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WORLD IN FOCUS January 2011 – February 2011

Current Pakistan National Affairs

Remittances reach $5.2 b in 6 months: Six months of the current fiscal ended on a good note as the overseas Pakistanis sent 17 per cent higher remittances compared to the same period of last fiscal year.

The State Bank on January 11 reported that the overseas Pakistanis sent $5.291 billion during July-December, 2010 showing an increase of $761 million or 17 per cent as compared to $4.53 billion received over the same period last year.

China to set up steel mill at Kalabagh: A Chinese entrepreneur has shown serious interest to set up a steel mill at Kalabagh utilising the potential of locally available iron ore deposits at Makarwal and Chichali.

Latif Khosa sworn-in as Governor of Punjab: Sardar Latif Khosa was sworn-in as the 33rd Governor of Punjab.

SC orders removal of NBP president: The Supreme Court on January 14 ordered immediate removal of National Bank President Syed Ali Raza who has been holding the post for over a decade.

Lashari replaces Nargis as PM’s principal secretary: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani transferred Nargis Sethi, his principal secretary, to the Cabinet Division and appointed Establishment Secretary Khushnud Akhtar Lashari in her place.

Massive quake rocks Pakistan: A magnitude 7.4 earthquake on January 18 jolted Karachi, several other cities in Sindh, large swathes of Balochistan and parts of Punjab, shaking buildings and causing panic.

US lawmakers seek visa ban for Qadri supporters: Four US Congressmen have asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to refuse visas to those who praised the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer and showed support for his assassin Mumtaz Qadri.

Govt readies plan to win over IMF: The government has prepared on January 21 a revised economic plan envisaging a drastic 50 per cent cut in the development programme, scaling down revenue target by more than five per cent and two weekly holidays for the entire public sector to narrow down a daunting fiscal deficit to a level acceptable to international lending agencies and political parties.

Balochistan gets Rs. 31b projects: In guise of granting nod to the Rs. 31 billion Balochistan development package, the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) approved 70 fresh projects with overall cost of Rs. 170 billion, apparently on political pressure from top bosses.

Punjab to cut top posts to save Rs 6 b annually: On January 23, the Punjab government plans to save Rs 1.5 billion by abolishing or downsizing various project management units and companies and curtailing their salary expenses by February 14.
Provincial Senior Adviser Sardar Zulfikar Khosa also announced at a news conference that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had approved the recommendations of a cabinet committee to scrap 550 senior posts in the Punjab administration and police, which would save Rs 6.1 billion annually.

Sindh faces Chad-like hunger, says Unicef:
The Sindh province, hit hard by last year’s floods, is suffering levels of malnutrition almost as critical as Chad and Niger, with hundreds of thousands of children at risk, Unicef said on January 26.
A survey conducted by the provincial government and the UN Children’s Fund revealed malnutrition rates of 23.1 per cent in northern Sindh and 21.2 per cent in the south.

Zardari’s intervention allows import of five-year-old cars: The federal cabinet allowed the import of used cars whose age does not exceed five years in an attempt to check the rising prices of locally-manufactured vehicles.

Pakistan gets role in Afghan peace talks: Pakistan and Afghanistan on January 27 agreed to set up a joint commission for reaching out to Afghan Taliban, implying that Kabul has finally assigned a formal role to Islamabad in the reconciliation process’ even though only that of a facilitator.
Both sides agreed on the creation and operationalisation of a two-tier joint body headed by foreign ministers and deputy foreign minister/foreign secretary to support the peace and reconciliation process’ said a joint statement at the end of Pak-Afghan foreign ministers’ talks.

US official guns down two motorcylcists: A US Consulate employee’ allegedly shot at and killed two young motorcyclists, while another motorcyclist was run over by his colleagues riding another car, police and witnesses said.

SBP keeps interest rate unchanged, sees inflation at 16pc: The State Bank kept the policy interest rate for February and March unchanged at 14 per cent, citing some positive economic indicators like lower government borrowings and current account surplus, but said inflation could be as high as 16 per cent during the current financial year.

