Grumble, grumble, grumble … that’s what we do all the time. We grumble when there is power outage, when we are stuck in traffic jam, when we see trash lying around or water from sewage flowing on the roads. Then we grumble when we are not able to get admission to the institution of our choice, we grumble when someone who we think is not better than us is selected in the school team, and so the list goes on.
We hear our parents and elders grumble about corruption, incompetent politicians, inflation and high cost of living, about the quality of things and services deteriorating, and a thousand other things. It seems as if there is nothing right in the country and all is doomed and in gloom. Everyone seems to be so disappointed and frustrated with the conditions prevalent in Pakistan that every third person wants to flee the country, every student wants to go abroad for higher studies and settle there — it seems no one wants to live here anymore!
My dear friends, it is true that there are a lot of problems in our country, but think for a second: it is our country and it is we who have to set things right. No one from outside is going to come to improve the situation here. Also, if we look deep beyond the surface, we would realise that this land of ours is blessed in more ways than one.
Our country is blessed by God with a lot of remarkable things, and with wonderful and brilliant people who have done the nation proud. So, let’s be positive and look at the brighter side.
Out of the world’s 14 highest peaks (8,000+ metres high), five are in Pakistan — K2 (which is the world’s second-highest mountain, standing at 8,611 metres), Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I, Broad Peak, and Gasherbrum II. Most of the highest peaks in Pakistan lie in the Karakoram mountain range.
Pakistan is also home to over 7,000 glaciers, more than anywhere except the polar regions. These include the Baltoro Glacier and Godwin Austen Glacier.
The world’s highest cold desert, the Katpana Desert or BiamaNakpo, is located near Skardu, GilgitBaltistan. Situated at an elevation of 2,226 metres above sea level, the desert contains large dunes that are sometimes covered in snow during winter. The portion of the desert that is most frequented by tourists is located near the Skardu Airport.
Pakistan is also home to the world’s second-highest alpine plain, the Deosai Plains, which is also known as the land of the giants. It is situated on the boundary of the Karakoram and the western Himalayas at an average elevation of 4,114 metres above sea level. It remains covered with snow for eight months, and the rest of the year it hosts a range of beautiful flowers of all hues and colours, though no tree is found here.
The Thar Desert is the world’s 20th largest desert, and the world’s 9th-largest hot subtropical desert, and is considered to be the only fertile desert. It covers an area of 200,000 sq km and forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. About 85% of the Thar Desert is in India, and about 15% is in Pakistan.
Tarbela Dam, the largest earth-filled dam in the world, is located on the River Indus, in district Swabi, KP. Its construction started in 1968 and the dam was completed in 1976 as a component of the Indus Basin Project. The dam is 143 metres above the riverbed. The dam’s reservoir, Tarbela Lake, has a surface area of approximately 250 sq km.
Situated on the Arabian Sea in Gwadar, Balochistan, Gwadar Port is the largest deep seaport in the world. The port features prominently in the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan and has strategic and economic value for both countries.
The second-largest salt mine in the world, Khewra Salt Mine is situated in Khewra, in Jhelum District. The Khewra mine is about 288 metres above sea level and about 730 metres into the mountain from the mine entrance. The underground mine covers an area of 110 sq km. The mine is famous for its production of pink Khewra salt, often marketed as Himalayan salt.
The Faisal Mosque, in Islamabad, is the fifth largest mosque in terms of capacity in the world and the largest in South Asia. The mosque was designed by Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay and is named after Saudi King Faisal, who provided generous funds for its construction. Built in 1976, the mosque does not have a typical dome and is inspired by the design of a typical Bedouin tent, surrounded by four 260 feet tall minarets.
Pakistan is one of the world’s major manufacturers and exporters of hand-held quality surgical instruments. It exports almost 50% of its produced surgical instruments to Europe and 25% to the USA.
