, announced the upgrade of Pakistan’s status to the emerging market (EM) from the frontier market (FM), with effect from June 1.

May 17: The Supreme Court ordered the government to reformulate the Haj policy for 2017 by accommodating private tour operators.

May 17: The HEC conferred Distinguished National Professor award on University of Agriculture Faisalabad Vice-Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan in recognition of his services in education and research.

May 17: British-Pakistani actor Adeel Akhtar made history by becoming the first non-white male to win BAFTA award in its 62-year history. He bagged the Best Actor trophy for his performance in “Murdered By My Father”.

May 18: CEO Club Pakistan held the 14th CEO Summit conference themed “Reshaping the Future: Build Greater Pakistan,” in Lahore.

May 18: Pakistan’s per capita income has grown to $1,629, but for the fourth year in a row the government has failed to achieve investment and savings targets set for the outgoing fiscal year.

May 18: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) restrained Pakistan from executing convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav until a final verdict in the case.

May 19: National Economic Council set country’s total development budget for next year at Rs2.140 trillion with focus of investments on roads and energy. There are higher allocations for special regions – AJK, Fata, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan – in the budget.

Federal-Budget

May 19: An e-Rozgar training centre was inaugurated at the University of Gujrat (UoG) to enable the educated youth to earn through online jobs and businesses.

May 20: The World Bank, in its report ‘Pakistan Development Update’, warned that the Panama Papers issue has “enhanced political risks in Pakis­tan” and created “some policy uncertainty”. The bank also cautioned that the country was “exposed to natural disasters, political events and terrorism”.

May 20: Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters, Bishop of KP and Fata, was elected the new head of the Church of Pakistan.

May 20: Punjab’s Minister for Primary and Secondary Healthcare Khwaja Imran Nazir launched Khadim-i-Punjab Rural Ambulance Service which has been introduced on the pattern of Rescue-1122. The helpline for the service is 1034.

May 20: Noted author, columnist, lawyer and politician Asghar Ali Ghural passed away. He was 92.

Ghural remained associated with The Pakistan Times and wrote columns in Nawa-i-Waqt. He authored 3 books: Major Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Nishan-i-Haider, Kalabagh Dam Pakistan Kay Liey Naguzeer and Islam ya Mullahism.

May 20: Top seed Ammad Fareed won the Karachi Gymkhana National Men’s Squash Championship by defeating Nouman Khan.

May 21: Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif approved setting up of Punjab Public Health Agency.

May 22: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government inaugurated its first-ever public sector cadet college for girls in Mardan.

May 23: Dr Abdul Aala, a veteran anti-India leader in Jammu & Kashmir, passed away.

May 25:The 1,320-megawatt Sahiwal coal-power project was inaugurated. The project has been completed in only 22 months.

May 25: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2016-17 was launched. As per the Survey, Pakistan’s economy surged past the $300 billion mark and grew at 5.3 percent, highest in a decade.

May 25: Pakistan Navy started operations of the Turbat naval air station.

About the Facility

  1. The TNAS would boost Pakistan Navy’s defence capabilities and enhance its control over the Arabian Sea, especially its strategic reach westwards.
  2. The facility would provide a vital link for air transportation and as a base for naval operations besides providing support to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
  3. The development of the naval air station would provide Pakistan Navy with the required depth, flexibility and reach to counter emerging challenges of deterring terrorism at sea, curbing piracy and carrying out maritime security operations.

May 26: The current government presented its fifth budget that sees a steep hike in development spending.

May 26: Samar Khan, a 25-year-old adventure biker, became the first Pakistani to climb the 6,250-metre Burbucho peak in Arandu area of Shigar district. After her climb, the peak has been named ‘Samar Peak’.

May 27: Pakistan reopened the Friendship Gate – the border crossing with Afghanistan in Chaman district of Balochistan.

June 01: Multan was inducted as the sixth team of Pakistan Super League (PSL). Multan have been bought by Schon Group for a price of $5.2 million per year.

June 01: Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who has multiple international awards to her credit, including the Academy Award, won another honour, the prestigious Knight International Journalism Award.

