unbekannter Gast

Some impressions of Pakistan#

General#

Pakistan is divided into three major geographic areas: the northern highlands, the Indus River plain and the Balochistan Plateau. The northern highlands contain the Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges which contain some of the world's highest peaks, including five of the fourteen eight-thousanders which attract adventurers and mountaineers from all over the world, notably K2 and Nanga Parbat. The Balochistan Plateau lies in the west and the Thar Desert in the east. The 1,609 km Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the Kashmir region to the Arabian Sea. There is an expanse of alluvial plains along it in Punjab and Sindh.

The climate varies from tropical to temperate, with arid conditions in the coastal south. There are four distinct seasons: a cool, dry winter from December through February; a hot, dry spring from March through May; the summer rainy season from June through September; and the retreating monsoon period of October and November.

Islamabad#

Islamabad Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan. It has a population of about two million. Islamabad is located in the Pothohar Plateau in the northeastern part of the country, between Rawalpindi District and the Margalla Hills National Park to the north. It was built during the 1960s to replace Karachi as Pakistan's capital. The city is home to the Faisal Mosque, the largest mosque in South Asia and the fourth largest mosque in the world, after Mecca, Medina and Isfahan. Islamabad’s population is dominated by middle and upper middle class citizen's. The city is home to sixteen recognized universities. The city has an elaborate surveillance system with 1,900 CCTV cameras contributing towards one of the lowest crime rates in the country. The economy of Rawalpindi (the fourth largest city in Pakistan by population) is economically interlinked with Islamabad and the two are jointly known as twin cities. Indeed, for the ousider the two cities seem to have merged into a metropolis of some 10 million people.
Pakistan Monument
The Pakistan monument was inaugurated by the President of Pakistan Mr. Pervaiz Musharraf in year 2004.
Photo: Maqsoodgujjer, Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Pakistan Monument
My friend Dr. Bilal Zaka showing me the monument and other interesting places in Pakistan
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Pakistan Monument
Pakistan Monumentum/Maurer
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Pakistan Monument\Photo: [Hermann Maurer|Geography/About/Consortium/Maurer], 2016
Pakistan Monument
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Pakistan Monument
On the inside of Pakistan monument impressive reliefs are shown, this one of Muhammad Ali Jinnah (the first leader of Pakistan and main instigator that Pakistan split from India in 1947) and his wife
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Pakistan Monument
Horsemen have always been a strong element in Pakistan culture
Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Pakistan Monument
Dedication to Pakistani poets
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Lake in Islamabad
Boats and bird on a hazy day
Photo:kami rao, Flickr, under CC BY 2.0
Lake
Lake in what looks like sunset. Notice, however, how high the sun still is: The redish sun is due to heavy smog
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Lake
The smog on this occasion (late December 2016) was particularly bad since it had not rained for 4 weeks
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Lake
Boats on the lake
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Lake
Dinner in the evening in the hills behind Islamabad
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Faisla Mosque
Faisal Mosque
Photo: Abdul Baqi, Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Faisal Mosque, one of the famous mosques in Islamabad. It is famous for its 4 pillars and moon in the middle. It has a covered area of around 54,000 sq ft. It was built by the support of Saudi King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz., Photo: Rizwan Mehmood, 2015
Faisal Mosque, one of the famous mosques in Islamabad. It is famous for its 4 pillars and moon in the middle. It has a covered area of around 54,000 sq ft. It was built by the support of Saudi King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz.
Photo: Rizwan Mehmood, 2015, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Faisal Mosque, Photo: Rizwan Mehmood, 2015
Faisal Mosque
Photo: Rizwan Mehmood, 2015, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Faisal Mosque, Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2012
Faisal Mosque
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2012, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Faisal Mosque, Photo: Rizwan Mehmood, 2015
Faisal Mosque
Photo: Rizwan Mehmood, 2015, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Lake
The author on Margalla Hills
Photo: Camera of Hermann Maurer, 2012, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Margalla Hills Park
Margalla Hills
Photo:Obaid747, 2013, Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tower
Saudi Pak tower is a twenty storey high rise building in Islamabad.
Photo: Rizwan Mehmood, 2015, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Mega Mall
Mega Mall of Islamabad The Centaurus
Photo: Obaid747 (2015) Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Cancing colour fountains near F-16 sector. These were designed by the Falcon Engineering firm in Islamabad., Photo: Rizwan Mehmood, 2015
Cancing colour fountains near F-16 sector. These were designed by the Falcon Engineering firm in Islamabad.
Photo: Rizwan Mehmood, 2015, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Rohtas Fort in Rawlpindi, Twin city of Islamabad, Photo: Shahbaz Alsam6669, Wikicomons
Rohtas Fort in Rawlpindi, Twin city of Islamabad
Photo: Shahbaz Alsam6669, Wikicomons, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Gate of Pharwala Fort near Rawlpindi, Photo: Khalid Mahmood 2007, Wikicomons
Gate of Pharwala Fort near Rawlpindi
Photo: Khalid Mahmood 2007, Wikicomons, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Lahore#

