JANUARY 1-7 2012
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Theyâ€™re Melting! Melting! Polar Ice Caps Gone: Public Being Asked To Donate Ice Cubes to ship to North Pole.
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JANUARY 1-7 2012
Cover Story 6 Itâ€™s The End Of The Year As We Know It And We Feel Fine Sit back and relax as we regale you with our take on the glorious year to come and bring you indisputable evidence that the world is going to hell in a handbasket
30 2011 Redux Salmaan Taseer was killed and his assassin was garlanded Raymond Davis shot dead two men and got off by paying blood money Osama bin Laden was found, not in an Afghan cave but in Abbotabad Urban centres were paralysed by target killings and dengue. The floods returned and we were no better prepared this time around either These were just a few of the events that shaped our lives in Pakistan in the year that was
42 Ten Things I Hate About 2011 Nadir Hassan hates Veena Malikâ€™s hands. Find out why
Magazine Editor: Zarrar Khuhro, Senior Sub-Editor: Batool Zehra, Sub-Editors: Ameer Hamza and Dilaira Mondegarian. Creative Team: Amna Iqbal, Jamal Khurshid, Essa Malik, Anam Haleem, Tariq W Alvi, S Asif Ali, Sukayna Sadik. Publisher: Bilal A Lakhani. Executive Editor: Muhammad Ziauddin. Editor: Kamal Siddiqi. For feedback and submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org
As we look towards the future with a tiny bit of hope and a whole lot of mind-numbing terror, we at the Tribune magazine have taken it upon ourselves to present you with the biggest stories of the coming year. Of course, the world being what it is, all our carefully constructed and painstakingly researched conclusions may well be invalid the hour we put this issue to print, but this is a risk that we, as conscientious journalists, simply must take. So, with no further ado letâ€™s take you on a tour of 2012.
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There’s no point making long term plans, because on December 21st 2012, the Long Count calendar used by the Mayan civilisation completes its thirteenth b’ak’tunb’ak’tu (or ‘cycle’ for the shamelessly ignorant) for the first time in a span of approximately 5,125 solar years. Since the Maya are long gone and probably enjoying themselves in the great El Dorado in the sky, no one really knows the significance of this day. Which can only mean one thing:
Conspiracy theorists are having a field day blogging from their mothers’ basements and people are minting money building bunkers for, and selling gas masks to, the gullible (read: lunatic) fringe. We expect mass panic, widespread power outages, a complete collapse of law and order and total governmental paralysis. In short, an average Pakistani Tuesday. Of course, some wet blankets insist that the ending of a Mayan calendar only means the dawn of a new spiritual age, but we know that’s just a marketing ploy to sell Deepak Chopra’s new book. Unfortunately, even if the world does end, it won’t be in time to prevent the release of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2. Of course, just because you know the world is going to end doesn’t mean that you know how it’s going to end. So we’re going to tell you: JANUARY 1-7 2012
1-The Great Galactic Alignment of 2012 One of the many apocalyptical theories is that the galaxy will realign and somehow create a combined gravitational effect between the Sun and the super massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, thus wreaking havoc on Earth. Some doomsayers use the term ‘galactic alignment’ to describe a very different phenomenon, prophesying that mass extinctions are not a random event but recur every 26 million years with December 21, 2012 being the date for the next one.
2-Geomagnetic Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Reversal Often mistaken as a polar shift, this theory states that a massive solar flare would release energy equal to 100 billion (Yes, billion with a B) atomic bombs and trigger a geomagnetic reversal of the earth’s magnetic poles. North will become South, destroying Earth’s climate, flora and fauna and also effectively changing the title of the next instalment of Om Puri’s East is East series. On the plus side, the Houbara Bustard won’t be able to fly to Pakistan that year and will thus avoid getting shot.
3-Planet X marks the spot AKA Nibiru to you too One of the most popular theories among doomsday proponents and near-complete idiots is the Planet X/Nibiru hypothesis. This is a planet, discovered apparently by the ancient Babylonians, that has an unpredictable orbit that makes it swing into Earth’s solar system every once in a while. Planet X-ers claim that Planet X/Nibiru will collide with or pass by Earth in 2012, causing...you guessed it...THE END OF THE WORLD!!!! The idea was first put forward in 1995 by Nancy Lieder, who described herself as a contactee with the ability to receive messages from extra-terrestrials from the Zeta Reticuli star system through an implant in her brain. Nancy, bless her heart, was apparently chosen to warn mankind that the object would sweep through the inner Solar System in May 2003 causing Earth to undergo a pole shift that would destroy most of humanity. Nothing happened. The (revised) date for this event is now...wait for it...2012!
4-Nostra-Yo Mama-damus The great Nostradamus has spoken, the end of the world is nigh. Nostradamus writes in one of his quatrains, “In the sky will be seen a great fire dragging a trail of sparks.” Nostra-Fans say that this line clearly suggests the coming of a comet almost the size of Jupiter which will pass close to the earth causing the oceans to rise and the earth to shake. Better go buy an underground bunker since old man Nostradamus has never been wrong… at least in hindsight.
5-The Vogon Hyperspace Bypass Although not commonly known, this theory is quite popular in the ET office. It is believed that come December 21st, the earth will be destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass for interstellar traffic. For more information, contact Arthur Dent. Don’t panic.
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Well, regardless of whether we all end up dying in one of several possible apocalyptic scenarios… a few high-profile world leaders may just have to carve tombstones for their political ambitions. That’s because it’s ELECTION YEAR, PEOPLE!!!!! The race for the White House Apart from the end of the world as we know it, 2012 may also mark the end of Barack Obama’s tenure as President of the United States. Expectations were absurdly high in the autumn of 2008 when Obama promised “change we can believe in”, but it all went downhill after that, and the only change the American people can see is what’s left in their wallets after they were emptied by bailouts, job cuts and the recession. What gives us solace here in Pakistan is that we’re not the only nation whose politicians rely on false promises to get elected and then sink their voters for the sake of petty political gain. The 2012 battle for the White House is going to be fierce, what with a semi-failed president, a Sarah Palin knock off who, creepily enough, never blinks, and the guy who thinks Palestinians were invented by Walt Disney. Let’s take a look at the contestants in the greatest reality show on Earth.
The Democratic Party Republican Party
Barack Obama, incumbent President of the United States Loves: Change Long walks on the White House promenade Teleprompters Abortion
Hates: Change Killing Osama Bin Laden too early Smoking Fox News
Michele Bachmann, US Representative from Minnesota Loves: Hates: Tea Parties Human papillomavirus Serial killer John Wayne Gacy (HPV) vaccine Nuking Iran Blinking Ludwig von Mises Evolution Gays Pakistan
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Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House Loves: Historical Fiction Dinosaurs Pope Benedict Space Child Labour
Hates: Free Speech Islamists Atheism The Judiciary Pakistan
Rick Perry, Governor of Texas Loves: The Bible The Death Penalty The Death Penalty for mentally retarded inmates Guns
Hates: Foreign Aid Elitists Homosexuality Alcoholism Pakistan
So that’s the line-up for US presidential candidates. On second thought, maybe Obama shouldn’t be too worried. And on the plus side, if any of those guys actually win, your 2012 end-ofthe-world bunker will also work for when one of these nutjobs actually starts Armageddon.
