Pakistan / Places We Go

Islamia College, Peshawar

While we were killing time in Peshawar waiting for the fighting in the Khyber Pass to die down enough for us to make it through to Afghanistan, we kept casting about for new things to see.

Alleged (I’m very skeptical of this) to be one of the intellectual birthplaces of the Taliban, I was interested in Islamia College. However, upon visiting, I found nothing to suggest the presence of such elements. It seemed like a fairly typical college campus anywhere – except with more attractive buildings and gardens…

There is a guard outside the entrance to the school, but it is no problem to get inside. Not sure what he would do with that old musket against a determined attacker anyway, but oh well…


I thought the campus was beautiful:








This is Gul. I stopped to talk to him while we were wandering around the Islamia College campus. After we talked for a little while, I asked if I could take his picture. He agreed and asked me to send him a copy. When I eventually got back to California I did indeed print out and mail him a copy along with my email address. I know he received my letter because a few weeks later, I received an email from a friend of Gul that had access to the internet thanking me for the picture and asking for $70 so that Gul could go to Iran.  I didn’t send the $70.  Hey, I’m a student myself and I want money to go to Iran too.  Aside from that, the blunt request for money put me off a little.  Shit.  Maybe I should have sent the money…  What would you have done?


The student library has a large section of books in English with works ranging from Jane Austen to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to complex works on microeconomics…

And near to the library is the school cafeteria where I had the best school lunch of my entire academic experience spanning preschool through to my master’s degree. If they can produce fantastic school lunches in an underfunded school in the middle of a city experiencing a low-grade civil war between Taliban militants and government forces, why the hell can’t we produce better school lunches in the United States?


8 thoughts on “Islamia College, Peshawar

  1. Regarding your question, I wouldn’t have sent the money to Gul. It would give me the impression of a “convenient” friendship. You did the right thing by sending the pic. This school is much similar to a castle than to a University. Wow. I wish my University was like that.

  2. I strongly disagree with what you said about Islamia College… “Alleged to be one of the intellectual birthplaces of the Taliban”. I am just surprised and even speechless about how could you say such thing about this college. I am sure this is the first time Islamia college has ever been attached to taliban. You lucky know you are against people who are weak and every body who matters today will believe you whatever you say. I know you know that your statement was your own and no where before you came accross this allegation before. I can see always see confidence in your words. The confidence that you Americans are enjoying. You know that you people will always be declared right even if proved wrong again and again by the time.

    • Thank you for your comment, Asim. First of all, I have British and Italian citizenship, not just American. Secondly, I did not make up the Taliban comment about Islamia College. Third, I do not think America is confident now – certainly not like after World War II or the end of the Cold War. Wouldn’t you agree? Also, do you really think people believe what Americans say? I think that after George Bush and the fiasco of invading Iraq that no one believes what Americans say now. I don’t even believe what the American government says most of the time. All politicians lie, don’t they? Lastly, I thought Islamia College was a beautiful campus – far more attractive than my own. And I imagine most people are smart enough to understand the difference between allegations about some former students of a college and that college itself.

  3. You did the right thing not to send the money to Mr. Gul. I doubt it was Mr. Gul who wanted the money, rather it seems like someone pulling a fast one on you, using Gul’s name. $70 in 2009 were about Rs.6000, which are not enough to go to Karachi from Peshawar, yet to Iran. And the sum of $70 sounds really odd as well. So it did put me off a bit as well, since the people of Peshawar don’t ask for money from foreigners, so I see some other motive behind the request by someone else than Mr. Gul, but any way, you did the right thing not to send it.

    On the matter of beauty of Islamia College, surely, you’d never see something like that anywhere in the world. It was built in 1913 and since then it has been a prestigious educational institution, that has nothing to do with the militancy as you mentioned “Intellectual birthplace of Talibans”.

    As you have seen, Peshawar is far off from Talibanization. The religious sentiments of the people should not be confused with the political movement of Talibans funded by many foreign countries to destabilize the region to keep the war machine active.

    I am an Islamian, and I have never come across with such statement ever in my life that Islamia College has ever been associated with Talibans. In fact, far from the idea itself.

    I am sure you must have come across with such statement on mainstream Western media, as you mentioned about their lies and deceit, to brainwash the innocent population of the west to rally behind the war machine waging wars on weak to plunder their resources and go about modern imperialism, but I can tell you, Islamia College or any conventional educational institution in Peshawar, has nothing to do with Talibanization.

    M. Khan

    • I’m glad you endorse my not sending the money… Islamia is indeed a remarkable campus and a very beautiful one. And I never had the impression that Islamia was in any way linked to the Taliban either. However, it was Pakistani residents of Peshawar that shared that tidbit with me, which is why I included it. Perhaps they were just trying to spice things up for a Westerner…

  4. It’s very strange that locals would say such a thing. I doubt they would be residents of Peshawar. Sounds like some immigrants with ulterior motives, or as you said, to spice up things for foreigners or might be that they weren’t even able to speak up their mind clearly, given English is like 4th language there, hence could be misinterpreted entirely.

    Because getting into Islamia College is like getting into Harvard or Yale. You literally have to walk on the water to get into this college and it’s very hard to believe that the leaders of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, with their limited psychoses and zero intellectual level, would be allowed to walk outside of the college yet to study in it.

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