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Himalaya

Day 2: Peshawar

Michael Palin - HimalayaBy the time we get back to the hotel, exhausted but exhilarated by the intensity of life here, I'm ready for a beer at the Gulbar, about the only place in Peshawar where alcohol can legally be sold, to non-Muslims only of course. But the doors are firmly closed, bound together with adhesive tape. A sticker announces that the bar has been 'sealed off' until further notice, by order of the local authorities.

I learn later that this has nothing to do with hygiene or any trading malpractice. It's to do with moves by the MMA, the conservative Islamist majority in the local assembly, to introduce Sharia law on the North-West Frontier.

The Sharia law would not only ban alcohol for foreigners (hardly a nightmare) but close cinemas, ban non-religious music, forbid male doctors to examine women, forbid male tailors to make garments for women, and make failure to pray punishable by law.

Eat at the hotel's Chinese restaurant and, with only tea to linger over, am back in my room by nine. A small sticker is attached to the desktop in my bedroom. On it is an arrow indicating the direction of Mecca, and a card, which reads 'For Prayer Mat Dial 47'.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 2: Peshawar
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Peshawar
  • Book page no: 16

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