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World in Focus ( Oct-Nov 2017 )

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NATIONAL

Oct 16: Representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US held their meeting in Muscat, Oman to rejuvenate the stalled Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) working to restore peace in Afghanistan.

Oct 16: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) suspended the membership of 261 legislators – 7 senators, 71 MNAs, 84 MPAs of Punjab, 50 MPAs of Sindh, 38 MPAs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 11 MPAs of Balochistan – for not submitting their statements of assets and liabilities.

Oct 16: Pakistan won a seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the Asia-Pacific group.

Ex-Chief Justice Muhammad Ajmal Mian

Oct 16: Justice Muhammad Ajmal Mian, a former Chief Justice of Pakistan, died. He was 83.

1. Ajmal Mian belonged to the Dehli Punjabi Saudagraan business community.
2. He graduated from the University of Karachi in economics and political science in 1953.
3. He was called to the bar as a member of the Society of Lincoln’s Inn, London, on Feb 5, 1957.
4. He was enrolled as advocate of the High Court of West Pakistan, Karachi bench, on April 22, 1957.
5. He was appointed an additional judge of the Sindh High Court (SHC) in March 1978.
6. He became a confirmed judge of the SHC in 1980.
7. He was elevated as a permanent judge of the Supreme Court on Dec 10, 1989.
8. He served as acting Chief Justice of Pakistan four times in 1997 — from Feb 28 to March 4, from May 30 to June 19, from Oct 10 to Oct 13 and finally from Dec 3 to Dec 23.
9. On Dec 23, 1997, he was named Chief Justice of Pakistan and retired from service in that position on June 30, 1999.
10. In 2004, he published a book titled “A Judge Speaks Out’. It contains insights into major events in the judiciary’s history, especially the ’97 crisis.

About UN Human Rights Council

1. The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006.
2. Its first session took place from 19 to 30 June 2006.
3. The Council is made up of 47 UN Member States which are elected by the UNGA.
4. The Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
5. Members of the HRC serve for a period of three years.
6. Members are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
7. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Oct 17: Nadia Bukhari, a British-Pakistani pharmacist became the first Muslim female and first Pakistani woman to be elected to the National Pharmacy Board for England for the UK’s pharmacy professional body, The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

Oct 17: The government imposed regulatory duty on import of 36 new products and raised its rates on the existing 240 items.

Oct 17: Pakistan’s renowned chess player Mahmood Lodhi won the 8th Asian Seniors Chess Championship in Auckland, New Zealand, becoming the first Pakistani player to secure the World Grand Masters title in 70 years.

Oct 18: In yet another indication of its policy-shift towards Pakistan, the United States announced full backing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), weeks after shocking criticism of the corridor by Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Oct 18: The US Vice President Mike Pence telephoned PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Both leaders agreed to keep up the momentum of improvement in bilateral relations through high-level engagements and stronger counterterrorism cooperation.

Oct 18: The federal cabinet decided to go ahead with delimitation of constituencies before the next general elections on the basis of provisional data of the exercise.

Oct 18: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) released electoral data according to which total registered voters in the country have reached the figure of 97 million with 54.5 male and 42.4 female voters.

Oct 19: An accountability court indicted former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law in the London properties reference.

Oct 19: The federal government appointed Moazzam Jah Ansari, an officer of grade 21, Inspector General of Balochistan Police with immediate effect.

Mr Ansari has replaced former IGP Ahsan Mehboob, who retired on Sept. 30 after attaining the age of 60 years.

Oct 20: Representing Pakistan at the ninth summit of the Developing Eight Organisation for Economic Cooperation (D-8), Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urged the members to focus on project implementation for development, progress and prosperity of the people.

Oct 21: On the sidelines of the ninth D-8 summit, Prime Minister Abbasi and his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim agreed to bolster relations in diverse areas with a focus on trade and economy.

Oct 20: Prof. Shahida Hasnain of University of the Punjab was named laureate of the Unesco Carlos J. Finlay Prize 2017 for microbiology together with Dr Samir Saha of Bangladesh.

Oct 20: World Bank rated Pakistan in top five highest private participation investment (PPI) countries owing to a few multi-billion-dollar power projects.

