World in Focus (Jan – Feb 2019)

World in Focus (Jan - Feb 2019)

NATIONAL

Jan 16: PM Imran Khan constituted an 8-member ministerial committee to negotiate a long-term Strategic Economic Framework arrangement with Turkey.

Jan 16: The Supreme Court held the system of jirgas and panchayats in violation of Pakistan’s international commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Jan 16: Prof Dr Zaheer Ahmed Siddiqui, the distinguished professor of Persian at the Government College University (GCU), Lahore, and a writer, poet and philanthropist, passed away at the age of 84.

Prof Siddiqui, was the author of 60 books, including Pakistan’s first Persian to Urdu dictionary and the first history of GCU, Lahore, in Urdu. He also served as the first registrar of GCU from 2002 to 2007.

Jan 17: The federal cabinet decided to lift the travel ban on Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.

Jan 17: Google released a doodle to honour the legendary Pakistani cricketer, A.H. Kardar, also affectionately known as ‘The Skipper’, on his 94th birthday.

Jan 18: Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered the establishment of a CPEC Business Advisory Council consisting of leading Pakistani business executives to create an interface with the private sector.

Jan 18: K-Electric appointed Ikram Sehgal its new chairman.

About Ikram Sehgal

1. Ikram Sehgal is a decorated former army officer and now a successful businessman.
2. With more than 40 years of business experience, Mr Sehgal is Chairman Pathfinder Group Pakistan that employs thousands of people across Pakistan.
3. Sehgal was the first Pakistani prisoner of war (POW) in history to escape from an Indian POW camp.
4. He holds a commercial pilot’s license.
5. Author of several books including “Escape from Oblivion,” Mr Sehgal has served on many boards, including Bank Alfalah’s for 16 years.
6. He is the Foundation Member of the World Economic Forum and a Director EastWest Institute USA.
7. He is also Chairman Karachi Council on Foreign Relations and Vice President Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors.
8. He organises the renowned Pakistan Breakfast every year at the WEF Annual Meeting at Davos.

Jan 18: The government issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) regarding appointment of former army chief Gen (Retd) Raheel Sharif as head of a Saudi Arabia-led military alliance comprising personnel from 41 Muslim countries.

Jan 18: The United Nations General Assembly president Maria Espinosa started her 5-day visit to Pakistan – first by a UNGA president since 2010. During meetings with her, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi raised the Kashmir issue and asked her to set up a commission to probe rights abuses in the India-held valley.

Jan 18: Well-known actor Gulab Chandio passed away at 61.

Jan 18: The University of Lahore won the fifth All Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC) Intervarsity Men’s Ski Championship held at PAF Ski Resort in Naltar Valley.

Jan 19: In what law-enforcers described as an encounter with terrorists, the elite Punjab police killed four people including parents and their teenage daughter in Sahiwal, sending shock waves across the country.

Jan 20: Pakistan defeated India to win the Asian Junior Squash Team Championships held in Pattaya, Thailand.

Jan 21: PM Imran Khan was named in the list of top 100 Global Thinkers by the Washington-based Foreign Policy magazine.

As per the magazine: “In 2018, Imran Khan, a former cricket star, finally got the job he had long coveted: prime minister. His reward was an incredibly difficult to-do list, starting with Pakistan’s looming fiscal and debt crisis. Just a few months into his term, Khan now must come up with a strategy for dealing with the fallout from an impending US withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

Jan 21: University of Sargodha (UoS) signed an MoU with International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah), a leading Saudi think tank based in Riyadh to extend cooperation in research and publications and to facilitate the exchange of scholars and academics.

Public Good or Private Wealth?

Jan 21: Oxfam, a UK-based charity, issued its annual inequality report titled “Public Good or Private Wealth?” just before the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The report suggested that the world’s 26 richest people own the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity.

Key recommendations

All governments should set concrete, timebound targets and action plans to reduce inequality as part of their commitments under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 on inequality. These plans should include action in the following three areas:

Deliver universal free healthcare, education and other public services that also work for women and girls. Stop supporting privatization of public services. Provide pensions, child benefits and other social protection for all. Design all services to ensure they also deliver for women and girls.

