Stories about Balochistan

The Saudi-Iran conflict and the challenges it poses for Pakistan

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, recently visited both Iran and Saudi Arabia at a time when the region is on the precipice of imploding. The timing of the visits was no fortune coincidence. In fact, it showed Islamabad’s intent to maintain peace in the region, further exemplified by its attempts to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the past. Last year, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the two countries in a bid to ease tensions after drone attacks targeted two Saudi oil facilities. The fact that Pakistan is actively trying to preserve regional stability suggests that there are ...

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Will Pakistan ever rid itself of the polio menace?

Recent reports indicate that six new cases of polio have been registered in Pakistan, thus meaning that currently 148 children are afflicted with the disease. Polio is a highly infectious viral disease which attacks the nervous system, mainly of children and can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours, depending on the potency of the virus. The disease is primarily transmitted orally through the mouth, either due to a polluted water supply or contaminated food. The virus finds a conducive environment in the intestine and begins to multiply rapidly. It is then partially excreted out of the body in the form ...

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How will Pakistan’s political chessboard shape up in 2020?

We have finally bid adieu to the second decade of the 21st century, a decade that saw the rise of conservatives and nationalist political figures such as incumbent US President Donald Trump, recently elected British Prime Minister Borris Johnson and Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi. Even in Pakistan, we voted in a prime minister who leans heavily towards nationalist principles. While India is facing a political turmoil as a result of Modi’s Hindutva-centric narrative, Pakistan is also facing a self-inflicted political deadlock due to the policies of the federation. The ruling party is busy trying to create an impression that all is ...

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Locked wheelchairs: A look into Balochistan’s dilapidated healthcare system

“The wheelchairs are locked!” exclaimed one of the employees of Quetta’s dilapidated Civil Hospital as my ailing grandmother desperately waited in the car parked outside the medical superintendent’s (MS) office at the hospital. In a state of panic, we started running in search of a wheelchair or a stretcher so that we could take her to the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) ward but we failed to locate either. When we tried to reason with the employee again, he lamented that the staff is forced put everything under lock and key since people end up taking wheel chairs home with them. I ...

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The plight of Balochistan’s differently abled

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on December 3rd annually. According to a fact sheet issued by the United Nations (UN), differently abled people account for 15 percent of the world’s population and despite 18 million people living with either a physical or intellectual disability in Pakistan, it is not a very inclusive country. Balochistan is no different especially since it is also suffering from dismal conditions with barely any focus on literacy and many living under the poverty line. In such conditions, it is no surprise that differently abled people are marginalised in the province. According to ...

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Will imported tomatoes help tackle rising prices?

In an attempt to tackle the rising prices of vegetables and fruits in Pakistan, the government finally caved in on Wednesday and allowed for tomatoes to be imported from Iran. The Pakistani masses have been bearing the brunt of the nation’s economic woes, but that burden has been worsened recently after the prices of tomatoes began to rise due to faulty economic polices and bad weather which adversely impacted harvests. But perhaps this desperate reaction to reach to Iran for some much needed tomatoes was the result of Abdul Hafeez Shaikh’s, the prime minister’s financial adviser, much ridiculed gaffe earlier in the week. One ...

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The resilient tribesmen and Balochistan’s Chilghoza trees

Last month at a ceremony held in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Action Summit, a project from a remote part of Balochistan, the Kasa Ghar Community Based Organisation of the Sulaiman Range, won the Equator Prize for conserving Chilghoza forests. I was thrilled to hear about the global recognition (the project was one amongst 22 communities across the world which were selected for this prize) as I have actually visited these Chilghoza forests in the Shirani district of Balochistan. By creating a successful value-added market model for Chilghoza nuts, this community-based organisation has conserved around 9,000 ...

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Will the victims of the Balochistan University scandal get justice?

A month ago, the Balochistan High Court directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to look into the sexual harassment reports which had emerged from Balochistan University. According to FIA findings, both female and male students “were being blackmailed by some staff members through ‘objectionable’ videos of them, recorded through CCTV cameras hidden at various places on the campus including its washrooms.” These reports are bound to have repercussions not just for the educational institution under question but also on women’s education in Pakistan as a whole. Whether or not those responsible for blackmailing, harassment and an evident breach of privacy will be ...

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Why does Balochistan have a dearth of trained psychotherapists?

It was an uneventful day at work when I got a query from an acquaintance asking for a psychotherapist or clinical psychologist in Quetta. I asked everyone I knew in connection to this and exhausted all my options only to find out that there were no practicing psychotherapists or clinical psychologists in the region. It came as a shock to me, after all, why did this major city of Balochistan not have a single clinical psychologist? And what about the rest of the province?  Years passed and somehow this notion remained trapped in my mind, and the requirement for referrals for ...

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Putting the Balochistan budget on the right course

Whenever a new government assumes power, either at the centre or in a province, they often state that the economic woes are inherited from the financial challenges of previous years. The Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) led coalition government in Balochistan seems to be repeating this mantra. However, there can be no denying of the fact that the present government inherited a deficit of over Rs62 billion, in addition to billions in liabilities and unforeseen expenditures. But what led the Balochistan government to this position, where the blame is being passed from one party to the other? The policies enforced by both ...

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