Stories about Pakhtun

Dear Ayesha Gulalai, instead of honouring our roots and culture, you have disgraced every single Pakhtun woman of Pakistan

Dear Ayesha Gulalai, I am neither a political worker nor do I support any political party. What’s even more interesting is that I am not a fan of Imran Khan either. I am a young Pakhtun woman who has been following the Pakhtun tradition and culture since I was a little girl. My parents have always guided me to stand up for my rights and speak up against any kind of harassment in the male-dominated society we live in. Brought up in a conservative traditional family, I have always been reminded to uphold the respect of my family and most importantly, ...

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It wasn’t state facilitation but years of political neglect that turned FATA into an extremist stronghold

Whilst our civilian rulers have borne significant calumny for their dismal governance since the return of the democratic regime in 2008, there remain some feathers in the cap they can yet point to when juxtaposed with their military counterparts. Take the 18th Constitutional amendment for example. Since independence, successive military regimes have sought to consolidate power in the centre, perpetrating a phantom federation which in turn fuelled discontent and separatist-ism throughout the smaller provinces. The unitary propensity of the establishment also played a vital role in the East Pakistan debacle in 1971. The 18th amendment represented a break from this past, bringing about an inclusive administrative system by ...

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Does Imran Khan stand a chance in the 2018 General Elections?

The Nolan brothers are a great team; they have teamed up for some impressive films such as The Dark Night Trilogy, producing ground-breaking action cinema. What intrigues me even more is that some of the lessons from their films are also applicable in the factual world. When Bane cornered Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, beating him to a pulp, he uttered the movie’s famous lines, “Peace has cost you your strength, victory has defeated you…” A tired and peaceful Batman had won his victory and thus gave up the struggle that made him who he was. There are some parallels that ...

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I am Pakistani, just like you. Except we’re not the same

Edmonton like many other metropolitan cities is an interesting blend of people of various nationalities, race, religion and creed. Walk around in the neighbourhood or enjoy the lazy summer sunshine in a park and you will be struck with a variety of people and languages you hear. The same exotic sampling of populations is present in schools, which gives children a wonderful opportunity to not only mingle or learn about various cultures but also to accept their differences and forge friendships out of their own communities at a very young age. It was a special day for the children of a small elementary school in Edmonton. They had ...

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Karachi will, for time and memoriam, be divided along lines of caste and ethnicity

I find it rather problematic to fashion a semblance of a concrete structure from the conundrum that is Karachi’s metropolis. The metropolis I speak of comprises not of sky-scrapers and high-rise buildings that brush against the clouds and billboards lit with neon lights. On the contrary, the metropolis that harbours the heart of Pakistan lives and breathes, just like you and I. She breathes with the quivering, ragged gasps of an invalid. She inhales mouthfuls of air contaminated by generations of ignorance and growing dissent, and punctuated by the overpowering stench of rotting human remains. The city that once stood ...

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The end of Afghan Basti: It was all they had

Last week, Islamabad High Court judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered the removal of illegal settlements in I-11 area of Islamabad. The judgment summarised that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had allotted plots in the I-11 Sector, and therefore the settlements established there were violating the rights of the land owners and resultantly had to be removed. Strangely enough, however, the voters list of 1985 had the names of the inhabitants of the Afghan Basti (settlement) as eligible voters while the plots were allotted a year later in 1986. How could Afghans be registered voters? Well, it seems that the name is a misnomer because the population ...

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Pakistan one of the least racist countries? Tell that to the Pakhtuns

The recent ‘revelation’ by the Washington Post about Pakistan being among the most racially tolerant countries in the world, was met by jubilation by the nationalists. However, much of the Pakhtun community being systematically oppressed, mocked and expelled from the country, was offline and unavailable for comment. As a liberal who has long decried our nation’s exquisitely racist attitude towards Pakhtuns, Hazaras, Jews and any mound of protoplasm not strictly conforming to our expectation of what a ‘real Pakistani’ looks like, the study was, at first, humbling. Though I was certain that I hadn’t imagined all that racism, perhaps we were still ...

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“Har kala rasha”: Hujra, a fading Pakhtun tradition

There are many characteristics of Pakhtun culture and a hujra is one of them. In fact, it is considered to be the most important part of Pakhtun culture. A hujra can be loosely translated as a social club. From the western mountainous terrains of Pakistan to the heart of Afghanistan to anywhere in the world where Pakhtuns live, there exists the hujra. Exclusively for the male population, a hujra plays host to various aspects of the social life of Pakhtun society – from resolving community disputes to wedding ceremonies. However, the very existence of this age-old tradition is now threatened due to modernisation and Western democracy. Purpose of a hujra A typical hujra is owned and run ...

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Pakhtun women: Does WANA stand for ‘Women Are Not Allowed’?

Ayesha Gulalai Wazir is the youngest parliamentarian elected for the National Assembly on the reserved women’s seats on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s ticket. She belongs to the Wana subdivision of South Waziristan’s Ahmad Zai Wazir tribe. The Taliban commander, Naik Muhammad Wazir, also belonged to the same tribe known for having signed peace agreements with the government of Pakistan. Naik was killed in one of the first drone strikes to hit Pakistan. This was followed by deaths of other commanders, who were willing to sign similar peace agreements, such as Mulla Nazir or Waliur Rehman. A story was published about Ayesha Gulalai ...

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The curse of swara

“I will kill myself but will not marry an older man. I am ready to bear any other punishment but will not submit to the jirga’s decision of giving me away in swara. Why are they sacrificing me for my brother’s fault?” After uttering those words, she burst into tears. Her every word pierced my heart. As my interview of the girl came to an end, an unending string of gloomy thoughts engulfed me and I pondered over the state of women’s rights in our society. I came to the conclusion that in a male-dominated society, women live only to protect the ...

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