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Himalaya

Day 1: Up the Khyber

Michael Palin - HimalayaOn the outskirts of Peshawar we pass one of the newest cities in Pakistan, the Kachi Gahi refugee camp, thought to be the largest in the world. It grew up in 1982 to deal with the displacement of Afghans after the Soviet invasion. Because the Afghans are great entrepreneurs, trade has thrived here and almost anything from guns to drugs to washing machines is available in Smuggler's Bazaar, the heart of this warren of sheds and shacks. Since the fall of the Taliban the trickle of overladen trucks returning to Afghanistan has become a flood, yet 1.5 million refugees remain in this camp alone. And this is a fraction of the 18 million displaced people for whom Pakistan is their temporary home.

Zahoor Duranni tells me all this without any emotion, other than some quiet pride that his country has dealt with this enormous burden without complaint.

He gestures down towards the sprawling camp.

'We're all the same people.'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 1: Up the Khyber
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Peshawar
  • Book page no: 13

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