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WORLD IN FOCUS April 2011 May 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Relationship on solid footing: The Central Intelligence Agency issued an unusual statement after a meeting between the US and Pakistani spy chiefs, saying that the relationship between the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence ‘remains on solid footing.

Call for ending slab benefits for domestic electricity consumers: Projecting the annual energy import bill to increase to a whopping $50 billion by 2026 from $12 billion now, energy sector companies asked the government to substantially raise domestic energy prices and sell natural gas and electricity to all consumers at a uniform rate by removing slab benefits being given to domestic consumers.

Trade with Turkey to be doubled: Pakistan and Turkey took a leap forward in economic collaboration on April 13 when the presidents of the two countries agreed to a currency swap arrangement to bolster trade and commerce, upgrade the Islamabad-Istanbul railway line and open five Turkish bank branches in Pakistan.

Upgraded body to oversee peace efforts: Pakistan stands strongly behind efforts to make peace with the Taliban and that while the US will play a role in any reconciliation, Kabul should set the parameters for any talks to end the war, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on April 16.

The two countries announced the upgradation of a joint commission for peace in an attempt to end militancy in Afghanistan.

ANP supports US-sponsored Taliban talks: The Awami National Party (ANP) has supported the US-sponsored plan for peace with Taliban and the Pakistan-Afghanistan accord to take the dialogue process forward.

Kayani announces army’s withdrawal from Sui: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani announced transition of security responsibilities of the restive town of Sui in Dera Bugti district to Balochistan’s Frontier Corps over the next two months.

He said army battalion posted in Sui would return to the Quetta cantonment and once the troops got out of the town there would be no more army presence in the province outside cantonments.

Mukhtar Mai case: All but one freed: To the consternation of rights activists, the Supreme Court rejected by a majority of two to one, appeals of Mukhtar Mai against acquittal of her tormentors who had raped her almost nine years ago and for enhancement of their sentence.

Only Abdul Khaliq, one of the 14 accused in the case, will remain in prison to serve life sentence.

Hashmi wants Sharifs’ apology, calls for up to 16 provinces: Senior PML-N figure Javed Hashmi seemed mutinous in the National Assembly on April 21, though differently from when he was once charged in a court, as he asked party leader Nawaz Sharif to apologise for accepting a Saudi exile for a pardoned conviction. He proposed splitting up the country’s four provinces in up to 16 for good administration.

Kayani rejects US ‘negative propaganda’ on terrorist ties: Pakistan’s army on April 21 rejected as ‘negative propaganda’ suggestions that it was not doing enough to combat al-Qaeda and Taliban, a day after the top US military officer accused its main intelligence agency of maintaining ties with terrorists. ‘The Pakistan army’s ongoing operations are a testimony of our national resolve to defeat terrorism’.

Pakistan urges US to review drone policy: The United States needed to review its drone policy as attacks by these unmanned aircraft had become counter-productive, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said on April 22.

Mr Bashir made this observation at a joint briefing with US Special Representative Mark Grossman who declined to comment on the issue when reminded that a new drone attack had killed 26 people in Pakistan.

The United States refuses to acknowledge the drone attacks that have killed hundreds of people in the tribal region, causing Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani to issue a rare statement condemning the strikes.

Mini-drone weighs 1.9kg, has wingspan of 1.4 metres: The United States will provide Pakistan with 85 small ‘Raven’ drone aircraft, a US military official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to disclose the cost of the non-lethal, short-range surveillance aircraft, which are manufactured by the US-based Aero Vironment Inc.

A company spokesman said the Rayen was used by US allies, including Italy, Spain and Norway, and was one of the most widely utilised unmanned aircraft in the world.

The Raven, according to the company website, has a wingspan of just 1.4 metres and a weight of 1.9kg. It can deliver real-time colour or infrared imagery, giving troops on the ground an edge on the battlefield.

Petrol import from India proposed: The petroleum ministry has proposed that the ‘most favoured nation’ (MEN) status be granted to India to facilitate import of petroleum products and export of cement and chemicals which would be a cost-effective proposition for both countries.