Army starts relocating from Swat: The Pakistan Army has begun on January 31 drawing back thousands of its soldiers from the once seemingly-invincible Taliban stronghold of Swat to turn over security to the civil law-enforcement agencies by April, according to military and police officials.

Pakistan has doubled its N-arsenal: Pakistan has doubled its nuclear arsenal and has surpassed India, with at least 100 deployed weapons.
The Institute for Science and International Security noted that only four years ago Pakistan had 30 to 60 weapons. But now it may have an arsenal of up to 110 weapons, the institute’s president David Albright said.

Debt at record Rs 9.473 trn violates law: With Pakistan’s total public debt at the highest ever level of Rs 9.473 trillion, the government has violated on February 2 almost all the four limits on borrowing imposed in the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act.
The total public debt stood at Rs 8.894 trillion as of June 30, 2010, an increase of Rs 1.265 billion or 16.6 per cent higher than the debt stock at the end of last fiscal year’ revealed a mandatory debt policy statement for 2010-11 released by the ministry of finance.

Accord with India to resume talks: The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India agreed on the need for a constructive dialogue between the two countries to resolve all outstanding issues.

Musharraf on list of accused in BB case: The Federal Investigation Agency on February 7 submitted a fresh 57-page report in the Anti-Terrorism Court-III declaring former president Pervaiz Musharraf as an accused in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.

Roundtable on national issues proposed: President Asif Ali Zardari has proposed a roundtable conference of parliamentary parties to discuss ‘important national issues’, amid tension with the US over the fate of an American official arrested for shooting to death two men in Lahore last month.

Food prices 20pc up in January: Food prices went up by more than 20 per cent last month over the same month last year.
According to data released by the Federal Bureau of Statistics, the headline inflation for January, which is based on consumer price index, was 14.19 per cent higher than it was in the corresponding month last year.

Ministers quit, pave way for meeting PML-N wishes: All federal ministers on February 9 handed their resignations to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, paving the way for him to formally dissolve his cabinet and induct a new one, in line with a decision of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.
Parliament has 442 members (342 MNAs and 100 Senators) and according to the 18th Amendment the cabinet’s strength could be up to 44 ministers.

32 army recruits killed in Mardan suicide hit: Thirty-two Pakistan Army recruits were killed and several others injured when a teenaged suicide bomber struck a heavily-guarded military training centre in Mardan.

Kausar sworn-in as KP governor: On February 10, Barrister Syed Masood Kausar was sworn-in as 28th governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa amid slogans of ‘Jeay Bhutto’ and ‘Jeay Zardari’ by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) activists on the lawn of the palatial Governor’s House, Peshawar.

Current Pakistan International Affairs

South Korea joins global action to boost food supply: South Korea on January 11 unveiled steps to combat the threat of rising food prices, joining a flurry of activity as policymakers grow increasingly worried that inflation could derail a global recovery.

US-Russia civil nuclear deal comes into force: A new agreement that will allow American companies to export nuclear energy technology of Russia went into effect on January 11, with the US ambassador describing it as a ‘major step forward’ in joint efforts to promote the peaceful use of nuclear power.

Tajikistan discovers two gold deposits: Tajikistan on January 11 announced its geologists had discovered two massive gold deposits as the impoverished Central Asian nation seeks investments for its gold mining industry.

Lebanon govt collapses after Hezbollah, allies resign: Lebanon’s unity government collapsed after the powerful Hezbollah and its allies resigned from the cabinet over a UN probe into the assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri.

Tajikistan cedes 1,000 sq km area to China: China on January 13 hailed a new border treaty with Tajikistan, praising the resolution of a dispute that dates to the 19th century.
Leaders in the Central Asian nation have also trumpeted the treaty, saying they ceded far less than land than China had wanted. Parliament voted to turn over 380 square miles (1,000 sq kms) of territory in the sparsely populated Pamir Mountains region.

Fall of the Soviet Union: Key dates in the decline and break-up of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, more commonly known as the Soviet Union.

1979: Under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet Union decides to invade Afghanistan, embroiling the country in a damaging guerrilla war against Islamic militants backed by the United States.

