Peshawar Blues by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

Underneath Peshawar’s rigid structures, amid the tyrannical traditions, despite the social disintegration, there exist traces of a community whose dignity, hospitality, generosity, irreverence, humour, compassion and grace under pressure remain matchless. In Peshawar, friendships are real and courtesies backed by genuine sentiment. Its culture prizes self-sacrifice and community service—qualities that have given the city resilience despite decades of neglect. Had there been a government interested in genuine nation-building, it would have tapped into this as a civic resource. But until now, Peshawar has lacked a civil society, or elective affinities based around issues and ideas rather than class, clan, or party affiliation. The space for political engagement was limited, monopolized by Pakistan’s visionless political parties. There were no causes to join, no forums for meeting likeminded people. But this is gradually changing. Pakistan’s rambunctious new satellite channels, for all their flaws, are broadening the scope of political activity. Blowback from an unpopular war in Afghanistan has further shaken people out of political torpor. People are more politically aware and a civil society is finally emerging. The women’s movement around the Ladies Club is serving as a nucleus. The city is being reclaimed. Peshawar is in poor shape, but it is a city in transition. It will rise again. More here.