Game of Thrones in the Land of Drones

Posted August 23rd, 2016 at 8:47 pm (UTC+0)
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By Niala Mohammad

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If you are not addicted to Game of Thrones, you’ve at least heard about the popular fantasy drama series and its catchy theme song. The young men of Khumariyaan have given new life to Ramin Djawadi’s composition by adapting the GoT theme song to a Pashtun beat. This track is quickly becoming a hit among the younger generations of Pashtuns in the “Land of Drones”.

The HBO television series has become a craze worldwide, captivating audiences in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Obsessed fans in the region are looking for ways (both legally and illegally) to stream the show in order to keep up with the six season series.

The Game of Thrones television series is an adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s sequence novels. The story-line of the show revolves around competing claimants for succession to the “Iron Throne”. The theme of the series resonates well with Pashtun audiences who are similarly entrenched in tribal competitions and battles for succession. Fan-followings often draw comparisons between characters in the show and Pashtun men.

Pashtun youth have generated memes comparing Game of Thrones characters such as Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow to locals and celebrities like Fawad Khan.

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Khumariyaan’s self proclaimed “Jon Snow”, and avid Game of Thrones fan Sparlay Rawail explained to VOA Deewa, “it was fairly easy [to adapt the song], it’s not actually on the 7 beat cycle that Pashto music normally is on, just the regular 6 beat cycle. But we’ve made it sound like it’s the Pashto beat.

The young men of Khumariyaan were able adapt the theme song of Game of Thrones so naturally to their native orchestra that the instrumental track has become addicting to listen to.

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Listen to Khumariyaan’s Cover to the Game of Thrones theme song here:

Pakistan: One State, Different Narratives

Posted August 14th, 2016 at 7:23 pm (UTC+0)
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Taliban Fighters
By Pir Wilayat Shah and Iftikhar Hussain

Pakistan’s powerful Army Chief General Raheel Sharif warned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government, in the aftermath of Quetta’s massacre, that lack of proper implementation of the National Action Plan would result in serious consequences. The General said, “Establishing long term peace and stability in Pakistan would remain a ‘distant dream’ unless all stakeholders deliver meaningfully on the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism”.

The General’s remarks were indirectly responded to by Punjab Province’s Law Minister, Rana Sanullah. He stated, “If the criticism against military can take us away from our target, in the same fashion, criticism of our civilian institutions and law enforcement agencies can take us away from our objectives”. The ping pong approach to the shift in blame blatantly exposes the gaps in the Pakistani civilian-military approach in the fight against terrorism.

Gaps in Pak Civilian-Military Approach to Terrorism

Discrepancies in the Pakistan civilian-military approach to confronting terrorism and terrorists in the country has long been debated by independent analysts, who have viewed the policy with concerns. To analysts the reasons are obvious, the stakes for fighting terrorism are different for the military and civilian government are different.

Pakistan’s leading analysts caution on the widening gap between the state and military institutions. Most worrisome for them is perhaps their view of how Pakistan continuously insists that there is a distinction between good and bad Taliban. Meanwhile, Nawaz government is criticized by his opponents for failing to take action against extremist groups within in his home province of Punjab.

Although they share the same surnames, the two Sharifs hardly share the same views on terrorism apart from acknowledging it is a severe issue and shifting the blame on foreign entities. In the aftermath of the Quetta massacre both General Sharif and Prime Minister Sharif stated that a “foreign hand is involved,”

One State, Different Narratives

Former Pakistan Army General and leading security analyst, Talat Masood dubs the army stance that the civilian government is selectively pursuing the 20 point National Action Plan. “The army chief wants to put pressure on the civilian set up to make it more pro-active against the menace of terrorism”, says Talat Masood. General Masood says if the blame game continues, the gap between the two institutions can widen further.

However, Pakistan’s military campaign against terrorism in the tribal region titled, Zarbe- Azb has also come under serious scrutiny following the Quetta attack.

Pakistan Senate Chairman, Raza Rabbani, a respected voice within the Pakistani political scene, equaled Pakistan’s state approach to eliminating terrorism as ‘fire-fighting’; the state puts out one fire and then waits for the next fire to erupt. He called for changing the fundamentals of the strategy after the bloody Quetta massacre. Raza Rabbani’s sentiments on Pakistan’s policy on terrorism are echoed both in Pakistan and abroad.

