VOA Deewa @ISNA

Posted September 9th, 2014 at 8:40 pm (UTC+0)
Leave a comment

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)  51st Annual Conference was held from August 29-September 1, 2014 at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. This year’s theme was-“Generations Rise: Elevating the Muslim American Culture”.

 

DSC_0526 DSC_0521

VOA Deewa & VOA Urdu teamed up to Interview the President of ISNA, Imam Mohamed Magid.

DSC_0612 DSC_0636 DSC_0661 DSC_0616

Thousands gathered to hear former U.S. President Jimmy Carter speak at ISNA.

DSC_0656

Imams, Muslim chaplains and Muslim leaders who represent Muslim communities across North America and beyond signed a declaration promoting respect and equality of women.

DSC_0675 DSC_0676

Nigerian delegation and VOA Deewa’s Niala Mohammad

DSC_0762 DSC_0723 DSC_0716 DSC_0710

Hundreds of protestors walked the streets of downtown Detroit chanting “Let Gaza Live”.

DSC_0529

ISNA’s Matrimonial Banquet registration line was packed!!  ISNA also provides a web-based online matrimonial service that helps Muslim men and women seek a spouse.

DSC_0501 DSC_0506

Prayers were held 5 times daily in the main hall.

DSC_0546 DSC_0547 DSC_0543 DSC_0542 DSC_0541 DSC_0515 DSC_0558 DSC_0575 DSC_0574 DSC_0559

The ISNA Bazaar had over 500 booths with vendors from all over the Muslim world selling clothes, art, books, jewelry, vitamins, perfumes, and much more. There were several halal food vendors and a mini-carnival with rides for children.

DSC_0776

Hundreds of informative sessions were held on everything from marriage to Islamic banking.

DSC_0846 DSC_0854

ISNA’s Entertainment night included comedian Azhar Usman and signer/songwriter Zeshan Badewadi.

DSC_0778 DSC_0686DSC_0536

 

Our colleague Shoab Zada  found Canada!!! Its a 10 minute ride from Detroit, Michigan to Windsor, Ontario, Canada across the bridge.

Will Indian Muslims listen to Ayman-Al –Zawahiri call?

Posted September 7th, 2014 at 5:12 pm (UTC+0)
1 comment

A photo of Al Qaeda's new leader, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, is seen in this still image taken from a video released on September 12, 2011
By Iftikhar Hussain

