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WORLD IN FOCUS November ‘December 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Gas agreement signed with Turkmenistan: Pakistan and Turkmenistan signed five agreements and memoranda of understanding to boost cooperation in the fields of trade, energy, media and culture. One of the agreements relates to the $7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project under which Pakistan will get 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas.

Eunuchs get on voters’ list: Orders went out from the Supreme Court to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to enrol eunuchs as voters ‘a development that accords the basic right to a much mistreated community.

Oil, gas discovery in KP: The Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) announced the discovery of a new hydrocarbon bearing horizon from its appraisal well Nashpa-2, located in District Karak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Pakistan ranks 6th in TB burden countries: Pakistan ranks 6th globally among 22 high tuberculosis burden countries, contributing 43 per cent of the disease towards the Eastern-Mediterranean region of World Health Organisation (WHO).

NA passes pro-women bill unanimously: On 15 Nov, after being blocked twice, a landmark private bill seeking to penalise evils like the so-called ‘marriage with the Holy Quran’ forced wedlock and depriving women from inheritance finally got through the National Assembly.

BD retracts assurances given to Gilani, Khar: Pakistan faced great embarrassment when after winning the consent of 150 countries, Bangladesh once again made it clear it would not remove its objections at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting that calls for the European Union to allow Pakistan a two-year cut in tariffs to boost Pakistan’s economy.

New PHC chief justice takes oath: The newly appointed Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court, Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, took oath of his office.

New LHCJ sworn into office: Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed took oath as 40th Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court.

Sindh Information minister resigns: Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon resigned from the provincial cabinet after meeting President Asif Ali Zardari.

Nawaz demands commission to probe memo: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has demanded the formation of a high-level commission comprising members of the parliament and judges to expose elements involved in writing a memo to Admiral Mike Mullen.

USAID launches $45m ‘Citizens Voice Project’: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched its three-year ‘Citizens’ Voice Project’ in Punjab asking civil society organisations to come up with innovative proposals on issues in the sectors of energy, economic growth, agriculture, education and health.

Haqqani bows out: The curtain fell on Ambassador Husain Haqqani’s career as a diplomat in Washington as he resigned after the memogate issue.

Mr Haqqani, a former journalist, has been living in the US for 10 years, where he earlier remained associated with Carnegie Endowment and Boston University.

The former ambassador is known as an outspoken critic of the military. His book `Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military` had detailed the military`s relations with jihadi elements a despised nexus in the West.

Mr Haqqani also served as high commissioner in Sri Lanka and remained a close aide of both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto.

He started his political career as a student activist with ultraconservative Jamiat, a student wing of Jamaat-i-Islami.

He is married to Farahnaz Ispahani, the granddaughter of Pakistan’s first ambassador to USA Mirza Abu-ul-Hassan Ispahani and is now serving as MNA and spokesperson for the President of Pakistan.

He took up the assignment of ambassador to the United States in April 2008 soon after Pakistan People`s Party came into power.

Smaller controversies kept cropping up and only earlier this year he was accused of granting visas to a large number of `CIA spies`.

The `memogate` scandal, however, finally made him stumble.

Tribal status of Wazir area restored: Commissioner Abdullah Khan Mahsud restored the tribal status of the territory of Ahmadzai Wazir tribe of FR Bannu.

Sherry makes comeback, gets Haqqani’s post: The government named member of parliament and rights activist Shehrbano (Sherry) Rehman as ambassador to the US, a day after Husain Haqqani had been asked to resign over allegations that he had sought Washington’s help against a possible military takeover.

Swat girl stops short of getting world peace prize for children: A 14-year-old Swat girl was nominated for international peace prize for children in South Africa last by Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tuto, but a South African handicapped girl won the prize.

Despite losing the dream prize Malala Yousafzai, a student of grade 8 from Gulkada, Mingora, is determined to fight for girls’ education and fulfil the noble cause for which she raised her voice.

Gilani pledges memo probe at ‘highest level’: After some days of public silence over a high drama, prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the National Assembly he would set up a committee for what he said would be an impartial inquiry “at the highest level” into a controversial memo that led to the resignation of Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani.

SC throws out petition for NRO ruling review: A 17-judge Supreme Court bench threw out the government’s petition for a review of its ruling which had struck down the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

Steel Mill given Rs.6bn lifeline: The government agreed to provide an ‘immediate relief’ of Rs. 6 billion to Pakistan Steel Mills to avert its closure following a communication from the PSM management that it was starting a ‘shutdown process’ which would be completed by December 10.

Major gas discovery in Marri-Bugti area: The state-run Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) is reported to have made a major gas discovery in Zin block in Balochistan’s restive Marri-Bugti area that has the potential to change the dimension of the country’s power sector.