June 03: Pakistan’s Director General Health Dr Assad Hafeez became the chairman of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO).

About WHO’s Executive Board

  1. The Executive Board is the apex policymaking forum of the WHO, which guides the work of the organisation.
  2. All decisions and resolutions which are taken up by the WHO are deliberated in detail and approved at this forum.
  3. The WHO’s Executive Board meets at least twice a year.
  4. An annual board meeting is held in January, in which member countries agree on an agenda for the World Health Assembly and the resolutions are considered by the assembly with a shorter meeting in May.
  5. The board functions mainly to advise and facilitate the World Health Assembly and give effect to the decisions and policies of the assembly.
  6. Member states are elected for three-year terms.

June 04: Pakistan’s Faisal Edhi, the son of late Abdul Sattar Edhi, received the 22nd Nikkei Asian Award in recognition of the Edhi Foundation’s welfare activities.

June 08: Pakistan signed a new multilateral convention at the platform of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to counter cross-border tax evasion and avoidance strategies adopted by multinational companies.

June 08: Pakistan signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Accounts Information, known as MCAA. The MCAA has been signed to give effect to OECD multilateral convention that Pakistan signed in August last year.

June 08: The National University of Sciences and Technology (Nust) made it to the top 500 in the QS World University Rankings, the highest ranking for a Pakistani varsity this year.

June 09: Pakistan formally became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) during the 17th meeting of its Heads of the State Council, held in Astana, Kazakhstan.

June 13: The government managed to secure the National Assembly’s approval for the Finance Bill 2017 in record time.

June 14: Renowned Punjabi film actor Zahir Shah passed away at 70.

June 15: Astola Island, a major biodiversity hotspot and the largest island along Pakistan’s coast, was declared the country’s first marine protected area through a notification issued by the Balochistan government.

Surmounting the Mt. Everest

May 21: Mountaineer Abdul Jabbar Bhatti, a former lieutenant colonel, became the fourth Pakistani to conquer the world’s highest peak Mount Everest.

Col Bhatti is an accomplished mountaineer and a recipient of the President’s Pride of Performance award and Tamgha-i-Basalat.

He scaled Broad Peak (8,051 metres) in 1985, Gasherbrum-2 (8,035m) in 1986, and Spantik Peak (7,027m) in 2012. It took him one-and-a-half months to complete the Everest expedition. Mount Everest stands 8,848m high above sea level.

The other Pakistanis to have conquered Mount Ever­est are Hassan Sadpara, Samina Baig (2013) and Nazir Sabir (2000).

Explainer UK Election

The following are the characteristic features of the elections conducted in the UK:

Britain is a parliamentary democracy. The government should have the support of a majority of lawmakers in the elected, lower chamber of parliament, the House of Commons. Thus, the national election is the election for the House of Commons.

Voters elect a member of Parliament for their local constituency. Voting is not compulsory in UK. Voter turnout at national elections has seen a decline since the 1950s, when it used to be over 80%.

Britain follows the first-past-the-post electoral system. There is no system of proportional representation for candidates.

Under First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) system, a candidate who gets one vote more than other candidate (who comes second) is declared winner. In proportional representation, number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received.

To form a majority government, a party theoretically must win in 326 out of the 650 regional constituencies. But, in practice, a party needs to win only in 323 seats as the Irish republican Sinn Fein party does not take up any seats it wins in Northern Ireland. The upper house is called as the House of Lords whose members are un-elected.

The monarch (Queen Elizabeth) enjoys the power to dismiss a Prime Minister or to make a personal choice of successor. However, the practice in UK is that the monarch does not exercise this right as its is considered archaic. This is the practice since 1834. In addition, as a convention, the Queen (monarch) does not get involved in party politics.

INTERNATIONAL

May 16: Indian openers Deepti Sharma and Poonam Raut put on a record One-day International 320-run partnership. The previous best was 268 between England’s Sarah Taylor and Caroline Atkins against South Africa in 2008.