Oct 22: Pakistan won the bronze medal after edging out Korea in the third-fourth place playoff match at the 2017 Men’s Hockey Asia Cup tournament.

Oct 23: Former Chief Election Commissioner and a judge of the Supreme Court Justice (Retd.) Hamid Ali Mirza passed away. He was 75.

Oct 23: The Chief Justice Lahore High Court Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah inaugurated the first gender-based violence court set up in the district and sessions court with the purpose to deal with cases related to violence against women.

Oct 23: The built heritage of Karachi — referred to as ‘Historic Karachi’ — was included in the list of 25 sites constituting the World Monument Watch List for 2018.

Oct 23: The opposition-dominated Senate of Pakistan passed a bill to bring back the bar on those disqualified to become a lawmaker from holding a party office with a majority vote of 49 against 18.

Oct 24: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected a reference filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan seeking disqualification of his party’s MNA Ayesha Gulalai for “violation of party rules” with a 3-2 majority.

Oct 24: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reached Pakistan on an official visit. During his meetings, he urged Pakistani leadership to step up their fight against terrorist groups on their soil and facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process.

Oct 26: Punjab Food Authority (PFA) imposed a complete ban on use of calcium carbide to ripen various fruits and vegetables before time, which is posing serious health hazards for the citizens.

Did You Know?

Calcium carbide, chemically known as CaC2 is a chemical compound, which primarily is used for the production of acetylene and calcium cyanamide for industrial use. This chemical compound causes digestive, respiratory and gastrointestinal tract burns, nausea, vomiting, bloating and headache while mouth, nose, throat and lung irritation with coughing and severe shortness of breath (pulmonary edema), rapid irregular breathing, headache and burns to mucous membranes may also occur while its repeated inhalation may cause chronic bronchitis.

Oct 27: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) signed an agreement with the Central Bank of Philippines to develop banking relations.

Oct 27: Pakistan won the second Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka to clinch the series.

Oct 27: Pakistan Army shot down an Indian spy drone hovering over this side of the Line of Control after intruding into the Rakchikri sector in Azad Kashmir.

Oct 29: A film on the life and work of renowned social worker Perween Rahman, who was gunned down four years ago, won the second prize for best documentary at the 11th Istanbul International Architecture and Urban Films Festival.

The film “Perween Rahman: The Rebel Optimist” has been directed by filmmaker Mahera Omar.

Oct 30: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) appointed singer Shehzad Roy, a recipient of Sitara-i-Imtiaz, its National Goodwill Ambassador.

Oct 30: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa installed Rawalpindi Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Nadeem Raza as the first Colonel Commandant of the Mujahid Force (MF).

Oct 31: The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), in its final award, asked Pakistan to pay more than Rs14 billion to nine independent power producers (IPPs).

However, the final award is not binding because its very basis was under litigation in sovereign Pakistani courts under the law of the land.

Oct 31: Pir Kaleem Khurshid of the Asma Jahangir-led Independent Group was elected President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) for 2017-18.

Asma Jahangir-backed candidate Safdar Hussain Tarar was elected SCBA secretary.

Qamar Zaman Qureshi of the winning group was elected vice president on a Punjab seat.

Oct 31: The 70th Independence Day of Gilgit-Baltistan was celebrated with traditional zeal.

Oct 31: The World Bank ranked Pakistan 147th out of 190 countries in its ‘Doing Business 2018′ report.

Pakistan is among the South Asian economies that carried out a record 20 business reforms in the past year, bringing to a total of 127 the number of reforms enacted in the region over the past 15 years.

Nov 01: In the honour of Pakistan’s extraordinary victory in the ICC Champions Trophy tournament in June, Pakistan Post issued commemorative postage stamps and souvenir sheet.

The set of three stamps will cost Rs30, while the souvenir sheets are priced at Rs50 each.

Gender Equality in Pakistan

Nov 02: The World Economic Forum placed Pakistan as the second worst country on gender equality in its Global Gender Gap index. The index placed Pakistan 143rd out of 144 countries, worst in the South Asian region that has an average remaining gender gap of 34% as noted by the index.

Scores

Pakistan ranks 143 out of 144 countries in economic participation and opportunity with a score of 0.309, while the average cumulative score of all countries is 0.585.

