Shabbir Ahmed Mir

A reporter for The Express Tribune.

A beacon of hope in Gilgit

As sectarian violence plagues Gilgit, a group of dedicated natives is striving hard to revive harmony between people in the area. A beacon of hope for all of us, these individuals are striving to bridge the yawning divide between the Shias and Sunnis of Hazara which has claimed hundreds of lives over the years. They belong to both the sects, and are united as the ‘Qaumi Amn Tehreek’. Most of them are natives whose forefathers hail from Gilgit’s Khomer Jutial, Majini Muhalla, Kashrote and Nagral areas. Gilgit, the capital town of Gilgit-Baltistan, has witnessed rapid urbanisation over the years as ...

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Will Imran Khan win hearts (and votes) in Gilgit?

As chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan is busy trying to woo the masses for a ‘change’,  a small but highly committed team of professionals of the Imran Khan Foundation (IKF) is quietly paving the way for the ‘tsunami’ to head towards Gilgit-Baltistan. Without giving top priority to the political agenda of the PTI, the team ventures into valleys to get a feel of the real issues that rural communities in Gilgit are confronted with. Based on first-hand information, the professionals have come to the conclusion that poverty is the biggest issue plaguing the region. So this year, they distributed ...

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Modern syllabus with outdated content!

“Copy rights are reserved — the book has been approved by education department of Pakistan according to the modern syllabus”. This sentence has been written on the first page of Gulshan Urdu, taught in class six in schools across Pakistan, including Gilgit-Baltistan. You will find more of the “modern syllabus” as you cursorily go through its pages. For example, there is a specimen letter on pages 97–98. A student, after receiving a money order from his father writes back, thanking him for it. The words of the letter are translated here verbatim to help the reader retain original impression. “Dear Dad! ...

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Life between two encroachments

The federal government watches on as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) encroachment upon Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) territory, both in the Shandur and Diamer-Bhasha Dam case, is adding to the despondency of the G-B people. The Shandur case remains unsolved even though a committee has been constituted to look into the problem. The situation turned grave last year after the Gilgit polo team went against a seven-decade-old tradition and decided not to play with Chitral. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has reportedly given Wapda a go-ahead signal regarding the Diamer Bhasha Dam, without first settling the issue. Opposition leader in G-B Assembly Bashir Ahmed, who hails from ...

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A cricket fan, no more

While my countrymen are arranging special prayers for the Pakistan cricket team to take on India on March 30 in the World Cup semi-finals, I cannot help but think how emotional our nation is. The height of ecstasy regarding cricket in Pakistan has made the public demand a holiday on the day of the upcoming match. Similarly, in India, many are willing to pay Indian Rs10,000 for a ticket worth INR1,000, through the black market. I, on the other hand, have boycotted the mania, as I have lost hope in my team. This is what happens when an emotional fan – ...

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Typing with frozen hands in Gilgit-Baltistan

To be a journalist in Gilgit-Baltistan, one requires extraordinary patience not because of the many security threats in the region, but also because of the unfavorable working conditions, especially in winter. Access to information is not a challenge in Gilgit. It can be gathered under all circumstances ­ be it times of peace or turbulence ­ provided one has sufficient sources willing to cooperate. In fact, the G-B Supreme Court had recently ruled that access to official information is the right of a journalist, making it easier for journalists. As far as the threats are concerned, a journalist working for an ...

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It pays to be an animal

Raymond Davis is finally back home in the United States, despite all our efforts to try him in Pakistan. His case reminds me of trophy hunting in our northern areas, where hunters pay a ridiculously large amount to hunt a restricted number of wild animals such as Markhor and Ibex. The collected money is spent on communities that live around the habitat of these wild animals. This programme has been going on successfully for quite some time. In fact, just recently in Gilgit, a Mexican citizen hunted down a Markhor for which he paid a staggering $51,000 to the government. Since ...

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Fighting over Rs130

On a recent visit to a market in Gilgit, I witnessed two men beating up a vendor. When I inquired about the cause of the fight, I was told it was a result of bitter haggling over the price of a jacket. The two men had offered Rs100 for a jacket while the vendor insisted that he couldn’t give it for less than Rs230. The mere difference of Rs130 triggered a verbal debate, which then culminated in violence. While many may find this shocking, I thought the incident wasn’t unusual. We have come across similar cases of a much more serious ...

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The ‘Great Game’ in Gilgit Baltistan

The latest allegation by India about the presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit-Baltistan has sparked a new debate in the region. Some accuse India of attempting to malign Pakistan and say that it is time-tested friend China through ‘baseless’ propaganda; while others construe it as the beginning of a new “Great Game.” The term “great game” is not new to the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, as the mountain-locked area has suffered a history of invasions. The British captured Gilgit-Baltistan during the 19th century and ruled over it for years, in order to keep a check on the increasing ...

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One man’s wrong

Jamshed Dasti is perhaps the most hated person by politicians. Not because he featured in a controversy involving Mukhtaran Mai or because he was involved in a recent attack on doctors at a hospital. Not even because he got reelected through an official campaign after disqualification by the Supreme Court because of his fake degree. He is disliked by his colleagues because his fake degree paved the way for humiliation for many ‘honourable’ politicians in Pakistan. If Jamshed Dasti has committed a wrong by obtaining a fake degree, his fault has at the same time done ‘right’ for Pakistan. Had his ...

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