Free up women’s time by easing the millions of unpaid hours they spend every day caring for their families and homes. Let those who do this essential work have a say in budget decisions and make freeing up women’s time a key objective of government spending. Invest in public services including water, electricity and childcare that reduce the time needed to do this unpaid work. Design all public services in a way that works for those with little time to spare.

End the under-taxation of rich individuals and corporations. Tax wealth and capital at fairer levels. Stop the race to the bottom on personal income and corporate taxes. Eliminate tax avoidance and evasion by corporates and the super-rich. Agree a new set of global rules and institutions to fundamentally redesign the tax system to make it fair, with developing countries having an equal seat at the table.

Jan 22: The French government announced to provide a soft loan of 130 million euros (Rs19.5 billion) for the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Project.

Jan 22: Punjab’s Ali Haider clinched the Jubilee Insurance U-21 National Championship defeating Haris Tahir in the final.

Jan 23: The Supreme Court sent Shah Hussain, who stabbed his classmate Khadija Siddiqui 23 times nearly three years ago, to prison as a three-judge bench headed by CJP Asif Saeed Khosa restored the five-year imprisonment awarded to Hussain on March 30, 2018.

Jan 23: Finance Minister Asad Umar introduced to the National Assembly the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 — PTI government’s second supplementary budget in almost four months – with overall net revenue loss of Rs6.8 billion. Critical taxes on capital market and ban on purchase of vehicles by non-filers of income tax returns and facilitating industry, agriculture and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been withdrawn.

Jan 24: The federal cabinet approved formation of the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA) that envisages merger of all bodies regulating media, including the print and electronic media.

Jan 24: The army announced successful ‘training launch’ of tactical ballistic missile Nasr.

About Nasr Missile

One of the features of the latest test was that the missile was fired in a salvo of four missiles, which experts say represents a technological feat. Quad salvo means that the four missiles were fired together from AR1A/A100-E Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) to enhance the operational efficiency of Army’s Strategic Force Command. Nasr has shoot and scoot attributes which means that the system has a capability of firing and moving away quickly to avoid counter targeting which would be contributing to the weapon’s survivability. The speed and low apogee of the Hatf-IX missile would make it difficult to intercept by all the Indian existing Ballistic Missile Defence systems and even S-400 air defence system as well.

Jan 25: Pakistani-American chef Fatima Ali, who had touched the hearts of people around the globe with her heartbreaking story of suffering from terminal cancer, passed away.

Jan 25: Roohi Bano, known for her remarkable performances as one of the first few leading actors to appear on Pakistan television, passed away.

Roohi Bano the Legend

Roohi Bano was a daughter of legendary tabla player Ustad Allah Rakha and the half-sister of Zakir Hussain.

Arguably the best female TV artiste that Pakistan has produced, Roohi Bano, joined the TV fraternity when she was doing her MSc in Psychology from the Government College, Lahore. She is still ranked among the best acting talents that the country has produced. Her first television appearance was in a quiz show in her student days. Then, Farooq Zamir offered her to act in plays. She accepted the offer while continuing her studies that culminated in an MSc degree in Psychology. She was known for her iconic roles in Kiran Kahani, Kaanch ka Pul and Zard Gulab among other dramas. Roohi married twice and also acted in a few films but television is where her heart was. During her illustrious career as an actor, she earned several awards, including the President’s Pride of Performance Award, two PTV Awards, Nigar Award, Graduate Award and Lux Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jan 25: The government announced a new visa policy encouraging tourists from 50 countries to avail themselves of visa-on-arrival facility and providing e-visa to citizens of 175 countries.

Highlights of the ‘New Visa Policy’

Apart from granting on-arrival visas and e-visas for various countries, other eminent features of the visa regime entail:

1. The provision of Business visa of 68 to 96 countries along with IATA-approved tour operators to be allowed to bring tourist groups to Pakistan.
2. Cross-border travel will be non-restricted and foreigners are to be allowed to travel within open cantonment areas freely.
3. A revised list of prohibited areas will be announced under the new visa policy.
Following are some of other provisions announced under the new visa regime:
4. Work visa: Pak Missions to issue visas on recommendation of BOI
5. Family visit: 5 years multiple entry visa in 7-10 working days
6. Pak Missions to grant 5 years validity and one year stay (multiple) entry visa to foreigners of Pakistani origin and their spouses
7. Diplomatic visa: Tenure of diplomatic/official assignment
8. Tablighi visa: 45 days
9. Missionary visa: 1 year
10. Student visa: 2 years

Jan 26: Pakistan was elected as the vice chair of UN Environment’s Forum of Ministers of Asia Pacific.

