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Pakistan - what media will not tell you about it

Updated on March 17, 2017
Pakistani bus and truck art, such as the one on this mini-bus exhibited at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, is getting attention all over the world.
Pakistani bus and truck art, such as the one on this mini-bus exhibited at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, is getting attention all over the world. | Source
With Greg at a waterfall in Shenandoah National Park.
With Greg at a waterfall in Shenandoah National Park. | Source

Hiking under 100 F temperatures, my wife, daughter, son and I were sweating profusely. This was on the trail for Doyles River Falls, which is accessible from Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive mile marker 81.1.

Respite from scorching sun came when we met Greg (see the picture), who was hiking on the trail with his son. He surprised us at the very beginning of our conversation by first correctly recognizing that we were originally from Pakistan (and not India as some Americans incorrectly, but understandably so, assume) and then by sharing many fascinating facts about our country of origin that even we were not aware of. It turned out that he had conducted consultancy work in Pakistan for a US Company for 3 years and knew inside and out of that country.

Source

Although mainstream media projects Pakistan in the negative all the time, Greg only had positive memories about that country, including those about cricket, music, kite flying, etc.

As regards our media, I encourage you to read a hub 'Current Social Issues in America 2013: And the sheep Shall Be Offered For Sacrifice' by our very popular hubber Billibuc. I believe we need to take the domain of disseminating news, information and knowledge back from the mainstream media.

I still live some positive notes about the country for the benefit of those who are interested in considering the country as a destination for tourism. Rest assured, you will never hear them from our mainstream media.

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Can it be tourism industry’s "next big thing".

I have traveled many countries that have a flourishing tourism industry. When I was in Pakistan last in 2011, I found it to have same or more potential for becoming tourists and adventure travelers' destination.

Unfortunately, Pakistan was hit by a wave of terrorist attacks post 9/11, but is slowly and surely returning to stability with increasing tourism in its northern areas, including Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan is a hidden treasure of resources for both tourists and travelers from abroad. It is a multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual country. Pakistan is located at the confluence of 3 great cultures - South Asian, Central Asian, and the Middle Eastern. The last one reflects both Arab and Persian cultures. This affinity with three different regions has made the population of the country a heterogeneous mix rather than a homogeneous monolithic block of extremist Muslims that the media would have us believe.

10.4% of Pakistan's land is allocated to National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries to protect its wildlife like this barking deer.
10.4% of Pakistan's land is allocated to National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries to protect its wildlife like this barking deer. | Source

Natural heritage

People generally know me who enjoys observing nature and taking nature shots in the company of my dog ‘K2’, the Great White Kuvasz, who is affectionately known as the polar bear in our neighbourhood.

However, wildlife and nature photography is something I took up when I was perhaps 14 years old and growing in a small town known as Nowshera, in the then NWFP and now the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Later, I started undertaking bigger adventures in The Punjab and Sindh provinces as well with my photography loving friends. I took the picture of this barking deer on Margallah Hills National Park using film era camera while I was hiking with my kid brother.

BBC Earth's video on Pakistani mountains

Three great mountain ranges

My childhood was spent in mountain climbing in the beautiful Swat valley of what is now called Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KPK) province. While Falaksair is the highest mountain peak Swat at an elevation of 5,918 metres (19,416 ft), the country itself boasts of 3 greatest mountain ranges of the world - Himalaya, Karakorums and the Hindu Kush (3 of the tallest 10 and 10 of the tallest 25 peaks of the world are located in this country, including the 2nd tallest K2).

Just to let the readers know, my brothers and I will be hiking to the base camp of Nanga Parbat, the tallest peak of Himalayas in Pakistan, in July of 2017.

Statue of the Fasting Buddha
Statue of the Fasting Buddha | Source

Three ancient civilizations

My parents loved Pakistan's ancient civilizations and as a result they took us siblings to many archaeological sites in the early 70s that later became very famous - Harrappa, Texila, Swat, and Moenjodaro.

Pakistan was home of 3 great ancient prehistoric civilizations - Mehrgarh, one of the most important Neolithic civilization (7000 BC to c. 2500 BC), the Indus Valley Civilization that flourished between 5000 BC to 1500 BC, and Greco-Buddhist civilization (500 BC to 600AD).

