Young author Faizan Soofi, Entrepreneur Fiza Farhan, Top cadet Junaid Saleem are the bright stars and faces of Pakistan who made us proud in 2015
TVI Special Report
As 2015 draws to a close, it’s time to look at the year gone by to learn from our mistakes, to cherish good and memorable moments and make promises for a better tomorrow. As we step into 2016, let us remember Pakistan’s most memorable moments from last year and hope that we continue to touch skies and emerge as a proud country.
1. Pakistan holds first Republic Day parade in 7 years
Pakistan held its first Republic Day parade in seven years on 23rd March 2015 – a symbolic show of strength in the war against terrorism. President Mamnoon Hussain, PM Nawaz Sharif, COAS Raheel Sharif, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood and services chiefs attended the event. Military jets and helicopters including JF-17 Thunder, cobra gunship helicopters and F-16 fighter jets presented aerobatic maneuvers over the picturesque backdrop of Islamabad’s Margalla Hills.
2. Pakistan successfully tests first drone
In March 2015, Pakistan successfully tested its first indigenous armed drone named Burraq. The drone has the ability to fly in all types of weather conditions and strike its targets with pinpoint accuracy. Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif attended the ceremony and witnessed the test fire of the new missile on static and moving targets. The army chief termed it a great national achievement and a momentous occasion in the history of the country.
3. Pakistan, China ink CPEC, 50 other deals during Chinese President’s historic visit
Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled his country’s biggest overseas investment – China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – during his historic state visit to Islamabad. A total of 51 agreements were signed in different fields, including infrastructure projects, energy generation, agriculture, education, telecommunications and research. The CPEC is a 3,000km-long network of roads, railway tracks from China’s Xianjiang province to Pakistan’s Balochistan province including up-gradation of the 1,300km Karakoram Highway.
4. International cricket returns to Pakistan
This year brought has great news for Pakistan cricket fans as international cricket returned to Pakistan — an eternal wait for a cricket-obsessed nation. Zimbabwe are the first international side to play in Pakistan since March 2009, when terrorists had attacked the vehicles carrying the Sri Lankan team and match officials to the Gaddafi stadium. The team Zimbabwe was certainly not disappointed because of such warm welcome.
5. 2015 – a promising year for Pakistani Startups and Entrepreneurs
2015 was indeed a breakthrough year for startups in Pakistan. Pakistan’s startup, Markhor (which makes handcrafted artisanal shoes) was accepted into YCombinator. Interacta, a startup which is trying to redefine conventional broadcasting by making TV shows interactive, raised US$220,000. EatOye, an online food delivery service, was acquired by Rocket Internet’s Foodpanda. Mezaaj, Autogenie, Bookme, MySmacED, Sportskot, Wifigen are some of the noteworthy startups of 2015. This mushrooming growth of startups and new business along with incubators and accelerators across the country, indicates a bright future for entrepreneurship in Pakistan.
6. Faizan Aslam Soofi is Pakistan’s Youngest Author
An 11-year-old Pakistani made the nation proud by becoming one of the youngest published authors of the world. Faizan Aslam Soofi is one the youngest published fiction writers from Pakistan. Faizan, an 11 year 7th grade student of Aitchison College Lahore, started writing short stories when he was only eight years old. At the age of nine, Faizan quietly typed his first novel called “Howl”. The launching ceremony of Faizan’s new novel “Instrumental Queens” was attended by well-known personalities such as Dr. Zafar Altaf who said that Faizan “has set a target for the entire generation.”
7. PAF officer awarded ‘Best Overseas Cadet’ award by UK Air Force Academy
Flying Officer of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Junaid Saleem has been awarded the ‘Best Overseas Cadet Award’ at Royal Air Force College (RAFC) Cranwell. Junaid Saleem, who passed out on June 18 from Royal Air Force Academy Cranwell, has made the nation proud. This is the first time ever in the history of Pakistan that a cadet from PAF has been rewarded as the Best Overseas Candidate in Royal Air Force College Cranwell. Pakistan Air Force is considered one of the largest combat air forces in the World.
8. Pakistan’s Fiza Farhan in Forbes list of 2015’s young entrepreneurs
Twenty-eight-year-old Fiza Farhan, co-founder of Buksh Foundation, made it to the list of American business magazine Forbes’ list of 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs for 2015. Farhan runs Buksh Foundation, a microfinance institution that brings clean energy projects to poor and rural areas. The foundation has trained 135 women as energy entrepreneurs and has brought solar-powered lights to 6,750 households.
9. Pakistan’s first animated film released – 3 Bahadur
Pakistan’s first-ever animated venture by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Waadi Animations’ 3 Bahadur offers great lessons, laughs and action for the whole family. The movie was certainly a proud moment for Pakistanis in 2015.
The movie also became one of the highest-grossing animated film ever to release in Pakistan and signaled a bright future for Pakistani cinema.
10. Foreigners cherish Pakistan’s best kept secrets
Visits from travel-and-adventure-loving foreigners showed Pakistan’s best kept secrets to the world and rest of Pakistan.
American photographer and blogger Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York) visited Pakistan and shared remarkable photos and stories of Pakistani people. Before concluding his visit, he also raised awareness about bonded labour in the brick kilns of Pakistan and managed to raise around 2 million dollars in 72 hours to help families end bonded slavery. The pictures from the Pakistan series are available here. Brandon’s final words on the series can be read here.
Australian travel blogger Sophee Smiles also visited Pakistan this summer and shared breathtaking pictures from the country. She also had this to say about her visit in a Facebook post: “Not only has Pakistan been one of the friendliest countries we’ve visited, it’s also been one of the most beautiful. Exploring the north along the Karakoram Highway has been an absolute treat – I’ll never forget my time in this spectacular country.”