Pakistan’s Counterterrorism Plan

Pakistan National Action Plan is a concise 20-point plan of action that PM Sharif’s government devised in the aftermath of Peshawar school massacre by terrorist outfit Tehreek Taliban Pakistan in December 2014. Analyst Zahid Hussain believes that selective implementation of the national action plan has yielded very limited results. “Hate material is still easily available in the country and the government claims of arresting thousands of terrorists under national security cannot be verified independently”.

Nawaz Sharif’s Punjab Problem

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif draws his political power from his home land Punjab, the largest province in Pakistan. His government is accused of inaction against Punjab based terrorists such as, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Analysts say inaction against militants, or simply the lack of it, in Punjab will diminish any gains operation Zarb-e-Azb’s has achieved. Their view. is that the root causes of extremism lay in Punjab and unless a decisive action is taken into action, counterterrorism efforts elsewhere will not be able to yield results.

‘Pakistan’s Enabling Environment is the Perfect Cultivation Ground for Extremism’

Michael Kugelman of Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington DC says an enabling environment in Pakistan allows terrorists to remain resilient. kugelman told VOA Deewa, “The issue here is the environment, the climate continues to be conducive for terrorists. You have the types of narratives, the types of ideologies that drive militancy and terror. This messaging coming from clerics, that appears in school text books, that you quite frankly hear on the television that talks about how India, the US and Israel are trying to surround and harm Pakistan and Islam. These are narratives that are everywhere across society in Pakistan. And these are the types of narratives that terrorists are able to act upon violently”.

Where is Pakistan Heading on Terrorism?

Experts think the more pressing issue at hand are the differences in the state and the military’s priorities. Both institutions are eager to pursue their own interests in the fight against terrorism. Regardless of what each side might say of its success, the nation is caught in a bloody quagmire due to institutional ambivalence. The nation bleeds and the ethnic Pashtun, Baloch, and Sindhis are the innocent bystanders of terrorism as the stakes of peace remain amidst disparities between the military and civilian government of Pakistan.

**Niala Mohammad contributing editor

“Pakistan’s Enabling Environment Makes Terrorists Resilient” -Michael Kugelman

Posted August 11th, 2016 at 8:39 pm (UTC+0)
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Kugelman
Michael Kugelman, a senior associate at the Woodrow Wilson

By Iftikhar Hussain and Niala Mohammad

Michael Kugelman, a senior associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington D.C. and a leading expert on Pakistan. Kugelman says that militants in Pakistan are resilient due to the enabling environment of extremism. Following the Quetta suicide attack, Michael Kugelman spoke with VOA Deewa on the continuous militant attacks within Pakistan, limited impact of Pakistan’s campaign against terrorism, the military’s anti-India approach, and its policy of distinguishing between good and bad Taliban. The interview with Kugelman was done by VOA’s Iftikhar Hussain. Following is a complete transcript of the Michael Kugelman’s interview:

Question: Your recent WSJ piece “Hospital Bombing in Quetta, Pakistan, Fits Pattern of Terror Attacks on ‘Soft Targets'” gives an interesting insight to why militants thrive in Pakistan. Could you elaborate on those reasons for our audience?

Kugelman Answer:  I think it’s very simple why Pakistan continues to suffer from terrorism even after two years of a heavy military offensive in North Waziristan. The issue here, the environment, the climate continues to be conducive for terrorists. You have the types of narratives, the types of ideologies that drive militancy and terror. This messaging coming from clerics, that appears in school text books, that you quite frankly hear on the television that talks about how India, the US and Israel are trying to surround and harm Pakistan and Islam. These are narratives that are everywhere across society in Pakistan. And these are the types of narratives that terrorists are able to act upon violently. So, you have that on the one hand and then of course the other issue is that you have a Pakistani state that continues to distinguish between so called good and so called bad militants. And it only goes after the terrorists that launch attacks in Pakistan. You have plenty of terror groups inside Pakistan like Lashkar e Taiba and the Haqqani network that don’t attack Pakistan they attack other places, other countries.

All of these terrorist groups regardless of who they target, they are all cut from the same cloth, and they all want to do terrible things. And most importantly you have members of these diff orgs that go back and forth between the other. This comes back to what I was saying earlier, that the climate and the environment in Pakistan is simply so enabling for extremism and allows terrorism to flourish. This is why you can kill so many terrorists as Pakistan has. And yet until you kill the ideology that drives these terrorists you are not going to make terrorism go away.

