On the outskirts of Peshawar, one of Pakistan’s most diverse and unruly cities, you will find the infamous Karkhanai Bazaar, popularly known as ‘Smugglers’ Bazaar’. This ‘bazaar’ or marketplace burgeons on the trade of goods imported through the tribal areas forgoing tax duties.
The bazaar sells anything and everything one could ever want. From reduced-price electronics and counterfeit clothing to shoes, Afghan carpets, firearms, ammunition and drugs – you name it, and chances are you’ll find it.
According to the latest reports, the Karkhanai Bazaar costs Pakistan millions of dollars annually in lost revenue. It has been bulldozed to the ground only to be resurrected again shortly after. The rear end of the marketplace is an apparent “hot zone” for illegal drugs including cannabis and opium. Furthermore, a designated ‘locals area’ controls the sale of illegal arms from Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers to hunting rifles and even James Bonds’ Walther PPK.
For years, the Smugglers’ Bazaar and Darra Adam Khel have been part of Peshawar’s tourism experience. Subsequently, where else in the world would tourists have to opportunity and freedom to try-out and purchase kilos of opium so out in the open? Guns and drugs have long been a part of Pashtun culture and the Pashtun people are nothing if not hospitable.
Note: When visiting Smugglers Bazaar it is advisable to get the hell out of there before it gets dark!