Al Qaeda chief Ayman Al Zawahiri’s announcement of opening up a new Al-qaeda franchise in India, Bangladesh and Burma that in his words would address the grievances of Muslims there, has not only alarmed the three countries but also the world at large, raising fears of the expanding threat of the organization, which was supposed to be on the run in South Asia.
The timing, nature and presumed location from where the Al Qaeda video came out is read with different perspectives in India; some experts believe it is the Pakistanization of Alqaeda, others call it the outfit’s call in desperation to compete with the more lethal organization IS on the jihadi scene in Syria and Iraq.
A general round of Indian media gives an impression that Indian Muslims are largely immune to the Jihadi culture but with the Jihadi concept easily floating around from the capitals of the developed nations of Europe to the most impoverished one in Asia and the Middle East, the Al Qaeda threat cannot be ignored. Also the critical part of the Al Qaeda video is how the message is read by Indian security experts: Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and Al Qaeda coming together.
Tricky timing of the video: The Daily Beast in its report, “Al Qaeda desperation could be India’s nightmare”, quoting India’s leading journalist on the subject Praveen Swami questioned the timing of the video. The journalist says “after all Al Qaeda has been in Afghanistan and, therefore, available in Pakistan, already, for anti-India Jihad.” The Daily Beast report explains IS has stolen Al Qaeda thunder, siphoning recruits away from the organization and has yet to recover from the loss of its leader OBL.
IS reaching out to Pakistan & Afghanistan: There are reports the IS has distributed a 12- page booklet in Pakistan and Afghanistan translated into Pashto and Dari languages calling the locals for joining jihad with the group to expand its caliphate to Central Asia. Officials in Washington believe that the IS is attracting influential individuals from around the world. Answering Deewa Radio question at a debate on the topic at the Brookings Institute the US Director for National Counter-terrorism Center Mathew Olson said the IS reaching out to new regions is a matter of concerns for the US. He says, “What we have seen so far is not necessary an alignment of other groups. We have seen individuals and you know some influential individuals either is in alliance with the ISIL or having affinity for the ISIL success and you know it’s a very dynamic situation. With the rise of ISIL, the competition between the ISIL on the one hand and the Al-Qaida on the other is our concerns that their leaders will carry out attacks that would establish them they are the bona fides”.
Al Qaeda preparing for new war after the Afghan withdrawal: As the Americans depart Afghanistan, it is hard not to imagine Pakistani jihadist swooning to visions of 1989. In that year, the Soviets left Afghanistan, freeing up battle-hardened jihadis for holy war in Kashmir. Regional experts Dr. Muhammad Taqi, a US-based Pakistani columnist and Prof. Khadim Hussain, author of The Militant Discourse, while talking to Deewa Radio interprets the Zawahiri‘s call a blatant message to the rival IS that their spiritual leader is still Mulla Omar rejecting the IS head Abu Bakar AL Baghdadi leadership. Both the analysts also believe that the religious extremists are planning to open new fronts to keep their ranks active and it was likely that different groups will come together under their umbrella with the plan to gain ground in Afghanistan in the post-2014 scenario as foreign combat troops are leaving the region.
Indian Muslims Furious Response: While some Indian Muslim leaders talking to VOA called al-Qaida a “terrorist outfit” and criticized it for killing innocent people and threatening peace, others said that any action by al-Qaida would be detrimental to the interests of Indian Muslims and urged communities to ignore the group. Zafarul-Islam Khan, president of the All India Muslim Majils-e-Mushawarat, a New Delhi-based umbrella body of Indian Muslim organizations, said Muslims will fight al-Qaida if it tries to spread its ideology or networks. “We, the Indian Muslims totally reject the al-Qaida chief’s offer to help us and consider it a disservice to the cause of Muslims in the subcontinent. We do not want any meddling in our affairs by a foreign terrorist outfit,” Khan told VOA. Indian analyst warns that after all, youth of the 175 million Indian Muslim populations has to be awakened of the Al Qaeda designs.
Al Qaeda has gone native in Pakistan: Patricia Bacon, a professor at the American University in Washington, D.C., who worked on counterterrorism for a decade at the U.S. Department of State, in the same Daily Beast piece pointed to another reason why Zawahiri has chosen to expand al Qaeda’s portfolio—the “Pakistanization” of al Qaeda. “Over the course of its years in Afghanistan and Pakistan, al Qaeda has endured many losses, and a number of its Arab members have left the region for Syria or other conflict zones as the security situation in Pakistan have deteriorated.” As a result, Bacon explained, “Al Qaeda has incorporated more Pakistanis into its ranks to fill these vacancies.” One salient example was Ilyas Kashmiri, one of the highest-ranking al Qaeda commanders. He is thought to have been killed in a drone operation in June 2011.
(A colleague of Bacon’s, Steven Tankel, the piece adds, has written a fascinating paper on the extent to which al Qaeda has “gone native” in Pakistan. By last year, he reports, studies showed that “a plurality” of the videos produced by al Qaeda’s media wing focused on India and Pakistan; and, startlingly, Urdu, Pakistan’s national language, had supplanted Arabic as “the predominant language in al Qaeda propaganda releases.”)
Pakistan intelligence agency ISI and Al Qaeda links: Experts also believe that both have enjoyed a marriage of convenience but Pakistan spy agency ISI mostly remains comfortable with the local and Afghan militant groups to advance its objectives in the region. But the suspicion will remain. The most dangerous part, Indian experts and security analysts think, is the coming together of Pakistani ISI and Al Qaeda in purpose and objective and that is now the new Indian security nightmare.

