As a child, Zia-ul-Haq (34) contracted polio. In his remote village of Chota Bizote in Orakzai Agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), high quality medical care was difficult to access. Although he survived the terrible disease, Zia’s legs were paralysed. Nevertheless, he was determined not to let his disability come in a way of leading a fulfilling life. He married and soon became a proud father.
At ten years of age, Rahat Khan has no memory of his home in remote Orakzai Agency, in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), before it was swept by insecurity. In 2009 when he was only a toddler, the family was forced to leave their village as military operations against non-state actors intensified. They fled their home and settled for two years in Peshawar, the capital of neighbouring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. In 2011 they were able to return to their village in Orakzai Agency but tragedy soon struck again. With the region’s fragile health services devastated by the fighting, Rahat’s father died after a short illness. The family was without a male head of the household – a crucial need in FATA’s heavily male-dominated society, where women are often barred from any public dealings.
“We are living in abject poverty,” he says plainly. “I am always worried about my grandchildren. I am old and injured. It is very difficult for me to provide for them without asking others for help.” Ashraf’s situation rendered him and his family eligible for assistance from the China South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund for the Recovery Project in FATA and Balochistan. This UNDP-supported initiative provides basic humanitarian assistance to 8,100 vulnerable families that were temporarily displaced by insecurity in FATA as they return to rebuild their homes.
For generations, the people of Manglawar village in Swat district, north-western Pakistan, had relied on agriculture for their income. The land was fertile and it was located only three kilometres from the river, guaranteeing an ample supply of water for the crops using a system of mud channels that brought water to each field. With hard work and dedication, the 7,000 people of Manglawar flourished.
In the highly male dominated society of Swat district in Pakistan’s northwest, women’s need for mobility is often underestimated. Nor are their voices heard when they demand their right to access health, education, markets and workplaces. Shakaray village, Swat, was one such village. For many years, the only path connecting it to the nearest road consisted of a muddy 1.8 kilometre stretch of ruts and potholes. It was virtually impassable for vehicles, and difficult even for pedestrians to navigate. This had severe impacts on Shakaray’s women, who found themselves cut off from the outside world.
The son of a rickshaw driver and one of eight children, Burhan began to work as a small child to help support the family. Although only 22 years of age, he has worked in Karachi’s oldest wholesale emporium, Boulton Market, as a daily wage labourer, administered vaccine drops to infants as part of the country’s polio eradication campaigns, and conducted quality assurance at a pharmaceutical company. Lacking education and belonging to a marginalized community, he was unable to turn any of these jobs into a career.
Manthaar Ali’s family are ethnic Sindhis who have lived in the violent Korangi neighbourhood of Karachi for generations. Over the years, they have seen the transformation of this area from a sleepy mangrove-lined village by the Arabian Sea to one of the world’s largest and fastest growing cities. Yet, even as millions came to Karachi looking for a better life, Manthaar’s family was left behind. His father is a night watchman in a fishing community, while his elder brother is a dockworker who works on daily wages and often goes weeks without work.
When Sidra was 15 years of age, her family moved from Mirpurkhas, a small Pakistani agricultural town, to the metropolis of Karachi, hoping for better economic opportunities. Unfortunately, things did not work out as they hoped. In her Urdu-speaking community women were traditionally restricted from working, but her father and brother struggled to support the 11 members of the family. Sidra passed her intermediate examination but, like her seven sisters, was expected to stay at home until she was married, despite the family’s worsening economic situation.
Twenty-one-year-old Jehanzeb hails from Malir, an impoverished neighbourhood in Pakistan’s largest and most turbulent city, Karachi. With six brothers and four sisters, Jehanzeb started working as a small child, doing odd jobs to pay for his own education. In this way he completed his matriculation and enrolled in the intermediate programme at a local college.
A member of Pakistan’s small Kutchi community, 22-year-old Harris Usman’s life has been shaped by the violence that plagues the Karachi neighbourhood of Lyari. As gangsters took over the streets, he and his family were caught in the middle, experiencing threats, extortion and lack of mobility that badly affected the small shop his family owned. As the violence reached its peak, business was so badly affected that the shop could barely remain open more than a day or two in a month. On days the shop was open for business, local people would empty out the stock immediately, often purchasing items on credit and never paying back. Harris’s small earnings were extorted from him. Rival gangs pressurized him to join them and he was warned that a refusal to join would lead to the family losing their shop.
Any day with food on the table was a good day for Humera and her family of five. The daughter of a rickshaw driver in Korangi, an impoverished neighbourhood in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi, Humera, 20, had a tough childhood. Her father was the only breadwinner and struggled to support his family. “If we paid the rent, we couldn’t buy food. If we bought food, we couldn’t buy clothes. How could we expect to complete our education?” she says.
Like many young men in the restless neighbourhood of Lyari in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, 19-year-old Ibrar Hussain has fought poverty and violence since childhood. A member of the impoverished and marginalized Kutchi community, when Ibrar was only in Grade 5, his father informed him that he could no longer afford to continue his education. But instead of dropping out, Ibrar began to take up part-time jobs to be able to keep going to school.
As a child Wasim Soomro watched as famous fashion designers showed their creations on television. He enjoyed seeing their creative designs and envied their rise to fame and fortune doing what they loved. “I used to watch famous celebrities become designers, flaunting their kurtas on TV. I told myself if they can do it, why can’t I? Lyari is famous for gang violence, but we don’t have any famous designers. I thought I should be the first one,” he saysd, clad in a blue kurta that he designed himself.
Ms. Maimoona Akhtar, a student of Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Peshawar was apprehensive about choosing print or electronic media as a career because her family considered it an ‘inappropriate’ field for young women. This severely limited her professional choices, especially in fields that were relevant to her degree in Mass Communications. After graduation, Maimoona was selected as an intern with UNDP’s VPPD initiative at IPCS under the Platform’s capacity development component for graduate students.
In November 2009, many local residents of Tehsil Sararogha in South Waziristan Agency left their hometown due to the military operation that was underway against militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Many families sought shelter in districts of Dera Ismail Khan and Tank. In the summer of 2013, the displaced residents felt safe and confident to begin returning home. However, things back home were far from normal. The basic infrastructure was in ruins and severely damaged. “Our houses were destroyed, cattle were missing and our fields had turned to ruins,” said Mr. Mahnoor Khan, the president of community organization in Baghariwam village, South Waziristan.