Question: Pakistan’s military chief Gen Raheel Sharif visited Quetta following the massacre stated that the attack was “an effort to destabilize CPEC”.  This statement was widely criticized because terrorism was already in existence in the region and attacks had occurred prior to CPEC being launched in the province. Why do you think General Sharif he devised his statement as such?

Kugelman Answer: I think it was really inconsiderate and inappropriate of the Pakistani military to essentially suggest that this attack was meant to sabotage CPEC and to undermine the improved security environment to sabotage CPEC. I mean, let’s face it, Baluchistan was not exactly a stable place before this attack happened. The military by pitching its argument that way, by saying this was meant to sabotage CPEC that allows the military to really subtly accuse India of being behind this attack. Because the Pakistani army for several months has been accusing India for trying to sabotage this CPEC. And of course CPEC is very important for the Pakistani military. So essentially what you have here is the Pakistani security establishment has been resorting to the same type of blame game and denial that it has so many times. It simply refuses to acknowledge that there are forces inside Pakistan that continue to have the ability to launch horrific mass causality attacks.

A group like Jamat ul Ahrar its status or connection to the Taliban is unclear. At one point it had broken off I think it is still a part of the TTP, but the bottom line is that even after two years of military offenses in North Waziristan you have a terror group like Jamat ur Ahrar that is able to stage mass causality attacks across the country as its done in the Lahore park attack, its attacked, it’s gone after churches. This is a group that staged at least 10 attacks over the last year or so. It has a lot of ability to get things done, and if the army were to acknowledge that, then it would essentially be admitting that the military has not eliminated the all of the major threats, the terrorist threats to the Pakistani state. So instead it simply resorts to the usual blaming of India and blaming outside forces which is not very helpful and of course is not very accurate.

Question: Pakistan’s anti-terrorism policy has not delivered. To put it in the words of Pakistan’s Senate Chairman, Raza Rabbani “it’s like fire-fighting, the state puts out one fire and then waits for the next fire to erupt.” What type of strategy does the state of Pakistan need in order to yield results?

Kugelman Answer: I would actually agree with what Senator Rabani has had to say in this regard that Pakistan really does need a strategy, it needs a very clear strategy, a very specific strategy that lays out exactly what’s going to happen and when. But on the other hand Pakistan has come up with strategies, plenty of strategies, Pakistan has developed all kinds of policies and measures to deal with terrorism. One of the more prominent ones in recent years was the National Action Plan (NAP), which was a 20 point agenda for dealing with terrorism and violent extremism. The problem is that the measures laid out in that NAP have not been followed up on, they really haven’t been implemented. And this is the crux of the problem, I think that devising the right strategy is hard enough but the issue of implementing, and overseeing and enforcing various aspects of implementation are the challenge. And quite frankly it’s perfectly nice to have this 20 point plan that talks about the need to criminalize hate speech to remove hardline extremist narratives but, actually getting that done is very difficult. And in Pakistan the reason why it’s so hard to get that done is that you have very powerful interests such as those that I had mentioned earlier, religious forces and even elements of the state that really don’t have interest. They don’t want these enabling environments to be eliminated because let’s face you could argue that the state in Pakistan derives some benefit from propagating these hardline narratives about India and all because it essentially portrays India to threat which therefore gives the military legitimacy to essentially have a big role in the state in Pakistan to protect the country from India.

So, I would argue that the big problem and the big challenge for Pakistan is not as much with developing policies and strategies but actually implementing them and following through on them. And for that to be done you’re going to need some whole sale changes in state policy. One being the need to essentially reject all forms of terrorism and its practitioners.

 

Afghan Fashion Designer Set to Rock Paris Fashion Week

Posted June 7th, 2016 at 4:25 pm (UTC+0)
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By Niala Mohammad

Although his first collection was named “Culture Clash”, Nawed Zazai does quite the opposite. He harmoniously blends Western cuts and Eastern patterns and proudly displays the combination of his two worlds on one palette.

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Nawed Zazai is an ethnic Pashtun from Paktia province in Afghanistan. He moved to the Netherlands from Kabul at the age of 14 and has not returned since. Amsterdam is his home, but it is the memories of his homeland and his people that are the root of his creativity.

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The fashion designer told VOA Deewa, “I’ve always loved fashion and having unique style”, his distinctive style alone is evidence of this statement. Nawed is one of those designers that you want to copy. His style is so edgy and unique that it captures your attention instantaneously.

