My name is Daud Mehsood and I was born in South Waziristan. For those of you who might not know, South Waziristan is the largest of the tribal Agencies of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). While most people know about the FATA region owing to the infamous war on terror, there is very little that is known about the people of my area and their struggles. At the same time I understand that a lot has already been said and written about the surge of extremism in FATA and the way these extremist organizations hijacked our faith and corrupted the mindsets of the locals. Thus, I will use this blog to narrate my own story and through it give a glimpse of the lives and aspirations of my people. After reading my story I hope you’ll come to appreciate that the people FATA are not very different from the people anywhere else in the world and that we aspire for the same things that everyone else does. The only difference is perhaps our struggle, which manifold more complicated owing to the lack of development and the ongoing conflict in our area.
When War Reached My Doorstep
One cold night in 2009, I was in my room when the sound of bullets broke the silence. The sound of bullets was not something unusual for my ears, however what alarmed me was the proximity of the sound. My family and my whole surrounding was jolted by the loud noise. Pakistan military’s operation “Rah-e-Nijat” to uproot the terrorist cells in South Waziristan had begun and with it the war had reached my doorstep.
In this war against terrorism I lost my home. In fact virtually everyone in South Waziristan lost their homes as 400,000 families were displaced and forced to move to Tank (southern district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Dera Ismail Khan. We became IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and after losing our homes we were left with no option but to live in open air camps having no facilities at all.
The initial days in the camp were like a nightmare. There was meager food and no respect at all. The lack of food and warmth and the abundance of humiliation left me physically and emotionally drained.
The Struggle After the War
The experiences at the IDP camp had left me so scarred that even after the military operation was over and some form of normalcy restored in the lives of the displaced locals, I could not break away from the trauma that had been caused.
After years of struggling with my inner demons, I realized that to lead a normal, healthy life I had to find my footing beyond my hometown.
In search of better education I moved my base to Islamabad. (While en route from FATA to Islamabad the way I was investigated on check posts and racially profiled makes for another long story for another day!)
Determined to leave the past behind and strive for a better future, I gradually started evolving by learning new things and adapting to the new environment while maintaining the integrity of my own culture.
My perseverance began to pay off and I completed college. Soon after, in order to pursue my degree in media, I took admission in BS Media & Mass Communication in International Islamic University, Islamabad.
Now some readers might find this to be an abrupt turn in my tale but all through my struggles I had nurtured a dream: to become a model. Not just a model but to be top of the line.
However, nurturing a dream is one thing but for someone hailing from the tribal areas, to make such a dream come true is a tall order. Not only must a malnourished boy first work on his physical appearance but then also stand tall against the psychology of prejudice because of his birth place i.e. South Waziristan.
No longer one to be daunted by challenges, I joined a gym. I would spend the mornings attending classes and focusing on my course work and the evenings in the gym getting my body into shape.
Once satisfied with my progress, I started submitting my portfolios in different modeling and advertising agencies. Soon enough I began getting calls from the modeling agencies along with fashion designers willing to hire me for their brand shoots! A guy from South Waziristan had finally become a model!
I might still not be among the top names in the industry but I’m determined and there’s no doubt in my mind that one day I will achieve my goal.
To all those reading my story, I only have three words: NEVER GIVE UP!