Pakistan ranks better in educational attainment with a rank of 136 out of 144 countries and a score of 0.802, while the average score is 0.953.

Enrolment in primary and tertiary education rank high. Female to male ratio in primary education is 0.86 and in tertiary 0.87.

In health and survival, Pakistan ranks 140 out of 144 countries with a score of 0.948, while the average score is 0.956.

In terms of sex ratio at birth, Pakistan ranks 139 with a score of 0.920.

The category that gets Pakistan the highest rank of 95 out of 144 countries is political participation. Pakistan’s score is 0.127, while the average score is 0.227.

Pakistan ranks really low in terms of women in ministerial positions with the rank of 139 out of 144 countries.

Analysis

In Pakistan, there are three main stakeholders working to promote gender equality: the government of Pakistan, international donors and civil society. All of them need to hold themselves accountable and show results that bear improvement in gender equality status in Pakistan.

Given the structural and cultural factors in a patriarchal society, it is not easy to achieve outcomes in short-term horizons. Donors need to set a long-term collaborative agenda in partnership with the government of Pakistan that cuts through agency distinctions. Donors are also increasing working through middle layer of international contractors that adds another tier to gender machinery and often deprives or makes it difficult for small civil society organisations to tap funds or perform to scales that could manifest real change. Government, international donors and civil society need to learn and reformulate the way they work, if we want the Global Gender Gap to be any different for 2018.

Nov 02: Dina Wadia, the estranged daughter of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, passed away at her home in New York. She was 98.

Nov 02: The 2017 World Press Freedom Index, prepared by an international media advocacy group – Reporters Without Borders – ranked Pakistan 139th out of 180 countries survey for the report. In 2016, Pakistan was 146th.

India is 136th in the 2017 report.

Nov 03: Dr Qibla Ayaz was appointed Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII). Moreover, with the nomination of 11 new members, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) reached its maximum strength.

The CII members are appointed for a period of three years and are eligible for re-nomination.

As per the law, the CII should have a minimum of eight and maximum of 20 members, including its chairman.

Nov 05: Pakistan women team secured their first ever ODI victory against New Zealand.

Nov 06: The Senate unanimously adopted a bill seeking amendments to the recently passed Election Act 2017, with special emphasis on religious minorities.

Nov 06: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Gen Bajwa paid a three-day visit to Tehran, the first by a Pakistani army chief in over two decades. During his meeting with President Rouhani, Gen. Bajwa said that Pakistan was determined to expand its ties with Iran in all spheres and hoped that the two neighbours could collaborate for regional peace and security.

Nov 06: The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) approved the appointment of Richard Morin, a Canadian national, as managing director of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX).

Nov 07: Bank of China (BoC) formally began its operations in Pakistan, with the official launch performed by President Mamnoon Hussain at Aiwan-e-Sadr.

Nov 09: DIG Police Telecommunication Hamid Shakeel Sabir and two of his colleagues were martyred and nine others were injured in a suicide attack in Quetta.

Nov 09: According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2018, Pakistan is among 10 countries that have been affected the most by climate change in the 20-year period from 1997 to 2016 and occupies the seventh place on the list.

For 2016 Pakistan had a Climate Risk Index (CRI) score of 50.83, as 566 fatalities were recorded in the year and climate change caused a financial loss of $47.31 million. In CRI rankings, Pakistan was ranked fourth when it came to fatalities and 69th in terms of financial losses.

‘Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo’ A Literary Giant from Sindh

Nov 09: Veteran intellectual, writer, scholar, teacher and socio-political worker Mohammad Ibrahim Joyo passed away at the age of 102.

1. Born on August 13, 1915, Mohammad Ibrahim Joyo was known for his peculiar views and the services he rendered for Sindh.
2. In the 1940s, Joyo travelled to Bombay for higher education. It was during his stay there that he got inspired by Marxist leader M.N. Roy.
3. He joined the Radical Democratic Party (RDP), and upon his return to Karachi, and started to edit Freedom Calling, a political magazine of the RDP.
4. He has contributed in both Sindhi and English languages and wrote 52 books during his life.
5. His first book, titled “Save Sindh, Save the Continent: From Feudal Lords, Capitalists and their Communalisms,” was published in 1947.
6. He had 32 books of translations to his credit, including the works of writers like Rousseau, Voltaire, Paulo Freire, Shelley and Tagore.
7. He founded the Sindhi Writers Cooperation Fraternity in 1973, Sindh Friends Circle in 1978, Servants of Sindhi Society in 1980, Sindh Education Trust in 1995 and Shaikh Ayaz Foundation in 1998.

