LT-GEN. NIGAR JOHAR: First women officer in the country’s armed forces to have a threestar status. Besides being a sharp shooter and a decorated officer, she became the first woman Surgeon-General of in Pakistan Army in 2020.
DONALD TRUMP: In an otherwise dark year, his electoral loss in the United States provided the much-needed silver lining, raising hopes that there might well be a change of trend in getting rid of leaders of similar breed. He is already said to be looking forward to the 2024 elections though!
ZINDAGI TAMASHA: Though cleared by the censor boards, the movie never got an official release in the country. Winner of the Busan International Film Festival, the movie turned out to be Pakistan’s entry to the Oscars.
NISHA RAO: Pakistan’s first transgender lawyer she earned a law degree taking classes at night, and getting her license to practice in 2020. With membership of the Karachi Bar Association in hand, she has already contested 50 cases and is working for transgender rights.
ARTIFICAL INTELLIGENCE: “I am not a human. I am a robot. A thinking robot.” Thus began the Op-Ed article published by The Guardian on Sept 8, written by GPT-3 software using artificial intelligence. This was not as much a sign of times as it was a sign of things to come. As noted by editors, “editing GPT-3’s op-ed was no different to editing a human op-ed … Overall, it took less time to edit than many human op-eds”!
BLACK LIVES MATTER: What originated as a hashtag in 2013 exploded in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd by an American police officer. Protests spread throughout the US; more than 10,600 within three months. It became a global movement with its own variations in different countries. Even cricket had its take-a-knee moments.
TIKTOK ET AL: As the world marched towards an increasingly digital existence, the authorities opted to control unfiltered content. TikTok was banned and the same was the case with the widely and wildly popular game PUBG and live-streaming application Bigo. Digital rights activists were kept on their feet almost round the clock!
CYNTHIA RITCHIE: Hovering on the national political horizon for some time, it was in 2020 that Cynthia made it big in every imaginably wrong sense of the term. With allegations against some leading names – unproven to date – she kept the audiences entertained through the year.
CLIMATE CHANGE: The only silver lining on the otherwise dark cloud was the biggest drop in carbon dioxide emissions since World War II during the year. The planet continued to endure significant heating, keeping it on track to be one of the three hottest years on record, just behind 2016 and 2019. The most notable change was seen in the Siberian Arctic, where temperatures were 5C above average, causing rapid melting of the Arctic permafrost. Bushfires continued to rage in Australia and Greenland lost around 152bn tonnes, and there were 30 named storms during the North Atlantic hurricane season. The menace of climate change is not going anywhere anytime soon.
KARACHI VERSUS LAHORE: The fifth version of the Pakistan Super League, supposed to be the homecoming of international cricket in Pakistan, brought the classic clash between Karachi and Lahore. Regardless of the outcome, it was the fun that mattered.
THE DELUGE: With 490mm rain in August, Karachi had not had a monsoon like that for 89 years. Worse still, more than 200mm poured during a 12-hour period, leaving the country’s financial hub devastated. It took weeks and in some cases months for life to return to normal.
THE TALLEST GETS TALLER: A joint statement from Nepal and China confirmed that the actual height of Mount Everest was 8,848.86 metres; 86cm higher than the measurement previously recognised by Nepal, and more than four metres more than China’s official figure. Since the tectonic plates are still pushing against each other, the height may change again in the years to come.
THE BOOT: Outlandish in many a sense, MNA Faisal Vawda brought a military boot to a TV talk show, labelling himself a patriot and asking people to respect the boot! Fawad Chaudhry, another stalwart, had his moment when he came to blows with an anchorperson, but the boot won it hands down.
THE CRASH AND THE PILOTS: The unfortunate aircrash of flight PK8303 in Karachi was a new low for the national airline, but what happened in the months ahead in terms of the controversy regarding pilot licensing caused damage of its own.
OSCAR HISTORY: The South Korean film Parasite became the first foreign-language movie ever to win the Oscar in the Best Picture category. It made headlines that was something that drew the ire of Twitter-hungry US President Donald Trump who questioned the win at one of his rallies! With lockdowns and social distancing marking the year, people in their homes and desperate for some relief, streaming services, like Netflix, had a busy year all the way through.