When I landed in the Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad it seemed almost mundane, at least by central Asian standards. Despite only having electricity part of the day, the place seems to to work under a functioning bureaucracy. It’s even clear what side of the road people drive on. Something I’m not really used to out of this part of the world.
This changes drastically however as you go west to Peshawar and beyond. This is the North West Frontier province and the tribal belt with Afghanistan. Although it’s still Pakistan on the map, the government has no real control over the area. This is where it’s alleged Osama Bin Laden is hiding out. This is where the rule of law becomes more optional. It’s pretty much what you imagine the old wild west to be. Except without alcohol, Clint Eastwood and the horses are mostly replaced with donkeys. All the guns and drugs are still here.
The frontier has a number of interesting cottage industries ranging from fireworks to cheap knock off’s of AK47 machine guns right up to Taliban fighters for export into Afghanistan. In turn the frontier imports vast quantities of Opium, hashish and Afghan refugees laboring away making bricks for $5 dollars a day..
Hidden away in town, a guy in a tiny workshop toils away with simple hand tools producing automatic firearms. Considering his main tools are metal files, a few drills and an bench vice, the firearms he makes are actually pretty good. While I was there he’d just completed a new AK47 machine gun as was working away on a Chinese hand gun. If anyone is interested in coming here and picking up an interesting souvenir, a copy of AK47 goes for about $300USD and takes about 10-15 days to produce. Hand guns are a steal at about $80USD.
Just get here before America bombs it.