20 January, 2021

Pakistan/ Peshawar

Pakistan/ Peshawar

Persecuted by Aurangzeb in the 17th century, or sent scurrying to the hills for refuge twice in the twentieth century, the Sikhs who have joined the Pakhtun tribes in these mountain regions are a breed apart. The tribal principle of sanctuary to the Amsaya, or protected one, was what eased them into a region known for its traditional and rigid view of Islam. These anomalous "tribesmen"-their beards rolled, wearing distinctive colourful turbans-are now part of the landscape, under the protection of one Pakhtun clan or another.

Says Charanjit Singh, a Sikh trader: "The Sikhs have an ability to completely integrate into the local culture." Jadran Afridi, a medical practitioner affiliated with the Pakhtunkhwa Qaumi Party (pqp), says that the Sikhs here speak local Pakhto dialects fluently, treat their womenfolk as tribal Pakhtuns do. "They are as illiterate and hard-headed as Afridis and Orakzais, and they are just as dependable in personal loyalty. Their hospitality is proverbial; every household keeps separate utensils for their Muslim friends."

"There was a time when...



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