In Pakistan’s northwestern tribal territories, Pashtuns are losing appetite for traditional food

A group of young people enjoy traditional ‘painda’ in North Waziristan tribal district on Eid Al-Fitr on May 13, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Noor Rehman)
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Updated 15 May 2021

In Pakistan’s northwestern tribal territories, Pashtuns are losing appetite for traditional food

  • Tribal elders in South Waziristan say many people in their settlements are abandoning their cultural traditions related to Eid Al-Fitr
  • More and more people are said to be replacing exotic tribal cuisine with fast food and light snacks

TANK, Pakistan: As the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan comes to an end and people start celebrating the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr, families across Pakistan’s northwestern tribal territories usually open their doors to invite friends, relatives and strangers as a gesture of hospitality and serve them traditional food.

A group of young people in Wana, South Waziristan, prepare mutton tikka on Eid al-Fitr on May 13, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Anwar Shakir Wazir) 

According to the region’s elderly residents, however, such tribal conventions are gradually fading away since most people prefer to celebrate the occasion within their limited circle and enjoy foreign cuisines.

“The decades-old tradition is on the verge of extinction,” Haji Nawaz Khan, an octogenarian, told Arab News on Thursday. “Many people in this settlement do not prefer their traditional food anymore. These social changes have followed the displacement of local families during the military offensive in this area.” 

Litai, another traditional tribal food, is prepared with rice and pulses before being served to guests with sweet soup and pure ghee. Picture taken in South Waziristan tribal district on May 13, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Anwar Shakir Wazir) 

Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt, which borders Afghanistan, witnessed significant conflict after the United States sent its forces to the neighboring country in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. 

Pakistani security forces launched a military campaign against militant outfits taking shelter in the craggy mountainous terrain to reclaim the territory, though the ensuing violence uprooted the local residents and forced them to migrate to nearby towns. 

A family in South Waziristan prepares mutton tikka on light heat on May 13, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Anwar Shakir Wazir) 

With the security situation improving, Pakistani tribesmen have returned to their homes. Many of them were seen greeting one another after offering their Eid prayer on Thursday.

While young male residents of the tribal districts traditionally participated in the “attan” dance that originated in Afghanistan to cherish the day, the tight coronavirus restrictions this year precluded the possibility of such public gatherings. 

“There are very few families that continue to keep the old tradition alive by serving the traditional Pashtun cuisine to their guests,” Khan continued while discussing the "social transformation" around him. “For many others, this has been replaced by fast food or simple snacks.”

Waishalay, a home-cooked bread, is served to people on Eid al-Fitr along with yoghurt and pure ghee in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal district on May 13, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Anwar Shakir Wazir) 

Anwar Shakir Wazir, a tribal elder from Wana in South Waziristan district, agreed. 

“The food in our region is not too spicy,” he said. “Our traditional tribal cuisines seem to be on the verge of extinction. Some of us continue to enjoy ‘painda’ which is made of rice or baked bread and is placed in a bowl before being served to seven or eight people who sit around it in a circle. However, there are other forms of traditional food that have almost disappeared.” 

Painda, a traditional tribal dish, is ready to be served to guests in Wana, the central settlement of South Waziristan district, as people celebrate Eid al-Fitr on May 13, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Anwar Shakir Wazir)

Wazir recalled how the close-knit tribal community in tiny settlements operated in the past. 

“People were more eager to entertain uninvited guests or strangers than those they were expecting,” he continued. “One could visit any house in the neighborhood without hesitation and was always received with warm hospitality.” 

Muhammad Farhan, a resident of South Waziristan who is enrolled in a college in Lahore, said he was fed up with packaged food. 

“I always have a craving for our traditional food on special occasions like Eid,” he told Arab News. “However, it has become difficult to find these dishes in our native towns or other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province these days. I find that a little tragic.” 

Pakistani Taliban warn women in northwest against working for government, NGOs

Updated 20 min 29 sec ago

Pakistani Taliban warn women in northwest against working for government, NGOs

  • Threaten "consequences" if women in North Waziristan take up jobs with government departments
  • In February this year, militants shot dead four female aid workers near a main town in North Waziristan

PESHAWAR: The Pakistani Taliban on Thursday warned women in Pakistan's northwest of "consequences" and meeting their "ultimate fate" if they took up jobs with the government or non-governmental organizations.