Western Jihadis Keep Alarm Bells Ringing In U.S., European Capitals

Posted August 27th, 2014 at 6:03 pm (UTC+0)
Leave a comment

ISIS chief
By Iftikhar Hussain
The recent killing of a US journalist James Foley apparently by a British national fighting alongside the militant outfit Islamic State in Syria has raised alarms in many western countries. Writing in the Sunday Times, the UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said, “It is an utter betrayal of our country, our values and everything the British people stand for.” A White House spokeswoman on Tuesday confirmed the death of an American man, Douglas McCain, while fighting for militants in Syria.
The trend of men raised and educated in the West or western converts to Islam joining militant ranks raises serious security concerns for their home countries, analysts say. The Center for New American Progress in a recent policy brief, titled “Bringing the Fight Back Home,” argued that the changing dynamics on the ground in Iraq are accelerating the urgency of the threat from the approximately 3,000 foreign fighters with Western passports, including over 100 Americans. These individuals, many of whom are young, self-radicalized fighters from Western Europe, are fighting with ISIS, al-Nusra and other Sunni extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. Even before the United States initiated military action in Iraq in mid-August, this threat was growing.
The brutal killing of James Foley in a video reflects on the rising number of foreigners fighting in Syria and Iraq alongside the militant outfits. Counter-terrorism experts believe the hard part is when they come back to the host nations. A jihadist living in a developed society is considered an even bigger problem because the foreign fighters include university graduates and soccer players, who aspired for a bright future but ended up in Jihad.
Experts on the topic while talking to VOA Deewa Radio think the reasons of foreign fighters’ participation in Jihad are different and so are the solutions. Muslim community leaders say fears of the western societies apart it was a moment of introspection for all of them because it involved the future of their future generations who were in some way role models for those living in improvised nations back home.
Robin Simcox is a counter-terrorism expert with the London-based Hennery Jackson Society and has worked extensively on the subject. While tracking the reasons for western men to fight in conflicts abroad, Simcox told Deewa that foreign fighters join extremist groups for a variety of reasons ranging from having problems integrating into western societies to the disappointment over the non-resolution of lingering conflicts in the Muslim world and the media images they see of the wars in their home countries.
“America has a great tradition of integrating immigrants well into its society as all immigrants take pride in becoming American citizensm,” Simcox says. He says that gone are the days when extremists used audio castes for attracting people to its ranks. “The extremists are now using Internet especially social media for their recruitment.”
The role of violent extremist ideology in radicalization is a crucial question and was deliberated Wednesday at a CFR conference call on the Islamic State. Ed Hussain, one of the speakers, said that the issue has sectarian dynamics too and directly or indirectly is driven by the Saudi Salafi ideology.
How much the family role is important to stop a member from becoming radicalized or carry out an act of terrorism? Ed Husain, adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations told a conference call on the topic, “In cases when family is aware of the member’s activities, is very important”. The best example is Nigerian underwear bomber’s father who went to the US embassy in 2012 and alerted the officials of the threat. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who had concealed plastic explosives in his underwear failed to detonate them while onboard a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day in 2012.
Jacob Stokes is a counter-terrorism experts with the Washington-based Center for New American Progress told Deewa, “It’s a big challenge particularly when the fighters come back to the host countries and efforts both from the government and non-government level are needed to address the issue”. He called on the Muslim religious leaders to play their role urging more and more integration of the Muslim youth into societies like Great Britain and France.
Experts on the topic agree that in the Middle East people probably know what the Salafis and extremists want but in the long run probably they do not know what the US and Europe want in the region. A democratic Middle East is crucial to the solution of the problem. And more importantly, the immigrant Muslim community settled in the western nations has to play a key role in countering and rejecting the extreme ideologies.

The King of the Pashtun Squash Dynasty Hashim Khan Dies at 100

Posted August 19th, 2014 at 9:15 pm (UTC+0)
1 comment

By Niala Mohammad

Hashim Khan

Pakistan’s first national hero, Hashim Khan passed away on Monday, August 18, 2014 at his home in Denver, Colorado. He was believed to be 100, but his official age was unknown due to lack of official documentation. Recognized as one of the greatest squash players of all time, Hashim Khan hailed from Naway Killay (formally known as Naud-e-Payan), a village in Peshawar where Bacha Khan International airport was literally built upon.

Umar Gul Tweet on Hashim Khan

This village has produced seven world champion squash players and several national champions. Khan not only etched his name in the game of squash but paved the way for others including his younger brother Azam Khan, cousin Roshan Khan, nephew Mohibullah Khan and his cousin’s son Jahangir Khan. His family dominated the game of squash for over 30 years. His legacy became a source of inspiration for younger generations of Pashtun youth who continue to conquer the sport.