26 Pak soldiers die in Nato blitz: On 26 Nov, twenty-six soldiers including two officers were killed and 15 others were injured when Nato helicopters attacked two security check-posts in a far-flung area near the Pak-Afghan border some 50-kilometres to the west of Mohmand Agency’s headquarters Ghallanai.

US told to vacate Shamsi base; Nato supplies stopped: Furious over the pre-dawn Nato attacks on border posts, the government reacted sharply by indefinitely closing down supply routes used by western forces in Afghanistan and once again asking the United States to vacate an airbase previously used for drone operations. The government also said it would carry out a thorough review of its cooperation with the US and Nato.

Nisar quits PAC chairmanship: PML-N stalwart and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, announced that he was resigning as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee because of the appointment of a ‘controversial person’ as Auditor General and other reasons.

Qureshi joins hands with Imran Khan: Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi joined Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) at a large rally in Ghotki.

ISPR’s documentary wins Eserciti-e-Popoli award: Inter Services Public Relations documentary has won the first prize in the recently held International Film Festival ‘Eserciti-e-Popoli’ (Army and People) held at Bracciano, Rome (Italy).

Maintaining the tradition, Pakistan Army’s documentary ‘Glorious Resolve’ received the Jury’s special award from the President of the Italian Senate with the citation ‘A technically outstanding and emotionally powerful dramatisation of the story of the courageous soldiers under fire in a dire combat situation’.

Memogate probe by parliament committee: The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) headed by Senator Raza Rabbani will investigate the memogate affair and interrogate former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani who will not leave the country till the proceedings are completed.

UAE mounts pressure to get airbase decision reversed: The United Arab Emirates has dived into troubled Pakistan-US ties in a desperate effort to prevent them from unravelling and avert an immediate eviction of the Americans from the Shamsi airbase whose control they enjoy.

Cob and bamboo building wins award: A cob and bamboo building made in a village in Sheikhupura district has won the prestigious first award for Asia Pacific that is aimed at promoting innovative architecture focused on sustainable infrastructure for communities.

Commissioned by a Germany-based Pakistani family from Sheikhupura’s Jher Moulvi area, the project has been designed by architect Eike Roswag and his German team.

PM suggests Peace Nobel for Edhi: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani proposed the name of Abdul Sattar Edhi, head of the Edhi Foundation, for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Asfandyar to head ANP for 4th term: The central council of the Awami National Party (ANP) has elected Asfandyar Wali Khan as the party’s president for the fourth time.

Pakistan ranked 42nd most corrupt nation in 2011: Transparency International, in its 2011 world corruption report, has shown Islamabad sliding down from last year’s 34th to 42nd in ranking amongst the most corrupt nations in the world.

SC orders memogate inquiry, tells Haqqani not to go abroad: The Supreme Court moved decisively and rapidly against the government on a petition filed by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and ordered an inquiry to be completed into the ‘memogate’ scandal within 15 days. It also barred former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani from leaving the country

Troops free to hit back in future: Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani upped the ante in the standoff with the United States by telling his troops that aggressors would not be able to evade a crushing retaliation in future.

Pakistan wants those responsible for attack punished: Setting terms for renewal of ties with the United States, Pakistan has sought ‘punishment’ for and an ‘apology’ from those responsible for deadly Nato attack on two of its border posts.

Joint body set up to facilitate cross-LoC trade: In a major development, ten associations of commerce and industry from both sides of Jammu and Kashmir have decided to form a joint apex body to facilitate trade across the Line of Control.

ECC endorses Rs. 6bn bailout package for PSM: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of Cabinet endorsed the Rs. 6 billion bailout package for Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation (PSMC).

Testing for HIV made mandatory in KPK: Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar has announced that HIV/Aids tests have been made mandatory before every surgical operation in all hospitals across the province.

16-year-old develops ‘Multi Texter’ for Android smart phones: A young Pakistani student Sherjeel Shabih, at only 16 years, has developed a messaging application for Android smart phones. The application, ‘Multi Texter’ enables sending a bulk of text messages to multiple contacts at once.

‘Steel city’ planned in Gadani: Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani has announced that a ‘steel city’ will be set up at the Gadani beach to provide job opportunities to the people of Lasbela district.

Pakistan decides to take Nimoo-Bazgo project to ICA: Pakistan has taken decision in principle to take up the controversy over Nimoo-Bazgo hydropower project having generation capacity of 45 MW with International Court of Arbitration (ICA) and has given a go ahead signal to Indus Water Commissioner of Pakistan (IWCP) for preparation on legal technicalities.

Khosa pulls out as memo probe panel chief: Three days after the Supreme Court named him to probe the ‘memogate’ scandal, Tariq Khosa regretted that he was unable to accept the job.

2012 declared year of regional trade and Economic Connectivity: The government has declared 2012 as the ‘Year of Regional Trade and Economic Connectivity’ with the objective of projecting Pakistan as an economic hub connecting Central Asia to several countries in the region.

