As a wave of outrage, crossing Pakistan’s national borders, continues a month after the Dec. 16 attack on a school in the northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, some citizens are turning away from collective expressions of anger, and beginning the hard work of building grassroots alternatives to terrorism and militancy.
The main entrance to the Civil Hospital in Mithi, headquarters of the Tharparkar district in Pakistan’s southern Sindh Province, is blocked by a couple of men clad in traditional dress and turbans. They are trying to console a woman who is sobbing so heavily she has to gasp for breath.She lost her two-year-old son just moments ago and these men, both relations of hers, were the ones to carry the child into the hospital where doctors tried – and failed – to save him.
Just a couple of yards away, a team of paramedics waits for the shell-shocked family to move on. They understand that the mother is in pain, but scenes like this have become a matter of routine for them: for the last two months they have witnessed dozens of people, mostly infants, die from starvation, unable to withstand the fierce drought that continues to grip this region.The death toll hit 650 at the close of 2014, but continues to rise in the New Year as scant food stocks wither away and cattle belonging to herding communities perish under the blistering sun.Among the dead are three-week-old Ramesh; four-month-old twin girls named Resham and Razia; and the yet-unnamed sons of a couple who are inconsolable after the passing of their newborn children.Edited by Kanya D’Almeida
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.
The main entrance to the Civil Hospital in Mithi, headquarters of the Tharparkar district in Pakistan’s southern Sindh Province, is blocked by a couple of men clad in traditional dress and turbans. They are trying to console a woman who is sobbing so heavily she has to gasp for breath.
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 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.
“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.
At the height of the Cold War the world’s total arsenal of nuclear weapons, counted as explosive potential, may have amounted to three million Hiroshima bombs. The United States alone possessed 1.6 million Hiroshimas’ worth of destructive capacity.
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.
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.
If you want to know what ‘sea traffic’ looks like, just go down to the Karachi Harbour. Built in 1959, the dockyard houses close to 2,000 big and small boats anchored in the grey sludge at the edge of Pakistan’s southern port city, which opens into the Arabian Sea.