Stories about Peshawar

Here’s Pakistan, raw and real, through the lens of a smartphone

Three months, Rs250,000, and a backpack, what does that get you? Memories for a lifetime. From Gwadar to Khunjerab Pass – I made it to over a hundred sites travelling solo, hitchhiking and using public transport. What started out as a desire to get away from the day-to-day ordinariness of life, turned into a journey encompassing cities, towns, plains, forests, deserts, mountains and beaches. I managed to explore all four provinces and territories, all the while meeting some of the most wonderful people from all walks of life. I was hosted by old friends in certain places and places where I had no ...

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The Afghans are to Pakistan what the Muslims are to Trump

They have been wreaking havoc in our country since the early 80s. The spread of drugs and the Kalashnikov culture is blamed on these poor souls and rightly so. Their help in the conduct of terror plots throughout the country is widely known; the Army Public School (APS) attack in December 2014 is a case in point. With Zarb-e-Azb in its final stage, fighting internal and external threats in FATA and dealing with border skirmishes, it is safe to say Pakistan already has enough on its plate. Yet, it has been the only country gracious enough to grant three million Afghan refugees an unlimited stay. Rather than acknowledge the good will, ...

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Will our selection committee ever make a decision beneficial to Pakistani cricket?

After Pakistan’s disastrous World T20 campaign, a number of cosmetic changes were made in a bid to portray the board’s seriousness towards amending past mistakes and avoiding new ones. Among changes that saw Waqar Younis step down from his role and Shahid Afridi relinquishing his post as captain, making way for Sarfraz Ahmed, the most sensationalised development was the appointment of former Pakistan captain and all-time great, Inzamamul Haq, as the head of the selection committee. The decision was praised by former players who saw Inzamam as tailor-made for the job and discarded players who found new hope following ...

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Bringing happiness to Peshawar, one box at a time

Peshawar. If just the name of this city conjures images of bomb blasts, terrorism and political myopia in your head, know that you are not alone. For Peshawar, this ‘city of flowers’, a gem of a place with a historical past that only a few other cities can match up to – has been caught in the whirlwind of misfortune for quite some time now. But I’ve duly noticed on my trips throughout the country that the people of Lahore and Peshawar have an endearing, almost fierce, sense of belonging and ownership for their cities. Accordingly, for every “Lahore, Lahore hai”, there’s a ...

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Alisha was treated outside a lavatory – shame on you, Peshawar

Like any other people, all the transgender community wants is to live with dignity. But in Pakistan, dignity for this sexual minority is almost impossible to find. From birth to their death beds, they are ostracised as if they are the bearers of some invisible disease. Forced to live with their own communities, forced to take menial jobs or to beg on the streets, forced to put up with mental and physical abuse, forced to deal with sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and rape, from their fellow citizens or even those tasked with protecting them, the transgender people of Pakistan ...

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From every coffin raised, to a mother’s wail

The music isn’t loud enough to drown The grief, the whimpering sounds. I know not what their names are, Just that they got caught up in this bloody war, And I hope all the blood spilled, Every penny the poor souls had paid, Will be justified at the end of time.   Bodies to be seen for this unthinkable crime, They will pay the price for this heinous deed, Not fear, but of strength they planted a seed. From each bullet hole will come out a rose, And each scream will be wind that blows.   High above the empty town that didn’t lose, Just rumpled from a little misuse, They give the light to diminish any trouble, To ...

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It’s about time we talk about suicide

A few months ago, I received a frantic phone call from a friend. He told me his 11-year-old son tried to hang himself. This was not the first time; he had made similar attempts in the past, and also had a history of harming himself. Luckily, the parents had intervened just in time and saved him before it was too late. The father consulted me over the phone – he was broken, and was desperately in search of an answer. He wanted to devise a plan of action that could save his child from further attempts. After many possible interventions, we drafted ...

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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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The B-side: Junaid Jamshed and untold stories behind the controversies

After leaving a lucrative career as a pop singer, Junaid Jamshed (JJ) has evolved into a preacher and poster boy for the austere deobandi group, the Tableeghi Jamaat. He once jokingly remarked, “When I was a singer people use to throw rose petals at me, since I came into Islam they throw stones at me.” This simple statement does more to highlight Pakistan’s state of affairs than explain how someone, who has been referred to by his musician friends, and in his Islamic circles, as “the nicest person one can meet”, can be party to one controversy after another? Some say, he is ...

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Congratulations, Pakistan!

There are certain positive developments in Pakistan that I wished to extend my solidarity with as a liberal from across the Indo-Pak border. But as I set out to write this piece, we had the news of the arrest of an Indian on espionage charges in Balochistan, fanning hatred in both Pakistan and India. Apart from this, we had some sad news coming in at the global level from Brussels,  Ivory Coast, and the blasts in Lahore on Easter. However, negativity has to be fought with positivity. We, the liberals, have to move forward with our actions to defeat the agenda of those coming in our way rather ...

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