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Photo Courtesy: Debra Barraud

Zazai’s western men’s fashion line showcases distinct features of his traditional Afghan background.  He reinvents the traditional shamal (turban), pakool (wool hat) and saadar/paatu (shawl) in a way that makes the Western world want to “rock Afghan wear”.

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Nawed learned how to make clothes himself (sew, stitch and cut patterns) via the internet by watching videos. He stated, “I don’t like sewing, and I’m not a tailor by trade but I had to learn in order to create the specific look I wanted.” He also admitted, “Yes, I have messed up and ruined my clothes several times” in the trial and error process. But that didn’t stop this innovative young designer from reaching his goal, which is to portray the softer side of Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan is often linked to several negative conceptions such as war, extremism, poverty, etc. Hardly anyone thinks to link Afghanistan and fashion together, but Nawed Zazai intends to change that.

Zazai Design 2

Nawed’s aim is to revamp the image of Afghanistan and Afghans in the world through his bold designs. Zazai states, “instead of automatically associating us with war and the Taliban, people will start to link us with something more positive.”

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The designer will be featuring his new line at Paris Fashion Week on July 6th, where he intends to send a powerful message about Afghanistan.

 

Photos courtesy of Nawed Zazai & Zazai Design 

Mother by Abaseen Yusafzai

Posted May 7th, 2016 at 5:51 pm (UTC+0)
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Translated by Niala Mohammad 

 
My home is heaven because of you, you are my angel,

your life is an example for all to follow, you are the sustenance of life


And if I were to be what would I become without you

I live in comfort today because of your blessings

I remember your sadness, I remember your worry

You prayed for me all night, I recall those nights

You turned me into a flower and yourself into dust, you are the scent of spring breeze


My home is heaven because of you, you are my angel,

your life is an example for all to follow, you are the sustenance of life

Whenever I was sick, I remember the tears you shed

When I faced difficulties, I saw your heart ache

It is my responsibility to fulfill your every wish, but how will I ever fulfill this?

How will I go through life if, God forbid, you are not here by my side

God forbid, the day should come when I am here but you are no longer with me

My home is a heaven because of you, you are my angel,

your life is an example for all to follow, you are the sustenance of my life

From the moment I started crawling, you taught me about life

The fond memories I have sitting in your lap

When tears began to fill my eyes, your soul would fill with worry

In every pain and in every difficulty you are my strength


My home is heaven because of you, you are my angel,

your life is an example for all to follow, you are the sustenance of life

You raised me, you taught me every beautiful thing in life

If I am proud, it is because Allah made me your child

I will never hurt you, I will shed my blood for you

You enlightened me, you are the light in my path

My home is heaven because of you, you are my angel,

your life is an example for all to follow, you are the sustenance of life

Tell me- should I go up in smoke for you, or turn the world into smoke for you

I would sacrifice my wealth and gold for you, I would sacrifice my life for you

I will sacrifice my poetry and my existence for you

If it were permissible to worship you, then you would be my Ka’bah


My home is heaven because of you, you are my angel,

your life is an example for all to follow, you are the sustenance of life

If I compare you in the realm of beauty, you are more beautiful than anyone

Despite the hardships you face in life, people only recall your pampered past

You would not hesitate to spill your blood for me

You are worthy of every praise, you lack not a thing

My home is heaven because of you, you are my angel,

your life is an example for all to follow, you are the sustenance of life

If I wrote my whole life, I would never be able to finish your praise

Only a mother’s love is sweet, you will never find this love from a father

I pray that everyone gives you respect

God made you a miracle in my life

My home is heaven because of you, you are my angel,

your life is an example for all to follow, you are the sustenance of life


This poet would sacrifice himself for you

You are a great inspiration

 

My home is heaven because of you, you are my angel,

your life is an example for all to follow, you are the sustenance of life

US Calls for Dr. Afridi’s Release Further Tests Ties With Islamabad

Posted May 2nd, 2016 at 7:31 pm (UTC+0)
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Dr Shakil Afridi
By Iftikhar Hussain and Ihsan Mohammad Khan
With the fifth anniversary of Al-Qaeda Chief Osama Bin Laden killing in Pakistan Abbottabad city, US lawmakers are renewing their call on Pakistan to free Dr. Shakeel Afridi, the surgeon who helped CIA track OBL.

Dr. Afridi was arrested following the US Navy Seals raid of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011. Dr. Afridi was first accused of treason for working for a foreign intelligence service, CIA. But later he was sentenced to a jail term over charges that he had ties with an Islamic militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam, in his native Khyber tribal area.