Nov 11: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Cricket West Indies signed a five-year agreement to play three T20 matches series on a reciprocal basis. The first will be held next year in Pakistan from March 29 to April 1. The West Indies will host the next series in Florida, USA, during the same year.

Nov 12: Mahoor Shahzad of Wapda created history by becoming ladies singles champion after she thrashed top seed Sri Lankan Hasini Nausaka Ambalangodage in the $9000 Pakistan International Series Badminton Tournament 2017 final.

Other Winners:

Men’s singles: Duc Phat Le of Vietnam
Men’s doubles: Rizwan Azam and Kashif Sulehri of Pakistan
Women’s doubles: Palwasha Bashir and Khizra Rasheed of Pakistan
Mixed doubles: Dipesh Dhami and Shova Gauchan of Nepal

Nov 13: Pakistani film Saawan scooped the Best Foreign Film Award at the 11th annual Alexandria Film Festival held in Virginia, USA.

Saawan has been directed by Farhan Alam and written and produced by Mashood Qadri.

Nov 13: President Mamnoon Hussain removed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar from the Council of Common Interests (CCI). Ahsan Iqbal, the interior minister, has replaced him.

PM Abbasi has already removed Dar from the chairmanship of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet and the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC). He has also separated Dar from the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation.

Nov 13: The Sindh Assembly passed a resolution to revive student unions in the province.

Nov 13: The US Congress removed a provision from the National Defence Authorisation Act 2018 that would have required the US Secretary of Defense to certify that Pakistan has taken steps to ‘significantly disrupt’ the activities of both Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani network.

The new version has confined this requirement to the Haqqani network only, indicating a desire in Washington to focus entirely on Afghanistan as long as it takes to subdue the Taliban insurgency there.

Nov 14: Prime Minister Abbasi announced a 10-year development package for Balochistan to bring cities and towns of the province on a par with other developed areas of the country.

Under the equalisation development package, the people in every union council of the province would be provided all basic facilities, including education, drinking water and gas.

Nov 14: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended section 241 of the Elections Act, 2017 related to repealing declarations in respect to Khatm-i-Nabuwat.

4 Pakistanis feature on Forbes: Magazine’s ‘30 under 30’ list

Nov 15: Four individuals of Pakistani origin featured on Forbes magazine’s annual ’30 under 30′ list.

The four people of Pakistani origin featured in the 2018 edition have been selected for their achievements in the industries of retail and e-commerce, enterprise technology and education.

Sarah Ahmed, 28, was chosen for her work in the retail and e-commerce industry.

In the enterprise technology category, Pakistani-origin S. Zayd Enam, 25, and Khizer Hayat, 28, were featured for their innovative initiatives.

Mr Enam dropped out of high school to start Mediconnect which is `a healthcare provider platform in Pakistan`. Later, he also dropped out of his PhD programme at Stanford University and founded ‘Cresta.ai’a start-up which aims to scale and improve the quality of customer services.

Mr Hayat, on the other hand, is the president of the Teach Pakistan Initiative – a non-governmental organisation working to improve the rural education system in Pakistan.

He is featured on the honorary list as co-founder of ‘Through Put’ which is ‘a data science automation company which estimates waste in supply chain and logistics operations and offers recommendations to eliminate bottlenecks and areas of concern.

The fourth Pakistani, Raza Munir, 29, was selected for the edition`s education category for his start-up `Climb Credit` which aims to help students in skills-based fields manage their debt.

According to Forbes, Mr Munir has provided affordable loans to 5,000 students attending 60 schools. He founded `Climb Credit` along with Zander Rafael, Amit Sinha and Vishal Garg.

INTERNATIONAL

Oct 16: Indian capital New Delhi and Brazil’s capital Sao Paulo were declared the world’s worst megacities for sexual violence against women by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Oct 18: Saudi budget carrier Flynas made the first commercial flight from Riyadh to Baghdad since 1990, as ties with neighbouring Iraq show signs of improvement.

