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Wednesday, April 17, 2024  
08 Shawwal 1445  

Pakistan aims for stability as world welcomes 2023

PM Shehbaz’s New Year resolution is to alleviate sufferings of people of Pakistan
Revellers watch a fireworks show during New Year celebrations in Karachi on early January 1, 2023. AFP
Revellers watch a fireworks show during New Year celebrations in Karachi on early January 1, 2023. AFP
Fireworks explode over the Chao Phraya River during the New Year celebrations, in Bangkok, Thailand, January 1, 2023. Reuters
Fireworks explode over the Chao Phraya River during the New Year celebrations, in Bangkok, Thailand, January 1, 2023. Reuters
Fireworks explode over statues of the traditional large puppet figures called “Ondel-ondel”, during the New Year celebrations in Jakarta, Indonesia, on December 31, 2022. Reuters
Fireworks explode over statues of the traditional large puppet figures called “Ondel-ondel”, during the New Year celebrations in Jakarta, Indonesia, on December 31, 2022. Reuters
Fireworks explode over the London Eye ferris wheel as Britons across the country welcome the New Year, in London, Britain on January 1, 2023. Reuters
Fireworks explode over the London Eye ferris wheel as Britons across the country welcome the New Year, in London, Britain on January 1, 2023. Reuters

Pakistan has aimed for stability and progress this year as the world welcomes New Year 2023 with shared hopes of peace.

For Pakistan, it was another difficult year after the coronavirus pandemic as floods triggered by rains pummeled the country. It also saw a rise in terror activities after the outlawed terrorist group called off the ceasefire agreement in November.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Arif Alvi felicitated the nation and international community on the New Year and prayed for the progress of Pakistan as well as peace in the world, Radio Pakistan reported.

 Revellers watch a fireworks show during New Year celebrations in Karachi on early January 1, 2023. AFP
Revellers watch a fireworks show during New Year celebrations in Karachi on early January 1, 2023. AFP

“2022 was another difficult year for Pakistan. The worst floods added to our economic problems. My new year resolution is to use my time and all my energies this year to alleviate the sufferings of the people of Pakistan, to rehabilitate the flood victims and to put Pakistan on the path of development and stability. will do,” PM Shehbaz said in a tweet.

The president, in his message, said the nation faced various challenges last year but “overcame difficult situations” due to “hard work, sacrifice, determination, and resilience”.

In the New Year, he said, as a nation “we must set our priorities correctly to overcome the challenges facing the nation.”

Alvi stressed the need for national solidarity, unity, discipline, persistent hard work, passion, and dedication to make Pakistan a prosperous country.

World welcomes 2023 and leaves a stormy year behind

The world welcomed the new year with a packed party in Times Square and fireworks soaring above European capitals while hoping for an end to the war in Ukraine and a return to post-Covid normality in Asia, Reuters reported.

It was a year marked by the conflict in Ukraine, economic stresses and the effects of global warming. But it was also a year that saw a dramatic soccer World Cup, rapid technological change, and efforts to meet climate challenges.

After 2023 descended upon Asia, Africa and Europe, New York rang in the new year in typical style as thousands corralled themselves into pens under pouring rain in Times Square, waiting hours for the ball to drop. A 12-foot (3.7-meter) geodesic sphere made of Waterford crystal triangles slid down a pole atop a 25-story building to mark the calendar change.

Meanwhile, millions watched the accompanying musical acts and countdown on television from dry and warm living rooms around the world.

 Onlookers watch as confetti fills the air to mark the beginning of the new year, in Times Square, New York City, on January 1, 2023. AFP
Onlookers watch as confetti fills the air to mark the beginning of the new year, in Times Square, New York City, on January 1, 2023. AFP

Tommy Onolfo, 40, a mechanic from nearby Nassau County, said he wore a diaper during his drenched, 14-hour wait in Times Square, as security measures require spectators to deprive themselves of all comforts to maintain a front-row view.

“I’m a lifeguard in the summer so I’m not afraid of water at all,” Onolfo said. “I have my bathroom thing down to a science. I haven’t had to use the diaper yet. It’s just in case.”

 People gather on the Champs Elysees avenue during the New Year’s Eve celebrations near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, December 31, 2022. Reuters
People gather on the Champs Elysees avenue during the New Year’s Eve celebrations near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, December 31, 2022. Reuters

Earlier, across the Atlantic, the London Eye turned blue and yellow in solidarity with Ukraine as fireworks saw in midnight in the British capital.

The celebration, which London’s mayor had branded the biggest in Europe, also referenced Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September, the red and white of England’s soccer team.

Solemnity in Ukraine

For Ukraine, there seemed to be no end in sight to the fighting that began when Russia invaded in February. On Saturday, Russia fired a barrage of cruise missiles that Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman described as “Terror on New Year’s Eve.”

Evening curfews remained in place nationwide, making the celebration of the beginning of 2023 impossible in many public spaces. Several regional governors posted messages on social media warning residents not to break restrictions.

In Kyiv, though, people gathered near the city’s central Christmas tree as midnight approached.

