Friday, August 2, 2013

S2L77: Peshawar

From 1977 03 17 Pakistan

We were back on the road ever westward after a relaxing (!) stay in Pakistan's Swat Valley (!!). Do a Google search -- the only time the words "Swat Valley" and "relaxing" are used together any more is when the military relaxes a curfew there. It only gets worse to the west. There's not much room between the Swat Valley and Afghanistan. All roads funnel through Peshawar, the capital of what used to be called the North-West Frontier Provinces. This is at the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, the key point on the strategic route connecting Central Asia and South Asia.

After the jump, Peshawar today... and in 1977.

Today, Peshawar is at the heart of the struggle between Islamist militants and the Pakistani central government, between the Taliban and the United States military. News stories of the war on terror are more likely to carry a dateline of "Peshawar" than almost any other city. As I write these words, here are headlines for five stories that Google News returns for "Peshawar":
  • Suspected militant killed in Peshawar operation
  • PTI attitude helping Taliban gain foothold in Peshawar
  • Gunned down: Militants kill tribal elder in Peshawar
  • Two security men injured in IED attack in Peshawar
  • Peshawar commissioner convenes meeting on security

Even in 1977, Peshawar had a reputation for lawlessness, as suggested by these photos, taken just south of Peshawar in Darra Adam Khel, a village pretty much devoted to selling guns. Kind of like Texas on steroids. The "International Arms and Hashish Store" was there, complete with the owner handing out business cards to distribute to your friends. We certainly didn't fully appreciate just how lawless the region was to become in the decades since. What can I say? We were young, dumb and happy. Good times.

From 1977 03 17 Pakistan
From 1977 03 17 Pakistan
One of a continuing series. Start: Around the World in 800 Days Previous: Partying Among the Taliban Next: Khyber Pass

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