Stories about Balochistan

Boundlessly beautiful and magical, Gorakh is much more than just the ‘Murree of Sindh’

Despite travelling during the winters being a rarity in Pakistan, Gorakh, a hill station near the city of Dadu, has emerged as a popular destination to travel to during the cold season. Perhaps the most exciting factor about Gorakh is that the temperature is always close to zero degrees. Even in the summer, when the temperature in the nearest city of Dadu is touching 50 degrees, Gorakh is chilly, with a temperature of about three to four degrees at night. As Gorakh had unexpectedly received a small amount of snowfall back in 2014, we decided to visit it earlier in January, ...

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MQM-P vs PSP, PML-N vs PPP – Who will secure more ‘biryani’ votes in the 2018 general election?

The great comedian Umer Sharif once said that Karachi only has two seasons – summer, and hotter summer. Given the U-turn Karachi’s weather has taken over the past few weeks, from extreme cold winds to sweaty afternoons, he was right. Similarly, Pakistan also has two kinds of political seasons – elections and political turmoil. Another element similar between the two is that the first season transitions into the other only for a short while, and then swiftly returns back to its default setting. Since the 2013 General Election, Pakistan has been in a state of political and administrative commotion. The government ...

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Hazaras: The Rohingyas of Pakistan?

Last week, when I was planning a trip to Quetta for training, Mujeeb Hashmi, a friend from work, asked me to wear shalwar kameez, not only to the airport but also whenever I went out and about in the city. Hashmi, being a veteran filmmaker, has been to almost every habitable area of Pakistan – so I had to pay heed. He also warned me to be wary of certain localities within the city such as Hazara Town and Alamdar Road, given the violence witnessed by the city in the past. He was right. Quetta made a great first impression on me – ...

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Great performances and a powerful message, yet ‘Saawan’ will fail terribly at the box office

It is next to impossible to produce an experimental film in Pakistan, mainly because the distributors do not support the venture unless it comprises of a star-studded cast. Director Farhan Alam and Kalakar Films deserve appreciation for breaking barriers with their new film, Saawan. The film is written by Mashood Qadri and features Syed Karam Hussain, Imran Aslam, Najiba Faiz and Saleem Mairaj in pivotal roles. The film revolves around Saawan (Syed Karam Hussain), a physically challenged young boy who suffers from polio and lives in a valley in Balochistan. His father is frustrated, depressed and hopeless because of his son’s disability and does not treat ...

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Why the creation of Pakistan does not negate my Indian identity

There is something about India as an idea which transcends modern-day political configurations. It is the idea of India as a huge mass of land which stretches from Balochistan to present day Bangladesh. This idea of India is independent of any political configuration. In fact, during the past thousands of years, this mass of land has very seldom been a unified political entity. And yet, there is something which loosely unites the inhabitants despite their substantial religious and at times even ethno-linguistic differences. After all, let us not forget that more than 200 languages are spoken in India. There is something, perhaps ...

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The decline in Pakistan’s civil services is no longer a myth but a stark reality

Following the result of the Central Superior Services (CSS) exam every year, numerous analyses are raised, largely outsider points of view commenting on its so-called decline. Such run-of-the-mill analyses blame the dismal state of education in Pakistan, the faulty examination system, the indifference of fresh graduates in regard to joining the civil services, the constantly deteriorating quality of candidates as compared to the bureaucrats from yesteryears, (including those who happen to pass the exam). There is no denying the fact that the education system in Pakistan is constantly facing a downhill slump. Yet, this decline is often associated with insufficient spending on the sector, which to be honest, is misleading ...

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But who will stand up for Balochistan’s Jibran Jogezai?

Muhammad Jibran Khan Jogezai first came to our house in Karachi somewhere in 2006, courtesy of his classmate and my brother, Muhammad Saad. He had a heart of gold, a handsome countenance, a million dollar smile, and laughter encompassed him. He was an instant hit across three generations of our family (the only one to achieve that) and we loved him. Today, he is no more. He was martyred in Qilla Saifullah, mainland Balochistan, over property disputes involving ancestral property. It was a gun attack, they say. Three bullets, furthered by a dilapidated road and hospital infrastructure, ensured that he was no more. Jibran was one ...

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Discovering Pakistan’s circumstantial craftsmen

After their father fell seriously ill, two brothers Rameez and Khurram devoted their lives towards pursuing his dream. Their mission was to open their own handicrafts’ shop as their father was fond of wood carving. Rameez, expressing his gratitude towards his father with a smile on his face, said, “I remember the words of my father very clearly. He said when you craft, you create and that creation is all yours. Not only is it satisfactory, it is magical.” The two brothers have set up their own shop in Saddar for over 30 years now. Khurram pointed towards his hands and added, “When a man works, the hands ...

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Roads and religion: How CPEC will pit Pakistan against itself

‘Exclusive: CPEC Master Plan Revealed’, read a headline this week in Pakistan’s daily newspaper, Dawn. Instantly, news outlets from across the world scrambled to analyse the text of the now-viral article and provided their own respective analyses of this said master plan. The two words themselves seem especially ominous, harkening to the devious plots hatched by cunning antagonists in the spy movies of old. The words, however, in many ways do justice to what was revealed. The plan includes details of leasing large tracts of land to Chinese companies for ‘demonstration projects’ in agriculture with similar concessions in land granted for the construction of ...

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Will Operation Raddul Fasaad be effective?

February 17, 2017: Within hours of the Sehwan attack, terrorist hideouts are magically discovered all over the country and over a hundred “militants” are killed across Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the tribal belt. Yet another military operation, by the name of “Raddul Fasaad” (“elimination of discord/violence/mischief”) is announced. I don’t know about you but I’ll tell you what I’m feeling; it’s called deja vu, the feeling that this has all happened before. And that might just be because it has. Flashback to June 15, 2014: Following the attack on Jinnah International Airport, the military launched Operation “Zarb-e-Azb” (“cutting strike”). This operation targeted militant hideouts in North Waziristan and along the Afghan border. Within a week, ...

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