The year 2017 in review

At this time of year, questions about how good the previous year had been and how good the upcoming year will be are all too common. Forecasters, analysts and pundits make different claims every New Year. Many of these are replicated every December. This year, there was none of Obama’s influence on our foreign policy, only Trump’s unpredictability.

2017 had many highlights, including Robert Mugabe’s ouster from power after more than 30 years. Mugabe is a classic case of hero turned villain. He endured years in prison only to bring the country’s economy crashing down once he was actually in power. Showing that enduring jail doesn’t necessarily make one Nelson Mandela.

At home, the fate of the PML-N and Nawaz Sharif is yet to be determined. 2017 proved to be a disaster for Nawaz’s political career. Though he still has strong roots amongst his followers in Punjab. Meanwhile, Musharraf has managed to break onto the political scene. Despite being registered with the ECP, it seems highly doubtful that Musharraf’s party will be able to have much of an impact in the 2018 elections.

In Europe, Brexit has been in the headlines. The EU seems to be gearing up for a breakup, though the situation isn’t quite upon us yet. The terms of Brexit are still to be negotiated, most likely in March 2019.

Lets not forget the downtrodden Rohingya in Myanmar. The persecuted Muslims of Myanmar have been victims of atrocity after atrocity this year. Aung San Suu Kyi, a beneficiary of the Nobel Peace Prize and the face of Myanmar’s democracy has failed completely to end their plight. It has also become clear that the military is still the real authority in the country.

Things have been busy as usual in the Middle East. In June, Mosul was finally freed from ISIS after a three year long occupation. As many as 40,000 civilians died in the fighting and another million were displaced. The city itself is in ruins and will take many years to reconstruct.

Xi is the most powerful leader China has had since Mao, and it looks like he will continue to be a major player on the world stage for years to come

Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has been quite active in Saudi Arabia. Upon becoming the heir to the Kingdom, he got to work immediately crafting and implementing his vision for 2030. Iran, Yemen and Qatar became were on top of his list of priorities, and have been handled with an extremely aggressive foreign policy. He has also been quite chummy with Trump. Time will tell is his reckless strategies will be successful in modernising Saudi Arabia.

Here is the good news, ten years after the 2008 recession, global economic growth has accelerated and international stock markets have reached record highs. The bad news is that we have been unable to curb global warming. In September it was revealed that 2017 was the second warmest year on record. Trump has announced that the US is no longer a part of the Paris Climate Agreement. The world also saw the devastating effects of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

The spat between the rocket man and the dotard also captured the world’s attention in 2017. North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un remains uncooperative with the world community about his nuclear toys. Childish threats from Trump via twitter have ensued, including some inane ranting about ‘fire and fury’.

The name calling doesn’t end here. Trump called his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping the ‘king of China’ during his November state visit-plus. Here Trump wasn’t off the mark by much. Xi is the most powerful leader China has had since Mao, and it looks like he will continue to be a major player on the world stage for years to come.

Donald Trump’s foreign policy consistently remained tough American doctrine for many friends, allies, enemies and frenemies, Pakistan is sitting somewhere in-between in this list. Whether its NAFTA circle of Canada, US & Mexico, firm policy against Iran, or latest Jerusalem saga, he has been good to his word since getting to the White House.

In Pakistan, Dharna Politics, religious uprising and Judicial manoeuvring took a new height, history has repeatedly proved that induced media outlets, controlled judiciary and engineered elections have never done any good to country in past, anyways, nobody listens when I complain.

In 2017, financial hub of Pakistan city of Karachi remained under siege with obvious results, respect for vote, its mandate and right of true representation was clearly desecrated to its citizens, MQM a major stakeholder in Pakistani politics was deprived of a fair chance to participate in political process, their vote bank remains intact.

2017 also made headlines worldwide for missing persons in Pakistan, Journalists, bloggers, poet, writers, columnist and political activists were enforced fully disappeared and were not produced in any court of law. Pressure had mounted from International community on Pakistan to produce missing individuals and put an end to such illegitimate approach practiced by LEA as it clearly violates a citizen’s basic and fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression under the constitution.

2017 ended with PDS Syndrome, an ex-forces employee turned Mullah, Khadim Rizvi managed to capture nation’s attention with PDS diction (Pen-di-Siri), that saga ended its natural demise with nine-dollar gratuity and a note of thanks from ‘unknown’. I dedicate 2017 to this PDS Syndrome, not of thanks and generous nine-dollar gratuity. And for 2018 I still have a fear of ‘unknown’….

The writer is a social and civil right activist and very vocal on Human Right violations across the globe. He works as Host/Producer (Current Affairs) at a leading news channel of North America. He can be reached at anisfarooqui@gmail.com and tweets @anis_farooqui

Published in Daily Times, January 1st 2018.

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