Nasser Boladai is the spokesperson of the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran (CNFI), an umbrella movement aimed at expanding support for a secular, democratic and federal Iran. IPS spoke with him in Geneva, where he was invited to speak at a recent conference on Human Rights and Global Perspectives in his native Balochistan region.
If you are reading this article, consider yourself one of the lucky ones; lucky enough to have received an education, or to be secure in the knowledge that your child will receive one. Lucky enough to be literate in a world where – more often than not – the ability to read and write can mean the difference between a decent life and abject poverty.
Balochistan, divided by the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, is a vast swathe of land the size of France. It boasts enormous deposits of gas, gold and copper, untapped sources of oil and uranium, as well as a thousand kilometres of coastline near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz.
When a group of women in the remote village of Sadhuraks in Pakistan’s Thar Desert, some 800 km from the port city of Karachi, were asked if they would want to be born a woman in their next life, the answer from each was a resounding ‘no’.
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.
Sumaira Salamat, a mother of three in her mid-40s, works every day from ten in the morning until half-past two in the afternoon. She travels between three homes, and in each one she dusts, sweeps, washes utensils, and does the laundry. For her efforts, she earns about 3,000 rupees (29 dollars) per month.
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.