Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has been making sure that all foreign dignitaries visiting the country get their hands dirty. With a shovel and a watering can, they are invited to plant a tree for one of the largest reforestation initiatives in the world — the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme or TBTTP.
October 13 began like any other day at the Lal house as Raja Lal and his wife Rita Raja left for work at 7:30 am.
"I made the usual breakfast of anda paratha (egg and flat bread) and told my eldest to lock the door from inside," Raja, who works as an ayah in a school, told IPS. Their 13-year old daughter, the youngest of their four children, did not go to school that day as her school shoes no longer fit and her parents hadn’t bought her a new pair yet.
Little did they know that that day was the beginning of a nightmare for the Lal household. Their daughter would then allegedly be "abducted, forcefully converted and married in just one day”, Lal, a Christian, told IPS.
Unpredictable weather patterns in the form of excessive or prolonged rainfall are wreaking havoc for farmers across Pakistan as sowing and harvesting periods are severely affected.
Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, the coordinator for Pakistan’s National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, has sleepless nights thinking about what needs to be done for his country to eradicate polio.
"He struck his head, his side, his stomach and went on hitting him. When Hunain said he could not breathe, the teacher slammed him against the wall, saying, 'Being dramatic are we?’" This is the eye witness account from a classmate of 17-year-old Pakistani student, Hunain Bilal, who was allegedly beaten to death by his teacher after he failed to memorise his lessons.
At the southern end of Pakistan’s Sindh-Balochistan border near the Kirthar mountain range, Sindh’s Kachho desert has witnessed an unprecedented surge in the use of solar-powered tubewells for groundwater extraction in agriculture.
Gulab Shah, 45, is having sleepless nights. He and his family are worried about their imminent migration from their village in Jhaloo to a major city in Pakistan, thanks to the continued ingress of sea water inland.
The new government in Pakistan has now been in office for over 100 days and has started work on its reform and socio-economic agenda. There is a growing realization that being in government is far more difficult than it first appeared, and that in order to move forward there is an urgent need to build national and international partnerships.
Despite the fact that Pakistan’s industrial and services sector continue to grow in importance, what happens in the agriculture sector remains critical to the performance of Pakistan’s economy and the wellbeing of its people.
"If I'm assured that my home and my village has been de-mined, I'd be the first to return with my family," says 54-year old Mohammad Mumtaz Khan.
Sliced noses, broken ribs, fractured fingers, slashed arms, bruised and bloodied faces with teeth missing and eyes swollen... Sana Jawed, 30, has been witnessing these brutalities for over a decade.
Aimal Khan, 27, an airman in Pakistan's Air Force, warns the country will end up in the throes of mayhem if the state does not do something about the abuse of the blasphemy laws. "People will use it to settle personal scores," he said.
Amid a wave of reforms to tighten the country’s laws on honour killings and sexual assault, on Feb. 2, the Sindh Assembly passed a law making DNA testing in rape cases mandatory in the province.
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas located on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border remain one of the most perilous places in the world to be a reporter, with journalists walking a razor’s edge of violence and censorship.
In the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a number of medium and large-sized buses can be spotted transporting workers clad in company uniforms to distant worksites early in the morning. In the evening or, in certain cases, late at night, these workers are brought back to labour camps in the same buses.
Nabela Zainab no longer chokes and coughs when she cooks a meal, thanks to the new biogas-fueled two-burner stove in her kitchen.
At an open market in the district of Mehmoodabad in Karachi, Miss Bindiya Rana, 35, starts another day at work selling clothes. Living in one of the poorer parts of the city, like many others here she faces a daily struggle to make ends meet. Yet, of strong build with dyed hair and wearing heavy make-up, she and others like her face a bigger challenge than most.
Trudging barefoot on his two-acre piece of land, 57-year-old Mukhtar Ahmad has little hope of growing any crops this year due to the sudden dry spell that has struck Kashmir’s winter.
Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is widely viewed as one of the world's most dangerous places to be a journalist, with at least 14 killed since 2005 and a dozen of those cases still unsolved, according to local and international groups.
Of the 69 journalists who died on the job in 2015, 40 per cent were killed by Islamic militant groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Startlingly more than two-thirds were targeted for murder, according to a special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“We aren’t happy here but cannot go back to our country because the situation there was extremely bad,” Ghareeb Gul, Afghan refugees told IPS.