Pakistan - what media will not tell you about it
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The following two articles by Michael Kugelman and 1 article by billybuc make a very good complementary reading:
- Current Social Issues In America 2013: And The Sheep Shall Be Offered For Sacrifice
A one man rant that serves no purpose other than to release some frustrations. Read, don't read, but it has served its purpose for this writer.