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Chaman, a border town of Balochistan, connects Pakistan with neighboring Spin Boldak of Kandahar province of Afghanistan. Chaman derives its name from Chaman Das, a prominent Hindu fruit trader in the area before partition. The Hindu community – with a population of 3500-4000 people - has been living in the town since before partition. Although not immune to the violence that has engulfed the rest of the country in the last decade, Chaman has largely been unaffected by faith-based conflict. The Hindus in the area are traders by profession and have lived peacefully among the Muslim majority. Janmashtami, which marks the birth of Lord Krishna, was celebrated in the area last week. -Text and Photos by Matiullah Achakzai

A man walks up the stairs to the Sri Sanatan Dharam Sabha. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
A man walks up the stairs to the Sri Sanatan Dharam Sabha. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
The Sri Sanatan Dharam Sabha. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
The Sri Sanatan Dharam Sabha. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
The Hindus in the area are traders by profession and own most grocery stores -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
The Hindus in the area are traders by profession and own most grocery stores -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
An old Hindu temple now serves as a residential building for the community after a new worship place was build in Chaman town. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
An old Hindu temple now serves as a residential building for the community after a new worship place was build in Chaman town. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
A view of Ram Chand Bazaar, where a number of Hindu traders run their businesses. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
A view of Ram Chand Bazaar, where a number of Hindu traders run their businesses. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
A view of Tularam road, which has recently been renamed as ‘Abdul Sattar road’. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
A view of Tularam road, which has recently been renamed as ‘Abdul Sattar road’. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
A group of boys performe on eve of the festival of Janmashtami in Chaman. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
A group of boys performe on eve of the festival of Janmashtami in Chaman. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Devotees offer prayers during the Janmashtami festival. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Devotees offer prayers during the Janmashtami festival. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Children take part in the Janmashtami celebrations at a temple in Chaman. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Children take part in the Janmashtami celebrations at a temple in Chaman. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Devotees offer prayers during the Janmashtami festival. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Devotees offer prayers during the Janmashtami festival. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Devotees perform hymns during the Janmashtami festival. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Devotees perform hymns during the Janmashtami festival. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Devotees offer prayers during the Janmashtami festival. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Devotees offer prayers during the Janmashtami festival. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Devotees offer prayers during the Janmashtami festival. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
Devotees offer prayers during the Janmashtami festival. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
A woman prays in a temple in Chaman town during the Janmashtami celebrations. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai
A woman prays in a temple in Chaman town during the Janmashtami celebrations. -Photo by Matiullah Achakzai

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Comments (61) Closed



Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Aug 25, 2014 05:33pm

Good news for minorities in the "land of the pure."

SA Aug 25, 2014 05:52pm

Good to see that Pakistani minorities are living somewhere in relative peace. I hope these pictures don't make them a target though.

Salman Aug 25, 2014 06:00pm

Very interesting narrative. It would be good to know when and why these Rather adventurous Hindus came and settled in this border area with Afghania. Also what is their future outlook. Are the new generation following the religion or have they reverted for the benefits of security and acceptance?

GKBaloch Aug 25, 2014 06:51pm

Good to know that there is a place where sanity prevails.

A. Mirza Aug 25, 2014 07:04pm

Good to see this harmony and tolerance. Never knew this about Chaman. Nice!

Dr. Cajetan Coelho Aug 25, 2014 07:07pm

Happy feast. Long live Indo-Pak friendship.

Iqbal Zaman Khan Aug 25, 2014 07:45pm

It would we nice if the old building could be restored. Nice to see Pakistani Hindu prospering and living in peace in their Pakistan.

Afghan Maihan Aug 25, 2014 08:05pm

@Salman

They have been living throughout Afghanistan since time immemorial.

Tamil Arasan Aug 25, 2014 08:25pm

Tularam road, which has recently been renamed as

SANJEEV KUMAR YADAV Aug 25, 2014 09:28pm

Thanks Dawn. May peace prevail all over the world and we grow together.

Abhishek Aug 25, 2014 10:07pm

@Salman They were not "adventurerers" or settlers. They are the ones who still haven't converted to Islam. They have been living there for Millenia.

Sarah Rehan Aug 25, 2014 10:51pm

Happy and amazed to find this! However, I sincerely hope that these pictures don't make them a target.