The Pakistani Taliban are an umbrella of militant groups called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is banned by the Pakistani government and designated a terrorist group by the US. They are a separate entity from the Afghan Taliban.

In February this year, militants shot dead four female aid workers near Mir Ali, a main town in North Waziristan.

“Women are strictly warned not to undertake jobs at any government body or its stooges (NGOs) on the soil of (North) Waziristan, otherwise everyone knows its consequences,” TTP's spokesperson for North Waziristan, Abdul Rehman, said in a statement.

"Females from the adjacent Bannu or other districts continue to work with government or NGOs presumably for public welfare, but they are causing obscenity despite repeated warnings," Rehman said, adding that the women were "under our observation" and "will meet their ultimate fate soon."

TTP has been in disarray in recent years, after Pakistan military operations and US drone strikes targeting their hideouts in North and South Waziristan, but in August announced a reunion with some of its splinters. The group has since stepped up attacks on government troops and installations in tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, rising concerns that the militants are regrouping there.

The war-torn tribal belt remains one of the most underdeveloped areas of Pakistan.

Senior analyst Rustam Shah Mohmand said the TTP was trying to regain grip over the region and building pressure with threats.

"The TTP is now disorganized, desperate and wants to restore its standing," he said. "But people aren’t ready to accept them."

Individual countries deciding on vaccine acceptability for travel ‘creating chaos’ — Pakistani minister

Updated 31 min 2 sec ago

Individual countries deciding on vaccine acceptability for travel ‘creating chaos’ — Pakistani minister

  • Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar says the health and well-being of world citizens cannot be held hostage to global geostrategic rivalries
  • Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently urged an international forum to abandon ‘vaccine nationalism’ and help developing nations

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s planning minister Asad Umar said on Thursday the decision concerning the travel suitability of various COVID-19 vaccines should be taken by relevant global institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO) instead of individual nations.
Umar, who also heads the National Command and Operations Center that oversees his country’s pandemic response, maintained in a Twitter post that the health and well-being of people across the world should not be held “hostage to global geostrategic rivalries.”
“Each country deciding which vaccine is acceptable for travel to that country is creating chaos,” he claimed.

Pakistan has heavily relied on COVID-19 vaccines prepared in China since the beginning of its immunization drive in February this year.
Many developed countries, however, have decided not to grant travel permission to people who took Chinese vaccines, asking world citizens to take Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson instead.
Chinese President Xi Jinping recently urged the international community to abandon “vaccine nationalism” and help developing nations with post-pandemic economic recovery.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also upheld China’s perspective on the issue while addressing the Asia and Pacific High Level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation on Wednesday.
“Echoing the sentiments of the speakers today, let me on behalf of this distinguished forum, endorse President Xi Jinping’s declaration of making COVID-19 vaccine a global public good, dispel notions of stigmatization, and reject vaccine nationalism,” Qureshi said. “We should make collective endeavors to ensure equitable and affordable supply of vaccine to developing countries.”
There are several vaccine brands available in the international market and every country has approved some specific version of it for its citizens, leading to a question of universal acceptability and creating obstacles for those traveling to other countries.
Early this week, Pakistan signed a deal with Pfizer for an additional 1.3 million COVID-19 doses without releasing details of its agreement.
The country has so far administered over 13.8 million doses and aims to vaccinate 70 million people by next year.
In recent weeks, Pakistan has witnessed a steady decline in COVID-19 cases and its positivity ratio has also reduced significantly.
According to official data, 1,097 people tested positive for the disease and 38 deaths were reported on Wednesday.
The country has so far reported 951,865 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 22,108 fatalities since the emergence of the pandemic last year.

