A Short Trip to Nathia Gali (3 of 3)


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  Sitting in the veranda of the lawn of my hotel room, I viewed the thick, beautiful jungle of hundred years old pines, cedars & oak trees.
It was the perfect time and place to enjoy the beauty of the nature, different types of birds especially large size cravens and lot other mountain birds cawing/chirping/singing their typical songs all the time. Monkeys doing their usual acrobatics in nature, all what makes you and your spirits refreshed like anything.
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RENDEZVOUS WITH CLOUDS, MONKEYS, SUNSHINE AND THE RAINS

 

by Nayyar Hashmey

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We got up in the morning quite refreshed, refreshed this time becoz we spent our night in a quite normal, comfortable room with warm water available for a normal bath, and this time we decided also to try the in-house complimentary breakfast. To our good fortune the breakfast at the Hotel was not only fresh, warm and to our liking but also was very very tasty too. Weather was fine and back at our room, we enjoyed the continuous hide and seek between  the clouds, the rain fall and the clouds turning into a mist that used to start dancing on the lawns and veranda of our room.

Since clouds come often on roads, room lawns, hotels, & play grounds in Nathia Gali, the town has rightly earned itself the name The Mist City of Pakistan.

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All of a sudden, the clouds disappeared and a bright, pleasantly cool sunlight appeared. Right then monkeys came up on the branches of thick pine trees, from pines they jumped to the loose but sturdy shoots of the old, seasoned cedars and then to a room that was next to ours.

The forests in Nathia Gali have centuries  old pines, cedars, walnuts, also oak and maple trees, whereupon we could easily watch the whole tamasha on a variety of these forest trees all on their own and that too for free.

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You will get to see monkeys on the roadside on your way from Nathia Gali-Murree to Islamabad, especially so when you pass over Nathia Gali Muree stretch of Islamabad Murree Express way, when you frequently spot monkeys on the way.
Here these three monkeys are basking in the sun, sitting leisurely on a roadside barrier. At the same time, as you spot them, they spot you. The typical monkey way of life.

 

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Now one of them is scratching the body of the other one for catching the lice or then they would start a friendly quarrel between two of them. Later some more would come and join in this friendly match. Together all of them bite at one another and then together all will jump in happiness.  From cedar they would jump on the tinned roof of the hotel room just next to ours.

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Me, with my sweetheart babe Hira (my daughter) in the façade of our hotel in Nathia Gali.

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And now with my better half in the veranda of Restaurant at the Hotel in Nathia Gali.

It was a wholesome retreat to watch these monkeys in the open, jumping now from one twig to another twig of a pine, then from pine, a long jump to the cedar, and from the cedar, would jump altogether in such a rhythm, in complete sync with the beautiful cloud hovering on them and us, with light, cool and pleasant rain drops falling, on them as well as on us. Their jumping in to and fro, created a beautiful symphony when they started banging simultaneously on the tinned roof.

We watched as we enjoyed this drama in nature, each episode unfolding right before us in turn by turn, for about an hour or so. It was then that we decided that we should better leave for home. So we transferred our belongings from the hotel room to the car. The ever-ready Latif, our driver, was there to help us in moving the things at a quicker pace. We then handed over the keys to the hotel reception, cleared our dues and said them good bye.

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I don’t know why Hira made a pose like this. May be the sun had become too bright and she needed sunglasses.

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On our way back, we frequently came across colorful dupattas (the ones here though are in black & white) and chadors spread on a hanging line. Their varied colors offer another beauty to the colorful landscape that we pass, while travelling on the Nathia Gali-Murree Islamabad-Highway.

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Rain and sun umbrellas in varied colors especially for the ladies, offer a rainbow of colors with a background that is a combination of mountain wall, misty environment and light sun passing through the mist – a beautiful panorama of colours travelling all along us while we drive on the Galyat Road.

Frankly speaking, we did not want to leave becoz of the comfortable room, the professional hospitality of the Hotel staff but since out first night at UOP rest house in Bara Gali was quite disturbing, therefore, we decided to leave for home this time and revisit our beautiful Nathia Gali in September once again.

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On our way back to Murree and Islamabad, we came across this corn seller, who was scalding the corn on cob in hot roasting sand. The fresh cob from the mountain areas that has fairly white color than the yellow one we have in the plains of the Punjab, being from heirloom seeds, is fresh and raw and has a unique taste of its own.

While we were on our way, coming back from Nathia Gali, we came across many lorries, mini vans and wagons, all loaded with our Pashtun brethren, young and old, men and women, all tightly packed with their Tiffins, hot boxes, big kettles carrying rice, meat curries, typical KPK dishes already made in rich fat, meat and spices, In the background the CD recorders blaring with Pashtu songs, many of the riders singing in rhyme with music on the disc, were going upwards towards Nathia Gali/Abbotabad/Thandiani.

Some will stop alongside the road and start a Pashtun dance in tune with the music on the disc. Then others will stop their vehicle on the road side, stretch out a big long sheet, a dastarkhan (the name is used not only in Pakistan but also all over Central Asia to the traditional space where food is eaten).

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The term Dastarkhan usually refers to the tablecloth which is spread on the ground, floor, or on table and is used as a sanitary surface for food, but it is also used more broadly to refer to the entire meal setting.

It is part of traditional Central Asian cuisine. The term was introduced in South Asia by Turks and conquerors from Central Asia. Dastarkhan is a Persian word meaning “tablecloth” or “great spread”.

