Stories about Balochistan

Why I believe the jirga system should stay

We, as people, are very quick to jump to conclusions, form opinions, and criticise what we hear and see in the news. It may be something as trivial as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) holding talks with Tahirul Qadri, or the supposedly fake video that went viral showing the Taliban handing down 50 lashes to a girl in Swat who was found to be in violation of the Shariah law by the Taliban jirga. Very recently when a jirga in Balochistan declared 13 girls vani to settle a tribal feud, soon after television and social media were inundated with extreme views, some slammed the jirga system as ‘barbaric’, ‘medieval’ and an ...

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Fragile political transition towards democracy

The last session of Parliament will mark the government’s completion of its constitutional tenure, irrespective of the fact whether the roots of true democracy have been nurtured or not. The past five years have been a highly tumultuous period with economic slowdowns, corruption and terrorism plaguing the country like never before. A look at the functioning of the legislative assembly shows the political tension between the winners of the 2008 elections and the main opposition party, with little constructive performance by the former and productive criticism by the latter. The achievements of the PPP government do not match the criterion necessary for ...

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Police powers to FC in Balochistan: A futile measure

In Balochistan, the police are currently enjoying additional powers under the Police Act of the British colonial days to raid, arrest, detain and prosecute anyone found violating the laws of the land. The police enjoy the power to search any suspected place where criminals are hiding illegal weapons, narcotics and other contraband goods. When violent incidents increased in the province, mainly through the targeted killing of Hazara Shias by terrorists in Quetta and its outskirts, the provincial government gave police powers to the Frontier Corps (FC) to raid, arrest, detain and question suspects involved in targeted killings and other heinous ...

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Blood trails in Balochistan

Civil servants hailing from Balochistan are braving difficult times in Islamabad. They face embarrassment when someone poses a question about the recent bloodletting in Quetta and elsewhere. While elaborating over the disastrous blasts, they tell me how the Hazara community is met with deep-seated sectarian acrimony by non-Shia outfits. While in conversation with some civil servants, I was shocked to learn that the recent past had witnessed a tremendous surge in the exodus of Hazara youth to Australia. Over 600 youth are now seeking asylum through legal and illegal channels in western countries, particularly Australia. Several others are leaving their ...

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The more they target us, the louder I will say ‘I am Shia’

Over 90 of us perished on January 10, 2013.  I don’t mean Pakistanis, I mean Shias. As much as it pains me to identify myself as something before a Pakistani, this state seems to have left us little choice. Since the age of 15, when my parents decided to let me be and decide for myself how far I wanted my religious identity to go, I have been attending fewer and fewer majaalis every year. In some part, it has to do with the fact that I got busy building a career for myself, but in some part it was also because I ...

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Elections 2013: A bomb about to explode, or be delayed?

The assassination of prominent politician Bashir Bilour has sounded a serious alarm bell for the upcoming elections in Pakistan. Many theories are circulating all over the media suggesting that the present intense political turmoil, ethnic killings, bomb blasts in Balochistan, sectarian violence, target killings in Karachi and ongoing acts of terrorism will be enough cause for the powers-that-be to delay the elections. Political disagreement among the regional and national political parties are expected to tot up additional justification to delay the elections for an indefinite period of time soon after the establishment of an interim government. But what other option is there? • We can safely assume that the election process will provide ample opportunities for terrorist groups to destabilise Pakistan.  • We may very likely see more prominent ...

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Silenced for speaking the truth

How easy is it for a person to tell the truth when he knows it could cost him his life? In Balochistan, the truth is seldom allowed to surface. If it does, it’s often distorted. However, I find it fascinating that there are people who speak up knowing that truth would endanger their life. Despite the terrible state of law and order and a deep sense of insecurity in the province, a less-known but brave doctor stood up for justice and told the truth, which ultimately resulted in his assassination. A year ago, police surgeon Dr Baqir Shah, a key witness ...

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Uncanny resemblance: Is Balochistan the next Bangladesh?

It has been 41 years today. 41 years ago, Pakistan was broken up into two parts, the former West Pakistan and Bangladesh. Apart from a distance of around 1000 miles separating the two parts of Pakistan, there was enough resentment on part of East Pakistani populace that manifested in a demand for provincial autonomy. East Pakistan supplied so much of revenue to the federation but got little development in response. Moving the capital from Karachi to Islamabad and limited participation of East Pakistanis in the bureaucracy were some other contentious issues. In the national elections held in 1970, Bengali Nationalist ...

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The day my sister died

Balochistan may be the largest province of Pakistan, but it is the most backward one when it comes to accessing the basic necessities of life. Even on the political front, this province has fallen into chaos. However, my aim is not to scribe these issues. The Karachi-Quetta highway may be one of the most active routes and serves thousands of vehicles, unfortunately, that same route has now become a life-taker. Hundreds of people have had serious accidents on this road but there are no medical facilities to deal with them immediately. In case of an accident or emergency on this highway, the ...

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Celebrating Shahrukh Khan’s birthday in Pakistan

On November 2, 2012, 18 people were burnt alive as a result of a gun attack in Khuzdar, the government was questioning the legitimacy of the Supreme Court’s Balochistan ruling and discussion over Romney and Obama’s possible future was on the rise. A girl I know was busy doing something even more special and psychedelic. She was baking a cake. No it wasn’t her birthday or any other ceremonial occasion in her family but it was the birthday of her 46-year-old yet timeless prince charming, Shahrukh Khan. She has been doing that since the time she knew Shahrukh Khan – ...

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