Stories about village

Living under constant fear of the Taliban

A few days ago, I decided to wait outside in a rickshaw we had hired while my friend popped into a shop. I noticed the rickshaw driver was in his early teens, so I asked him curiously, “Do you go to school?” He replied in the negative and then went on to tell me his story almost as if he was waiting for someone to ask. He said, “I used to go to school, but I only finished primary education. My studies came to a halt five years back when the Taliban destroyed my school.” He went on to describe how the army initiated a ...

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The old architecture of Gojal valley

Gojal valley is host to many historical buildings. Gulmit, Ghulkin, Morkhoon, Gircha, Sost, Misgar, Shimshal and Chipursan have a number of such structures. Among these, the Bai Nazar Maktab, an old house in Gulmit, Qarghiz Bai House in Ghulkin, an old house in Gircha and Qalandarchi Fort in Misgar are prominent. Two buildings in Gulmit, the main town and headquarter of the calamity-hit Gojal Tehsil, are noted for their beautiful wood carvings. The old house which is located near the polo ground is well known for its ornately carved door and windows. The old house has now been turned into a ...

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Learning from China

Pakistan is plagued by a feudal system which has taken the entire nation hostage. According to a rough estimate, there are about 50,000 feudal lords in Pakistan. Transparency International published a report with the statistics regarding corruption in Pakistan. The country was ranked 42nd among the world’s most corrupt countries in 2009, whereas in 2008, Pakistan was in the 47th position. According to the report, the root cause of corruption in Pakistan is the feudal system. In fact, corruption has plagued this country since its birth. Quaid -e-Azam once said: “Among many other curses, our country is suffering from corruption and ...

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Thinking big at a small age

It was the eve of August 22, when I was at a tent village established by the Scouts in Khairpur. I was reporting from the district as well as volunteering with the Scouts. As I was talking to the IDPs, inquiring about the facilities, one woman said that though they are being supplied with food and shelter, they don’t have any money. Suddenly, a boy standing at a little distance jumped in: “Allah saved us from the floods, we have been brought here, we should be thankful.” This was how I met 11-year-old Ali Haider, a high-spirited, confident and slightly ...

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Small villages, big families

While passing by the Public College, Gilgit, the other day, I was stunned to hear two boys of about 10 to 12 years of age discussing the growing trend of suicides in Karachi. I might not have been surprised if I had overheard this conversation in Karachi or Islamabad. But that it was happening in this oft-neglected and far flung corner of the world called Gilgit, was shocking. Indeed, the media has revolutionised our society. I paused for a while to listen to what the boys were saying. “Ye sub kuch gurbat ki waja say howa hay. Becharay garib log or kia ...

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PM’s brother joins the club

The Prime Minister’s brother, Ahmed Mujtaba Gilani, recently won the PP-206 seat. The coverage of these by elections is what took me to Jalalpur Pirwala, a tehsil of Multan district 88 km away from the main city. During the election campaign, my team followed Gilani to a village near Jalalpur where a huge gathering of locals was waiting to greet him with garlands and chanting slogans of “people’s party Zindabad”. One by one, his supporters shared their views on the ‘fortune’ that the PM’s brother will bring with him once elected. Lastly, it was Gilani’s turn to offer the ...

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Disappearance of the word rural

The loss of the word rural deprives a large and important element of the country of a name. Ingenious efforts have been made to avoid the word rural for example ‘non-metropolitan,’ ‘non-urban,’ ‘regional city’ and even ‘micropolis.’ Disappearance of the word rural is a case of urban imperialism.  If nothing out there is noteworthy of a name then it becomes a place to play in, play with, override, and destroy at will. This imperial view provides silent justification for the imposition of regional governments on small communities as well as the closing of rural schools, community centres and hospitals. Thus, ...

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