Highlights

  1. Sharma scored 188 runs by hitting 27 fours and 2 sixes during 160-ball innings.
  2. Sharma’s knock was India’s highest in women’s cricket and second only to Australian Belinda Clark’s 229 not out, on the all-time list.
  3. The mammoth stand was the best in women’s cricket and surpassed the men’s ODI record for an opening partnership of 286 between Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga against England in 2006.
  4. The record ODI stand for any wicket is held by the West Indian pair Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels who put on 372 for the second wicket in a World Cup match against Zimbabwe at Canberra in 2015.

May 17: France’s centrist President Emmanuel Macron gave ministerial jobs to conservatives, socialists and newcomers to politics, appointing an unprecedented all-stripes cabinet to bridge traditional divides and broaden his support.

May 17: Indian doctors successfully performed a complex heart surgery on a neonate born weighing just 470 grams. The baby boy, born prematurely after about 28 weeks (5.5 months), is believed to be the world’s tiniest baby.

May 17: Jean Swiatek, the oldest surviving international footballer of France, died at the age of 95.

May 17: Monaco secured their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years.

May 17: Juventus secured a record third successive Italian Cup with a 2-0 victory over Lazio.

May 18: Roger Ailes, former chief executive of Fox News, died at the age of 77.

May 18: Chris Cornell, a very well known rock legend, died at the age of 52.

May 18: Brazil’s Supreme Court authorised a probe into whether President Michel Temer was involved in paying hush money to a powerful politician jailed for corruption.

May 18: Famous Indian actress Reema Lagoo, known for her performance in movies like Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Kal Ho Na Ho, died. She was 59.

May 19: ExtraTorrent, the world’s second-largest torrent site, was closed down permanently.

May 19: The Japanese government approved a bill, allowing ageing Emperor Akihito to step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne, in the first such abdication in two centuries.

May 19: Swedish prosecutors dropped a seven-year rape allegation against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012.

May 20: The White House announced a $110 billion deal for Saudi purchases of US defence equipment and services.

May 20: The two-day meeting of the Pacific Rim trade ministers started in Hanoi, Vietnam, with a special focus on free trade and regional economic integration amid fears of growing trade protectionism.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer made his international debut at the gathering of 21 ministers from the Asia Pacific Economic Coo­peration forum.

May 20: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won a resounding re-election victory. Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric who spearheaded a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, took 23.5 million votes – 57 per cent – compared to 15.8m – 38.3 per cent – for hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi.

May 20: Mumbai Indians won their third Indian Premier League (IPL) title.

May 20: The Arab-Islamic-American Summit was held in Saudi Arabia. Some 35 heads of state and government from Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, attended the summit.

In his speech, US President Donald Trump urged Muslim leaders to take a stand against violence done in the name of religion, describing the struggle against extremism as a “battle between good and evil”.

May 21: Israel reached a deal worth $630 million to provide India’s navy with missile defence systems.

The new contract will see state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries supply LRSAM air and missile defence systems for four Indian naval ships.

May 21: Germany’s Alexander Zverev defeated the Serbian ace Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open.

Zverev, 20, became the youngest winner of a Masters 1000 tournament since Djokovic himself in Miami in 2007.

May 21: India won all 10 gold medals at South Asian Junior Table Tennis held in Sri Lanka.

May 22: Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat awarded a commendation to Major Leetul Gogoi, the military officer who tied a Kashmiri man Farooq Dar to a vehicle as human shield.

May 22: Real Madrid won their 33rd La Liga title – their first in five years.

May 22: Hosts Azerbaijan clinched the top position with 162 medals including 75 gold while Turkey finished runners-up with 195 medals including 71 gold and Iran finished third with 98 medals including 39 gold at the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games.

May 23: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern third of the country.

May 23: British actor Roger Moore, who played James Bond over two decades, died aged 89.

May 23: The Member States of World Health Organization (WHO) elected Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the new Director-General of WHO. Dr Tedros was nominated by the Government of Ethiopia.

May 24: Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post newspaper, gave $1 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the largest-ever gift to the media rights watchdog.