Dr Afridi life inside prison

Dr. Shakeel Afridi is in a high-security prison in Peshawar but his life is in a complete blackout. A narrow journalistic peek into his restricted life behind the bars shows that he was being held in virtual isolation, only jail authorities and intelligence officials have free access to him. His occasional meetings with family are kept secret.

Family Visits

“Nobody, even me, except his wife and three children (have) occasional access” to Shakil Afridi, his lawyer Qmar Nadeem Afridi, told VOA Deewa. The jailed doctor and the lawyer are not relations. They share the same common last name Afridi because they both belong to a larger tribe with the same name.

Dr. Shakil gets visits by his wife and two teenage sons once every two months. But his lawyer said he does not get any updates about his client because the family lives in hiding and incommunicado. “His family used to live in Peshawar but now their whereabouts are not known. They avoid meeting anybody. I do not know that his three teenage kids goes to school or not”, his lawyer Qamer Nadeem told VOA Deewa over the phone.

Dr Afridi case status

Dr. Afridi was arrested a few days after the killing of OBL. Initially Pakistani officials accused him of collaborating with a foreign intelligence service, CIA. He is suspected of running a fake anti-hepatitis campaign in the vicinity of OBL Abbottabad compound, part of efforts to collect DNA samples to confirm bin Laden’s identity.

He was later handed over to authorities of his native tribal area and a government administrator of Khyber, who adjudicated his case, sentenced him to 33 years in prison, under the Frontier Crimes Regulations, a set of rules dating back to the region’s British colonial rule. On an appeal, his sentence was reduced to 23 years. Qamar Nadeem Afridi said he is seeking that his jail term be dismissed but the case has not moved forward since 2012.

US stance on Dr. Afridi case

Dr. Afridi case has become a litmus test for the shaky US Pak relations. A furious US senate committee voted to cut aid to Islamabad by $33 million — $1 million for each year of his original sentence.

“The aid cut threat will not work, diplomatic efforts are needed by the US and that is the only way to Dr. Afridi can be released”, says Qamar Nadeem,

The United States’ ultra-secretive Central Intelligence Agency tweeted the details of an operation that killed a top terrorist leader Sunday, drawing thousands of retweets and likes from apparent supporters while others responded with criticism that ranged from “please don’t” to “WTF?”

Lawyer’s Perils

Before, Qamar Nadeem, took up Dr. Shakil’s case, another lawyer for the doctor has been killed.
Unidentified gunmen attacked Dr Afridi first lawyer Samiullah Afridi, in his car near the city of Peshawar in March last year. Qamar Nadeem, talking of any threat to his life told VAO Deewa, “I am cautious but do not think any threat to my life at the moment”.

Pakistan stance
Pakistani officials were outraged by the bin Laden operation, which led to international suspicion that they had been harboring Al Qaeda’s founder.
On Monday, Pakistani authorities rejected a call by visiting US congressional staff delegation to release Dr. Afridi, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported.

The Scholarship Guide for Pakistani & Afghan Youth

Posted March 22nd, 2016 at 3:24 pm (UTC+0)
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By Niala Mohammad

Many young men and women in Afghanistan and Pakistan aspire to come to America or other foreign countries in hopes of better opportunities, however some lack the financial means to do so and ultimately become discouraged from having such hopes. But coming to America is not a far-fetched dream, in fact it is very attainable for students and young-career professionals…and in most cases it is fully-funded.

The United States Department of State offers several different scholarship and fellowship programs that allow students, young professionals, sportsman, journalists, teachers and scholars to come to America for various opportunities.  The U.S. Department of State encourages aspirants from Pakistan and Afghanistan to apply to the various programs offered to them. Pakistan and Afghanistan are both active participants in these initiatives.

Scholarship

VOA Deewa recently spoke with U.S. State Department Scholarship and Fellowship recipients, Aslam Kakar (from Pishin, Baluchistan Province), Kashif Rehman (from Pusht-e-Khera Payan, Peshawar, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa) and Rafiullah Kakar (from Killa Abdullah, Baluchistan). They were able to guide VOA Deewa listeners in the Af-Pak border region through the State Department scholarship/fellowship application process.

