Pakistan has no shortage of bad press. But amid all the notoriety, Pakistan also witnessed moments to celebrate. Here’s a look at Pakistan’s notable events of 2015:
16-year-old Pakistani wins $1.2 million Dota2 Asian Championship
Sumail Hassan Syed from Karachi made history for Pakistan when he helped his team, Evil Geniuses’, claim the Defense of the Ancient 2 (Dota 2) Asian championship in China. Sumail played an instrumental role in the team’s success as he was the core player.
Pakistan wins three gold at regional tech awards
Pakistan bagged three gold and one silver award at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2015 held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The Pakistani team comprised 50 members with 22 technology products competing for the prestigious APICTA awards against 197 products from 17 economies in the region.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s ‘A Girl in the River’ gets shortlisted for Oscar
Among ten documentaries, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – was shortlisted for Oscars nominations in the category of Best Documentary – Short Subject.
The movie, which is focuses on the the kinds of choices women have to make in the world and how their lives are impacted by the decisions taken by others, is set to air on HBO in 2016.
Younus becomes Pakistan’s highest run-getter in Test cricket
Not only did Younus Khan break Javed Miandad’s record of 8,832 runs in Test matches, the former skipper also became the first Pakistani batsman to reach 9,000 Test runs.
Younus got to the landmark in his 103rd Test match while playing the Pakistan-England series in Abu Dhabi.
Narendra Modi’s birthday gift to Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took everyone by surprise as he announced his spontaneous visit to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore where he was celebrating his birthday and his granddaughter’s wedding.
It was the first time an Indian premier had stepped foot on Pakistani soil in over 10 years and was seen by analysts as a step towards normalising ties between the two neighbours.
Pakistan successfully tests first indigenous armed drone
Pakistan in March successfully test fired an indigenously-developed armed drone Burraq and its laser guided missile Barq.
The army deployed Burraq to target three ‘high-profile’ terrorists in a strategic valley of North Waziristan Agency. An analyst termed it as a ‘significant development’ for the country’s defence capabilities.
Pakistani girl competes in skiing competition despite losing leg in 2005 earthquake
In the earthquake which hit northern parts of Pakistan in 2005, 14-year-old Insha Afsar lost her left leg up to her hip. But that didn’t stop her. Sponsored by the Loon-based New England Disabled Sports (NEDS), Insha competed with over 40 countries in the US Paralympic Alpine National Championships.
Rahila Durrani elected first female speaker of Balochistan Assembly
Member of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Rahila Hameed Durrani was unanimously elected as the first-ever female speaker of the Balochistan Assembly.
Fawad Khan picks up his first ever Filmfare award
Described as the ‘border prince’, Fawad Khan picked up the best film debut-male award at the 60th India Filmfare awards in late January. He became the first Pakistani to win the Filmfare award in the best actor category. His Bollywood debut had raked in a whopping Rs30 million within three days of its release.
Pakistani student wins gold medal in international math competition
A student of PakTurk International School in Jamshoro brought home a gold medal after competing in Math Challenge V hosted by the Pan-Asia International School in Bangkok.
Making Pakistan proud, Rajinish Aneel Bhatia of grade 7 bagged the gold medal in the international math competition. Schools from all over Asia participated in the Math Challenge V held on November 17 and 18.
Pakistan holds its first Pakistan Day parade in seven years
After a hiatus of seven years, Pakistan held its first Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad this year. The annual Pakistan Day parade was last held in 2008 before authorities abandoned it because of fears it could be targeted as militants increased their attacks on the military.
Pakistan becomes an associate member of CERN
Pakistan in August became an associate member of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). Associate membership status will allow Pakistan to participate in the governance of CERN, through attending the meetings of the CERN Council.
The status also means that Pakistani nuclear industry can now bid for CERN contracts, thus opening up opportunities for industrial collaboration in areas of advanced technology.
