When you hear about Pakistan in the media lately, you pretty much hear about one town, Peshawar.
A stones throw from Afghanistan, Peshawar is the victim of countless bombings, and is considered highly ‘dangerous’ and a complete ‘don’t’ on your travel itinerary.
(If you’ve seen the Vice Guide to travel – Pakistan, it also neighbors with “Darra Adam Khel”, the gun manufacturing town they visit)
Of all the other backpackers I’ve met here in Pakistan none were visiting Peshawar, most labeling it as ‘not worth the risk’ etc etc.
I decided to go anyway.
When you think about a town that is being bombed (as in suicide/terrorism bombed, not NATO air-strike bombed) you have to keep something in mind:
Life goes on after a bombing.
To put it into a local perspective, if a bomb went off West Melbourne, its not going to shut-down Pahran for the day, or if it went off in Bondi Sydney, its not going to shut-down Newtown.
And to be caught up in such a thing, you would have to be in that exact spot at that exact moment.
30 seconds either side and you could be completely fine.
Realistically there’s more chance of getting hit by a car/rickshaw/truck crossing the street.
The moral of the towns-people and the general feeling within the area is a completely different matter, but I’m only talking about personal safety.
I spent 4 days in Peshawar, walked all around the Old City and Saddar Bazaar, including exploring/photographing many of the existing bomb sites, and the whole time I felt completely fine.
You could argue ‘what i felt’ and the actual statistical ‘danger’ of Peshawar are two completely different things, but if you want a ground information interpretation this is it.
I didn’t feel any more threatened than I have in any part of the country, and for that matter, I haven’t felt threatened anywhere.
Considering all that they have been through, the people of Peshawar couldn’t have been any more hospitable and kind. I was continually invited for Chai at every shop I stopped, people offering to help me with anything I needed, and everyone always with huge smiles on their faces.
(Though the curiosity as to why someone would be traveling here never stopped.)
If you have the chance to visit Peshawar think twice about it, but only for the reason if it’s logical in your itinerary.