Positive Pakistan: Moments of pride in 2012

Published: January 2, 2013

Sharmeen's Oscar, Malala's courage, Rimsha Masih, our Asian Hockey Championship -- We've seen so many things 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.

PHOTO: http://www.aaj.tv/2012/11/deutsche-banks-artist-of-the-year-2013-imran-qureshi/


PHOTO: http://www.aaj.tv/2012/11/deutsche-banks-artist-of-the-year-2013-imran-qureshi/

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.

Mohib Mirza, Aamina Sheikh, Meher Jaffri, Mansoor Mujahid pose at the screening of Lamha (Seedlings) at the New York City International Film Festival. PHOTO: Twitter

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.


Blogs Desk

Blogs Desk

The Express Tribune Blogs desk.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    I think you missed a significant moment in 2012 when in Lahore at the Minar grounds Imran Khan produced a ‘ magical ‘ moment for the thoroughly depressed people of this country when he showed them that they can lift themselves out of the mess they are in.Recommend

  • Hamza

    Awesome read!

    Sooooo many things that are otherwise shoved aside were noted here – loved it!

    An eventful year passes, another awaits.Recommend

  • zakoota

    In 2012, Pakistani males continued having significantly larger members than their Indian counterparts.Recommend

  • S

    Thanks for this!! :))Recommend

  • http://asaddurrani.wordpress.com Asad Durrani

    you told me something to cheer at, shukriya dostRecommend

  • http://www.riazhaq.com Riaz Haq

    Pakistani shares indices hit new record highs. Karachi’s KSE-100 index surged nearly 50% (37% in US $ terms) in 2012 to top all Asian market indices. It was followed by Bangkok’s SET index which advanced 36%. It also easily beat India’s Sensex index which was the top performer among BRICs with 25.19% annual gain.

    A string of strong earnings announcements by Karachi Stock Exchange listed companies and the Central Bank’s rate cuts helped the KSE-100 index approach 17,000 level, a gain of 49.84% (37% in US dollar terms). In spite of this run-up in KSE-100, Andrew Brudenell, manager of the HSBC Frontier Markets fund (HSFAX) in London, remains bullish on Pakistani equities, according to Barron’s. Pakistan is one of the cheapest markets he follows, at about seven times earnings. He notes that earnings growth has kept pace with the market. The firms, he adds, are typically cash-rich, boast strong return on equity levels in the 20% range, and pay good dividends.


  • http://thediaryofaliar.blogspot.com/ javed

    Oh dear, how can you forget the ‘One Pound Fish’!!! Lolz…Recommend

  • harsh

    Well this has to be added to your list
    Khairpur: US State University of New York has awarded a Pakistani student scholarship of 250,000 dollars for his modern research in the field of biochemical.

    Shahdab Abro, a student of private school in Sukkur in Sindh, carried out research on biochemical and through different experiments prepared a project which helps purge industry of viruses and also suggests ways to make the contaminated water of industry useable.Recommend

  • Ahmed Zawar

    Cricketing glories included a 3-0 whitewash of number 1 ranked test side England in early 2012. The biggest of them all!Recommend

  • Anas Tanveer

    It is so good to read the blog first, and then the readers contributions , mentioning the succuss stories, missed out in the blog. Its too much to cheer. Proud to be a Pakistani. May this year brings more joy and pride back home. Long live Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sane

    Well written. But, Chinoy and Malala must not be in the list. Both did not earn good name to the nation, due to shady and dubious affairs.Recommend

  • socko

    Let us also not forget about the most amazing scientific achievement… Car that runs on water. I hope the genius guy would have patented the technology… This single achievement ca earn Pakistan trillions of dollars as royalty from all the countries, including India… Finally, India would bow down to Pakistan. though it would be horribly sad day for Indians as they would feel insulted for not discovering the technology.. It has finally proved itds mettle, Inspite of so-called Liberal Pakistanis (“Amreekan Agent”) trying their best to ridicule the genius… Dont worry guys, it s just a couple of months or so… Inshallah, once Imran is elected, water car will solve all the pak problems in days, worst case would be couple off weeks… INSHALLAH… Recommend

  • http://None Jay A Nasir

    Well that’s really great to know. Being a state where there is a blood shed all around, drones are doing their job by regular bases and Karachi is being made a battle-field. in all this background, the great Pakiz are doing something outstanding, hats off…Recommend

  • Muhammad Azam Niazi

    Very nice compilation. World needs to be shown ” Positive Pakistan”. Media around the world generally prefers focusing on our negative side.Either because it has become a fashion or perhaps deemed safe reporting.Recommend

  • (In)Sane

    Yaar, no water-kit!?! What is this sorcery. Recommend

  • Turbo Lover

    @Zakoota: LOL, OK, I can see where this is going.Recommend

  • http://islamabad abc

    Awesome…just made my day!!!Recommend

  • Abbas Mehmood

    @zakoota: Hahaha good one…….:-)Recommend

  • ASP

    All above positive points seem useless to me. In fact we are trying to get some hope out of our motherland that is left in throes. No event can be regarded positive or benevolent unless it brings relief to starved civilians of this country, else it’s just a frivolous act of making oneself happier and satisfied about his/her motherland’s tacit talent and intellect.Recommend

  • Sid


    And what ‘shady’ & ‘dubious’ affairs were Chinoy and Malala involved in? The only thing shady here is your gullibility & susceptibilty to baseless conspiracy theories.Recommend

  • Sane


    My comment is NO COMMENTS.Recommend

  • insanE

    GREAT !!!!Recommend

  • kinza

    lahore jalsa happened in 2011Recommend

  • http://abdulbasitkhawaja.blogspot.com Abdul Basit Khawaja

    Tamreez and Maria, thank you for posting about our initiative – Pedal for Peace. It’s an honor for us to be mentioned in this list. You guys certainly made our day!Recommend

  • Muddasar

    Lets hope that this list continues in 2013, and those tragic things (like bombing, corruption, rape, etc) won’t happen any moreRecommend

  • Tamreez Inam

    Thank you to all who appreciated the piece and to those who mentioned further achievements and moments in the comments section! Of course, there are so many more that we can all mention!