All accords with US and Nato to be reviewed: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that his government had decided to review the agreements made by the government of president Pervez Musharraf with the United States, Nato, Isaf and the United Nations.

Gwadar civil secretariat inaugurated: Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani said the Gwadar port had the potential to turn into a trade hub for the region and gateway to Central Asia and the Middle East. Addressing a ceremony held to inaugurate the civil secretariat in the coastal town, he said: ‘Gwadar has strategic and geographical importance and the 21st century belongs to such places’

Gilani for resetting relations; State dept non-committal: Pakistan wanted to rebuild ties with the United States despite the ongoing retaliation over Nato air strikes in Mohmand Agency on 26 Nov, 2011, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said, stressing that he believed ‘it won’t take long’ to achieve a new relationship with Washington.

Zardari in Dubai, rumours in Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari’s health and his fate kept the nation on tenterhooks all day; the clouds of uncertainty and ambiguity that had descended on Islamabad evening had not lifted 24 hours later despite telephone calls galore; talk show storms and a spate of press releases from the government side.

Azam Swati quits JUI-F, Senate: Mohammad Azam Khan Swati, a senator from the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), resigned as member of the Senate and of the party.

Afghan border to get air defence weapons: The government has decided to deploy air defence weapons on the country’s border with Afghanistan to pre-empt fresh attacks as it re-evaluates the strategy for safeguarding its western borders from air raids, the Director General of Military Operations Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem told the federal cabinet and the Senate’s defence committee.

PM warns of fierce riposte to attack: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani warned the US and its Nato allies that a fresh cross-border attack would meet with a ‘detrimental response’.

Taliban leader hopeful of peace accord on Bajaur: The fugitive deputy commander of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, has confirmed he is in peace talks with the government and that an agreement is in sight. He said the government had released 145 members of the group as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ and the militants had pledged a ceasefire.

Pakistan made member of UN scientific body: The UN General Assembly has unanimously decided to appoint Pakistan as a permanent member of the UN Scientific Committee (UNSCEAR), a top international body dealing with nuclear radiation.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Saarc leaders agree to boost regional trade: South Asian leaders concluded a two-day summit with pledges to promote regional trade and facilitate communications and travel among their countries.

The summit adopted the ‘Addu Declaration’ which lays emphasis on effective implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta) accord, reduction in sensitive lists and resolution of the issue of non-tariff barriers among the states of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).

Amazon, Halong Bay, Iguazu Falls among new 7 natural wonders: The Amazon rainforest, Vietnam’s Halong Bay and Argentina’s Iguazu Falls were named among the world’s new seven wonders of nature, according to organisers of a global poll.

The other four crowned the world’s natural wonders are South Korea’s Jeju Island, Indonesia’s Komodo, the Philippines’ Puerto Princesa Underground River and South Africa’s Table Mountain, according to the New 7 Wonders foundation.

Italian Senate approves reform bill: Italy’s Senate approved crucial economic reforms demanded by the European Union, the first step in paving the way for Premier Silvio Berlusconi to resign as early as this weekend and a transitional government to be formed.

Arab League suspends Syria, seeks sanctions: The Arab League suspended Syria until President Bashar al-Assad implements an Arab deal to end violence against protesters, and called for sanctions and transition talks with the opposition.

Kyrgyz PM confirmed as incoming president: Kyrgyzstan confirmed Prime Minister Almazbek Atam-bayev would take over as president this year after rubber stamping the results from last month’s presidential elections.

Italian PM resigns after MPs endorse austerity law: Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi formally resigned, ending one of the most scandal-plagued eras in recent Italian history.

China peace prize awarded to Putin: A group of Chinese academics awarded its version of the Nobel Peace Prize to Vladimir Putin, an organiser said, pointing to the Russian prime minister as ‘outstanding in keeping world peace.’

Normal trade ties with India from February: India and Pakistan agreed to resume normal trade ties in February 2012, paving the way to end decades of political mistrust and military rivalry.

India tests long-range nuclear-capable missile: India successfully test fired one of its longest range missiles Agni IV capable of carrying a one-ton nuclear warhead deep inside China.

Australian PM calls for lifting ban on uranium sale to India: Prime Minister Julia Gillard called on her ruling party to overturn its ban on Australia exporting uranium to India for peaceful purposes, describing the prohibition as ‘all pain with no gain’ for the national economy.

New Greek govt wins confidence vote: A majority of Greek lawmakers gave their approval to a new unity government led by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos in a symbolic confidence vote following his appointment last week.

Monti formally sworn in as Italian PM: Italy’s Mario Monti was formally installed as the new prime minister at the head of a technocratic cabinet in a swearing-in ceremony in front of President Giorgio Napolitano.

Myanmar wins diplomatic coup with nod to chair ASEAN: Southeast Asian leaders agreed to allow Myanmar to chair their bloc in 2014, in a victory for the new government seeking international legitimacy after a series of reform moves.