A total of 41 environmental ministers of Asia Pacific countries voted for Pakistan.

Jan 26: Two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Sindh and Balochistan retired upon the completion of two and a half years in office.

Jan 27: A new report of the World Bank entitled “Pakistan Getting More from Water” said Pakistan gets a poor economic return from its significant water resources, observing that the best use of water endowment is not made in the country.

Jan 28: Suman Kumari Bodani became Pakistan’s first Hindu woman to have been appointed a civil judge. Ms Kumari, who hails from Qambar-Shahdadkot, will serve in her native district.

Non-Muslims have been breaking stereotypes in Pakistan over the past year. For example, Mahesh Kumar Malani was the first non-Muslim to be elected to Pakistan’s National Assembly while Krishna Kumari, a Thari woman was elected in Pakistan’s senate elections. Ms Kumari’s appointment marks another step forward in the country’s progress towards ideals laid out for it by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his August 11 speech to the Constituent Assembly. However, the path ahead is full of challenges but the good news is that the only thing needed to overcome them is political will on the part of those heading various state institutions.

Jan 29: The Economist Intelligence Unit released Democracy Index 2018 in which Pakistan was declared as a hybrid regime, ranking just above the authoritarian Myanmar.

Pakistan has fallen two places in the global ranking with an overall score of 4.63. According to the report, Pakistan’s global rank is 112 and regional rank is 21. A breakdown of this score reveals that Pakistan scored 6.08 in the electoral process and pluralism, 5.36 in the functioning of the government, 2.22 in political participation, 2.50 in political culture and 4.71 in civil liberties.

Jan 29: Russia’s Special Representative on Afghanistan, Ambassador Zamir Kabulov came to Pakistan where in a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, he greatly appreciated Pakistan’s role as a facilitator to the Afghan peace process as both the sides agreed to maintain bilateral engagements for regional peace.

Jan 29: The Supreme Court threw out a petition seeking to review the Oct 31, 2018, verdict of acquitting Aasia Bibi is of a blasphemy charge.

Jan 29: Pakistan made a slight improvement in the ‘Corruption Perceptions Index 2018’ released by the Transparency International with a score of 33. The country’s ranking of 117 out of 180 countries, however, remains as it was in 2017.

Jan 30: South Africa defeated Pakistan to clinch the ODI series.

Jan 31: Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan chaired first-ever provincial cabinet meeting in Landi Kotal, in Khyber district.

Jan 31: The government formally launched ‘Pakistan Banao Certificates’ (PBCs) to tap into the savings of over eight million overseas Pakistanis for securing much-needed foreign exchange reserves to stabilise the country’s economy.

Jan 31: The government announced the Haj Policy 2019 under which the cost of performing the ritual under the government scheme has been fixed at Rs456,426 (with Qurbani), against last year’s expense of Rs. 280,000 per person.

Jan 31: The army announced the second successful testing of tactical ballistic missile Nasr in a week, this time confirming the manoeuvring capabilities of the missile.

Feb 01: Former Supreme Court judge Sayed Zahid Hussain assumed the charge as Consultant (Legal Affairs) in the President’s Secretariat (Public).

Feb 01: The Pak-China fibre optic, an 820-kilometer-long fibre optic cable project from Rawalpindi to Khunjerab, was made active for commercial use.

Feb 01: West Indies women took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match T20 International series against Pakistan.

Feb 03: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan unveiled the province’s first health policy.

Feb 03: Pakistan-born Prof. Dr Umar Sadat became the first surgeon in 200-year history of the Royal College of Surgeons of England to be awarded the ‘Hunterian Professor Award’ for his research work.

Feb 03: Pakistan’s world-record run of 11 straight Twenty20 series victories came to an end as South Africa took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3-match series.

Feb 04: Eight-year-old Ayesha Ayaz from Mingora brought home a bronze medal in 27-kg category of the seventh Fujairah Open Taekwondo Championship, held in UAE. She was the youngest player at the event.

