New Year is just hours ahead and Pakistan will enter 2012 before many other countries do (one thing putting Pakistan ahead of others is geography; thanks to Mother Nature). The year 2011 was mainly a year of challenges and embarrassments for Pakistan, though there were a number of instances where the nation exhibited its strengths. Following is a snapshot of the major events that kept Pakistan in the headlines internationally.
War on Terror
Sadly, when we speak of Pakistan today, terrorism and war on terror always perch first on our thinking. This year brought Pakistan the event that could be called the story of the century. Without doubt, Osama Bin Laden’s hunted killing
by American Navy Seals on 1st of May in Abbottbad, in what came to be called as Operation Neptune Spear
, was an event that made other news stories wait in line to be read. Depending on how you look at it, it was regarded as a big blow to Pakistan’s already murky reputation as well as a big victory for the country to be rid of the most wanted terrorist. The news made everybody forget the earlier incident of Raymond Davis
, a CIA operative who shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore after they chased him on bike with a gun. In late November and early December, a BBC documentary
produced fresh ripples in the war-on-terror scene when it featured interview with a few terrorists captured in Afghanistan who claimed they were trained by Pakistan’s powerful spy agency the ISI. Subsequently, Pakistan had to order cable operators to suspend the BBC News channel in this connection.
The democratic government of Pakistan kept struggling against political opponents as well as the higher judiciary which it kept blaming for partiality. The alleged Memogate Scandal
occurring lately took the country’s political strife to a new peak, so that the country’s judiciary and parliament have literally entered what might be called the decisive combat. Allegedly involving Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, the issue has brought to surface an apparent state of confrontation between the democratically elected government and the country’s powerful and influential military establishment. Parallel investigations of the issue are underway at the time of this writing, one by the judiciary and the other by the parliament. Who gives orders to whom is the concern Pakistan will enter with in 2012.
Alongside, Pakistan’s ex-cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has almost abruptly gained heightened popularity as his public rallies started attracting scores of people in different parts of the country. Some prominent political figures have already joined Imran Khan who heads Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf amid allegations
that the party is being sponsored by the country’s military establishment to undermine the current government.
Human Rights/Social Justice
When the apex court of Pakistan set the once legally convicted rapists of Mukhtaran Mai free
in April, a nationwide disapproval of the judicial failure was featured in news. A teary-eyed Mukhtara Mai was shown on many news sites and channels reporting the acquittal of the accused rapists. Though important legislation
for women’s protection has been passed recently by the government, domestic violence victimizing women and children as well as torture and abuse of children in seminaries continued to make disturbing news throughout the year. However, the year’s closing brought the uplifting story of the courageous young Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai, from the war-torn Swat district, who was nominated
for the International Peace Prize for Children to recognize her campaigning for girls’ education against the odds of fundamentalism in her hometown.
In its most popular sport, i.e. cricket, Pakistan had two major setbacks making headlines worldwide. In March, Pakistan’s national cricket team was defeated by India
in a much-publicized semi-final match played in Mohali (India), knocking Pakistan out of the 10th ICC World Cup Cricket event. The good side of the apparently humiliating defeat was that it was, one the whole, received well by Pakistani public and media, which are usually given to hysterical outbursts when archrival India levels Pakistan in any major cricket event. But the biggest setback to Pakistani cricket came in early November when three of its international cricket stars were convicted of “spot-fixing”
, a scandal that has been regarded as the biggest scandal of fraud in the history of international cricket. The cricketers currently serve a prison sentence in England.
The dying (or better call it dead already) film industry of Pakistan never was part of international news but one celebrity outshines all and in 2011, she created news worldwide after her intimacy with an Indian star on a reality show was dragged into media trial, even getting her condemnation by a number of orthodox Muslims of the country. Veena Malik’s controversy following her participation in the Indian reality show Bigg Boss (Season 4) made her defend herself
against the country’s clerical representatives. Later this year, Veena would get into something that would make her the first Pakistani celebrity to make headlines worldwide, including Yahoo news—an allegedly topless/nude photo shoot
for an Indian fashion magazine, such that her arm displayed the initials ISI. Allegations and defenses continue to date, but it won’t be exaggerating to claim that Veena goes where no one has gone before.