·Britain’s queen acknowledges ‘bumpy’ year for UK in Christmas speech
Britain’s queen Elizabeth has had a trying year. In January, her husband, Prince Philip, apologized after he was involved in a car crash that left two women injured, sparking a public debate on older drivers. He agreed to relinquish his driver’s license. In August, the queen was dragged into British politics when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked her to suspend parliament, a move that was later ruled unlawful by the country’s Supreme Court. A few weeks later, her grandson Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, went public about their emotional struggles in a candid interview filmed during their official tour of Africa. The couple’s environmental activism was questioned over their use of private jets, and Prince Harry and his brother, Prince William, were unable to shake off headlines of a rumored rift in their relationship.
·Hong Kong pro-democracy activists keep up protests on Christmas Day
Hong Kong anti-government protesters marched through several shopping malls chanting pro-democracy slogans on Wednesday, a day after violent clashes with the police left a prime tourist district decorated for Christmas shrouded in tear gas.
The protests, which escalated in June, have been largely peaceful for much of December after pro-democracy candidates overwhelmingly won district council elections the month before.
·25 killed as bus plunges into ravine in Indonesia
At least 25people were killed when a passenger bus plunged into a ravine on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island after its brakes apparently malfunctioned, police have said. At least 14 other people were taken to hospital with injuries following the crash, including one in a critical condition with bone fractures, said local police chief Dolly Gumara.
· Pope defends migrants, calls for peace in Christmas message
Pope Francis urged the world to let the light of Christmas pierce the “darkness in human hearts” that leads to religious persecution, social injustice, armed conflicts and fear of migrants.
In his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) Christmas Day message, the 83-year-old pope called for peace in the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Venezuela, Ukraine and several African countries caught up in conflicts.
·Khashoggi trial was an exercise in scapegoating and not justice
The trial of the Saudis accused of the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi will satisfy only senior figures in the kingdom who seek to exact high prices from the men who bungled the job. Yet further bloodletting will not make either crime or controversy disappear. While Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman belatedly assumed responsibility for the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 “because it happened under my watch”, Turkish authorities and the US Central Intelligence Agency blamed bin Salman.
·Modi’s party suffers key electoral defeat amid protests in India
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) conceded defeat on23rd Dec in crucial assembly elections in eastern Jharkhand state, following three phases of voting that ended last week. “The BJP will accept the people’s mandate,” outgoing BJP state chief minister Raghubir Das said after the coalition of the rival opposition Congress Party and the local Jharkhand Liberation Front (JMM) was leading in 46 of 81 assembly seats in vote-counting.
· French forces kill 33 ‘terrorists’ in Mali, says Macron
French forces killed 33 militants on21st Dec in Mali near the border with Mauritania, French president Emmanuel Macron said. “This morning, thanks to an engagement by our soldiers and the Barkhane forces, we were able to neutralize 33 terrorists, take one prisoner and free two Malian gendarmes who had been held hostage,” Macron said during in a speech in Ivory Coast.
·Seventeen civilians were killed in an attack in a market in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate, the United Nations said, the third deadly assault on the same location in just over a month.
The attacks come despite relative calm in Yemen, where large-scale combat between government troops — backed by a Saudi-led military coalition — and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels has subsided. The UN said 12 Ethiopian migrants were among the 17 civilians killed in the incident on 24th Dec at the Al-Raqw market in Saada governorate, a Houthi rebel stronghold. At least 12 people were wounded, it said, without saying who was responsible or what weapons were used.
·A Bek Air plane with 93 passengers and five crew members on board crashed near the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan on 27th Dec shortly after taking off, killing at least 14 people, authorities in the Central Asian country said.
The Fokker 100 aircraft, heading for the capital, Nur-Sultan, on a pre-dawn flight, “lost altitude during takeoff and broke through a concrete fence” before hitting a two-storey building, Kazakhstan’s Civil Aviation Committee said in a statement. A survivor told News website Tengrinews she heard a “terrifying sound” before the plane started losing altitude.
·A typhoon that swept across remote villages and popular tourist areas of the central Philippines on Christmas day claimed at least 20 lives, authorities said on 26th Dec.
