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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 29, 2002 -13
"The Permanence of Flight"
The culture of the Pakistani-Afghan border is shaped by
the anti-cultural feeling of migration. There is no sense of
permanence on the border, no idea of rest, Transition is
never ephemeral; home is never real,
ABOVE: Lacking any real infrastructure, these enterprising
vendors in Chaman, Pakistan, took a burnt out truck and
made it their chicken soup shop. Even the relative stability of
business is painted on the backdrop of constant motion,
LEFT Western ideas of childhood stability mean nothing when
a new home is made whenever one becomes too weary to
press on. These children, uncertain of where they will be
tomorrow, have stopped at an Islamic Relief water tank at a
Pakistani transition camp outside Chaman.
"The Weight of Waiting"
Between desolation and dearth
There are no welcome signs or smiling
faces greeting displaced Afghans.
Behind them is their-destroyed
autonomy, before them is the
unpleasant anonymity of sub-national
identity. Between the two is a wasteland,
a harsh gulf of nothingness, arbitrarily
divided by thin wooden planks and
RIGHT: Refugees, straight out from a daylong
walking journey from Kandahar, Afghanistan, to
Chaman, Pakistan, enter a United Arab Emirates
refugee camp. Hundreds stream across the
border every day, but many more stay behind -
unable to afford the costs of travel, which
includes food and bribes. Contrary to wide
spread conceptions about the refugee exodus,
violence is not the only impetus for moving.
Drought and famine, exacerbated by a collapsed
economy, force Afghans to gather what little they
can carry and abandon what they can't.
BELOW: At the top of the picture is Afghan soil,
on the bottom, Pakistan. These distinctions are
irrelevant to the refugees awaiting clearance to
enter Pakistan. Although it is not home, at least
the refugee camps on the other side of the
border offer the relative safety of isolation from
debilitating violence: Next to my vantage point on
the watchtower stood a Pakistani soldier aiming
a Chinese machine gun, prepared to fire in the
event of any illegal entry attempts.