Langar – Connecting Afghanistan

Yodgor family. Aga Khan portraits always decorate the houses of Ismaili families in Tajikistan Pamir. Three months ago, on July 31st exactly, I came to this little bridge. That time I was coming with the Shah (the King) of Panjah, district officials of Khandud, and Afghan soldiers. At that time, we were there to see the opening of the bridge and overwhelmed by the optimistism of the desperate Wakhi people from Afghan side, about the change of their future by this new border. Today, I am at the other side of the bridge, seeing the barren hills of Afghanistan with all of its hopes, from Tajikistan side, with Mulloev Yodgor Dildorovich, the khalifa (religious leader)-cum-teacher of Langar. Yodgor was among those who were overwhelmed by millions of mixed feelings when the border was opened, only for one day. On August 1, 2006, there was held an Afghan bazaar just next to the bridge in Langar side. The people from Afghanistan Wakhan Corridor were coming from all directions, from as far as Khandud and Sarhad-e-Boroghel, to attend this rare moment. So were people from Tajikistan side. This was not merely a moment of trading, but also a moment of reunion of [...]

October 26, 2006 // 1 Comment

Darra Adam Khel – The Gun Factories

April 16, 2006 They have known bullets and guns since childhood Darra Adam Khel is a village 38 kms south of Peshawar, on the way to Kohat. It looked like a normal village of Pakistan border, but somehow resemble Afghanistan villages also. It looked normal along the way: mud square houses, green field, boys wandering around, shops with their glass windows, and Pathans with their distinctive caps. But the name of Darra has something else to proud about, it’s the gun factory of Pakistan. The people in this area, if may say, all do the same business: gun making and selling. The factories are hidden in the rooms in the small alleys and bazaars, and gun shops are widely open. Pen-shapped pistols It’s obvious that this kind of place was not supposed for tourists to wander around. In fact, before the area was open for tourists, many tourist buses came here to visit the gun shops and ‘check’ the local made AK-47, guns, snippers, pistols, etc etc. Since Benazir Bhutto era, this area was closed for tourists. It was still in Pakistani teritorry, but now the procedure is similar to visiting a tribal area: a permit is needed, and not [...]

April 16, 2006 // 1 Comment

Gilgit – Two Indonesian Prisoners

Waiting for freedom March 10. 2006 Maryam and Christina, the name of the two poor girls, who were detained by the Pakistani border officials when they tried to smuggle heroine to China. A meeting with Mr Raja Sadafar in Deputy Commisioner office in Gilgit led me to a visit to the Gilgit District Jail today. “They are very poor, really poor girls,” said Raja, mentioning that in a year there was no even a single Indonesian visiting them. He asked me to visit them, as a countryman, and bring them some fruits or something. I have heard the story of the two girls long before, from several different people. They were innocent girls, involved in this kind of business for the first time, thus inexperienced. There was a box of 4 kg heroine planted in the bottom of their backpacks. One of the girls successfully passed the Pakistani check, but when the other was trying to pass, the experienced border guard suspected that the backpack was to heavy for their tiny body size. It was really a bad luck that even the manual custom search of Pakistan border could find the hidden stuff in their bag, locked firmly in a [...]

March 10, 2006 // 4 Comments