Friday, 07 May 2021 01:50 GMT

Pakistan- Afghan hospitality is second to none

(MENAFN - Tribal News Network) Jemima Afridi

PESHAWAR: When it comes to Afghanistan, I always got excited and wished to visit the neighbouring country. Afghanistan feels like my second home as we share common culture, religion, and language.

When I was told about a peace conference in Afghanistan where I was representing the 'WAAK' movement as a sportsperson and peace agent, I was buzzing with excitement. I immediately said yes and started gearing myself up for it. My excitement got a little bit down when it was postponed due to coronavirus pandemic, but soon the new dates were scheduled on 06 March, 2021.

When we were moving from Peshawar, I knew some of the participants already. And the rest were so nice that we got frank on the way to Afghanistan. I had a very good journey with Amjad Shahzad. When we reached the Pak-Afghan border, the situation was not ideal. There wasn't proper discipline. Those people who were sick were not given priority and they were in severe pain. Children were crying here and there. I was so disappointed, but I also learned some new words like Afghani use Karachi word for a wheelchair.

When we entered Afghanistan, it was like entering a new world. All of a sudden, everything changed. We were treated as a royal family, especially me, Fatima Faraz and Benazir Mandokhel, as we were the youngest participants. All the hosts were so hospitable.

When we reached Jalalabad, we were guests of Zia

    Haq Amarkhel at the Governor House. We saw all Governor House, although it was under renovation, but still it was dazzling. We were told that we would be taking to Kabul by helicopter at Jalalabad. I was expecting that it would be a pleasant journey onwards, but the noise of helicopter was so irritating. I put cotton in my ears, but the rest of people suffered a lot due to extreme noise. But all is well that ends well.

    After an hour of rest, we were taken to InterContinental Kabul for the opening ceremony where the importance of this conference was highlighted and people shared their points of view on what they can do as individuals and what we can do collectively for peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    The next day we visited the residences of Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, and we found them so hospitable, nice and forthcoming. But my heart melted when I met Ashraf Ghani. I don't have words to describe his personality. The way he was respecting everyone and standing for everyone was unbelievable. His vision for Afghanistan and Pakistan was admirable.

    We were constantly visiting government sites for three days, and somehow we were becoming bored. So the next day the hosts took us to Kabul Bazaar, Qargha, and Paghman Palace, and the way they had arranged everything was beyond our expectations. We also visited Shamshad TV. All the places were too good but I was even more attracted towards their people as they were extremely hospitable and humble.

    The next day, Maryam Sulemankhel invited us for a cultural and musical night at her home. We were literally feeling like we are at our home. She was a very cheerful person.

    We spent six days in Afghanistan and we enjoyed every moment. Whoever I had met was really nice to me. Whether that was Askar Shoaib who always guides us regarding different places or Jamil Khan who even can't speak Pashto, but still we had a lot of fun as we talk through our facial expressions and through different signs. We were so irritated by Samad and Khayal because they wake us early in the morning but while leaving we were even missing them.

    When I returned to Pakistan, I was expecting the same pampering from my family and friends. But fortunately, my sister told me that you are no longer in Afghanistan. 'So come out of that place. Behave like a common person.'


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