India ready to remove non-tariff barriers: India has offered to remove Pakistan-specific non-tariff barriers during the first trade talks since the 2008 Mumbai attacks on April 27.

Commerce Secretary Zafar Mah-mood and his Indian counterpart Rahul Khullar led the talks in Islamabad, opening a two-day session aimed at boosting business between the two countries.

The potential of bilateral trade is estimated to go up to $6.5 billion from the current $2 billion.

The Indian delegation had agreed to eliminate all Pakistan-specific non-tariff barriers (NTBs).

Pakistan wanted India to remove a raft of NTBs, for example lab tests for textiles, directing imports of specific goods through designated terminals, etc. But the Indian officials have maintained that there exist no Pakistan-specific NTBs, saying they are for all imported goods.

Nuclear-capable cruise missile test-fired from Mirage fighter: Pakistan conducted on April 29 the third test flight of nuclearcapable Ra’ad (Hatf-8) cruise missile.

Hatf-8 (Raad)

The missile test was conducted as part of the continuous process of improving the technical parameters of the weapon system’ an ISPR statement announcing the successful test of the indigenously developed missile said.
Ra’ad, an Arabic word meaning Thunder, has a range of 350km and has been developed for launch from a variety of aerial platforms. At the second test in May 2008, it was test-fired from a Mirage fighter of Pakistan Air Force.

The third test was also conducted from a Mirage fighter and defence analysts say the test was highly successful in achieving the objectives. The first test flight was conducted in August 2007.

The state-of-the-art Ra’ad Cruise Missile with stealth capabilities is a low altitude, terrain-hugging missile with high manoeuvrability, and can deliver nuclear and conventional warheads with great accuracy’ the military statement said while noting its attributes.

Its ability to fly at low altitudes, in addition to the shape of the airframe and the materials used in its construction, reduces its chances of being detected by enemy radars. Besides, Ra’ad gives Pakistan ‘greater strategic standoff capability’ on land and at sea, which implies that it can be used against targets both at sea and on land while keeping the launching platform undetected by enemy air defence systems.

Ra’ad is designed to launch aerial strikes against fixed enemy installations including enemy command centres, radars, surface-to-air missile launchers, ballistic missile launchers and stationary warships. Cruise technology is complex and has been developed by only a few countries including the US, Russia, China, India and France.

Law to woo investors: The president signed the Arbitration (International Investment Disputes) Bill, 2011 into law the other day. It is aimed at giving a sense of security to foreign investors and bringing transparency in the settlement of investment disputes. It also changes domestic laws protecting foreign investments in accordance with the provisions of the international convention on the settlement of investment disputes between states and foreign nationals.

93 MNAs have financial liabilities of Rs4.21b: As many as 93 members of the National Assembly have financial liabilities of Rs 4.21 billion and only two legislators from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) owe more than half of this amount, while 53 MNAs from Punjab have liabilities of Rs 687.98 million.

According to statements of assets and liabilities submitted by lawmakers to the National Assembly, Dr Arbab Alamgir Khan and his wife Asma Arbab, who belong to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, have net liabilities of Rs 2.88 billion.

Net liabilities of 10 MNAs from KP are Rs 3.4 billion.

Unauthorised raid must not serve as precedent, US told: More than 36 hours after the US killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a stunning operation in the garrison town of Abbottabad, embarrassed Pakistani leadership tried on May 3 to shrug off some of the discomfiture and, for the first time, came up with its own narrative of the events that had led to the detection and eventual elimination of Osama, while reminding the Americans that their unilateral action should be an exception and not a rule.

US may hit target again: The White House said on May 4 that President Barack Obama reserved the right to act again against top terror suspects in Pakistan. Mr Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney was asked whether the president would be prepared to target fugitives again if they were on Pakistani soil. ‘Yes’ he replied. ‘(Obama) feels it was the right approach and he continues to feel that.

Key US lawmakers back aid to Pakistan: Leaders of the US Congress voiced support for preserving aid to Pakistan, calling for a clear-eyed view despite outrage that Osama bin Laden lived for years in the allied nation.