Oct 18: India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) signed the IBSA Trust Fund Agreement that seeks to fight poverty in developing countries. It was signed at the 8th IBSA trilateral Ministerial Commission Meeting in Durban, South Africa.

Oct 18: In his address to the opening session of the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress, President Xi Jinping laid out a confident vision for a more prosperous nation and its role in the world, stressing the importance of wiping out corruption and curbing industrial overcapacity, income inequality and pollution.

Oct 19: Scientists at Japan’s space agency discovered a huge moon cave that could one day house a base that would shelter astronauts from dangerous radiation and wild temperature swings.

Oct 20: A study in the Lancet Medical Journal revealed that environmental pollution, from filthy air to contaminated water, is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world.

Worldwide pollution claimed the lives of 9 million people in 2015 – one in every six deaths that year with almost half of them in India and China. But proportionate to the numbers, Bangladesh beats all in South Asia with 26.6% of all deaths, followed by India (24.5%) and (Pakistan 21.9%). As South Asia has embarked on a rapid industrialisation, the region’s top three most-populated nations account for more than one-third (3,117,603) of these deaths. In Pakistan, 311,189 people died because of pollution in 2015.

Oct 20: The ninth summit of the Developing Eight Organisation for Economic Cooperation (D-8) was held in Istanbul.

The summit adopted the Istanbul Declaration 2017 and the D-8 Istanbul Plan of Action, reaffirming the group’s commitments to establish peace, democracy and solidarity among the member states.

Oct 20: G7 countries and tech giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter agreed to work together to block the dissemination of Islamist extremism over the internet.

The meeting, which was held on the Italian island of Ischia off Naples, also focused on ways to tackle one of the West’s biggest security threats: jihadist fighters fleeing Syria.

Oct 21: EU leaders agreed to start preparatory talks on the bloc’s relationship with Britain after Brexit.

Oct 22: India defeated Malaysia to clinch its third Asia Cup hockey title.

World in Focus ( Oct-Nov 2017 )Oct 22: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe swept to a resounding victory in a snap election and immediately vowed to “deal firmly” with threats from North Korea that dominated the campaign.

Oct 23: Nations pledged $340 million (290 million euros) to care for Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Oct 24: China’s president, Xi Jinping, was elevated to the pantheon of China’s most powerful leaders as his name was enshrined in the Communist Party constitution alongside Chairman Mao.

Communist China’s founder Mao Zedong, and the architect of its market reforms, Deng Xiaoping, are the only other Chinese leaders to have their names in the constitution — and previously only Mao was alive when his was included.

Oct 24: Renowned Indian thumri singer Girija Devi, often called the “Thumri Queen”, died at the age of 88.

World in Focus ( Oct-Nov 2017 )Oct 24: Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution that would have granted a one-year extension to the mandate of a panel investigating who is behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

It was the ninth time Russia used its veto power at the Security Council to block action targeting its Syrian ally.

Oct 25: China’s Communist Party elevated five new officials to assist President Xi Jinping as he embarked on a second five-year term.

Oct 26: Qatar signed a defence agreement with Russia, the latest in a series of such steps by the emirate since the Gulf diplomatic crisis erupted in June.

Oct 26: Thailand bade farewell to King Bhumibol Adulyadej in an elaborate, ritual-laden funeral.

Bhumibol, who was crowned in 1950, towered over decades of Thai history before his death last October aged 88 seeded uncertainty in a country ruled by a divisive junta.

Oct 26: Setsuko Thurlow, an 85-year-old survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima who was 13 at the time of the bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, will jointly accept the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize together with this year’s laureate, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Oct 27: Singapore’s passport was declared the world’s most powerful as its citizens are able to travel to the greatest number of countries visa-free.

Approximately 3.4 million holders of Singaporean passports can now travel to 159 countries either without a visa at all, or can have one issued on arrival.

Germany came in second place, with its citizens able to visit 158 countries without a visa, while Sweden and South Korea tied for third.

Oct 27: Burundi became the first ever nation to leave the International Criminal Court.

Oct 27: Australia’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, was kicked out of parliament over his dual citizenship.

Oct 27: The 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP12) met in Manila, the Philippines.