1982: Brezhnev’s death opens the door to reforms.

1985: Mikhail Gorbachev becomes Soviet leader and quickly announces policies of reform (perestroika) and openness (glasnost).

1987: Dissidents in the Soviet Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia launch the ‘Singing Revolution’, mass gatherings where hundreds of thousands revive the banned anthems of their pre-World War II independence era.

January 1989: The Soviet Union withdraws from Afghanistan after a war that has been deeply damaging both politically and economically.

March 1989: Democrats from across the Soviet Union win seats in the federal parliament under a new system allowing non-communists to stand.

April 1989: 20 die when Soviet troops break up an independence rally in Georgia.

June 1989: Semi-free elections in Soviet satellite state Poland bring down its communist regime.

August 1989: Two million people link hands across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to mark the hushed-up 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact that brought them under Moscow’s rule.

November 1989: Amid rising pressure for more democracy and travel rights among the populations of Soviet bloc countries, the most striking symbol of the Cold War — the Berlin Wall — is opened.

March 11, 1990: Lithuania becomes the first constituent republic of the Soviet Union to secede, two weeks after its ‘Sajudis’ freedom movement wins parliamentary elections. Other republics follow over coming months.

January 1991: At least 21 die when Soviet troops attack independence supporters in Lithuania and Latvia.

June 12, 1991: Boris Yeltsin elected president of Russia, by far the biggest Soviet republic.

Aug 19, 1991: A coup by hardline communists fails to oust Gorbachev and reverse the break-up of the Soviet Union.Yeltsin plays a prominent role in countering it.

Aug 24, 1991: Gorbachev resigns as Soviet president. On the same day Ukraine, one of the biggest and most important republics after Russia, declares independence.

Sept 6, 1991: Moscow recognises the independence of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Dec 8, 1991: The leaders of several former republics, including Russia, agree that the Soviet Union no longer exists.

Ship carrying acid overturns in Germany: On January 13, a ship carrying 2,000 tons of sulphuric acid overturned in the Rhine river near Sankt Goar, northwest of Mainz, and two members of its crew are missing, police said.

2010 ties 2005 as warmest year on record worldwide: It is a tie: Last year equalled 2005 as the warmest year on record, government climate experts reported.
The average worldwide temperature was 1.12 degrees Fahrenheit (0.62 degree Celsius) above normal last year. That is the same as six years ago, the National Climatic Data Centre announced. Climate experts have become increasingly concerned about rising global temperatures over the last century. Most atmospheric scientists attribute the change to gases released into the air by industrial processes and gasoline-burning engines. In addition, the Global Historical Climatology Network said that last year was the wettest on record. Rain and snowfall patterns varied greatly around the world.

Other findings in the annual climate report included:
There were just seven named storms and three hurricanes in the Pacific, the fewest since the mid-1960s. On the other hand, the Atlantic hurricane season was very active with 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes.

Arctic sea ice cover was the third smallest since records began in 1979, trailing only 2007 and 2008. The ice cover is considered a marker of climate change as global warming tends to be seen first at the poles.

Despite the overall warmth, 2010 saw record cold and snow in January and February in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly eastern North America.

From mid-June to mid-August an unusually strong jet stream shifted northward, bringing an unprecedented two-month heat wave to Russia and adding to devastating floods in Pakistan.

For the contiguous US it was the 14th consecutive year with above average temperatures.

Stark warning to those who smoke: Those first few puffs on a cigarette can within minutes cause genetic damage linked to cancer, US scientists said a study released.

Israel tested computer worm to sabotage Iran N-plan: US and Israeli intelligence services on January 16 collaborated to develop a destructive computer worm to sabotage Iran’s efforts to make a nuclear bomb.

National unity govt named in Tunisia: On January 17, Tunisia unveiled a transitional unity government which will prepare for elections after the ouster of president Zine El Abindine Ben Ali and immediately announced the release of political prisoners and new media freedoms.

UN prosecutor files Hariri slaying indictment: The prosecutor of the UN tribunal set up to bring to justice the assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri filed the first indictment in the case, the court announced.
Details of suspects named in the indictment and the charges against them were not released.

