The legendary city of Peshawar is situated in the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP), previously called the NWFP (North West Frontier Province) province . It shares a long and porous border with Afghanistan and some Central Asian states.
Once the legendary city of Peshawar was a famous stop over to China, on the Silk Route. The story teller’s bazaar, with its old boarding houses and tea shops is a befitting reminder of those times. Peshawar was also an important center of the Buddhist Gandhra Civilization. The Peshawar museum has some of the masterpieces from that civilization.
Then it was the turn of the Moguls to rule Peshawar.The famous “Balahasar” fort built by the great Akbar reminds of that age. Peshawar was also ruled by the Sikhs who also left lasting imprints on its culture and civilization. The British were the last rulers of this legendary city. The Peshawar cantonment with its Anglo-Indian bungalows and churches is a befitting reminder of their rule. And if one mentions the name of this city, one must never forget the historic Khyber Pass.
After 1947, the Islamia College was turned into the University of Peshawar. Another premier education center of Pakistan in Peshawar is the Edwards College.
Peshawar, is famous for its food, especially roasted whole lamb and green tea. Peshawar is also known all over the world for its artisans , they specialize in making silver ornaments and copper plates, monograms and cutlery.
The majority of people of Peshawar are of Afghan ethnic origin. They are Sunni Muslims and their language is Pushto. In the inner city Hindko language is also spoken by the original inhabitants of the subcontinent, the Dravidians.
There are also many minorities living in this historic city, including Shia Muslims, Christian, Sikhs and Hindus.
As most of the people living here are Pushtoons of the ethnic Afghan origin, the daily crossing of the Pak-Afghan border, without any visa or other documents is a normal affair. This is so because branches of the same families live on both sides of the border.
Peshawar was a peaceful city before the Afghan war of the 80’s. This war changed the whole social atmosphere of the city which today harbors fundamentalist Islamic militant groups from all over the globe. The ills of the Afghan War of the 80’s have turned Peshawar into a hub of buying and selling illicit weapons and drugs.
These days Peshawar is in the news for the mass murder of the Christians on last Sunday. As many a eighty three people, majority of them women and children, lost their precious lives and over a hundred and fifty sustained injuries.
As in the past , in the shape of Silk Route, so today, the city of Peshawar is a major supply route for the main supplies of fuel, weapons and other commodities of daily use for the ISAF and NATO troops, engaged in the war on terror in Afghanistan.
In short, the city of Peshawar was of legendary strategic interest in the past, as it is today and will continue to be so in the future.
Written By: Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada