Sunday, June 7, 2009
Men who have fled the fighting in the Swat valley between the Pakistani military and the Taliban have little to cheer them.
They have left their homes, lost their jobs and gone though the ordeal of becoming displaced people in their own country
But some have found freedom to pursue their profession only after arriving in camps set up to provide people fleeing the fighting food and shelter.
These people are the barbers who were banned from shaving off people's beards by the Taliban.
There are about seven barbers in Rangmala, a camp for displaced people which is a couple of kilometres from Malakand Top.
Although they want to go back home once the Taliban have gone they are relishing the chance to work without being threatened.
Shaukat Ali came to the camp from Mingora.
On Sunday he shaved his first client for eight months.
He says that there were about 100 barber shops in Mingora and they all were ordered by the Taliban to immediately stop shaving off beards as it was un-Islamic.
Since that order, the barbers stopped shaving off beards and only trim hair.
"I am really pleased that I shaved someone's beard off. I am really lucky because I am one of the few people in the camp that can earn some money," Shaukat Ali says.
Another barber, Farman Ali, used to have a shop but now he is happy just to have a chair in the open.
"The Taliban threatened to attack the barber shops and their houses if they kept shaving customers' beards. Before the Taliban came along with their restrictions I used to do 15 to 20 shaves a day so as soon as they took over I saw my income plummet," says Farman Ali.
He said that almost all the barbers have moved out of Mingora and that although he can work in freedom in the camp and earns 100 rupees a day there, he is longing to return home and work there.
One man from Mingora said that he was having his first shave by a barber for a year.
"I used to shave at home but the luxury of having one's beard shaved by a barber is completely different."