Stories about South Waziristan

Demanding equal rights in Pakistan can turn even model citizens into traitors

For too long, the faction of Pakistani society that upholds the principle of equal citizenship as a fundamental human right has been in despair. This is because human rights are an ideal no one disputes in theory but which, in essence, depend on the non-discrimination of individuals, whether based on religion, language, political opinion or socio-economic standing. However, human rights often becomes a provocative term when applied to a blogger with a dissenting political opinion, or to those we celebrate as symbols of our diversity on Easter and Christmas, or to those listening to speeches about their heroic contributions to the war on ...

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#PashtunLongMarch: How many more Naqeebullahs have to die before we stop marginalising the Pashtun community?

Nobody could have guessed that the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud – an aspiring and flamboyant model hailing from South Waziristan – would result in an unprecedented and unyielding protest by the Pashtuns in the federal capital. What had begun as a demand for the arrest of former Malir SSP, Rao Anwar, has now turned into a protest to relay the comprehensive set of grievances of a marginalised people. The participants of this long march, who are mostly from the tribal areas, are now calling for all cases of extrajudicial killings of Pashtuns to be exhaustively investigated in a judicial ...

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Did Senator John McCain visit Pakistan to do some necessary damage control post the Modi-Trump meeting?

The American Republican Senator, John McCain, visited Pakistan with a bi-partisan delegation this week. It was conducted against the backdrop of a much talked about meeting between the American President, Donald Trump, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Senator McCain met the top civilian and military brass and parted on a note of positivity – Pakistan was an important ally, how Pakistan was imperative for stabilisation in the region, how the US was neutral as far as the Kashmir policy was concerned and so on and so forth. The trip itself was lumped together with a July 4th visit to the American troops stationed in Afghanistan. As useless and futile ...

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If the army has cleared the agency of all militants, then what is there to hide in South Waziristan?

The Pakistan Army has been fighting valiantly against the scourge of terrorism. There can be no words that can fully express the debt of gratitude that one feels towards our soldiers for having done what they have done to protect the people of Pakistan from the nefarious designs of these “holy warriors.” That being said, what comes next is an arduous task. The frontier of Pakistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) will continue to pose a challenge unless and until something is drastically done on a political and national level to integrate them fully into Pakistan. They must not be ...

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Maria Toorpakai’s life sings like a Khaled Hosseini novel

Cut off my locks….my pretty black locks…. Throw away my frocks….my pretty bright frocks…. I will ditch my bangles and my dainty shoes…. I will run as a boy and let myself loose…. They will spare my life if I turn into a boy… And if I remain a girl, they will kill my joy… Birds of a feather flock together. But if you aim to fly high, you have to leave the flock first. Such a bird is Maria Toorpakai. Her life is nothing short of a Khaled Hosseini’s novel; the war struck her home town, the high profile political family and the strangest dream ...

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This time, it was Zaman Mehsud’s turn to be silenced

This time it was Zaman Mehsud’s turn. The 40-year-old journalist was sprayed with bullets as he rode his motorbike in Tank district yesterday, November 3, 2015, a day after the world observed the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’. He was shot in the chest, arm and leg. He succumbed to his wounds in the hospital.  Mehsud worked for the Daily Ummat and was also associated, in the capacity of a coordinator, with a local human rights organisation. The details available regarding his cold blooded murder are customary. The reason he was silenced mercilessly is also anyone’s guess. It is interesting to note, however, that the ...

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Balochistan 3: Pakistan’s dirty little closet full of skeletons

In the aftermath of Sabeen Mahmud’s murder, essentially right after the cancellation of the LUMS talk, a large number of people voiced their anger against those who tried to highlight state abuses in Balochistan.  Mama Qadeer, in particular, came under fire but people vocal about the issue were also accused of being traitorous, or at least of lacking patriotism, or colluding with separatists or, well, you get the idea. The groups under fire have expressed shock over the reaction they have faced. All they were trying to do was highlight the basics – human rights violations, human life itself. Human life, in theory, should be the foremost concern of ...

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The problem with “collateral damage” in a “surgical air-strike”

The questioning gaze of that drone victim, who lost one of his family members – with eight others injured – on the fateful day of October 24, 2012, in a drone strike at South Waziristan, still haunts my memory every time a new strike occurs. Just today, four more people were killed in North Waziristan; they too shall be termed as “collateral damage” of a “precise air-strike” against “terrorists” hiding in the “safe havens”, and forgotten or not even talked about as individual human beings in the first place. When will this loss of innocent human life stop? Who will make the American government accountable for this ...

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Are all Pakistani women damsels in distress?

It feels really good to be a Pakistani woman these days. It brings a big smile to my face when I see five Pakistani women in the list of BBC’s 100 women of 2014. And no matter how controversial one may call Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize, there is no denying the fact that it has brought Pakistani women at the centre stage again. Yes, the world is often quick to assume that women in our country are weaklings – damsels in perpetual distress. For a very long time the west has considered them little more than slaves of their male counterparts. ...

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Journalism in Pakistan: Where the sword is mightier than the pen…

“How was your weekend?” a colleague asked me. “Terrible.” I answered. “Oh! Why so?” he inquired. I was sad and nostalgic. I told him that on Friday evening, I had received a message on Skype which said that the late Arif Shafi would have turned 38-years-old and that was when my mood had changed and become so gloomy. Confused, my colleague asked, “But who was Arif Shafi?” I didn’t know how to answer him. The fact is that I had never known Shafi personally. He and I had exchanged a few emails two years back while he was working on a feature story on the ...

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