A number of lawmakers have accused Pakistan of playing a double-game and questioned billions of dollars in US aid after the world’s most wanted man was killed in a safehouse a short drive from the country’s top military academy.

The United States has given some $18 billion to Pakistan since the September 11, 2011 attacks, when the nuclear armed nation officially ended support of Afghanistan’s Taliban and agreed to work with the

US. While most of the money has gone to the military, Congress in 2009 authorised $7.5 billion over five years to help bolster the weak civilian government by building schools, roads and democratic institutions. Two of the bill’s authors, Senator John Kerry and Senator Richard Lugar, voiced deep concern at the possibility that Pakistan protected bin Laden but said they would wait for a probe.

Water releases increase power generation: The demand for water by the provinces for Kharif crops has helped increase hydel power generation as a result electricity shortfall has dropped to 2,580MW.

According to figures provided by the National Power Control Centre (NPCC), the current electricity demand in the country is 15,032MW and the generation is 12,452MW. This includes hydel generation of 4,711MW, electricity produced by Wapda 1,714MW, by IPPS 5,959 MW and RPPs produced 68MW.

US refuses to tender apology: The White House said on May 9 that it would not apologise to Pakistan for sending commandos inside Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad last week to kill him.

Gilani rejects doubts about role of security agencies: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani seemed to be mincing a lot of words in the National Assembly on May 9 as he rejected doubts about the role of security agencies regarding Osama bin Laden’s killing by US commandos at the al-Qaeda leader’s Abbottabad hideout and declared that all state institutions are on the same page.

Musharraf, Bush reached deal on Osama hunt in 2001: Pakistan and United States had struck a deal in 2001 to allow the same type of scenario as last week’s raid in Abboattabad against Osama bin Laden, according to serving and retired officials from both sides.

The officials told Britain’s Guardian newspaper former presidents Pervez Musharraf and George Bush had agreed that ‘Pakistan would vociferously protest the incursion.

It’s govt’s failure: Leader of the Opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, said on May 9 Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani should announce before the house that the actions of US helicopters in Abbottabad not only constituted a breach of the country’s sovereignty but were also in violation of international laws and would be raised before the United Nations.

No proof found against ZAB in 1975: The Supreme Court observed that as per police record, no evidence was found against former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the case against him was closed in November 1975.

Prime facie the record we have seen, it is proved that the Shafiur Rehman Commission, which was thoroughly investigating the Bhutto case, found that since there was no evidence, the case was closed’ Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed, while heading an 11-member larger bench hearing the presidential reference for revisiting the ZAB case. Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq presented before the court the record pertaining to the original file, containing the FIR, had gone missing from Ichhra Police Station. The FIR was lodged against the former prime minister and the commission headed by Justice (R) Shafiur Rehman filed the report.

The court observed that nothing could be found against Bhutto and that the case was closed in 1975. The CJ said the court would examine whether this record would prove helpful in the presidential reference.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

China halts plans to build new aluminium plants: China has decided to halt plans to build new aluminium plants in the country to tackle serious overcapacity in the industry, the official China Securities Journal reported, citing Su Bo, a vice industry minister.

The newspaper quoted Su as saying eight departments would jointly release a notice which could put all planned aluminium projects, with a combined investment of more than

70 billion yuan ($11 billion), on hold.

Aluminium projects currently under construction involved total spending of more than 20 billion yuan, the newspaper said.

UN endorses Palestinian state despite Israel’s objections: A United Nations report released on April 12 endorsed a Palestinian state in the West Bank, despite strong objections by Israel.

The report observed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had successfully built some institutions and public services required for a future state.

Yemen’s Saleh hangs on, still hopes to outwit foes: Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh is clinging to power despite daily protests demanding his departure. Implausibly, he may still believe he can survive.

BRICS for global monetary shake-up, greater influence: The BRICS group of emerging market powers on April 14 kept up the pressure for a revamped global monetary system that relies less on the dollar and for a louder voice in international financial institutions.

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa also called for stronger regulation of commodity derivatives to dampen excessive volatility in food and energy prices, which they said posed new risks for the recovery of the world economy.