Feb 04: Prime Minister Imran Khan re-launched the health insurance scheme, which had been introduced by the previous PML-N government as Prime Minister National Health Programme (PMNHP) in 2015, under the new title of Sehat Insaf Card after making some changes to it.

Feb 05: Rashid Suhrawardy, the only son of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, former prime minister of Pakistan, the last prime minister of Undivided Bengal, and the founder of the Awami League, died. He was 78.

Feb 06: Punjab’s senior minister Abdul Aleem Khan was arrested by NAB. After arrest, the minister submitted his resignation to Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

Feb 06: The Supreme Court issued the detailed judgement in the Faizabad sit-in case wherein it ordered the government that the protesters who obstructed people’s right to use roads and damage or destroy property must be proceeded against in accordance with the law.

Feb 06: Russia signed an agreement with Pakistan on offshore oil and gas exploration activities, besides laying a pipeline to supply gas to the country from its Middle East resources through the sea link.

The project envisages transporting of gas molecules from Gazprom’s sources in the Middle East to Pakistan with the possibility of extending it further to South Asian countries.

Feb 08: The multinational maritime exercise AMAN-2019, hosted by the Pakistan Navy (PN), commenced in Karachi.

Feb 08: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar administered oath to PML-Q’s Bau Rizwan as provincial minister.

Feb 11: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s new IGP, Muhammad Naeem Khan, assumed the charge of his office.

Feb 11: Pakistan women defeated the West Indies women in third ODI to claim the series 2-1.

Feb 12: The PTCL Board of Directors appointed Rashid Khan to the post of PTCL CEO w.e.f. March 2.

Feb 12: Pakistan Women’s Day was observed.

Feb 12: The sixth multinational Aman Exercise reached its conclusion with the Pakistan Navy’s newly commissioned replenishment tanker PNS Moawin taking centre stage as it hosted dignitaries, including President Arif Alvi and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, for witnessing the international fleet review.

Feb 12: Arif Usmani was appointed the President National Bank of Pakistan.

Feb 13: The app of Pakistan Citizens’ Portal (PCP), an e-complaint system set up at Prime Minister Office, was declared second best government mobile application in the world.

World in Focus (Jan - Feb 2019)Feb 13: Former Chairman National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Tariq Malik was included in the list of top 100 influencers in the digital community of the world for a third consecutive year.

Tariq Malik is currently serving in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as chief technical adviser.

Others on the list include Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, Microsoft’s Daniel Buchner and US Senator Ron Wynden.

Feb 14: Former minister for information technology Anusha Rehman was appointed a Regional Adviser of Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation (CTO) for East and South Asia Region.

Feb 14: The Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered a judicial inquiry into the Sahiwal shootout.

Feb 14: The Lahore High Court granted bail to Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif in two references Ashiyana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme and Ramzan Sugar Mills filed by NAB against him.

Feb 14: The Pakistan Super League (PSL) festival of cricket commenced in a glittering musical opening ceremony.

Feb 15: Following the Pulwama attack, India withdrew the ‘most-favoured nation’ (MFN) status to Pakistan.

Feb 15: Minister for Finance Asad Umar launched Sarmaya-e-Pakistan, the holding company for state-owned enterprises.

SC Verdict on Gilgit-Baltistan 

Powers of the Supreme Court have been extended to Gilgit-Baltistan under a ruling by a seven-judge larger bench of the top court on the constitutional status of the region and the grant of fundamental rights to its citizens. Taking up a set of petitions challenging the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018, the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009, and demanding the right of the citizens of the region to be governed through their elected representatives, the court has made it clear that no part of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan can be abolished or amended without proper legislation. And that means the region will — until an amendment to the Constitution — continue to be administered through presidential orders as against the demand of the residents to declare the region a part of Pakistan.

The federal government’s stance managed to gain acceptance in the top court. The Attorney General of Pakistan presented before the court a draft of the Gilgit-Baltistan Governance Reforms, 2018, which has been prepared by the federal government for political empowerment and good governance in the region. The proposed reforms draft says the federal government intends to grant G-B the status of a provisional province, “subject to the decision of the plebiscite to be conducted under the UN resolutions,’’ with all privileges provided by the Constitution. But the grant of such a status, the federal government argued, requires an amendment to the Constitution by a two-thirds majority in parliament which is time-consuming. Therefore, as an interim measure, the government plans to give such fundamental rights to G-B residents as enjoyed by the people of other provinces.