Lahore Lahore is the second largest and most populous city (10 million) in Pakistan, after Karachi. The city is located near the border with India. Lahore is one of Pakistan's wealthiest cities. It is is one of Pakistan's most liberal and cosmopolitan cities with a Muslim majority and a large Christian population. Additionally, Lahore contains some of Sikhism's holiest sites, and is a major Sikh pilgrimage site. The city is a major centre of education in Pakistan, with some of Pakistan's leading universities. Lahore is also home to Pakistan's film industry, Lollywood. The city is a major tourist destination, particularly the areas surrounding the ancient Walled City which is home to several World Heritage Sites.
Fort Lahore
Fort Lahore
Photo: Pixabay, under PD
Agra Fort
Agra Fort, Amar singh Gate
Photo: Pixabay, under PD
Mosque
Badshahi-Mosque
Photo: Michale Foley, flickr, under CC BY 2.0
Badshahi Mosque
Mosque during daytime.
Photo: Ali Imran, 2005, wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Small mosque of Wazir Khan inside Taxali Gate.
Photo: Sahar Sohail, 2006, Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 4.0
mosque
Main door and entrance. The Wazir Khan Mosque is considered the most ornately decorated Mughal-era mosque, completed in 1642.
Photo: Muhammad Ashar, from Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0
mosque
Almost every space of the mosque is covered with ornaments
Photo: Shahbaz Aslam6669, from Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Karachi#

Karachi Karachi is the largest and most populous city in Pakistan (some 15 Million people). Karachi was the capital of Pakistan until 1958. It is Pakistan's most cosmopolitan city. Situated on the Arabian Sea, Karachi serves as a transport hub, and is home to two of Pakistan's two largest seaports, the Port of Karachi and Port Bin Qasim, as well as the busiest airport in Pakistan. The city is Pakistan's premier industrial and financial centre and still grows by almost 5% yearly due to migration.
Mausoleum
Jinnah Mausoleum in Karachi
Photo: M.irfan44 Wikicommmons, under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Cemetery
Cemetery in Karachi
Photo: Pixabay, under PD
Frere Hall
Frere Hall in Karachi
Photo: ShamailAhmad Wikicommmons, under CC BY-SA 4.0
Beach
Clifton Beach Karachi
Photo: M.irfan44 Wikicommmons, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Other very large cities in Pakistan#

This includes Hyderabad Hyderabad Faisalbad Faisalabad Multan Multan and Peshawar Peshawar . They have 7.6, 7.5, 4.1 and 4.0 million inhabitants, respectively, and some (like Hyderabad) are growing so fast that figures can easily be out of date.

Colonial style clock tower Ganthar Gar in Faisalabad, Photo: Ehtesham999, 2105, Wikicommons
Colonial style clock tower Ganthar Gar in Faisalabad
Photo: Ehtesham999, 2105, Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Shah_Rukhn-i-Alam Multan in Multan, Photo: Steve Evans, 2005, Wikicommons
Shah_Rukhn-i-Alam Multan in Multan
Photo: Steve Evans, 2005, Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Taxila archeological site#

