"That's okay kids, because he has arrived now!".
After the ice breaking session Fauzia Minallah asked the children if Santa had visited them on Christmas. A hush fell on everyone- pin drop silence as the words hung in the air. The Pastor quietly replied "No, Santa Never came this year".
"That's okay kids, because he has arrived now!".
And that's how the perfect pout's done ya'all.
May our children continue to light up the world with their smiles.
Yet again nine Shia Hazaras were butchered in broad daylight,on October 23rd in Quetta .
A stagnancy we can proudly claim; the pattern of terrorism, those killed and the killers- all remains the same-of course except for the killers names- they change as fast as leaves fall in autumn.
Our regime's magnanimity know no bounds;it gifts the oppressed with distress, healthy able bodied men with disease and trauma,and for all this it asks for nothing but silence. Never have our countrymen payed their dues so enthusiastically as they do with apathy of a collective conscience. .
Zakir Husain, survivor and amputee of Mastung Blasts asks a simple question to which I have no answer; "Tell me,what is our sin? Why we are being repeatedly targeted? Because we are Shia? Are we not human beings? Do we not have a right to live?".
This is life for Zakir Husain after Mastung....living with the this new reality I asked, if given the opportunity to go back in time would he alter his decision to be on the bus?.
Unhesitatingly he replied," No. I would still choose to be on that bus- may all my limbs and my life be sacrificed for Imam Husain (a.s).Even if my family,my children or even my parents are sacrificed it wouldn't lessen my love for Imam Husain(a.s)".
Surviving & suffering from the realities of Shia genocide daily & then uttering those words is beyond the realm of ordinary verbal testimony.There is something unreasonable and mildly maddening about such unconquered, relentless love
On October 14th, our journey into the heart of Shia Genocide led us to Hazara Town.
Zakir Husain, (survivor of Mastung Blasts) needed help in being carried up a flight of steep stairs.
That man in white, a kind stranger offered to help us. On 23rd October,there were two incidents of terrorism claiming 9 lives of Shia Hazaras. He was one of them.
This is a screen grab from the video taken by Anas Mallick.
Never could we imagine we'd documented a martyr to be; albeit a small cost to those frantically purifying Pakistan.
Anguish and grief are the hues of their eyes...
Perhaps they were right after all, in being called God's grave diggers....
Ibtehaj's scars and smile- speak for it's self...
The Sun with all it's splendor couldn't dim the pain of a young girl who'd lost her mother in the 2013 blasts.
Young men's larger than life portraits line the gates to Behesht e Zainab; a memorial that will turn your face ashen.
Quetta can be devastatingly beautiful too...sunset at Hanna Lake.
Dawn at Kooh e Ziarat....
As spectacular as the colors of the canopy above, heart wrenching were the innocent questions being asked beneath-" so many of our mother's hearts pray for the wreckage of our enemies yet it still has no effect on them. Why?". If only you could see the way she asked in all earnestness, as if I had the keys to resolve the anguish & turmoil-even now it shakes me to the core.
Successive democratic governments have grossly failed to provide adequate security, and the judiciary is a farce mocking all pleas for justice- it is shameful and sorrowful that our people have only heart felt prayers to rely on.
All days of rejoice are celebrated beside the graves of martyrs.
Love that mothers can no longer shower on their children are showered on their graves. Gently, quietly and painstakingly- with forever to kill.
Courtesy of the government's failure to provide security to returning Hazara Pilgrims-Sadat Husain ex Mr.Hazara- was one of the men who went as a guard- he is now paraplegic for life.
Tabassum, daughter of Sadat Husain (Mastung Blasts 2014)- had a beautiful smile; which could fill your heart with joy and lacerate it to shreds simultaneously.
Despite all our criminal negligence, exclusion and apathy, the Hazara Shias have nothing but love and patriotism for Pakistan.
Here is my prayer, among the many devout whispering of the Hazara Shias...
"Which class do you study in?".
"Yes, in school?".
As if my question had nearly taken the life out of her- barely breathing she whispered :
"There are no schools here".
A cobalt blue canvas stetched over the splendorous white canopies, making everyone gasp as soon as they entered.
"I love the way you shoot details ", she said at the meet up. Shazia then went on to explain that she was an interior designer, I knew then that it would be a visual treat to shoot her wedding.
Everything was so beautifully arranged-planned to perfection.
Sunset by the lake side with hills in the backdrop,Grecian flower pots and roman pillars; what more could one ask for?
Dancing lights celebrating life...
Gestures, little moments like these make me fall in love with photojournalism all over...
Swooning flowers beneath the cobalt canvas of sky...
The first step towards the rest of their lives...
Every detail highlighted.