The top court’s order clearly means that there will be no change in the current status of Gilgit-Baltistan, as well as Kashmir, and that the constitutional status of these areas shall be determined through a referendum. The judgement also makes it clear that the Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018, cannot be amended, and “if parliament makes any changes to this order, they can be examined on the touchstone of the Constitution.”

How to make Pakistani passport powerful

According to the 2019 passport rankings, Pakistan’s passport is ranked close to the bottom, just below Syria and above only Iraq and Afghanistan. As Pakistan is vastly more stable a nation than war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, it remains something of a pity that its passport’s power is still being determined by multiple other nations based on a combination of outdated geopolitical conditions and always untrue stereotypes. But for every problem there is a solution, and for Pakistan, the country’s neighbour and all-weather partner China has a technological solution that could hold the key to increasing power ranking of Pakistani passport in a record time.

Like most governments, China compiles data on its citizens’ behaviour which include a number of factors ranging from road safety records to one’s financial prudence, court and police records and in the case of public employees, their workplace conduct. For the ordinary person, the social credit score mainly effects what widely used private sector credit scores have done for years – namely determining one’s eligibility for loans, credit lines, mortgages, leases and similar transactions.

For Pakistan, the lingering malignant stereotype that associates the country with terrorism continues to weaken the position of Pakistan’s passport. However, if Pakistan developed its own social credit score which judged the ability of one to travel in a dignified and congenial manner, two things could happen. First of all, those deemed unfit to travel abroad for similar reasons to some Chinese, would be banned from travel until their social credit score improves.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Pakistan could set up a database reflecting the social credit score of its citizens. Foreign nations could check this list by a simple scan of a new version of a Pakistani passport or else, a copy of the report could be emailed to the appropriate visa and customs officials before a planned journey. The basic report on one’s social credit insofar as it effects travel should be offered in English and Urdu, in addition to Chinese, Russian, Arabic, French and Spanish.

As time goes on, Pakistan could work with multiple nations so as to allow multiple countries to determine which particular numerical social credit score they deem satisfactory.

Mohmand Dam

Keeping in view enormous benefits of Mohmand Dam, a multidimensional hydropower project of Federal Government, WAPDA has decided to go ahead with this mega project and its groundbreaking ceremony would soon be performed. Mohmand Dam would be constructed on River Swat about 48 kilometres from Peshawar in Mohmand tribal district and would be completed in five years and eight months. It will generate about 800 megawatt low-cost hydel electricity besides being a storage reservoir of about 1594 million cubic metre water with annual benefits of about Rs51.6 billion.

The completion of Mohmand Dam would help fulfil water needs of people till 2050 besides overcoming shortage of clean water in rural areas of the provincial capital. It will also help national power policy achieve the dual goals of meeting Pakistan’s energy needs in a sustainable manner and ensuring generation of affordable electricity, while helping to reduce existing energy supply gap.

The construction of 213-metre-high Mohmand dam will alleviate risk of such flood damages to great extent and its reservoir would also store river flows and minimize intensity of floods downstream. This project will lead to enhance the agricultural capacity and production at downstream through raising two canals at Charsadda district.

INTERNATIONAL

Jan 16: The International Cricket Council (ICC) named India’s Manu Sawhney as its new chief executive officer.

Jan 16: Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly survived no-trust vote with 325 lawmakers against 306 reposing confidence in May’s government.

Jan 16: The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the deployment to Yemen of up to 75 monitors.

Jan 16: The world’s first television channel, a web-based channel of the International Observatory of Human Right dedicated to human rights was launched in London.

Jan 17: A cotton seedling that sprouted on the moon was left to die as China’s historic lunar lander continued a freezing night-time nap.

Jan 17: The US city of Louisville in Kentucky renamed its airport after hometown hero and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Jan 18: India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni eased India to a seven-wicket victory to clinch their one-day international series against Australia.

Jan 19: Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina swore in.

Jan 20: Israel and Chad renewed their diplomatic ties decades after they were ruptured in 1972.

