Stories about Quetta

Karachi embraced Ibtihaj with love and support but will you do the same, Bilawal Bhutto?

On the morning of January 27, 2014, I was looking up air tickets to fly to Quetta to meet the victims of the Mastung blast. None of my friends or family members were excited about this proposition. Much to their relief, eight of the victims were shifted to the Agha Khan Univeristy Hospital (AKUH) at Karachi the same afternoon. I met 11-year-old Ibtihaj along with a few of my friends that same evening. He was a little overwhelmed, being suddenly surrounded by so many strange faces. A large number of the visitors were of the Hazara community members based in Karachi. Later that day, ...

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My friend was killed in the Quetta blasts last year…I still await justice

January 10, 2014 marked the first anniversary of the Alamdar Road blast in Quetta, where over 100 people were killed and more than 169 injured in a twin blast. The explosion took place near a snooker club where a suicide bomber detonated the bomb at approximately 8:50pm in the evening. When the first blast took place, a large group of people reached the area in order to rescue and help the victims. However, after about 10 minutes, another blast took place at the same location – this time it was a bomb which was remote detonated in a car nearby. The second blast ...

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Lest we forget: Remembering the victims of the 2013 Hazara massacre

When Aslam Raisani, the then chief minister of Balochistan, was asked about the Mastung massacre in September 2011, he replied, “The population of Balochistan is in millions, 40 dead in Mastung is no big deal.” When asked about what he would do for the grieving families of the victims, he replied, “I can send a truckload of tissue papers for them to wipe away their tears.” Horrific as this may sound, the Mastung massacre was not the bloodiest day in the long history of Shia killings in the Hazara community. That ‘honour’ goes to the massacre on January 10, 2013 in Quetta where over 100 people were killed ...

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I remember a Muharram in Quetta when we lived peacefully…

Gone are the days when Muharram was observed by nearly all Muslims belonging to different sects of Islam. Now it is observed strictly under security from law enforcement agencies. In Quetta, my neighbourhood used to be an example of religious harmony; non-Shiite Baloch, Brahvi and Pashtoon, all honoured the religious sentiments attached to the month of Muharram. Playing football, flying kites and sharing our lunches with our friends, regardless of what sect they came from, was a part of my everyday life as a child. There was no objection from my elders regarding my routine as they used to socialise with our ...

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When we were too poor to afford Blue Band margarine

I still remember the day that Blue Band margarine was introduced to Alamdar Bakery in my home-town of Quetta, Pakistan. The glossy silver packaging and the light blue printing stood out among all the other butter in the bakery’s refrigerator. However, I refrained from taking an interest in this new product since I was well aware that my parents would not be able to afford it. I continued to consume the inexpensive Liaquat Makkhan for breakfast even after the older brother of the baker recommended Blue Band with great zeal; I consoled myself by thinking that he was just trying to improve his sales. As the weeks ...

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What is Balochistan like?

With every day we believe, through the media, that we are coming closer to one another. In reality, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We see only what the media wants us to see. That being said, along with many realities, there is much more to each city than our eyes can see. Hopes, dreams and aspirations have always been a part of Balochistan, but we haven’t ever really looked to be able to recognise these. “Balochistan” When you read this word, what is the first image that pops into your mind? Flashes of violence? Target killing? Poverty, discrimination ...

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Why isn’t my father home yet?

It’s getting late; I wonder why Baba hasn’t come home yet. I ask Ami if he’s called, she says no. My brother hasn’t heard from him all day either. My mother’s face doesn’t betray any anxiety, but I see her stealing glances at the clock every five minutes. I pick up the phone, and dial his number. It rings a few times, and then the lady on the phone – that I always took to be Benazir Bhutto when I was a child – says the number I’m trying to reach isn’t answering. She asks me to please try ...

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A birthday that Quetta will never forget!

July 5, 2013, marked my 24th birthday and I decided to spend the day doing something different. Inspired by a video I found online, I decided that I would spend the day doing random acts of kindness. So my friends and I spent the entire day looking for ways to be helpful to society. We went to the hospital, to our university and finally took to the streets to do something constructive with the time we had. It was during this day that I realised what a beautiful city my dear Quetta is. The satisfaction I got from just doing simple things is ...

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Pakistan bleeds with Hazara blood, do you even care?

“My heart cries tears of blood for the Hazaras… #ShiaGenocide, when will we wake up?… What has Pakistan come to?! Oh God!!… This country does not deserve to be called “PAK-istan”…” These statements are clichés. They mean nothing. They have no purpose. They’re just uttered to make ourselves feel good about atrocities which we mostly can’t, and usually won’t do anything about. At least 46 people died yesterday. How many of us cared? 18 people died in Peshawar yesterday. How many of us bothered to find out three kids died in that attack? How many of us had the apathy to find out that the doctors ...

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Balochistan University bus attack: My best friend died the day he wanted to live his life!

After spending all day preparing for a party at my university, I slept very late. I could hardly wait for the next morning, when my classmates and I would finally be performing in the plays we had prepared for. We had parodies lined up and even a fashion show. The next morning was going to be fantastic, I thought. The fashion show was a party tradition of the computer science and computer engineering departments of the Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS). This time, upon my insistence, my friend Aqeel agreed to walk the ramp. After a ...

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