Key events since Hariri’s assassination
Here are some key events in Lebanon since the assassination of Hariri:

2005
Feb 14: Billionaire premier Rafiq Hariri is killed in a massive Beirut bombing along with 22 others. A string of high-profile assassinations targeting anti-Syrian figures follow in the next three years. Pro-western leaders blame Syria.

April 26: Syria, which denies any role in Hariri’s killing, pulls its troops from Lebanon after a 29-year deployment amid massive popular protests.

Oct 20: An initial UN probe implicates Syrian agents in Hariri’s murder.

2006
July 12-Aug 14: A 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel kills nearly 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Nov 11: All Shia ministers, including two from Hezbollah, resign from government after failed talks on granting Hezbollah and its allies greater representation.

2007

May 20: Clashes break out between the army and Fatah al-Islam in a Palestinian refugee camp. More than 400 people were killed and 30,000 displaced in 15 weeks.

June 10: The UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is created.

Nov 23: Pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud’s term ends. Lebanese are unable to agree on a successor.

2008

May 7: A government bid to curb Hezbollah’s power leads to a week of sectarian clashes, killing more than 100 as militants of the Hezbollah-led opposition seize large swathes of Sunni areas in Beirut.

May 21: Rival leaders agree to a power-sharing formula in Qatar. Army chief Michel Sleiman is slotted as next president.

July 11: Fuad Siniora forms government in which Hezbollah and its allies have veto power.

Oct 15: Syria and Lebanon formally establish diplomatic ties.

2009

April 29: The STL orders the liberation of four Lebanese generals detained without formal charges over Hariri’s murder since August 2005.

May 25: Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah accuses Israel of being behind a Der Spiegel report implicating his group in Hariri’s murder.

June 7: The anti-Syrian parliamentary majority wins legislative elections.

June 27: Saad Hariri, son of Rafiq, is named prime minister.

Nov 9: Hariri forms a national unity government in which Hezbollah has two ministers.

2010

March 31: Nasrallah reveals Hezbollah members were questioned by UN interrogators as witnesses, and warns his group would not ‘remain silent’ if it is accused.

July 22: Nasrallah says Hariri informed him the tribunal will indict Hezbollah members in connection with the assassination.

Oct 28: Nasrallah calls on Lebanese to boycott the STL and warns further cooperation is tantamount to attacking his party.

Nov 11: Nasrallah threatens to ‘cut off the hand’ of any who attempt to arrest Hezbollah members over Hariri’s murder.

2011

Jan 11: The Hezbollah-led alliance announces failure of Syrian-Saudi efforts to defuse the STL crisis.

Jan 12: Hezbollah forces the collapse of Lebanon’s unity government when 11 ministers resign, representing the Shiite party, its allies and one loyal to the president.

Jan 17: STL prosecutor Daniel Bellemare submits a confidential indictment against suspects in Hariri’s murder to a pre-trial judge who has to confirm the charges before any arrest warrant or summons is issued.

S. Sudan votes to secede: South Sudan on January 19 achieved the simple majority needed to secede in its independence referendum, preliminary results collated showed, even with many counties still to report.

China warns US on Tibet, Taiwan: Chinese President Hu Jintao on January 20 warned the United States to respect Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan and Tibet but assured that his country had no interest in engaging in an arms race.

Warsi attacks ‘acceptable’ Islamophobia: The first Muslim woman to sit in the British cabinet warned that discrimination against Muslims in Britain had become socially acceptable and must be tackled.

Indian general found guilty in land scam: On January 21, a serving Indian general has been found guilty by a court martial in a case involving the construction of an educational institution in West Bengal.
Lt-Gen P.K. Rath was found guilty on three counts ‘issuing an NoC, signing an MoU with a builder and not informing the command headquarters about the matter.

Iran refuses enrichment at Istanbul talks: Iran on January 21 said its uranium enrichment drive was not up for debate, as western sources described talks between the Islamic republic and world powers in Istanbul as ‘inconclusive.’

