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 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”

For The Daily Beast with Fakhar Kakakhel: PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Half a dozen men sit on the floor in a grimy rented storefront in the crowded Khyber Bazaar. A bottle of locally brewed liquor chills in a water cooler in the corner, a Pepsi bottle next to it for mixing. A Bollywood soundtrack plays in the background. It’s a farewell party for Allah Noor, who has spent the last five years identifying targets in rural Pakistan for U.S. drone strikes. Noor, as we’ll call him,…Continue Reading “Obama’s Deadly Informants: The Drone Spotters of Pakistan”

For Al Jazeera English: Protests over poor public services have escalated into challenges to Islamabad’s rule in rugged northern territory. Gilgit, Pakistan – Escalating protests in villages perched on the “Roof of the World” – a mountainous territory disputed between Pakistan and India – have exposed deep animosity towards Islamabad. After 67 years of control by the Pakistani government, many local people want the country to either accept them as a new province – or grant them independence. Pakistan’s authorities have responded to the unrest –…Continue Reading “‘Roof of the World’ rebels against Pakistan”

For IRIN News, with Fakhar Kakakhel: PESHAWAR, 16 June 2014 (IRIN) – More than 60,000 people have fled North Waziristan Agency to safer parts of Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan as Pakistan’s military launches an offensive in the region. Most of the people fleeing are children, and mental health experts are concerned that they will not have access to proper trauma care. The Pakistani authorities have yet to set up camps to shelter the displaced, and what little mental health aid is available – usually at…Continue Reading “Pakistan’s traumatized war children play soldiers and Taliban”

For the Christian Science Monitor: Turbat, Balochistan: In Turbat’s main square, dozens of troops from the Frontier Corps spend their day nervously scanning traffic. One soldier, his machine gun resting on the bulge in his flak jacket, visits the square’s shopkeepers one by one, checking in with them. More than 55,000 troops are deployed in Balochistan, but this is a war most Pakistanis have no idea is occurring. An eight-year old insurgency – the fifth one in the province since Pakistan’s founding in 1947 ­– shows…Continue Reading “Festering and forgotten, Pakistan’s other war burns on”

For the Christian Science Monitor: Anwarul Haq, a frail, bespectacled cleric, sits before a class of attentive students in Darul Uloom Haqqania, one of Pakistan’s many madrassas, or Islamic seminaries. His class of 1,400 students is the most senior of 4,000 enrollees at Darul Uloom, an hour’s drive from Peshawar. The students follow a 500-year-old curriculum adopted across South Asia. The oversized book used in Mr. Haq’s class, a collection of ahadith, or sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad, is centuries old and written in…Continue Reading “Pakistan’s Islamic seminaries pair science with the Quran”

For FSRN: Listen to the story: After mass protests, officials in Pakistan’s capitol of Islamabad have postponed plans to evict nearly 80,000 people from unrecognized settlements there. Many of the residents are ethnic Pashtuns from the region bordering Afghanistan. Some blame Pashtuns for the Taliban insurgency that has killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis. Officials want to clear the shantytowns, saying they are safe havens for militants. But residents say they are the target of scapegoating and ethnic tensions. Umar Farooq reports from Islambad. Thousands…Continue Reading “Islamabad looks to clear settlements housing tens of thousands displaced by conflict”

Pakistan’s FATA: Lawless no more?

For Al Jazeera: Tribes in Pakistan’s FATA region are struggling to repeal a colonial-era, collective punishment law. When armed men blew up a power station in Mohmand Agency two years ago, security forces came to the local press club and arrested Saeed Badshah and a fellow journalist. “The power station was near my home,” Badshah explained, “so under the collective responsibility clauses of the Frontier Crimes Regulations, we were detained until the culprits were produced by residents”. Badshah was lucky – authorities released him within…Continue Reading “Pakistan’s FATA: Lawless no more?”