Positive Pakistan: Moments of pride in 2012
The authors of this post are Maria Niazi and Tamreez Inam.
It’s that time of the year when we reflect back at the year that was and look forward to the next one. So we opened up the news and all we saw in the articles that took stock of Pakistan’s top stories of 2012 was plane crashes, terrorism, Veena Malik’s antics, and porn. Wow, that was depressing.
We know this is not all that happened in Pakistan, so we’ve decided to come up with a list of our own.
Here is our list of the stories that warmed our hearts, moved us, inspired us and made us proud of being Pakistanis. Happy New Year!
Ps. This list is not exhaustive. These are just the stories that spoke to us. Please feel free to add your own highlights from 2012 in the comments section below.
1. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy brought home the Oscar
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, journalist and documentary filmmaker, became Pakistan’s first woman to win an Oscar with her documentary ‘Saving Face’ telling the stories of resilience and courage of Pakistan’s acid attack survivors. Sharmeen was also featured on TIME’s 100 Most Influential People list for 2012.
2. Sporting glory
The year 2012 saw Pakistan performing well in a number of sporting arenas. Pakistan’s Muhammad Asif won the World Amateur Snooker Championship, we won the Asian kabaddi championship against India earlier this year, and ended the year by winning the Asian Hockey Championship in Doha beating defending champions India 5-4. Amongst great cricketing moments this year, Pakistan won the Asia Cup; was the joint winner of the Under-19s Asia Cup; and finalists at the Blind Cricket World Cup.
3. Imran Qureshi named ‘Artist of the Year 2013’
Imran Qureshi, a celebrated miniature artist trained at the National College of Arts, was named ‘Artist of the Year 2013’ by the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council. His unique art work combines the beauty of traditional miniature painting techniques with modern aesthetics and themes.
4. Malala Yusafzai inspired the world
This young girl literally took a bullet in the head for what she believed in: right to an education for girls. She was hailed across the world as a symbol of courage. TIME magazine voted her the second most influential person in the world, right after the United States’ President Obama, in their annual list for 2012. Furthermore, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon announced that November 10 (the day she was shot) be named as 'Malala Day'. Not bad for a 15-year-old!
5. Pakistani movie Lamha rocked the world
Given the dismal state of Pakistani cinema, it was indeed an honour when a Pakistani film Lamha (Seedlings) bagged two awards at the New York City International Film Festival. Lamha won the Best Feature Film- Audience Award and its leading lady Aamina Sheikh won the Best Actress in Leading Role award.
6. Pakistani debaters held their own
Pakistan’s team of student debaters won the finals against South Korea at the Karl Popper Debating Championship held in Mexico this year. Team members Zainab Hameed was named the top speaker of the competition, while Azeem Liaqat came in second.
7. Usman Riaz: Guitarist extraordinaire
In June, the 21-year-old musician wowed all those present at TED Global 2012 with his percussive guitar. In addition to being a TED Global Fellow, he has composed the soundtrack to the film Lamha (Seedlings) and other original pieces of work, and is someone we are eagerly anticipating more from!
8. Project Clean Up for Peace
Upon the release of the controversial film ‘Innocence of Muslims’, a volatile combination of religious and political outrage in Pakistan led to mayhem and destruction in certain major cities in September. And then a group of young people did the unthinkable: they cleaned up afterwards. It started with a simple tweet by Faran Rafi and his friends, but wound up getting the country’s young people on to the streets for a different cause. With their statement that read, “Let’s all be peaceful and show the world that REAL Pakistanis don’t believe in violence,” this was volunteerism at its best.
9. Edhi’s Nobel Prize nomination
Pakistan’s favourite humanitarian finally received a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. Edhi, who is regarded with an almost religious reverence amongst innumerable Pakistanis, might not have won but the nomination in itself was welcome for officially recognising his extensive efforts and contribution to a country that gets more bad press than investment banks. It also reminded us of the power of raising our voice (be it through online petitions, campaigns or otherwise), no matter how pointless or meagre an effort it may initially seem.
10. A railway policeman who was a hero
More often than not, it’s the ordinary people who prove to be the biggest heroes. In August, 38-year-old Railways policeman Sohail Mehmood risked and lost his life to save a six-year-old boy from getting run over by a train at Landhi, Sindh. Although the incident was tragic, it can also be seen as a reaffirmation of our faith in the ordinary Pakistani- the dependable, anonymous faces who can surprise you the most by putting other people first.
11. Triumphs in theatre
What can we say? This was the year of veteran playwright Anwar Maqsood’s first ever staged play, Pawnay 14 August. It appealed to every Pakistani’s inherent patriotism and for that we consider it an accomplishment.
Another triumph of Pakistani theatre in May 2012, was the Lahore-based Ajoka Theatre being awarded the prestigious Otto Award for Political Theatre 2012 at the Castillo Theatre on Broadway, New York.
12. Pedal for peace
One of our favourite personal initiatives in 2012 was Pedal for Peace, the brainchild of Abdul Basit Khawaja and Mohsin Ejaz, with the aim of cycling from one city to another to ‘spread a message of peace and tolerance’, and to create awareness about certain social issues of education, health and poverty in Pakistan. During 2012, the team travelled to Lahore and Peshawar, and has plans to go to Multan, Karachi and Amritsar, India soon as well. The initiative has managed to forge links between local NGOs and institutions that are working in these areas.
13. The Jhang model
In a commendable effort to tackle petty corruption, the Punjab government developed the Punjab Model of Proactive Governance or the ‘Jhang Model’, as an anti-corruption governance mechanism to gather feedback and engage citizens. Started in 2011 and awarded the Innovation Fund Prize by the World Bank, the last year has seen the initiative being picked up and implemented in five districts of Punjab, with further progress being made as we speak.
Given its effective start, we can hope to see this as a concrete step in the right direction.
Watch the video here.
14. Rimsha Masih – and a (small?) victory for minorities
Blasphemy charges were dropped against the young Christian girl with Down’s syndrome in November, and the main accuser Khalid Jadoon Chishti was arrested. True, the Rimsha Masih case exposed one of the ugliest sides of Pakistan. But the outcome showed that even though it’s a long way to go, there is yet hope for ensuring justice for Pakistan’s minorities.
15. Changing the image of Pakistan one 'Lolz' at a time
We love the light hearted yet meaningful way in which Syed Muzamil Hasan Zaidi and his team at Lolz Studios have decided to promote a softer image of Pakistan. Their videos have inspired countless Pakistanis and have made Muzamil into something of a celebrity. Especially ‘22 Random Acts of Kindness’ earlier this year when Muzamil decided to spend his birthday performing random good deeds for strangers such as distributing balloons at an orphanage to anonymously cleaning someone’s car, touched the hearts of not just Pakistanis but many across the world.
Watch the video here.
16. Setting world records
2012 was a big year for Pakistan for world records. In the field of education, Ibrahim Shahid from Islamabad stunned the world in January by setting a new world record by scoring 23 As in the Cambridge O' level exams. While Sitara Akbar from Chiniot set a world record after passing O level English, Mathematics, and Science at the age of only 11.
In October, during the Punjab Youth Festival held in Lahore, Pakistanis set 12 world records in 3 days. Amongst them, 44,200 Pakistanis sang the national anthem together at the National Hockey Stadium to set a new world record breaking India’s record of 15,243 people. At the same festival, more than 24,000 Pakistanis formed the world’s largest ‘human national flag’, smashing a previous record set in Hong Kong.
Read more by Tamreez here, or follow her on Twitter @tamreezinam
Read more by Maria here.
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