March 22, 2000 Wednesday
By Mansoor Ahmed
Peshawar - The culture and lifestyle brought by Afghan refugees is
invading Peshawar as the refugees have not come over here alone
The comparatively new breed of mostly Persian speaking Afghans, more
enlightened and liberal in their outlook and lifestyle is quickly changing the local old
mode of life. After being uprooted by war in their country, these Afghans have settled
mostly in the city's western parts such as Hayatabad Township, Nasirbagh, Tehkal,
Danishabad, Jamrud Road and numerous other localities.
The Afghan families have brought with them traditional Kabul life
and its typical culture by keeping them away from local cultural life. They have set up
their own schools, clinics, restaurants, music centres, dental clinics, health centres,
garment shops etc, more visible on main university road giving glimpses of a new
life. This is indeed, an unusual phenomenon for the natives as a new social set up
is fast emerging with the arrival of relatively cultured class of Afghan people. A
distinct feature of all this is that there is not much distinction between the men and
women as both of them are equally modernised and equally sharing normal life activity in
an alien land.
Through, a large member of Kabulis have taken shelter is some of
urban and suburban localities like Afghan colony, Zaryab Colony, Faqirabad, Haji Camp,
Sethi Town, Kohat Road, Dilazak road, Charsadda road etc. The western parts of the city
however remain major areas of their concentration giving a typical Persianised Kabul look.
Unlike old Afghan refugees long settled in the city who hail from rural Afghanistan, the
Persian speaking population is more educated, well-mannered, highly cultured, modern and
some of them ultra modern.
There is a marked difference between two kinds of refugees who came
earlier and those who came later running from war in their homeland. This sharp difference
can be defined in terms of rural and urban divide.
The relatively new comers wearing modern dresses and speaking,
Persian have made shopping centres, business and commercial places on the main University
Road, as main hub of their activities. The whole area, parks, Roads, and other public
places are frequented by Afghan families the day and night. The beautiful and distinct
features of the ladies and girls covering heads and bodies with black gowns or sheets are
some of refreshing scenes in our totally male-dominated society.
According to some careful estimates over 50 per cent of Kabuli
Afghan women are educated. A fairly good number of them have opened their own schools and
English language centres in rented premises. These war-affected people in fact, have
made their own world in a short time eversince they fled Kabul.
Moreover, delicious Afghan food like pulao, grilled meat, chicken
soup, tikka Kabab, special salad and other tasty items, are slurred in the restaurants
they run. Even the natives now prefer to dine out at these neat and clean restaurants
whose mushroom growth has largely upset the locals running their food business.
Quality-wise, the locals cannot compete Afghanis in the food business.
In fact, most of Afghanis eversince they left their homeland did not
sit idle and some how managed to involve themselves in earning their own livelihood to
feed their families. It was, of course, a challenging and difficult task for these
displaced people which they successfully accepted and braved amidst heavy odds.
A significant aspect of Persian speaking Afghan populace is quick
popularity of Persian language. Several shops, hotels, restaurants, commercial places
owned by Pakistanis are displaying signboards in Persian to attract their Afghan
customers. The local people on the occasions of family weddings and similar other
engagements prefer to invite Afghan singers and dancing groups to amuse the guests. The
impact of Afghans culture has become so heavy both socially and culturally that time is
not far-off when it will completely dominate the natives way of life because of its
superiority and competitiveness.