Nusrat and Eddie Webber in Dead Man Walking

Contribution to Entertainment Industry

Not many people who know me know that I once played as a drummer in a melodious blues based hard rock band that was fronted by my two younger brothers on vocals and guitars. Band music was very popular in the country till it got hit by a wave of terrorism post 9/11. Bands like Vital Signs, Junoon, and Strings were internationally popular. Pakistanis produce good guitar backed soft and hard rock music.

Pakistan's singer of mystic music Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan provided vocals to many Hollywood movies, such as Dead Man Walking, The Last Temptation of Christ, Natural Born Killers, etc. and to numerous films of Indian movie industry.

Many other singers have provided vocals to Indian movies, including Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, nephew of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Atif Aslam.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chenoy
Sharmeen Obaid-Chenoy | Source

Pakistan had a flourishing movie making industry in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. I vividly recall watching those movies with my family or friends. Unfortunately, Zia ul Haq’s dictatorial and fundamentalist rule of 11 years caused its ruin. The industry has picked up again with much better content, production quality, and acting.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chenoy is an Emmy and two times Oscar award-winning Pakistani-Canadian journalist and documentary filmmaker.

A Pakistani fan cheering for the team.
A Pakistani fan cheering for the team.

World champions in 4 sports

At school and also under my father's tutelage, my 1-1/2 year younger brother and I played cricket, squash, field hockey, badminton, and tennis at a competitive level.

Pakistanis love sports and have been world champions in squash (still existing record winning streak), cricket, snooker, and field hockey (most cups).

A Pakistani girl by the name of Maria Toorpakai, who is the reigning national champion and currently ranked in top 50 women players, has written a great book recounting her childhood struggles growing up in the conservative Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The book has quickly gained international fame.

Dr. Abdus Salam on a Pakistani issue stamp
Dr. Abdus Salam on a Pakistani issue stamp | Source

Contribution to science

Pakistan’s Abdus Salam, who I met as a young student in 1982, won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979.

Bashir Syed is Pakistani-American solar physicist and a NASA research scientist to the field of Robotics and solar sciences.

Dr Fazlur Rehman Khan, a Bangla Deshi civil engineer, but raised and educated in Pakistan and set to the USA on its scholarship, invented tube structural system, which was used for designing, among other buildings, Chicago’s Sears Tower and John Hancock Center. I took up civil engineering at undergraduate level, because I was impressed by him.

Although many people think he can't be categorized as a Pakistani, I strongly feel otherwise. The reason is simple: He was educated in Pakistani education system, was sent for higher studies on Pakistani scholarship, and was a Pakistani citizen at that time.

USA by regions for comparing with Pakistan.
USA by regions for comparing with Pakistan. | Source

How big is it?

Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world.

It is a fairly large country spanning over 810,000 square kilometers. In a comparison with USA’s eastern states, it would be equal in size to the New England and mid-Atlantic States plus Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina all put together.

Comparing it with southern US states, it will be slightly bigger than Texas and Louisiana combined. In another comparison with western US states, it will be slightly bigger than California, Oregon, and Washington put together.

In a comparison with European countries, it would be slightly larger than Britain and France put together.

Founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, with his daughter and two dogs.
Founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, with his daughter and two dogs. | Source

It won its independence through a democratic process

I have noticed that when westerners learn that Pakistan got its independence from the British and broke away from India, they automatically assume that it must have been a bloody war resulting in millions people dying for the cause. It is not so.

However, it is true that millions perished because of the treachery of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy to India, who at the last moment, redrew the boundary between the two new nations to give benefit to India so that Pakistan didn’t get direct access to Kashmir. This resulted in thousands of people ending on the wrong side of the divide. Tensions mounted leading to violence that killed 300,000-500,000 people, something that army of the British Raj was unable to stop.

The truth is that Pakistan’s independence was gained unlike anywhere else, i.e., through a democratic process, and not a war.

Pakistan was a part of British India until 1947, when the Pakistan Movement, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, more popularly known as Quaid-e-Azam or the Great Leader, resulted in the independence and creation of the state of Pakistan.

