Gul Shada thought it was the end of the road for her when she and her husband met with a road accident last year in the Nowshera district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of the four provinces of Pakistan. Not only did the mishap leave Shada widowed at the relatively young age of 37, she also sustained an injury to her back that immobilised her.
Flanked by loyalists, friends, journalists and excited family members, former Pakistani premier Mian Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), seemed relaxed on the night of the May 11 general elections.
If you can’t beat them, at least innovate. That seems to be the lesson that Pakistan’s Awami National Party (ANP) has drawn from its predicament.
“Women in Pakhtun society have traditionally helped their men in hard times,” declares former Pakistani lawmaker Shagufta Malik. They are doing so again, and how, going by their hectic campaigning activity in northern Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Akbar Shah was sitting with his sick wife in the gynaecology ward of the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Bajaur Agency, a division of northern Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), when a bomb ripped through the facility, scattering patients, doctors and medical supplies.
Bacha Khan Markaz, a two-storey building in the northern Pakistani city of Peshawar, is abuzz with activity. Located deep in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, whose northwestern tip borders Afghanistan, the building serves as the headquarters for the Awami National Party (ANP), which is gearing up for general elections on May 11.
“My sole motive is to serve my people, especially women who have had no role in politics so far. I feel we can make progress only by bringing in women into mainstream politics.”
The Taliban may have placed a ban on theatre, but women in Pakistan’s northern provinces won’t allow the threat of the militants’ reprisals to keep them off the stage.
While the Taliban’s military activities continue to plague Pakistan’s northern Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the incessant violence has been a blessing in disguise for one creature: the falcon.
People disabled through bomb and suicide attacks by the Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the nearby Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are seeking support for themselves, and demanding strict action against the Taliban.
A new politics of honesty – and of campaigning for honesty – is surfacing in Pakistan. Its two prominent fronts are both Pakistanis who carry also a strong foreign stamp. What many within the country find more encouraging is the strong support people are giving them.
The applause has continued long after the curtain came down on the last performance of Khushal Khan Khattak in the northern Pakistan city of Peshawar last month. The enthusiastic reception should have the Taliban worried.
Taliban militants have been losing grip over the handling of their would-be suicide bombers. Of late they failed to carry out their missions as planned.
The rivers in northern Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province were once thick with trout. Spanning hundreds of kilometres, these water bodies played host to the exotic fish, first introduced by the British in the early 1900s, which eventually became a staple in the diets and livelihoods of the province’s 20 million residents.
–“We demand an immediate end to the military operation in Khyber Agency because it has not brought any results during the past three years,” says Iqbal Afridi from the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf party. “The military operations are killing the local population while the militants remained unharmed.”