The theme of the Forum was “Their Future is Our Future – Sustainable Development for Wildlife & People.”

Oct 27: Spain moved to assert direct rule over Catalonia, replacing its executive and top officials to quash their independence drive.

Oct 28: The 14th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Law (SAARCLAW) Conference was held in Colombo, capital city of Sri Lanka along with 11th SAARC Chief Justices Conference. The three-day conference was inaugurated by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Oct 29: Iceland’s conservative prime minister won a snap election despite a string of scandals.

Oct 29: South Africa’s David Miller smashed the fastest century in Twenty20 International cricket. He achieved the feat on just 35 balls.

Nov 01: Hamas handed over control of the Gaza Strip’s borders with Egypt and Israel to the Palestinian Authority, in the first key test of a landmark reconciliation accord agreed last month.

 Nov 01: The Centre, a landmark skyscraper and the Hong Kong’s fifth-tallest building, was sold for a record price of more than $5 billion. The building is owned by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing.

Nov 01: India’s Defence Acquisition Council approved funding for the purchase of 111 multi-utility helicopters for attack missions, search and rescue, surveillance operations and medical evacuation under a military deal worth $3.2 billion. India is the world’s largest importer of arms.

Nov 02: Prime Minister Theresa May named Gavin Williamson as Britain’s new defence secretary after his predecessor Michael Fallon was forced to step down over a sexual harassment scandal.

Nov 03: The 39th Unesco General Conference was held in Paris, France.

Nov 03: The United States withdrew as an implementing country from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international effort to fight corruption in managing revenues from oil, gas and mineral extraction.

Nov 03: The US Senate confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee Kenneth Juster as the next US ambassador to India.

Mr Juster, 62, played a key role in the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear deal. The position has been lying vacant since Jan 20 when Mr Verma, the first US ambassador of Indian origin to India, resigned after Mr Trump replaced President Obama.

Nov 04: The US conducted a pair of drone strikes against Islamic State fighters in Somalia, the first time America has hit the militants in this Horn of Africa nation.

Nov 04: China passed legislation to punish anyone who disrespects the national anthem with up to three years in prison.

Nov 04: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri resigned, saying he believed there was an assassination plot against him and accusing Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Nov 05: The Saudi government launched a sweeping purge of the country’s upper ranks, saying it would freeze the accounts of dozens of princes, ministers and a tycoon arrested as the Crown Prince cements his hold on power.

Prominent billionaire Al Waleed bin Talal was among the princes arrested. In another move, the head of the Saudi National Guard, once a leading contender to the throne, as well as the navy chief and the economy minister were replaced in a series of high-profile sackings that sent shockwaves through the nation.

World in Focus ( Oct-Nov 2017 )Nov 05: Nearly a year and a half after the Panama Papers leaks shook the world elites by revealing the offshore holdings of some of the most powerful political players, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released another treasure trove of data.

Dubbed the Paradise Papers, the leaks consisted of 13.4 million files from “a combination of offshore service providers and the company registries of some of the world’s most secretive countries”.

Queen Elizabeth, Queen Noor of Jordan, three former Canadian PMs were also named in fresh leaks. 13 members of the Trump cabinet — including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Louis Ross Jr. — were named in the leaks.

The most prominent Pakistani name that emerged from the fresh leaks was that of Shaukat Aziz, the Musharraf-era finance minister who also remained prime minister from 2004 to 2007.

Nov 05: Prince Mansour bin Moqren, a Saudi prince and the deputy governor of Asir province, was killed when a helicopter crashed near the kingdom’s southern border with war-torn Yemen.

Nov 06: 2017 will be among the three hottest on record in a new sign of manmade climate change that is aggravating “extraordinary weather” such as hurricanes, droughts and floods, the United Nations said in a report that was meant to guide almost 200 nations meeting from Nov 06-17 in Bonn, Germany.

Nov 07: Indonesia’s Constitutional Court affirmed the rights of devotees of faiths outside the country’s officially-recognised religions. The court said Indonesians would not be required to identify as Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist or Confucian on their national identification cards.

The Court recommended that a seventh, catch-all category be created ‘Believers of the Faith’ for ID cards.

Nov 08: Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled illegal the ousted Catalan parliament’s recent vote to declare the region independent from Spain.