Hasham Khan was introduced to the game of squash at a very young age. His father, Abdullah Khan was the Head Steward at the Royal British Army Officers’ sports club in Peshawar. Khan accompanied his father to work and served as an unpaid ball boy at the club, retrieving balls that were hit out of court by the officers and using the empty court as his playground. But, this unofficial position became permanent when Hashim Khan was eleven years old, his father passed away leaving him to fend for himself and his family.

His professional squash career began in 1944 when he participated in and was successful in winning the first All-of-India Championship in Bombay. His career was tempered by geopolitical events in the Indian sub-continent; India’s independence from the British Empire, the creation of Pakistan, and ongoing regional and civil unrest. However the 1950’s brought a wave of good luck for Hashim Khan, as Pakistan wished to be recognized as a progressive and participatory international country he was sent to England to represent the newly established country.

In 1951, at the age of 37, when most athletes retire from their sport, this stout Pashtun whirlwind went on to whip the British at their own game and continued to do so for almost a decade.He was the first athlete to put Pakistan on the map by becoming the British Open Champion seven times, the US Open Champion three times, the British Professional Champion five times and the Canadian Open Champion three times.

Hashim Khan Recent Pic

Khan had brought his family to the US in the early 1960s after being offered to teach squash at the Uptown Athletic Club in Detroit. In the 1970’s he took a position at the Denver Athletic Club in Colorado, where he raised his family and settled for the remainder of his life with his wife, 12 children, and grandchildren. Hashim Khan continued to play squash until he was well into his nineties. He never returned to Peshawar but often visited the PAF Hashim Khan Squash Complex commemorated to his service for Pakistan.

Pervez Mush Tweet Hashim Khan Hussain Haqqani Tweet on Hashim Khan

Hashim Khan is described as a “Legend”, “The Godfather of Squash”, “Revolutionary Player”, “A True Sportsman”  and a “Gentleman” whose humbleness and passion for the game of squash motivated many to follow his path including renowned players such as Rehmat Khan, Carla Khan, Qamar Zaman, Jansher Khan, Shahid Zaman, Mansoor Zaman, Maria Torpekai, Amir Atlas Khan and many more. His name will forever be synonymous with the game of squash.

Mark Burke Tweet on Hashim Khan Nick Matthew Tweet on Hashim Khan

 Rod Gilmour Tweet on Hashim Khan

Islamabad Blames, Kabul Counters Border Violations

Posted August 4th, 2014 at 7:07 pm (UTC+0)
1 comment

Afghanistan and Pakistan share more than 1500 miles porous but controversial border, called the Durand Line, which was drawn between the then British India and Afghanistan in 1893. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the Pashtun areas divided by the imagery demarcation from Afghanistan were given to Pakistan. However, Afghanistan still lay claim to the areas and is not ready to recognize the divide, which is also one of the contentious issues between the two countries

Afghanistan and Pakistan share more than 1500 miles porous but controversial border, called the Durand Line, which was drawn between the then British India and Afghanistan in 1893. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the Pashtun areas divided by the imagery demarcation from Afghanistan were given to Pakistan. However, Afghanistan still lay claim to the areas and is not ready to recognize the divide, which is also one of the contentious issues between the two countries

By Behroz Khan

A new round of blame-game has been kicked off between Afghanistan and Pakistan with each side accusing the other of border violation and interference, a situation that jeopardizes efforts for regional stability. The spat also comes at a time of particular sensitivity for Afghanistan, which is embroiled in a debilitating controversy over voter fraud in its presidential election and the United States is preparing to withdraw its troops at the end of 2014.  Kabul and Washington are yet to sign a bilateral security agreement, which is aimed at ensuring future U.S. military support for Afghanistan.

Summoning Diplomats to lodge protests:

Kabul Monday accused Islamabad for what the Afghan Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said, supporting the Taliban militants by increasing the presence of its military personnel and advisers among the terrorist groups in Afghanistan. The issue was discussed during the National Security Council (NSC) meeting chaired by President Hamid Karzai, the spokesman told media in Kabul. Pakistan was also criticized for the continued cross-border shelling in Dangam and Shegal districts of eastern Kunar province and the NSC warned that the government and people of Afghanistan will not remain silent on these violations. Pakistan on Saturday accused Afghanistan of the same when one of its security personnel was killed by cross border fire at a security check post in Bajur tribal region.