Peace and freedom feel so good. If only they were possible always.

Pankaj Aug 26, 2014 12:51am

@Salman Dear, they haven't come there from anywhere. They are living there since ages. Right question you should ask from yourself: who came and made you as you are today. These brave fellows didn't change their faith out of fear.

Shailesh Aug 26, 2014 01:55am

This is good to see but for how long ? The purification drive has started with the road. Humans will be (forced to) follow soon.

Rahim Imtiaz Gill Aug 26, 2014 06:18am

The Hindu residents of Chaman are our kith and kin for they are like our forefathers, who were also Hindu. Respecting and sheltering them is so important as it reflects our respect for our forefathers too.

Toral Aug 26, 2014 07:26am

Why are there only men in this temple?

Mustafa Aug 26, 2014 07:43am

Our society had been tolerant and respectful to everybody & strongly believed in progress for hundreds of years.It had been demonstrated by Vision of Akbar the Great and Dara Shikoh where everybody lived their life peacefully and contribute towards the Nation.It was British who created this divide in society to counter 1857 revolution...and as a result , Ppl of Indus civilization continue to suffer .

rama chandra raju,N Aug 26, 2014 07:46am

All depictions about realities and tolerance given by our ancient land's culture is revealed by DAWN is appreciable .Keep it DAWN

j k sinha Aug 26, 2014 07:55am

Hope one day India & Pakistan would be like Chaman where people of different faith would live peacefully togther.

Mohammad Ashraf Aug 26, 2014 09:44am

What a contrast to the violence all over Pakistan. It is such a great example to be emulated by every one in the sub-continent. It shows that the grass roots people everywhere are not interested in violence or communal divide. It is the politicians who play all the games for their own vested interests. Let us hope politicians do not intrude into this peaceful area surrounded by violence!

Ravi Dallas TX Aug 26, 2014 09:58am

while this is an exception, it is defnitely a great feeling to see such scenes in Pakistan now. It is also a reminder for everyone how things were during good times.

sharabi Aug 26, 2014 10:47am

They have accepted the Islamic traditions like "Topi" but when we Muslims go to Western countries we try best to not integrate in society, we should learn from this minority. Alhamdulillah

Spock Aug 26, 2014 12:00pm

So sad to see this condition of people of land and religion. We all cry of Gaza, what about the oldest civilization on the earth?

Jollyjoe Aug 26, 2014 12:13pm

@Rahim Imtiaz Gill - Thank you.

Abbas Ali Aug 26, 2014 12:39pm

@sharabi

Interesting. If wearing TOPI is the sign of integration then people who are settled abroad also wear pants, shirts,jeans, t-shirts etc,have fish & chips, & turkey.

"TOPI" has its roots in religions like Zoroastrianism, and other medieval religions. Judaism & Christianity which pre-dates Islam have TOPI as a part of attire. Catholic priest & nuns are example of it.

Are we talking about Integration or Acculturation ?

Moiz Omar Aug 26, 2014 12:43pm

Great. All Pakistanis should be able to live in their country peacefully, regardless of what faith they follow or don't follow.

Moiz Omar Aug 26, 2014 12:44pm

@Dr. Cajetan Coelho What does this have to do with India?

Sare Jahan Se Achha Aug 26, 2014 01:01pm

Amazing pictures... Let peace prevail in the region and in the world! War hasn't been the solution to any problem (and who else to know better than our current generation). Emperor Ashok learnt this hard reality after the conquest of Kalinga. I wonder how long it will take us to realise this..... (hopefully not too late!)

dipak Aug 26, 2014 01:45pm

this is not only in pakistan, but whenever.wherver. hindus have gone they have been remaining in peace. no scope for extremism.even in arab countries, or in european countries if you will see how hundus are leaving. hiduism respects all religion. They are the representativeof hinduism.we are happy to see their life. Thanks to their neighbours who are protecting minorities.