May 24: Nepal’s Maoist prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, a former guerrilla chief who led the decade-long Maoist insurgency before entering politics, resigned as part of a planned handover.

May 25: Rocket Lab, a Silicon Valley-funded space launch company, launched the maiden flight of its battery-powered, 3-D printed rocket from New Zealand’s remote Mahia Peninsula.

May 26: The leaders of G7 countries held summit talks in Taormina, Italy, but failed to agree on a statement on climate change. Six world leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris accord, the world’s first comprehensive deal aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions. However, the US has refused to recommit to the agreement.

May 27: Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17 ended their mass protest after Israel agreed a deal that came after some 20 hours of talks between Israeli officials and strike leader Marwan Barghouti.

May 30: Former Panamanian president Manuel Noriega, who spied for the United States before his drug trafficking and brutality triggered a US invasion to oust him in 1989, died aged 83.

May 31: A massive bomb ripped through Kabul’s diplomatic quarter killing more than 100 people.

May 31: The United Nations General Assembly elected Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcák as president of its 72nd session.

June 01: In a letter to Congress, President Donald Trump said that he was pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement. The decision separates the United States from some of its closest European allies who spent years negotiating the 2015 agreement to fight global warming and pollution by reducing carbon emissions in nearly 200 nations.

June 01: The World’s largest aeroplane, Stratolaunch, which is designed to release rockets that will carry satellites into space, was rolled out. It has a 385-foot wingspan, features six engines used by the Boeing 747, stands 50 feet tall and can carry more than 500,000 pounds of payload. And it has 28 wheels.

June 02: The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution with new sanctions against North Korea after the regime launched its ninth ballistic missile test of the year.

June 04: Named after its endangered gobi bear Mazaalai, Mongolia sent its first satellite to space.

June 05: Arab nations, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Maldives joined Saudi Arabia and Egypt to cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism, in the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years.

June 05: Leaders of the 15-nation bloc, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), agreed on Morocco’s application for membership.

June 05: Once the Balkan stronghold of pro-Russian sentiments, tiny Montenegro became the 29th member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato).

June 05: Babatunde Oso­timehin, the head of the United Nations Population Fund and a former health minister of Nigeria, who also headed his country’s fight against AIDS, died. He was 68.

June 06: Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a tycoon known for his lavish billionaire lifestyle and far-reaching international connections, died at 82.

June 06: Sher Bahadur Deuba, the head of the centrist Nepali Congress party, won election as the Himalayan nation’s 40th prime minister.

June 07: Gunmen and suicide bombers stormed Iran’s parliament and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, killing at least 12 people, in the first attacks in the country claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS).

June 07: The Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom award of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, was awarded to Can Dündar, the Turkish journalist and former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper.

June 08: Scientists discovered the hottest known exoplanet, designated KELT-9b, which is warmer than most stars in the universe.

Exoplanet is a planet that does not orbit the Sun and instead orbits a different star, stellar remnant, or brown dwarf. They are also called as extrasolar planet.

Highlights

  1. The planet orbits a massive star KELT-9 every day and a half.
  2. The planet’s day-side temperature is 4,326 degree Celsius and is only 926 degree Celsius cooler than the Sun.
  3. The planet is located 650 light years from Earth and sports a giant, glowing gas tail like a comet.
  4. The ultraviolet radiation experienced by the planet from its star KELT-9 is so fierce that the planet may be evaporating producing a glowing gas tail.
  5. The Jupiter-like planet is 2.8 times more massive than Jupiter. However, it is only half as dense as the Jupiter.
  6. Due to extreme radiation from its host star, the atmosphere of the planet has puffed up like a balloon.
  7. It has been classified as a planet by considering its mass but its atmosphere is not similar to any other known planet.
  8. Due to the bombardment of stellar radiation, the planet is very hot so much so that the molecules such as water, carbon dioxide and methane cannot form there.

June 08: With an aim to curb antibiotic resistance, the WHO revised the protocol for antibiotics – the biggest such revision of the antibiotics section in the 40-year history of the essential medicines list (EML).

