Stories about South Waziristan

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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Maria Toor Pakay: Defying tradition to play sports

It was in 2009 when the world first learned about Maria Toor Pakay – the brave, talented 22-year-old Pashtun female squash player, who hails from the tribal region of South Waziristan – an area that is considered to be the most conservative, and is hence dubbed as the ‘most treacherous place on earth’. It is not very often, if at all, that we hear about women, especially from this part of the world, who have managed to break strict cultural norms and traditions in order to pursue a career in sports, much less a career in anything. I admit that when I first heard Maria’s ...

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A dangerous gamble? PTI’s ‘Peace March’ to the badlands

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has begun its ‘Peace March’ to South Waziristan wherein lies the Mehsud tribe’s town of Kotkai as well the native village of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Militant leader Hakimullah Mehsud and his slain cousin Qari Hussain, and the Ustad Fidayeen (trainer of suicide bombers) are also from the area. In fact, the first suicide bombing training camp was setup at Kotkai. Recently, the town has gained importance in the international media as no one except the Mehsuds were previously allowed to enter it. Since the past two days, the area has been declared by the political administration ...

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Imran Khan, knowingly or unknowingly ‘Taliban’ Khan

Imran Khan is guilty of one of two things. He is either guilty of deliberately and knowingly legitimising the Pakistani Taliban as a political force for what he perceives to be his own populist gain, or he is guilty of colossal naivety and unintelligibility. Personally, I am far more worried by the latter, and also far more convinced of its plausibility. Allow me to explain. Let’s consider the possibility that Imran Khan is indeed playing to what he understands the populist tune to be and that his soft, apologetic stance towards the Pakistani Taliban is a deliberate ploy fueled out of a mixture ...

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Has Hindi become our national language?

Recently, interviews were held for admission at the newly established Cadet College Sarwakai in South Waziristan. It was then that a tribal child, being interviewed by an army officer in Urdu, shocked the interviewer. The child was asked why he was eager to join cadet college. “Sir, I want to join the Army”, replied the child. “Why do you want to join the Army?” asked the interviewer. The innocent child replied, “Sir, main apne desh ki raksha karoon ga.” (Sir, I will protect my country.) The innocent child had no clue that these were not Urdu words, rather he had replied in pure Hindi instead of his national language! ...

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