Darra Adam Khel, the ghost town
Darra Adam Khel embodies that dark spot in our subconscious that we try to forget.
My first experience out of Punjab as a journalist was to Dera Ismail Khan where I had gone to witness the destruction caused by the floods. Travelling on the Indus Highway, I stopped over at Darra Adam Khel and the experience has left a lasting impression.
Accompanying me on this trip was one of Pakistan’s leading frontier reporters from Peshawar. During the car ride, he told me countless stories ranging from the Taliban occupation in the area to the military operation code-named Eagle Swoop.
Darra Adam Khel is merely 25 kilometres away from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa capital, Peshawar. On both sides of the Indus Highway one passes through the small town and in the background is the Pak-China friendship tunnel, which almost mocks the town once known for its illegal small arms trade.
Out of a population of nearly 50,000 people not one person could be seen out in the open during the day. The local school embodied a distant memory of the once normal lives, although that has been turned into an army base now.
Returning from Dera Ismail Khan, we stopped for Friday prayers nearly four kilometres away from where a recent blast had taken place. People were visibly reserved and tried to keep to themselves – something that could be explained by the change the area had witnessed in the past three years.
With the news of the recent blast, I couldn’t help but be reminded that nothing is innocent anymore. Darra Adam Khel embodied, for me, that dark spot in our subconscious that we try to forget.
The routine has become typical now; our leaders and politicians all condemn the attacks while also saying that they are committed to fighting terror. One can only hope rhetoric will be traded for concerted action.