Bronze-age bag full of beads found on moor: An ‘extraordinary’ collection of early Bronze Age remains and artefacts including amber beads inside a stitched bag or basket has been discovered in one of England’s most remote spots.

Parts Gondwana found off Australia: Australian scientists exploring areas of the Indian Ocean said they had found sunken parts of the mega continent Gondwana which could offer clues on how the current world was formed.

The two ‘islands’ were found on the remote sea floor in international waters 1,600 kilometres west of Australia during a surveying trip in November.

Norway hit by data-theft attack: Norwegian security officials say the Nordic country has been hit by one of the most extensive data espionage attacks in the country’s history.

The Norwegian National Security Authority says, ‘Industrial secrets from the oil, energy and defence industries have been stolen and disseminated’.

Pentagon tests hypersonic flying bomb: The Pentagon held a successful test flight of a flying bomb that travels faster than the speed of sound and will give military planners the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world in less than an hour.

Launched by rocket from Hawaii at 1130 GMT, the ‘Advanced Hypersonic Weapon,’ or AHW, glided through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific ‘at hypersonic speed’before hitting its target on the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands. Kwajalein is about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometres) south-west of Hawaii.

Test finds neutrinos still faster than light: A new experiment appears to provide further evidence that Einstein may have been wrong when he laid down that nothing could go faster than the speed of light. The new evidence, challenging a dogma of science that has held since Albert Einstein published his ‘theory of relativity’ in 1905, appeared to confirm that subatomic particles called neutrinos could travel fractions of a second faster.

Get ready for extreme weather, warn scientists: Top international climate scientists and disaster experts meeting in Africa have a sharp message for the world`s political leaders: Get ready for more dangerous and unpredictable weather caused by global warming.

They’re calling for preparations that they say will save lives and money. The experts fear that without preparedness, crazy weather extremes may overwhelm some locations, making them uninhabitable.

Afghan jirga backs troop deal with US: Afghan elders endorsed a strategic partnership deal with the US which could see its troops remain on Afghan soil for years, while insisting on a string of conditions. The declaration at the end of the loya jirga stressed terms including that US nationals committing crimes in Afghanistan must not face immunity and that the US must side with Afghanistan if a third country tries to attack it.

Qadhafi’s son Saif arrested: Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam has been captured, Libya’s new authorities announced, ending a three-month manhunt for the murdered dictator’s long-time heir apparent.

Himalayan nations agree on climate adaptation plan: Four Himalayan nations facing the threat of weather changes have agreed to collaborate on ways to adapt to climate change after a two-day summit in Bhutan.

India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan were part of the Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas held in Bhutan`s capital Thimphu. They agreed to cooperate on energy, water, food and biodiversity issues.

China launches two satellites: China placed two satellites in orbit, including a spacecraft that will collect and relay data for disaster relief efforts.

Tunisia enters new era of democracy: Tunisia entered a new era of democracy with the inaugural session of its democratically-elected constituent assembly, 10 months after a popular uprising that ended years of dictatorship.

The 217-member assembly, the first elected body of the Arab Spring, was expected to confirm a deal whereby the Islamist Ennahda party and two other parties split the country’s top three jobs between themselves.

Seoul votes a chaotic yes to free trade with US: Amid tear gas, President Lee Myung-bak’s governing party rammed a free-trade agreement between South Korea and the United States through parliament, ratifying a deal that has sharpened a political divide between the government and the opposition and between big business and the growing number of voters unhappy with deepening economic inequality.

US, EU sign airline passenger data sharing deal: The United States and the European Union have signed a draft pact on sharing passenger data for flights between the two continents, which both sides have welcomed as a significant step forward. The agreement, which must be adopted by the European Council and parliament, aims to combat transnational crime and terrorism.

Night-flowering orchid discovered: The world’s first known night-flowering orchid has been discovered on New Britain Island, near Papua New Guinea, experts from Kew Gardens have said. The species, Bulbophyllum nocturnum, is the first known example of an orchid which has flowers that consistently open after dark and close in the morning.

Libyan courts, not ICC, to try Seif al-Islam: Libya will not hand over Muammar Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam to the International Criminal Court for trial, a minister said as the war crimes court’s prosecutor visited the country.

Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) has appointed as new defence minister the local commander whose forces captured Seif at the weekend.

