Stories about Balochistan

No one knows what is really happening in Balochistan

Last Friday’s suicide attack in Mastung was the one of the deadliest attacks in Pakistan’s history.  The death toll from the attack now stands at 149 with more than 200 people wounded. Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, candidate of the newly emerged Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and a favourite of the state, was among the dead. The slain Raisani’s son was also killed in a bombing on July 29, 2011 in Mastung football stadium. Let’s take a look at recent terror attacks in Mastung, a district located about 50 miles southwest of Quetta. In early June of this year, two suicide bombers attempted ...

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Sorry PTI, but the game of elections is poised between PPP and PML-N

The stage is all set for the battle of the General Elections 2018, with all major political parties eyeing the throne. Though we are more than a month away from the big day, the three leading parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are all hoping to make the government in the centre as well as in their respective provinces. Given the dynamic circumstances of our political arena, it is almost impossible to predict a winner at this stage. Nonetheless, looking at the present situation, one can try to assess ...

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Re-wear that jeans and stay away from those burgers – Saving Pakistan’s water is on you now!

The last few days have been odd! As someone who has always been shown the “who cares, loser?” face when I tell them about my work as a water economist, I have lately been asked a lot about the water situation in Pakistan, as well as the possible solutions for it. “Kya asal may pani khatam horaha hai?” (Are we really running out of water?) “Hum dam kyun nahi bana letay buhat saray?” (Why don’t we build a lot of dams?) “India humara pani kyun kha raha hai?” (Why is India taking our water?) The water crisis in Pakistan is indeed real, and the debate is much larger ...

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Imran Khan is right, Pakistan should have more than four provinces

Whenever I make any comments about Pakistan having more provinces and smaller units, the reaction is always the same, “You want to divide the country? Are you a RAW agent or what?”  So when Imran Khan promised the creation of a South Punjab, it was a pleasant surprise to hear him say something intelligent for once. Imran made this promise recently as he welcomed turncoats from South Punjab into his party; defectors who enjoyed the perks and privileges of being MNAs for the past five years while saying nothing about creating a new province, until now. While supporting the demand by the Janoobi ...

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Gwadar: From ghost town to gold rush town

From the sky, Gwadar looks like a dust bowl as the ATR aircraft, which regularly flies along the Makran coast from Karachi, circles in for landing. The new airport, currently being designed, will be the largest in Pakistan once it is completed, but for now one has to settle for the old airport. Its VIP section is used often as ministers, senators and even the prime minister and the army chief regularly visit this once sleepy fishing port. They have all proclaimed Gwadar to be the jewel of the upcoming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The drive from the airport along the newly ...

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509 Hazaras killed in five years and Pakistan is still not ready to wake up

According to a report, released in March 2018, by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), around 509 people from the Hazara community have been killed and 627 have been injured in Quetta during the last five years. The Shia and Sunni sectarian rift started in Pakistan by the then military dictator General Ziaul Haq in a bid to legitimise his martial law. Pakistan has since been facing ethnic and sect-based wars between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Members of the Hazara community are easily recognisable due to their distinct features that separate them from other communities. The banned Sunni outfits, mostly backed ...

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Women empowerment in rural Balochistan: Applause is louder and real when men and women clap together as equals

In December 2017, I paid a visit to the Kech District in Balochistan, during which I had a very stimulating interaction with members of the community organisations formed by the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP). However, the biggest surprise for me undeniably was to see the social mobilisation of local women, as they participated in the meetings alongside the male members of their village. Such a high rate of female participation in these meetings was a shock, to say the least, particularly given the conservative nature of the province of Balochistan. Decision-making here is a domain solely belonging to its men, ...

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Will Sadiq Sanjrani’s appointment as Senate chairman help Balochistan in any way?

Whether in the realm of natural resources or politics, Balochistan has always been a target of exploitation by politicians and other powerful forces in Pakistan. Whenever Balochistan is mentioned, it is invariably described as the least developed region of Pakistan. It is always “volatile”, “neglected” and “backward”; the region with the worst health indicators and the poorest infrastructure. It is the place where a majority of children are out of school, and there is little access to basic resources available everywhere else in the country. Nevertheless, while such problems are a fact of life for the majority of the people of Balochistan, our ...

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The Pakistan Army and Iran: A new dawn or a message for the Saudis?

The Pakistan Army has been drawing closer to Iran under its new chief, General Qamar Bajwa. Is Pakistan moving out from under Saudi Arabia’s orbit? Something quite remarkable happened with regards to Pakistan’s defence diplomacy recently – Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, made an official trip to Iran. It was the first visit by a Pakistani army chief in almost three decades. General Pervez Musharraf visited; not in his capacity as head of the armed forces, but rather as a president attending a regional summit. Similarly, General Raheel Sharif visited in January 2016, but it was just for a couple of ...

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Shehbaz, the dealmaker; Nawaz, the deal breaker – which direction will PML-N take?

Despite a faction in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) wanting an aggressive president like Kulsoom Nawaz at the helm of affairs, the nomination of Shehbaz Sharif did not come as a surprise to most critics and analysts. However, his nomination as president of the party has raised many questions regarding the road ahead for the PML-N as the country’s leading political party. With an increasing prevalence of a compromising attitude with the “invisible forces”, Shehbaz’s candidature might as well lead to a possible normalisation of relations between the PML-N and the aforementioned invisible forces. With Shehbaz in charge now, the most pertinent question is ...

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