Stories about Balochistan

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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Can we please talk about Quetta?

Can we talk about Quetta? They called Quetta the fruit garden of Pakistan, once. You read about it in your social studies class as the ninth-largest city in Pakistan; it was a capital, and capitals are revered. But no one ever talked about Quetta outside of textbooks. Monday night, October 24, 2016, cadets at a police training academy in Quetta awoke to a terrorist attack that killed 61, and injured more than 120. The dead bodies piled up, young men in the prime of their youth, young men that fall in the same age bracket as our brothers and sons, our husbands ...

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RIP Shahlyla Ahmadzai Baloch, the shining pearl of Balochistan

In a country where you would be hard pressed to find men footballers who ply their trade in a foreign league, I was actually quite surprised when I was first told of Shahlyla Baloch. A woman soccer player who hailed from Balochistan, demonstrating her skills in Maldives. Boy, was I impressed! My astonishment didn’t just stop here; news came in that Shahlyla then went on to grab herself a hat-trick during her stint in Maldives. Woah, this girl is going places. Unfortunately, this precocious talent is no more amongst us. Shahlyla Ahmadzai Baloch died in a car crash in Karachi late ...

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An open letter to Indians

Dear Indians, As someone whose recent family history is very much a consequence of partition, I am no stranger to the divisiveness of Pak-India politics. Despite a shared history and culture, we stand today as two nuclear armed nations that have fought three wars against each other. Hatred for the other is fostered in both countries – neither India nor Pakistan is innocent as far as propagating hyper-nationalist aggression is concerned, but this time around, it feels slightly different. This time around, your government, sections of your media, and sections of your civil society (in concert with the government) are behaving in an exceptionally immature and dangerous manner. They ...

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