Guests at the wedding...
Under the Holy Quran, & enveloped in a mothers prayers- the most beautiful send off.
They say something’s always stay with you, however this combined experience of collaborative effort by Pakistan Relief and LandsAid is something I’d like to never forget. From being an observer, to a participant, I had the unique opportunity of witnessing the program from a bird’s eye view and then up close on the ground. There are rare glimpses of humanity which make me stand taller and prouder as we live in a country wrapped in a sea of turmoil and death tolls. Seeing a group of young motivated professionals volunteering their time & effort was inspiring. People hailing from every part of Pakistan; the remote valley of Guraiz, Chitral to Peshawar and from all walks of life was stirring. Everyone gathered for one purpose; to arm one’s self with knowledge. Knowledge is power & this couldn't be truer especially for information and training to be better equipped with disaster management. From the horrific earthquakes in ’05 to the recurring floods, it is of vital importance that we become self-reliant.so we respond immediately, rather than waiting for International Responders.
While theory was important it was unanimously felt that practically learning was an amazing experience. There were 3 days of simulation; where the group was split into two teams and given disaster situations to which they had to respond. We had to divide our team according to abilities and careers, such as pharmacists, doctors, to those who could perform First aid, while the Project Coordinator and I the media personnel multi-tasked from crowd control to triage. The project co-coordinator and I had the hardest jobs as while the others got to at least sit during their jobs, we didn’t for even one minute!
After the first five minutes, we all forgot that we were in a simulation, the influx of patients who had to see the doctor, from scratches, to changing “aches” by the patients minute to minute and curious bystanders who wandered in at a moment and even successfully robbed stethoscopes and even the radio communication system at one point. Worth mentioning is that while we acted, the LandsAid trainers expressed their grief so brilliantly that it made me momentarily speechless, rather than respond instinctively, as if the horrors they’d seen were alive right before their eyes. Interrupting myself from responding to deal with triage was distressing because on the one hand I had a lady telling me about the loss of everything from children, husband to home, and on the other hand trauma patients, needing immediate attention.
The highlights were when the Governor (Dick) from LandsAid trainer wore a clack shalwar kameez with an imperial air that all such officials usually have, wanting protocol , to bypass security and demanding tea as if he was bestowing favors on the International Aid workers who were there volunteering to serve his people. Also worth mentioning was the feudal lord, who kept ranting about not taking ‘permission’ to set up the mobile clinic on his flood-devastated land. To which our project coordinator aptly responded, ‘We’re here to help your people and your land isn’t running anywhere, it’ll be here even after we do our job”.
The cherry on top was when we as an international team almost fell into the trap of hijackers, because we assumed the call was from the Headquarters without demanding the call sign, but some quick thinking by Sana saved the entire team.
From anti-government demonstrations which compromised our neutrality because of inviting the governor into our clinic rather than holding the meeting at a different place, to realizing that Dick actually wanted tea, when I handed him an empty cup he exclaimed, “I want Tea! I think I’m a very good actor -but I wanted tea. In, reality”.
As a multiplier I definitely wish to see this effort spread to high schools and universities because as we saw in ’05 it was the youth that were first responders and their spirit and dedication that carried them through three consecutive day and nights of rescue & relief work. Arming them with knowledge would be the best form of mobilization.
Remember the Persian Princess in Purple ? (Here). Well, why be a princess when you can be a Queen?
And the befitting Taj for the Queen.
Making moments into memories.
Bring on the Bling!
Saadia wore a lovely crimson jora and her statement Kundan cocktail ring holds it's own amongst the splendorous sparkles.
And during the Sehra ceremony the adorable little shahbala refused to let anyone keep his money.
And the Prince rides his chariot to meet his princess.
Because it was like a fairy tale...
And his groomsmen rode alongside him.
And the bridesmaids ready for their arrival.
And a gorgeous canopy of tulle for the prince and princess.
The groom arrives to the doorstep of the castle- but wait, don't all princes have to slay some dragons?
Here he has to slay no dragons, but Pay Day for the Bridesmaids. Their smiles tell it all.
And the haggling , bargaining & negotiating ....all those years of shopping coming in use to defeat grooms every time :)
Oblivious to the whispering and negotiating around him, Yousaf smiles as he looks at his bride..
Yousaf Finally with his beautiful bride Saadia.
Woh Chali Woh Chali .....one the saddest moments at weddings.
All is well that ends well.
The Lovely Reception at Blue Lagoon .
Editorial Wedding Photojournalism-making images like these is why I keep loving what I do.
And the regalness with which she walked...and sat on stage.
And the contemporary whisper green outfit paired with traditional kaam.
Overlooking her kingdom.