Stories about Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

We do not deserve people like Aitzaz Hussain and Chaudhry Aslam

This blog post is perhaps more directed towards the voters and members of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), than to anyone else. It is written for those who do not see banned militant outfits as legitimate threats to Pakistan. This is for all those people who have been led by their leaders to believe that certain terrorists were previously die-hard patriots. For all those who fail to read between the lines and do not realise how their leaders have, on every occasion, very cleverly manipulated their statements and, in ...

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Can Vladimir Putin pull off the Winter Olympics safely?

A couple of deadly bomb blasts in Volgograd in two days killing 30, coupled with disastrous floods in Far Eastern Russia were enough for the Russian President Vladimir Putin to change his years-old ritual of addressing the nation on New Year’s Eve from the Kremlin. For us Pakistanis, such events have become so common that even a series of blasts on festivals such as Eid may hardly affect our routine – as long as we don’t suffer directly. But for Russia, these events, especially the blasts, are national tragedies. Timing of the Volgograd bombings Russia is nearly a month away from holding the much awaited Winter Olympics ...

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Pashto films are destroying Pashtun culture

“Khandani Badmaash, Bewaqoof, Sharabi, Wehshi Badmaash, Ujrati, Charsi, Dama, Mastay Jenakai, Gandagir!” No, I am not abusing you. I am only naming a few of the famous films Pashto cinema has produced over the year. What is even more astonishing is that Pashtuns are known for their distinct code of conduct called the Pakhtunwali, which is quite different from what these movies depict. The Pashtun culture is an amalgamation of different elements which include the family structure or joint family system, the melmastia or hospitality, the jirga or tribal council which makes all important decisions, ghairat or the concepts of honour and courage and the satar or area of the ...

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Polio: Can Imran Khan help defeat the ugly villain in Pakistan’s story of survival?

On October 24, 2013 when I saw polio teams entering my colony – Musharraf Colony in Hayatabad – it was the first time I knew what they had come for. They had come to save lives. I ran home to tell my mother to get my little sister vaccinated. Polio – the villain It was only the night before that I had been peeping into one of the community halls where the elderly, adults and children from the colony had gathered because we were told that some goras (foreigners) were coming to deliver a talk. I had seen one of these lectures before but this time ...

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Memories of Amir Ullah Khan, a colleague, a friend and a mentor

Islamabad silently bore witness to the brutal murder of an entire Australian-Pakistani family, including a seven-year-old boy, last Monday. The police suspect that the family was killed over a familial land dispute. Apparently, a branch of Mr Khan’s extended family stood to inherit several large tracts of land in the event of his and his children’s death, so in a heinous act of greed and cowardice, the whole family was strangled and left in the bushes.  According to the news, the bodies of Amir Ullah Khan, his daughter Romana aged 17, and his sons Adam aged 14 and Haider aged ...

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For people living in Malakand, every drop of water is a struggle

Imagine a place that has contrasting images of lush green landscapes with rugged mountains as a backdrop and multiple rivers flowing through its land, yet its people have little or no water to drink. Such is the life of the people in, the infrastructurally impaired but visually appealing, Malakand District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The district holds ample importance geographically, as it strategically acts as a gateway to Swat, Dir, Chitral and Bajaur from Peshawar. Keeping its importance in mind, many development projects have been discussed, planned and debated upon but few have seen the light of day up till now. For the ...

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Is the PTI tsunami over already?

“It’s just a blast, not the end of the world” This statement, made by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa ex-information minister Shaukat Yousafzai, on a suicide attack killing 16 people shows arrogance, ignorance and lack of experience to run a government in a stressful situation. It isn’t surprising, thus, that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lost badly in the biggest ever by-elections in Pakistani history. They lost both the seats vacated by its Chairman Imran Khan with Ghulam Ahmad Bilour emerging as victor of the seat NA-1 in Peshawar and Ubaidullah Khan Shadi Khel (PML-N) of NA-71 in Mianwali. Tragic news indeed for PTI. So, how exactly did they lose? Bad decisions: ...

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In the name of honour, a woman can be a breadwinner but cannot vote?

Women’s suffrage is the right of women to vote. In primitive societies, women have always been denied basic rights, however, the struggle to snatch what is theirs has never ceased. The movement for women’s suffrage started in France around the end of the eighteenth century and by the twenty-first century, there is no part of the world where women were barred from voting – except, of course, Pakistan. Yesterday, much was happening in the country because of the by-polls, not only socially but also politically, as women from various areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were not permitted to go out and cast their ...

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Women’s empowerment and literacy: Have we underestimated the Northern areas?

The people of Northern Pakistan do not just reside on a higher altitude; in fact they are above us in many ways. They are healthier, wealthier and wiser. The northern areas of Pakistan, in addition to being one of the most beautiful places on earth, house some of the most brilliant people in our country (some of whom I’ve had the privilege to meet). Although I have had many friends from this area, I came abreast with their true potential and capabilities about six months ago, when I attended a residential youth camp with participants from all over Pakistan. A ...

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From Peshawar: A plea to the government

Dear Leaders of Pakistan, I hope you are well and are busy overseeing and planning solutions for the many problems faced by our nation. Since you will, undoubtedly, be caught up with reforms rather than amassing wealth, as you have just stepped into office, I thought I should tell you a little bit about your awaam. As a dutiful child is expected to inform his parents about the changes happening in his life, I want to tell you about how we are living now. We, your children, have finally installed a generator at home. Despite living in a posh area of the capital ...

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