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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
After nearly 20 years - she's Pakistani

By Haroon Rashid
BBC correspondent in Peshawar

The local people call her Bibi Dow - and now, after nearly 20 years in Pakistan's northern remote Kalash valley, Maureen Lines from the UK has been made a Pakistani citizen.

Maureen
This is where my work is... and most of all my heart is
Maureen Lines
Ms Lines is a social worker who has been working with the unique non-Muslim community living in the mountain valleys of Chitral and Kalash since 1985.

The soft-spoken Ms Lines has made this corner of Pakistan her home and cut all ties with Britain after her mother died four years ago.

"I sold my house in London and completely moved to Pakistan. This is where by work is, my adopted 60-member family in Kalash and most of all my heart is," she told the BBC.

One local paper welcomed the move to grant her citizenship describing her as a contemporary version of Mother Teresa.

"She commands respect among majority of the local population," says Gul Hamaad Farooqi, a local journalist in Chitral.

So why the name Bibi Dow?

"I chose this name because if it's easy to pronounce," she says.

Over the years Ms Lines has picked up both the Pashto and Kalash languages.

She has worked hard to fight tuberculosis in the area, which is a serious problem.

Now in her 50s, she also heads the Kalash Environmental Protection Society (KEPS) and Hindukush Conservation Association (HKCA).

She has also written several books on the Kalash culture including The Kafir Kalash of the Hindukush and Road to Jalalabad, a book on her travels to Afghanistan.

Harassed

She has generated enormous goodwill among the local people. But at the same time she has made some enemies.

Maureen Lines in Kalash
Maureen Lines (centre) is popular among the locals
On several occasions she has faced the threat of expulsion from Chitral, with the authorities saying it would be for her own safety.

Not happy with her work, some religious groups accuse her of trying to convert the Kalash into Christians.

But she dismisses the criticism.

"My projects have benefited both Muslims and Kalash people."

But she has been harassed most by the police.

"I hope the police will stop bothering me after becoming a Pakistani.

"If someone threatens me it is logical that they go after them not come to me," she says.

It's quite rare for a Westerner to apply for Pakistani citizenship.

But Maureen Lines' years of hard work were enough for the authorities to grant her this concession.


SEE ALSO:
Afghan refugee looks to the future
03 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Agencies halt Pakistan operations
06 Jun 04  |  South Asia
Full steam ahead for the Khyber train
27 Feb 99  |  South Asia


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