Stories about Quetta

In the absence of proper governance, is Chief Justice Saqib Nisar Pakistan’s ‘saviour’?

Pakistanis are an opinionated people; from fruit vendors to domestic workers, all are as articulate in politics as any academic or political analyst. But these opinions vary, and they vary drastically on almost every major issue confronting the country. Be it Malala Yousafzai, Imran Khan or even kite flying, we hold extreme, polar opposite views on each matter.  The recent judicial activism of the Supreme Court, demonstrated by the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, is no exception. There are, as usual, two sides – one fervently supports the actions of the Chief Justice, while at the other end ...

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Will Sadiq Sanjrani’s appointment as Senate chairman help Balochistan in any way?

Whether in the realm of natural resources or politics, Balochistan has always been a target of exploitation by politicians and other powerful forces in Pakistan. Whenever Balochistan is mentioned, it is invariably described as the least developed region of Pakistan. It is always “volatile”, “neglected” and “backward”; the region with the worst health indicators and the poorest infrastructure. It is the place where a majority of children are out of school, and there is little access to basic resources available everywhere else in the country. Nevertheless, while such problems are a fact of life for the majority of the people of Balochistan, our ...

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2017 proved that the ‘war’ on terror has been misdirected towards the wrong enemy all along

As we step over the threshold of one pandemonium of a year, it is evident that the global perspective is shifting, with many ‘rites of passage’ that were once the norm for transitioning from one year to the next with an outlook of optimism and hope, being replaced instead by realistic concerns over security and the need to secure borders.    Today, questions asked in hindsight and disconcerted glances exchanged in retrospect, all entail a fresh meaning. This is because as the year dissolves into its waning stretch, it is hard to ignore the events that made it, in many ...

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Hazaras: The Rohingyas of Pakistan?

Last week, when I was planning a trip to Quetta for training, Mujeeb Hashmi, a friend from work, asked me to wear shalwar kameez, not only to the airport but also whenever I went out and about in the city. Hashmi, being a veteran filmmaker, has been to almost every habitable area of Pakistan – so I had to pay heed. He also warned me to be wary of certain localities within the city such as Hazara Town and Alamdar Road, given the violence witnessed by the city in the past. He was right. Quetta made a great first impression on me – ...

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Our greatest sin: Letting our founder die in vain

The shape taken by Pakistani politics over the past few decades serves as an indication of the coming times. I have no qualms about the fact that the young heirs of the political families, currently in the phase of growth, will be the ones forming the government in the future. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan were among the most prominent politicians of their time but they cannot be viewed in the same light as the conventional Pakistani politicians. Even comparing them to their successors or the present day political elites makes them sound like a species of some kind that did ...

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From Dagh Dehlvi to Ghalib: My journey towards understanding Atta Shad

A few days after his death, I came across the news in an old newspaper: “Renowned poet and writer Atta Shad passed away last night”.  It was not news for me. Anyone could die, so did Shad. I didn’t even bother to read the news piece in detail and instead put the newspaper aside. At that time, I was a teenager and had recently developed a taste for poetry. And if you expect Shad to strike the chord of a teenager, you would be terribly wrong. And if somehow a teenager did manage to read his poetry, his words would disappoint you, as ...

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Abdullah: Thank God it’s The Final Witness

Pakistani cinema is going through a phase, especially after banning Indian movies in the country. Two things are in dire need; firstly, the release of a movie at least every week, and secondly, every movie released should have an entertainment quotient attached to it. Recently, Hashim Nadeem’s Abdullah: The Final Witness was released in the cinema houses of Pakistan. The movie features Sajid Hassan, Hameed Sheikh, Imran Abbas, and Sadia Khan in pivotal roles. Now let’s see what it has to offer to its viewers. The movie features Sajid Hassan, Hameed Sheikh, Imran Abbas, and Sadia Khan in pivotal roles.Photo; Screenshot The story revolves around Abdullah (Hameed Sheikh), a ...

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Balochistan is bleeding, and no one cares

There is the pungent smell of spices, the unguent waft of cooking oil, and the acrid bite of car exhausts – clinging to the faint breeze that is desperately trying to cleanse this city of its daytime humour. The clamour of voices starts to rise as the mosques empty after prayer; car horns constantly bark out their warnings to everyone but those for whom they are intended, and all of a sudden the dark brings with it the horrors Quetta witnessed on the August 8th. Undoubtedly, the darkest day in Balochistan’s history, when our beaming future was snatched away after the ghastly bomb detonated, leaving Balochistan paralysed, ...

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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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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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