Jan 20: “World’s oldest man” Masazo Nonaka, who was born in 1905.

Jan 22: The US Supreme Court authorized Trump administration to block the recruitment of transgender military personnel pending the outcome of litigation on the sensitive issue.

Jan 22: Indian captain Virat Kohli became the first player in history to win three major ICC awards. He was named Cricketer of the Year and won the Sir Garfield Trophy, was named Best Test Player of the Year and also ODI Player of the Year. He was also named skipper of both ICC Test and ODI Teams of the Year.

World in Focus (Jan - Feb 2019)

Jan 23: Boeing announced that its prototype ‘flying car’ part of a project aimed at ‘on demand autonomous air transportation’ completed its first successful test flight.

Jan 23: Priyanka Gandhi, the sister of Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, formally joined politics, months ahead of general elections in India.

Jan 24: Temperature in southern Australia was recorded at 49.5 Celsius (120 Fahrenheit), shattering previous records as heat-stressed bats fell from trees.

Jan 24: Venezuela’s powerful military high command threw its weight behind President Nicolás Maduro as opposition leader Juan Guaidó pressed a direct challenge to his authority with the backing of the United States and key Latin American allies.

Jan 24: James Anderson claimed an England record-equalling 27th Test five-wicket haul.

Jan 25: US President Donald Trump reached a deal with congressional leaders to reopen the US federal government after a record-breaking 34-day shutdown.

Jan 25: Yanghee Lee, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, said Myanmar’s army chief should be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Jan 25: The European Commission added Saudi Arabia to an EU draft list of countries that pose a threat to the bloc because of lax controls against terrorism financing and money laundering.

Jan 26: In a pioneering move, a government-appointed panel recommended that Germany stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2038 at the latest, as part of efforts to curb climate change.

Jan 26: A predominantly Muslim area of the southern Philippines returned a resounding ‘Yes’ in a referendum on greater autonomy.

Jan 27: Investment firm Man Group announced to end its long-running sponsorship of Britain’s prestigious Man Booker Prizes for Novels.

Jan 28: Superhero film Black Panther, heralded for its mainly black cast and vibrant celebration of African culture, won the top Screen Actors Guild award. Black Panther from Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios was named best movie ensemble.

Jan 29: Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah tendered his resignation and that of his unity government.

World in Focus (Jan - Feb 2019)

Jan 29: The Dutch parliament passed a controversial bill granting Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet emergency powers to deal with the fallout from a no-deal Brexit.

Jan 29: India opened its first national film museum in south Mumbai.

Jan 29: Iran is still abiding by the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal despite the US pullout from the multinational agreement, Central Intelligence chief Gina Haspel said.

Jan 31: Malaysia installed a new king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, after the last monarch abdicated in a historic first.

Jan 31: The European Parliament voted to recognise Juan Guaidó as acting president of Venezuela.

Jan 31: Britain, France and Germany launched a special payment mechanism that the EU hopes will help save a nuclear deal with Iran by bypassing US sanctions.

Feb 01: India’s government unveiled a raft of budget sweeteners for farmers, the middle class and also cows, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to shore up support with elections looming.

Feb 01: Lebanon announced a government line-up, ending an eight-month wait that had heightened fears of a major economic collapse.

It is to be noted here that on May 24, 2018, President Michel Aoun had nominated Prime Minister Saad Hariri for his third term as premier and tasked him with forming a cabinet.

Feb 01: The US Agency for International Development (USAID) ceased all assistance to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Feb 01: Thousands of Iranians packed the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran to launch celebrations for the 40th anniversary of its revolution.

Feb 01: Qatar stunned Japan 3-1 to win their first Asian Cup Football.

Feb 01: The Trump administration announced freeing itself from the constraints of the Cold War-era pact, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

Feb 02: Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani won Australia’s most valuable literary prize, the Victorian Prize for Literature for his book “No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison.”

Feb 02: Iran displayed a new cruise missile with a range of 1,300km (800 miles) during celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Feb 03: West Indies completed a crushing series-clinching 10-wicket victory over England.

Feb 04: The Vatican and Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque and university signed a document on fighting extremism.

Feb 04: Australia won a comprehensive 366-run victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka to win the series 2-0.

