Stories about Balochistan

But who will stand up for Balochistan’s Jibran Jogezai?

Muhammad Jibran Khan Jogezai first came to our house in Karachi somewhere in 2006, courtesy of his classmate and my brother, Muhammad Saad. He had a heart of gold, a handsome countenance, a million dollar smile, and laughter encompassed him. He was an instant hit across three generations of our family (the only one to achieve that) and we loved him. Today, he is no more. He was martyred in Qilla Saifullah, mainland Balochistan, over property disputes involving ancestral property. It was a gun attack, they say. Three bullets, furthered by a dilapidated road and hospital infrastructure, ensured that he was no more. Jibran was one ...

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Discovering Pakistan’s circumstantial craftsmen

After their father fell seriously ill, two brothers Rameez and Khurram devoted their lives towards pursuing his dream. Their mission was to open their own handicrafts’ shop as their father was fond of wood carving. Rameez, expressing his gratitude towards his father with a smile on his face, said, “I remember the words of my father very clearly. He said when you craft, you create and that creation is all yours. Not only is it satisfactory, it is magical.” The two brothers have set up their own shop in Saddar for over 30 years now. Khurram pointed towards his hands and added, “When a man works, the hands ...

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Roads and religion: How CPEC will pit Pakistan against itself

‘Exclusive: CPEC Master Plan Revealed’, read a headline this week in Pakistan’s daily newspaper, Dawn. Instantly, news outlets from across the world scrambled to analyse the text of the now-viral article and provided their own respective analyses of this said master plan. The two words themselves seem especially ominous, harkening to the devious plots hatched by cunning antagonists in the spy movies of old. The words, however, in many ways do justice to what was revealed. The plan includes details of leasing large tracts of land to Chinese companies for ‘demonstration projects’ in agriculture with similar concessions in land granted for the construction of ...

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Will Operation Raddul Fasaad be effective?

February 17, 2017: Within hours of the Sehwan attack, terrorist hideouts are magically discovered all over the country and over a hundred “militants” are killed across Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the tribal belt. Yet another military operation, by the name of “Raddul Fasaad” (“elimination of discord/violence/mischief”) is announced. I don’t know about you but I’ll tell you what I’m feeling; it’s called deja vu, the feeling that this has all happened before. And that might just be because it has. Flashback to June 15, 2014: Following the attack on Jinnah International Airport, the military launched Operation “Zarb-e-Azb” (“cutting strike”). This operation targeted militant hideouts in North Waziristan and along the Afghan border. Within a week, ...

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Why does the state structure and narrative unfairly favour Punjab?

The selective way of presenting history in Pakistan conveniently ignores the fact that at the time of the country’s creation, there were two large movements which were sometimes contrasting and sometimes overlapping. The first was primarily centred on the Muslim identity and tried to actually bargain a better position for its bearers. This movement though ended up in carving a separate homeland for the Muslims but did not have a strong separatist thrust, at least in the beginning. However, the Islamic identity itself was not the only identity taken up by the Muslims as strong ethnic nationalist tendencies existed particularly in ...

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We care about Muslims in the US but not minorities in Pakistan?

In what was arguably the upset of the century, Hillary Clinton was defeated by Donald Trump in the US presidential elections last year. Almost everyone was convinced that the greatest democracy in the world would, for the first time in its history, elect a woman as head of state. Pakistan – a long-term US ally in the ‘war against terrorism’ – was monitoring the situation closely. The country’s most revered commentators started off by joining in the chorus of making fun of the fact that Trump, a business tycoon, was even in the race, conveniently ignoring that most, if not all, of our politicians are ...

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How will the Quetta Inquiry Commission Report help us if our officials don’t read it?

August 8, 2016 came with a devastating tragedy for the people of Balochistan, especially for the lawyers’ community therein. The president of the Balochistan Bar Association, Mr Bilal Anwar Kasi, was murdered not far from his home in Quetta. The murder, as it turned out, was only the first of two terrorist attacks. Mr Kasi was killed to lure citizens to the hospital where another tragedy struck. A suicide bomber detonated his vest amidst a congregation of lawyers gathered for their departed friend and colleague. Seventy perished, 112 were injured; most of them lawyers. The tragedy that befell Quetta that day did not just claim ...

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Water shortage: How long will Balochistan have to suffer?

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Balochistan is the most fragile province in Pakistan. Its fragility is further exacerbated by multiple conflicts – sectarian militancy, ethnic fault lines, violence, extremism, corruption and lack of development which widely plague the province. Though the root causes of turmoil in Balochistan are complex, after reflecting on my visit to the province, I have narrowed the factors down to three underlying causes: corruption, mis-governance and neglect. The most serious crisis Balochistan is facing at the moment is a water shortage of a catastrophic level. The province is situated in an arid zone that experiences lower levels of rainfall. ...

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Pakistan’s new army chief: A reality check

To many in Pakistan, Qamar Javed Bajwa is an unknown soldier. Yet yesterday, he became arguably the country’s most powerful person when he swore in as its next army chief. Testimonials about Bajwa are overwhelmingly positive. Those who know him say he’s a proponent of strong civil-military relations – the main reason, according to one account, why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a man who has often sparred with the army, selected Bajwa for the job. He’s not seen as reflexively hostile to India, and he once served under an eventual Indian Army chief while on a United Nations mission in Congo. He’s regarded as low-key and camera-shy, yet also ...

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The Noorani attack proves Pakistan will continue being religiously intolerant

A few days ago, a friend of mine (who is a renowned activist) jokingly made a comment on Facebook that no suicide bomber would ever consider detonating in Lasbela, Balochistan because it’s unbelievably hot there; no bomber is mad enough to kill himself in such scorching heat. Alas, he was proven wrong. On Saturday, a young suicide bomber targeted a Sufi shrine near Lasbela, killing around 60 people and injuring more than a 100. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, and right now, I wish – as insensitive as that joke was – that my friend had been right. His words ...

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