Saturday, May 13, 2006


We are now in Peshawar. It's a "border town" near Afghanistan but so much more. It is also the "border town" of the tribal areas, and capital of the North West Frontiers Province. The people in the area are almost all Pashtun. Known for their excessive hospitality, extreme tribal moral code, and for creating the Taliban. It's another example of the mix that is Pakistan. The official language of Pakistan is Urdu and is the first language of only 10% of the population of the country. Most of the area surrounding is off-limits even to non-Pashtun Pakistanis. The only way to get around is with a permit and a local tribal guard. Apparently everyone that is, was or will be a terrorist passes through the area. A lot of it is scare tactics and business now though so they can get more money. There is a huge "smugglers bazar" just outside of town. It has everything imaginable apparently and as it is right on the edge of the tribal area, there is a gate and behind the gate, on the tribal side (where you are officially not allowed to go but everyone manages to sneak into) is where they sell tons of weapons, hashish and opium. I should be going tomorrow I think with some people from our hostel.
Today I went on a "field trip" with an american guy from our hostel to the gun factory town of Darra Adam Khel. It's technically off-limits to foreigners and you need a permit but in reality everyone just jumps on a minibus, prays they don't get stopped at the checkposts and then pays a "bribe" to the tribal guards in the town to escort you around for an hour or so, shoot the guns (if you want) and then get sent back to Peshawar.
So the two of us went (it's not a girl thing), had a few strange looks from people at the bus station when we told them where we wanted to go, but got to Darra without any problems. The guard quickly found us and invited us in for tea while he told us what the deal was. He's supposed to send us back but well, a little money will get a little time first......
Almost the entire town is involved in gun making. They say that anyone there can, if given a new gun he's never seen before, copy it exactly in less than 10 days. There are of course tons of Kalashnikovs, but also lots of shotguns, handguns, pen guns, M16s, you name it. All perfectly reproduced, with only little hand tools. They even recycle and cut down used bullets, to make new ones. German, Russian, Chinese, American, whatever. They have it all. It's crazy to see and hold all the guns. You can also hear guns constantly being tested by buyers or builders, even just across the street. Definately had a few jumps! What does it all cost? Well, a copy Kalashnikov runs at about 10000 rupees or (~$200) and are the most popular. Others can be much cheaper, shotguns (~$100), handguns (~$60). We opted not to shoot any, but got a couple of cool photos!
This is the wild area for us, so keep up the prayers. We have to go back on the move again in a few days so you might not hear from us for a bit.


At 12:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are nuts. But I've already figured that part out following you around India. Be safe.


At 11:52 AM , Anonymous Andrew Chobaniuk said...

whats the soccer culture like over there?

At 8:36 AM , Blogger Saqib said...

Ammon! its my home town.I m familiar with small duffy streets of dara adam khiel...So WELCOME to peshawar,the city of unfairable pushtons.
but you (just like americans) promted us to the talibans buiders.
Indeed we are not but if you people keep on thinking like that,we may turned to be..
best of luck to vissit middleeast countries..babye saqib(physics).


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