A rather tough year has came to an end, surprisingly, in the blink of an eye.
But while it negates the belief that hard times pass slow, here are all the major updates that added to the very happening COVID-19-infected year as most of the world stayed indoors.
Extension for Gen Bajwa
After some drama following earlier reservations, the Supreme Court (SC) on November 28, 2019 approved a short 6-month extension in General Bajwa’s term as the chief of army staff.
Subsequently, on January 7, 2020, the National Assembly passed three bills concerning the tenure of the three services chiefs — chief of army staff, chief of air staff and chief of naval staff — and the chairman of the joint chief of staff committee.
Gen Bajwa was granted extension up to three years till November 29, 2022.
Surprisingly though, the two major opposition parties — PML-N and PPP — were on board for the changes which was why the bills faced no resistance even in the opposition-dominated Senate.
Smooth sailing of the Army Act was also what prompted Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda to bring with him an army boot to a live talkshow.
After wreaking havoc in China and beginning to do the same in Europe as well as the worst-hit US, the first case of COVID-19 was reported from Karachi on February 26, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of infections and several deaths were reported.
Prominent figures were also on the list of COVID-19 patients.
Amid spotless management and timely closures as well as public behaviour in line with coronavirus SOPs, Pakistan managed to contain the outbreak as soon as the first wave peaked in July-August.
A second wave is, however, currently underway since after the reopening of businesses and educational institutions besides other businesses.
While Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s smart lockdowns stay in place to deal with the pandemic but not at the cost of livelihoods, it is too early to predict what 2021 would hold for Pakistan with vaccines rolling out but also the discovery of a new strand of the virus.
A plane crash killed 97 people on May 22, which was said to be a result of human error by the pilot and air traffic control.
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the pilots of the Karachi-bound PK8308 flight of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from Lahore were distracted while talking about coronavirus.
The passenger plane came down on houses in Karachi with only two survivors. Subsequent investigations into the licenses of Pakistani pilots led to the grounding of hundreds across the globe and the imposition of a temporary ban on PIA flights to Europe and the United States (US).
Around 30 to 40 people lost their lives in various rain-related incidents in the port city lacking monsoon infrastructure.
While blame games continued as authorities hesitated to take responsibility for the misery of people of the country’s largest city, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said it wanted all stakeholders to contribute to ameliorating the situation instead of politicising a “pure natural disaster”.
The situation was improved after the intervention of the federal government and a military-aided rescue operation.
The year also witnessed a rather common sight in Pakistan when opposition parties put their differences aside in an attempt to oust the PTI government.
After a round of meetings, almost all opposition parties, including PPP, PML-N, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), Awami National Party, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, Balochistan National Party among others, launched a series of countrywide protests.
The foremost demand of the 11-party alliance, named Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), is the resignation of “selected” Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan. It has threatened to march to Islamabad if the premier doesn’t resign before midnight on December 31 (today).
While the opposition seems satisfied with its anti-government campaign, the government is confident of cracks emerging within PDM ranks before it could pose an actual threat.
Khadim Rizvi’s Death
Renowned cleric and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi passed away on November 19.
Earlier it was reported that he was suffering from high-grade fever for the past couple of days, which had led to speculations if he was suffering from COVID-19.
While the cause of his sudden death was not determined, his funeral prayers in Lahore were attended by hundreds of thousands of supporters from across the globe, adding to COVID-19 superspreader event fears.
Rizvi, who had returned from a sit-in protest against French president’s take on blasphemy a day before his death, was known for his aggressive speeches besides promotion of extremist element in the religio-political landscape of the country.