Pakistan’s foreign office last week called Afghanistan’s ambassador in Islamabad to lodge yet another strong protest over the alleged crossing over by armed attackers on a Pakistani security check post in north-western Dir district. Pakistan military officials claimed killing six militants and repulsing an attack allegedly launched by dozens of Afghanistan-based militants from Kunar province.

However, speaking to VOA, a spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry, Seraj-ul-Haq Seraj had rejected the Pakistani claims.  In turn, he criticized Islamabad for summoning the Afghan diplomat, alleging that such actions were meant to “cover up” repeated border violations originating from Pakistan. Afghan officials have blamed Pakistan’s spy agency ISI for organizing the recent suicide missions allegedly carried out by Pakistan-based militants in Kandahar, Khost, Paktia and Kabul, a charge Islamabad has denied.

US on the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan:

Former US Ambassador in Afghanistan, Ronald E. Neumann told Deewa Radio over the weekend that Pakistan military was engaged in a difficult operation in the tribal region but it was very important that Pakistan makes it clear it was targeting all militant groups. “And if that happens, Afghanistan should also reciprocate”, he said.  “Right now you have so much suspicion on both sides.” He said it the situation did not help relations Afghan-Pakistan ties.

Congressman Adam Smith told VOA Deewa Radio that besides resolving the controversy of the Afghan presidential elections to have a power sharing agreement; Afghanistan needs to sign the bilateral agreement with the US to have some sense of stability. “I think it is incredibly important for the future of Pakistan and for the future of Afghanistan and for the future of the whole region as well.”

On the Afghanistan-Pakistan scenario, the congressman said there was a lot of distrust between the two neighbors and patching up was very important. “Those two countries are going to work together.  They have mutual interest; they are threatened by the very similar folks, the Taliban.”

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-LA) on the post-2014 withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan said, “I Believe it’s incredibly important for us to settle what this is going to look like. What type of security and capability is really in Afghanistan? We have to know who is really going to be in charge of that country when we leave. And if it is unstable, it will affect the stability of Pakistan also, and the most important, apart from economy, is the security issue”.

Military operation and the IDPs:

Pakistan has evicted about one million tribesmen to launch the much-delayed military operation in North Waziristan, a strong base of foreign and local militant groups. About 100,000 tribesmen from Waziristan took shelter in Afghanistan’s Khost province, much to the chagrin of Pakistan saying that Kabul was using the tribesmen against Pakistan. However, Afghanistan’s plea is that provision of shelter and other assistance to the displaced Pakistani tribesmen was purely on humanitarian basis.

Pakistan said the operation in North Waziristan was across the board against terrorists sparing no militant group, a claim disputed by Afghanistan. Kabul’s reservations are that the dreaded Haqani Network is not the target of the Pakistani military operation. US general Joseph Dunford, chief of the military operations in Afghanistan also told Congress the current Pakistan military operation in Waziristan was not targeting the terrorist Haqqani Network.  Islamabad blame that the TTP faction of Maulana Fazlullah is based in eastern Afghanistan and demand action from Kabul to dislodge the group, a charge Kabul denies.

Durand Line:

The uneasy neighbors share more than 1500 miles porous but controversial border, called the Durand Line, which was drawn between the then British India and Afghanistan in 1893. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the Pashtun areas divided by the imagery demarcation from Afghanistan were given to Pakistan. However, Afghanistan still lay claim to the areas and is not ready to recognize the divide, which is also one of the contentious issues between the two countries.

 

Nazia Parveen, FATA’s First Female Athlete

Posted July 24th, 2014 at 8:16 pm (UTC+0)
1 comment

Written by Niala Mohammad and Wagma Jalawan

Nazia Parveen pic

“Don’t Think Just Because You are a Girl You Can’t do Something.”

