Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the man who founded Pakistan, is easily held in the highest regard in the country for his fight for a separate state and for his famous motto, ‘Unity, Faith, Discipline’. With his leadership skills and dapper style, Jinnah was without a doubt Pakistan’s greatest politician. He died in 1948, while supervising the setting up of refugee camps after Partition.
Liaquat Ali Khan was one of the leading founding fathers of modern Pakistan, a statesman, lawyer, and political theorist who served as the country’s first prime minister. A graduate of Aligarh Muslim University in India and Oxford University in the United Kingdom, he was dubbed as Jinnah’s right-hand man and was responsible for spearheading Pakistan after his death. Liaquat was assassinated four years after Pakistan gained independence in 1951.
Responsible for penning the popular song Saare Jahaan Se Achcha, Allama Iqbal is one of the most prolific writers in Urdu literature, with literary work in both the Urdu and Persian languages. Iqbal was honoured by King George V and was given the title of ‘Sir’. "Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians," a truth only Iqbal could have penned.
The legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan left an entire country spellbound with his heavenly voice. The musical maestro is widely considered as the most important Qawwal in history. During his lifetime, he won several prestigious awards including the President of Pakistan’s Award for Pride of Performance, the UNESCO Music Prize and the Grand Prix des Amériques. He once explained the true meaning of dance: "When people start dancing, they dance like they don't know they are doing it."
Noor Jehan was one of the most influential singers of her time, with a career spanning over six decades. Recognised by her signature neck scarf and beauty spot, she recorded about 10,000 songs in various languages including Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Sindhi. She was one of the greatest trendsetters in Pakistan, being one of the earliest people to break gender stereotypes and venture into filmmaking and acting.
Read: Noor Jehan: Gone but never forgotten
Abdul Sattar Edhi is a prominent Pakistani philanthropist, social activist and humanitarian. He is the founder and head of the Edhi Foundation, one of the most respected non-profit social welfare organisations in the world. On January 1, 2014, Edhi was also voted Person of the year 2013 by the readers of The Express Tribune. His foundation runs the world's largest ambulance service and operates free nursing homes, orphanages, clinics, women's shelters, and rehab centres for drug addicts and mentally ill individuals. "No religion is higher than humanity," says Edhi. Words to live by.
On 10 October 2014, 17-year-old Malala made Pakistanis across the globe proud when she became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. An activist for girls’ education in the Swat Valley, Malala was shot by the Taliban in October 2012 when they raided her school bus. She survived and went on to become a global peace icon and education activist. "If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home," said Malala after moving abroad in fear of her life. Let us hope Malala can one day return to her paradise.
Read: NASA scientist names asteroid after Malala Yousafzai
Samina Baig became the first Pakistani woman and the third Pakistani to climb Mount Everest in 2013. Samina is also the first Pakistani woman and the first Muslim to climb the seven summits. Along with breaking records, the young climber also managed to break many gender stereotypes along the way.
Read: Samina Baig: First Pakistani woman to scale Mount Everest
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy became the second Pakistani, and first Pakistani woman to win the Academy Award for her documentary, Saving Face, in 2012. Her documentary was acclaimed world over as it shed light on the horrific practice of acid attacks and highlighted women’s rights. Sharmeen recently also directed Pakistan’s first feature-length animated film, 3 Bahadur.
Read: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary wins Oscar
Pakistan’s triumph at the 1992 Cricket World Cup is perhaps the fondest memory of every Pakistani who was there to live it. Imran Khan, who led his team to victory, was hailed as the country’s greatest sporting hero at the age of 39. Khan took the winning wicket himself and brought joy that still lingers for an entire nation.
The world looked on in horror as over 130 children were massacred by ruthless terrorists in an attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School on December 16, 2014. It shook our nation like never before, never had we witnessed something more tragic in our history. We will forever be grateful to them for reminding us that something needed to change because we as a nation had failed to protect our own future.
Read: 1992 World Cup: The returning champions
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