Stories about victims

Election campaigns: What about those who are not victims of a drone attack?

This is a request to those who are free to conduct election campaigns for their political parties before the country goes to poll on May 11, 2013. Most of you are lamenting the drone attacks on Pakistani soil and vow to change the situation as soon as you assume power. Some of you are outright Taliban sympathisers and believe that a dialogue with them would yield desired results. A few of you have openly associated with terrorist outfits and have even sought their blessings before the elections. Even though it pains me to see you succumb to them, I won’t criticise your diplomacy because ...

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Drone strikes kill real people; here are the ones I know

Yesterday, Senator Lindsay Graham, made the following remark: “We’ve killed 4,700.” “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al Qaeda.” And in this swift statement, all the damage caused and all the lives destroyed by drone strikes have been justified – just because Senator Lindsay “hates” it. A huge number of civilian victims of the US drone attacks in Waziristan still remain silhouettes to euphemisms like ‘collateral damage’. Their voices are muted under the constant humming of US drones circling their villages causing constant fear and immense psychological damage. They are ...

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Doomed to a life of drones

Shattering sounds of broken glass and screams of sirens poured into Ali’s ears; and hot, blazing flames leaped before his eyes; he could not say with assurance whether that was an hallucination or some frightening reality. A little while ago, he had been plucking yellow, juicy apricots from a tree in his courtyard. Suddenly, a predator flying in the air threw fire in the direction of his house. Those sounds came back to him and were mingled with low, moaning human sounds. Ali shut his eyes tightly and attempted to move his body. A loud groan escaped his mouth. Hearing his ...

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Factory fire: When misery repeats itself, but not quite

March 25, 1911: As the closing hours of the day approached, a fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Factory in New York City that resulted in 146 people losing their lives in 18 minutes. The company was a typical textile manufacturing unit based in Manhattan, characterised by long working hours, low wages, and unhealthy, unhygienic working conditions. The fire erupted on the eighth floor. As a standard company policy, managers had locked the doors to every possible exit – a practice to prevent excessive and unauthorised break from work. Workers who could not escape the building jumped from the eighth, ninth, and ...

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Nasreen’s dismembered body didn’t scare me

Female body parts were found from different parts of Karachi, including Soldier Bazaar and Guru Mandar. One of the victims, whose body parts were found in the Guru Mandar area, was identified as Nasreen. As I looked at Nasreen’s body chopped into pieces that lay on separate tables in a smelly morgue, I did not shudder. Any normal person would have trembled, I think. I spent 15 minutes in that very room where her skinned parts were being inspected by medico legal officers (MLO). I roamed around, looking at her body for details; if I had not seen the body, I ...

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Bhoja Air crash: We are accessories to murder

Please refrain from shedding tears or feeling remorse for the unfortunate victims of the Bhoja Air crash. As painful and heart wrenching as this episode is, I’m afraid we have no right to feel sorry or pity for the departed souls and their loved ones. This may seem harsh, but it is the truth; we are all culpable in what is brazen murder. We are the ones that are allowing these airlines to operate within our borders; we are the ones that are tolerating unethical business practices that all too frequently imply cost cutting at the expense of the public ...

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Rape is not funny

“Yaar main nay toh exam ka rape kar dya” (Man I totally raped the exam) …I overheard someone triumphantly say as I was packing my bag in school. My fingers fumbled with the strap as I tried to drown out the peals of laughter that erupted after the inappropriate comment. Sadly, it isn’t that strange to hear someone use the word ‘rape’ in such a frivolous manner. People have now become accustomed to using this word casually in contexts that are far from serious. This immature use takes away from the gravity of the issue, and attributes a humorous quality to a crime that is far from a ...

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Green militants: Saving the world through terror

What do Osama Bin Laden and some radical environmentalists have in common? They’re both terrorists and believe that America is evil. They are also not doing much to promote the cause of environmentalism. A green propaganda film called “No Pressure,” created by the green organisation 10:10, released earlier last month, provides an alarming insight into the mind of an ‘eco-fascist.’ The four-minute-long video shows a teacher casually exploding students who refuse to cut carbon emissions. Yes, explode – she presses a button and the students are ripped to pieces, and that’s putting it mildly. 10:10 withdrew the video within 24 hours ...

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Flood relief: Does any one still care?

It has been a few months since floods ravaged one fifth of Pakistan. Immediately, massive campaigns were launched to collect money and supplies to help victims. But slowly, this spirit has died down. Now there are  just a few reminders every now and then that survivors need your help. So what exactly happened? What went wrong? And how the hell have we all just come to terms with one fifth of our countrymen being homeless and living off international donor assistance? Well, there are a couple of things that happened that led to this. Firstly, from day one rather than talking of rehabilitation ...

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For those who haven’t donated…

I was endlessly going on about how fundraising for the flood survivors has developed into some kind of a competition among various organisations, all indefatigably striving to outdo each other, when my wife suddenly interrupted. “What are you doing to help them?” she said. “Nothing that I know of.” A pause followed. After struggling to find some face-saving answer, I naively replied, “Don’t know yet.” “Donate through an NGO, perhaps?” she suggested. “Hmmm… but I don’t trust them.” “Then what else will you do?” Good question. I wanted to help, make a difference… but how? Perhaps the events that followed the earthquake in the country’s north in ...

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