Tension in Pakistan
Pakistan has been a
tense land ever since it was carved from the remains
of British India and declared a state in 1947. A
succession of assassinations, wars, and military rule
have left their toll on its government and people. And
in recent years the mostly secular vision of
Pakistan's founders has diminished in the face of
increasing Muslim fundamentalism.
Such was the scene the Fall of 2001, when the massive
terror attacks on the United States prompted Pakistan
to have to choose between supporting the West's war on
terrorism and their ethnic relations in Afghanistan.
Pakistan chose to carefully ally itself with the West,
dancing on a tightrope on which it still walks.
Peshawar, near the border of Afghanistan, especially
felt this tension. Historically a gateway between the
two countries, Peshawar also holds most of the three
million Afghan refugees who have been fleeing war with
the Soviet Union and civil conflicts since the late
1970s. Overburdened with refugees, Muslim
fundamentalism, and a shady smuggling underworld,
Peshawar is always a city on the edge.
Men say their afternoon prayers in a
designated praying area of an office building