7 reasons to look back at 2017 and be proud of Pakistan

Published: December 25, 2017
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A man waves the flag of Pakistan in the air as people watch the ceremony to lower the national flags at the border crossing between Pakistan and India March 11, 2004 in Wagah, Pakistan. PHOTO: GETTY

2017 would be mainly remembered by the judicial verdict in Panamagate, whereby a sitting prime minister was sent packing by the Supreme Court, and the pervasive political turmoil that ensued as a result of that decision.

There were many positive events during the year that would help us look back at 2017 with a fond smile. As we move closer towards 2018, here is some of the inspiring and reassuring news that came out of Pakistan:

1. Top of the sports world

Anyone who knows anything about cricket will tell you that if there is one team that has the raw talent to beat the odds, it’s Pakistan. Going into the Champions Trophy as the last ranked team, hardly anyone would have believed that Pakistan stood a chance at winning the coveted title in England. But holding true to its unpredictability, Pakistan surprised the world when we defeated arch rivals India to lift the Champions Trophy for the first time in our cricketing history.  It was like Eid had come early! From London to Lahore, New York to Narowal, every Pakistani was in a state of euphoria. It was indeed one of the most joyous moments of the year.

Similarly, 2017 witnessed the return of international cricket to Pakistan, with a team comprising the best players of the world coming to Lahore to play a three-match T20 series against Pakistan. This was soon followed by the arrival of the Sri Lankan team as well for a T20 match. Everyone knew that for Pakistan, this meant much more than the game. Fans thronged the Gaddafi stadium for each match, cheering on the international superstars just as much as they cheered their own team. At the end, no team lost because cricket was the winner.

In the field of Boxing, Pakistani boxer Muhammad Waseem, hailing from Quetta, continued to make us proud, when he retained his Silver Flyweight Boxing Belt, which he had won in 2016. In October this year, he successfully defended that title and took his tally of undefeated victories to eight.

2. Pakistani students continue to shine

Keep the tradition of academic excellence alive, a Pakistani student, Hunain Zia, broke the previous world record by securing an unbelievable total of 66 As in O and A’ Levels combined. He also holds the record for maximum appearances in one session (27 days), including a staggering 45 subjects and 154 papers.

Similarly, a 17-year-old student, Muhammad Shaheer Niazi, put Pakistan on the science map when he was able to visualise a physics phenomenon. Scientists from across the globe were amazed that a young kid such as Shaheer could come up with such a lucid conceptualisation. His work was later published in the Royal Society Open Science, a world-renowned science journal.  More power to you, Shaheer!

3. Goodbye, loadshedding

In 2007, Pakistan first encountered the load-shedding epidemic. Since then, this was an issue that plagued our society to the point where it became an intrinsic part of our daily routines. But a decade and lots of hard work later, things seem much “brighter”. In November 2017, the government of Pakistan gave the people the glad tidings that Pakistan had “surplus of energy”, producing 2,700 megawatts more than the demand. You may disagree with many policies of the current government, but one has to give the devil its due. Here’s hoping Pakistan never falls into the web of darkness weaved by load-shedding ever again.

4. Terrorism being defeated

2017 was also a good year for Pakistan in terms of our fight against terrorism. Although it goes without saying that even a single terrorist attack is intolerable, it was nonetheless heartening to note that the number of fatal casualties from terrorist attacks decreased to the lowest number since 2007. The Global Terrorism Index gave Pakistan an improved rating in terms of decrease in terrorist attacks, which was a welcome sign. One hopes that in the near future, the government announces the day of December 16th as a National Remembrance Day, for remembering all the innocent Pakistanis who laid down their lives in this for preserving the soul of our country. Each year on that day, all of Pakistan should stand in silence for 10 minutes and pay respects to our fallen compatriots.

5. CPEC paves the way forward

This year saw massive inroads in the development of the CPEC-related projects, including completion of different energy and infrastructure projects. Starting from Gilgit right down to Gwadar and Karachi, new motorways and rail networks are being built linking Pakistan and bringing our people closer. The Gwadar Port, which is at the heart of the development agenda, became fully functional this year and ships started landing at the harbour. Only time will tell whether this project will be the true “game-changer” for Pakistan that many are predicting, but the pace of progress witnessed this year is certainly a positive sign in that direction.

6. Billion trees planted

2017 saw the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) announce the unprecedented achievement of planting a billion trees in just three years’ time. A ceremony was held this year where Imran Khan revealed that the Billion-tree tsunami initiative was a resounding success. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was called upon to verify the plantations and after surveying the areas, WWF acknowledged that a billion trees were indeed planted. This is a landmark milestone in our nation’s history, because since independence, no government has made any substantive efforts towards afforestation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also congratulated the K-P government on successfully planting this incredible feat in record time. The pivotal need for afforestation is not a partisan issue; it is only befitting that other provinces “take a leaf” from K-P’s book and initiate similar plantation projects.

7. The tourists return

This year witnessed the long-awaited return of the tourists from all over to the beautiful northern areas of Pakistan. With law and order situation improving, 2017 saw thousands tourists flocking north during the summer vacations. In fact, according to the Gilgit-Baltistan Tourism Department, in the last 11 months, around 1.72 million people visited that region, an astounding increase from 0.5 million for the corresponding period last year. What was even heartening was the fact that it was not just Pakistanis, even foreigners travelled from across the globe to experience the exquisite sites our country has to offer.

It goes without saying that this was a challenging year for the world at large. The swearing-in of Trump, and the rise of the Islamophobic hate politics throughout the world made life even harder for minority communities. Pakistan had its fair share of challenges as well. But choosing to see the glass half-full, we bid farewell to 2017 with the earnest prayer that the coming year brings more reasons for celebration for our beloved country and its resolute people.

Happy New Year!

Usman Ali Virk

Usman Ali Virk

The author hails from Lahore and is a lawyer by profession. He recently graduated with a Masters in Law from the University of California, Berkeley.

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