Stories written by Ashfaq Yusufzai

Smuggled Medicines Save Lives

They are contraband, yet a large number of Pakistanis have come to depend on drugs made in India and smuggled into Pakistan. Patients as well as doctors say these are cheap and effective, even as law enforcers look the other way.

Students Take On the Army

Disturbed by civilian casualties and moved by the plight of people living like refugees in their own country, students from Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are demanding an end to army operations against militants on their native soil.

Pakistan Caught Between Talking and Fighting

Whether to make war or peace with the Taliban has become a dilemma for the Pakistani government.

Nowhere to Come In From the Cold

As the temperature dips to zero degrees Celsius, a chill has set into the lives of people like 44-year-old Rasool Khan at the Jalozai camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Pakistan. Huddled in tiny tents, with just a plastic sheet over their heads and no heat, they pass sleepless nights in the bitter cold.

Playing Cricket, Praying for Peace

Afghanistan is rediscovering the joy of cricket. It is seen as a tool of progress, a means of entertainment, and a way to wean youth away from violence in a country that has been ravaged by conflict for more than 30 years.

The Right Note Hits Taliban

For many years they could not sing, dance or play their favourite instruments. The performing artists of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northern Pakistan lost their voice as the Taliban carried out terror attacks and banned music, calling it un-Islamic. But after tentative advances in recent months, the Pakistani province is alive with the sound of music once again.

Pakistan’s Polio Campaign Runs Into Taliban Wall

The Taliban are proving to be a huge stumbling block for Pakistan as the South Asian nation - one of only three remaining polio endemic countries in the world – tries to fight the crippling disease.

Democracy Gets an Electronic Boost

Elections in Pakistan have long been marred by allegations of fraud, but now one of its provinces is hoping to give democracy a boost with the help of technology. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the north of the country has given a thumbs up to the biometric voting machine.

Barren Fields Recover From Taliban

Ahmed Nawaz, a 55-year-old farmer in northwestern Pakistan’s Swat valley, rues the day the Taliban arrived in his beautiful land, known for its rolling mountains, lush fields and blossoming orchards. “The earth became barren,” he says.

Rebuilding Lives Skilfully

Farhat Bibi, 43, was left to fend for her three young sons after her husband was killed in a bomb attack in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) three years ago. A few days later, she landed at a camp for people displaced by violence. “The camp proved to be a blessing in disguise,” she says.

Doctor Abductions Leave Patients Helpless

Doctors in the Pakistani frontier provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are running scared after nearly 45 consultants were kidnapped for ransom this year. Police suspect that gangs enjoying the Taliban’s patronage are behind the abductions that are just a symptom of the many challenges the country faces as it battles terrorism, ethnic conflicts and sectarian divisions.


Drone Killings Show Numbers, Not Bodies

More than 300 U.S. drone attacks have killed 2,160 militants and 67 civilians in Pakistan since 2008, according to Pakistani defence ministry data. But people living in the affected areas are now questioning these figures, asking why they never get to know the names of the militants or see the bodies.

Aiming at NATO, Hitting Afghans

A blockade of NATO supplies to Afghanistan by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s party has ended up hitting Pakistan’s legal trade with its neighbour, say local traders and truckers.

Blocking NATO to Stop Drones

Upping the ante against U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, celebrated cricketer-turned-political leader Imran Khan has threatened to block NATO supplies to Afghanistan through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where his party leads a coalition government.

Poor Paths Lead to Madrassas

Mustafa Khan, who sells cigarettes by the roadside in a Pakistani village, has a simple reason for sending two of his sons to a madrassa, an Islamic seminary, and not to a proper school. “We cannot afford it,” he says.

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