Saleh at last signs deal to step down: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down after a long-running uprising to oust him from 33 years in power. Mr Saleh, seated beside Saudi King Abdullah in the Saudi capital Riyadh, signed a deal hammered out by Yemen’s powerful neighbours to transfer power within 30 days to his vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Nine new entries on Unesco ‘intangible heritage’ list: Mongolian folk songs played on ancient flutes and the art of Yimakan storytelling by China’s ethnic Hezhen were among nine traditions added to Unesco’s list of ‘intangible heritage’ in need of preservation.The other new entries include Mauritania’s Moorish epic T’heydinn poems, Yaokwa, an indigenous Brazilian drought ritual, Vietnam’s Xoan singing, practiced in sacred places of Phu Tho province during spring, the secret society of Koredugaw, a rite of wisdom by the Bambara, Malinke, Senufo and Samogo peoples of Mali, Unesco said on its website. The Koredugaw are a group of initiates who provoke laughter with behaviour characterised by gluttony, caustic humour and wit, but who also possess great intelligence and wisdom, it said.

CAREC countries agree to boost cooperation: Ministers from the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) countries, meeting in Baku, have endorsed the CAREC strategy until 2020. CAREC described the strategy as a framework for intensified regional cooperation that promises to build on the programme’s first decade of achievement. Established in 2001, CAREC brings together Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

New head of UN mission in Afghanistan named: Jan Kubis of Slovakia has been appointed UN Secretary General’s Special Representative (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), says a press statement issued by the spokesman of the UN chief.

Libya’s new govt takes office: Libya’s new transitional government was sworn-in tasked with uniting the war-ravaged country and paving the way to a new constitution and general elections in seven months.

Prehistoric man mastered deep-sea fishing: Australian archaeologists have uncovered evidence that prehistoric humans living 42,000 years ago mastered the art of deep-sea fishing.They also found the world’s earliest recorded fish hook, made of shell and dating from between 23,000 and 16,000 years ago, during excavations at the Jerimalai cave site in East Timor.

New Zealand PM John Key wins second term: New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, won a second term, with voters in no mood for change after a tumultuous year marked by a devastating earthquake and glory in the Rugby World Cup.

Iran MPs vote to expel British envoy: Iran’s parliament voted to expel the British ambassador in retaliation for fresh western sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear programme and warned that other countries could also be punished.

Opposition chief asked to form new govt: Yemen opposition chief Mohammed Basindawa was tasked with forming a new government to rule until the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, set for February.

Malaysia launches women-only taxis: Malaysia has launched a fleet of women-only taxis, an initiative that follows pink-coloured train coaches and buses aimed at shielding women from harassment.

Arab League approve sanctions on Syria: Arab foreign ministers and Turkey agreed to a list of sweeping sanctions designed to cripple the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, who has defied pressure to halt a bloody crackdown on protesters.

Iran passes law to expel British envoy: Iran’s Guardians Council approved a parliamentary bill demanding Britain’s ambassador to Tehran be expelled within two weeks, making it law.

Anti-drug accord with Iran, Afghanistan: Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan agreed to bolster regional cooperation to combat drug smuggling at a time when the cultivation of illicit opium poppy is increasing despite the presence of US-led Nato forces in the country.

China, Russia want Nato strikes probe: China and Russia sought an ‘earnest and meticulous’ investigation into the Nato strikes that killed at least 24 Pakistani troops. The Organisation of Islamic Conference also condemned the incident.

Japan cooks world’s longest kebab: Residents of a small Japanese island cooked up a late-night snack that could satisfy even the heartiest appetite ‘a kebab more than 100 meters (330 feet) long. Thousands of people on southern Ishigaki Island tucked into the 107.6-meter monster; the world’s longest, in an event to promote the premium Ishigaki beef.

Kuwait cabinet resigns amid crisis: The government of oil-rich Kuwait resigned following a bitter dispute with opposition MPs.World’s farmland at risk, warns

UN food agency: The UN food agency warned that the world would struggle to raise food production by 70 per cent by 2050, with a quarter of land considered “highly degraded” and many farming areas already at risk.The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report found that erosion, desertification and climate change were endangering key production systems across the world from the Mediterranean to Southern Africa to Southeast Asia.

WikiLeaks wins Australian journalism award: WikiLeaks has been recognised in Australia for its ‘outstanding contribution to journalism’ with founder Julian Assange lashing out at ‘cowardly’ Prime Minister Julia Gillard in an acceptance speech.

Kenya issues arrest warrant for Bashir: A Kenyan court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges, following a request by the International Commission of Justice (ICJ).

Kuwait emir names defence minister as PM: Kuwait’s ruler appointed defence minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah as the new prime minister of the oil-rich Gulf state.

UAE gives women right to pass nationality to children: The United Arab Emirates announced that children of Emirati women married to foreigners could apply for citizenship once they turned 18, moving closer to giving women the same nationality rights as men.

Russia considering blocking Nato supply routes: Russia may not let Nato use its territory to supply troops in Afghanistan if the alliance doesn’t seriously consider its objections to a US-led missile shield for Europe, Russian ambassador to Nato Dmitri Rogozin has said.

Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo handed over to world court: Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo was transferred to the International Criminal Court to face charges of rape and murder, becoming the first former head of state to stand before the tribunal.