Shahid Afridi among world’s top 20 charitable athletes
Pakistan T20 captain Shahid Afridi was nominated among top 20 most charitable athletes of 2015. He set a new record in welfare works as he established his Shahid Afridi Foundation (SAF) in March 2014 with the aim of improving and enriching the lives of the underprivileged.
Afridi was named in DoSomething.org’s list along world renowned athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo, John Cena, Serena Williams, Yuna Kim, Neymar Jr, LeBron James, Maria Sharapova, Mo’ne Davis, Richard Sherman and others.
Muniba Mazari appointed as UN’s first woman Goodwill Ambassador to Pakistan
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women selected Muniba Mazari as Pakistan’s first female Goodwill Ambassador to advance gender equality and empowerment of women.
Muniba, who has been in the wheelchair for the last seven years after a car accident that left her with spinal cord injury, has represented the voice of women, men, girls and boys across Pakistan on important issues of gender inequality and discrimination.
International cricket returns to Pakistan
After security concerns were addressed, Zimbabwe’s cricket team accepted an invitation to play in Pakistan, marking the first visit by a test-playing nation since 2009. The teams played a series comprising of two T20s and three ODIs.
Pakistan rings NASDAQ’s bell for the first time to mark independence day
Pakistan’s permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi rang the opening bell at the NASDAQ Stock Exchange in New York to signal the ceremonial start of trading, saying Pakistan’s economy is on the upswing as it pursues liberal economic and investor-friendly policies.
This was the first time the stock exchange opened its doors to an ambassador from Pakistan to ring the opening bell to mark its Independence Day.
National Assembly makes child pornography punishable act
The National Assembly passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2015 to protect children from mental and physical abuse.
The bill raised the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 7 to 10 years and the upper age limit from 12 to 14 years, while criminalising child pornography and proposing punishment for the crime.
Malala makes it to Britain’s most influential people’s list
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai was named among 500 most influential people in Britain 2015.
Malala became the youngest person to be in the Debrett’s rankings. She was named in the list of ‘Philanthropists and Activists’ among 20 other personalities which include Emma Watson and Prince Henry of Wales.
HONY comes to Pakistan
Brandon Stanton, the man behind Humans of New York (HONY), during his short visit to Pakistan in August, helped raise around $1.3 million through a remarkable seven-photo series depicting the struggle of a Pakistani female activist fighting against bonded labour.
Pakistan Army wins gold in Exercise Cambrian Patrol in UK
Pakistan Army won the gold medal at an annual international military patrolling exercise, ‘Exercise Cambrian Patrol’ held in the UK.
The Pakistan Army team shared the first place award with the Royal New Zealand Army, beating 140 teams from armies across the globe. The Indian army secured second place winning a silver medal.
In order to be eligible to compete in what is internationally regarded as the toughest military test, some overseas entrants are required to win the domestic competition.
Pakistani truck art used as part of Dolce and Gabbana’s new beauty campaign
Known best for its vespas, Milan’s streets and locals were taken by surprise when a Pakistani truck art inspired vehicle was used as part of Italian fashion house Dolce and Gabbana’s new beauty campaign.
The project #DGBeautyOnTheGo took over Milan throughout the summer until August and aimed at promoting the brand’s new cosmetics collection.
Pakistan bags 34 medals at the Summer Special Olympics World Games 2015
Pakistan’s Special Olympics contingent won a total of 34 medals — 13 gold, 11 silver, 10 bronze — in eight disciplines at the Summer Special Olympics World Games 2015 in Los Angeles.
Revival of Pakistani film industry
The Pakistani film industry was on top of its game this year when it released around 14 films globally.
While films like Moor got shortlisted for Oscar nominations, Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (JPNA) became Pakistan’s highest-grossing film. Manto, 3 Bahadur and Bin Roye were also included in the list.
Pakistani model bags ‘Mr Dubai 2015’ title
Pakistani model Imran Umer, who currently resides in Dubai, bagged the Mr Dubai 2015 title — becoming the first ever Pakistani to win the pageant.
