By Shabbir Ahmad
The year 2016 has not been an ideal year. Law and order situation deteriorated in different parts of the world. We lost several iconic personalities which left millions of fans and followers devastated. Several law and order incidents, political clashes and natural calamities made the headlines this year in Pakistan as well. We lost Pakistan’s legendary philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, one of South Asia’s most prominent qawwali singers Amjad Sabri and the dil dil Pakistan fame renowned singer and preacher Junaid Jamshed. However, it was not all gloomy. There were quite a few good news stories.
Law and order situation has remained much better as compared to previous years. Progress on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been exceptional and the first convoy under CPEC came from China, carrying almost 250 containers meant for export to ports in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the UAE and the EU arrived in Gwadar on November 13, 2016. Pakistani cinema has reached the tipping point. A dozen Urdu movies were released, at least five of which were massive hits, the long sought after revival of local cinema has happened. Apart from these developments, several Pakistanis made us proud through their extraordinary achievements. I have highlighted few of these achievements in this article.
Two Pakistani scientists were part of the team who, for the first time, observed ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves. Pakistani-born astrophysicist Dr Nergis Mavalvala and a young researcher from Quetta, Imran Khan along with their team members confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and open an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos. Dr Mavalvala was born in Karachi in 1969 while Imran Khan is currently pursuing his PhD at Gran Sasso Science Institute (GSSI) in Italy. He hails from a middle-class family residing in Quetta. Imran Khan was also one of the co-authors of the Physical Review Letter paper submitted to the LIGO Scientific Collaboration at the helm of this discovery. He hails from a middle-class family residing in Quetta.
A Pakistani electrical engineer, Samir Iqbal, based in the United States developed a device in 2016 that helps in early cancer detection, which is one of the biggest factors in successfully fighting the fatal disease. Iqbal completed his bachelor’s in electrical engineering from NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi. He went on to pursue his postgraduate studies in the US. Results of his research published in a recent Nature Scientific Reports paper called “Effects of Nano texture on Electrical Profiling of Single Tumor Cell and Detection of Cancer from Blood in Microfluidic Channels.”
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy made history on Sunday by becoming the first Pakistani to win two Oscars when she bagged the award in the short documentary category for her film on honour killings. She won her first Academy Award in 2012 in the same category for a documentary “Saving face”. Apart from two Oscars, she has also won two Emmy Awards for her documentaries in 2010 and 2013, and was awarded the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian award of Pakistan, in 2012, soon after she won her first Oscar.
A Pakistani student, Syed Faizan Hussain, received Queen’s young leaders’ award. He used his knowledge in technology to create solutions within our community. He mentored over 200 students from underprivileged background. He has also developed a number of startups, including Edu-Aid, an app that translates sign language into spoken language and OneHealth, disease surveillance and tracking system which notifies health institutions about epidemic outbreaks.
The Karachi Grammar School (KGS) won the best international delegation award at the Harvard Model United Nations (MUN) 2016 held in Boston, United States. Over 3,000 delegates representing over 199 countries participated to debate issues of international importance. The session of Harvard Model United Nations was held from January 28 to Sunday January 31.
Pakistan won the best international booth award on International Day at Technical University Munich in June. Students from more than 35 countries participated in the event. They presented different aspects of their local cultures by decorating their booths with the pictures of historical places. Traditional food and beverages were offered to the visitors. Students from some of these countries added flavor of their local music and dance but none of them was even close to the Pakistani booth or performances by Pakistani students.
In February, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) won the first prize in the final presentation of “P2P: Challenging Extremism” competition at the US Department of State. “Pakistan’s project ‘Fate: From apathy to empathy’ took first place and won $5,000 to expand their campaign within their local community,”
This year has also been a good year for Pakistan Cricket. Pakistan Cricket Board launched the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Dubai amid fanfare, eagerness and a lot of apprehension in February. PSL was termed as a ground-breaking venture in the country’s cricketing history with the potential to revive the flagging fortunes of the national team and, of course, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Pakistan’s Test team made history as it clinched the number one spot in the ICC Test rankings. This was the second time that Pakistan climbed to the number one position, the last time being 28-year-ago. Pakistan test cricket captain Misbah-ul-Haq bagged another achievement in his illustrious career by winning International Cricket Council (ICC) Spirit of Cricket Award in December. Moreover, in July this year, Muhammad Waseem became the first boxer of the country who won the World Boxing Council (WBC) international professional title. He defeated Philippines’ Jether Oliva for WBC Silver flyweight title in Seoul.
Though these might not be “big” achievements for some people but it give us a ray of hope that something is going right. These people can be a source of inspiration for us. We need to look at the bright side of the picture. It will lighten up our lives. Quoting Wayne Dyer, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”