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A year of FIRSTS

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on December 31, 2018 with No Comments

A lot happened in the world in 2018- a year of many firsts. Saudi women were finally given the right to drive and they took the wheel with gusto this year after the age-old ban on women drivers was lifted in the country on 24th June. This came after a struggle of years through campaigns by activists and feminists.  With his Hollywood career in ruins, 81 years old Bill Cosby was sentenced on 25th September behind bars for three to ten years for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, becoming the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison, though the movement remained afloat with many women coming out against similar kind of harassment and naming certain high profile people. Another moment that marked the year came from the tennis arena and that too from none other than Serena Williams who accused an umpire of sexism and treating her more harshly than men during her US Open final defeat to Japan’s Naomi Osaka. Serena Williams was cited by official Carlos Ramos for three code violations during her 6-2,6-4 loss. Despite match penalties, she renewed her attack at a press conference, “For me, it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women.” Did she bring out a harsh reality of women tennis.

President Donald Trump kept the newsroom busy with his action being under scrutiny as most of them were weird. 83%)of the most senior-ranking White House advisers  departed, sparking a cascade of turnover in the junior ranks as well. The last one being defence secretary James Mattis (hope fully-with still some days to come).  Russian interference, Wall with Mexico, allegations by adult-film actress Stormy Daniels were just few of the controversies. He created yet another first, when after months of speculations and U –turns he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for one –on-one talk at Singapore’s Sentosa island on June 12. Earlier both the leaders had talked about the “nuclear buttons”, but later summed up the summit saying that the two countries have an “excellent relationship”, as Kim committed to “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”.

President Trump ends the year facing his biggest foreign policy crisis having announced withdrawal of troops from Syria.

The year began with powerful quakes hitting Lombok, Indonesia killing more than 550 people. Look at the quandary, the year ends with a Tsunami hitting the island with the number of causalities and the extend still being counted and measured.

The year also witnessed another tragic event. On October 2nd, Jamal Khashoggi, a well known journalist and critic of the Saudi government walked into the country’s consulate in Istanbul and never came out alive. An event that brought international condemnation of Saudis, however, President Trump choose to distance himself not to sever or weaken ties with Riyadh. President Trump again was tight lipped when nearly 2,000 children were taken from their parents after former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a policy that directed homeland security officials to refer all cases of illegal entry into the US for prosecution.

For Prime Minister Trudeau, 2018 started with a disastrous trip to India that resulted in a slump in popularity and 10 months down the line he has still a lot to answer. Canada accorded an approval to a revised bill to legalize recreational marijuana in June, setting the stage for the country to become the first Group of Seven nation to legalise cannabis. Ontario witnessed a change of power, with PC party led by Doug Ford coming back with majority and soon landed in controversies on handling on curriculum for sex-education and the process being followed for selection of the chief for Ontario Provincial Police.

Another important event that had the focus of the world –Brexit. British Prime Minister Theresa May recently postponed a vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal, saying she would go back to European Union leaders to seek changes to the divorce agreement.May’s move threw Britain’s Brexit plans into disarray, intensified a domestic political crisis and battered the pound. With EU officials adamant the withdrawal deal was not up for renegotiation, the country does not know on what terms it will leave — and whether May will still be Britain’s leader when it does.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived in North Korea in September for his third and possibly most challenging summit yet with leader Kim Jong-un in which he hopes to break an impasse in talks with the United States over the North’s denuclearisation and breathe energy into his own efforts to expand and improve relations between the Koreas.

In what are by now familiar images of the two Korean leaders hugging and exchanging warm smiles, Kim greeted Moon at Pyongyang’s airport.

Pakistan created first of its kind, with its former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif going behind the bars after being sentenced by the anticorruption court. Pakistan kept its policy of targeting Indian borders, however India too put up a stiff resistance. India remained in news for odd reason too-with “a battle for cattle”; and renaming of cities that have had their roots to Islamic influence, Indian Court  was able to deliver justice to Sikhs for the 1984 genocide by sentencing a former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar.

Another opportunity for two warring nations was created by two sportspersons. Former cricketer and newly elected Prime Minister Imran Kahn offered the minister in Eastern Punjab Navjot Singh Sidhu to open a corridor for the pilgrims to visit the holy shrine of Kartarpur, another first in over 70 years of history of the two nations.

2018 has produced some unexpected election results, halting democratic backsliding in the Maldives by unseating President Abdulla Yameen and ending the 61 years of authoritarian rule of the United Malays National Organization in Malaysia. As we close the years, all eyes are on the political developments in another moderate Islamic democracy — Bangladesh.

 

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