Peshawar Zalmi’s Ali and Asif suspended before PSL final 

Updated 43 min 49 sec ago

Peshawar Zalmi’s Ali and Asif suspended before PSL final 

  • Players breached bio-secure bubble in Abu Dhabi
  • Both cricketers have been placed in isolation 

ABU DHABI: Peshawar Zalmi batsman Haider Ali and fast bowler Umaid Asif will miss the Pakistan Super League final against the Multan Sultans on Thursday after they were suspended for breaching the bio-secure bubble in Abu Dhabi.
The Pakistan Cricket Board said the incident occurred Wednesday and the decision to suspend both players was made by the tournament’s COVID-19 management panel hours before the final.
Ali’s suspension also forced the PCB to withdraw the middle-order batsman from the tours of England and the West Indies.
“They admitted to charges of violating the health and safety protocols by meeting people from outside their designated bio-secure bubble and also failing to maintain the prescribed social distancing,” the PCB said in a statement.
Both cricketers didn’t interact with any other squad member at any time after the incident and have been placed in isolation.
Multan’s middle-order batsman Sohaib Maqsood has replaced Ali in the squad for the tours of England and the West Indies after chief selector Mohammad Wasim consulted both head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and captain Babar Azam.
Maqsood has been in prolific form in the PSL, scoring 363 runs in 11 matches at an average of 40.33 and a healthy strike rate of 153.
Maqsood has played 26 ODIs and 20 Twenty20s for Pakistan but hasn’t played an international game since his last Twenty20 against New Zealand at Hamilton in 2016. 

Pakistani nuclear scientists to get IAEA awards in September — foreign office

Updated 24 June 2021

Pakistani nuclear scientists to get IAEA awards in September — foreign office

  • Awards are in recognition of Pakistan’s advancement in nuclear technology for sustainable development
  • Pakistan has a long history of working with nuclear science

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani nuclear scientists are going to receive three awards from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in September, the foreign office announced on Wednesday.
The IAEA and FAO’s Outstanding Achievement Award will be conferred on Pakistan’s Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB), while the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) will receive Team Achievement Award and Young Scientist Award for work in plant mutation breeding.
According to a statement by the foreign office, the awards are in recognition of Pakistan’s advancement in the application of nuclear technology for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including food security. 
“The awards certificates will be presented during the IAEA’s 65th General Conference in September 2021,” the foreign office said.
Pakistan has a long history of working with nuclear science, applications and power. It was the sixth country to ratify the IAEA Statute and, in doing so, provided one of the 18 ratifications required to bring the Statute and IAEA mandate, into force.
The IAEA has been supporting the country’s efforts to train specialist staff.
In December 2019, it designated the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) as an IAEA Collaborating Center to support its research, development and capacity building in the application of advanced and innovative nuclear technologies.

Multan and Peshawar face off in PSL final in Abu Dhabi today

Updated 24 June 2021

Multan and Peshawar face off in PSL final in Abu Dhabi today

  • First time finalists Multan Sultans will battle experienced Peshawar Zalmi in final of sixth edition of Pakistan Super League
  • “We play an aggressive brand of cricket and believe in taking the game to the opposition,” Peshawar captain Wahab Riaz says

ISLAMABAD: First time finalists Multan Sultans will face experienced Peshawar Zalmi in the final game of the sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 series in Abu Dhabi today, Thursday.
This is Peshawar Zalmi’s fourth PSL final. It won the PSL champions title in 2017 and was the runner-up in the 2018 and 2019 editions. 
Peshawar Zalmi selected Arab News Pakistan as its international media partner in 2020 and extended this partnership to the 2021 edition. The series, being held in Pakistan, was suspended halfway due to the spread of COVID-19 in March but resumed this month in Abu Dhabi.
The Pakistan Cricket Board said on Wednesday the winning team would receive Rs75 million and the HBL PSL 6 trophy while the runner-up would take home Rs 30 million. 
“In the final, we would want to keep our game plan simple, and I am very hopeful that we would play with the same spirit,” Multan captain Mohammad Rizwan said. “That is all that I will ask of my players, results are in the hands of the Almighty and we will only care about giving our absolute best.”
Wahab Riaz, Peshawar Zalmi captain, said since the beginning of the HBL Pakistan Super League, “the Peshawar Zalmi side has played like a family.”
“We play an aggressive brand of cricket and believe in taking the game to the opposition,” He said. “We will play the final with the same frame of mind. Playing the fourth final for Zalmi and first as a captain is a huge honor for me and I would like to lead the team to glory tomorrow night against a formidable opponent. It should be a great occasion.”