Stories about Peshawar

Four years down the road to redemption: APS – the school of the 144

One hundred and forty four. On December 16th, we lost a 144 warriors. I had my Islamiat exam that day. I came back to Godley with a sense of accomplishment. It was over. The tyranny that Ziaul Haq’s fundamentalism had bestowed upon us was over. I distinctly remember talking to a close friend about the late General’s obsessive infatuation with religion, and “how none of us really needed to learn religion through such biased sources”. And as irony would deem it fit, it wasn’t over. And the way it showed shook me to the core. On December 16, 2014, progeny of ...

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In conversation with Faysal Manzoor Khan, the man behind Pakistan’s dramas and its culture

Unsung heroes often work behind the camera, working relentlessly to ensure everything is on point. It starts with a paper and pen and ends with a compilation, a script. It is about time I shine the spotlight on Faysal Manzoor Khan, a talented Pakistani producer and content creator responsible for the entertainment we regularly witness on screen. He has made a mark nationally with many successful and acclaimed dramas that Pakistanis hold dear to this day. As Faysal unveils his personal side, he speaks to me about his past achievements and future projects. Tell me about yourself! I was born on ...

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“They hired a Pathan?! I thought it was for smart people”: Pakhtun stereotyping is not ‘just jokes’

I recently moved to the United States for my graduate studies. At the Denver International Airport, a large poster of Malala Yousafzai welcomed me. I wished this would not be the only time I felt at home, but I remained sceptical. Only recently had I read a news article about the increase in race and religion-based violence in America. I decided to reserve my judgement for later. Inadvertently though, this brought back memories of another relocation I experienced three years ago. On June 10, 2015, a week before I graduated from the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIK), I received a ...

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Tough guy syndrome: Ragging is not ‘shugal’ or some rite of passage – it has consequences

Underneath Barry Block’s ominous tress, at the grand Aitchison College, the “premier school in Pakistan”, they stand in a row. Five of them, those unimportant, annoying juniors. “Murgha ban kar beth jao saare ab,” the seniors order. (All of you sit in the chicken position now)   “Yeh tumhara baap hai. Tameez se beth, aur Sir ya Daddy bol. Yaar nai hain hum teray,” another senior exclaims pointing towards one of his batch mates. (This is your father. Respect him. Call him Sir or Daddy. We’re not your friends.) Amongst the hundreds of crises that every teenager faces, there are many fuelled by ignorant, toxically ...

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Despite everything, I will still vote for PML-N

When I moved back to Pakistan after completing my undergraduate studies in the US, I was not a supporter of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). In fact, my newsfeed was flowing so much with remonstrations about the ‘Jangla Bus’ (Green Line Metro Bus) that it was hard to even contemplate that possibility. One day, I decided to test out this infamous bus service, from Model Town to Lahore Fort, expecting to witness how utterly senseless the project truly was. Handed a yellow plastic token, I entered through the turnstile and awaited my ride. It pulled in and the doors parted with a ...

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The dam charity: Sorry, I can’t do more

As Pakistanis, we generally make headlines for all the wrong reasons these days, but there is one thing we can still be proud of. Despite having a shattered economy and prevalent poverty, we are one of the most charitable nations in the world. No one could have expected that this fact would one day work against the nation as well. Recently, the age-old issue of the construction of dams took the limelight once again, as Pakistan ranked third among countries facing water shortage. This alarming situation put every state institution on high alert, including the Supreme Court. Fed up with the ...

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Pakistan and Russia: From Cold War foes to budding allies?

It is no secret that Pak-US ties are experiencing a downward spiral. However, there is some good coming out of this mistrust between both countries. The ongoing tensions have motivated Pakistan to reach out to regional stakeholders other than China for potential partnerships, and one such partner being actively pursued by Islamabad is its former Afghan-jihad foe, Russia. Who would have thought that after almost three decades of Soviet disintegration and Pakistan’s active role in the former’s defeat in Afghanistan, both countries’ foreign ministers would be warmly embracing each other in Moscow? Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif – who recently concluded a three-day visit to Russia and signed a number of ...

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Three years ago, 132 children returned from school as martyrs. Three years ago, 144 families were left incomplete.

Last year, a freak accident happened, where my toddler, while playing in our lounge, tripped and face-planted herself on to the floor. Her front tooth was pushed back inside her gum, there was a lot of blood, and we had to rush her to the emergency ward. Long story short, she is fine now but that incident still sends chills down my spine. The horror of watching her in pain still gives me goosebumps. And then I shudder to think how mothers who see their children suffer more immensely must feel. I wonder if they ever overcome the feeling of helplessness. ...

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In Pakistan, we tackle gun violence by banning… art?

‘Art on wheels’ has become a normal sight for locals in Pakistan. The exterior of our trucks and rickshaws are covered with colourfully-ornamented calligraphy, prose and paintings. Due to its popularity, this particular art has expanded from vehicles to almost everything else; the interior of restaurants, clothing, bags, accessories, souvenirs, and crockery, amongst other things. On one hand, the art depicts our beautiful valleys and literature, and promotes patriotism as well. On the other, it depicts the not-so-beautiful, yet honest aspect of our society. Photo: Facebook/ Truck Art of Pakistan Art, whether in the form of our murals or ...

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Happy Children’s Day, Pakistan! BTW, child sexual abuse increased by 10% since 2016

Child abuse is one of the most prevalent social issues in Pakistan. A 2017 report suggests that there has been a 10% increase in cases since last year alone. The issue is only made worse by the fact that neither do we talk about its prevalence, nor do we take any preventive or rehabilitative measures to deal with it. Topics of importance, such as child abuse, rape, sexual assault, honour killing, forced marriage or mental illness, all are considered taboo and often brushed under the rug. The fear of being shunned by society and victim-shamed is perhaps what keeps some of the victims from speaking up about the issue ...

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