This tenacious tribalite has done more than climb rocks. She has challenged the cultural norms of a society where women are hidden in the shadows of men. Her goal is to win an Olympic gold medal and her mission is to break the negative image and stereotypes applied to Pakistani women and her fellow Pashtuns.

Climbing to the Top

Nazia by nature loves challenges, in fact that is what led her towards this hardline sport.  In an interview with VOA Deewa, Nazia recalled her first encounter with rock climbing- “On March 8, 2010, I went on a university trip to Margala Mountains, where there was a co-ed rock climbing competition and I participated just for fun.” At that point Nazia realized how physically and mentally demanding rock climbing is and the challenge of the sport enticed her.

Nazia trophies

Since then, Nazia Parveen has won first place in 28 consecutive rock climbing competitions. Nazia gloated and said, “in 4 of those 28 competitions, I beat men.” After just 4 years, Nazia Parveen became the first woman from Pakistan and from FATA to enter international rock climbing competitions.

Nazia Rock Climbing 2

People’s Perceptions and Reactions

In a male dominated society such as Pakistan, it is hard for men to accept that a girl is participating in such a hardline sport. When Nazia first began rock climbing competitively, some of her male counterparts would boycott the competitions that she was participating in. But Nazia’s perseverance forced them to respect her as a fellow sportsman. Nazia stated, “Girls are often encouraged to participate in ‘soft’ games like badminton and table tennis. But we need to change this concept. We make up more than half the population.”

Diet, Exercise and Hobbies

This 5 foot 9 inch beauty looks like the quintessential Pashtun girl. But her passion for hardline sports and her competitive edge will throw you for a curve. Her passion for sports doesn’t end at rock climbing; she also loves para gliding, badminton, horseback riding, basketball, archery, and handball.

Nazia archeryNazia paragliding

Her slender physique would never allow you to believe that she eats several times a day as a part of her routine diet and exercise regimen. When we asked Nazia what her favorite food was she quickly answered, “I LOVE REEJAY, RICE…all kinds of rice!”

Nazia is currently pursuing her MPhil in International Relation at National Defense University in Islamabad. She intends to follow her father’s footsteps and join the Pakistan Army.

Family Support

Ms Parveen’s female dominated household consists of 5 sisters, 1 brother, an overprotective mother and an extremely supportive father. Her mother would interrupt her rock climbing competitions by nervously shouting “ya Allah Khair ke” (an Arabic verse with a Pashto twist meaning Oh My God) while her father always encouraged her by saying, “don’t think just because you are a girl you can’t do something.”

Bajuar Agency

Nazia’s family in Bajaur Agency was puzzled by her choice of sports and often wondered “why she acts like a boy?” They would often tell her that rock climbing isn’t a girls sport. But once Nazia won a few competitions she started winning the support of her extended family in Bajaur. They have grown extremely proud of her accomplishments and have taken a keen interest in her competitions.

Giving back to FATA

 “There is resistance in everything. But if you have passion, you can melt away that resistance.” And that is exactly what she wants to do after she accomplishes her rock climbing career goals. Nazia wants to open opportunities to the girls and boys of FATA who are less fortunate than her. “FATA has immense talent but they are not given opportunities. They can do wonders if they are given the opportunity because they have natural talent. In just 4 years I rose to the top. Imagine what these kids could do if they are given the chance.”

Nazia’s Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/NAZIA-Rock-Climber/150793158463947

 

The Grand Bazaar-Turkey

Posted July 16th, 2014 at 5:02 pm (UTC+0)
1 comment

By Niala Mohammad

IMG_2977grand bazaar

Walking through the streets of the Grand Bazaar feelings of nostalgia overcame my senses. The Turkish people’s features and mannerisms starkly resemble those of the Pashtuns. The smell of grilled corn being sold on the corner reminds me of local “waghey waala” or corn vendor in Peshawar. For a split second I felt I was in Kuchi bazaar when a Turkish lantern salesman Hassan said, “please sister, have some Turkish tea or else I will feel very insulted”.

IMG_3001(1)lanterns grand bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world dating back to 1455. It has over 65 lanes and over 4,000 shops. The Grand Bazaar has anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 visitors daily. You can very easily get lost in this market….and it’s a good kind of lost! The Bazaar offers everything from spices, teas, leather goods, glass lanterns, ceramics, clothes, watches and jewelry. If you like something, make sure you buy it right away, because the chances of you coming back and finding the same shop are slim to none. 

