PESHAWAR: Charsadda chappals (sandals) famously called Peshawari chappals have been fashion signature for nearly every Pakistani. There is no religious festival or occasion considered complete without wearing Peshawari chappal. Even today these chappals are must wear with white Shalwar Kameez on the occasion of eids (feasts)..

Ghafoor Market, established in 1978 in Charsadda has around 600 units of chappal making. Each unit makes different varieties of chappals. Approximately 10,000 workers are linked to the trade.

Shah Hussain, the former president of Charsadda Chappal Association, informs News Lens Pakistan that around 10,000 chappals ranging from single to double and tipple gear are made every day in this market. Single, double and triple denotes the number of times each pair is sewn. If a chappal is called triple gear, it means it has been stitched thrice, signifying durability. Broad shape, narrow shape, T-shape, panjidar, slipper and sandal are also popular among the consumers.

Captain chappal is a new addition in the market. It was named after Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf Chairman, Imran Khan, a former cricketer, The brand has gained popularity in KP..

“Kaptan chappal, as it pronounced locally, is rather expensive than the rest of the shoes. It costs from rupees five to 10,000. Usually politicians and rich people order for this chappal,” says Hussain.

Charsadda chappals, historians claim, dates back to the times of Alexander the great.

Shah Hussain has inherited the chappal-making business from his ancestor who had been associated with this business for hundred years. These chappals according to him are exported to Middle |Eas, Europe and US.

Paul Smith, a British shoe designer having copied the traditional Charsadda chappal has reproduced it under the brand name Robert Sandals. He is selling each pair at 300 pounds.

Both Pakistani and imported leather are used in chappal making. Since the leather industry is located in Lahore, therefore, transportation costs at times push the prices for each pair of shoes.

Director Labour KP, Irfan Khan, told this scribe that the leather-producing units in KP were closed down because of militancy and terrorism. He said his government was trying to revive the industry but due to the paucity of funds had not been able to start the project.

Charsadda Chappal Association President, Haji Maqsood, told News Lens Pakistan that the government established Footwear Training Institute in collaboration with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Ministry of Commerce and Charsadda Chappal Makers Association in 2003.

“A Thirty-two kanal piece of land was purchased with the cooperation of Export Promotion Bureau in Charsadda to set up the institution. It is now 12 year and the institution is still being run in a rented house. We have made repeated requests to the government to construct the institution,” says Maqsood.

Fazli Ameen, a teacher in the Footwear Training Institute tells News Lens Pakistan that presently 500 men and 500 women are getting training in the institution. Women are trained on making leather purses and wallet while men are getting training on shoe making. Most of the students have opened up their own shoe and handbag businesses.

The President, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Faud Ishaq says that he has discussed the matter of constructing the institution with the Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastageer. Being a member of Exports Development Funds, Faud has been asked to prepare a survey report after which he believes funds will be released for the construction of the institution.

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