Typhoon Phanfone, with gusts reaching 200 kilometers an hour, tore roofs off houses and toppled electric posts as it ripped through the central Philippines on 25th Dec. Videos from the typhoon’s path showed fallen trees and strong winds pummeling flimsy houses. Local disaster officials cut felled trees to clear blocked roads. Phanfone also hit Boracay, Coron and other holiday destinations that are famed for their white-sand beaches and popular with foreign tourists. Mobile phone and internet access on Boracay was cut during the storm and the networks remained down on 26th Dec, making assessment of the damage there difficult.
· Iraq president prepared to resign over potential pro-Iranian PM
Iraqi president Barham Salih has threatened to resign rather than risk a constitutional crisis by refusing to designate as prime minister a pro-Iranian parliamentary bloc candidate rejected by protesters. The bloc, headed by powerful Shia militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, nominated Basra governor Asaad al-Eidani, who stands accused of ordering security forces to fire on demonstrators in the hotbed southern port city. Since the uprising erupted in early October, 500 protesters have died and 17,000 have been wounded.
·‘We are only 1,000, but we fight like 10, 000,’ says leader of Kurdistan Freedom Party
Gen Hussein Yazdanpanah is sipping tea in a leafy shelter atop the arid, pine-dotted hills of Iraqi Kurdistan, gesturing southwards to Kirkuk province, where he and his troops were once ambushed by the Islamic State terror group. It was raining hard at 10pm on November 20th, 2014. The squad had just set up camp, when they came under attack. Under fire from rocket-propelled grenades, snipers taking aim from three sides, they held out until sunrise, losing three fighters. It was, he says, “the longest night”. Yazdanpanah, a dead ringer for Joseph Stalin, with his walrus moustache and brush-like hair, hails from Iran. He leads the exiled Kurdistan Freedom Party (Pak), fighting for a free country uniting the 30 million or so Kurds scattered across Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. In recent years the fight against Islamic State, also known as Isis, which still stalks the surrounding hills, has taken priority.
·Syria: 235,000 people flee Idlib in two-week Russian-backed offensive – UN
The United Nations has said 235,000 civilians fled their homes in rebel-held northwestern Syria during a Russian-backed campaign of air strikes and shelling this month. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the exodus had taken place between December 12th and 25th. Most people had fled the city of Ma’arat al-Nu’man, towns and villages in southern Idlib province, Idlib city and camps along the Syrian-Turkish border, OCHA said.
GLOBAL INDICES AS OF 28th December 2019
As compared to 21st December 2019
|Global indices as of 28th December 2019|
|NASDAQ (Dec 27)||9,006.62||9022.39|
|FTSE (Dec 27)||7,644.90||7632.24|
|CAC (Dec 27)||6,037.39||6029.55|
|DAX (Dec 27)||13,337.11||13300.98|
|SGX NIFTY (Dec 28)||12,320.00||12341.00|
|NIKKEI 225 (Dec 27)||23,837.72||23924.92|
|STRAITS TIMES (Dec 27)||3,226.53||3222.99|
|HANG SENG (Dec 27)||28,225.42||27864.21|
|TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Dec 27)||12,091.59||12001.01|
|KOSPI (Dec 27)||2,204.21||2197.93|
|SET COMPOSITE (Dec 27)||1,578.22||1579.03|
|JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Dec 27)||6,329.31||6319.44|
|SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Dec 27)||3,005.04||3007.35|
|Global indices as of 21st December 2019|
|NASDAQ (Dec 20)||8,924.96||8887.22|
|FTSE (Dec 20)||7,582.48||7573.82|
|CAC (Dec 20)||6,021.53||5972.28|
|DAX (Dec 20)||13,318.90||13211.96|
|SGX NIFTY (Dec 21)||12,278.50||12292.50|
|NIKKEI 225 (Dec 20)||23,816.63||23864.85|
|STRAITS TIMES (Dec 20)||3,212.39||3207.42|
|HANG SENG (Dec 20)||27,871.35||27800.49|
|TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Dec 20)||11,959.08||12018.90|
|KOSPI (Dec 20)||2,204.18||2196.56|
|SET COMPOSITE (Dec 20)||1,572.92||1573.51|
|JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Dec 20)||6,284.37||6249.93|
|SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Dec 20)||3,004.94||3017.07|
- The federal government moved the Supreme Court on 26th Dec seeking to overturn its Nov 28 verdict granting six-month extension to Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“It is accordingly prayed that this Hon’ble Court may please grant leave to appeal and set aside the impugned judgment after allowing the petition,” said a petition seeking to review the SC verdict which had asked parliament to consider legislating the tenure and issues concerning extension in service of the army chief. Jointly moved on behalf of the defense ministry, Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Dr Arif Alvi and Gen Bajwa, the review petition was filed soon after Law Minister Farogh Naseem paid a visit to the Attorney General Office. The petition was filed under Article 188 of the Constitution dealing with the review jurisdiction under which earlier orders of the court can be altered only if some error is highlighted, as well as under Article 187 that empowers the top judiciary to issue directives to do complete justice.
