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)
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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.” 


Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

Updated 19 September 2020

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

  • The book tells the story of a young boy from Karachi's Lyari, who is learning about the virus to help others
  • 'Little Master' is illustrated by Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series 'Paak-Legion'

RAWALPINDI: "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book, is going to be released on Monday to guide Pakistani children how to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic and cope with COVID-19 misinformation.
Published by Mehrdar Art & Production (MAP), the book tells the story of Ahmed, a young boy from Karachi's Lyari area, who is trying to learn about the coronavirus to help keep others safe, regardless of their community background.
"Comics are a great way to tell a story positively and are really useful in countering misinformation,” Muhammad Faheem, documentary filmmaker and MAP founder, told Arab News on Saturday.

The cover of "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book to help Pakistani children cope with COVID-19 misinformation. (Photo courtesy of Muhammad Faheem via AN)

The efforts have been funded by MAP itself and through government and private support. To illustrate "Little Master," Faheem asked for help Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series "Paak-Legion."
Thousands of copies of "Little Master" will be distributed at schools in underprivileged areas such as Lyari, where misinformation has led to blame games and community tensions that affected virus response. Some narratives even questioned the very existence of the virus and necessity to follow any precautions against it.

Umair Najeeb Khan is working on an illustration for the "Little Master" comic book in Islamabad on Sept. 19, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Umair Najeeb Khan via AN)

In May, Faheem rolled out "Hum Sab Saath, Corona ki Kilaaf" ("All of Us Together Against the Coronavirus"), a campaign through posters, social media and talks by community leaders to address the situation.
"It got to the point where relief efforts in these areas were being compromised because people were questioning who deserved help," Faheem said. "We needed to address not only the severity of what was going on but educate the citizens of these areas on what was real information to help combat the fake news and rising bigotry."
The comic book is a follow up to these efforts.
"When kids read our comics, we hope they will learn more about the pandemic and how it is a collective effort that we all have to join together, regardless of our backgrounds."