Feb 04: Apple reached an agreement with French authorities to settle 10 years of back taxes and paid nearly 500 million euros ($570 million) to resolve the case.

Feb 05: Joram van Klaveren, a former Dutch MP and right-hand man of anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, converted to Islam.

Feb 06: Italian speed skier Dominik Paris won super-G gold at the World Ski Championships.

Feb 06: The small Balkan country of Macedonia took a big step towards becoming the 30th member of Nato, the world’s biggest military alliance.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov led an ‘accession protocol’ signing ceremony at the NATO’s Brussels headquarters.

Feb 06: Raya El Hassan assumed charge as Lebanon’s new interior minister, becoming the Arab world’s first female official in charge of powerful security agencies.

Feb 06: India crashed to their worst ever Twenty20 International defeat, at the hands of New Zealand when an explosive 84 by Tim Seifert set New Zealand up for an 80-run win in Wellington.

Feb 07: US President Donald Trump nominated former US Treasury official David Malpass to lead the World Bank Group.

World Bank President

Under an unwritten agreement, the United States, which is the bank’s largest shareholder, has always chosen its leader since the institution was founded following World War II. But following calls for a more open, merit-based, and transparent selection process, with nominations open from all board members, the board established a new process in 2011, which governed Kim’s selection. In the lead up to Kim’s 2012 appointment, he became the first US nominee to face an official challenger.

Executive directors can nominate candidates for the post — candidates must be citizens of one of the bank’s member countries and, cannot be a bank governor, executive director or alternate. The process begins when the board decides to announce that a nomination process is open. If there are more than three candidates, there will be a shortlisting process where the board will narrow the field through an informal straw poll or vote. The shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the board and then the board will make a final selection. While only a majority vote is required, the guidance strongly suggests that the board come to a unanimous consensus. The selection process, including board interviews and candidates under consideration, is confidential though individual board members can release the information.

Feb 08: Rohit Sharma became the highest run-scorer in Twenty20 international history.

Feb 08: British actor Albert Finney, who rose to fame on a post-war wave of gritty, working-class dramas and became an Oscar-nominated international star, died at the age of 82.

Feb 09: Hindi is to become the third official language used in the Abu Dhabi court system.

Feb 09: Pakistan put Yemen-based Al-Rahmah Welfare Trust Organisation (ARWTO) on the list of proscribed organizations, taking the total number of banned outfits to 67.

Feb 10: To enhance awareness on the nutrient benefits of eating pulses, the first ‘World Pulses Day’ was observed as proclaimed by the United Nations (UN).

Feb 10: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi officially took over the rotating post of ceremonial head of the African union from Rwandan President Paul Kagame, during a two-day AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Feb 10: World Government Summit opened in Dubai, UAE.

Feb 11: Netflix black-and-white production Roma triumphed at the Bafta film awards.

Feb 11: Big-hitting Russian Daniil Medvedev defeated Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics to win the Sofia Open title.

Feb 11: Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, who commanded a mujahideen faction during the decade-long insurgency against the Soviet occupiers, passed away.

Feb 12: US lawmakers reached a preliminary deal to provide some funding for President Donald Trump’s Mexico border wall. for wall construction, the budget agreed by Republican and Democratic lawmakers was far less than the $5.7 billion that Trump wanted.

Feb 13: Mexican mobster Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman was convicted of crimes spanning a quarter century.

Feb 13: The European Commission added Saudi Arabia, Panama, Nigeria and other jurisdictions to a blacklist of nations seen as posing a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering.

Feb 14: Eric Harrison, a former Manchester United youth team boss and mentor to the much-vaunted Class of ’92, died at the age of 81.

Feb 14: Egypt’s parliament gave preliminary approval to constitutional changes that would allow President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to stay in power after his second term ends in 2022.

Feb 14: Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani agreed during the talks in Moscow that the US pullout from northeastern Syria “would be a positive step that would help stabilise the situation in this region, where ultimately the legitimate government should re-establish control.”

Feb 14: 44 personnel of India’s paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed in a fedayeen-style strike in Pulwama area of India-held Jammu and Kashmir.

Feb 14: Poland, a NATO member that has tightened cooperation with Washington as a counterweight to Russia’s influence in Central and Eastern Europe, hosted a Middle East Summit spearheaded by the United States.

