Voice of America profiles my work: Here is the English translation of the interview in Pashto

I write on (human rights and social justice) issues in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA. I also write about terrorist violence in these regions. For example, in one terrorist attack in Balochistan’s capital Quetta, 75 people, among whom 55 were lawyers, were killed (in August 2016). The slain lawyers, who had faced hardships of poverty, lack of access to education and other challenges, but had at last succeeded in their careers, were the asset of the province. When I see these issues, I want to write about them.

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At the Fulbright Pre-Departure Orientation at Serena Hotel, Islamabad, Pakistan (2013).

The problem is that the youth in these regions don’t have access to education. They lack the knowledge and skills to write. Those who can write face problems from the powerful State institutions. Because of this pressure, some choose to remain silent and put down their pens. When I look at the situation and the problems, such as fear, intimidation and threats of violence, that Pashtun intellectuals, poets and writers face, I feel a responsibility to give voice to their grievances through my writing. I live in a country which has provided me the knowledge, tools and freedom to precisely do such work.

I have passion for my work and spend most of my time researching and writing. My goal is to highlight these issues and let the world know that what is happening to the oppressed groups in Pakistan is unethical and condemnable. My colleagues and students at Rutgers University (where I go for my Ph.D. and teach as well) ask me questions about Pakistan. Being a Pakistani, I try to answer their questions, but unfortunately, in my country, there are many problems caused by the State’s (disastrous) policies. Sometimes, I can’t convince them that there is no problem in Pakistan, especially on questions related to democracy, human rights, the rights of minorities and press freedom.

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Presenting on Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Framing and Its Implications on Pashtuns at the South Asian Media and Cultural Studies Conference at the Florida State University (Jan/Feb, 2019)

Writing is my passion but I think it is necessary too. There is ban on the media and freedom of expression. Journalists and civil society activists have been receiving threats. They are detained and kidnapped. Through my writings, I want to show the world how some institutions in Pakistan are treating its intelligentsia. I want to be the voice for those who can’t be for themselves because of these constraints. I focus on human rights abuses such as disappearances, extra-judicial killings and the rise of social movements and the reaction of the State to these movements. I also write about issues related to religious freedom and the problem of minorities.

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At the Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement’s protest in front of the United Nations in New York against the Pakistani military’s war crimes against Pashtuns (2018).

I also maintain this blog, where in my free time, I write about topics as diverse as philosophy, psychology, power and many other themes. Many people appreciate my work and some do not like it because of my criticisms of the State’s abusive and discriminatory policies and practices against minorities. But I will continue to stand with the oppressed and keep writing on issues close to my heart, regardless of where I am. I hope that my work inspires the youth of my region and effects a change for the better.

 

P.S. I take responsibility and apologize if there are any gaps in translation from Pashto into English. I have tried to be accurate.

Comments

  1. Hello Aslam, this is Marcus Lawson. I went to school with you at Seton Hall University in 2014. It has been five years, and i have been following your writings. I am thankful that you are in the U. S. at Rutgers no less. I am, of course, concerned in that your exposure to the State of Pakistan can be detrimental due to your writings. I pray that you stay safe, but continue the work you so love.

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    • Hello Marcus, I remember our time at the UN Summer Intensive Study Program. I know it has been a long time, I hope you have been well. Thanks for reading my writings and thanks for the very supportive comment. I really appreciate your concern.

      Best regards,
      Aslam K.

      Like

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