Monday, 24 January 2011

Part 1: John Mohammed - Story from Swat

"There is only one John Mohammed - unique."

When I learn that John Mohammed Butt has spent most of the past 40 years living amongst the Pashtoon tribes, who inhabit the hinterland between Afghanistan and Pakistan where he is regarded as a native Pashtoon and revered as an Islamic scholar, I can't help but sit up and learn more.

Until recently, home for John Mohammed was a tiny village in the Swat Valley. He arrived in Swat in 1969, he says, as a young hippy and stayed. When his fellow hippies grew up and went home to become accountants and lawyers, John remained - becoming fluent in Pashto and studying Islam.

He laughs. "When people call me an ageing ex-hippy, I always reply that I am ageing maybe, but I'm certainly not ex. I'm still a hippy."

But John's world changed in the late 1980s, with the arrival of militants, who came to the border areas from all over the world to fight the war against the Russians in Afghanistan. His beloved Swat, once a popular tourist destination, was also unable to escape downwards spiral into battles between the Pakistani military, the Taliban and the people.

"I saw the rural, religious Pashtun way of life I had come to love so much being diluted, contaminated and poisoned" he says.

Read more here and in the next posting.

Source: BBC


  1. John is a great man. He is a legend for the Pakhtun community. I wish we could produce more Johns in our community instead of warriors and nationalists to change the future.

  2. Dervaish Jan ... there are gems amongst people. For me being a Pashtoon is something that goes much deeper than surface values.

    The more I learn about selfless devotion of people to our causes, the more I see the restoration of hope ...


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