Feb 15: US President Donald Trump signed an executive order, declaring a national emergency to bypass Congress and appropriate $8 billion he needs to build his long-desired wall along the US-Mexico border.

New Cuban Missile Crisis?

On February 21, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned the United States that his country is militarily ready for a Cuban Missile-style crisis if the United States wanted one, and that his country currently has the edge when it comes to a first nuclear strike. Relations between Moscow and Washington were strained, Putin said, but tensions were not yet comparable to those of the Cuban Missile Crisis. “They [tensions] are not a reason to ratchet up confrontation to the levels of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s. In any case, that’s not what we want … [But] if someone wants that, well OK, they are welcome.”

The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 was a direct and dangerous confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War and was the moment when the two superpowers came closest to a nuclear conflict. The crisis was unique in a number of ways, featuring calculations and miscalculations as well as direct and secret communications and miscommunications between the two sides. The dramatic crisis was also characterized by the fact that it was primarily played out at the White House and the Kremlin level with relatively little input from the respective bureaucracies typically involved in the foreign policy process.

After the failed US attempt to overthrow the Castro regime in Cuba with the Bay of Pigs invasion, and while the Kennedy administration planned Operation Mongoose, in July 1962 Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev reached a secret agreement with Cuban premier Fidel Castro to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt.

The crisis began when the pilot of an American U-2 spy plane making a high-altitude pass over Cuba on October 14, 1962, photographed a Soviet SS-4 medium-range ballistic missile being assembled for installation. President Kennedy was briefed about the situation on October 16, and he immediately called together a group of advisors and officials known as the executive committee, or ExCom. For the next two weeks, the president and his team wrestled with a diplomatic crisis of epic proportions, as did their counterparts in the Soviet Union. Eight days later, Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba and all US military forces to DEFCON 3. ICBMs were prepared for launch, Polaris submarines were dispatched, and B-52 bombers were placed on alert. The world watched as tensions between the US and the Soviet Union increased. Khrushchev put Warsaw Pact forces on alert. Later, US forces were placed on DEFCON 2.

Finally, on October 28, Khrushchev announced that they were withdrawing the missiles from Cuba. In the spring of 1963, the US quietly removed the missiles from Turkey that equally threatened the Soviet Union. This crisis is regarded as the closest the world has come to a nuclear exchange. Soon after this incident, the famous “hotline” was installed between the US and the Soviet Union to help resolve future conflicts.

Trump Declares Emergency

President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to get funding for his wall. The act gave him the elevated power to move money around. What exactly is a national emergency? Why is this one different? And just how far do a president’s emergency powers really go? Let’s find out!

From Abraham Lincoln’s decision to suspend habeas corpus in 1861 to Harry Truman’s ordering the Secretary of Commerce to seize control of the steel mills amid a 1952 wartime strike, US Presidents have long had broad discretion to declare national emergencies and can tap into an array of emergency powers when they do. While those emergency powers aren’t spelled out in the Constitution, the president is entitled to them under the broadly defined “executive power.”

Emergency is a declaration by the President of the United States that gives him special, temporary power to deal with a crisis. There are as many as 136 statutory powers that emergency declarations could give the president, covering everything from the military and land use to public health and agriculture. By proclaiming a national emergency, the President “may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens.” Franklin D. Roosevelt used it to order the internment of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Congress set out to limit the power after the Watergate scandal with the National Emergencies Act of 1976. The act scaled back the provisions of federal law that granted emergency authority to the president — then about 470 — and was intended to give lawmakers a way to check presidential power.

In the past, most such invocations have been related to foreign policy, like prosecuting a war or responding to a global trade threat. On a few occasions, however, presidents have used emergency declarations to further their domestic policy goals.

In the case of Trump’s border wall, the president is relying on Section 2808 of the Title 10 US Code. It says if the president declares a national emergency “that requires use of the armed forces,” the defense secretary “may undertake military construction projects … not otherwise authorized by law that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces.”

After a president declares a national emergency, it can be terminated only by a proclamation of the president or by a concurrent resolution of Congress.

Thirty-one national emergencies are still ongoing, with the longest-running one involving sanctions on Iran in 1979 over the hostage crisis.

World in Focus (Jan - Feb 2019)

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