2015 has been a year of mourning for Pakistan. The year opened with the nation still reeling from the December 16, 2014, attack on an army-run school in Peshawar, in which 147 people, most of them students, were massacred by the Taliban.
The grieving continued as more lives were taken; as a major earthquake struck around the 10-year anniversary of the 2005 quake; as a fatal helicopter crash killed two ambassadors, and as relations between India and Pakistan and border clashes reached its lowest point in years.
However, not all significant events of the year were about loss.
Pakistan made significant gains in terms of economy and trade, along with military achievements. Younis Khan broke countless records. And a highly-publicised marriage and divorce made international headlines.
We take a look at Pakistan in 2015 through a series of images:
Naya Pakistan arrives in the form of Reham Khan
Imran Khan married television talk show host Reham Khan in a low-key ceremony attended by a handful of friends on January 8.
The nikkah of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chairman was conducted at his Bani Gala residence in Islamabad by Mufti Syed in an Islamic ceremony. The 62-year-old cricket star-turned-politician has since ended his marriage with the TV anchor who is now hosting a television show named “Tabdeeli”. Read more here.
T2F director Sabeen Mahmud shot dead after hosting activist
Sabeen Mahmud, the director and founder of The Second Floor (T2F) cafe, was shot dead by gunmen in an upscale neighbourhood of Karachi. Sabeen, along with her mother, was returning home from T2F when her car was attacked near the Defence Central Library traffic signal.
Hours earlier, she had hosted a seminar on the troubled province of Balochistan, featuring Mama Qadeer, the chairperson of Voice for Missing Baloch. Read more here.
Norway, Philippines ambassadors killed in Gilgit helicopter crash
In one of the strangest incidents of the year, the ambassadors of Norway and Philippines and six others were killed when an army helicopter crashed in Naltar area of Gilgit in May.
The Mi-17 helicopter crashed on a school, which officials said was closed at the time. The delegation was on its way to inspect projects on a three-day trip to Gilgit-Baltistan where they were set to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Read more here.
Pakistan gave a huge sigh of relief after Zimbabwe’s high-stakes, high-security tour ended without major incident, the first top-level international cricket in the insurgency-hit country in six years.
Cricket-mad Pakistani fans, starved of action at home since gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009, packed Lahore’s Gaddafi stadium for the two Twenty20s and three one-day internationals.
The home side dominated, winning both T20s and two of the ODIs, with the third rained off, but the symbolism of the matches mattered far more than the results. Read more here
Over 1,300 people killed in deadly Karachi heatwave
The summer turned out to be one of the hottest in the history of Pakistan. Many cities sizzled and sweltered under the scorching sun as temperatures soared as high as 50°C.
Karachi’ites, too, braved the sweltering temperatures that also led to the unfortunates deaths of over 1,000 people in the city and lower Sindh. Medical experts alleged that the government failed to take proper measures when the hot weather hit the city. Even officials of the public sector hospitals believed that the provincial government woke up late, after hundreds of bodies had already been brought to the hospitals. Read more here.
HONY comes to Pakistan
Brandon Stanton, during his short visit, captured breathtaking images of our countrymen, shared their stories and managed to show the world another side of Pakistan.
The creator of Humans of New York (HONY) outdid himself when helped raise around $1.3 million through a remarkable seven-photo series depicting the struggle of a Pakistani female activist fighting against bonded labour. Stanton set up an account for Syeda Ghulam Fatima (pictured above), titled ‘Let’s help Fatima end bonded labour’, raising $1,302,440 for the Bonded Labor Liberation Front in just three days. Read more here.
Shuja Khanzada killed in targeted attack
Punjab Home Minister Col (retd) Shuja Khanzada paid a heavy price for standing up against terrorists. The minister had been warned he was a target for retaliation by a militant organisation after Punjab police killed Malik Ishaq, chief of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the radical sectarian group, last month.
Khanzada was among at least 16 people killed at his political office near his hometown of Attock, about 80 km west of Islamabad. The minister had told Reuters that police had cautioned him to increase security and restrict his movements following the killing of LeJ’s chief in a shootout with police on July 29. Read more here.
Floods, floods and more floods
Over a million people were affected by floods across Pakistan this year, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. Since the flash floods started ravaging various parts of the country in mid-July, at least 166 people were killed and 128 injured. Besides, 8,471 houses and 2,976 villages were also damaged by the floods. Read more here.
Defence Day Parade
The nation celebrated with great fervour the golden jubilee of Pakistan Defence Day on September 6 in memory of the 1965 war heroes who defended the motherland.
Celebrations for Defence Day started with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salute in provincial capitals. In Karachi, the day started with the change of guard ceremony at Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum where contingents of cadets of PAF assumed charge. Read more here.
Earthquake hits Afghanistan, Pakistan
A powerful earthquake struck Pakistan and Afghanistan on October 26, killing at least 200 people. In Pakistan alone, 140 deaths were reported, most in northern and northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan. Particularly hard-hit in Pakistan was Chitral. Read more here.
Geeta departs for India
A young deaf and mute Indian woman who strayed into Pakistan more than 10 years ago flew to New Delhi in October to be reunited with the people she believes are her family. Geeta was under the care of Bilqees Edhi at the Edhi Foundation. Read more here.
19 killed, over 100 injured as Jaffer Express derails in Balochistan
Jaffar Express, carrying 280 passengers, was en route to Rawalpindi from Quetta when it derailed in Aab-e-Gum area of Bolan district, 76 kilometres southeast of Quetta on November 17. As a result, 16 passengers died on the spot while nearly 200 were injured. Three more passengers succumbed to their injuries. Read more here.
Mariam Mukhtiar dies in a plane crash
A Pakistani woman became the country’s first female pilot to be killed after a fault on the F-7 aircraft she was in occurred. Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Shareef paid rich tribute to the flying officer and her sacrifice. “She was indeed a role model for women and pride of Pakistan,” the army chief said in his condolence message. Read more here.
December: LG polls
Local Government polls took place across the country this year, amid tight security. In Karachi, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement claimed a landslide victory after a decade. Read more here.
Country paid tribute to its fallen angels
The nation marked the first anniversary of Peshawar’s Army Public School massacre on December 16, during which the country’s top civil and military leadership honoured those who lost their lives during the attack. Scores of people across the nation also expressed solidarity with the victims and their families. Read more here.
Modi stuns the world, makes a pit-stop in Lahore
After a span of rising tensions over a number of issues between Indian and Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to end the year on a much more peaceful note when he announced a surprise visit to Pakistan.
The visit marked the first time in over a decade that an Indian premier visited Pakistan. Modi landed in Lahore to wish the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his birthday and even paid a visit to his private residence in Raiwind, where his granddaughter marriage was being celebrated.
Read more here