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Pakistan in 2011: The Downward Spiral Continued

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Another year is coming to a close in Pakistan. One in which the nation saw its fortunes dwindling further. There was no respite from floods though they affected a smaller region this time. Terrorist attacks and drone strikes claimed hundreds of lives and the political circus and economic woes continued. Let's take a look at the happenings of the year.

Drone Strikes

There has been a lull in drone strikes since November 17, the reason being the growing rift between the US and Pakistan over the deadly NATO strike that killed 26 Pakistani soldiers. A total of 67 drone strikes were carried out this year that claimed 527 lives, according to Pakistan Body Count.

Economy

The slump continued this year though the inflation rate is falling, according to the central bank. Power outages continued throughout the year and the country has been hit by severe natural gas shortages this winter. So much so that the utility company is suspending industrial connections to accommodate domestic users. The situation may grow worse in the coming months as non-productive industrial units are expected to lay off thousands of workers.

Floods

Although the country was spared the deluge it faced last year, torrential rains wreaked havoc in parts of the southern Sindh province. Thousands of acres of agricultural land was inundated and millions were displaced from their homes. Unlike last year, there was lukewarm international response that added to the misery of people.

Media

Seven journalists lost their lives in Pakistan, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. This makes Pakistan the deadliest country for journalists second year in a row.

Politics

The deeply unpopular president of Pakistan managed to keep his post despite widespread speculations. His anti-constitutional stance has not been met with the criticism one would have expected from the opposition. Imran Khan, a former cricket start, emerged as a formidable political force holding massive rallies in Karachi and Lahore. The only thing missing is electoral support though he is claiming to sweep the next polls.

Sports

Pakistan lost to India in the much-hyped semifinal of the Cricket World Cup. Three Pakistani cricketers were sentenced to jail terms on match-fixing charges by a British court. The cricket team, however, seems to be coming out of the shadow of gloom and has started a winning streak in recent months by edging out Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

In grass hockey, Pakistan has sunken to new lows by ranking seventh in the Champions Trophy.

Terrorism

There was no respite from terror attacks. Until December 25, 2,545 civilians and 760 security personnel had lost their lives in terrorist attacks, according to data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal. A provincial governor and a federal minister were also shot to death this year.

United States

Pakistan's relationship with the US, which was not very exemplary earlier, reached new lows. The arrest and subsequent pardon of a CIA operative -- who had killed three Pakistanis -- caused the first major storm. Then came the Abbottabad operation that killed Osama Bin Laden. The Nato strike on Pakistani soldiers dealt the final blow. Pakistan has since blocked Nato supplies and there appears to be little hope of any thawing of relationship in near future.

Compared with the previous year, Pakistanis did not see any improvement in their lives in 2011. The downward spiral continued and life became tougher. One can only hope that the year 2012 will bring some relief to their sad faces.