Pakistan has more recently been depicted as one of the 'Stan' countries.
Pakistan has more recently been depicted as one of the 'Stan' countries. | Source

Name is land based, not religion based

I found Pakistanis to think that the origin of the name is from ‘Pak’ or pure, hence religious. Well, that is not so.

The idea of a separate state to preserve the cultural and religious identity of the inhabitants of northwestern provinces of British India was first introduced by the poet philosopher Sir Allama Iqbal in 1930. Subsequently, the name Pakistan (which can be taken to mean land of pure, but actually made up of letters ‘P’ from Punjab, ‘A’ from Afghania or the Afghan border territories, ‘K’ from Kashmir, ‘S’ from Sindh, and ‘Tan’ from Balochistan) was proposed in 1933 and subsequently adopted in 1940.

The ending part 'tan', meaning land, is common to the names of several other Central Asian countries as well.

Imran Khan has the ability to gather huge crowd. He is the voice of youth and of 'Change'.
Imran Khan has the ability to gather huge crowd. He is the voice of youth and of 'Change'. | Source

Pakistanis love democracy

Because Pakistan was itself created through popular vote, Pakistanis are democracy loving people who hold in highest esteem their democracy loving founding fathers and the democratic leaders who are known for their constant struggle for democracy in the country.

Three of its popularly elected prime ministers have been assassinated; the most recent being Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, twice elected prime minister of the country, in 2009.

Minar-e-Pakistan stands where Pakistan Resolution was passed on March 23, 1940.
Minar-e-Pakistan stands where Pakistan Resolution was passed on March 23, 1940. | Source

Pakistan Day or Pakistan Resolution Day also Republic Day, held on March 23, is a national holiday in Pakistan to commemorate the Lahore Resolution of 1940 and the adoption of the first constitution of Pakistan on 23 March 1956. Republic Day parade by the armed forces is a common celebration for the event.

14th August is celebrated as the Independence Day or Yom-e-Azadi.

Indigenous style of polo is rougher in approach.
Indigenous style of polo is rougher in approach. | Source

During a recent conference in Phoenix, Arizona, after I had introduced myself in the first introductory session and during the short interval for coffee, most participants approached me for shaking hands with me. Again, it was surprising to note that many of them had actually a parent or an uncle who had worked in that country (in 1950s, 60s or 80s) or had a near and dear one who was somehow involved with that country now and that they had positive memories associated with the country.

Hiran Minar near Lahore is a historic building built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir (1569 – 1627)
Hiran Minar near Lahore is a historic building built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir (1569 – 1627) | Source

I have found that, generally, these are the people who do not accept trash thrown at them by mainstream media and have found alternate means to confirm or disconfirm the news and information. I suggest we join, if we haven’t already, this group of people to have a better understanding of the peoples of the world

Further Reading

The following two articles by Michael Kugelman and 1 article by billybuc make a very good complementary reading:

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    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 19 months ago from Mississauga, ON

      Clark Kent was nickname given to me by my former boss and mentor at a previous organization (a US based bank). She was the Chief Editor and she invited me to the editorial board and said just like Clark Kent was known as Superman in his bigger role, so should you be known as Clark Kent in your second role. I hope you get the drift. But thanks for visiting my hub and leaving a comment.

    • TheMisterWriter profile image

      TheMisterWriter 19 months ago from Karachi, Pakistan

      Cool Hubs! Why is your name known as Clark KEnt too though? Followed. Follow back perchance? :)

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 23 months ago

      Thank you.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 23 months ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for nice comments.

      As to your questions, I would say Pakistani media is definitely divided into 3 categories. Far right, which has very small but dedicated following of readers coming from religious parties, always portrays the US in the negative. Then we have liberal media, which is basically two leading English newspapers, and it depicts the USA in the positive. Finally, we have mainstream Urdu language media, which has the largest following, and which is half here and half there when it comes to the USA.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 23 months ago

      Thank you, an interesting article. Great pictures. Yes, the U.S. press, and yes Americans, tends to ignore other countries until something bad happens in another country. Americans have a long history of isolationist sentiment. How does the Pakistani media depict the U.S.?

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hello Saqib,

      Thanks buddy. Go Green!