IMG_3003

The Bazaar is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., however even this 12 hour window will not allow for you to see the entire Bazaar. Just the gold section of the bazar will take you an hour to stroll through. And the Turkish knock off designer Chanel, Gucci and YSL bags put the Chinese knock offs to shame with their detail to authenticity.

IMG_2987IMG_2997

If you get hungry, you can stop and eat an Adana kebab sandwich or gulp down fresh juice from one of the hundreds of vendors located within the bazaar. And if you are craving coffee or tea afterwards, look no further than the shop selling you your glass lanterns or ceramic goods. The Turkish people are extremely hospitable and friendly, very similar to Pashtuns. Although you will be won over by Turkish charm, do not hesitate to bargain.

Turkish Halawa

My Name is Mutasirina- IDP Baby

Posted July 11th, 2014 at 7:17 pm (UTC+0)
1 comment

IDP Polio Drop

Behroz Khan

Mutasirina (affectee) is the name of the first baby girl born at a camp set up in Bannu, where Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are pouring in from North Waziristan since June 15. The first baby boy born there is named, Azb Khan, code-name of the military operation.

“This name will remind us and her later in life that she was born outside Waziristan when her family and her people were affectess,” said the father of Mutasiriana, holding the infant baby girl in his arms. UNICEF officials said that more than 200,000 children aged five and above have been vaccinated so far. As many as 60 polio cases have been reported from North Waziristan while the total number of reported polio cases in Pakistan is 88 in 2014.

Mutasirina might return to her land soon to lead a normal life if she survives homelessness, the sizzling heat and what they call the indefinite operation “Zarb-i-Azb”. But the ill-fated victims of the crippling polio virus, mainly from North Waziristan, will not be normal again. Kept away from the modern world,  both by the State and its religious proxies, these children of the lesser god could not make to the headlines of the mainstream media. Their miseries are now unfolding under the burning sun in the plains of Bannu and the southern arid land of Pakhtunkhwa.

The climate of the North Waziristan is cold in winter and warm in summer, whereas June is generally the warmest month. The maximum and minimum temperatures during June are 31 and 18 degrees Celsius, respectively. Temperature in Bannu at the movement is 44 degrees and is likely to rise to 46 degrees Celsius over the weekend.

However, vaccination for polio is a blessing in disguise for tens of thousands of Mutasirinas and Azab Khans, even if they have been driven out of their homes by Pakistan Army to fight the friends-turned-foes militants on the border with Afghanistan. Taliban imposed ban on polio vaccination in North Waziristan, which they consider un-Islamic and conspiracy of the west.

UNICEF officials told VOA Deewa that almost 80 percent of the registered kids were below five years of age while 70 percent of them are 10 and above. “Most of the IDP children suffer from gastroenteritis, scabies, dehydration and nutrition deficiency, said Dr. Gohar, who is working as volunteer at the IDPs camp. Psychologists say that forced displacements severely damage the psyche of the uprooted people in general and children in particular.

North Waziristan IDPs in Dire Need of Help

Posted July 2nd, 2014 at 8:27 pm (UTC+0)
1 comment

By Niala Mohammad & Arshad Mohmand

I brought my two sick daughters from Mir Ali to Bannu on motorcycle, their mother followed us by foot. My 6 month old daughter died on the way, I could not get her help in time because of the curfew.” Dilnawaz an IDP from North Waziristan

There are half a million IDPs from North Waziristan, more than half of which are women and children. The majority of IDPs have been directed towards Bannu District in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province, where the main IDP camp and distribution center has been set up. However, many IDPs fleeing the Pakistani Military operation Zarb-i-Azeb in North Waziristan have headed to other areas within Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province such as Karak, DI Khan, and Lakki Marwat to stay with host families as opposed to camps.  Other provinces in Pakistan have vague policies regarding the entry of IDPs. Sindh, Baluchistan and Punjab provinces have purportedly made it nearly impossible for the entry of the displaced North Waziristan people. But officials from these provinces have denied such accusations.