Independent Roseanne Barr, actress and comedian Loves: Kabbalah Macadamia nuts Green Tea Party Occupy Wall Street
Hates: Wall Street Bankers Movies Men
Robert “Naked Cowboy” Burck, a street performer from New York Loves: Singing Nakedness His guitar Westerns
Hates: Trademark infringement Dallas Cowboys Naked Cowgirl
Mayhem in Mother Russia March 2012 brings us Czar Vladimir ‘I know Judo’ Putin’s attempt at a third term as Russia’s President. However, it’s not all hunk-dory for the former KGB man, as Russians are already up in arms and out on the streets in protest against what they see as a rigged election. Huddling in a Kremlin bunker, Putin is said to be relying on Russia’s greatest military minds: General January and General February to decimate the protesters the same way they took out Napoleon and Hitler. Of course, the French and Germans didn’t have General Vodka on their side. The protesters do. Au revoir to Monsieur Sarkozy? Fed up with his too-fondof-fromage countrymen, Former French president Charles de Gaulle once complained that is was impossible to govern a nation that has two hundred and fortysix different kinds of cheese. Well, it increasingly looks like the French are looking at Sarkozy with all the love a lactose intolerant person has for a particularly putrid slice of Limburger. So, the upcoming April elections may have us bid au revoir to the current French president. With his opinion polls ranking tanking, nothing he does seems to make any difference, from expelling gypsies to bombing Libya to trying to ban the sale of Sarkozy Voodoo dolls. Come May, he may find his only remaining job is as Carla Bruni’s boy-toy.
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Who’s afraid of the big bad brotherhood? Apparently everyone except the Egyptians themselves. One of the biggest fears of Western governments and media is set to come true in 2012 as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood put their President in place. Meanwhile the Brotherhood itself is bending over backwards to prove that they aren’t the political wing of al Qaeda and are in fact the only real political force in Egypt, and spin doctors in Washington DC are trying to figure out how to reconcile love for democracy with hate for Islamism. However, unless the MB decides to have a massive strip-off in Tahrir square while swilling beer and roasting pork chops, it’s unlikely that the US will be convinced.
Monarchy’s Energizer Bunny just keeps going...and going...and going As Mel Brooks famously said in History of the World Part 1, “It’s good to be King.” Well, it’s even better to be the Queen of England. While lesser mortals fret and fume about elections and opinion polls, you’re sitting pretty in a shocking pink outfit and living large on public expense and the returns from centuries of global plunder. And you’re pretty much immortal to boot. That’s right, 2012 marks the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth II as the reigning monarch of England…and the diamond jubilee celebration on 3 June 2012 promises to be quite a bash. Ostentatious celebrations — a grand concert in London, a nationwide bank holiday and a majestic maritime parade of a thousand boats and other events on River Thames— are only part of the celebrations. And they’re not just limited to the UK. Canada and Australia— which are still under British dominion— have also planned to construct expensive commemorative tokens for their monarch. Raising an eyebrow already? Unfortunately you are part of only a tiny coterie of sceptics. While Britons are quick to assault policemen and protest in the freezing cold against rising unemployment and inflation, they are happy to squander their tax money on the royal family. After all, what more do financially troubled commoners want other than watching sumptuous revelries organised for their monarch? Who said religion was the only opiate of the masses?
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The Afghan drawdown begins — or does it? Can Obama say ‘cut and run?’ Yes he can! 2012 marks the beginning of the much-heralded Afghan drawdown, which will see 23,000 of the total 33,000 surge troops depart from scenic Afghanistan. Brought to you by the same international production house responsible for hits like the Afghan Surge, Raymond Davis, the Salala attack and the Bonn conference, the Afghan retreat also promises to be a headline-grabbing event. Fluff pieces on CNN and Fox on little kids being reunited with their soldier dads are to be expected, along with triumphal photo ops by Obama and co. Among footage that will not be aired are the videos of Afghan president Karzai desperately updating his resume and of Mullah Omar sending out his top commanders to buy watches from departing US troops. “We’ve always had the time, but now I think we need the watches too. We don’t want to miss the clearance sale at camp leatherneck,” the elusive Taliban supremo was quoted as saying while enjoying a plate of Afghani Tikkas on Quetta’s Masjid road. Made with real Afghans, of course. How do you say ‘flee’ in French? Well, where the US goes, others follow. French President Nicolas Sarkozy will pull out 1,000 troops by 2012, and Belgium and Spain will also make massive troop withdrawals in 2012. That basically means that at least eight of their total 10 soldiers will be heading home. The resulting shortage of French fries, Belgian waffles and Gazpacho soup is likely to increase feelings of abandonment in Afghanistan and, according to sources, was a major cause of friction at the Bonn conference. On this side of the Durand line, we can expect — apart from some serious chortling in the GHQ and Aabpara — more drone strikes, more ‘accidental’ check-post attacks and more of Hillary/Mullen/The Naked Cowboy saying: “Do more, do more, do more … okay, please pretty please, do more. We won’t bomb you again…pinky promise.”
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Waffle shortage may lead to riots in Kabul
There’s a saying that you only go uphill once you’ve hit rock bottom, but the benchmark for rock bottom for the global financial crisis just keeps getting lower. In fact, the bottom seems to be made of quicksand rather than rock. According to reports, there is a looming threat of a new wave of recession in the developed world in 2012. An EU forecast has predicted that growth in the Eurozone in 2012 is expected to collapse to 0.5 per cent— a steep drop from a previous prediction of 1.8 per cent. Moody’s Analytics has lowered its outlook for growth in the US economy next year, raising the possibility of yet another recession to hit the global economy. That’s not all: US General Martin ‘I don’t know who I’m bombing’ Dempsey is even warning of civic unrest in Europe if the crisis continues — which it will, in all likelihood, since putting political gain before national interest isn’t just a desi thing. This means that we’ll probably see Occupy Athens along with Occupy Rome, Brussels and Madrid. The English will do the usual thing and raise the drawbridge and block off the chunnel so as to not be infected with the Euroflu. This will be great news for TV channels, armchair revolutionaries and manufacturers of tear gas and rubber bullets, but not so much fun for everyone else. Except for the ultra-right, who will place the blame on brown people and minarets; the Germans — who will launch into a rousing chorus of Deutschemark Uber Alles, and the Chinese — who may just decide that the Opium wars weren’t all that long ago after all and that it’s finally time for some payback, Sino-style.
Remember the Kyoto Protocol? No, it’s not the alternative title for the latest Mission Impossible instalment. It’s actually an agreement, preceded by long discussions and negotiations, that was signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. 160 countries agreed on a legally binding protocol under which industrialised countries would reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2%, thus saving the world from the spectre of global warming. Did it work? Well, 2011 was one of the hottest years on record, so that would be a big ‘NO’. The main problem was that the country responsible for emitting 25% of global greenhouse gases, *cough* USA *cough*, refused to ratify the treaty. Self-righteous hypocrisy being a national trait, they wanted developing countries to reduce their emissions instead. It flew like the Dodo. But since everyone loves a good foreign trip, seventeen nations will be meeting for the United Nations Climate Change Conference from November 28 to December 9 in South Africa to plan the successor of the protocol. We give it about as much chance of success as Prince Charles has of becoming King of England.