 Ukrainian soldiers watch Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiys New Years Eve address to the nation, in a military rest house, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in region of Donetsk, Ukraine on December 31, 2022. Reuters
Ukrainian soldiers watch Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiys New Years Eve address to the nation, in a military rest house, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in region of Donetsk, Ukraine on December 31, 2022. Reuters

“We are not giving up. They couldn’t ruin our celebrations,” said 36-year-old Yaryna, who was celebrating with her husband, tinsel and fairy lights wrapped around her.

In a video message to mark the New Year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Time Magazine’s 2022 Person of the Year, said: “I want to wish all of us one thing - victory.”

Soon after midnight, air raid sirens wailed across the country once again.

Russian President Vladimir Putin devoted his New Year’s address to rallying the Russian people behind his troops. Festivities in Moscow were muted, without the usual fireworks on Red Square.

 People dance during the New Year’s Eve celebrations in central Moscow, Russia on January 1, 2023. Reuters
People dance during the New Year’s Eve celebrations in central Moscow, Russia on January 1, 2023. Reuters

“One should not pretend that nothing is happening - our people are dying (in Ukraine),” said 68-year-old Yelena Popova. “A holiday is being celebrated, but there must be limits.”

Many Muscovites said they hoped for peace in 2023.

The London Eye turned blue and yellow in solidarity with Ukraine as fireworks saw in midnight in the British capital. The celebration, which London’s mayor had branded the biggest in Europe, also referenced Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September, the red and white of England’s soccer team.

 View of fireworks and a drone lighting display to mark the New Year, in London, Britain on January 1, 2023. Reuters
View of fireworks and a drone lighting display to mark the New Year, in London, Britain on January 1, 2023. Reuters

Elsewhere in the region, fireworks exploded over the Parthenon in Athens, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, where crowds gathered on the Champs-Elysees avenue to watch the French capital’s first New Year fireworks since 2019.

Like many places, the Czech capital Prague was feeling the pinch economically and so did not hold a fireworks display.

“Holding celebrations did not seem appropriate,” said city hall spokesman Vit Hofman.

Heavy rain and high winds meant firework shows in the Netherlands’ main cities were cancelled.

But several European cities were enjoying record warmth for the time of year. In Prague, it was the warmest New Year’s Eve in its 247 years of records, with temperatures reaching 17.7 Celsius (63.9 Fahrenheit).

It was also the warmest New Year’s Eve recorded in France, official weather forecaster Meteo France said.

‘Sydeny is back’

Earlier, Australia kicked off the celebrations with its first restriction-free New Year’s Eve after two years of Covid disruptions.

Sydney welcomed the New Year with a typically dazzling fireworks display, which for the first time featured a rainbow waterfall off the Harbour Bridge.

 New Year’s Eve fireworks light up the sky over the Harbour Bridge during the fireworks display in Sydney on January 1, 2023. AFP
New Year’s Eve fireworks light up the sky over the Harbour Bridge during the fireworks display in Sydney on January 1, 2023. AFP

“This New Year’s Eve we are saying Sydney is back as we kick off festivities around the world and bring in the New Year with a bang,” said Clover Moore, lord mayor of the city.

Pandemic-era curbs on celebrations were lifted this year after Australia, like many countries around the world, reopened its borders and removed social distancing restrictions.

In China, rigorous Covid restrictions were lifted only in December as the government reversed its “zero-Covid” policy, a switch that has led to soaring infections and meant some people were in no mood to celebrate.

“This virus should just go and die, cannot believe this year I cannot even find a healthy friend that can go out with me,” wrote one social media user based in eastern Shandong province.

 Fireworks explode at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah during the New Year celebrations in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 1, 2023. Reuters
Fireworks explode at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah during the New Year celebrations in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 1, 2023. Reuters

But in the city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began three years ago, thousands of people gathered to enjoy themselves despite a heavy security presence, releasing balloons into the sky when the clocks struck midnight.

Barricades were erected and hundreds of police officers stood guard. Loudspeakers blasted out a message on a loop advising people not to gather. But the large crowds of revellers took no notice.

In Shanghai, many thronged the historic riverside walkway, the Bund.

 Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour to celebrate the New Year in Hong Kong, China January 1, 2023. Reuters
Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour to celebrate the New Year in Hong Kong, China January 1, 2023. Reuters

“We’ve all travelled in from Chengdu to celebrate in Shanghai,” said Da Dai, a 28-year-old digital media executive who was visiting with two friends. “We’ve already had Covid, so now feel it’s safe to enjoy ourselves.”

In Hong Kong, days after limits were lifted on group gatherings, tens of thousands of people met near Victoria Harbour for a countdown to midnight - the city’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in several years. The event was cancelled in 2019 due to often violent social unrest, then scaled down in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

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russia

china

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Shehbaz Sharif

Vladimir Putin

President

Christmas

FootBall

new year

covid

Queen Elizabeth II

Prime Minister

PARIS

Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Europe

FIFA world cup

Asia

zero Covid policy

Berlin

Dr Arif Alvi

Harbour Bridge

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