IDP2

As a Citizen of Pakistan, I Am Entitled to…

Displaced persons from North Waziristan travel to Bannu Sports Complex where they wait in the scorching heat for hours to be given their rations which include a World Food Program (WFP) package and monthly stipend from the government of Pakistan via the Pakistan’s Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON). There is only one distribution counter that caters to the thousands of IDPs standing in line, which is only open from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. If IDPs are unable to be tended to within that time frame they stand in line again the next day in hopes that someone will be able to help them.   

IDP6

The UNICEF-WFP package includes; flour (24 kg), oil (5.5 kg), salt, sugar, black tea, rice, lentils (5 kg), a package of biscuits for families with children and a package of dates especially for the month of Ramadan. And nonfood items include; a water cooler, plastic glasses and plates, bed sheets, and blankets.

IDP4

The Government of Pakistan is currently distributing 12,000 Rs monthly to each IDP. However the initial package promised by the Government of Pakistan was 15,000 (breakdown: 7,000 food items, 5,000 nonfood items and 3,000 for rent). More recently Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the IDP ration to be raised to 20,000 Rs with an additional bonus of 20,000 Rs for the month of Ramadan per Pakistani registration card.  However, this plan has yet to be implemented.

However the relief packages and the stipend are only given to those who have a Pakistani National Identity Card (NIC). Sadly, limited access to government institutions, lack of education and awareness has incapacitated many tribal people from obtaining proper documentation, including National Identity Cards. Hence many are turned away empty handed and left to the mercy of local charitable organizations and host families.

Filling the Void

Local charities and organizations have established a strong presence in Bannu. Extremist organizations have especially been active, seizing the opportunity to use the Bannu Sports Complex as a potential recruitment ground for future “jihadists”. Banned organizations such as Jamat-e-Dawa run under the name Falah e Insaniyat Foundation are actively involved in helping IDPs registered as well as non-registered. They are filling the void left by the Pakistani Government and international organizations and are paving their way for the future of extremism.

No Medical Facilities on Site

There are no medical facilities at Bannu Sports Complex or the main IDP campsite. However there are three local hospitals Khalifa Gul Nawaz Teaching Hospital, Women & Children Hospital Bannu, and District Head Quarter Hospital Bannu that are facilitating IDPs that walk in for Polio vaccinations. The Women & Children Hospital Bannu told VOA Deewa that there has been an overwhelming amount of women (approximately 1,000) who have come in due to miscarriages. The doctors stated that the miscarriages were mostly caused by the constant jerking motions throughout the vigorously long journey.

IDP Polio Drop

Khost Welcomes You

Meanwhile, neighboring Afghanistan has stated that they are ready to take in the people of North Waziristan-a turn in tide for Pakistan who views the offer as a ploy. In fact, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province’s Governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan, has asked the Governor of Khost Province in Afghanistan not to give refuge the people of North Waziristan, claiming the offer is “inappropriate”. The Governor of Khost Province Abdul Jabbar Naeemi told VOA Deewa that there were 5, 000 households registered, 10, 000 households in process of registration  and many more flowing in daily.  He also stated that the majority of North Waziristan people who have crossed the border into Khost are staying with host families rather than camps. He also mentioned that the refugees coming in from North Waziristan are carefully filtered to ensure terrorists are not crossing into Afghanistan.  IDPs who have taken refuge in Khost told VOA Deewa that are grateful to Afghanistan for taking them in during a time when they are being turned away from their own countrymen.   

Link for VOA Deewa’s Nasser Kakar interview with Khost Province Governor Abdul Jabbar Naeemi

Khost Governor Interview with VOA Deewa

North Waziristan IDPs in Bannu District

Posted June 26th, 2014 at 3:02 pm (UTC+0)
Leave a comment

Pictures by VOA Deewa

Recent military operations conducted in North Waziristan by the Pakistani Army has displaced an estimated half a million people from the region. Below are pictures of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from North Waziristan that have fled east 62 km to the adjoining Bannu District in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. IDPs are standing in line by the thousands in the scorching heat, waiting for food rations to be distributed to them.

IDP1

IDP4

IDP6

IDP3

IDP5

IDP2

Waziristan Bannu Map

Contribution by Arshad Mohmand

About

Categories

Calendar

December 2021
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031