India guilty of abuses in Kashmir: UN: A UN envoy on a human rights mission to India has called for reforms, including the repeal of laws giving security forces wide powers of arrest in Indian-held Kashmir.
Margaret Sekaggya, the UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders, told a news conference that during her 11-day tour of four Indian states and occupied Kashmir, she had been told of many abuses.

Congress blocks Obama move on Gitmo closure: On January 21, the Obama administration is abandoning attempts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and will shortly begin new trails there after Congress blocked the president from brining accused terrorists before courts in the US.

Cowen resigns as party leader, remains Irish PM: Ieland’s Prime Minister Brian Cowen bowed to pressure from members of Fianna Fail and resigned as the party’s leader, but said he would continue to serve as premier until a March 11 election.

2010 was one of the worst years for calamities: UN
2010 was one of the worst years on record for natural disasters over the past two decades, leaving nearly 297,000 people dead, research for the United Nations showed.

The devastating earthquake in Haiti a year ago accounted for about two thirds of the toll, killing more than 222,500 people, according to the Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).

The CRED found that the summer heat wave in Russia was the second deadliest disaster of the year, leaving 55,736 people dead, according to figures it compiled from insurers and media reports.

The year was ‘one of the worst in decades in terms of the number of people killed and in terms of economic losses’ Margareta Wahlstroem, UN special representative for disaster risk reduction, told journalists.

These figures are bad, but could be seen as benign in years to come’ she said, pointing to the impact of unplanned growth of urban areas, environmental degradation and climate change.

Economic cost
Calamities caused $109 billion in economic damage last year, three times more than in 2009, with Chile and China bearing most of the cost, the report said.

The 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile in February cost $30 billion. Landslides and floods last summer in China caused $18 billion in losses.

Although Haiti’s Jan 12 earthquake was the deadliest event of the year, its economic toll was $8 billion. The July-August floods in Pakistan cost $9.5 billion.

Ms Wahlstroem said fast-developing countries were facing increasing price tags from natural disasters.
The accumulated wealth that is affected by disaster events is growing she told a news briefing.
Cities were particularly vulnerable to big economic losses when poorly-maintained infrastructure was rattled by earthquakes or exposed to big storms, she said.

Climate change
The most populous cities on earthquake fault lines include Mexico City, New York, Mumbai, Delhi, Shanghai, Kolkata, Jakarta and Tokyo, according to the UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

Many people also lived in parts of urban areas vulnerable to landslides and floods, which were anticipated to occur more often as a result of climate change, Ms Wahlstroem said, also warning of rising risks from ‘silent events’ like droughts.

Of the 373 disasters recorded last year, 22 were in China, 16 were in India and 14 were in the Philippines, the report said.

The storms, earthquakes, heat waves and cold snaps affected 207 million people, according to the report. It also says 2,968 people were killed in an April earthquake in China and 1,985 died from the floods in Pakistan.

The 2009 economic price tag of $34.9 billion was unusually low because of the lack of a major weather or climate event in the period, which nonetheless saw floods and typhoons in Asia and an earthquake in Indonesia.

A major earthquake in China in 2008 caused $86 billion in damage, bringing that year’s economic toll to approximately $200 billion. In 2005, the hurricanes that struck the southern United States drove up the global disaster toll to nearly $250 billion.

Hezbollah’s role triggers outrage in Lebanon: Hundreds of angry protesters burned tyres and blocked roads across Lebanon after a Hezbollah-backed politician was named prime minister, shifting the balance of power in the country towards Syria and Iran.
The nomination of Najib Mikati is seen as a victory for Hezbollah, which is trying to fend off a UN-backed tribunal set up in 2009 to try the killers of statesman Rafik al-Hariri and which is expected to accuse members of the Shiite group.

Egyptians in fury against Mubarak’s 30-year rule: Thousands of Egyptians on January 25 demanded an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year authoritarian rule and clashed with police, in unprecedented protests inspired by the revolt that brought down Tunisia’s autocratic president.

Detente hinges on Mumbai attacks trial: Krishna: India is ready to talk on all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including Jammu and Kashmir, but it needs a firm reassurance that perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks will be brought to justice because the trial of the alleged terrorists appears to be going nowhere, according to Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna.