    Here’s hoping 2013 would be a great year for Pakistan, full of peace, prosperity and inspiration! Happy New Year! :)Recommend

  • Aliha Chaudry

    Well written. But, Chinoy must not be in the list.Recommend

  • Aqsa Siddique

    awesome read!!! But malala must not be added in this list!!Recommend

  • Waqas

    Awesome work to recognise the good in Pakistan!Recommend

  • Critical

    I dont know what profession are you practicing…..But you must have seen a lot of members to make such a judgement :)Recommend

  • Parvez

    @kinza: My apologies………….I stand corrected.Recommend

  • Youths’ voice

    You just forgot to mention this!
    Our 15-year old Ali Shahbaz, from Lahore, managed to enter the arena of UN, as the youngest official youth delegate, attended the Rio+20 as the youngest ever delegate, made a history in the Readers’ digest Magazine for getting ASIAN OF THE YEAR 2012 Honorable mention, and amazed the whole world; everyone around the world appreciated his accomplishment but Pakistani media seldom brought him into limelight , although this young diplomat has turned up as a voice for youth around the globe! Go search on google “Ali Shahbaz- youth delegate”

    See the following links:

    WE MUST ACKNOWLEDGE HIS EFFORTS! People like this young guy are very rare; they need to be motivated so as to maximize their patriotism and the spirit to serve this nation!Recommend

  • http://www.aanyafniaz.wordpress.com Aanya Niaz

    Good to see good amidst the cruelty – Hopefully this year will enable political achievements as well and secure social realism. Thanks for sharing. Recommend

  • Sameer

    Yes Yes. Nice concert.Recommend

  • lolpk

    That was in 2011.Recommend

  • http://www.risingkarachi.blogspot.com Nouman Ahmed

    ET you missed to mention many incredible successes

    Moosa Feroze Tarer – Winner of World Math’s Competition
    Pakistani cotton scientist declared the world’s best in 2012
    Pakistani student wins silver medal in Genius Olympiad
    Pakistan won Youth scrabble championship
    Pakistan baggage Four Silver Awards in APICTA 2012
    Sana Safinaz won Best International Designer Award 2012Recommend

  • zakoota

    @Critical I’m training to be a urologist, if you must know.Recommend

  • http://www.waqas-rabbani.blogspot.com waqas rabbani

    you guys missed the biggest scientific discovery of this age.. the discovery of the Higgs boson, was based on the research of Dr. Abdus Salam…

    and the number of Pakistani researchers involved in the biggest discovery of science since Eisenstein wrote e=mc2 on the board…

    please do make sure as this tops the list…Recommend

  • Rabia

    How can you possibly forget 1 pound fish? :ORecommend

  • Critical

    If you’re an urologist…Could you give me your address where you practice so I WILL NOT visit that area ever……

    When I’ve a problem,I want to go to a urologist who looks at my kidneys not stare at somewhere else,which will make me uncomfortable if you’re a maleRecommend

  • http://google Khansa Shakil

    Truly extraordinaire
    it seems dat we r still da best………..:)Recommend

  • http://whatprice.com.pk ali rizvi

    @Sane: a very sane reply saneRecommend

  • Khurry

    Do you think Malala Yusafzai is a proud moment for Pakistan or she is an inspiration for other Think it! ??? and I think ET beating England 3-0 in UAE is also counts in happy sporting events for Pakistan in 2012. Atleast count it!! Recommend

  • http://SA SA

    …well-listed achievements…all came like a beautiful storyRecommend

  • Somebody

    Jealous much? I smell an Indian here.Recommend

  • NAZIM (karachi)

    its great and heartening to see these glories. The fact that 7 out 16 glories invlove a Karachiite gives me even more pride, satisfaction, and happiness. My eternal love, Damned Karachi, INSHA ALLAH will never stop producing such glories. Salam to All Recommend

  • mahrukh

    A great read! Recommend

  • Anonymous

    Indian here. Great to see these positive moments in Pakistan’s psyche.Recommend

  • Muhammad

    I dont want to be negative and pessamisst but Oh please be realistic. relisticaly view yourself where are you placed. Individual perofrmances in Arts and drama?? Nothing in Education, Science, Medicine, Finance….

    Come on come out of your false prides except reality and struggle to achive real pride. One Oscar, hah…we have rejected a Noble Prize, we are such a people….Recommend

  • Asma Aziz

    Important Correction:

    16. Setting world records

    Ibrahim Shahid got 23 A’s in February 2011 not 2012 that record was broken by Syed Zohaib Asad in August 2011 by getting 28 As who was recognized in Canada and awarded by PM Gillani in 2012 , Sitara Barooj Akbar also made the record in 2011 not 2012Recommend

  • http://Ettisalat Mahendra

    By birth Pakistan is a bluffer/cheater country that they have prove several times with honesty to the rest of the world and they are shameless also at the same time. And if this is the begining of the C V of a country then nothing good can be expected & no need to discuss all these things any more.The only policy is needed to be implemented is same like Israiel’s policy – Tit for Tat.Recommend