Britain shuts Iran embassy: Britain closed its Tehran embassy after evacuating all its diplomats from Iran as part of a ‘very though’ response to the storming of the mission the day before by Iranian protesters.

Iceland recognises Palestine as an independent state: Iceland has become the first Western European nation to recognise Palestine as an independent state.

Parliament said in a statement that it had passed the motion with 38 of 63 votes in favour of a resolution to recognise Palestine ‘as an independent and sovereign state’based on borders predating the Six Day War of 1967.

India test-fires nuclear capable Agni-I missile: India tested its indigenously developed nuclear-capable surface-to-surface Agni-I missile from a military base in Odisha.

Malaysian parliament adopts electoral reforms: Malaysia’s parliament adopted electoral reforms including several demands made by leaders of a mass rally that alleged poll fraud.

Israel agrees to yield funds to Palestinians: Israel has agreed to transfer to the Palestinian Authority about $100 million in tax and customs payments that it has withheld for four weeks in protest over the Palestinians’ membership efforts at the United Nations and pursuit of power-sharing with Hamas.

EU blacklists, 180 Iran firms, individuals: EU foreign ministers piled pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme, slapping sanctions on an additional 180 firms and individuals and threatening to hit out at its vital oil sector.

Shining light on world’s most corrupt governments: New Zealand tops the list of the world’s cleanest governments, followed by Finland and Denmark, while Somalia and North Korea tied for the dubious distinction of most corrupt, according to a report from Transparency International.

FBI spying on Muslims, says HR body: The FBI has been spying and compiling information on Muslim community groups while under the guise of holding outreach meetings with their representatives, a US rights organisation American Civil Liberties Union said.

Myanmar govt reaches peace deal with ethnic rebel group: Myanmar’s government has reached a ceasefire agreement with one of the country’s biggest ethnic rebel groups, the latest sign of political rapprochement as the new civilian leadership embarks on a series of reforms.

The deal was agreed with the Shan State Army (South) and will soon be finalised, resulting in a cessation of long-running hostilities between government troops and militias and cooperation on drugs suppression.

US hands over main war base back to Iraq: The US military returned its biggest base in Iraq to the government, a huge compound near Baghdad airport that housed the American operations centre and hosted a captive Saddam Hussein before his execution.

Myanmar govt allows ‘peaceful’ protests: Myanmar’s president Thein Sein has approved a bill allowing citizens to protest peacefully, if they have permission.

Serbia, Kosovo strike border management deal: Serbia and Kosovo struck a key deal to jointly manage their disputed border crossings, a vital step in reducing tension on the north Kosovo border.

New Americas summits aims criticism at US: Leaders of Latin American and Caribbean nations worked to finalise an action plan for a new Americas bloc, which excludes the United States and which, according to its organisers, is designed to usher in a new era of Latin American ‘independence’.

Islamist parties sweep to victory in Egypt poll: Early results from Egypt’s first post-revolution election showed Islamist parties sweeping to victory, including hard-line Salafists, with secular parties trounced in many areas.

Leftwing Opp wins Croatian vote: Croatia’s centre-left opposition bloc ‘Kukuriku’ won general elections by a wide margin, according to an exit poll released by national television HRT immediately after voting closed.

Brotherhood leads in Egypt run-off vote: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has called on its rivals to accept the will of the people after a first-round vote set its party on course to take the most seats in the country’s first freely elected parliament in six decades.

Syria ‘accepts’ Arab plan for observers: Syria said it conditionally accepts observers as part of an Arab plan, as a rights group reported militiamen loyal to the regime killed 34 civilians and dumped their bodies in a city square.

Himalayan glaciers melting, scientists confirm: Glaciers in the Himalayas have shrunk by as much as a fifth in just 30 years, scientists have claimed in the first authoritative confirmation of the effects of climate change on the region.

The findings, published in three reports by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), show Nepal’s glaciers have shrunk by 21 per cent and Bhutan’s by 22 per cent over 30 years.

Blast seen as major setback for Iranian missiles: The huge explosion that destroyed a major missile-testing site near Tehran three weeks ago was a major setback for Iran’s most advanced long-range missile programme, according to US and Israeli intelligence officials and missile technology experts.

West to prop up Kabul govt after pullout in 2014: The Bonn conference convened to discuss Afghanistan’s future after Nato troops leave in 2014 pledged sustained support for another decade, assuring the Kabul government that ‘we will not let you meet the same fate as your predecessors met after the Soviet pullout’.

Astronomers discover biggest black holes ever: Scientists have discovered the two biggest black holes ever observed, each with a mass billions of times greater than the Sun’s, according to a study. The two giants are located in the heart of a pair of galaxies several hundred million light years from Earth, said the study in scientific journal ‘Nature’.

UN court rules against Greece in Macedonia row: Greece was in the wrong when it blocked Macedonia’s admission to Nato because of a dispute over the former Yugoslav republic’s name, the UN’s highest court ruled.