Twenty contestants — hailing from diverse nationalities – took part in the contest which had three rounds.
Renowned aviator Tracey Curtis-Taylor lands in Pakistan
Despite being warned about the security situation in Pakistan, renowned aviator and adventurer Tracey Curtis-Taylor from New Zealand arrived in Gwadar, followed by Karachi, in her vintage open cockpit biplane, a 1942 Boeing Stearman.
The 53-year-old aviation enthusiast has undertaken a journey from Farnborough, England to Sydney, Australia. Taylor is paying homage to England’s Amy Johnson and her epic solo flight to Australia in 1930.
AKU opens Pakistan’s first medical simulation centre
The Aga Khan University (AKU) introduced Pakistan’s first medical simulation centre, the Centre for Innovation in Medical Education (CIME).
The centre is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and simulation manikins, providing a safe, risk-free environment for medical graduates, post graduates, nursing staff and allied health students as well as healthcare professionals to practice on.
Pakistani woman running New York City Marathon raises $10,000 for school in Karachi
A proud Pakistani Hamna Zubair participated in the New York City Marathon in a bid to fund a Citizen’s Foundation (TCF)-run school for an entire academic year.
Zubair, who trained for six months in preparation for the 26 mile run, raised a total of $17,000 over a period of two months. She aimed to secure funding for a primary school located in the community of Saleh Muhammad Goth, Bin Qasim Town, Karachi.
Pakistani entrepreneurs launch ‘Uber for rickshaws’
A group of young Pakistani entrepreneurs launched an Uber-like rickshaw app service that is quickly growing popular with commuters struggling to find transport in the teeming eastern city of Lahore.
A pilot version of the service has been launched in two upscale neighbourhoods.
Three Pakistanis feature in ICC’s 2015 Test team
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, right-hand batsman Younus Khan and wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfarz Ahmed were included in the International Cricket Council’s Test playing XI.
Five-year-old Laila Naim becomes first Pakistani to model for Burberry
Born on 8 March, 2010, five-year-old Laila Naim became the first Pakistani to model for British luxury fashion house Burberry.
Laila, who currently lives in London with her family, has worked on Burberry’s children Spring/Summer 2015 look book, their commercial and their Winter 2015 campaign.
Pakistani shortlisted for mankind’s first one-way trip to Mars
A Pakistani was shortlisted for a trip to Mars from 200,000 hopefuls — who were chosen to train for a one-way trip to Mars.
Reginald Foulds who served as a helicopter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force before retiring in 1992, was among the 1,000 shortlisted from a pool of 200,000 people who applied for the one-way trip before the year started.
Pakistani cueist Hamza wins Asian Snooker Championship
Hamza Akbar beat Indian opponent Pankaj Advani 7-6 to claim the trophy of the 31st Asian Snooker Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Hamza, playing in his first international event, became the second Pakistani to win the title after Muhammad Yousuf won it in 1998.
Two Pakistanis named among ‘Asia 21 Young Leaders’
Two Pakistanis, Mohsin Ali Mustafa and Muhammad Sabir were a part of the prestigious class of 2015 among others from different parts of the world including Bangladesh, Nepal, Iran, Thailand and India.
Mohsin is a medical doctor in Pakistan who manages the communications and strategy of Aman Healthcare Services. He has trained over 11,000 people in basic life support and first response.
Muhammad Sabir, who grew up in the slums, is the founder of Slumabad, an organisation that seeks to give every child living in slums the opportunity to experience joy, and to save lives through promoting safe sanitation practices.
Ultralight helicopter made by two brothers in Peshawar
Qazi Tofail and his brother Qazi Sajjad successfully made an ultralight helicopter, a first in Pakistan’s history.
The two brothers started struggling from 1978 to make an aircraft, finally succeeding after installing a car engine to make the ultralight helicopter.