Shujaat Qadri Aug 26, 2014 03:38pm

@Tamil Arasan It's nothing to be sad about. In my opinion, we as a country had a lot more religious tolerance than others. Even India has changed many names of their cities and roads that were named by Muslim rulers but that is fine and no issue in that. I always think why only Pakistan needed to be told about the religious harmony. Is every other country in this world have religious harmony and freedom? I think so the answer is No. Anyways I am extremely sorry for any inconvenience caused due to my opinion. Thanks.

indian muslim Aug 26, 2014 04:08pm

First all Muslims should unite and then only we can stop atrocities against fellow Muslims.

dipak Aug 26, 2014 04:22pm

@sharabi as they have accepted islamic tradition, same in india muslims have also accepted hinduism tradition, nothing wrong.so geogrophycally all citizens in india are coloured with hinduism.wether if anybody is chritian or muslim or parsi doesnt matter. phirbhi dil hai hindustani, phir bhi dil hai hindustani.very happy to see them u all people in such a way.

awarabadal Aug 26, 2014 05:05pm

how many hindus left in Pakistan? anyone care to enlighten!

riz1 Aug 27, 2014 12:13am

Baluchistan and even NWFP have had a tradition of tolerance and secularism for long - under leaderships of the tribes, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan that were largely faith-agnostic -their leaders were more socialist and enjoyed widespread support (somewhat akin to ZAB). They were not faith-centric like the rest of the pure land. Unlike a mainstream party like PML-N or even PTI, religion, overt religiosity was never a unifying factor for their leaderships.

Mahmood Aug 27, 2014 01:13am

@Pankaj What made you belief that fear is the only factor to change one's religion. Do you really think that one third population of sub-continent (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan) converted to Islam due to "fear factor"? It may have played some role but generalizing is not fair to the history. If "fear factor" is the only reason then please explain how come Islam ended up the largest religion in Indonesia or Malaysia. My friend it is truth that every one tend to seek and when finds one it becomes easy to converts to....

Sudhakar Aug 27, 2014 02:43am

@Mahmood : Fear and greed are a powerful combination. Fear of death and greed to have multiple wives, ransack and loot local temples of their riches were/are powerful incentives to convert.

Anil Sharma Aug 27, 2014 03:34am

It's great reading the comments by Pakistani Muslims,conveying their concern and appreciation for the Hindus of Chaman.We all follow different paths to reach God,who is one

dipak Aug 27, 2014 07:12am

The greatest thimg of this hindu follower all over the world sir have you heard that hindu says pl come here and be hindu, follow hinduism. no never . they are always follower of nonviolance. Till date in history no country has said that hindus are threats to our society or our country.They respect all religion, Thank you DAWN for expressing my view. Let all of us go on nonviolance. Jio aur jinedo. Live and Let live. over 120 crores follower in the world.

Shah Aug 27, 2014 10:45am

@Rahim Imtiaz Gill I agree on the protection part but the rest do not make any sense as our forefathers have nothing to do with these people.

Shah Aug 27, 2014 10:51am

@Ravi Dallas TX Chaman holds a few thousand Hindus while the rest of Pakistan has Hindus in the millions who are going around doing their daily jobs. I find your comments filled with ignorance as long as you do not address the plight of millions of Kashmiris who simply do not want to continue with India. I will not even go into Babri Masjid, Muzaffarnagar riots, Gujarat and Assam killings as Muslim lives are clearly not important to some of you.

ProudtobeanINDIAN Aug 27, 2014 11:08am

@Mahmood Indonesian King converted to your religion and he strictly asked his fellow citizens to convert. He used force to convert the people... If you dont know history.. then please read the history and then comment... The mughals converted all people by force and killing.. Read history about Aurangseb and other mughal emperors.. You should read history... Majority of your people are converted either by force or by fear of getting killed... otherwise who will convert to your religion which is only 1400 years old...

Gauhar Aug 27, 2014 11:36am

In the ninth photo from top, it is interesting and pleasant to see a person reading Geeta in Gurmukhi script instead of the traditional Devangri script.

Ridwan Aug 27, 2014 12:10pm

See, we Pashtuns/Pathans can indeed be tolerant (Chaman is in balochistan but is a overwhelmingly Pashtun town)

Samaritan Aug 27, 2014 01:11pm

@SA Dear Salman, yours is a very pertinent question. I being a hindu myself, also feel glad to see them able to practice their religion freely. But as a matter of fact, these Hindus did not migrate from somewhere else. They were there everywhere even before the advent of Islam into the Indian subcontinent. In fact, from the present Kabul to Indonesia, there was a huge Hindu empire under the Chola dynansty and the Chalukya dynasty (South India based). Later on, under the rule of King Bhoj (Madhya Pradesh), the entire area became a global hub for business and tourism. Gradually empires fell and history rewritten. Give me more feedback.