The 2008 action violated a provisional agreement reached in 1995 to end the long-running row, the International Court of Justice ruled, saying Athens had ‘breached its obligation.’

Earth-like planets feature in new survey: According to a catalogue released of planets and moons that could have the right conditions to support life a total of 47 exoplanets and exomoons are potential habitable candidates, according to the online ranking of bodies outside our solar system by the Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

One of the ‘marginally Earth-like’ planets, Gliese 581d, is 20 light years from Earth, and the other, HD 85512b, is 36 light years away.

Carbon emissions spike after brief decline last year: Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, scientists say, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery.

Emissions rose 5.9 per cent in 2010, according to an analysis released by the Global Carbon Project, as international collaboration of scientists tracking the numbers.

Iran says downed drone was deep in its airspace: The unmanned US spy plane was deep inside Iran’s airspace, flying over an eastern town famous for Persian carpets and saffron when it was downed by Iranian armed forces, state radio reported.

The report said the stealth-version of the RQ-170 drone was detected by Iranian forces over the eastern town of Kashmar, some 225 kilometres from the border with Afghanistan.

Egypt’s PM names new cabinet: Egypt’s military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi swore in a new cabinet including new Prime Minister Kamel al-Ganzuri and a former police chief to head the interior ministry.

Arab human rights award for King Abdullah: Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz has been awarded the International Arab Human Rights Award 2011 by the Arab-European Centre of Human Rights and International Law in recognition of his services for humanity.

Sarkozy speaks of last chance as EU begins crucial summit: European Union leaders opened a make-or-break summit in Brussels aiming to resolve a crippling debt crisis as French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned there would be no ‘second chance’ to save the eurozone.

Women to serve on British submarines: Women will be allowed to serve on British navy submarines, with female officers taking up roles from late 2013, defence minister Philip Hammond announced. The first officers will serve on Vanguard class nuclear-powered submarines and will be followed by women ratings in 2015.

At climate talks, China and US set to spar again: China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has once again emerged as the biggest puzzle at international climate change talks, sending ambiguous signals about the role it intends to play in future negotiations. The top Chinese climate envoy said this week that China would be open to signing a formal treaty limiting emissions after 2020 ‘but laid down conditions for doing so that are unlikely ever to be met.

Egypt’s military digs in against Islamists: Egypt’s military rulers said that they would control the process of writing a constitution and maintain authority over the interim government to check the power of Islamists who have taken a commanding lead in parliamentary elections.

In an unusual briefing evidently aimed at Washington, Gen. Mukhtar al-Mulla of the ruling council asserted that the initial results of elections for the People’s Assembly did not represent the full Egyptian public, in part because well-organised factions of Islamists were dominating the voting.

Europe moves ahead with fiscal union; UK opts out: Europe secured a historic agreement to draft a new treaty for deeper economic integration in the euro zone, but Britain, the region’s third largest economy, refused to join the other 26 countries in a fiscal union and was isolated.

Netherlands apologises for 1947 Indonesia massacre: The Dutch government formally apologised for a 1947 massacre on Indonesia’s Java island, in an emotional ceremony on the anniversary of the executions by its colonial army.

Croatia signs EU accession pact: Croatia signed an EU accession treaty, a move paving the way for the former Yugoslav republic to join the bloc in mid-2013, after almost a decade of long and often fraught negotiations.

Kabila declared winner of Congo election: Provisional results published by Congo’s election commission handed victory to President Joseph Kabila who won another term with 49 per cent of the 18.14 million votes cast.

China to adopt IMF reforms: The head of China’s central bank says the country will implement changes to its financial system suggested by the International Monetary Fund ‘as appropriate’ the Washington-based lender said.

Yemen’s unity govt takes oath: Yemen’s national unity government, led by the opposition, was sworn-in to lead a three-month transition period until early elections are held and President Ali Abdullah Saleh formally steps down.

Belgium govt wins confidence vote: Belgium’s new government won a parliamentary confidence vote, the last hurdle in resolving a political crisis in the linguistically divided country that lasted a record-breaking 541 days.

SPORTS

Radcliffe’s marathon record stands: Paula Radcliffe has been reinstated as the holder of the women’s world marathon record at two hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds overturning a controversial decision by the IAAF not recognise the time as such. Radcliffe’s record of 2hrs, 15mins and 25secs was set in a mixed field in the 2003 London Marathon.

Australia’s Gold Coast gets 2018 CW Games: Australia’s Gold Coast has been chosen to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the event’s governing body said in St Kitts and Nevis.

Federer clinches maiden Paris Masters title: Former World No. 1 Roger Federer captured his maiden Paris Masters title with a 6-1, 7-6 win against local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

All teams involved in fixing matches: All of cricket’s leading countries were involved in the fixing of major matches, not just Pakistan, the sport’s former chief anti-corruption investigator Paul Condon said.

