Sunday, 22 December 2013

'Twin the two cities of General Paolo Avitabile' says Sikh documentary maker


Bobby Singh Bansall with the letter from Naples

PESHAWAR: Agerola, a commune in the Naples province of Italy and the ancestral town of Peshawar’s Italian governor under Sikh rule General Paolo Avitabile, has expressed its desire to enter into a twin city affiliation with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) capital.

The mayor of Agerola Luca Mascolo has, in this regard, sent a letter to K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.
The letter was sent through UK-based historian and filmmaker Bobby Singh Bansal when he recently visited Italy. Bansal is conducting research in Peshawar, where he made the letter available to The Express Tribune.
The letter says the invitation is on behalf of many citizens of the community who have come to know Peshawar as General Avitabile was governor of the city. It outlines arrangements to strengthen bonds of friendship between Agerola and Peshawar by encouraging the study of culture, art, literature and language of both cities. Links between non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade associations of both cities was one possible method highlighted.


General Paolo Crescenzo Avitabile, Governor of Wazirabad and Peshawar, was one of Maharaja's most ferocious administrators.

The document notes there is a growing awareness and appreciation between the two cities for each other’s culture and people which will further develop as a result of the proposed alliance. “We look forward to the limitless possibilities of this relationship,” it read.

“Although this partnership must begin on an official basis between the governments of our two communities, we see the strength and vitality of this long-term association resting wholly in the hands of our citizen volunteers and participants.” The letter informed that they have designated a group of volunteers for the cause, suggesting the same should be done in Peshawar as well.

He explained that Ranjeet Singh had entrusted Peshawar to Avitabile as he believed only the general could manage this city. He credited Avitabile for redesigning the city on European lines and restoring the Bala Hisar walls. Bansal also expressed his wish to meet K-P chief minister and PTI chief Imran Khan for further alliance of both cities.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2013.
Photo courtesy of Qissa Khwani.

Bobby Bansal is the author of ‘The Lion’s Firanghis: Europeans at the Court of Lahore’ and director of 2012 documentary ‘The Sikhs of Kabul- A forgotten community’.

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