Stories about Waziristan

Bringing FATA into the mainstream

The much talked about and supported military operation, Zarb-e-Azb, has been initiated in North Waziristan with the objective of clearing the region from local and foreign Taliban sanctuaries. The military strategy has already displaced thousands from the war-torn region at a time when the internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected from previous conflicts and disasters haven’t returned to their homes yet. Up to 30,000 soldiers are involved in the current operation, while more than 800,000 people have fled the area over security and an uncertain future. The operation was launched after the failed attempt at peace talks and demands from the ...

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My husband is deployed in the inhospitable terrain of Waziristan

Nowadays, various television channels have taken to playing emotional songs about sons and fathers joining the army, going on active duty and dying at the line of duty. It might be motivating for the general public, but what happens to the families of these soldiers can be comprehended neither by the channels nor by their producers. It is very difficult to satisfy a three-year-old when she asks, after watching the song, if her father is going to meet the same tragic fate because she believes that her father is the bravest. It is difficult to answer her question when a lump in the throat is ...

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Chaos, panic, disorder and Dr Tahirul Qadri

Dr Tahirul Qadri plans to come back for his yearly visit on June 23, 2014. Now all of us are aware of the security given to our politicians – everyone is the president and treated like royalty with the area, surrounding their house, being cordoned off and protocol all around. Life as we know it, comes to a standstill for all those residing nearby. An utter nuisance. Dr Qadri’s case is no different. The only difference is – he isn’t even in the country yet. Earlier today, upon receiving multiple complaints from people residing around the Dr Qadri’s mansion about the barriers ...

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A mosque named after Mumtaz Qadri? Well done, Pakistan!

I was spending a lazy afternoon lounging in the Osama bin Laden library, bemoaning the dire lack of buildings honouring our local murderers, when my Smartphone informed me of this fascinating new development. I learned of a mosque being erected in Faizabad that is to be named after the man who killed the former governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. The very idea of a mosque, a sacred house of worship, being named after a man who attained his glory by murdering another man in cold blood, may reasonably offend certain people. Certain people like, say, Sherbano Taseer, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Mehreen Zahra, who expressed ...

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Journalism in Pakistan: Where the sword is mightier than the pen…

“How was your weekend?” a colleague asked me. “Terrible.” I answered. “Oh! Why so?” he inquired. I was sad and nostalgic. I told him that on Friday evening, I had received a message on Skype which said that the late Arif Shafi would have turned 38-years-old and that was when my mood had changed and become so gloomy. Confused, my colleague asked, “But who was Arif Shafi?” I didn’t know how to answer him. The fact is that I had never known Shafi personally. He and I had exchanged a few emails two years back while he was working on a feature story on the ...

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No prayers for the soldier…

When the Pakistan Army started full-scale anti-insurgency operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan, it suffered a lot of causalities mainly because the army had not been trained and equipped for undertaking full-scale anti-guerrilla warfare. The worst part was that half the nation termed it a war against our own people. The families of the slain officers and soldiers who died fighting in Waziristan often faced a bigger trauma when their fellow countrymen doubted the shahadat (martyrdom) of these men. For them, these soldiers gave their lives while fighting other Muslims for a war which served the United States. It took 12 long years for this mind-set to ...

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Once upon a time in Waziristan: The ‘chota London’ of Pakistan

Unforgettable and joyful memories sum up my 30 years spent in the exotic valley of Razmak. This valley lies within the northern region of Waziristan and was famously known as “Chota London” during the pre-independence period. Officer’s Quarters (BOQs) at Razmak Camp – 1930s The British Army had set up their military camps at Razmak prior to partition. The favourable weather conditions and terrain that the valley had to offer was useful for their military exercises. Charles Street, Razmak Camp – 1936 By building roads that pierced through the lofty mountains alongside springs boiling forth their salty water, they transformed ...

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Pakistan inspires Hollywood, but for all the wrong reasons!

Spoiler alert: Contains Law & Order SVU spoilers from episode 299 ‘Acceptable Loss’. Also contains several cringe-worthy face-palm moments. TV’s new villain is a virginal seductress from Waziristan. Hollywood is making efforts to humanise militants and would-be terrorists from this part of the world. A recent Stanford-NYU study might have had something to do with this. Call me masochistic, but I love crime (as long as it’s within fiction). I grew up reading Agatha Christie and have had more than my share of Law & Order shows, whose story-lines are often inspired by actual news reports. SVU marathons sometimes make me sick to my stomach, but ...

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Doomed to a life of drones

Shattering sounds of broken glass and screams of sirens poured into Ali’s ears; and hot, blazing flames leaped before his eyes; he could not say with assurance whether that was an hallucination or some frightening reality. A little while ago, he had been plucking yellow, juicy apricots from a tree in his courtyard. Suddenly, a predator flying in the air threw fire in the direction of his house. Those sounds came back to him and were mingled with low, moaning human sounds. Ali shut his eyes tightly and attempted to move his body. A loud groan escaped his mouth. Hearing his ...

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PTI’s Peace March: Give credit where it is due

Waziristan, a centre point for drone attacks by US-led NATO forces, is a place from where thousands of residents were misplaced internally and had to lodge their families to safer places of Pakistan. Waziristan, a place that is forgotten even by its own rulers. Recently, Imran Khan, Chairman Tehreek e Insaaf, led a ‘Peace March’ to South Waziristan along with the citizens of Pakistan, local media, his own party workers, and above all, foreign journalists and anti-war activists from the West.  This march started from Islamabad on Saturday October 6, 2012. The motorcade drove across Talagang, Chakwal, Kundian, Mianwali, Karak, Dera Ismail ...

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