Stories written by Ashfaq Yusufzai

Fear Stalks Students in Northern Pakistan

It has been seven months since a group of gunmen raided the Army Public School in Pakistan’s northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, killing 145 people, including 132 students.

Female Commandos Ready to Take on the Taliban

For years, Robina Shah has dreamed of joining the police force.Ever since her father, a police constable, was killed in a 2013 Taliban suicide attack in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, she has longed to carry on his legacy.

First the Taliban, then the Army, now Hunger: The Woes of Pakistan’s Displaced

A doctor shakes his head in despair as he examines a 10-year-old child at the Jalozai refugee camp, about 35 km by road from Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

Threats, Deaths, Impunity – No Hope for Free Press in Pakistan

It is no surprise that most Pakistani journalists work under tremendous stress; caught between crime lords in its biggest cities, militant groups across its tribal belt and rival political parties throughout the country, censorship, intimidation and death seem almost to come with the territory.

Women ‘Sewing’ a Bright Future in Northern Pakistan

At 46, Naseema Nashad is starting her life over, not out of choice but out of necessity. The Afghan woman was just 25 years old when Taliban militants stormed Kabul and her family was forced to flee to neighbouring Pakistan to escape what they knew would be a brutal regime.

Pakistan’s Tribal Areas Demand Repatriation of Afghan Refugees

They number between two and three million; some have lived in makeshift shelters for just a few months, while others have roots that stretch much further back into history. Most fled to escape war, others simply ran away from joblessness.

Pakistan’s Return to Death Penalty Contravenes International Treaties

Pakistan’s announcement that it has lifted the moratorium on the death penalty in response to the Dec. 16 attack on the Army Public School and College in Peshawar continues to draw severe criticism from human rights groups, which say that this contravenes international treaties signed by Pakistan.

School Dropout Rate Soars for Afghan Refugees

“Our children quitting school is the greatest pain we have suffered during our troublesome lives here,” says Multan Shah, a vegetable-seller in a shantytown of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of Pakistan's four provinces.

Reinstatement of Pakistan’s Death Penalty a Cynical Reaction, Says Amnesty

As Pakistan lifts its moratorium on executions in response to this week’s attack on a school in  Peshawar, human rights groups say that resuming the death penalty will not combat terrorism in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Paraplegics Learning to Stand on their Own Feet

When a stray bullet fired by Taliban militants became lodged in her spine last August, 22-year-old Shakira Bibi gave up all hopes of ever leading a normal life.

Pakistani Sikhs Back in the ‘Dark Ages’ of Religious Persecution

Balwan Singh, an 84-year-old shopkeeper living in Pakistan’s northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, is well past retirement age, but any illusions he may have had about living out his golden years in peace and security have long since been dashed.

Choosing Between Death and Death in Pakistan

Residents of the Khyber Agency, one of seven administrative districts that comprise northern Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), are in the worst possible predicament: either course of action they choose now, they say, could result in death.

In Pakistan’s Tribal Areas, a Nobel Prize Is a ‘Ray of Hope’

For girls living in northern Pakistan’s sprawling tribal regions, the struggle for education began long before that fateful day when members of the Taliban shot a 15-year-old schoolgirl in the head, and will undoubtedly continue for many years to come.

Displacement Spells Danger for Pregnant Women in Pakistan

Imagine traveling for almost an entire day in the blistering sun, carrying all your possessions with you. Imagine fleeing in the middle of the night as airstrikes reduce your village to rubble. Imagine arriving in a makeshift refugee camp where there is no running water, no bathrooms and hardly any food. Now imagine making that journey as a pregnant woman.

Where Women Don’t Work

Saleema Bibi graduated from medical school 15 years ago – but to this day, the 40-year-old resident of Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, has never been able to practice as a professional.

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