waqas.rafique

Waqas Rafique

An Islamabad based journalist who was a former employee of Express News. He tweets @waqasrafique (twitter.com/waqasrafique)

This time, it was Zaman Mehsud’s turn to be silenced

This time it was Zaman Mehsud’s turn. The 40-year-old journalist was sprayed with bullets as he rode his motorbike in Tank district yesterday, November 3, 2015, a day after the world observed the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’. He was shot in the chest, arm and leg. He succumbed to his wounds in the hospital.  Mehsud worked for the Daily Ummat and was also associated, in the capacity of a coordinator, with a local human rights organisation. The details available regarding his cold blooded murder are customary. The reason he was silenced mercilessly is also anyone’s guess. It is interesting to note, however, that the ...

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Indian journalist burnt alive: The price of doing your job right

Life – that’s the price one may have to pay for doing one’s job the way it is supposed to be done. On May 5th, a female aganwadi (children’s play group) worker was gang raped in India’s Uttar Pradesh. The woman had pleaded with the court to register an FIR against the accused minister, Ram Murti Verma. That is when a Shahjahanpur-based journalist, Jagendra Singh, decided to highlight the gory incident and did whatever he could to get the story of the rape victim across. India is ranked 13th on the Committee to Protect Journalist’s (CPJ) Annual Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are ...

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Is a Muslim scholar allowed to disrespect a woman?

Wow! That was my first reaction when I came across a certain incident making waves on social media, catching the attention of people globally. A gutsy Lebanese female TV host, Rima Karaki, strong-armed her guest, London-based Muslim scholar Hani Al Seba’I, live on air after he told her that it was beneath him to be interviewed by a woman. Being a TV presenter myself, I am very well aware of the fact that no anchor enjoys giving their guest a shut up call. Talk-show hosts are often bound by respect and obligation for their guests because of personal affiliations. It also takes a lot of ...

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Riding a motorbike? Driving a small car? Meet your harassers!

As a reporter in Islamabad, my job mostly requires me to look-after assignments in the Red Zone. Security measures are stricter in the area and are routinely “beefed up” when the country faces any kind of terror attack. After the Army Public School (APS) tragedy in Peshawar, which took place a little over a month back, major cities across Pakistan received threats. To counter these, the authorities have come up with a number of security measures. Among many other things, we saw the controversial death penalty being restored; the international community, however, feels this not an effective deterrent to deal with terrorism. In my opinion, it is ...

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What happens after 1000 days?

Contagious peals of laughter dissolved the silence that my cameraman Wilson had requested in the small village hut made of clay and bush with a ceiling of dried palm leaves, as Sajida candidly described how she could feel her baby, expected to arrive in a few months, kicking inside her. She belongs to Muhammad Ali Jhokio, a village of about hundred households, approximately 15 kilometres from Thatta. There are many other villages in the 29 union councils where the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) is running the Stunting Prevention Project with the Sindh Department of Health. These efforts have become part of ...

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Oh great government of Pakistan, take notice of the female aid workers in Balochistan, don’t alienate them!

On my recent trip to Balochistan, I came across examples of how women folk fare in tribal set-ups. While we, in the urban centres, believe that women are usually ignored and not allowed to contribute to society in tribal arrangements, the Baloch tradition has a very unique way of putting their women to good use. Tribal feuds and enmities usually span over generations. So when all else fails, the hidden asset – the women – is consumed. The women of the tribe seeking to reconcile are sent to the other tribe. These women then beg for forgiveness for the men folk of ...

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Disaster victims are boring, lets cover Bollywood instead

Did you know that the estimated number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is around one million according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)? Did you know that another 1.5 million were affected by floods this year according to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)? There are 1.2 million people in Pakistan urgently in need for winter items this season. I am quite sure that most people are unaware of these statistics. This is because the content on TV channels is driven by sensationalism which is essential to win the ratings race. Hence, we only ...

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Post your BB Pin to Facebook! Seriously, it’s the ‘it’ thing to do!

At the beginning of 2013, when the demise of BlackBerry (BB) was fairly evident, BlackBerry CEO Thorsen Heins first announced, in May 2013, that the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) application will be soon be available to all non-BlackBerry devices as well. This was the final farewell. Or so I thought. By June, rumours of the release date went viral and in mid-October 2013, to the delight of many of my friends and family, BBM became available to Androids and iPhones. Perhaps now would be the best time for me to toss in a disclaimer that I am no tech expert, but the ...

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Altaf Hussain’s UK investigation: Hold your horses, Pakistan, only time will tell!

Two months ago, there was a press conference between British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Mr Adam Thompson and a soiree of Pakistani journalists. The purpose of this meeting was to brief the media with the findings of the 2013 election observers. The standard questions asked, however, somehow revolved solely around the MQM Chief, Altaf Hussain, his indictment and a statement from the UK government. The standard reply received was that the London Metropolitan Police was free from government pressure and whilst investigations were underway, no statement can be given. But that didn’t satiate our appetite for more information; the press conference could ...

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Li Keqiang’s first visit to Pakistan and confusing plans for peace

Excitement is abuzz as the Chinese Premier begins his visit to Pakistan today. Mobile services have been suspended in Rawalpindi and Islamabad as a preemptive security measure and the Pakistan Army has assumed the responsibility to provide security for Li Keqiang’s first visit to Pakistan. The newly elected Chinese Premier had been in India before where he couldn’t escape India’s objections and had to offer explanations about the Chinese interest in development activities in Pakistan. Additionally, he spoke of about ways to improve Sino-India relations over border disputes. Li’s visit to Pakistan, however, is significant in many ways. Not only has he received the prestigious award of Nishan-e-Pakistan, he will be addressing ...

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