World Bank warns over food price rises: Food-producing countries must relax export controls and divert production away from biofuels to prevent millions more people being driven into poverty by higher food prices, the head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, said in Washington on April 14.
Without action to increase the supply of food, an extra 10 million people could fall below the extreme poverty line of $1.25 a day over the next few months, in addition to the 44 million pushed into poverty by soaring food prices over the past year, he warned.

Clinton warns against hasty Afghan pullout: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on April 14 backed away from a US timeline to start pulling troops from Afghanistan in July, warning ‘political expediency’ would benefit the Taliban.

President Barack Obama has tripled US troops in Afghanistan to 100,000 since taking office in 2009 but had promised to begin a drawdown in July. The nearly 10-year-old war has become unpopular in the United States and allied nations.

The Obama administration has gradually de-emphasised the timeframe, instead saying that most US forces would leave in 2014’ the date set by last year’s Nato summit for putting Afghans in charge of their own country’s security.

Mrs Clinton appeared to de-emphasise that date as well, saying that the United States was committed to ‘building an enduring partnership with Afghanistan that will last well beyond 2014.

Chinese growth slows down: China said on April 15 its robust economy slowed slightly in the first quarter of 2011 but inflation hit a 32-month high, suggesting Beijing’s efforts to rein in soaring costs are still falling short.

Israel becomes CERN nuclear group member: Israel’s cabinet on April 17 announced it had approved the country’s membership in the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, becoming the research group’s first non-European delegation.

“Israel is joining an exclusive club, which provides unusual visibility, exposure, prestige and international status,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced.

Tornadoes wreak havoc in southern US, kill 44: The worst tornadoes to strike the United States in almost three decades have left at least 44 people dead and hundreds injured across six states, emergency officials said on April 17.

Jonathan declared winner: Nigeria’s electoral commission on April 18 officially declared incumbent Goodluck Jonathan winner of the country’s presidential election after he captured 57 per cent of the vote.

Emergency lifted in Syria: Syria’s government approved lifting the country’s nearly 50-year-old state of emergency on April 19 to meet a key demand of anti-government protesters, but opposition leaders dismissed it as an attempt by President Bashar Assad to claim reforms but maintain his hardline rule.

US unveils new terrorism alerts, scraps colours: The Obama administration unveiled a new warning system to alert Americans about specific terrorism threats, formally pushing the much-ridiculed colour-coded warnings into the trash bin.

Swiss govt okays tougher bank rules: The Swiss government on April 20 approved tougher regulation for major banks, including a provision that allows regulators to adjust their salary systems or ban bonuses if they seek state aid.

Foreign military advisers head for Libya: France and Italy joined Britain on April 20 in sending military advisers to insurgent-held eastern Libya, as Tripoli warned that foreign boots on the ground would prolong the conflict.

Iraq must decide soon on US troops: The US military’s top officer Admiral Michael Mullen said on April 22 that Baghdad must decide in the ‘coming weeks’ if it needs American forces to stay in Iraq beyond a planned departure at the end of this year.

Thai, Cambodian armies clash on border; 6 killed: Thailand and Cambodia exchanged artillery and gunfire for several hours in a flare-up of a long-running border dispute, and their militaries said six soldiers were killed.

The fighting near the ancient temples of Ta Krabey and Ta Moan forced thousands of civilians on both sides to flee. Cambodia says artillery fell on villages and other areas as far as 13 miles inside its territory.

A decades-old border dispute over ancient temples and the land surrounding them has fueled nationalist passions in both countries. Clashes have erupted several times since 2008, when Preah Vihear was given UN World Heritage status.

Each side blamed the other for the resumption of fighting.

Iran, Iraq sign accord on detainees’ return: Iran and Iraq on April 24 signed agreements to return each others’ detainees, which could lead to the forced repatriation of an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq, Iranian state TV reported.

Petraeus to take over CIA, Panetta to replace Gates: US President Barack Obama has decided to bring Gen David Petraeus from Afghanistan and place him at the CIA whose director Leon Panetta will now be the new US Defence Secretary, officials said on April 27.