Nov 08: Josip Weber, a former Belgium striker who played at the 1994 World Cup, died at the age of 52.

Nov 08: More than a decade in the making, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors, drawing French President Emmanuel Macron to the Middle East on his first official visit.

Nov 08: US President Donald Trump toured the Forbidden City with Chinese leader Xi Jinping as he began the crucial leg of an Asian tour intended to build a global front against North Korea’s nuclear threats.

Nov 08: International Labour Organisation, the UN’s labour agency, closed a probe into alleged mistreatment of foreign workers in World Cup 2022 host Qatar, praising a reform plan agreed by the emirate.

Nov 09: British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Penny Mordaunt Britain’s new minister for international development, replacing Priti Patel who resigned over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials that breached protocol.

Nov 09: Qatar appointed women to one of its most important consultative bodies, the Shura Council, for the first time in the country’s history.

Four women will sit on the 45-strong council, which is responsible for discussing draft laws approved by the cabinet, general government policy and the state’s draft budget.

Nov 09: Syria’s army declared victory over Islamic State, saying its capture of the Jihadists’ last town in the country marked the collapse of their project in the region.

Nov 10: UN General Assembly and Security Council members awarded four out of five judges to the International Criminal Court seats. Judges include: Nawaf Salam of Lebanon, current leader of the International Criminal Court Ronny Abraham of France, his vice president Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia and Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil.

Nov 11: Surendra Kumar Sinha, the Chief Justice of Bangladesh Supreme Court, tendered his resignation in the wake of corruption allegations.

Nov 11: Trade ministers from 11 Asia-Pacific countries agreed to press ahead with a major trade deal without the United States during their meeting in Danang, Vietnam. The theme of summit was ‘Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future’.

Without the US, TPP-11 represents 13.5 percent of the global economy.

Nov 11: Feng Shanshan became China’s first golfer ranked world number one after she claimed back-to-back wins with a thrilling victory at the Blue Bay LPGA.

Nov 12: South Korean iceman Chung Hyeon defeated Russian Andrey Rublev to win the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals — pocketing a $390,000 cheque in the process.

Nov 12: Spaniard Marc Marquez won his fourth MotoGP world title in five years.

Nov 13: France and Germany edged towards achieving a 70-year-old ambition to integrate European defences, signing a pact with 21 other EU governments to fund, develop and deploy armed forces after Britain’s decision to quit the bloc.

Translator Gets Russian award

Nov 13: Noted translator Dr Najamus Sahar Butt was conferred with Russia’s Pushkin Medal, a state decoration of the Federation.

Dr Butt has translated several Russian books into Urdu. This is first Russian state award for any Pakistani after establishment of the Russian Federation.

During the Soviet Union era, poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz and legendary humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi were awarded the Lenin Prize.

Among the many books on Russian literature that Dr Butt translated were former Soviet general Makhmut Akhmetovich Gareyev’s Meri Akhri Jang: Afghanistan, Soviet Afwaaj kay Inkhila kay Baad (My Last War: Afghanistan after the exit of the Soviet Forces from Afghanistan) and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s biography Mard–i-Aahan.

Highlights

1. The pact includes all EU governments except Britain, which is leaving the bloc, Denmark, which has opted out of defence matters, Ireland, Portugal and Malta.
2. Traditionally neutral Austria was a late addition to the pact.
3. The club will be backed by a 5-billion-euro defence fund for buying weapons, a special fund to finance operations and money from the EU’s common budget for defence research.
4. Members will also be required to submit national plans and be subject to a review system identifying weak spots in European armies with the goal of plugging those gaps together.

Nov 13: Irish musician and activist Bob Geldof returned his Freedom of the City of Dublin award in protest over Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s response to the repression of Rohingya Muslims.

Nov 14: American group Mattel unveiled its first-ever hijab-wearing Barbie doll in honour of US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who in 2016 became the first American Olympian to wear a headscarf while competing.

Nov 15: The Russian Finance Ministry signed a deal to restructure Venezuela’s debt.

Nov 15: Zimbabwe’s military took control of the country.

Nov 15: EU states pledged to take 34,000 refugees directly from Africa and the Middle East, a day after the UN criticised the bloc’s “inhuman” cooperation with Libya to stop migrant boats.

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