Former Fulbright Global Undergraduate Exchange Program Scholar & Rhodes Scholar Rafiullah Kakar told VOA Deewa, “Youth from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan are highly encouraged to apply….and females from these areas are especially encouraged to apply.” Rafiullah said that the number one mistake most people make in the application process is waiting till the last minute to write their personal statements. In fact, Rafiullah provides guidance to many students who wish to apply for scholarship programs through a career counseling initiative. He currently works at The Commonwealth Secretariat in the UK in the Youth Division, Policy and Research Section.

Having strong political ties and being financially well-off are not the criteria for selection. Hard work, dedication to education and commitment to make a change in your region are the main factors for selection. Aslam Kakar, a Fulbright Global Undergraduate Exchange Program and Fulbright Graduate Program scholar told VOA Deewa, “My father was a truck driver in Pishin, after he passed away my mother raised us on her own.” Aslam graduated from the Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego. He is an Education Consultant at the Oxford Institute and contributing writer /editor at the Pak Tea House.

There are also programs for working professionals, mid-level career professionals and teachers. Kashif Rehman is a recent recipient of the Legislative Fellows Program also funded by the US Department of State – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He learned about and applied for this program via www.worldlearning.org .

Kashif Rehman is from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and is affiliated with the development sector. He received his Masters in International Relations from the University of Peshawar. Kashif is the head of an all female household. Being the only male is his immediate family, he is a huge proponent of women’s rights and has encouraged his sisters to apply for various scholarships. Kashif Rehman told VOA Deewa, “There is no limit on how many times you can apply or how many programs you can apply to. It is essential that we push the women in our lives to apply for such opportunities.” 

 

Fulbright Scholarship information:

Afghanistan: http://eca.state.gov/fulbright/country/afghanistan

Pakistan: http://eca.state.gov/fulbright/country/pakistan

Information on various exchange programs via the U.S. Department of State: http://exchanges.state.gov/non-us

The United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan:  http://www.usefpakistan.org/

How to Write a Personal Statement, courtesy of Rafiullah Kakar: http://www.slideshare.net/rafiullahkakar9/how-to-write-a-50281029

The Wall of Kindness makes its way to Peshawar

Posted February 18th, 2016 at 10:25 pm (UTC+0)
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By Niala Mohammad & Dawood Jabarkhail 

A social phenomenon that started in Iran has made its way to Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.

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Peshawarites were inspired by a video on social media that enabled people to place items that they no longer need such as clothes, shoes, blankets and other goods on a wall so that those in need could make use of it.

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The concept has spread like wildfire throughout Pakistan. One of the initiators of this program, Asad Ali Lodhi, told Voice of America Deewa, “Our mission is to spread kindness. We want to minimize the gap between the rich and poor.”  The initiative fosters humanism and compassion in an environment that is riddled with economic and social hardships.

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One of the beneficiaries of the wall of kindness, works as a servant in a nearby bungalow in Hayatabad, a posh area in the suburbs of Peshawar, told VOA Deewa, “If someone gives me a pair of clothes, I will pray for them. I’m poor, I have nothing else to give in return for their kindness.”

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The ThrillSeekerz of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa

Posted February 2nd, 2016 at 5:55 pm (UTC+0)
2 comments

 

 

By Niala Mohammad 

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Faiza Rehman (of Pusht-e-Khera Payan, Peshawar) , Sahibzada Anees (of Topi, Swabi District), Muhammad Ammar (of Tangi, Charsadda District), and Yasawal Ahmad (of Peshawar City) are the founders of “Thrill Seekerz”, a club that started in 2013, in response to the terrorism effecting the youth of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.

Thrill Seekerz people

This club is registered with the Association of Experiential Education in America and was recently granted a project by the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Government-Department of Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs to conduct training’s and excursions.The club was a student initiative that began at the IMSciences in Peshawar and then branched out to other universities, then schools, and later the general population of  Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.

In an exclusive interview with VOA Deewa, Faiza Rehman, the female coordinator for Thrill Seekerz stated, “Thrill Seekerz, do not just seek thrills, we are fully equipped and give training to citizens of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa in self-defense, disaster management, Rescue 1122, first aid, hostile environment training, and shooting.

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The Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Government-Department of Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs will provide funding to Thrill Seekerz in response to the Army Public School  attack on December 16, 2014-last year and the recent Bacha Khan University attack on January 20, 2016.

Thrill SeekerzThrill Seekerz Shooting

The club also organizes and conducts field-trips and activities throughout Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province such as rafting, skiing, aerial shooting, marksmanship, cliff diving, swimming, trekking, hiking, camping, zip-lining, basic mountain craft, etc..

