A bird’s eye view of 2022 | By Sultan M Hali

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A bird’s eye view of 2022

A Happy New Year to all. While we ring in the year 2023, let us briefly examine the major events that occurred in tumultuous 2022.

Posterity will probably judge the outgoing year as marking the end of one era and the beginning of another.

Before we focus on Pakistan, which faced the worst year of its septuagenarian life apart from 1971, let us look at some major world events first.

On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a “special military operation” that was rationalized as being necessitated to force the “demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.”

The invasion did not result in the quick capitulation of Ukraine because it was rushed military support by Russia’s opponents but it triggered a chain of events, causing reverberations around the world.

It disrupted global supply chains, creating scarcity in a wide array of goods and services including gas from Russia which has caused Europe to shiver-borrowing a phrase from William Shakespeare’s play Richard-III: “Now is the winter of our discontent”.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine focused attention on the exodus of Ukrainians—fleeing their homeland for security abroad—obscuring humanitarian and refugee crises elsewhere in the world; Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, the Rohingya et-al.

Just a few short weeks after celebrating her 70th year on the throne, the world mourned the loss of the longest-serving British monarch in history—Queen Elizabeth II—whose funeral became the most-watched TV event in history with over four billion global viewers.

This scribe spent the autumn in the UK and is witness to the turmoil that rocked British politics.

During the year 2022, Britain saw a change of three prime ministers within a span of two months.

Pro-Brexit Boris Johnson, whose tenure was marked by numerous scandals, lost his chair as a result of a parliamentary coup d’é·tat.

In early July 2022, sixty-two parliamentarians resigned from their positions, forcing the incumbent resident of 10 Downing Street to throw in the towel.

He was succeeded by Liz Truss, who lasted just forty-five days—the shortest tenure of any British prime minister in history.

(Truss also holds the distinction of being the last prime minister that Queen Elizabeth II asked to form a government.) Truss was shown the door because she slashed taxes causing the British pound’s rapid devaluation.

Rishi Sunak, who had masterminded Johnson’s exit was entrusted with the task of stemming the rot and becoming Britain’s first prime minister of colour.

He faces an uphill task facing a recession with inflation running at 15 percent, in the backdrop of mounting energy prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There are rumours of Britain seeking to rejoin the EU. Closer to home, 2022 saw the regime in Iran face the most significant challenge to its rule since 1979.

The protests began in September when “morality police” in Tehran arrested Mahsa Amini, a twenty-two-year-old Kurdish-Iranian girl visiting Tehran, for failing to cover her hair properly.

She died in police custody, sparking off massive protest rallies. Sino-U.S. tension heightened with the Joe Biden Administration’s National Security Strategy, released in October 2022, censuring Beijing hard.

Earlier, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ill-advised visit to Taiwan in August raised alarm bells for a possible Sino-U.S. armed confrontation but President Xi exhibited conventional restraint and the peril passed.

In China, President Xi Jinping won a third term as supreme leader, promising to continue reforms.

While COVID-19 appeared to be receding globally, China was hit by a massive fresh wave of the pandemic.

India chose to challenge China in the Himalayan region, only to receive a blow to its ego. The Modi regime continued to torment Kashmiris in particular and Indian Muslims in general.

Let us turn to Pakistan, where the government of Imran Khan was removed through a no-confidence motion in Parliament.

His ouster unleashed a series of crises battering Pakistan. Imran Khan’s government was replaced by a motley group of politicians who had been alleged for massive corruption.

Colossal pro-Imran political rallies seeking to derail the current incumbents in the corridors of power and demanding that the country hold early elections, paralyzed the country.

The Empire struck back—the government charged Imran Khan with violating anti-terrorism laws.

He was wounded in a failed assassination attempt, which did not dampen his spirits and he continued to draw mammoth crowds in his political rallies.

Climate crises also wreaked havoc in Pakistan in 2022 through torrential rains and deluge of biblical proportions, claiming thousands of precious human and animal lives, destroying crops, demolishing houses and buildings.

Afghan Taliban resumed cross border shelling and violation of the Durand Line while a rejuvenated Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) launched a series of attacks taking a huge toll of precious lives.

General Qamar Bajwa, the Army Chief, who had managed to secure a three-year extension was accused of manipulating regime change, retired at the end of November.

The new incumbent has promised to keep the Army out of politics. As the year 2022 came to an end, Pakistan’s financial woes are far from over.

Terror attacks have caused foreign diplomatic missions to issue travel advisories to their personnel.

The political milieu is getting murkier, energy crisis and double-digit inflation enhance the misery of ordinary citizens while the danger of a fresh wave of COVID XBB Variant is threatening the local populace. It is thus prayed that 2023 may usher an end to the world and Pakistan’s miseries.

—The writer is a Retired Group Captain of PAF, who has written several books on China.