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Okay, so what if the global economy is nose-diving and the weather is going crazy and we’re all doomed to destruction by December anyway? At least we have the Olympics to look forward to. 2012 is the year of the Olympics. The Summer Olympic Games are scheduled to take place in London in July and the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in August. With the added threat of terrorism, security arrangements reportedly cost £250,000 per day and the Ministry of Defence is planning to deploy surface-to-air missiles to counter any threat from the skies. In other news, the London 2012 Organising Committee has stated that Sikh athletes and spectators will be allowed to wear the Kirpan (ceremonial dagger) in all London Olympic venues. It has also been reported that American Republicans will also be allowed to carry their own religious token, the rifle.
Protesters of the Occupy London movement can look forward to one advantage of demonstrating in 2012: clean air and greener surroundings. For the Summer Olympics and Paralympics Games, the organisers will be undertaking an ambitious environmental plan focusing on reducing low-carbon emissions and waste, increasing biodiversity and promoting environmental awareness. They aim to restore rivers, create wetlands and effective drainage and even plan to create a “green corridor” from Lea Valley to River Thames. Now if they could only hold the Olympics every month in every city in the world, we just might save the global economy and the globe itself.
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2012 will be quite a year for us in Pakistan as well, what with mudslinging and intrigue touching new heights in the run-up to the general elections. Many political ablution aids (read:lotas) will change loyalties. Others will opt for the PTI laundry services (‘get clean in 24 hours or get your vote-bank back’) and some familiar faces may just try and stage comebacks. Here’s what’s on the cards for Pakistan in the coming year: Guess who’s back? Former President Pervez Musharraf has announced that he will definitely return to Pakistan by January to start campaigning for the 2013 elections. When asked for a comment, he allegedly said “Paka promise.” Mass preparations are underway to receive the former President at the airport, with lawyers, court bailiffs and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court rumoured to be in the welcoming committee. Atiqa Odho and all five members of the APML are also making counter-preparations to foil any plots to arrest/deport or otherwise manhandle their fearless leader. The Poor Man’s Elections The upper house of Pakistan’s Parliament, the Senate, will complete its term in 2012. New senators will be elected in March by an electoral college comprising of members of the national and provincial assemblies. Luckily, fake degrees are fine as far as this college is concerned. We expect a lot of last-minute attacks of conscience and resignations from Senators who belatedly realise that they can no longer be a part of a corrupt system and quit the senate just a few days before their term is due to expire. Insiders have also revealed that — in keeping with hidden clauses in the Charter of Democracy — instead of the usual balloting, Senators will instead be elected on the basis of their performance in a grand game of Ludo. Demands by the PTI for a Facebookbased Farmville showdown instead have been rejected. As far as the ‘real’ elections are concerned, the election commission plans to finalise computerised electoral rolls by April 2012. In response to this earth-shaking development that will usher in a new era of electoral transparency, political parties are
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busy setting up hacker wings and the Agencies are trying to re-engineer the Stuxnet virus, which is being renamed the ‘farishta’ virus. Perpetually Powerless Pakistan Will our country continue to be the Land of Blackouts in 2012? While it seems like we’re doomed to perpetually put up with electricity shortages, there might just be an energy-saver bulb at the end of the tunnel of darkness. In a bid to solve the power crisis, 18 companies have been given licenses to generate power through alternative energy and are expected to start producing 1,440 megawatts (MW) of electricity in 2012. Mehr, can you shout into the turbine please? There are blackWind energy is going to be a big part of this. outs in California. Thanks Norwegian company NBT has expressed interest in establishing a 500-megawatt wind power project in Pakistan, by investing about $1 billion in alternative energy. Not to be left behind, Pakistan’s proactive electronic media also plans to install wind turbines in their studios to try and capitalise on all the hot air that is generated by talk shows. The surplus energy will be sold back to the national grid and, according to experts, Mehr Bokhari may well be the single largest Independent Power Producer by the end of the year. Rumour has it that a similar system is being planned for parliament but, when asked for comment, Federal Water and Power Minister Syed Naveed Qamar exclaimed “Earth, fire, wind, water, heart — by your powers combined, I am Captain Planet,” and then exited the press conference with a whooshing sound. Limping in the wrong direction
Can’t seem to eliminate any of them
Of course, at least we can draw some comfort from the fact that the United Nations isn’t located in Europe, because otherwise our representative may not have been able to get to the UN in the first place. That’s because European countries are seriously considering placing travel restrictions on Pakistani citizens. That’s not all, and in other bad news the World Bank has threatened to convert one of its grants to us into a loan next year. The reason? No, it’s not because of our refusal to assist the US in eliminating the Haqqani network. Neither is it because of a grand Zionist conspiracy to keep us away from the Swiss Alps and Louvre Museum. It’s because of one disease, confined to the annals of history in the developed
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world, that Pakistan has failed to eliminate: polio. In 2011, there were 148 cases of polio in Pakistan, exceeding last year’s figure of 144. The devastating floods and militancy in the country’s northern areas have aggravated the fight against the polio virus, forcing the international community to press for punitive measures against Pakistan if we fail to eradicate polio next year. The Punjab health ministry also floated a proposal to shoot all horses, until they were reminded that it’s not Polo that needs to be eliminated. At that point the minister reportedly flew into a rage, saying that the ‘hole waali goli’ was his favourite and that he would fight to the death to defend it. Stainless Steel Kashkol There’s more innovation on the debt front as well. Instead of trying to break the begging bowl, we’re lobbying for a bigger bowl. The country’s debt was recorded at Rs 10.890 trillion by August 2011 from Rs 5.799 trillion by March 2008, showing a net increase of Rs 5.091 trillion or 87.79 percent since the current government took power. All good things must come to an end however, and on February 24, 2012, our country is due to repay $1.4 billion to the IMF. There are reports that the country’s senior leaders are asking US officials to use their “influence” in the IMF to sanction a second bailout — the first one in 2008 was worth $11.3 billion. The talks have however deadlocked on the inability to reach a consensus on the deaths-to-debt ratio with the Unites States.
The Afghans can go, the tikka can stay
So long, and thanks for all the tikkas On the other hand, even if we can’t eliminate polio, militancy or debt, we’re certainly poised to bid farewell to our Afghan brothers. The government has chalked out a new strategy for the repatriation of millions of Afghan refugees and set the year 2012 as the deadline for their departure from Pakistan. After mass panic among the gastronomically inclined, Pakistani authorities issued a statement assuring the public that supplies of Afghani tikkas will not be jeopardised.
Resume-building, Pakistani style United Nations Security Council, here we come! On January 1, 2012, Pakistan will proudly commence its temporary membership of the institution dominated by the largest arms exporting states with nuclear capabilities, ironically tasked with ensuring international security. As such, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched that a state with little or no internal security will take a seat on the UNSC. If we go by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s words, our country looks forward to the “maintenance of international peace and security” as part of the Security Council. But our attachment with the Security Council will probably yield nothing more than an increase in debates on the Arab-Israeli conflict (complete with vetoed resolutions), occasional hue and cry (also quickly vetoed) on the Kashmir issue and special security details for Ms Khar’s handbags. At least it’ll look good on the national resume. And the Birkins will be safe. It’s just not cricket Finally, the coming year also marks the Pakistani cricket team’s first tour of India since the 2008 Mumbai attacks. It is rumoured that the Pakistani team will have new bottle-proof uniforms and will undergo extensive showboating and wicket celebration training. Luckily, the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 will take place in Sri Lanka, and since that’s about the last country in the world in which Pakistanis aren’t strip-searched on arrival, abnormal security may not be required.
