Stories about Balochistan

Balochistan 1: The nature and extent of State abuse

Sabeen Mahmud, a peace activist and founder of The Second Floor (T2F), was shot dead on Friday, April 25, 2015, after hosting a talk on Balochistan. Her guests included the now infamous Mama Qadeer, who was also the most prominent invitee at an earlier talk at LUMS. That talk was cancelled after intervention by the state. The subject she highlighted right before her death, and the manner of it, suggests unusual bravery. It also puts an onus on the rest of us to discuss it more. Obviously, Balochistan is too complex an issue to encompass in its entirety, especially for outsiders. We ...

Read Full Post

What have we received from the people of Pakistan except neglect and torment?

What concerns me most is a word. It is a simple word that is not heard on the lips of people in most parts of the world, but for me it is a word that desperately needs to be heard more often. Whenever I do hear this word, or say it myself, it stirs emotions that I cannot explain. I cannot do justice to the memories they evoke. That word is Balochistan. I have grown up around politics and in politics. For a daughter of a Baloch tribal leader and activist, politics and life are irreversibly intertwined. The need to understand the ethnic and national tensions ...

Read Full Post

#LabourDay: Is Pakistan doing enough for its labourers?

International Labour Day is being celebrated today almost everywhere around the world in various ways – some enjoy their holiday at home; some people celebrate it by organising rallies, while television channels arrange special talk shows and programs for paying tribute to the labourers. But the question is, should that be it? What is the working class labourer getting out of all these celebrations? What benefits are they receiving from rallies and talk shows? The amusing part is that the actual labourers don’t even get a holiday on Labour Day, let alone its benefits. I mean, they are paid a tribute; what else could they want? They ...

Read Full Post

As a citizen of Pakistan, I demand to know more about Balochistan

Back in 1998, while living in Quetta in our cosy cantonment apartment, I had known little about what this province in the southwest of Pakistan is facing. For me, it was more about exploring the rugged mountainous terrain of the largest province of Pakistan, enjoying the juicy apples and cherries, and experiencing the melting of snowflakes on the palm of my hand during winters. Back then I didn’t know that for 60 years this region has been a battleground. Even today many people living in other provinces of Pakistan do not know about the on-going conflict. Mostly because whenever somebody tries to talk ...

Read Full Post

Save the youth from disillusionment, Mr PM – give Sabeen’s cause a voice!

Dear Mr Sharif, There is no doubt that you have heard about the murder of Sabeen Mahmud. Other members of parliament and politicians have extended their grievances. And I’m sure that even as I write this, your PA is vigorously typing out your official response; one that will attempt to soothe the flaring tempers of the people who knew her and those that didn’t. But Sir, haven’t we been here before? Someone beloved and irreplaceable gunned down because they said something that upset someone more powerful than them, and everyone condemns their murder via an official channel. What more will you do Sir, ...

Read Full Post

An open letter to Pakistan’s leaders: One more nail to the coffin

Sabeen Mahmud was brutally murdered yesterday, and with her, yet another flame in the vast darkness of our land extinguished. For those of us who had the pleasure of knowing her, she was genuine, warm, and always open to dialogue and everything we wish Pakistan would be known for globally. She died shortly after hosting an open forum on Balochistan with, among others, a voice the government did not allow to speak at LUMS. With her death on your watch, we continue to be known instead for all the illiterate brutality, intolerance and narrow-mindedness that exemplifies the short-sighted policies of politico-religio-military convenience/expediency of ...

Read Full Post

#IAmSabeen: “This is the time to say Bismillah and march forward”

“They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.” – Banksy Sabeen, the person, is no longer with us. Sabeen, the idea, will live on. Sabeen will never die twice. Sabeen is dead, long live Sabeen. Every society has people an entire generation looks up to; these pillars of society make it what it is. Sabeen was an institution. Her contributions to the country are monumental, and they will never be forgotten. In a country that does not even have words for the concept of a public ...

Read Full Post

Sabeen Mahmud, shine on you crazy diamond

When we think about death we often wonder what kind of eulogy we’ll receive. We wonder how we’ll be missed, if at all. How people will remember us, and if we’ve left anything behind that will survive our existence. We hope that we appreciated our friends and family, impacted the world through our work, and inspired someone in some way. Sabeen Mahmud’s work and impact pays the greatest tribute to her beautiful and indomitable spirit. I don’t want to list her many, many accomplishments but instead echo a message I believe she passionately championed. The times we live in have a ...

Read Full Post

Pamela Geller’s hate for Muslims and blurry standards of free speech

A couple of weeks back, I vocally criticised the direct interference of the state in the academic affairs of my previous university, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), after they were forced to cancel a talk on Balochistan. However, this week, I found myself vocally protesting against the decision of my present university, Brooklyn College, to invite a speaker for an academic talk. On the face it, the positions I have taken in the last fortnight seem irreconcilable, hypocritical even, but what differentiates my two positions is the fine line between freedom of speech and hate speech. Ignoring any discussion on the technicality that in ...

Read Full Post

#ShameOnLums

Eight years ago, on a November afternoon, I stood with hundreds of students at LUMS protesting against a military dictator. The students held placards, shouting slogans, and we were effectively having a stand-off with the police. Riot police with heavy armour, shields and batons was employed by the government to silence our voices. The police had warrants to arrest several students, and professors, on phony charges of ‘wall-chalking’ and vandalism. The scene was set for a direct confrontation. The impasse was broken by the direct intervention of the then Vice-chancellor of LUMS, Dr Syed Zahoor Hassan. The police retreated from entering ...

Read Full Post