Stories about tribal

FCR: Man playing god with the people of Fata

FATA is home to approximately 10 million people. These people may be called ‘Pakistani’ citizens, but the reality is – they are not. Even after 67 years of independence, despite being a strategic part of Pakistan, the constitution of the country simply does not apply here. Why? Good question. What is worse is that the laws that do, in fact, apply are a set of colonial laws formulated and enacted by the British more than a century ago! Some of these date all the way back to 1893, when the Durand Line was drawn by colonialists. A single visit to Fata will demonstrate ...

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‘The Wandering Falcon’: Understanding Balochistan, the literary way

Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon cruised into my bucket list when it was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and Commonwealth Book Prize, but that was not the sole reason for it clicking with me. It was the debut work of the author at the age of 78 and was written long before we mired our stream of consciousness by replacing people with numbers and empathy with stock language for the tribal people of Pakistan. Penned down some 34 years ago, the work of fiction has become extremely relevant to the current global situation rampant with discourse of convenience. The short stories shot to ...

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I am from FATA and, today, I don’t feel Pakistani at all

I was shocked when I heard that the governments of Punjab and Sindh have barred Waziristan’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from entering their provinces. Belonging to the tribal areas, I know how much our forefathers have sacrificed for this country. It was our people who took part in Pakistan’s first war against India in 1948, to save Kashmir – and this was when Pakistan’s own army general had refused to fight. Today, whatever part of Kashmir comes under Pakistani territory, it’s all thanks to the efforts of my people. When the USSR attacked Afghanistan and Pakistan decided to be part of the United States-led ...

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Oh great government of Pakistan, take notice of the female aid workers in Balochistan, don’t alienate them!

On my recent trip to Balochistan, I came across examples of how women folk fare in tribal set-ups. While we, in the urban centres, believe that women are usually ignored and not allowed to contribute to society in tribal arrangements, the Baloch tradition has a very unique way of putting their women to good use. Tribal feuds and enmities usually span over generations. So when all else fails, the hidden asset – the women – is consumed. The women of the tribe seeking to reconcile are sent to the other tribe. These women then beg for forgiveness for the men folk of ...

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The Baloch tribal system isn’t all that bad

Bijjar is a Balochi word which means cooperation or help. We have all heard our esteemed intellectuals on national television talk about how the tribal system has multiple drawbacks. The primary reason these intellectuals like to rail against the tribal system is because they themselves have minimal knowledge about this structure. Their knowledge about the tribal system is restricted merely to its problems, which encompass things like the Sardari system, a hierarchy where the head is a sardar (chief), the exploitation by feudal lords, the culture of ammunition and strict ideologies against women education. Unquestionably, some aspects of the tribal system do more harm than good to a ...

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Tribal leaders order gang rape of Indian girl: When will the men stand up?

“We are living in a male dominated world.” This statement has never felt as humiliating as it does today, when I am reading the news of a village council ordering the gang rape of an Indian village woman, as a form of punishment, who was suspected of having a love affair with a Muslim from a neighbouring village.  Hurts, right? The incident which was reported to have happened on Tuesday was a result of the girl’s family’s inability to pay Rs25, 000 as a fine, for the said ‘crime’. The news numbed me and for the first time in many years, I am at an ...

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No prayers for the soldier…

When the Pakistan Army started full-scale anti-insurgency operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan, it suffered a lot of causalities mainly because the army had not been trained and equipped for undertaking full-scale anti-guerrilla warfare. The worst part was that half the nation termed it a war against our own people. The families of the slain officers and soldiers who died fighting in Waziristan often faced a bigger trauma when their fellow countrymen doubted the shahadat (martyrdom) of these men. For them, these soldiers gave their lives while fighting other Muslims for a war which served the United States. It took 12 long years for this mind-set to ...

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In memory of Malik Mumtaz Khan

I met Malik Mumtaz Khan, a tribal journalist from North Waziristan back in 2011 in Bannu. At the time, I was conducting a safety and security training for tribal journalists, arranged by the Intermedia, Pakistan. Malik came across as very cooperative and friendly, though not very talkative. He kept rather quiet during most of the workshop, except when it was necessary to say something. Like many things in life, Malik landed at my training session by chance – he tagged along with a few other journalists. Hence, it struck a particular chord, when on Wednesday blaring headlines announced 48-year-old Malik Mumtaz’s death ...

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Imran Khan can bring peace to FATA

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s ‘Peace March’ has been widely criticised by many but the fact remains that the liberal Imran Khan had taken a brave initiative to march towards the militancy-struck Waziristan – the headquarters of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. But being a divided nation, we happen to be pessimistic. Criticism is in our nature and is mainly the reason why we have remained an underdeveloped state even after 65 years of independence. After detaching Fata from Afghanistan in 1893, we were revealed to the world as a land of wild animals, leading people to believe that once you enter this region, there ...

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Chronicles from FATA: Your story or your life?

Two powerful stakeholders of Fata, the armed forces and the militants, are not happy with the work of tribal journalists. They are constantly warring with each other and each wants the media on its side. In the end, a journalist can report either a factual account and get killed, or craft a vague story and save his skin.   In situations like these, tribal journalists undergo immense pressure. They fear the potential wrath of one party but win support from the other. Usually, their writings miss the main ‘who’ and ‘why’ without which a story cannot be complete, accurate or fair. It is ...

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