- General retired Pervez Musharraf filed a petition with the Lahore High Court on 27th Dec challenging the verdictby a special court in Islamabad in the high treason case against the former dictator for suspending the Constitution on November 3, 2007.
On December 17, a special court in Islamabad found Musharraf guilty of high treason and handed him a death sentence under Article 6 of the Constitution. The verdict marked the first time in Pakistan’s history that a military chief was declared guilty of high treason and handed a death sentence. The 86 page-long petition, filed by Advocate Azhar Siddique on Musharraf’s behalf, named the federal government and others as respondents. A full bench, chaired by Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, will hear the petition on January 9, 2020. The petition highlighted that the “judgment contained a mix of anomalies and contradictory statements”. It added that the special court “rapidly and hurriedly wrapped up the trial which was far from conclusion”.
- The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on 26th Dec raided the PML-N’s party secretariat in Lahore, according to Ataullah Tarar, deputy secretary general of the party.
A four-member FIA team, including a female officer, had conducted the raid, Tarar said, adding that the officials were allowed inside after they showed warrants. He said that the party had no prior information about the raid. Tarar revealed that the raid was conducted to confiscate material related to a press conference conducted by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz. In July, Maryam had held a press conference where she played a secretly recorded video in which former accountability judge Arshad Malik was allegedly seen saying that he was pressured into convicting former premier Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia corruption reference. Malik was removed by the Islamabad High Court and was repatriated to the Lahore High Court, where an inquiry would be held into the accusations against the judge.
- PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah Khan was released from prison on 26th Dec afternoon after the Lahore High Court issued a written verdict about grant of bail to him in a drug trafficking case which pointed out various contradictions in contents of the FIR lodged by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF).
In his verdict, Justice Chaudhry Mushtaq Ahmad also conceded to an argument from the petitioner that the narcotics case against the opposition leader was a result of “political victimisation”. Mr Khan’s legal team had taken the plea that the case was registered because the petitioner was a vocal member of an opposition party and had been criticising the government’s policies. “Though such an argument at the bail stage is not attached much weight for the reason that deeper appreciation at the stage of bail is not permissible, nor desirable,” said the judge.
- The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on 26th Dec approved an increase of Rs1.56 per unit in power tariff on account of fuel adjustment cost of electricity consumed in October.
The Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) had sought an increase of Rs1.73 per unit. The raise will put an additional burden of Rs14.50 billion on electricity consumers. The government has again put on operation furnace oil plants owing to lesser availability of gas to produce electricity.
- The government on 26th Dec received second tranche of $454 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The transfer will be added to the State Bank’s foreign exchange reserves next week. However, during the week ending Dec 20, the SBP’s reserves increased by $14m to $10.907 billion. On the other hand, reserves held by the commercial banks decreased by $74.7m bringing the country’s total reserves down to $17.595bn.
|F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 28th December 2019 as compared to 21st December 2019|
|Countries||PKR rate as of 21st December 2019||PKR rate as of 28th December 2019|
|Saudi Arabia Rial||41.25||41.40|
Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices
As of 28th December 2019 As Compared
To 21st December 2019
|Position as of 28th December 2019|
|Symbols||KSE100 Index||PSX-KMI All Shares Index|
|Advance 116 (Curr)||Current 40848.53||Current 19309.84|
|Decline 211 (High)||High 41289.68||High 19584.24|
|Unchanged 21 (Low)||Low 40726.65||Low 19262.77|
|Total change 348||-279.26||-194.47|
|Position as of 21st December 2019|
|Symbols||KSE100 Index||PSX-KMI All Shares Index|
|Advance 155 (Curr)||Current 40832.99||Current 19345.18|
|Decline 163 (High)||High 41054.42||High 19391.99|
|Unchanged 12 (Low)||Low 40493.99||Low 19090.85|
|Total change 330||177.62||149.68|