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So what do you do while you’re waiting for the world to end, your local business district to be occupied, and for Pakistani politics to take a turn for the better — or at least the marginally sane? You watch a movie of course! And here are some of the hottest flicks coming your way in 2012.
The Amazing Spider-Man: It’s Spiderman and we get to see his origin story, all over again, hurray. Who doesn’t like to see a pimply kid on the cusp of adulthood discover that he can shoot web fluid... from his hands. Titanic 3D: 2012 marks both the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic and the theatrical re-release of James Cameron’s epic film, Titanic, in 3D. When the Titanic met its demise in 1912, more than 1500 passengers perished in the icy waters of the Atlantic. The 4D version will probably come out in 2013, so you too can experience the icy grip of death in the perilous Atlantic! Game of Thrones: Season 2 — Winter is coming... no seriously... Be ready for Dragons, War, the new Hand of the King (Hint: He’s vertically challenged) and Snow, Snow, Snow!
Skyfall: Production on the 23rd James Bond movie has finally started, after being suspended throughout 2010 because of MGM’s financial troubles. Bond is back after a long hiatus and he doesn’t give a damn if his martini is shaken or stirred. Dredd: Everybody remembers the abysmal 1995 film, Judge Dredd, starring Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider. Let’s hope the reboot, Dredd, excises all memories of its horrible predecessor. The Expendables 2: The Expendables are back and this time there are new faces. The star studded line-up includes Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now if only Bruce Lee were still alive, the movie would just spontaneously combust from all the awesomeness. The Dark Knight Rises: One of the most eagerly awaited film of next year, The Dark Knight Rises will be the third and final instalment in Nolan’s Batman film series. Christian Bale’s horrible raspy ‘I am Batman’ voice will violate our ears one last time as he fights the Back-breaking Bane with his fists and a batarang or two.
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Prometheus: Ridley Scott’s upcoming science fiction film will explore the mythology of the Alien universe. The film will probably make you want a flesh eating alien with acid for blood in your tummy too. Men in Black III: Here come the Men in Black, they won’t let you remember! Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back together after a decade with the third film in the MIB series. Shouldn’t TLJ retire the Raybans now and cash in the MIB pension fund? The Avengers: It’s the ultimate superhero mash-up! Iron Man + The Incredible Hulk + Thor + Captain America = Mind blown.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D: The most reviled film of the Star Wars saga will finally be released in 3D, yay. As if watching Jar Jar Binks in two dimensions wasn’t bad enough. The Three Stooges: Hey! It’s Moe, Curly and Larry on the silver screen! Sadly no one will remember who they are and the studios will slowly flog the sequel horse until it dies a sad and painful death. Do you even know who the fourth Stooge was? It was Shemp! The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: It’s time to go back to Middle Earth! The first part of the two part adaptation of the 1937 novel, Hobbit, is finally going to hit the big screen next year. Look! It’s Bilbo, Gollum and Gandalf... what the hell are Legolas and Frodo doing here?
If 2012 is anything like 2011 was for Pakistan, the end of the world may come as a welcome respite. Starting with the assassination of Salmaan Taseer and ending with the mindboggling confusion of Memogate, this has been yet another year in which we barely had a momentâ€™s respite from breaking news â€” most of it bad. Here we take a look at some of the major news and newsmakers of the past year. 25 JANUARY 1-7 2012
salmaan taseer The year began with murder. The flamboyant and outspoken governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was gunned down in broad daylight on January 4 in Islamabad’s Kohsar market by Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the Elite police force tasked with his protection.
Qadri made his first appearance in an Islamabad court on January 10, where he was showered with petals by admirers amidst chants of “God is Great!”
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A strong opponent of the blasphemy law, the governor had incurred the ire of extremists for his defence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy. This was the reason his murderer gave to justify the killing of Salmaan Taseer. What followed was no less tragic. While parliament passed resolutions condemning the assassination and civil society activists organised a vigil in Taseer’s honour, more people lauded the murderer and celebrated his crime, burning tyres and blocking traffic in Lahore and Multan. As many as 500 Islamic scholars belonging to the Barelvi school of thought condemned the slain politician for his defence of Aasia Bibi, who is currently on death row. Clerics even called for a boycott of Taseer’s funeral, and the chief cleric of the Badshahi Mosque, who had agreed to offer the funeral prayers, excused himself at the last moment by saying he was going out of town. Eventually Muhammad Afzal Chishti, the secretary general of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Ulema wing had to lead the prayers, which were conducted under strict security. Qadri made his first appearance in an Islamabad court on January 10, where he was showered with petals by admirers amidst chants of “God is Great!” YouTube videos of Mumtaz Qadri contained more messages of support for his actions than condemnation, and Facebook fan pages were set up in his favour. On October 1, the anti-terrorism court in the Adiyala Jail, Rawalpindi, found Mumtaz Qadri guilty of murdering Salman Taseer and sentenced him to death penalty, a verdict that was once more met with protests from the religious right. Even Justice Pervaiz Ali Shah, the judge who delivered the verdict, was forced to flee the country after threats from extremists. While Qadri’s sentence is yet to be carried out, the Sunni Ittehad Council — a group of Barelvi parties — gears up to celebrate January 4 as Mumtaz Qadri Day, and are seeking a presidential pardon for him. Meanwhile the travails of the Taseer family seem never-ending. Nearly seven months after the assassination of his father, 27-year-old Shahbaz Taseer was abducted at a busy intersection in Lahore on August 26. Despite Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah’s recent hint that the abduction case will soon be resolved, Shahbaz Taseer still remains missing.
raymond davis It’s not often that you get to see a real-life spy drama unfold before your eyes, but that’s exactly what happened with the Raymond Davis affair. On January 27, 2011, US citizen Raymond Davis shot dead two men in a market area in Lahore, gunning them down with his glock pistol with the precision of an expert. Davis, who was driving a rented car with local plates, was arrested before he could get away from the scene, and an abortive attempt to rescue him by a US consulate vehicle left another man dead in a hit and run. Raymond was taken into custody by the Punjab police, who also recovered phones and a GPS device from him. The charge sheet filed by the city police declared that Davis was prima facie guilty of double murder and had in fact tried to cheat investigators by concealing information. There were allegations, later proved correct, that Davis was a member of US special forces and had also worked with the notorious security firm Blackwater. Investigations by the US media revealed that Hyperion Protective Services, the company Davis claimed to be an employee of, existed only as a website. The offices that the company says it has in Orlando have been vacant for several years and the numbers on its website are unlisted. Pressure was heaped on the Pakistani government from all quarters of the US government, who remained adamant that Davis was in fact a diplomat and entitled to diplomatic immunity. US president Barack Obama called for his release and members of Congress even threatened an aid cut-off if he was not freed.
