"A Westerners Point of View" Top 5 Page for this destination Pakistan by JohnniOmani
Pakistan Travel Guide: 3,806 reviews and 8,449 photos
Pakistan is often dismissed by travellers as too risky(including myself for quite some time), thanks to news reports of an unstable Islamic nation with a sketchy law and order situation, constantly on the edge of war with India over the disputed Kashmir region. Most people think that it is home to Islamic fundamentalists as well as Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden and company. Sure , there are a few dangerous areas (most of which are either off limits or require an armed guard to visit) but this is only one layer of an incredibly layered country. If you throw away the typical Western media stereotypes, you will discover first hand that this country has a lot to offer.
For any visitor, Pakistan has a wide range of attractions from amazing scenery (Karakoram Highway, Hindu Kush, Himalaya and Valleys) to amazing Mughal architecture. It has countless shrines, mosques and story book bazaars and Pakistan has some of the most incredible and ancient history on the planet from Buddhism to Islam to Sufism(Islamic Mysticism). Pakistan is also home to some of the most kind and warm hearted people you will ever meet, who history and culture are as diverse as the landscape itself.
Pakistan has existed for almost 60 years. In its short life it has built a nuclear bomb and won world championships in cricket and squash. More importantly, it has provided a home for millions of Muslims. Pakistan was created when the British, exhausted by WWII, realised that they could no longer afford to police their empire. After countless rebellions and uprisings, Pakistan was created in 1947. In recent times, Pakistan has become a travel destination only for the truly intrepid- and the sense of adventure is only enhanced by the fact that you are unlikely to cross paths with other travellers. Overall, Pakistan has it all if you are willing to take the step and journey into this incredible country.
Family is the center of life in Pakistan. In this society, males are considered the heads of the family unit and they are usually the supporters of the family. Women are expected to be responsible for the home and taking care of children. Children are expected to listen to their father and mother and help the family as much as possible. The current generation of Pakistan is quite astonishing. The youth are growing up in a time of uncertainty in their country. Pakistan has major internal/domestic problems ranging from poverty, child labour, corruption, drugs, womens rights, border disputes to foreign militants operating on the edge of society. The young and old are truely remarkable because no matter what is happening around them Pakistani people continue to work towards stability and happiness for themselves as well as their countrymen. Everywhere you go people are simply happy to be working despite the circumstances. Locals always greet you with a smile and are proud to tell you about their country and their work. Most are happy to be working considering 60% of the population can not read or write. Watching Pakistani people go about their business with their heads held up high brings life into perspective and you realize how privledged most people are in this world. The Pakistani people blew me away with their work ethic and optimism and watching people as shown in the photo struggling to make a few dollars put my life in perspective and made me feel that I was extremely lucky to have come from my existing background.
Traveling independently allowed me the opportunity to meet numerous local people in a variety of settings. We discussed topics that ranged from politics to the social problems that plague the sub continent. In the Punjab province, I learned that Punjabis are a life loving lot with a long tradition of warm hospitality that comes straight from the heart. Few travelers I met left Punjab without a bundle of memories and a fully stocked address book of new friends. Even though the Punjab province is set up for tourism, it has its share fair of problems ranging from pollution and poverty to political demonstrations. (the infamous cartoon scandal occurred a few months before I arrived in Pakistan and I could still feel the tension in the air).
The North West Frontier Province’s (border with Afghanistan) attraction lies in its mysteriousness and dark side. I learned how drugs were and continue to be a major social problem and that there are hundreds of thousands of addicts who use drugs daily without any preventive measures taken by the government. (There are millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan that add to the overall number of addicts in the country and it is a really tragic situation). While traveling around the NWFP, I witnessed harsh realities ranging from child labor to the illegal trading of firearms. Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, unlicensed arms have been produced and sold throughout many parts of the country. I observed countless hand guns and automatic weapons being sold in the bazaars and I learned that weapons are a fact of life for a large amount of people living in Northern Pakistan. It is almost a tribal duty to carry a weapon in Northern Pakistan. The locals use them to celebrate weddings, births, religious festivals as well as for settling tribal disputes. In addition, I observed the role of women in the public domain in the NWFP. Every woman in the province was wearing a burqa (same style as the Afghani women) and I didn’t see a woman’s face for five days while in the area. The emotions I felt while shopping next to women covered in burqas were indescribable. I felt as though I was shopping along side female ghosts in a male dominated society and the conservative atmosphere was like no other I have experienced on this planet.
Despite witnessing the harsh realities of the Eastern and Northern areas of Pakistan, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this frequently misunderstood nation. The country has an astounding amount to offer, especially to travelers that are willing to step into the areas that are off the beaten track. Pakistan has an amazing range of attractions that can hold its own with any country on Earth.
- Pros:Architecture, History and lack of tourists
- Cons:Pollution, Male dominated and Conservative
- In a nutshell:Eye Opening
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