Lt-Gen. John Allen, Deputy Commander of US Central Command, is to receive a fourth star and assume command from Gen Petraeus in Kabul. Additionally, former US ambassador to Pakistan and Iraq Ryan Crocker will be sent to Afghanistan as ambassador.

India snubs US firms over $12b fighter contract: India has shortlisted Dassault’s Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon for a $12 billion dollar fighter jet deal, cutting out US bidders from one of the largest military contracts of recent years.

The US embassy in New Delhi confirmed that Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet had both been ruled out of the running for India’s multi-role combat aircraft.

Ambassador Timothy Roemer, who announced separately that he was resigning his post for personal reasons, said the US government was ‘deeply disappointed’ by the decision.

Commoner Kate becomes Princess: Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton married at Westminster Abbey on April 29 in a sumptuous show of British pageantry that attracted a huge world audience and breathed new life into the monarchy.

Renewable power major part of 2050 world energy mix: Renewable power from the Sun, wind, water and biomass can and should generate a major portion of the planet’s energy supply by 2050, according to a draft United Nations report.
Renewables have the potential to bring power to the world’s poorest regions, boost energy security for nations dependent on imports, and curb the CO2 emissions that fuel global warming, the draft said.

The 30-page ‘summary for policy makers’ boiled down from 1,500 pages’ is being vetted at a May 5-13 meeting of the 194-nation Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) in Abu Dhabi, and will be unveiled.

Six types of renewables accounted in 2008 for 12.9 per cent of global energy supply: Biomass (10.2 per cent), hydropower (2.3), wind (0.2), solar (0.1), geothermal (0.1) and ocean (0.002).

Once traditional use of firewood and animal dung for cooking and heating is set aside, however, that percentage drops to about seven.

Coal, oil and gas together make up 85 per cent, and nuclear energy two.

West won’t abandon Afghanistan: The army general leading British troops in Afghanistan General James Bucknall promised on May 11 that the West ‘was not going to abandon’ the war-torn nation after the security handover to local forces in 2014.

SPORTS

Ernie Els inducted into Hall of Fame: Erine Els, whose deceptively effortless swing has earned him the nickname the ‘Big Easy’ and three major golf titles ‘led a class of six inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

ASEAN

1. ASEAN stands for ________.
A. Association of Southeast Asian Nations
B. Assembly of Southeast Asian Nations
C. Association of Southwest Asian Nations
D. None of these

2. ASEAN was established on August 8, ________.
A. 1963        B. 1965
C. 1967        D. None of these

3. Initially, ASEAN was set up by ________, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore & Thailand.
A. India        B. Indonesia
C. China     D. None of these

4. The secretariat of ASEAN is in ________.
A. Jakarta    B. Kuala Lumpur
C. Hanoi        D. None of these

5. The members of ASEAN are ________.
A. 5        B. 10        C. 15         D. 50

ASEAN Countries
Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam

6. The Secretary General of ASEAN is ________.
A. Surin Pitsuwan  B. Akmuldin Oglu
C. Majib ur Rehman
D. None of these

7. Surin Pitsuwan assumed the charge on January 1, ________ and is the 12th secretary-general.
A. 2008        B. 2009
C. 2010        D. 2011

8. Surin Pitsuwan belongs to ________.
A. Indonesia    B. Malaysia
C. Thailand    D. Laos

9. The last summit of ASEAN was held in Indonesia in ________.
A. 2008        B. 2009
C. 2010        D. 2011

10. ASEAN is located in ________.
A. South Asia    B. Middle East
C. Southeast Asia
D. Southwest Asia

ANSWERS
1.    A    2.      3.    B    4.    A
5.    B    6.    A    7.    A    8.    C
9.       10.    C

Obituaries in news

National

Khalid bin Sayeed, one of Pakistan’s most recognised political scientists, died in Canada on April 11. He was 84.

Noted stage comedian Murtaza Hasan, widely known as Mastana, died on April 11. He was 69.

Famous comedian Baboo Baral died on April 15.

Moin Akhtar, the legendary artist of television, stage and film passed away after having a heart attack here on April 23, 2011. He was 60.

Famed Urdu fiction writer Abdul Hameed passed away on April 29. He was born on August 22, 1928.

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