Meanwhile, the mood in Pakistan soured dramatically. Rallies were taken out calling for Davis’ execution and politicians of all stripes jumped into the fray, demanding justice for his victims. The controversy was compounded by tragedy when Shumaila, the wife of one of Davis’ victims committed suicide by taking poison. Her last words were an appeal for justice and revenge. However, the affair came to an unexpected end on March 16, when Davis was acquitted of two counts of murder and released after Rs200 million Diyat (blood money) was paid to the families of the victims. Then foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was also apparently a victim of the Davis affair. Deprived of the FM slot after a cabinet reshuffle, Qureishi implied that his stance that Davis did not enjoy diplomatic immunity cost him his job. In a rally at Ghotki on November 27, Qureishi repeated this claim. Meanwhile, back in the US, Davis found himself in trouble again when he punched a man in after a dispute over a parking space in Colorado.
shahbaz bhatti The nation had barely come to terms with the killing of Salmaan Taseer when another high-profile murder took place. Shahbaz Bhatti, the first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, was killed on the morning of March 2 as he was driving from his mother’s house. Assailants dressed in shalwar kurtas stopped his car and first took his driver out of the car and then shot 25 bullets at Bhatti. Bhatti, a Roman Catholic, was a vociferous critic of the blasphemy laws and supported Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy. He had also campaigned for Pakistani Christians attacked in the 2009 Gojra riots in Punjab. When questions were raised about the level of security provided to Bhatti, especially in the wake of the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, the IG Islamabad Wajid Durrani said it was the minister’s instructions to keep the security detail at the office. Bhatti himself once commented that “Protection can come only from heaven, so these bodyguards can’t save you.” On the day following the assassination, hundreds of Christian demonstrators took to the streets across Punjab, burning tyres
and demanding justice. The Vatican, along with many world leaders, condemned the murder while the government made the usual statements about fighting terrorism. The Tehreek-i-Taliban claimed responsibility for the murder, labelling Bhatti a “blasphemer”. Witnesses present at the crime scene revealed that leaflets were scattered around the place which read, “This is the punishment of this cursed man.” None of this prevented Asadullah Bhutto, the chief of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Sindh chapter from blaming the CIA for the killing, claiming it was at attempt to distract the masses from the Raymond Davis case. No breakthroughs have been made in the case thus far. JANUARY 1-7 2012
pns mehran Who will defend the defenders? That was the question on the minds of most Pakistanis when the attack on the PNS Mehran base in Karachi unfolded on May 22. The 17-hour gunbattle left at least 12 security personnel dead, including navy soldiers, commandoes and rangers personnel. Two PC-3 Orion aircraft and a helicopter were also destroyed, seriously damaging the Navy’s capabilities. Although according to the First Information Report there were more than 10 attackers, the bodies of only four terrorists were found inside the naval airbase and these remain unclaimed at the Edhi morgue.Unofficially, the search for the fugitive terrorists continues. Immediately after the attack, Interior minister Rehman Malik provided a touch of farce, referring to the assailants, who were kitted out for special operations, as being “dressed like Star Wars characters.” The attack rattled the navy so much that it was forced to send an entire fleet of warships away from Karachi to its base
in Ormara, Balochistan in the aftermath of the incident. The Taliban’s early claim of responsibility did not end speculation as to the origin and motivation of the attackers. A few days later Nawaz Sharif accused ‘antistate forces, including the US, of carrying out the attack. Initially, there was speculation that the PNS Mehran attack was in retaliation to the May 2 Abbottabad raid in which OBL was killed. Asian Times Online’s investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad claimed in an article that al Qaeda was behind the attack, but he said the issue was not the OBL raid. He claimed that al Qaeda had
infiltrated the rank and file of the navy, and some members had been held by naval intelligence which al Qaeda wanted released. He claimed that it was in this connection that two navy buses were also attacked on April 26 and April 28, leaving at least a dozen navy personnel dead. A week later, Shahzad was murdered under mysterious circumstances on May 30. Following disclosures that the attackers had entered using only a ladder and wire-cutters, the base commander was removed and a report on the attack was submitted to the prime minister in June. On August 3, it emerged that the former PNS Mehran base commander Commodore Raja Tahir and two of his subordinates — one captain and one commander — were to face trial before a court martial. In December, a woman, said to be the wife of a Punjabi Taliban terrorist Qari Shahid, confessed that her slain husband had a role in the attacks. However, the inquiry report into the high profile case has not been made public to date.
The manhunt that began in Tora Bora in 2001, ended in Abbotabad in 2011. On May 2, US special forces flew across the Pak-Afghan border in specially modified stealth helicopters and attacked the compound in which Osama was hiding. Within hours, the al Qaeda leader was apparently shot dead and his body disposed of in the Arabian Sea. Operation Neptune Spear (also known as the Abbottabad operation) unleashed a Pandora’s Box of controversies for Pakistan. Bin Laden’s damning presence in the garrison town of Abbottabad was evidence enough to suspect that Pakistani security agencies were either incompetent or complicit in sheltering the world’s most wanted man. And thus, a decade into Pakistan’s fight against burgeoning militancy, the world was given a great reason to doubt the country’s commitment to the war against terrorism. As Pakistan’s military-intelligence nexus came under fire after the US raid, at home and abroad a deluge of nagging questions and conspiracy theories followed suit. How did Osama’s presence go undetected? Were the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies actually sheltering him? And if so, why? Why was Osama’s body disposed of so quickly? Were the Pakistani authorities aware of the impending raid? In an unprecedented move, the country’s beleaguered establishment decided to give an explanation to parliament. On May 13, the Director General Inter-Services Intelligence General Shuja Pasha
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This was the year Karachi’s streets ran with blood as they never have before. The highest recorded number of target killings since 1996 brought Pakistan’s largest city to its knees. The descent into madness began in January when Wali Khan Babar, a Pakistani journalist, fell prey to a volley of bullets and intensified in March when approximately 158 people were killed in a span of just 22 days. April marked the death of Safdar Ali Kiyani, Pro-ViceChancellor of the University of Balochistan, and as many as 23 others, which finally forced Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to take notice of the issue. Unsurprisingly, statements and high-level meetings failed to stop the killings, and as many as a hundred people were killed in July during a five day period. Some headway was made in August with the arrest and confession of alleged target killer Muhammad Ishtiaq but the violence continued, claiming the life of Sardar Rustam Jamali, the Excise and Taxation Minister of Balochistan. As people were killed mercilessly, it became increasingly clear that targets were being selected on political, sectarian and ethnic bases. While accusations were traded and threats were made, no one — from the government to local leaders — seemed to accept responsibility for the continuing violence or showed any ability or desire to control it. Political parties and groups simply traded accusations as the death toll mounted. Reports and videos of horrific torture and murder also began to circulate, adding a new dimension to the terror faced by residents of Karachi.
