Eye of the beholder: Pakistani shutterbugs unveil stunning photographs

  • A young man stitches decorative seat covers and curtains at the truck art market in Rawalpindi, where he works at his master’s shop for more than twelve hours a day. Photo / Noor Za DinA young man stitches decorative seat covers and curtains at the truck art market in Rawalpindi, where he works at his master’s shop for more than twelve hours a day. Photo / Noor Za Din
  • Jahan Zeba is a 53-year old unmarried woman living in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. She refused to marry a man chosen by her family Arranged marriages are a tradition in Pakistan, where the family chooses a suitable match for their daughter. Jahan chose to live an independent life. Her income depends on the two cows she owns. Photo / Seema Gul Jahan Zeba is a 53-year old unmarried woman living in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. She refused to marry a man chosen by her family Arranged marriages are a tradition in Pakistan, where the family chooses a suitable match for their daughter. Jahan chose to live an independent life. Her income depends on the two cows she owns. Photo / Seema Gul
  • Men pass through a busy market of Saidpur village in Islamabad, where the locals buy their daily vegetables and fruits. People greet the shopkeepers as they continue on their way. The look on the boy’s face as he gazes at the shop is pleasing. Photo / Seba RehmanMen pass through a busy market of Saidpur village in Islamabad, where the locals buy their daily vegetables and fruits. People greet the shopkeepers as they continue on their way. The look on the boy’s face as he gazes at the shop is pleasing. Photo / Seba Rehman
  • In the famous summer resort of Murree, an old man sits at the door of a shop at the mall waiting for someone to give him money. The woman entering the shop wants to give him money, but he is looking into the camera to get his photo taken. Photo / Rizwan BhittaniIn the famous summer resort of Murree, an old man sits at the door of a shop at the mall waiting for someone to give him money. The woman entering the shop wants to give him money, but he is looking into the camera to get his photo taken. Photo / Rizwan Bhittani
  • The Imam, or worship leader, performs Azan, the Islamic call to prayer, at a local mosque at Hangu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He makes this call five times a day to gather people to the mosque to pray. Photo / Saeed UllahThe Imam, or worship leader, performs Azan, the Islamic call to prayer, at a local mosque at Hangu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He makes this call five times a day to gather people to the mosque to pray. Photo / Saeed Ullah
  • Baseer runs a pottery workshop in Jamrud, Khyber Agency, in FATA. He works on a machine pedaled by his feet. Some of his pots are used for drinking water; others are for kids to collect coins called khazana, treasure, in the local language. To get the money out, the children have to break to pot. Photo / Muhammad Khalid Afridi Baseer runs a pottery workshop in Jamrud, Khyber Agency, in FATA. He works on a machine pedaled by his feet. Some of his pots are used for drinking water; others are for kids to collect coins called khazana, treasure, in the local language. To get the money out, the children have to break to pot. Photo / Muhammad Khalid Afridi
  • A mother and daughter work in the fields at a village in the Swat valley. The mother cuts grass, and the 10-year-old daughter carries it for their cattle to eat. This is part of their daily work. Photo /  Irfan AliA mother and daughter work in the fields at a village in the Swat valley. The mother cuts grass, and the 10-year-old daughter carries it for their cattle to eat. This is part of their daily work. Photo / Irfan Ali
  • In Mohmand Agency, a teacher reads the lesson to her students. The government-run girl’s primary school does not exist anymore, as it was destroyed in a bomb attack by the militants who oppose education for girls. Now these girls come to our house and my mother teaches them at home. Photo / Hina Gul MohmandIn Mohmand Agency, a teacher reads the lesson to her students. The government-run girl’s primary school does not exist anymore, as it was destroyed in a bomb attack by the militants who oppose education for girls. Now these girls come to our house and my mother teaches them at home. Photo / Hina Gul Mohmand
  • A woman returns home after fetching water in a village in Mohmand Agency (FATA). It is a woman’s task to collect and carry water for domestic use. Village houses usually do not have a direct water supply. Photo / Alamgir KhanA woman returns home after fetching water in a village in Mohmand Agency (FATA). It is a woman’s task to collect and carry water for domestic use. Village houses usually do not have a direct water supply. Photo / Alamgir Khan
  • After school, boys head home in Murree. These two brothers hold hands, expressing friendship and bonding. Photo / Faryal MohmandAfter school, boys head home in Murree. These two brothers hold hands, expressing friendship and bonding. Photo / Faryal Mohmand
  • An evening election rally in Islamabad Pakistan captures the enthusiasm of the party supporters. This was a huge rally that was a challenge to photograph. Photo / Muhammad Umair An evening election rally in Islamabad Pakistan captures the enthusiasm of the party supporters. This was a huge rally that was a challenge to photograph. Photo / Muhammad Umair
  • A woman sits on a street corner in the old city neighborhood in Peshawar, waiting for a passerby’s attention. She does not have any other source of income and is forced to sit and beg. Photo / Ammad Ahmad KhanA woman sits on a street corner in the old city neighborhood in Peshawar, waiting for a passerby’s attention. She does not have any other source of income and is forced to sit and beg. Photo / Ammad Ahmad Khan
  • This 50-year-old mechanic is known for being able to fix any car problem. Captured during a moment in his busy day, he soon continues his work with dedication. Photo / HanifullahThis 50-year-old mechanic is known for being able to fix any car problem. Captured during a moment in his busy day, he soon continues his work with dedication. Photo / Hanifullah
  • It's lunch time for the laborers at the truck art market in Rawalpindi. Inside the workshop they use a bench as a makeshift lunch table. They sit together and share the food they bring from home. (Azmat Ullah)It's lunch time for the laborers at the truck art market in Rawalpindi. Inside the workshop they use a bench as a makeshift lunch table. They sit together and share the food they bring from home. (Azmat Ullah)
  • Children playfully work on their homework after school. They sit in the fields in the evening near their house in a village near Peshawar. Photo / Shah Jehan
Children playfully work on their homework after school. They sit in the fields in the evening near their house in a village near Peshawar. Photo / Shah Jehan