    • SAQIB6608 profile image

      SAQIB 2 years ago from HYDERABAD PAKISTAN

      Proud to be a Pakistani !! Go GREEN

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thanks Marcy. I am glad my small submission helped you learn new things about Pakistan.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you moonlake for the encouraging comments and sharing.

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      I enjoyed learning quite a bit more about Pakistan from your article, Suhail. I have gained a new appreciation.

      Best -- MJ

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      Very interesting hub. Nice to learn so much about Pakistan that I didn't know. Voted up and shared.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Prosols,

      I have written a hub on how to save snow leopards (of Pakistan), but I will surely be posting another hub on tourist attractions of Pakistan soon. I have already written it and its finalized, but I wanted to wait and post some other hubs before posting another one on Pakistan.

      Btw, i just posted one hub on a tourist attraction of Ontario, Canada. It will be there soon.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Jared,

      Thank you for the encouraging comments.

      One of your countrymen Brian Lawrenson visited Pakistan with his wife during most turbulent times of mid 2000s when Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists were exploding bombs in many different places. Even then they found Pakistan to be a treasure for tourists and covered their travels off the beaten path extensively in their book 'Following Marco Polo's Silk Road'. In the end of their Pakistan travel section, they wished well for the country in the war against terror and prayed that the country gets back on normal course soon for the benefit of many travellers in the waiting.

      It is true that Pakistan is not covered in positive fashion by our media at all.

    • prosols profile image

      prosols 3 years ago

      well K2 is a good niche make sure including some about the snow leaoperds .. the rarest spicie luckily found in our northern areas and some part of Laddakh but mostly it sighted near Gilgit .. Do add it bro .. Best of Luck

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Jayme,

      Thank you for reading my hub and leaving nice comments. The fact is that there is restlessness and instability in that country right now, but once this is over, and it will be over soon, Pakistan will become a Mecca for tourists due to its natural, cultural, archaeological, and historic resources.

      As far as I am concerned, I read and listen to mainstream media, but always try to disconfirm / reconfirm through alternate sources. I never take them on face value.

      Thank you once again.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      I agree and that is why I wrote another hub on wildlife of Pakistan and North America occupying the same niche. It is my imaginary walk with my dog k2 to Pakistan to observe wildlife there..

    • prosols profile image

      prosols 3 years ago

      Thanks God I read some good stuff about my country. Brilliantly explained brother I am feeling same proud as other Pakistani over here and feels there are tons of other facts about our beloved country which can't explain here in limited words. I hope you agree

    • Jared Miles profile image

      Jared Miles 3 years ago from Australia

      You've written a very very interesting Hub. I see now I've been a bit of a slave to mainstream media, so thank you for enlightening me on Pakistani culture, and for spreading a more positive message about a misunderstood ethnicity.

      Voted up and shared. Thank you again.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Beautiful and exciting hub. I abhor mainstream media for the very reasons that you mention. It feeds the ignorant people, and focuses too much on negativity.

      I've never visited Pakistan, but I think it would be a wonderful country to see. I have many friends from Pakistan who are artists, and I am completely humbled by their skill and attention to detail! Thanks for sharing this hub, the wonderful facts and information, and the great photos. Voting up!

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you Tammy and that was the whole idea to put my country of origin into proper perspective.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 3 years ago from North Carolina

      You have given me a much more modern idea of Pakistan than I had from preconceived notions. Thanks for sharing some highlights of your area. I learned a great deal!

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you Azeem for bringing one more 'hidden' fact about Pakistan in "The youngest certified Microsoft technology specialist is a Pakistani who is only 12 yrs old."

    • profile image

      Azeem Haq 4 years ago

      Very well said. I am glad to read the positives about our country. I would like to emphasize on the fact, that Pakistan is the only nuclear Muslim state in the world.

      The youngest certified Microsoft technology specialist is a Pakistani who is only 12 yrs old.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you Hummingbird for sharing your first hand experience with the country.

      I haven't read any article by a traveller or tourist to Pakistan who hasn't admired its natural, archaeological, architectural, and cultural beauty.

    • Hummingbird5356 profile image

      Hummingbird5356 4 years ago

      I have visited Pakistan and want to go again sometime. Before I went I could only find negative comments but when I got there I found only positiveness. The people are the nicest and most welcoming I have ever met. There are so many contrasts in Pakistan but even the poorest have a welcoming smile for foreigners.

