From Our Own Correspondent - Pakistan and Afghanistan
How two brave girls defied their parents in Pakistan and risked their family's honour, and retracing the steps of historical figures in the Afghan city of Balkh.
In Pakistan, most girls are expected to obey their parents' wishes, particularly when it comes to matters of family honour, or religion. Defying them, and risking what would be perceived as a stain on the family's honour, for example, carries a risk of being killed in order to restore the "honour". Owen Bennett Jones meets two Pakistani girls, from different parts of the country, who did however defy their parents. One in a matter of marriage and family honour, and the other in a matter of an extreme understanding of religion. How did they survive? Across the border, in Afghanistan, Lynne O'Donnell retraces the steps of many an illustrious historical figure. Like Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan, like the religion-founder Zoroastra or the poet Rumi, she spends time in the Bactrian plain in northern Afghanistan, and visits the ancient city of Balkh, where archeologists are now studying and restoring ancient buildings that they estimate are 2,500 years old. (Picture Credit: Lynne O'Donnell - The minaret of Zadian, Dawlatabad district, Balkh, Afghanistan,12th Century)