Karzai opens parliament: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on January 26 inaugurated parliament, ending weeks of political infighting, but took a dig at the West saying ‘foreign interference’ had been a serious problem.

Russia ratifies N-disarmament treaty with US: Russia’s upper house of parliament on January 26 ratified the new nuclear disarmament treaty, the final step in approving the first nuclear pact between the two former Cold War rivals in 20 years.
Senators at the Federation Council voted unanimously to approve the new START treaty, which US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed in Prague on April 8, 2010.

Bangladesh court says eve-teasing belittles serious crimes: Bangladeshs High Court has ruled that using the South Asian term eve-teasing to describe the sexual harassment of women downplays serious crimes, a lawyer said.

Tunisia calm after govt reshuffle: On January 29, calm returned to Tunisia’s capital a day after a new transition cabinet was sworn-in and interim Prime Minister Muhammad Ghannouchi vowed a transition to democracy and an economic revival.

Egyptians defy curfew after Mubarak’s sops: Egypt’s president on January 29 gave the first indication he was preparing an eventual handover of power by naming a vice-president for the first time in 30 years after protests that have rocked the foundations of the state.

Chaos rules Cairo: Egypt’s most prominent advocate for reform called for President Hosni Mubarak to resign after the powerful military stepped up its presence across the anarchic capital, closing roads with tanks and sending F-16 fighter jets streaking over Tahrir Square, the rallying point for protesters.

99 per cent in South Sudan vote for secession: On January 30, close to 99 per cent of south Sudanese chose to secede from the north in a landmark Jan 9-15 referendum, according to the first complete preliminary results announced.

Jordan’s king appoints new PM after protests: King Abdullah of Jordan, a close US ally, replaced his prime minister following protests inspired by mass demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt, but the opposition dismissed the move as insufficient.
Abdullah asked Marouf Bakhit, a conservative former premier with a military back-ground, to head the government after accepting the resignation of Samir Rifai, whose dismissal has been demanded in a series of protests across the country.

UN launches first interfaith harmony week: The United Nations launched the first World Interfaith Harmony Week with a broad range of activities around the world, including interfaith breakfasts, film screenings and talks featuring the active participation of civil society, UN entities and other inter-governmental organisations.

Former Indian minister held over $39 b scam: Indian police on February 2 arrested a former telecoms minister over a massive graft scam, officials said, dealing a huge blow to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and efforts to pass bills in the parliamentary budget session.

Obama signs N-treaty documents: President Barack Obama on February 2 pushed a key foreign policy goal a step closer to completion with the signing of documents for a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
The treaty is a cornerstone of Obama’s efforts to reset US relations with Russia.
The New START treaty, negotiated last year, limits each side to 1,550 strategic war-heads, down from 2,200. The pact also re-establishes a monitoring system that ended in December 2009 with the expiration of an earlier arms deal.

World food prices hit record high: World food prices reached their highest level ever recorded in January and are set to keep rising for months, the UN food agency said, warning that the hardest-hit countries could face turmoil.

Lenin’s body still divides Russia: Nearly a century after his death, communist leader Vladimir Lenin still rests in a glass display case on Red Square, his embalmed body a stark counterpoint to Russia’s latest modernisation effort.
The controversial idea of burying Lenin has been a permanent feature of Russian politics since the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991, when millions happily parted ways with a system that had outlived its times.

US, Russia launch N-arms reduction treaty: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on February 5 launched a landmark nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia, a showpiece of Washington’s ‘reset’ of ties with its former cold war enemy.
The new START nuclear arms reduction treaty officially came into force when Clinton and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov exchanged ratification documents at a security conference in the German city of Munich.

Asia faces climate-induced migration crisis: Asia must prepare for millions of people to flee their homes to safe havens within countries and across borders as weather patterns become more extreme, the Asian Development Bank warns.

Iran unveils new missiles, satellites: Iran on February 7 showed off new missile and satellite technology, and told its enemies it had ‘complete domination’ of the entrance to the oil-rich Gulf.