      There is good and bad everywhere but I have found there is more good than bad. You find what you seek. Be positive and others around you are too.

      An interesting hub.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you, as always, you have been a very encouraging hubber, I really appreciate this nice gesture.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Fascinating, with lots to discover! Sharing!

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you, Elias.

      I am happy that you found it interesting and useful.

      Regards,

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Uzma,

      Indeed there are many weaknesses in our country and we really need to address them like NOW, but I believe we should not forget the positives also. I have met many travellers and have read many books by travellers who have been to Pakistan as well and I have found that not a single of them has spoken or written negatively about Pakistan. Ethan Casey (Alive and well in Pakistan), Brian Laurensen (Following Marco Polo's silk road), Alastair Humphreys (Thunder and Sunshine), etc. all mention Pakistan positively.

      Btw, thanks for sharing my hub. I will be putting up two more hubs on Pakistan in March :-D so please bear with me.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you very much indeed for reading my article and leaving very encouraging comments. I really appreciate your comment, "Of course, there are good sides and bad sides to any country".

      Only if we could learn from the post-independence actions of our founding fathers, things would be much better.

      For example, Gandhi wanted to travel to Pakistan and settle over there in order to prove that India and Pakistan are equal for him and they should not be separated. He decided to settle in Pakistan.

      When Gandhi was assassinated, Jinnah made a statement of condolence, calling Gandhi "one of the greatest men produced by the community" and made the day a National Day of Mourning in his honour.

      I believe it is in the interest of the two countries to live in peace and harmony with each other.

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 4 years ago from Athens, Greece

      Great article! Very well written and well documented! Thank you for sharing! Voted up, interesting and useful!

    • uzma shaheen profile image

      Uzma Shaheen Bhatti 4 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

      You did such a wonderful job and I am feeling so proud of you and my country. Your hub brought a fresh air to me as I have been sick and tired of reading so much negativity about my country. There were some facts I did not know before reading your hub.Thank you so much for writing such beautiful hub.I am sharing it as it deserves to be.

    • karthikkash profile image

      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      Interesting read. I am from India and our media obviously shows the negative things about Pakistan most times. However, I have met Pakistani's and I have a few friends from Pakistan. It is so misguided when people talk about Pakistan in a complete negative way. Of course, there are good sides and bad sides to any country (including India). But, it is sad that our media likes to earn their bread and butter by highlighting only the negative side of a country.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      xstatic,

      Thank you for reading my hub and leaving encouraging comments. I will surely write about assassinations of Bhuttos from a creative angle as how my family saw it and related to it with enough references to keep it close to facts.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you aviannovice and just to let you know I am writing a creative, at least I think it is going to be that way, piece on some Pakistani wildlife that I took pictures of while on the go and I mentioned you in that article. I will post is on hubpages soon. I used to be a stamp collector of Pakistan and of nature, but I moved to so many countries due to jobs that I donated them to my nieces and nephews to continue the hobby. I am no longer a stamp collector.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image
      Author

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you torrilyn for very encouraging comments.

      Admittedly, there are problems too, but I think our media is too fixated on projecting only the bad news. I appreciate your views and thanks for sharing and voting up.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Suhail, this is wonderful and I applaud you. Are you a stamp collector, too? We could trade stamps US and Pakistan if you like.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      Hi Suhail,

      really interesting piece that you have here

      about Pakistan. I love the fact that you included the actual facts

      about the country that we generally don't see in the news. I feel that the news

      only shows us what they want us to see, which is a horrible thing because our perspective

      of what we see may be different since we don't know the full story.

      Voted up and shared

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      This is such an interesting piece about Pakistan. I am sort of (very selective) a news hound, in that I listen to and get much of my news from NPR, which, I think, presents a far more balanced view of the world in general than commercial media does.

      You have presented some really interesting aspects of a country that most Americans know little about. I encourage you to maybe write some more about Pakistan for our benefit. I am particularly interested in the info about Bhutto and other democratic leaders being assassinated. Was this due to military overreaching or religious differences or other reasons. I know that it is a complicated situation, but a very interesitng and vital part of the world.

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