Stories about Tharparkar

How locusts and water scarcity are destroying Sindh’s crops

In the village of Lass, located in Tharparkar, Muhammad Essa Lund and his family reach their agricultural land at dawn. They bring their kitchenware along with them, which they use to drive locusts out of their fields. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident and represents the tragic tale of almost everyone who owns a piece of agricultural land in this region. Due to the locust invasion, the only primary school in the area has been closed down, labourers have been unable to travel to nearby cities for work, patients have had to postpone their visits to the local dispensaries, and shepherds have been unable to ...

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The health epidemic plaguing Thar

The Tharparkar desert in Sindh boasts an area of 22,000 square kilometres and is host to a population of over 1.6 million inhabitants, most of which reside in 2,880 villages which fall under seven talukas or tehsils, namely Mithi, Diplo, Chachro, Islamkot, Nangarparkar, Dahli and Kaloi.  The expanse is divided into 64 union councils. District Tharparkar was separated from district Mirpurkhas in the year 1990 and Mithi was designated as the region’s headquarters. Despite the demarcation, the infrastructure in Thar remains abysmal. Not only does Thar battle yearly droughts and famine, it also struggles with a high infant morality rate, with over 700 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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,” ...

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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 ...

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