While Karachi was being attacked by an army of assassins, the only reassuring words Interior Minister Rehman Malik had to offer over the months were: ‘effective measures are being taken’, ‘people have been arrested’, ‘surveillance planes have been ordered’ and ‘a peaceful environment shall be restored in the city’. In an interview with Indian Express reporters, he even blamed disgruntled wives and girlfriends for 70 percent of the target killings. According to statistics compiled by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 987 people were killed during January 2011 to October 2011. Arrests have been made and raids have been conducted, but Karachiites fear that it will only take a small spark to start the cycle of murder all over again.
osama bin laden appeared before an in-camera national assembly session to answer some of these questions. Despite the uproar, no military personnel have been offered for accountability, and none have deigned to resign as a result of the fiasco. Instead, military authorities vociferously denied claims of complicity and incompetence. They told the parliament that the US used stealth technology to enter into Pakistani territory and their helicopters made their way deep inside the country without being detected by the country’s radar system. In the same session, the parliamentarians decided to form an independent commission to probe into the matter. And this particular inquiry has not been languishing in the backdrop of the country’s chaotic politics; in fact the Abbottabad commission has already summoned politicians and high-ranking military officials—the DG military operations and DG ISI — for questioning. However, the focus of attention seems to have shifted from the implications of Osama’s presence In Pakistan to the more nebulous question of Pakistan’s sovereignty being violated by the US raid. Apart from Osama himself, the other major casualties of the raid have been Pakistan’s credibility and its standing with the US.
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What target killings were for Karachi, dengue was for Lahore. Punjab took the brunt of the dengue epidemic in 2011, with as many as 31,655 people succumbing to the bite of the Aedes Aegypticus and contracting the virus. Of those infected, 347 died, with 296 deaths occurring in Lahore alone. Sindh got off relatively lightly, with 1,053 infected and 17 deaths. After the previous outbreaks, one would have assumed that the government would be better prepared to deal with the problem in 2011. Sadly, this was not the case. Apart from some efforts at fumigation, most of the measures taken were reactive in nature, with the government only going into overdrive when the extent of the epidemic became known. While the Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif rolled up (or down as the case may be) his sleeves to battle the epidemic, it often seemed that the virus was more than he could deal with. Decisions were taken to shut down all educational institutes for 10 days in Lahore and later fixed school timings of 9am to 3pm were established. Schools also instructed students to wear long sleeves and trousers. Health institutes were directed to secure the necessary medicines from neighbouring India, administrative rooms in government hospitals were converted into wards for dengue patients and entire cities and towns were blanketed with awareness posters and pamphlets. Section 144 was used in Lahore to ban the washing of cars in the streets and establish a fixed charge of Rs90 for a Complete Blood Count (CBC) test. The formation of a separate ‘environmental police’ was also proposed by the CM, and compensation of of Rs500,000 for the families of the dengue victims was also announced. Additionally, the Punjab government requested the WHO to send a team to assess the situation on ground and provide support, and invited Sri Lankan doctors to come and help with training and solutions. None of the measures stopped dengue panic though, and the sales of mosquito repellents and bug zappers skyrocketed. Herbal cures proliferated and mazaars were packed with supplicants seeking divine protection from the virus. Unsurprisingly, quacks and charlatans had a field day. Ultimately, the epidemic wound down largely due to winter’s arrival. However, it’ll be back again in 2012 and we should be better prepared by then, given that 110 doctors, nurses, epidemiologists and entomologists have left for Thailand for training.
floods As if suicide bombings, target killings, drone attacks and the dengue epidemic were not enough, floods also took a terrible toll on Pakistan this year. Incessant monsoon rains caused flooding in August and September as vast areas of cultivable land were left submerged under water. The natural calamity affected over 5 million people; 4.82 million people in Sindh and over 300,000 people in Balochistan, according to the recently completed joint UN-Government Multi-Sectoral Needs Assessment (MSNA). More than 200 people died, approximately 4.2 million acres of land was destroyed, close to 1.8 million people were displaced and close to 800,000 homes were washed away, while the government sat back strategising about how best to mobilise relief supplies to the flood affected areas. Initially, the Sindh government declared it needed no foreign aid and that its own resources were sufficient, but that claim very quickly proved premature. In any eventuality, little or no timely aid actually made it to the people who needed it the most. 30 As the government deliberated over how much it should aim JANUARY 1-7 2012
to collect in international aid, people sat under the open sky, their homes destroyed, trying to keep their hopes high while fighting hunger pangs and disease. The Peoples Accountability Commission on Floods (PACF), a network of flood-affected communities, volunteers and humanitarian activists, released a report in November blaming the National Disaster Management Authority for mismanagement and irregularities in the relief process. The fact that this year’s floods were smaller than last year’s did not mean that the government was prepared any better. Quite apart from the human suffering, the devastation wreaked has had far-reaching implications, a fall in exports and a spike in inflation being a few.
Move over Julian Assange, 2011 was the year of the Zulfileaks. Pakistanis were glued to their TV sets on 28th August, as former Sindh home minister Zulfiqar Mirza let it all hang out...with a Quran on his head. Mirza accused the MQM and its leader Altaf Hus-
Photo: Nefer Sehgal
Mirza accused the MQM and its leader Altaf Hussain of committing mass murder, supporting terrorism and even conspiring to break apart Pakistan in line with a ‘secret American plot’.
sain of committing mass murder, supporting terrorism and even conspiring to break apart Pakistan in line with a ‘secret American plot’. Governor Sindh Ishratul Ebad also found himself at the receiving end, as Mirza accused him of intervening to free notorious target killers and of allowing other killers to operate their networks from behind bars. Interior MInister Rehman Malik also had more than a few verbal broadsides directed at him, and was accused of being a compulsive liar, and one of the main reasons peace had not been restored in Karachi. Malik was also accused of being insincere to the PPP and the country. Mirza also announced his resignation from the Sindh assembly as well as from his post of vice president of PPP’s Sindh chapter at the same press conference. Following the explosive press conference, the MQM staged protests against Mirza, called upon the PPP to take action against him and also staged their own counter press-conference, accusing Mirza of supporting the People’s Aman Committee and the MQMH. The MQM also tried — unsuccessfully — to implicate Mirza in a blasphemy case. Mirza later also blasted the current Sindh Home Minister, Manzoor Wassan, calling him an idiot. He referred to Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah as a “bechara” in a TV show, in which he also said things about Altaf Hussain that were...well...uncharitable. The one person Mirza has been careful not to criticise is President Asif Ali Zardari. Mirza’s outbursts have also led to fears of potential cracks in the Sindh PPP itself, and there have been clashes between his supporters and those of Manzoor Wassan’s in Badin. Mirza claims that many PPP workers and leaders have offered him their support, albeit in private. Supporting Mirza publically seems to be a bad idea for PPP leaders, as former information minister Sharjeel Memon found to his dismay. Having accompanied Mirza to London, Memon was forced to resign on his return to Pakistan. With the support of Lord Nazir, he has vowed to present evidence against the MQM in the house of Lords. Even in London, though, he has been dogged with trouble with altercations between him and MQM supporters at a press conference.
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When we needed a break from all the Osamas, Memos and Haqqanis of the world, it was Veena Malik to the rescue! When the Bigg Boss controversy hit the headlines, Veena gave the proverbial verbal smack down to our very own Kamran Shahid and Mufti Abdul Qavi. Suddenly, “Mufti sahib, yeh kya baat hui” was on everyone’s lips.
