2021's newsmakers: This year's biggest movers and shakers
A look back at how milestones were set, war victories were announced and the underdogs became the favourites
If you thought 2021 was only about the coronavirus pandemic, especially with new variants such as the Delta and Omicron emerging, think again. The year had its fair share of happenings outside of the COVID-19 realm.
Milestones were set, war victories were announced and the underdogs became the favourites. All in one year.
In case you have forgotten, Geo.tv is here to refresh your memory. We look back at the head-turning events that kept Pakistanis and the world talking in 2021.
Malala Yousafzai — busy, busy, busy
Malala made a major splash in the news this year. The Nobel prize winning education activist first made headlines in Pakistan over her views on marriage, reported in an interview with the British Vogue.
Her comments, taken out of context on social media, sparked a furious debate from all quarters, each either questioning or defending a young woman's opinion on marriage. But months later, Malala surprised everyone, by announcing her marriage with Asser Malik, a Pakistan Cricket Board executive.
Then, she added another feather to her cap, when she graduated with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University.
Earlier in the year, the activist, with her new production company named, Extracurricular, also signed a multi-year deal with Apple TV+ to produce dramas, children’s series, animation and documentaries and in November, collaborated with legendary Broadway pioneer Andrew Lloyd Webber for the musical Cinderella.
Is there anything Malala cannot do?
The expected and unexpected: Taliban take over Afghanistan
It was the most unexpected event of the year. Experts and analysts had predicted that the Taliban would not be able to take over Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, with ease. But they surprised everyone, when they rode into the capital on August 15 without resistance, following the exit of international troops from the country.
President Ashraf Ghani fled to the UAE, leaving behind the Afghan people to an uncertain fate. Images of desperation poured out of Kabul, particularly of people looking to leave the country.
The world watched in horror as footage emerged of several people falling to their deaths from an American plane.
Amid the chaos, scores were killed in suicide attacks claimed by Daesh.
Finally, an interim government was hurriedly formed.
The Taliban, in a departure from their hardline rule of the 1990s, promised rights to all citizens.
But that hasn't ended uncertainty for the Afghans. With many non-profit organisations having left and the country’s foreign assets frozen, the people of the war-torn country are now facing starvation in a bleak winter.
We hope 2022 brings some good news and much needed respite for the people of Afghanistan.
Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan: Bolder than ever
The Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), a far right political party, prone to paroxysms of violent protests, remained a regular fixture in the media this year.
The group, which first paralysed the streets of the country in 2017, was banned by the government in April this year, after a number of policemen were hurt in clashes with the group. The main leader of the group was also detained.
The TLP hit the streets insisting that the government dispel the French ambassador and cut ties with France.
After a few days of back and forth, the government was able to reach an agreement with the far-right group. While the contents of the agreement are still secret, the ban on the TLP from contesting elections is now being lifted. Its leader, Saad Rizvi, has been released.
The group's influence has since increased as multiple politicians reportedly met the TLP chief.
Buoyed by the political patronage, Rizvi declared in an interview with Newsweek Pakistan that no government will be able to form without the good graces of the group.
Arooj Aftab gets two Grammy nominations
Finally some good news! Our very own Arooj Aftab made waves in the music circuit. The Pakistani singer and composer was nominated this year for the Grammy awards, the world’s most prestigious music awards, which will be held on January 31. To top it off, she was named in not one, but two categories — Best New Artist and Best Global Performance.
The vocalist even got the presidential nod this year, when it was revealed that her popular track “Mohabbat” featured on US president Barack Obama’s summer playlist.
She is also all set to feature in the next season of Coke Studio. You go girl!
Elon Musk becomes the richest man in history
The business magnate didn’t just make the headlines for one reason in 2021. This year Tesla, his electric car company, became the most valuable carmaker in the world at a value of more than $1 trillion, while, SpaceX, his rocket company, shot off into space with an all-civilian crew.
What’s more, he was named TIME magazine’s "Person of the Year", for “creating solutions to an existential crisis, for embodying the possibilities and the perils of the age of tech titans, for driving society's most daring and disruptive transformations,” the magazine's editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal said.
And then there was the moment when Musk was named the richest man in the entire world and that too by more than $50 billion when compared to Jeff Bezos, the entrepreneur he dethroned. His net worth, at the time this listicle was published, was $278.9 billion, according to the Forbes’ “The Real Time Billionaires List”.
Proud to bleed green!
Okay, we admit, when it came to sports in Pakistan, the year didn’t start off too well. With COVID-19 having effectively put a freeze on sporting events throughout the world, cricket was no exception, at least in the first half of the year.
Then, when Pakistan was gearing up to welcome the return of international cricket in September, the shocking withdrawal due to “security concerns” of first New Zealand and then England, from their Pakistan tours, put a damper on things.
The Men in Green, however, with newly appointed Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ramiz Raja at the helm, bounced right back, giving their fans much to celebrate.
And did the boys put on a show. They not only crushed arch-rivals India in the T20 World Cup with a 10-wicket win, breaking an unbroken streak against the side in T20 World Cups, but remained undefeated throughout the tournament, only to lose in the semi-final to Australia.
Later, in the campaign against Bangladesh as visitors, the team whitewashed the T20 as well as Test matches.
A big cheer for our champions!
Journalists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Among the high-achievers to have left their mark on this year's developments were two journalists who won the Nobel Peace Prize for their "courageous fight for freedom of expression" in their countries.
Maria Ressa, 58, from the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov, 59, from Russia won the award in a first for journalists since 1935 when German journalist Carl von Ossietzky took home the prize.
Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said that the recognition was merited as the two are "representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions".
Ressa's win was special for another reason: she is the first Nobel Peace laureate from the Philippines. She is the co-founder of Rappler, a digital media company which she established in 2012. It has earned itself a name for investigative reporting, including into large scale killings during a police campaign against drugs.
Muratov is the editor-in-chief of Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta.