In northwestern Pakistan, a centuries-old mosque in a cave

A man reads the Quran inside the Ghar-e-Sur mosque in the South Waziristan tribal district in Pakistan on August 13, 2020. (AN Photo)
Short Url
Updated 16 August 2020

In northwestern Pakistan, a centuries-old mosque in a cave

  • Locals estimate the Ghar-e-Sur mosque in the South Waziristan tribal district is at least 300 years old
  • Archaeology department says planning restoration of heritage sites in tribal districts, including the cave mosque

SARAROGHA: At an old mosque located inside a cave in a mountainous region of northwestern Pakistan, prayers are offered five times a day. In its 300-year history, worship at the mosque has stopped only once, during military operations in the region a decade ago.
The Ghar-e-Sur mosque in Sararogha in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal district is a mountain tunnel with a single entrance and arches in the main prayer hall reflecting traditional tribal architecture. The mosque’s prayer leader said it could house 250 people at a time.
“We call it central Ghar-e-Sur mosque,” tribal elder Sayed Abdullah Noor told Arab News. “I am almost 65-years old. My great-grandfather said his forefather told him the mosque was built by them, which means that it is about 300 years old.”




Locals offer prayers inside the Ghar-e-Sur mosque in the South Waziristan tribal district in Pakistan on August 13, 2020. (AN Photo)

The mosque also serves as a Qur’anic school, prayer leader Sayed Khairullah said, saying children from a nearby village came for lessons every day.

The mosque was abandoned when the Pakistan army launched a military operation against Taliban militants in South Waziristan in 2009. When operations eased and locals returned to the area three years later, they found the mosque in a dilapidated state.
“The mosque has no boundary wall, no proper water and electricity facilities,” Khairullah said. “The government should help protect this heritage.”




A prayer leader teaches the Quran to children outside the Ghar-e-Sur mosque in the South Waziristan tribal district in Pakistan on August 13, 2020. (AN Photo)

Fawad Khan, assistant curator at the provincial archaeology department, told Arab News funds would be allocated for the restoration of heritage sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s tribal districts, including Ghar-e-Sur mosque.
“We are planning a detailed survey to list national heritage sites throughout tribal districts, which will be completed in 2021,” he said, “After the survey, we will repair and preserve them.” 


35 percent Pakistanis say coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes — survey

Updated 22 September 2020

35 percent Pakistanis say coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes — survey

  • Labor experts say a large number of workers laid off by their organizations in the name of social distancing
  • Standard Chartered Bank survey shows 87 percent respondents said they were willing to adapt to emerging environment by using more technology

KARACHI: The coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes for at least 35 percent of Pakistanis, a survey conducted by a leading international bank said, while a large number of people had lost their livelihoods to the virus.
According to an online study carried out by Standard Chartered Bank, one-third or 35 percent of Pakistanis, including 36 percent of the country’s youth, reported a reduction in their salaries.
The study was conducted in July this year in 12 different markets, including the United States, United Kingdom, India and China. Its findings were released last week.
The study involved 12,000 individuals above the age of 18, Farhan Ahmed, the bank’s communications head in Pakistan, told Arab News on Tuesday. Among the respondents were 1,000 Pakistanis from various urban centers working in different fields, he said.
The survey showed that 88 percent people preferred to work harder for a fewer number of hours and less pay, while 72 percent were looking for a second source of earning to add to their income stream. Over 50 percent anticipated major changes in the next three to six months, with 48 percent expecting reduced pay and 49 percent fearing redundancy.
“Business owners have found a plausible excuse to cut down workforce in the name of implementing the prescribed precautionary measures that require fewer people to operate in a given space,” Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan, told Arab News.
“In the first place, people over 50 years of age were asked not to come to work,” he said. “These senior employees did not get their salaries and other benefits. After that, organizations relieved a majority of their workforce in the name of social distancing. In such cases, they reduced the number of employees by about 50 percent. The remaining staff was either laid off or retained without pay.”
In April, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), a government entity, projected that the coronavirus pandemic, ensuing lockdowns, and falling growth rates were likely to drive between 12.3 million and 18.5 million people out of jobs.
“Such estimates inadvertently downplay the actual impact of the economic downturn since they usually focus on small regions or areas of economy. It should be clear that even the primary sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing and mining etc., have also suffered a lot,” Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, joint executive director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), told Arab News. “The second wave of virus is already hitting our trade partners in the West and that will make current estimates outdated in the coming days.”
According to Farhan Ahmed of Standard Chartered Bank, 87 percent of survey respondents said they were willing to adapt to the emerging environment by using more technology. Similarly, 83 percent respondents were confident they had the necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digital world and were willing to explore greater opportunities by working more relentlessly in the post-COVID-19 environment.
Sixty-six percent people also said they wanted to start new businesses.
“There are many opportunities emerging for our youth who are willing to adapt,” Ahmed said. “The changing business models are providing opportunities to urban and rural dwellers alike.”