Stirring controversy on both sides of the border, Veena claimed that the she was merely topless in the photo shoot and that the picture was morphed. Veena sued FHM India, who countersued, claiming that Veena had willingly participated in the photo shoot and was, in fact, actually naked and that the photos were not altered in 32 any way. JANUARY 1-7 2012
A few days later, Veena was back, this time to announce her break up with her fiancé, Faisal Akbar Khan, which immediately set tongues wagging about the Ashmit-Veena connection. But the actor clarified that she and Patel were just good friends. May brought traumatic news to Veena-fans when she suffered injuries in a car crash while travelling from Islamabad to Lahore. Thankfully the actress had recovered by July to promote her upcoming debut in her first Bollywood film Daal Mein Kuchh Kaala Hai. Veena Malik was back in the news in October, after becoming the sponsor mother of Payal Kamble, a seven-yearold girl living with the Sahaara Charitable Society in India and November brought with it news of Veena’s upcoming reality television show, “Swayamvar”. Would Veena get married on-screen and take home INR30 million or would she walk away, netting herself INR15 million? Capping off the year, Veena pulled a Kardashian and appeared nude on the cover of FHM India, with ISI stencilled on her arm. Stirring controversy on both sides of the border, Veena claimed that the she was merely topless in the photo shoot and that the picture was morphed. Veena sued FHM India, who countersued, claiming that Veena had willingly participated in the photo shoot and was, in fact, actually naked and that the photos were not altered in any way. Some have praised her as a feminist icon and others have condemned her as the spawn of Satan. But Veena Malik is, at the end of the day, Veena Malik. And that’s enough.
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memogate No incident highlighted the continual mistrust between the civilian and military authorities this year like the Memogate scandal. On October 10, Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote an op-ed in London’s Financial Times, alleging that Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani had asked him to pass on a memo to the then-chief of US military, Admiral Mike Mullen after the raid in Abbottabad on May 2. The note highlighted the supposed threat of a coup that the civilian government faced after bin Laden’s killing and sought American assistance in redressing the civil-military imbalance in Pakistan. Ijaz’s evidence for corroborating his allegations were a series of Blackberry transcripts and telephone records. The issue caused an uproar in Pakistan, and as Haqqani was summoned back to Pakistan, ISI chief Shuja Pasha jetted off to meet Ijaz. Subsequently, Haqqani resigned from his position and was quickly replaced by former information minister Sherry Rehman. But his resignation hardly resolved the matter. On November 29, Prime Minister Gillani referred to the parliamentary committee for national security for a probe into the affair. Yet, this was one issue that was not going to be simply relegated to the files of a government-led investigation. PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif petitioned the court to investigate the case on December 1 and a nine-member special bench of the Supreme Court ordered the formation of a commission to investigate the matter. But even before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear the petition formally, the government, which calls memogate a ‘nonissue’ protested against the initiation of the investigation, claiming that the parliamentary committee had the rightful mandate for the particular task. Yet this did not stop the SC from going ahead with the proceedings., After the initial hearing of the memogate petition, it gave
respondents—including the President, the COAS, the DG ISI and former ambassador Husain Haqqani— 15 days to file their replies to the petition. Haqqani submitted his reply on December 9, and Ijaz submitted his reply to the SC on December 15th. In his 81-page statement, the businessman confirmed his meeting with Inter-Services Intelligence Director Lt General Shuja Pasha in London on Oct 22, where he allegedly showed the spy chief proof of the existence of the memo. The DG ISI Pasha and COAS General Ashfaq Kayani have also submitted replies to the SC. The army chief in his affidavit said that the memo was a reality and should be investigated thoroughly. On December 17, General (retd) James Jones, former US national security adviser who allegedly handed the memo to Mullen, submitted his reply. In its reply to the SC, relayed in the form of an affidavit, the federal government declared that Shuja Pasha stepped beyond his jurisdiction when he briefed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Ashfaq Pervez Kayani about his meeting with Mansoor Ijaz in London. However, the President has not yet filed a reply to the memogate scandal. This is one issue that will continue to reverberate well into 2012.
salala attack Just when we thought that Pakistan and the US had had their fair share of bickering for 2011, along came another cause of contention. On November 26, NATO helicopters attacked a Pakistani check post in Salala, located in the Mohmand Agency on the Pak-Afghan border, killing 24 soldiers and injuring 12. And thus began another series of accusations and denials, which have become the defining characteristic of US-Pak relations. Only this time, Pakistan was hurling accusations and the US was denying. The government, political parties and the military were united in condemning the attack and the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Major General Ashfaq Nadeem went so far as to call the attack deliberate. 36 However, the US insists that the strike was actually intended to JANUARY 1-7 2012
target militants and was just an accident. That explanation wasn’t enough for Pakistan, and the government decided to play it tough. Apart from boycotting the Bonn conference, Pakistan ordered the US to vacate the Shamsi airbase, and NATO supplies transiting Pakistan for Afghanistan were blocked. On December 17, senior Pakistani officials made their presentation in Washington, claiming that November 26 could not have been an error in judgment. On December 22, a US probe found both American and Pakistani forces responsible for the attack due to inadequate coordination between military officers from both sides. Pakistan rejected the report, with the military calling it “short of facts” and saying that it would give a response when it receives a detailed report.
MOWED DOWN IN MOHALI
SPECIAL IN THE TRUE SENSE OF THE WORD
To call the build-up to the March 30 Pakistan vs India showdown at the ICC Cricket Worldcup 2011 Semi Finals ‘huge’ would be like calling World War II a skirmish. Politics, security issues and cross-border tension were all part and parcel of the ultimate cricketing showdown. India struggled to reach the semi-final but in the end they rose to the occasion against the ever unpredictable Pakistan squad. Despite the brilliant efforts of Wahab Riaz, who claimed five wickets, Pakistan lost by 29 runs, largely as a result of numerous dropped catches.
In another proud moment, the Pakistani team bagged 56 medals at the Special Olympics Summer Games 2011 in Athens, Greece which were held from June 25 to July 4. While competing in a week-long event, featuring nearly 7,000 athletes from 170 countries around the world, our 82-member contingent participated in eight sports including athletics, aquatics, badminton, basketball, bocce, cycling, football and table tennis. The athletes received their training from the NGO Special Olympics Pakistan, which takes the responsibility of preparing these special athletes for the big games. Children and adults who are mentally challenged go through year-round sports training from the NGO which helps nurture their abilities.
SHAMED BY SPOT FIXING Losing to India in the World Cup wasn’t the only blow suffered by Pakistani cricket in 2011. This was also the year in which three Pakistani cricketers were convicted for their role in the spotfixing scandal. On November 3, 2011, the Southwark Crown Court awarded jail terms of two years, five months for Salman Butt, one year for Muhammad Asif, six months for Muhammad Amir and two years, eight months for agent Mazhar Majeed. Asif, Amir and Butt thus became the first sportsmen to be sentenced for on-field corruption in the UK in almost 50 years. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, as Pakistan remained unbeaten in Test and ODI series this year. The team won six consecutive ODI series, bettering its previous record of five series wins in a year.
SNOW QUEENS But it wasn’t all bad news for Pakistani sports! For one thing, 15-year-old skier Ifrah Wali braved slippery slopes and a broken wrist to bag Pakistan’s first-ever gold medal in the South Asian Winter games in India, and her elder sister Amina bagged a double silver.