98.83 pc vote for secession from Sudan: Sudan’s president said he accepted a southern vote for independence in a referendum that is set to create Africa’s newest state and open up a fresh period of uncertainty in the increasingly volatile region.
Final results from the plebiscite are due later but preliminary figures show 98.83 per cent of voters from Sudan’s oil-producing south chose to secede from the north.

Russia orders arms boost on islands claimed by Japan: President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the deployment of additional weaponry on the Kuril Islands claimed by Japan, adding Russia needed to expand its presence on an ‘inseparable’ part of its territory.

First political party formed in S. Arabia: Despite a ban on political parties, nine activists in Saudi Arabia have announced the formation of the first party there, aiming to forward political reform, according to their website.
The activists have issued a founding statement for the ‘Islamic Umma Party’ and have sent a letter to King Abdullah seeking recognition of it, the website added.

SPORTS

Djokovic mauls Murray to claim second Open title: Third seed Novak Djokovic on January 30 pulverised Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to win his second Australian Open, dashing British hopes of a first men’s Grand Slam champion in 75 years.

UK prosecutors charge Pakistani cricket trio with taking bribes: Pakistan’s former Test captain Salman Butt and his two opening bowlers Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamir were charged with taking bribes by British prosecutors.

Cricket trio get lengthy bans: On February 5, the ICC found three Pakistani players guilty of corruption and banned each of them from cricket for at least five years in the sport’s biggest scandal of the past decade.
Former captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamir received their punishment at an International Cricket Council tribunal in Doha. Butt was given a 10-year ban with five years suspended, Asif a seven-year ban with two suspended, while Aamir was banned for five years.

OBITUARIES IN NEWS

National
Minhaj Barna is no more. That icon of trade union struggle in Pakistan’s newspaper industry lost his battle against death at the age of 87.
Born in 1923 in a Pathan family of Qaim Ganj, in the present-day Uttar Pradesh state of India, Mr Barna had been closely associated with the trade union movement after his family’s 1949 migration to Pakistan, where he worked for several newspaper organizations such as the dailies Imroze, the Pakistan Times and the Muslim ‘his last journalistic assignment being a brief stint with the Associated Press of Pakistan news agency.

Renowned Urdu poet and one of the last masters of the technical aspect of poetry writing (Ilm-i-Aroos), Raghib Muradabadi passed away. He was 93. Born in 1918 in Delhi Raghib Muradabadi graduated from Delhi College and leaned the art of composing poetry from the likes of Yas Yagana, Safi Lakhnavi and Maulana Zafar Ali Khan. His collection of ghazals Dag-i-Guftar was received with critical acclaim as did his naats, Midhatul Bashar.

Poet, writer and educationist Prof Dr Aasi Karnali died of a heart attack. He was 84.
Prof Karnali, known for his ghazals and naats, was born in Karnal (India) in 1927 and his real name was Sharif Ahmad. He got his early education in Karnal and shifted to Multan after the Partition. He was awarded presidential award for his book Naaton Kay Ghulab in 1988.

Maulana Abdul Rehman Ashrafi, vice-principal of Jamia Ashrafia, died.
Born in Amritsar, Maulana Ashrafi got religious education from Darul Uloom Deoband, India, and had the honour of being the student of noted scholar of India Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani.

Eminent educationist Deena Mistri died. She was 87.
On March 23, 2002 Ms Mistry was awarded the Pride of Performance for her services to the cause of her education.

Noted Naat Khwan and poet Muzaffar Warsi passed away after a protracted illness. He was 77.
Muzaffar Warsi was born on December 23, 1933 in Meerath, India. He was a prominent Urdu poet, critic, essayist and lyricist.

Well-known actor Khayyam Sarhadi died of heart attack. He was about 70.

International
British composer John Barry, best known for providing the soundtrack to the James Bond films and winner of five Academy Awards, has died. He was 77.

The world’s oldest woman Eunice Sanborn died in her Texas home at the age of 115, her caretaker said.

French actress Maria Schneider, whose role as Marlon Brando’s lover in ‘Last Tango in Paris won her lifelong fame but also an image that she found difficult to shake off, died. She was 58.

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