Before the Taliban: Memories of Peshawar

Before the Taliban: Memories of Peshawar
by Farzana Versey
Countercurrents, May 12, 2009

As the city is on edge, and friends are being seen as enemies, I want to share recollections of the times I spent in the capital of the frontier province on the trips I made to Pakistan between the years 2000 and 2007.

* * *

We were hungry. I told Salim, my guide, I wanted to eat at an authentic Kabuli restaurant. Breads were being baked on upturned woks. The place was packed. I was the only woman in there. A scraggly-looking man came up to us and parted a curtain; the few men having their meal immediately got up and moved out without a word. Chivalry was unspoken and not brandished with a flourish.

The sofa felt wonderfully comfortable after the long drive. The moment I raised my eyes I found (Indian film star) Ajay Devgan staring at me. Stuck on the wall, his photograph typified the Afghan obsession with Hindi films.

We had a hearty meal. There was a stew, some barbequed meats and sautéed vegetables. The food did not leave you feeling full, cooked as it was with a touch so light that even flesh had a feathery texture. Bowls of yoghurt served as dessert.

Driving back to the city, we passed another route. This was Hayatabad; it was called the mini Islamabad due to its well-structured houses, trees peeping out of high walls, bursts of floral colour in the balconies. The inhabitants were invisible. Who were they? Salim explained, ‘Mainly Afghans, the ones who have made it big. But they can only rent the houses, not buy them. There are two million Afghan mohajirs here, so they say Peshawar should be theirs.’ --->

(more of the extract
here or on the link in the title)


  1. FV,
    You touch a really important point, The being Pathan for 3000 years Part ...The Pathans are being seen as militant Muslims or Fundamentalist Muslims ...why cant the world realise their being Islamic is just incidental...It is cultural background which makes the difference , A muslim in Turkey and a muslim in Lucknow and one in Indonesia are very very different muslims ....their orientation in religion is influenced by their culture . they cant be painted by the same brush like the US Immigration does ...
    Pathans have Never ever ever lost a war, why dont people read an NCERT book on history ...Pathans were only asians who were never colonised ...they will never loose a war .,.....whoever fights them ...unless they are nuked ..and I fear that ...
    Pathans are used to be living in ZEro infrastructure ....so they can manage ...lets take example of Punjabis ...Indian Army and Paki Army are dominated by Punjabis ...there are many sikhs with pasthun backgroud ...they are born fighters ....
    Culture drives wars not always religion ....

  2. Manish:

    It isn't just the US immigration but almost everyone because we ape the West.

    You make a pertinent point about cultures driving wars and not religion. I am amazed that even experts don't realise that there are different types of such cultural divisions.


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