India clinch Windies series despite Bravo ton: Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin shared four wickets as India beat a resilient West Indies by an innings and 15 runs in the second Test to clinch the series at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Italy win WC, China to Olympics: Italy defended their World Cup women’s volleyball title as Asian champions China also claimed their ticket to the London Olympics next year.

Sharjah Stadium enters Guinness Book of Records: The Guinness Book of Records acknowledged the achievement of Sharjah Cricket Stadium for hosting the most number of one-day matches during the Pakistan and Sri Lanka encounter.

Malaysia beat hosts to win football gold: Malaysia defended their Southeast Asian Games football title with a nerve-shredding 4-3 win on penalties after their hotly anticipated final with hosts Indonesia ended 1-1 following extra time.

Amir declared British boxer of the year: Pakistani origin boxer Amir Khan has been declared British boxer of the year.

Pakistan, SL qualify for Women WC: Pakistan Women sealed their berth in the ICC World Cup with a massive 193-run win against Netherlands Women in Fatullah.

Pakistan thump Sri Lanka: Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal hit half centuries to help Pakistan upstage Sri Lanka by three wickets in the fifth and final day-night international at Abu Dhabi Stadium.

Butt, Amir lose appeals: Disgraced Pakistan players Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir lost their appeals against their jail sentences for spot-fixing, with England’s top judge saying they had ‘betrayed’ their country.

Pakistan defeat India to win SA Karate Championship: Pakistan defeated India in New Delhi to win the 1st South Asian Karate Championship. Pakistan claimed seven gold medals, four silver and four bronze medals in the event to clinch the first position.

Saeed makes top ODI spot: Pakistan’s in-form off spinner Saeed Ajmal has rocketed to the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) player rankings for ODI bowlers following an impressive performance in the just concluded series against Sri Lanka in the UAE.

Wapda crowned national cycling champions: Wapda notched eight gold medals to emerge as champions in the 59th National Cycling Championship.

Aisam, Bopanna part ways: Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and India’s Rohan Bopanna have ended their successful tennis doubles partnership, which was hailed as a symbol of friendship between the rival nations.

Boxer Wlodarczyk retains WBC title: Poland’s Krzysztof Wlodarczyk retained his WBC cruise weight world title with an 11th-round knockout of Australian challenger Danny Green in Perth.

Raumpal scores highest runs by a No. 10 batsman in ODI: Tailender Ravi Rampaul and opener Lendl Simmons both cracked half-centuries as the West Indies recovered from an early collapse to post 269-9 in the second one-dayer against India. Rampaul’s 86 and his six sixes in the 66-ball knock, both were the highest by a number 10 batsman in one-day internationals.

Russia lift volleyball World Cup as Brazil book Olympic berth: Russia stormed back from match points down to defeat Poland and win the men’s World Cup volleyball tournament with Brazil taking the last ticket to the London Olympics next year.

Nadal secures fifth Davis Cup title for Spain: Rafael Nadal got the winning point as Spain won a fifth Davis Cup title. The World number two beat Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro to give the host an unbeatable 3-1 lead.

Sehwag’s record 219 sets up series win for India: Virender Sehwag smashed the highest score in One-day International cricket as India flattened the West Indies by 153 runs to take a decisive 3-1 lead in the five-match series.

Sehwag hammered a scintillating 219 off 149 balls to lift India to their best one-day total of 418-5, before the West Indies were bowled out for 265 in the fourth international.

Clinical David wins record sixth World Open title: Malaysian squash superstar Nicol David won a record sixth women’s World Open title with a straight games victory over England’s Jenny Duncalf. David prevailed 11-2, 11-5, 11-0 in slightly less than half an hour in which the Amsterdam-based Malaysian’s speed was outstanding and which was arguably her best performance in a world final.

National
Noted columnist and Editor of Daily Wafaq, Mustafa Sadiq, passed away.
Renowned director, actor, recipient of Pride of Performance and Chancellor of the National Institute of Culture, Rauf Khalid died.
Former federal minister Ghulam Muhammad Maneka passed away after a protracted illness. He will be laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard.

International

Former heavyweight contender Ron Lyle, who fought Muhammad Ali for the title in 1975 and later battled George Foreman, has died in Denver at age 70.

    Ante Markovic, the last prime minister of the Socialist Yugoslavia before it  collected in a series of 1990s wars, died in Croatia at the age of 87, his family said.

    Brazil’s 1982 World Cup captain Socrates, the ‘Golden Heel’ renowned as one of the great playmakers of his generation, died at the age of 57.

    Iconic Indian actor Dev Anand died in London leaving behind at least three generations of distraught fans across the world. He was 88.

    The comic book artist credited with creating the Joker ‘the archfoe of Batman played in film adaptations by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger’ has died at the age of 89.

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