Pakistan has the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system, with three large dams, 85 small dams, and around 20 barrages, irrigating over 2.5 million acres and running over 90,000km of watercourses.
The Karakoram Highway, also known as the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway is the world’s highest paved international road. The 1,300km highway connects the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa plus Gilgit-Baltistan with China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It passes through the Karakoram Mountain range and reaches a maximum height of 15,300 feet. Built by the governments of Pakistan and China, it was started in 1959 and was completed and opened to the public in 1979.
The world’s highest ATM belongs to the National Bank of Pakistan. It is situated in the Khunjerab Pass, in Gilgit-Baltistan. Established in November 2016, it sits 15,397 feet above sea level.
Founded by Abdul Sattar Edhi in 1951, Edhi Foundation holds the record for having the largest volunteer ambulance organisation in the world. The Edhi organisation boasts 500 ambulances across the country and has 300 centres across Pakistan.
In 2014, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest individual to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and the right of all children to education”. She is the 47th woman to get the Nobel Prize.
In 1996, Hasan Raza made his debut, at the age of 14 years, 227 days, against Zimbabwe at Faisalabad, and was declared the youngest Test player ever. His age sparked controversy over the legitimacy of his age. Although he was a prolific player in domestic cricket, he failed to translate that spark to his international performance.
Shoaib Akhtar, a former Pakistani cricketer, delivered the fastest ball at the speed of 161.3km/h in a match against England in the 2003 World Cup at Cape Town, South Africa. He was named “Rawalpindi Express” as a tribute to his hometown and bowling style.
Jahangir Khan is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most world championship squash titles — eight titles. He was unbeaten in competitive play for five years, during which time he won 555 matches. This was not only the longest winning streak in the history of squash, but also one of the longest unbeaten runs by any athlete in top-level professional sport. He also holds the title of youngest winner (men) since 1981 (17 years and 11 months).
Eighteen-year-old Ali Moeen Nawazish created a world record when he accumulated most As in A levels. He got 22 As, 1 B and 1 C in A levels. While most students limit themselves to a few basic subjects at A levels, Ali Moeen Nawazish gave new goals to students.
Arfa Abdul Karim Randhawa became famous in 2004 for earning the honour of the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) at the age of nine. She kept that title until 2008, during which time she represented Pakistan on various international platforms and was awarded the title “Pride of Pakistan” by the president. The computer prodigy died in 2012 due to a cardiac arrest.
Zidane Hamid is a child prodigy, popularly known as little professor. He passed the Microsoft Office Exam in 2015 at the age of five. In 2019, he made a Guinness World Record in Chemistry for arranging all elements of the periodic table in 5 minutes and 41 seconds. Zidane also holds the Guinness record for being the youngest sports commentator.
Meher Gul is not only a highly gifted chess player but she also set a record for arranging a chess set in the shortest time (45 seconds) at the age of 12. She is the youngest Pakistani to win the Woman Candidate Master title at the 42nd Chess Olympiad, held at Baku, Azerbaijan.
Though Pakistan is not highly ranked in football at the international level, almost 70% of the world’s footballs are made in Pakistan. Sialkot is known as the world’s largest producer of hand-sewn footballs and is home to at least 1,000 football factories that manufacture 40-60 million footballs a year. It has been supplying footballs for international tournaments for a very long time.
Recently, Haider Ali from Gujranwala, won Pakistan’s first-ever gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics. He made history by winning a gold medal in the discus throw competition. Ali achieved a 55.26 metre throw on his fifth attempt out of a total of six, to score the best distance — almost 3m longer than Ukraine’s Mykola Zhabnyak who scored 52.43m to come in second place, according to Radio Pakistan.
Haider Ali is a role model for all those people that have a disability and feel like they can’t participate in sports. They should not forget that nothing can stop them from showcasing their talent in any field.
This is not all. There are many more nature’s blessings and bright people in the country. Spend the weekend looking for some more!
Published in Dawn, Young World, September 11th, 2021