Stories about FATA

Why I believe the jirga system should stay

We, as people, are very quick to jump to conclusions, form opinions, and criticise what we hear and see in the news. It may be something as trivial as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) holding talks with Tahirul Qadri, or the supposedly fake video that went viral showing the Taliban handing down 50 lashes to a girl in Swat who was found to be in violation of the Shariah law by the Taliban jirga. Very recently when a jirga in Balochistan declared 13 girls vani to settle a tribal feud, soon after television and social media were inundated with extreme views, some slammed the jirga system as ‘barbaric’, ‘medieval’ and an ...

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A woman in FATA must not speak

It was Ramazan and my best friend, Qaiser and I were passing though the main bazaar of the Kurram Agency discussing who the opener for the Pakistani cricket team should be. Just then, a fully covered tribal lady stopped and began to argue with a van driver who was wearing a dirty white cap. The argument was so loud that it became difficult for us to just mind our own business and walk away. Within no time a flood of people gathered around to see what all the commotion was about. According to the lady, the van driver was following her around ...

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Re-imagining Pakistan

Pakistan continues to dominate the headlines in the world media but for all the wrong reasons.  Judging from the books that continue to be published, the authors seem to be in a race to tell the most depressing tale they can conjure up. More than one analyst has called Pakistan ‘the most dangerous country in the world’. While that moniker can be debated, what is beyond debate is that Pakistan is afflicted with multiple ills. The top seven are urban anarchy, load shedding, illiteracy, unbridled population growth, ethnic conflict, Talibanism and Indophobia. These ills are so common place that most Pakistanis do ...

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Imran Khan is not ‘Taliban Khan’

Often mocked as ‘Taliban Khan’, Imran has drawn harsh criticism for a number of policies which he and his political party have consistently towed. We know that he is against military operations in FATA, he is against drone strikes carried out by the US government and wishes to disengage from the US war on terror (WoT). Imran Khan’s consistent opposition to military operations including the Lal Masjid operation has not come out of sympathy for the intended targets of such operations but of the eventual side effects. Or at least that is what he says. Imran believes that widespread military operations ...

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Imran Khan can bring peace to FATA

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s ‘Peace March’ has been widely criticised by many but the fact remains that the liberal Imran Khan had taken a brave initiative to march towards the militancy-struck Waziristan – the headquarters of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. But being a divided nation, we happen to be pessimistic. Criticism is in our nature and is mainly the reason why we have remained an underdeveloped state even after 65 years of independence. After detaching Fata from Afghanistan in 1893, we were revealed to the world as a land of wild animals, leading people to believe that once you enter this region, there ...

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PTI’s Peace March: Give credit where it is due

Waziristan, a centre point for drone attacks by US-led NATO forces, is a place from where thousands of residents were misplaced internally and had to lodge their families to safer places of Pakistan. Waziristan, a place that is forgotten even by its own rulers. Recently, Imran Khan, Chairman Tehreek e Insaaf, led a ‘Peace March’ to South Waziristan along with the citizens of Pakistan, local media, his own party workers, and above all, foreign journalists and anti-war activists from the West.  This march started from Islamabad on Saturday October 6, 2012. The motorcade drove across Talagang, Chakwal, Kundian, Mianwali, Karak, Dera Ismail ...

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Has Hindi become our national language?

Recently, interviews were held for admission at the newly established Cadet College Sarwakai in South Waziristan. It was then that a tribal child, being interviewed by an army officer in Urdu, shocked the interviewer. The child was asked why he was eager to join cadet college. “Sir, I want to join the Army”, replied the child. “Why do you want to join the Army?” asked the interviewer. The innocent child replied, “Sir, main apne desh ki raksha karoon ga.” (Sir, I will protect my country.) The innocent child had no clue that these were not Urdu words, rather he had replied in pure Hindi instead of his national language! ...

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Reporting from FATA: A difficult feat and not enough in return

The tribal areas of Pakistan, from where news outflow makes headlines all over the world, focuses largely on the war on terror. Journalists reporting from the region say they are being neglected, even though they have to risk their lives to report day-to-day affairs from the war-torn area. A journalist from Kurram Agency’s restive area says the biggest issue facing journalists from the tribal region is financial security. According to him, journalists never get staff status in this area and work as stringers receiving low salaries. Additionally, journalists in Peshawar and Islamabad use the information provided by tribal journalists and ...

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Drones are our friends

There is a dichotomy of opinions between people about the ongoing drone attacks. Where some consider it to be a good deed when a terrorist is killed, others think of it as mass murder due to the innocent casualties attached to the attacks. ‘Drone’ is one word that every Pakistani knows of at the present time. It is one of the most useful inventions in modern warfare, after the birth of the AK-47. You don’t need a huge on-foot operation to eliminate your targets anymore, nor do you have to risk the lives of your men. Most importantly, drones give instant results which one ...

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Radio in FATA: A foreign voice for local problems

During my job at a radio station, I got one of my listeners to come in for some questions. In came 60-year-old Haji Noor Zaman, who is from the Khyber Agency and was internally displaced due to the operation against militants. My first question to him was, Do you still listen to radio? He replied saying, Yes, I do, but only to the news bulletin of Radio Deewa. Radio Deewa is a US government sponsored radio station. Curious, I asked: So, what’s new up there? He said: America has diverted its cannon towards Balochistan and has built up a human rights case against Pakistan. He was hinting at the ...

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