Dileep kumar Aug 27, 2014 02:38pm

v v v v informative ....glad to read this..keep it up

P.Mishra Aug 27, 2014 02:50pm

@Gauhar People read Geeta written in the own language in various part of the subcontinent. Geeta was Originally written in Sanskrit.

P.Mishra Aug 27, 2014 02:53pm

@Ridwan You are right.I understand that Hindus were protected in the KP.

anil Aug 27, 2014 03:41pm

A view of Tularam road, which has recently been renamed as

Shehryar Aug 27, 2014 04:23pm

In the last picture , the writing in Urdu says 'Guru Nanak ki Jai , Manak Lal Premi' , I thought Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikh religion and not worshiped by Hindus, also the second last picture shows a man holding hands together in front of a Sikh saint as well as a Hindu god , so the act of worship shown seems to be about both Sikhism and Hinduism , something I haven't come across before.

sandeep Aug 27, 2014 06:26pm

@Shehryar Well then should know better, especially the history of Sikhism. Hindus do revere Guru Nanak and other Sikh Gurus. In fact in many homes in Punjab you will easily find the images of Guru Nanak along side the images of Hindu deities. Many Hindus in Punjab even perform Akhand Path in their homes even today.

Sunil Aug 27, 2014 07:41pm

Thank you Dawn!! I enjoyed this article.

Sandeep Aug 27, 2014 07:42pm

@Shehryar This is a common practice between here in India. Both Sikhs and Hindus worship each other religious gurus and go to each other religious places. I am a Hindu myself but travel once a year from Delhi to Amritsar to visit Harmandar Saab or Golden Temple as we know it. Similarly I have been to Muslim religious places as well like Ajmer Shrif and Hazrat Nizammudin in Delhi with the same religious feeling and devotion. This is how your mindset becomes when you grow in a secular state. One sees the creator in all religions.

Simon Aug 28, 2014 05:40am

@Samaritan It was Raja Raja Chozhan (Chola) whose empire was wide spread. He had his capital in present day Tamil Nadu, formerly known as Madras State. I have personally heard from some of my more enlightened & broad minded muslim friends / classmates that there are several inscriptions (carved in rocks ) in Tamil in Mecca/ Medina and other places. I have also read a letter to the editor in an Indian newspaper by a Tamilian Muslim, just returned from a Haj pilgrimage, certifying this. He was from Mumbai. Hope this explains a little more. Thanks.

Whistle Aug 28, 2014 06:42am

@Shehryar You can respect anybody who did good to the humans and it is not a crime or disrespect to anyone.

Whistle Aug 28, 2014 06:44am

@Ridwan common man does not have any interest in the violence. But they engulfed into it by the minority who follow the Saudi Wahabi culture they think belong to Pakistan, forgetting their culture is Indus valley.

Ravindra Vatsyayan Aug 28, 2014 10:19am

@Mustafa And What about Auragzeb and the Sikander Butshikan ?

Jagram Aug 28, 2014 12:06pm

Many Muslim in Pakistan have acceptance about other religion, and at the same place some haven't, Hindu religion teaches to accept the existence of other religion too, and the only way to live in peace among the people.

Laloo Aug 28, 2014 05:06pm

@Salman - Hindus were everywhere throughout Pakistan before partition. These people are the ones who didn't convert or leave for India. You may have been brought up to believe otherwise but a few hundred years ago the entire area was the cradle of Hindu - Buddhist culture. Peshawar is the place where Sanskrit grammar was formulated by Panini and this is the region where the Vedas were written.

Zaighum Abbas Ranjha Aug 29, 2014 07:35am

Beautiful photos taken by Matiullah Achakzai. They are simple yet very powerful.

nitesh Aug 30, 2014 05:24pm

@Shujaat Qadri in india you will find the answer.....here muslims are happy and enjoying there lives peacefully...you can see the news biet .....people are wondering and surprising after seeing these photographs....it shows something......

nitesh Aug 30, 2014 05:39pm

@Shah mr shah i think as a hindu for me ...nation is first and my religion comes after that ..but for many people there religion come first nation secondory.....and problem starts from there....