See Special Information on Taxila

Khewra salt mines#

See Special Information on Khewra

The high mountains#

Low part of Kashmir
Azad Kashmir
Photo: Murtanza Mahmud 2012, Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 2.0
Hunza Valley
Hunza Valley, Pakistan
Photo: Pixabay, under PD
K2
K2 from the South. With 8611 m it is the highest mountain in Pakistan
Photo: BWAG, Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0
K2
The Austrian Reinhold Messner, the first person to ascend all 14 mountains higher than 8.000 m. K2 proved to be fateful for him: His brother plunged to death on the descent
Photo: Pixabay, under PD
K2
K2 is the second highest mountain in the world and more difficult to climb than Mount Everest.
Photo: Kuno Lechner 1986, Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Traditional Pakistan#

Pakistan offers modern highways, supermodern buildings, great momuments of art, both old or more recent (like the Faisal Mosque shown above, impressive mountain scenery, sometimes chaotic traffic that may create some smiles because of the colourful painted trucks and buses (see next section), nice scenery, and of course bazars and handicraft shops despite the competititon by modern supermarkets.
Bazar
Bazar
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Bazar
Bazar
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Bazar
Bazar
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Traditional Pakistan
Traditional Blacksmith
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Traditional Pakistan
Food delivery
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Traditional Pakistan
Food delivery
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Traditional Pakistan
Murree Hills some 50 km north of Islmabad
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Traditional Pakistan
Mureee Hills with higher mountains to the north
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Traditional Pakistan
My friend Dr. Tanvir Afzal is such a good supervisor that he even helps his Ph.D. students while hiking in the Murree Hills
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Traditional Pakistan
Some hills are surprislingly populated
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Traditional Pakistan
Some houses are for local tourists
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Traditional Pakistan
Life in Murree hills
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Traditional Pakistan
Murree hills also offer nature undisturbed, and skiing in winter!
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Trucks in Pakistan#

It comes as surprise to most foreigners that trucks are decorated lovingly all over. What at first glance may look like an interesting yet strange thing to do become more serious if one digs a bit deeper: The truck-drivers are mainly from remote villages, unable to see their relatives, friends and beloved village scenery only a few times a year. To see a bit of this, they have their trucks painted with images that give them a bit to remember their home. Hence: Do not laugh at some of the pictures, but realize that they show a dose of human homesickness.
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-ND 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Traffic and other problems in Pakistan#

With 4,500.000 cars in the "Twin-city" area (Rawalpindi and Islamabad have merged into one metropolis over the last 5 years) and 62% of electrical power generated by coal burning power stations, traffic and electricity pollute the air in this area (and the same in other large cities in Pakistan liken the 15 million monster Karachi) tremendously and are responsible for the death of an estimated 100.000 persons per year. Hence the production of clean energy has high priority in Pakistan, leading (like in India and China) to the increased use of nuclear energy. Fortunately, there are moves to use Thorium rather than Uranium: Thorium nuclear power stations cannot have a melt-down, hence are much less dangerous than Uranium reactors, and produce less problematic radioactive waste.

Concerning traffic, it is of course left-hand side driving and except on the motorways (some with 6 lanes in one direction!) traffic is chaotic, particular in old cities like Rawalpindi or such. Also, tranportation can be a bit unsual as the few following pictures show.

Roadtraffic
Truck or Bus?
Photo: Muhammad Ahmad, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Bus is getting full
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
Truck
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Roadtraffic
In heavy traffic motorbikes make lots of sense. But do you see how women sit on such bikes in Pakistan? Sideways! I believe this partly because of dresscodes and is a "left-over" of how women are supposed to sit on horses in many Arabic and near East countries
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Imbalance rich-poor
X-Mas tree celebration in Serena hotel, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Pakistan is a beautiful country with friendly people.

That travel is not recommendable in some parts of the country at this point in time (early 2017) is well-known. One can only hope for a further increase of safety, as it noticeable in large parts of central Pakistan.

This report would not be complete with at least some criticism, e.g. concerning the tremenduous gap between rich and poor. A single room in the posh Islamabad Serena hotel costs US $330.- per night. Yet the driver bringing guests from the airport and back has a monthly salary of US $140.- (and I guess some tips). This cannot be a stable situation in the long run.

The hotel mentioned offers astounding luxury and is completely international. Locals are not allowed in, so they don't see the wealth displayed here. All is done to please also foreign guests by even inlcuding a ceremony for lighting a huge X-mas tree!