For The Los Angeles Times: This year Rehmat was deported to a country he had never known. Weary of hiding from authorities after living in Turkey illegally for more than two years, he turned himself in to police and was shipped off to Afghanistan. When he landed at the airport in Kabul, a long-lost uncle greeted him. “We had never seen each other before, but he knew I was coming,” Rehmat said. “He was holding up a sign with my name on it.” Rehmat, 22,…Continue Reading “Even if born and raised in Pakistan, Afghan refugees are deported to Afghanistan, a land they’ve never known”

For The Nation: Miram Shah, North Waziristan—On a sweltering August afternoon in the Pakistani city of Bannu, Malik Ghulam takes a phone call from a relative in Afghanistan. Ghulam is one of the younger elders of the Madakhel, a clan of the Wazir tribe whose members have property on both sides of the Durand Line, the de facto Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The phone call leaves him worried: Someone is crossing the border from Afghanistan onto his tribal land and harvesting pine nuts, one of the few…Continue Reading “In Pakistan’s Tribal Areas, Collective Punishment Is the Law of the Land”

For The Los Angeles Times: Hassu Khel, Pakistan — For three years, he had lived outside his home province of North Waziristan, one of the most dangerous places in the world. One night in January, 22-year-old Zafarullah came home. Mounds of bricks were strewn where his family’s house had been. In the morning, when there was enough light to see, he carefully stepped over the rubble to avoid any improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, that might have been placed there by militants during their fight…Continue Reading “Pakistan gets a grip on a region known as a nexus of terror — but residents pay a price for peace”

For The Los Angeles Times: Jamrud, Pakistan — A frail Shah Khan Kukikhel was walking through the rubble of what used to be his brother’s home. The trouble, he recalled, had begun after his 19-year-old nephew began to leave the family compound for days at a time. “We got worried, we made him swear on the Koran that he was not involved in any militancy,” said Kukikhel. In June, government officials turned up with an ultimatum: Hand over the nephew, Sheheryar, for interrogation, or the…Continue Reading “‘What kind of justice is this?’ A cry from Pakistan’s remote tribal lands”

How War Altered Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

For Foreign Affairs: On June 28, Naghma, a 13-year-old girl living in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, was taken by her uncle and five other relatives to an empty room in a house nearby and shot five times with an AK-47. She had apparently brought shame to the family by trying to run away with a young man from her neighborhood and one of his friends. Although her murder was but one of the thousands of “honor killings” that occur in Pakistan each year, it…Continue Reading “How War Altered Pakistan’s Tribal Areas”

For The Boston Review: JAMRUD, KHYBER AGENCY, FATA, PAKISTAN – Kabir Afridi gingerly makes his way through the bustling bazaar in Jamrud, past hawkers offering everything from cheap cell phones and fresh fruit to heroin and American military boots and flak jackets. Located in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), along the highway between Peshawar and Kabul, the bazaar offers, among other things, items pilfered from the stream of trucks carrying supplies to American forces in Afghanistan. Few of the thieves are caught. And then…Continue Reading “A Rock and a Hard Place: The Neglect and Abuse of Pakistan’s Tribal Areas”

For The Christian Science Monitor: Gilgit, Pakistani-controlled Gilgit-Baltistan — Pakistan’s disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region, located above India’s Kashmir Valley and the site of a bitter war between India and Pakistan in the late 1990s, is today ground zero for a pending China pipeline to the Indian Ocean – a $46 billion project that represents Pakistan’s largest-ever foreign investment. It was also the site of elections earlier this month that saw Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League take a majority in the 24-seat assembly. Pakistan says…Continue Reading “Great game: Polls in Pakistani Kashmir smooth way for epic China pipeline”

For Al Jazeera English with Fakhar Kakakhel: About one million people were forced from their homes by Operation Zarb-e-Azb a year ago – and few are able to return. Bannu, Pakistan – “I have no hope of going back,” says Farhadullah, 35, who fled Mir Ali with his five children last June ahead of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, Pakistan’s offensive against armed groups in North Waziristan. “They keep lying, they keep saying we have cleared the area, they keep saying we will get the [internally displaced persons]…Continue Reading “Pakistan’s war and loss of hope for those displaced”

Why Baba Jan Won

For Tanqeed.org: GAKUCH, PAKISTAN — June 10, 2015 – Getting to Baba Jan was not an easy task on election day in Gilgit-Baltistan. Everything seemed fine as I handed over my belongings to the guard at the Damas jail in Ghizer district, until the prison’s deputy superintendent ran towards me. “I am sorry, but I do not want to get in trouble. This is a very sensitive issue and you need to get permission from the district commissioner.” So began a game of cat and…Continue Reading “Why Baba Jan Won”

For The Daily Beast: TURBAT, Pakistan—Something fell out of the sky near Arif Saleem’s home at 5:20 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2013. He scrambled outside to find a 25-foot-wide crater just beyond the mud wall surrounding his family compound. The strike was one of three, in quick succession, that morning in the village of Kulahu, in Pakistani Baluchistan, 45 miles east of the Iran border. One of the blasts damaged the local mosque. Pages from the Quran fluttered in the air before landing gently on the…Continue Reading “The Dangerous Drug-Funded Secret War Between Iran and Pakistan”