Stories about Tharparkar

At what cost is Thar being ‘developed’?

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visited Tharparkar two weeks ago. He addressed a huge gathering near Main Bypass Road Islamkot, stayed the night at MNA Mahesh Kumar Malani’s residence in Mithi, visited Thar Coal Block One and Two on the second day of his visit and then departed for Karachi. Did he miss something in all of this? Yes, he did. On the very same evening when he was on stage addressing the thousands of people gathered in Islamkot, a group of indigenous Tharis were protesting in front of the Islamkot Press Club. Although the two venues were not far from ...

Read Full Post

The importance of preserving the Karoonjhar Mountains

At a glance, every stone is carved by nature in such a way that it feels like a face. The entire range of rocks form the scenery of a beautiful and thriving village, with all of these innocent faces simply staring back at us as we tear them away. For those who are concerned with only blind ‘development’, this region serves as nothing more than a source of profitable granite. But for the natives of Thar and Parkar, their own mother’s milk is being snatched away from them as they helplessly watch her rapidly falling apart. The term ‘Karoonjhar’ is an ...

Read Full Post

Religious persecution under the guise of free will?

How does it feel to be a child one day and a woman the next? How does it feel to take a different name for the deity you believe in? How does it feel to begin a daily ritual in a new language, with new customs? For you and me, this may seem difficult. But for a child who is forced to give up her name, identity, relations as well as her faith, describing the experience as catastrophic would be an understatement. After a prolonged cold spell of winter, as Pakistan basks in the warm sunlight of spring, the Hindu ...

Read Full Post

No water, no electricity, no education – When living in rural Sindh is worse than a death sentence

Martin Luther King once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”. This is the thought the residents of Tharparkar comfort themselves with every day. They console each other by hoping that after all their hardship will come some ease. Out of a small number of nine countries, Pakistan has succeeded in becoming a nuclear power. Who would have thought in a country with so much power, there would be so little for the common people? It is appalling to even think that the residents of rural Sindh still transport water with the help of donkeys. I often find ...

Read Full Post

The women of Kohistan suffer in silence as they search for water that doesn’t exist

Hazoora, a 24-year-old native of Kohistan (an arid piece of land located near Thatta), complains that her hair is falling due to transporting heavy cans of water on her head since she was eight-years-old. She travels approximately one to eight kilometres every day to fetch her share of water, and her body aches from carrying six to seven buckets of water daily for domestic needs. Even her pregnancy did not put an end to her ordeal since water is not a commodity one can live without. This is not just Hazoora’s plight, but the plight of thousands of women living in this ...

Read Full Post

In Thar, crops wait in their beds of soil for the rain to come

The desert of Tharparkar spreads over 19638 sq km in southern Sindh, Pakistan. It’s known for its rich culture, religious harmony and arid lands that turn green after the yearly rainfall. Since its origin, Thar has been infamous for its droughts. After three years of continuous droughts, the people of Thar are hoping for a surplus harvest this time around. It’s one of the most peaceful areas of Pakistan and is ingrained with a beautiful culture, a unique geography, and hospitable people. I moved to Thar in 2013 from Sanghar, where I have been practising photography and developing documentaries ...

Read Full Post

I was raised as a boy

Shamim Akhtar has a small but mighty presence. All of five feet, she holds herself with a self-possessed reserve, wearing a bold red, tie-dyed hijab with lipstick to match. She speaks fast but deliberately, commanding attention. She has always been confident. This confidence, she says, comes from being raised as a boy. The eldest of eight children, Shamim was born in 1983 in Molvi Abdullah Mari, a rural village in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Her family belongs to a Baloch caste, a conservative and patriarchal sector of society where men traditionally take precedence over women. “Life was not easy for me,” ...

Read Full Post

Is the food at your child’s school canteen safe?

According to the World Food Programme,  “When a person is not getting enough food or not getting the right sort of food, malnutrition is just around the corner” But while trying to define the ‘right food’, one is instantly made aware of all the ‘wrong’ food that is being consumed. It’s shocking how excessively such low quality and injurious food is multiplying in the local markets and school canteens – devoid of any supervision by the concerned food authorities. The effects of junk food are evident amongst our children who face various forms of ailments. Recently, my nephew was diagnosed with obesity and ...

Read Full Post

Why is Pakistan’s affluent class so ashamed of getting extra food packed at a restaurant?

“You are embarrassing me!” Said the husband, upset over the fact that his wife asked the restaurant staff to pack the left overs which included one kabab, three-fourths of a naan and a bit of chicken karhai. “But it will be wasted,” She smiled and even carried the large mineral water bottle that was almost untouched with resolve. It was a delightful dinner my family and I were invited to and this conversation between our host couple was all too familiar. There is the “what will people think” attitude associated with carrying home leftovers and in doing so we forget that edible, clean ...

Read Full Post

Drought or not, children are dying in Tharparkar, Qaim Ali Shah

Death is a regular visitor at the doors of Tharparkar’s mothers. Within the first 10 days of 2016, 17 children died in just the Mithi area of district Tharparkar in Sindh. Nothing new. Between December 2013 and early March 2014, at least 124 lives were lost in Tharparkar, 67 of them at the Civil Hospital Mithi alone. These are just some registered deaths in the most (relatively) developed area of the 20,000 sq km desert comprising the district. And once again, Sindh’s Chief Minister (CM) says these deaths are being exaggerated. This feels like Déjà vu. Part of the statement of ...

Read Full Post