Stories about Waziristan

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

Don’t play God with the lives of innocent children

As the rest of the world rockets forward, we in Pakistan seem to be heading backwards. Neighbouring countries like India and Bangladesh having grappled with the issue of polio, are now on the path of enjoying a polio free ride. On the other hand, Pakistan is one of the three nations, along with Nigeria and Afghanistan, which still remains ridden with the polio endemic. Unfortunately, even struggling for complete eradication may not be possible under the current circumstances prevailing in the country. Recently, North Waziristan imposed a polio ban in the area as a protest against drone strikes. Apart from this, hundreds ...

Read Full Post

Its not time to “move on”, Mr Panetta. Not yet

The US government continues to remain predictable  and resort to its usual clichés. Yesterday, the Pakistani state was asked to  “move on”. No, Defence Secretary Panetta, we were not asking for closure after a cheerless  breakup, rather, demanding some much needed accountability for the killing of our armed forces which was reasonably against all precepts of international law. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, has  nonetheless, predictably but unacceptably, all but ruled out an apology over an air strike last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and badly set back efforts to improve US-Pakistani ties. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) airstrike that ...

Read Full Post

Drones are NOT our friends

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I work for a local charity representing civilian victims of drone attacks in Waziristan. When I tell them this, the reaction, even amidst fairly educated people, convinces me that there is a lot still to be explained about US-led drone strikes in Pakistan. There have been more than 342 drone attacks that have claimed over 3,000 lives in Pakistan. While missiles still fall from the sky and many are in favour of them, 3,000 is a huge number. In this post I would like to respond to Pirzada Hasaan ...

Read Full Post

Drones are our friends

There is a dichotomy of opinions between people about the ongoing drone attacks. Where some consider it to be a good deed when a terrorist is killed, others think of it as mass murder due to the innocent casualties attached to the attacks. ‘Drone’ is one word that every Pakistani knows of at the present time. It is one of the most useful inventions in modern warfare, after the birth of the AK-47. You don’t need a huge on-foot operation to eliminate your targets anymore, nor do you have to risk the lives of your men. Most importantly, drones give instant results which one ...

Read Full Post

Talking peace with the Tehreek-e-Taliban

On the bright sunny afternoon of September 2, 2011, a few dozen tribesmen of Waziristan gathered in a small local mosque to offer Friday prayers. Like anywhere in the Muslim world, Friday prayers are usually held following a speech by the local prayer leader. However, today the Imam cut his speech short and dedicated a major part of the sermon time to an unfamiliar guest speaker. Uneasy with the presence of a stranger the locals had no option other than to listen to him. Though, the stranger did not bother to introduce himself to the audience, he was later identified ...

Read Full Post