June 08: The BRICS established a one million dollar fund for boosting media cooperation in the five-nation grouping. During the inaugural session of the BRICS Media Forum held in Beijing, Xinhua News Agency and executive president of the Forum had announced that the Xinhua will invest one million US dollars for bolstering BRICS media.

June 09: After failing to secure a majority in parliament in snap general election, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to form a government with the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

June 11: Adam West, the actor whose career was defined by his superhero role in the hit 1960s television series “Batman,” died. He was 88.

June 11: British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed ministers to her shaky government.

June 11: Rafael Nadal won his record 10th French Open title by dominating 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka in the final.

About the French Open

The French Open is a premier clay court tennis championship event held between late May and early June for a duration of two weeks at the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris. The event is the second of out of four annual Grand Slam tournaments. The other three events are: Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. The event has been named after the French aviator Roland Garros, a Tennis Lover. French Open is also called “Roland Garros” or Les internationaux de France de Roland-Garros or Tournoi de Roland-Garros.

June 12: Lewis Hamilton won Canadian Grand Prix for sixth time. Previously, he had won the titles in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016.

WIFJune 13: A federal appeals court in the United States upheld the freeze on President Donald Trump’s travel ban, declaring that the president exceeded his lawful authority in suspending visas to residents of six Muslim countries.

June 13: The EU launched legal action against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for refusing to take in their share of refugees under a controversial solidarity plan.

June 14: Telecom giant Verizon acquired Yahoo’s core business for $4.48bn (£3.51m), thus ending Yahoo’s two-decade long run as an independent company. Verizon is the No.1 wireless operator in the US.

Highlights

  1. Verizon will combine Yahoo with AOL which was bought by it two years ago to establish a venture called Oath.
  2. The Oath is a division in Verizon’s Media and Telematics organisation. Oath owns more than 50 brands such as HuffPost, TechCrunch and Tumblr.
  3. With the acquisition, Yahoo’s chief executive Marissa Mayer has resigned.
  4. Verizon has not indicated how it proposes to use the Yahoo brand which is used by millions of people worldwide. But it has stated that it will keep the names Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail and more.
  5. Yahoo’s acquisition brings to an end a long decline of its market value which peaked at $125 billion in 2000.
  6. The remainder of Yahoo which is not acquired by Verizon will change its name to Altaba Inc.
  7. It will become a holding company with 15.5% stakes in Chinese Internet giant Alibaba and a 35.5% holding in Yahoo Japan Corp.
  8. It will begin trading under the ticker symbol “AABA.”
  9. Thomas McInerney, a Yahoo board member will be made as Altaba’s chief executive officer.

June 15: Israeli author David Grossman won the Man Booker International Prize for his novel A Horse Walks Into a Bar.

June 15: Charles P. Thacker, an electrical engineer who played an early, central role in some of the most important ideas in personal computing and computer networking, died. He was 74.

In the 1970s, Mr. Thacker was part of a group that designed the first modern personal computer, the Alto, working out of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, known as PARC.

The Alto, completed in 1973, would become part of personal computing lore, in part because of a visit Steven P. Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, made to PARC for a demonstration of the computer. The visit became famous for what Mr Jobs took away with him.

June 02: Renowned veteran lawyer of Pakistan Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada died at the age of 94.

About Sharifuddin Pirzada

  1. Pirzada was born on June 12, 1923 in Burhanpur, British India. His father was also a noted barrister.
  2. He began his legal career in the Bombay High Court before moving to the newly-created Pakistan.
  3. Pirzada served as a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the longest serving Attorney General of Pakistan. He remained AGP from 1968-1971 and 1977-1985, respectively.
  4. He served as Foreign Minister under Ayub Khan and Attorney General under Yahya Khan and Zia-ul- Haq regimes.
  5. He served as Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now Cooperation) 1985-1988 and was a member of Committee of Eminent Jurists to review the OIC Charter 2007.
  6. For his best performance in the legal field with honesty and dedication, he was awarded Nishan-i-Imtiaz in 1998.
  7. Pirzada was secretary to Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the 1940s.