Pakistani photo wins first place in Wiki Loves Earth contest 2015
The Wiki Loves Earth contest, organised by the Wikimedia Foundation, chose Zaeem Siddiq’s photo from Lower Kachura Lake, a popular tourist destination in Central Karakoram National Park, Skardu, Pakistan as the best international picture for the year 2015.
The global 2015 edition had over 8,500 contestants participating from 26 countries, with over 100,000 photo submissions throughout the month of May.
Pakistani Aaima Asad scores first position in LLB (HON)
Maintaining a balance between friends and studies, Aaima Asad from Pakistan College of Law, was declared the highest scorer in the University of London External LLB exams.
Pakistani Taekwando champion secures Guinness World Record
Pakistan Taekwondo black belt Ahmad Amin Bodla broke the Guinness World Record for most squat thrusts in one minute with 40 pounds weight on the back.
“I did 23 repetitions while the previous record was 21 by Paddy Douyle of England. It is a great honour for me to make records for my country. I work very hard for these performances. I have achieved a lot of international recognition over the last few years.,” Bodla said, while speaking to APP.
Pink Rickshaw service kicks off for women in Lahore
The ladies-only Pink Rickshaw service was launched with the intention of providing women from the lower social strata of society an opportunity to travel in comfort and at the same time giving them financial independence.
The women’s only service will also enable female commuters to travel without fear of getting harassed on the street. It aims to be a safer option as opposed to other forms of public transport.
NUST makes it to Times Higher Education top 100 universities
The National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad made it to the list of the Times Higher Education top 100 universities.
NUST ranked number 95 on Higher Education BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings 2015. It was the only Pakistani university in the list.
Pakistani cameraman wins Rory Peck Award in London
Pakistani cameraman Haider Ali was awarded the Rory Peck Award 2015, for his camerawork in the documentary ‘Pakistan’s Hidden Shame’ which captures how thousands of vulnerable young boys across Pakistan have become the victims of paedophile predators.
The Rory Peck is an international NGO based in London and is dedicated to supporting and assisting freelance news-gatherers worldwide.
Pakistan’s elite SSG troops top list of world’s most formidable special units
Pakistan’s elite special forces unit, army’s Special Services Group (SSG) was listed as the best special forces group, ahead of units such as the US Navy SEALs and the British Special Air Service group.
The list, by Business Insider Australia ranked Pakistani commandos as the best of the nine top elite forces from around the world.
For operational reference, it mentioned the 2009 operation that the SSG conducted to rescue the 39 people held hostage by suspected Taliban militants who had attacked the army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Pakistani bodybuilder crowned Mr Musclemania in Las Vegas
Pakistani bodybuilder Salman Ahmad clinched the Mr Musclemania title at the Mr Musclemania competition in Las Vegas.
Ahmad claimed that it was for the time in history that someone from Pakistan has won the title of Mr Musclemania since the competition started 25 years ago.
Injectable polio vaccine launched in Pakistan
The federal health ministry in collaboration with its international donor agencies, introduced injectable polio vaccine (IPV) in August, as part of its routine immunisation programme. According to the WHO more than four million children in Pakistan will benefit from IPV every year.
Pakistan releases its first animated movie, 3 Bahadur
After months of speculations, Pakistan finally stepped into a new era by releasing its first animated movie called 3 Bahadur. Billed as the country’s first ever animated movie, 3 Bahadur also became the highest-grossing animated movie in the history of Pakistani cinema.
Kaleemullah becomes first Pakistani to sign for a US football club
Chaman-based striker Kaleemullah in December, signed a contract with Oklahoma-based Tulsa Roughnecks FC as the 23-year-old looks to continue his stint overseas in the United Soccer League (USL) for a second season.
Kaleemullah became the first Pakistan footballer to play in the US professional league this year when he signed a four-month contract with Sacramento Republic FC, appearing in seven matches for them.