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PAKISTAN

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    A veiled figure walks among worshippers at the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Ghulam Farid in Kot Mithan. A famous Sufi from the 18th century, Farid is considered one of the greatest Saraiki poets, Chishti-Nizami mystics, and Sajjada Nashin (patron saints) of the Punjab region. Built in 1796, the shrine to Farid is one of the most important in this part of the Punjab.
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    Armed guards stand watch during Friday prayers at the Badshahi Mosque, the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world. It is Lahore's most famous landmark and a major tourist attraction epitomizing the beauty, passion and grandeur of the Mughal era.
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    A worshipper walks through the courtyard of the Badshahi Mosque during Friday prayers.
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    In remembrance of Hazrat ibn Ali, the grandson of Islamic Prophet Muhammad, Shi'as, who comprise 30 percent of the population of the Punjab, march through the narrow streets and alleyways of Lahore's Old City. The men and boys ceremoniously beat their fists against their chests and bloody themselves in a traditional flagellation ritual called zanjeer which involves the use of a zanjeer (a chain with blades) to symbolize the suffering of Ali.
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    A blood-soaked shirt reflects the rituals of Shiite Muslims in Lahore. Members of the minority group whip themselves with blades attached to chains to symbolize the suffering of Mohammed’s grandson, Hazrut Ali.
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    Students line up to find their application results for entering the school, which provides free room and board. The Khair-Ul-Madaris is the second largest madrassa in the Punjab, and teaches a strict form of Islam. Most of the students will become imams or madrassa teachers.
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    Students take a lunch break during their studies. The Nusrat Ul Uloom Madrassa in Gujranwala is a Deobandi school affiliated to an alliance of religious parties against the American invasion of Afghanistan. They are ideological and political supporters of the Taliban. There are 1500 students here, 300 of which are full time boarders, which is free for these students.
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    Just outside the hill town of Muree, in the foothills of the Himalayas and overlooking Islamabad and Rawalpindi, students line up on the roof of the Hira School, a privately run religious school with the motto, 'Education in Koran and Computer, side by side.'
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    The elite come to Gun Smoke Diner, a theme restaurant catering to the upscale in Lahore. The patrons come to be served American style food by waiters dressed as cowboys, wearing ten-gallon hats and slamming drinks on the tables to the sound of western pop music.
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    Actress Nida Chaudey prepares backstage at the Al Fala Theatre in Lahore. Known for its bawdy and racy burlesque shows, the theater was bombed in early 2009 by extremists attempting to send a message, but patrons still attend regularly. The sexual entertainment attracts mostly male viewers who pack the evening shows, but occasionally couples and families also attend.
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    Kushti, or Pehlwani, is a martial art and a style of wrestling that is popular in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In the Punjab for 500 years, this sport is part of the Punjabi culture. However, it is a cultural activity that bothers the Taliban and Islamic extremists due to the bare skin, touching, gambling, music and Sufi mysticism associated with the sport.
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    Iqbal Hussain, a famous Pakistani painter from Lahore, puts his brush to canvas in his studio across the road from the Badshahi Mosque. Hussain's paintings have stirred anger among Pakistan's extremist elements for their depictions of the female figure and his controversial use of prostitutes as subjects.
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    A colorfully dressed jockey walks to the stalls inside the Lahore Racing Club, one of the largest horse racing tracks in the subcontinent.
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    Malik Fazal is a feudal landlord. Although times have changed, particularly in the Punjab where land reforms have reduced the number of land and landlords, there are still many important and influential feudals left. One of Malik's favorite pastimes is training his horses in the art of horse dancing, which he is seen doing here.
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    With huge electrical pylons looming overhead, villagers in Goraya hand thresh rice using old metal oil barrels. Working the land for little more than commodities, these people are not paid to work. However, the local policeman who owns the land does allow them to keep portions of rice.
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    Muslims gather to enjoy a day in Lahore's Minto Park with family and friends. A boy swings high above the crowds celebrating the first day of Eid al Fitur, the Muslim holiday after Ramadan.
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    In the farming village of Pipli, school boys play outside their primary school before classes begin.
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    Deep into the mountains of northern Pakistan, in the tribal areas of Punjab, a man precariously crosses a river near the village of Kah Sultan. Located against the mountains that border the Balochistan, Sind and North-West Frontier provinces of Pakistan the people of this area of Seraiki are known for their romantic poetry rich of agriculture.
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    A scene along the Balloki Headworks that is part of the British built canal system in the Punjab. When it was constructed in the early part of the 20th century, this system was the largest in the world with more than 16,000 miles of waterways. Since all of rural life in Punjab is positively affected by this system of water management, post-partition Pakistan has continued to maintain and further develop this system.
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    In the Punjab city of Pakpattan, worshippers visit the Baba Farid Ganj Shakar shrine. Sufis and Muslims alike make holy pilgrimages here to receive blessings of fertility, be healed from sickness, and to calm their minds.
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    Camel ritual slaughter for Eid Ul Azha, in memory of Prophet Abraham's sacrifice of his son. The meat will be distributed to the poor and others in the community.
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    A young Muslim boy presses his henna decorated hand against a small window while celebrating with his family during Eid, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
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    In Mingora, and the neighboring areas in the Swat Valley, soldiers in the Pakistani Army patrol security checkpoints after launching an assault in May 2009 to counter Taliban attacks in the Swat Valley.
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    Shabaaz Hammed sifts through the burned remains of his master bedroom where seven members of his family, including his father, died of smoke inhalation after a violent mob attack. A riot, prompted by the alleged attack by Christians using a torn up Koran for confetti, broke out in the city of Gojira. The homes of 76 families were burned down and seven people were killed.
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    Rescue crews, firefighters and security forces work in the chaos of the aftermath of a double bombing in a crowded market in Lahore. More than 54 people were killed, many just charred body parts, and over 150 injured. This is part of a bombing and terror campaign by the Taliban in Pakistan.
Pakistan

Straddling India and Pakistan, the Greater Punjab region covers roughly 98,000 square miles. As the British Empire prepared to leave the subcontinent in 1947 after nearly 200 years of colonial rule, the arbitrary border splitting the Punjab in two was the site of some of the Partition’s bloodiest atrocities. Along with the greatest forced migration in recorded history and a staggering loss of life, the birth of predominantly Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India generated intense animosity. Even in light of the horrors of Partition, the people of the Punjab have demonstrated a kinship that defies artificial borders, and there are no other regions of these two countries that share such close historical connections.

Today, as Pakistan’s wealthiest and most populous province, the Punjab is a bellwether for the country’s fortunes as it confronts a growing Taliban insurgency. Reflecting Pakistan’s split personality–one side modern, developed and moderate, the other defined by violence, intolerance and backwardness–the Punjab represents a unique prism to look at these dynamics at a time of pressing significance for the region and the world.

The Punjab provides both a symbolic and practical access point for both India and Pakistan to heal their troubled relationship through the everyday experiences and interests of a people–to find common ground.

Although Punjabis practice three different religions, they speak the same language and share the same history. Perhaps the strength of social and cultural common grounds will overcome the inescapable turmoil that exists between India and Pakistan. After all, whether Indian or Pakistani, Punjabis often consider themselves two sides of the same coin.

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