In no particular order, here are 10 reasons why the upcoming year is not the end of the world (2012!) for Pakistan. There might by 100 better reasons, but this is what I could come up with, enjoy!
Mian Iftikhar: The tale of Mian Iftikhair Hussain, Information Minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is one of the most heart wrenching stories of this past year. His son was mercilessly martyred by the Taliban, and in response, Mian Sahib gave a press conference with great poise and elegance where he spoke of his loss and how he will continue to fight for what he believes in. There was no time for Mian Sahib, who soon after losing his son had to deal with the catastrophe that the floods brought, but like the true patriot that he is, he was in the news every day giving updates and asking for help. As long as even one person like Mian Iftikhar Hussain is in our government, this country has more than a hope of turning things around.
Abdul Razzaq: Abdul Razzaq has had his troubles with the Pakistan team. After being inexplicably dropped from the first T20 World Cup squad, he spent time in wilderness. While he has recently crept back into the line-up, he hasn't been the Razzaq of old, who was once compared to the great Jacques Kallis. All that changed when, in the midst of the ongoing drama serial that is Pakistan cricket, he strolled out into the middle against South Africa in Abu Dhabi. The rest, as they say, is history. Here are the last 12 balls of that epic innings. No matter how bad it gets for Pakistan cricket, we are always in with a chance. Don’t count us out of the World Cup just yet.
Pakistan Army: The Army’s ill-advised forays into politics over the last 60 years have been well documented, but things this year were different. There were no explicit political statements or moves made from the GHQ, instead they were doing what they do best, helping people. International response to the floods was slow, but from the first second the heavens opened up, the army was out there airlifting supplies and doing everything else. Let's hope that continues. Pak Fauj Zindabad!
Blackberry app: A good story to highlight the potential that Pakistan has is this one. The bestselling Blackberry app is made in Lahore. Quite the achievement!
Asma Jehangir: Umair already mentioned this, but like Aisam this is worth repeating. The lawyer community has been at the epicenter of change recently with Asma Jehangir being in the thick of things. She has made a few trips to jail for her troubles but her success this year serves as inspiration for all and in particular women to get out and do something!
Roshaneh Zafar: This story caught my eye in the New York Times a while back. The story is that of a women fighting terrorism in the way it should be done. Rather than go in guns blazing, Roshaneh Zafar goes a different route. One way to tackle terrorism is to address a major root cause: poverty. But as Zafar says in the article “Charity is limited, capitalism isn’t”. In 1996 Zafar returned to Pakistan and founded Kashf, a microfinance organization which now has up till now dispersed more the $200 million to more than 300,000 families. If that’s not a reason to believe in Pakistan than I don’t know what is.
Aisam ul haq: Again, Umair beat me to the punch by highlighting the triumph that is Aisam ul Haq Qureshi so I won’t go into much detail, but if anything belongs on this list it is Aisam’s ability to unite two countries and do his bit to remove misconceptions about Pakistan. An honorable mention is made here to the Bryan brothers, who define the sport of doubles tennis. They won the final at the US Open but were very graceful in victory and donated a share of their winnings to the Pakistani flood victims.
Our generation: The older I get the more I realized how privileged I was. Blame Musharraf for whatever you like, during his time, at least from 1999-2006 Pakistan was a stable, progressive state. The Karachi Stock Exchange was amongst the fastest growing markets in the world. Ties with India were at an all-time high, (I even got to witness a Pakistan-India cricket game at Gadaffi stadium!). Things are different now; my little brother does not get to watch a Pakistan-Bangladesh cricket game in Pindi, let alone anything else. The generations before us had to put up with the horror of Zia’s era, but we were privileged, at least I think so. There is optimism amongst our ranks to make things right again, and better than they were. The general feeling I get from talking to my friends is that we are going to go back to Pakistan with quality education to change things for the better. Only time will tell, but I have a good feeling about us.
Cowasjee: I will leave this story to the far superior writing ability of my uncle, which actually inspired me to write this piece, but to sum up, we have seen worse and got through it.
Music: through it all, our musicians have managed to inspire and a voice for a cause for change. Nothing sums that up better than this song by Atif Aslam and Strings. A special shout out to Talal and Zoi who are making waves in the music industry. With tunes like this to lead us into the future something has to go right!