Stories about Balochistan

The story behind my film, Maalik – From the horse’s mouth

Maalik is in the midst of a huge controversy; all kinds of motives are being attributed to my film and, although everyone is entitled to their own views, I thought a straight narrative from the one who knows Maalik the best may help. A brief intro before going further: I was born in Quetta and proudly call Balochistan my home. I am ethnically a Punjabi and my ancestral roots may be connected to a village near Nankana sahib in the district of Sheikhupura, near Lahore. Being a common man, I have little use for title, surname and caste and I have never used my ...

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Balochistan is far from “uncivilised” and these women prove just that!

That Pakistan has a youth bulge is well known to most informed readers, but what the youth thinks about the myriad challenges faced by the country rarely gets space in the media, especially when it comes to females from minority communities. The First International Conference on Social Sciences recently held at Sardar Bahadur Khan Womens’ University in Quetta, Balochistan, provided me with an opportunity to learn just that. SBK Womens’ University caters to around 6000 female students from all parts of Balochistan and offers up to MPhil and PhD degrees. In 2013, the university was attacked in a suicide bombing that ...

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Quaid-e-Azam inter-provincial games: A light at the end of Pakistan’s barren sports tunnel

What is it about Lionel Messi that excites fans as he dribbles the ball across the field? What gives players like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic the ability to hypnotise fans as they compete on the court? Is Usain Bolt’s speed really a big deal, after all, he did only run a 100-meter race at the Olympics. It seems as though for the average Pakistani, everything that is remotely foreign seems to be infinitely more appealing, but does that really come as a surprise? Pakistan’s football team is ranked 190th in the world, we are still raving about Aisamul Haq’s success ...

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Quetta: An outsider’s perspective

The city of Quetta has been in turmoil for years, and with that comes many misconceptions about the capital of Pakistan’s largest province, Balochistan. One such mistaken belief is that while visiting Quetta one must dress in the local attire and avoid any western clothing, such as jeans, so as to not stand out as a non-resident. For someone who has heard these remarks repeatedly, I was extremely curious, to say the least, ahead of my visit to Quetta for the first time, even more so because it is believed that the people of Balochistan do not like the people ...

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Underappreciated, undermined: Five performers that went unnoticed in the Pakistan Cup

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), in an attempt to renovate and reorganise the much criticised domestic set-up, held a player draft for the upcoming Haier Pakistan Cup scheduled to begin on April 19, 2016, in Faisalabad. The tournament will consist of five regional teams: Federal, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Balochistan. During the draft system, captains of all five teams were given complete autonomy to build a team from scratch consisting of 15 players to be chosen from a list of over 170 domestic performers. Similar to the draft conducted previously, before the beginning of Pakistan Super League (PSL), this draft caused ...

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Does the death penalty target criminals or the poor?

A damning report places Pakistan as third in the list of countries where the most number of executions took place in 2015, after China and Iran and before Saudi Arabia and the United States. In other compelling statistics, in 2014, the Global Slavery Index, Pakistan ranked third in a list of 167 countries where the problem of human slavery is most severe. In 2012, we had the most number of people (28 million) affected by war and conflict. Along with other South Asian countries, Pakistan ranks high in hunger and malnutrition statistics, with about 41 million people undernourished in the period 2014-16, a whopping 22 per ...

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Are more children going to pay the price for Pakistan’s indecisive stance towards religious extremism?

Back in December 2014, Taliban terrorists attacked a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing 151 people, most of them students. It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan’s terrorism-tortured history, and prompted some Pakistanis to describe it as their 9/11. National leaders, meanwhile, described the massacre as a turning point in the nation’s approach to terrorism. They vowed to crack down more robustly against all terrorists in Pakistan— not just those, like the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), that strike in Pakistan, but also those like the Haqqani Network that strike only in neighbouring countries. To an extent, Pakistan did indeed intensify its campaign against terrorism. It ramped up military operations against the ...

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Prejudice towards languages and ethnicities other than Punjabi has to end

Textbooks play an important role in building the world view of students. In a country like Pakistan where the reading culture is non-existent, these books serve as primary sources of information for a huge chunk of society. Khursheed Kamal Aziz also known as K K Aziz began his book ‘The Murder of History in Pakistan’ with the following words, “In every country, the textbook is the primary implement of education at the school and pre-university stages of instruction. In Pakistan, it is the only instrument of imparting education on all levels, because the teacher and the lecturer don’t teach or ...

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Is Pakistan okay with its houbara bustards being hunted to benefit “foreign policy”?

Consider this:  1. A sovereign government – despite being a signatory to international treaties protecting endangered species – issues permits to Arab royalty to hunt an endangered species of bird within its borders as a way of staying on good terms with the royals. 2. Locals rejoice because thousands are employed to wait on these lavish expeditions of the royals, who, in turn, will finance the building of local hospitals, educational institutions, mosques and religious seminaries. This is what is currently happening in Pakistan. Although the construction purported to be financed is being questioned by some, Arab money is definitely benefiting some in the country ...

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India and Pakistan both share the spirit of Bollywood

The recently released Bollywood movie Airlift, based on the evacuation of Indians residing in Kuwait during the Gulf War of 1990, has won much acclaim in both India and Pakistan. Rightfully so, for its brilliant cinematography, outstanding performances by all the artists (especially Akshay Kumar who has steered away from typically playing romantic comedy or action roles) and its excellent screenplay. The tragic scenario of a war zone and how it can take away everything you have is depicted in a heart-rending manner, along with how man’s survival skills are put to the test. The apathy of many politicians and bureaucrats, as ...

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