Stories about Pashtuns

What does the future hold for PTM?

After his release from prison, Dawar began his fiery speech in Parliament last month with a Pashto verse which translates to, “My hands are shackled and you slap me on my face; my beloved, one day I will settle the score.” Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, leaders of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), had been arrested in May earlier this year after the unfortunate incident at Kharqamar, North Waziristan. The duo were spearheading a protest when the incident in question came to pass. However, before attempting to understand PTM’s demands and their grievances, it is important to grasp the context within which they are rooted. After the Kharqamar incident, ...

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Why people believe PTM is playing into foreign hands

There is hardly anyone in Pakistan today who remains unfamiliar with the name of Manzoor Pashteen and his Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). Till January 2018, Pashteen was a largely obscure figure whom not many had heard of. However, due to events that led to the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud by Rao Anwar, Pashteen was soon plucked from obscurity to become the leader of the popular resistance movement which later came to be known as the PTM. Like Pashteen, the story of his movement is also intriguing, in that it was initially named the Mehsud Tahafuz Movement. However, with more ...

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Why have we forgotten the long lost glory of the Punjabi language?

The thorny issue of “Pakistan’s regional languages face looming extinction” has been projected to the forefront in an AFP report carried, among others, by The Express Tribune and Dawn. ‘“There is not a single newspaper or magazine published in Punjabi for the 60 million-plus Punjabi speakers,” wrote journalist Abbas Zaidi in an essay, despite it being the language of the nationally revered Sufi poet Bulleh Shah and the native-tongue of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.’ The historical relegation of the Punjabi language comes from the cloud overshadowing the Punjabi stance in the 1857 War of Independence, paving the way for Urdu’s ascendance. The Punjabis meekly ceded the high ground moving house ...

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Quetta: Where hospitality has no bounds

When I received an invitation from the University of  Balochistan informing me that five of our engineering projects had been accepted for the first Invention to Innovation Summit – the first comment my director made was,  “Umair, do you know the halaat (conditions) in Quetta? Taking students there can be risky!” The 1st Invention to Innovation Summit in Quetta It wasn’t easy trying to make him understand that all universities from Sindh and Balochistan were participating; hence it was mandatory for us to attend. However, we were finally able to convince him. There were nine of us, out of which seven were visiting ...

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Dear ZaidAliT, stealing jokes isn’t funny

Carrying a Facebook page over two million ‘likes’ strong, it would be safe to say that young Pakistani-Canadian comedian Zaid Ali T has moulded himself into an internet sensation. Each update from the young entertainer earns countless shares, likes and comments within seconds of hitting the internet. His audience is primarily South Asians, though his followers originate from many countries. Zaid’s weapons are his disarming smile and jokes that hilariously channel our exasperation with Asian cultural norms. When I first discovered Zaid, I spent hours combing through his Facebook page, chortling at every one of his shenanigans. His strict father, who gave him ...

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An ‘Islamic Halloween costume’? Really, Walmart?

Dear Walmart, I liked you. I really did. Your prices are decent and I occasionally made a run to you when other stores in the area were closed, because of your late hours of operation. You were convenient and I really liked that about you. However, it came to my attention a couple of days ago that you tried to sell a Halloween costume depicting an ‘old Pashtun Papa’, full with a beige-coloured parthog and kameez, turban and a long fake, grey beard. Photo: Walmart.com Really, Walmart? Tasteless much? I’ve realised that you have now taken down that ‘costume’, apologised, and tried to ...

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Za Pakhtoon Yum: A mind-altering foray into Pukhtun life and culture

So far, our dramas have revolved around the vicious circle of poverty, a miserable daughter-in-law suffering at the hands of her evil in-laws, societal customs, dowry issues, giving birth to a male child or the perfect ‘rishta’ (proposal). Indeed these are issues which need to be addressed in dramas or movies, but there are other issues that require our attention as well. With the passage of time, we, Pakistanis, have come across many complex issues segregating our society into small groups, each intolerable for the other. We have issues ranging from the Shia-Sunni to the Punjabi-Pukhtun, anti-women empowerment to pro-women empowerment, even from the pro-Malala ...

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Dukhtar: A mother’s plight against child marriage

Rarely do movies of such calibre come along that transcend generations and provoke our greater thought process, not because of impressive visuals, A-list actors, extravagant set pieces and locales but because of its strong story-driven narrative – narrative that is deeply entrenched into the harsh realities of life, as opposed to a work of fiction.  Dukhtar too has a potential to lay claim to all of that and then some, thanks to its excellent subject matter. Dukhtar means ‘daughter’ in Farsi and Urdu dialects. The movie is predominately a story about the plights, miseries and ultimately the bravery exhibited by the principal protagonist ...

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FCR: Man playing god with the people of Fata

FATA is home to approximately 10 million people. These people may be called ‘Pakistani’ citizens, but the reality is – they are not. Even after 67 years of independence, despite being a strategic part of Pakistan, the constitution of the country simply does not apply here. Why? Good question. What is worse is that the laws that do, in fact, apply are a set of colonial laws formulated and enacted by the British more than a century ago! Some of these date all the way back to 1893, when the Durand Line was drawn by colonialists. A single visit to Fata will demonstrate ...

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Bloodstained honour is not honourable at all

More often than not, I come across distressing stories about women  who are beaten, tortured, maimed, and in some of the worst cases, killed by male (and sometimes even female) members of their families. It never fails to surprise me when I learn that many of these cases are on account of an honour that was supposedly ‘stained’. This ‘staining’ hence serves as an excuse for people to resort to violence – violence against women, in particular – which has always been a global pandemic. One of the most recent of such horrid stories, or so-called ‘honour-killings’, occurred in Darra Adam ...

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