Stories about Balochistan

Was Nawaz Sharif really soft on India?

Former Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam in a recent interview claimed that not only was former prime minister Nawaz Sharif soft on India himself, he directed the Foreign Office to not highlight India’s sponsorship of terrorism in Balochistan or mention Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian spy who had been arrested in the same province. She also went on to allege that Sharif was soft on India due to his business interests in the country. These claims have since been rubbished by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Khawaja Asif, while Pakistan’s former High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has seconded the allegations.  Was Sharif ...

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A tale from a state of COVID-19 emergency

It was the day before our departure from Boston, Massachusetts to Islamabad. Local, regional and national concerns about international travel and COVID-19 had been increased for a few weeks but we were doing our due diligence. Our travel group leader had checked with his contact at the Unites States (US) Department of State and we received the go-ahead. Next, he checked with the US Embassy Islamabad and got the “green light” for our arrival. Lastly, all of our travellers’ immediate family members, while having predictable reservations about long distance travel to what they considered an ‘unstable region’, approved of ...

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Why Afghanistan should leave Pakistani Pashtuns alone

Successive Afghan governments, since Pakistan’s founding in 1947, have remained self-proclaimed champions of Pakistani Pashtuns’ rights. The basis on which Afghan officials (and part of the public alike) have shown interest in Pakistani Pashtuns is the assumption that Pakistani Pashtuns are an oppressed people. The source of the oppression, the argument goes, is the Punjab province. Bilateral Afghan-Pakistan tensions did not begin after the 1978 communist coup in Kabul or the subsequent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, when Afghan Mujahideen and refugees fled to Pakistan. Afghan-Pak tensions had begun in 1947, when Afghanistan started insisting that Pakistan give ...

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How an education campaign in Balochistan is doing what the state failed to do

The failure of the Pakistan government to ensure access to quality education for the people of Balochistan has already been well documented. While it may well be tempting to harp on about the repeated shortcomings on part of the state to establish a reliable education system from which the residents of Balochistan can benefit, it is perhaps equally important to shed light upon those individuals who have made it their life’s mission to do what the state has failed to do for years – provide quality education to the children of Balochistan. One such initiative is the Balochistan Education System (BES) ...

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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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