In a part of Pakistan where guns are everywhere, 17 young people armed only with cameras are determined to change how the world thinks about their homeland.

This week, the photographers, all from Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas that abuts Afghanistan, showed off their work at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington — displaying vivid portraits of a tough, but seemingly peaceful life, a far cry from the violence depicted in the media.

Hina Gul Mohmand, 25, caught the photography bug early. Her favorite picture is of the government-run primary girls’ school in Mohmand Agency where her mother was a teacher. In it, a teacher, her head and face covered in a black headscarf, reads to an attentive group of girls squatting on a sun-dappled floor.

The school has since been destroyed by the Taliban, Islamic fundamentalists who oppose education for girls. Unfazed, Miss Mohmand’s mother now teaches the girls at her home.

That grit has been passed on to her daughter, who says she is determined to use her camera to fight the Taliban’s campaign.

“Through my photographs, I want to focus on women’s education,” she said.

Miss Mohmand and 16 other photographers have honed their skills at two National Geographic photo camps — in Washington and Islamabad — since 2012. The National Geographic camp is part of an Internews collaboration called “Enabling Progressive Media Voices in Pakistan.”

Faryal Mohmand, 23, who is studying for her master’s degree in economics, believes she can use photography to shine a light on the problems facing her community.

“Photographs are the best way to get my message across,” she said. “If I show a photograph to an illiterate person, even he will understand what I am trying to convey.”

Pakistan’s tribal areas serve as safe havens for an assortment of militant groups, including the Taliban. U.S. drone attacks against suspected terrorists have focused on this region.

Since the start of the drone program, there have been a total of 357 strikes inside Pakistan that have killed militants and as well as civilians, according to the New America Foundation.

Hanifullah, a photographer from Bajaur Agency, says security in his hometown is good, but people want the drone strikes to end.

“We didn’t know who the Taliban were before the first drone strike in Bajaur in 2006,” he said. “After that strike, the Taliban spread all over. If drones could end militancy, it would have ended by now.”

Tribal area residents oppose militancy but want to end it through dialogue, not drones, he said.

Life in the tribal areas is tough. But life for a photographer trying to capture images in a restrained society makes it tougher.

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About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.

 

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