RULING THE KINGDOM OF THE BLIND Our blind cricketers managed to do what their sighted colleagues could not: defeat India! Our boys beat India 2-1 in the three-match T20 series, defeating the arch-rivals by five wickets in the final encounter at the Bagh-e-Jinnah, Lahore. That’s not all, they also beat India 3-0 in the one-day series and earlier in the year beat Australia 3-0 in a one-day series.
THE GIRLS IN GREEN ARE GO-GETTERS Girl power isn’t just a figure of speech! Pakistan’s women cricketers reached the final of the ICC Women’s World cup qualifiers to secure entry into both the World Twenty20 and the ICC World cup 2013.
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2011 was the year Imran Khan’s Tsunami finally hit the high-water mark after years of low political tides. While he had remained a constant fixture on talk shows for years, few people really took Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seriously. Until October 30, that is. Defying all predictions except his own, the Minar-e-Pakistan rally was a huge success and drew a massive crowd and serious media coverage. The next major boost was when Shah Mehmood Qureishi join the ranks at a rally in Ghotki. Since then, many other politicians, such as Jehangir Tareen and Khurshid Kasuri have also opted for the PTI. While many of these new entrants were expected, a surprise came when Javed Hashmi, a former stalwart of the PML-N joined the PTI as well. Then came the Karachi rally which, by all accounts, was larger than the Lahore rally. If the current momentum is maintained, 2012 may well be Imran Khan’s year.
Photo: Nefer Sehgal
the best and the brightest While the adults were away playing with guns, bombs and memos, the children of the nation were the ones hard at work. In January, Islamabad student Ibrahim Shahid set a new record by scoring 23 As in the Cambridge O level exams. As if that wasn’t mind-blowing enough, 19-year-old Taxila boy Syed Zohaib Asad upped the already sky-high ante by scoring 28 As! But then the girls went and did one better. Eleven-year-old Sitara Akbar became the youngest ever student to pass the University of Cambridge O levels. A fan of Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam, Sitara also holds the title
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of being the youngest Pakistani candidate of the International English Language Testing System. And then there’s eight-year-old Malala Yousufzai. While she narrowly missed bagging the ‘International Children’s Peace Prize’ that was awarded by the Dutch organisation ‘KidsRights’, she’s made major waves at home. PM Gilani awarded her the first national peace prize, renaming it the ‘National Malala Peace Prize’. What was her achievement? Nothing less than convincing her fellow students to continue their studies despite threats from militants in Swat. With young people like these among us, who says there’s no hope for the future?
Nusrat Bhutto When Nusrat Bhutto breathed her last on October 23, 2011, Pakistan bid farewell to the woman who had been instrumental in keeping the PPP together during the days of Zia’s martial law. Nusrat Bhutto had outlived her husband and three of her children, all of whom died violent deaths. Her only surviving child, Sanam Bhutto, currently resides in London. The 82-year-old, who had suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years, was recovering from a stroke at the Iranian Hospital in Dubai when she passed away. The PPP postponed all political activities for the next 10 days and a government holiday was announced to mourn the death of Pakistan’s former first lady.
Hakim Ali Zardari The president’s father, Hakim Ali Zardari, passed away on May 24, 2011 at the age of 81 in Islamabad due to multiple organ failure. He had been admitted at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) because of a critical injury sustained when he slipped in his own house. Initially diagnosed with a chest infection, a CT scan conducted later on detected brain haemorrhage. The veteran politician, elected thrice to the National Assembly, was put to rest in style: a helicopter carried the body of the deceased to Nawabshah where the funeral prayers were offered at Bilawal Stadium and then he was finally laid to rest at Balo Ja Quba, an ancestral graveyard near Nawabshah district.
Moin Akhtar He gave us countless hours of laughter, uplifting songs and great memories. One of TV’s most charismatic personalities, Moin Akhtar passed away at the age of 61 on the April 22 at the Combined Military Hospital due to a heart attack. The star from Karachi made his debut appearance on PTV in 1966 on a show held to celebrate Pakistan’s first Defence Day. An accomplished television, film and stage actor, as well as a comedian, impersonator, host, playwright, singer, director and producer, he was best known for his comedic roles because of his ability to tickle the funny bones of diverse audiences, from adults to children. Audiences remember his pitch-perfect imitations of a Bangladeshi cricketer, a Sindhi politician and the columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee among many others from the TV show “Loose Talk”. He redefined comedy in Pakistan but his most memorable performance was in the drama “Rozi”. Based on the film Tootsie, Akhtar played a female TV artist without great aplomb.
Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan In 2011, Pakistan also lost one of its leading icons, Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan, who passed away at the age of 88 on December 15. During his long and varied career, Nur Khan was the Air Force Commander-in-Chief during the rule of Field Marshal Ayub Khan and General Yahya Khan from 1965 till 1969. Nur Khan was also appointed as the Governor of West Pakistan in 1969 but resigned from the post after a brief period of time. After his appointment as the President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) in 1976 and the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in 1980, sports flourished in the country with Pakistani sportsmen earning laurels worldwide. JANUARY 1-7 2012
10 things I hate about
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BY NADIR HASSAN
The MATCH. Whether 2011 was going to be a year to
remember or one that was to be abided only through the haze of pharmaceutical aids depended entirely on one cricket match. Thanks a lot for that Misbah.
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The rise of the PTI. Settle down, PTI trolls! I say this out
of boredom not hatred. There are few duller things in the world than the low-cal speeches given by politicians at rallies. By becoming newsworthy, the PTI forced us to
sit through hours of rally coverage. For that they should never be forgiven.
My speed course in fashion. Being a journalist means I
have to be adept at a lot of things: speedily writing down what people more powerful than me say, resourcefully
doing Google searches to cover for my ignorance. I didn’t realise it would also mean having to recognise
the price and provenance of hand bags dangling from our foreign minister’s arm.
The lack of an international villain. On May 2, the US
not only eliminated our sovereignty, they also took out the one consensus candidate we had for a James Bond-
style bogeyman. Sure, Qaddafi and Kim Jong II could
have fit the bill but they were too eccentric and, more importantly, dead for that.
Loadshedding. Yes, this could be a perennial complaint
but, for me, this year was the worst. I endured sleepless sweaty nights during the Karachi summer then went
right around and spent the winter in Islamabad where gas loadshedding made a hot shower in the morning a purely theoretical ideal
The year was such a tease. No one really wants a military coup but they sure are fun to live through.
Remember seeing that awesome shot of Musharraf
firing a gun, which appeared to be the only footage of the general news channels had on October 8? This year we were regularly told the army was about to take over. (Un)fortunately, it never happened.
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Veena Malik’s hands. Because they covered what every man wanted to see.
The ubiquity of the “Spring” suffix. We don’t have a spring in Pakistan, whether referred to seasonally or governmentally. And we don’t need one. We got rid of
our dictator long before the Arabs so please spare me the rant on the need for a revolution in Pakistan.
The Oscars. They’re so predictable that by now it should
stop making me this angry. But the fact that Oscar
voters are so dense as to choose a Best Movie that has been engineered to fit every Oscar criteria is maddening. The King’s Speech had it all: a period setting and a dude with a disability.
Glee. A once fun TV show which decided this year it didn’t want to have storylines. Nor did it want songs that anyone would actually want to hear. a