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Thrill Seekerz explore uncharted territories of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province and allow participants to gain appreciation for the natural beauty in their region. They venture out on excursions that allow you to see beyond the typical tourist attractions.

Nathya Gali, Thrill Seekerz

Participants of all ages are encouraged join and take back possession their province from the hands of extremists.

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Most importantly this program helps participants gain self-confidence and allows them to conquer their fears. The female coordinator for the program and co-founder Faiza Rehman actively motivates Pashtun girls in participating in adventurous activities because “it eliminates fear” and prepares girls in facing life head on.

DSC_0263Little Thrill Seekerz

 

 

Check them out on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ThrillSeekerzClub?fref=ts

Link to interview with VOA Deewa: http://www.voadeewaradio.com/audio/3145128.html

 

Machos Vs Women-Who shall cast vote?

Posted May 14th, 2015 at 7:36 pm (UTC+0)
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madrassa1
Behroz Khan
The women in Pakistan’s remote Dir town of Pakhtunkhwa province are standing up to what their men did to them in a recent election for the provincial legislative body. The machos there, left and right, barred around 47,000 women from casting votes in the election following their tribal instincts. And the beneficiary is, no one else, but a member of radical Jama’at-e-Islami_a party that has publicly supported al-Qaeda and Taliban.
This is also unprecedented that the Election Commission of Pakistan has taken up several petitions filed by individuals, civil society groups and even the Parliamentary Committee on Election Reforms recommended that if a certain percentage of women fail to cost votes in a constituency, the results should be declared null and void. The controversy emerged after the far right Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and the secular Awami National Party (ANP) together with others were blamed for barring women to poll votes in the by-elections of KP-95, Dir Lower. The ECP has so far withheld the result of the by-polls.
The provincial assembly seat fell vacant when Jamaat’s chief Siraj-ul-Haq chose to contest for the Senate and vacated his hometown constituency. According to the un-official results of the by-elections, JI’s Aizaz-ul-Mulk Afkari polled 18711 votes while ANP’s Bahadur Khan secured 16403 votes. Siraj-ul-Haq got more than 22000 votes in the 2013 general elections from the same constituency and Bahadur Khan lagged behind at about 11000 votes. Not a single woman was allowed to vote as the candidates held Jirga and reached a verbal agreement to keep the women away from polling booths.
The first petition was filed with ECP by ANP former parliamentarian Bushra Gohar, who was criticized by political opponents on the grounds that she approached the Election Commission after her party lost the polls to JI.
“I would have knocked at the doors of ECP even if ANP was a winner in the by-polls,” Bushra Gohar told VOA Deewa.
She was the guest of Deewa at Wagma Jalawan’s weekly show, Mirmano Ghag. Bushra Gohar together with other party activists forced ANP’s leadership to take action against 12 party workers who had signed a similar agreement with other parties in the previous elections at Shangla, the ancestral town of the Nobel Peace laureate and girls education world champion Malala Yousafzai.
“I even raised the issue on the floor of the National Assembly when our party winning candidate from Kohistan was blamed for barring women from polls,” she explained.
“This is a violation of the constitution and snatching the rights of women by men. We want to make sure that no such deals and agreements, either verbal or otherwise are taking place in the forthcoming Local Government (LG) elections,” said another civil society activist, Shad Begum. From Dir, Shad Begum is the recipient of the US State Department 2012 International Women of Courage Award.
Women activists fear men might deprive them from votes in the coming LG polls in Pakhtunkhwa province. Polls are scheduled on May 30, 2015.
Bushra Gohar was happy with the development and said that all the contesting candidates, the provincial chief secretary, the district returning officer and the election staff have been summoned by the ECP to explain how women failed to turn up at the polling stations. This is also reported that separate polling stations were not set up for women as the election staff had prior information that the Jirga has decided to bar women from costing votes.
The demand of the petitioners from the ECP is either to nullify the results of the by-polls altogether or arrange the polling booths throughout the constituency to enable women to cost their vote.
“We hope that Chief Election Commissioner, Sardar Raza will take action and will not allow this unconstitutional step to take precedence,” said Bushra Gohar.
The Chief Election Commissioner is a former Supreme Court Judge and enjoys a good reputation. His decision will be a landmark judgement. It will either stop the patriarchal trends in Pakistan’s elections for ever or will further suppress women’s say in the affairs of the state.

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