At the edge of Pakistan’s Balochistan province lies Chaman, which literally means Garden, named after a centuries old small garden here.
Unlike its name, the city is not a bustling green city rather a poor and unexplored border town.
“These are barren mountains and barren area, passengers take such busses to Afghanistan via Chaman but when it is damaged, it is left and they have to take another transport, it is a hard and tough area and the passengers face loads of trouble to pass through Pakistani border of Chaman.”
A common myth that the people of this border region are hardliners and have no love for education and sports was broken in front of us.
As we entered the city, a massive pro-education and reforms rally caught our attention.
9-year-old Hajira and rest of her classmates were part of the rally demanding more schools and teachers in their village.
“I want to become a doctor to serve the community, we demand more schools and teachers.”
As we drove ahead on our way into the main city, we saw young boys playing cricket in the middle of a mountainous valley.
The area is not just physically very remote but also has no internet or cable tv connection.
Transportation remains the main source of income for nearly one million inhabitants of Chaman.
The engagement of the NATO forces in Afghanistan have brought good business for the local traders.
Ahmadkhel Imran has witnessed the flow of dollars on both sides of the border in the last one decade…
But as the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan nears, things are changing in Chaman as well.
Ahmadkhel Imran has witnessed the flow of dollars on both sides of the border in the last one decade, but as the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan nears, things are changing in Chaman as well.
“The fear of US withdrawal have created fear amongst the trader communities, property prices have fallen down and the flow of money is lessening.”
Generally, the perception about Chaman remains that it is home to conservative ethnic Pashtoons who have close ties with Afghanistan.
Matiullah Achakzai is a local journalist.
“Every morning more than 20 thousand people cross over to Afghanistan for daily wage jobs and come back in the evening.’’
To our surprise we found a decades-old and well maintained Hindu temple in the midle of Chaman city.
The Kumaar family looks after the temple. 44 years old Suresh Kumar says he does not feel stranger amongst the locals.
“We live here with such a comfort that days, nights and so many years have passed and we hardly feel the passage of time.’
Around sixty Hindu families live in the Chaman city and most of them are associated with the trade of herbs and cosmetics.
In the courtyard of the temple we met Suresh’s 77 years old mother Devmani Kummar.
“When India got split into Pakistan and India, there were some riots around in the beginning but we have left all those bad memories behind and now living peacefully in Chaman city”.
Just before the sun sets, we went further to the Zero point, the place where limits of Pakistan ends and that of Afghanistan begins.