The food placed on a dastarkhan ranged from simple tea and bread (for small meals shared by each family) to various salads, nuts, candies, shorba, and meat set out for a picnic on the mountains. In this regard I found the Pashtuns of Pakistan much more livelier than us Punjabis, who do such things on harvests & birth/death anniversaries of saints only.

*****

Previous:  A Short Trip to Nathia Gali (2 of 3)

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title image, image 1 to 6 by Hira Hashmey except 7, from 8 to 18 by Hira hashmey, 19, 20
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A Short Trip to Nathia Gali (1 of 3)


BigLeafMaple1

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Trees speak the language of the flowers and understand the whispers of the wind.
They’re in tune with the subtle songs of the forest;
They can listen, speak, and interpret the chatter of the rivers and intuit the meaning of each sparkle of the sun.
They don’t have to be told to look for the   magic in life, They can see it, feel it, and taste its sweetness everywhere.
Our job isn’t to correct it, but to nurture it, to preserve it, and perhaps even to re-learn it.
(Christen Rogers)
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A LEAF FROM THE OLD FORESTS

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by Nayyar Hashmey

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O bring me a leaf from the Old Forests,  The forests of beauty and song;

Where the galyat, through woods and fair meadows  Doth lead their sweet waters along

O bring me a leaf from the Old Forests,  A tuft from the glossy black pine;

A leaf from the oak and high Cedar tree  And a branch of green holly combine.

O bring me a leaf from the Old Forests,

     A token so sacred, O bring;

‘Twill recall those bright scenes to remembrance,

     Old friendships around it will cling.

 (Originally composed by John D. Cossar has slightly been moderated to adapt to the context to my narrative on Nathia Gali and other small villages/towns called Galyat).

         This poem makes me wander in my memory lane whenever I recollect my visits to the Galyat region in the bygone days of my youth.

     Galyat region, or hill tract, is a narrow strip or area roughly 50–80 km north-east of Islamabad, extending on both sides of the PunjabKhyber Pakhtunkhwa border, between Murree Abbottabad.

     The word is derived from the plural of the Urdu/Punjabi  word gali, which in hilly regions of Murree area means an alley between two mountains on both sides of which there are valleys which may or may not the highest point in the range.

     Ethnically its a homogeneous region where mostly people speak the paharri (hilly area) version of Punjabi. Many call it Hindko, others call it Paharri, Potohari or a version of Punjabi. There are some scattered areas, villages and hamlets in the Hazara districts where Pashtu is also spoken along with Punjabi/Hindko/Paharri.

     Geographically only three are in the Punjab that is:

  1. Darya Gali  2. Jhika Gali 3. Ghora Gali

whereas all the rest 14 are in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-PK) province of Pakistan.

  1. Ayubia 2. Bara Gali 3. Changla Gali 4. Kooza Gali 5. Dunga Gali 6. Khaira Gali 7. Khanspur 8.  Nathia Gali 9.  Kala Bagh 10. Thandiani 11.  Toheed Abad 12. Dagri Naka 13.  Bagnotar 14.  Namli Maira

     It was Eid-ul-fitr which I celebrated with the usual routine, offered Eid prayer at our sector B mosque called the Rafi Mosque. Prayer was held at 7:15 in the morning

RAFI MOSQUE, SECTOR B, BAHRIA PHASE VIII

Rafi Mosque in Sector B, Phase VIII of Bahria Town, where this scribe offered Eid Prayer.

     Later, having my breakfast with usual sawayyan (vermicelli) cooked with ghee, sugar & milk, by lunch time, different friends started coming in to say hello with their Eid greetings. In the evening it was my duty likewise, to visit such friends who could not come due to one reason or the other. (Eid celebrations are anyway mostly a family affair).

     So it was just the next day after Eid (the 27th of June 2017) that we usually call in our rustic Punjabi “Turoo” that’s the day Eid is leaving us. (The word Turoo comes from Tur jana i.e. gone away). The third day of Eid is likewise called Muroo, that’s leaving off permanently.

      So, it was on Turoo day of Eid that we left early in the morning and the road journey became increasingly pleasant as we drove out of Islamabad, crossed Chhattar and Salgiran and then to Tret Bangla.

     I couldn’t help but notice the number of bikers heading towards the hills – most of them on locally assembled Chinese or Japanese versions. This rekindled another yearning, to own one of them, the usual specimen of our biking history. But at the senior age that I’m, such a wish remains a wish and to that comes also my dislike for the two wheelers.

     With such an adventurous machine that a motor bike is, my fascination is that of hate & love. I love it when I see young people riding on their motor bikes, all in a jolly mood, biking smoothly on the up hills sometime & downhill another time, but then that hate comes up from my youth days when I used to travel to the Institute of Textile Technology in the then Lyallpur on my two wheeler i.e. a Vespa scooter.

     Although this two wheeler in those days was a love machine of the youth, a rage by the young of the college and the university especially when the famous Hollywood movie Come September, came on our Pakistani cinema screens.

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Rock Hudson with Gina Lolobrigida in Hollywood movie of the 1960’s “Come September”.

     Watching movies in those days, was the prime source of entertainment for in those days one could not think of modern day gadgets such as laptops, smart phones, 24/7 running cable TV channels, home theaters and such similar stuffs. If somebody would ever had talked about it, the poor chap surely would surely have been dubbed as insane.

     Every day when I used to drive about 9 or 10 kilometers from my home to Manawala village where the institute was located, I used to come across all the dirt, mosquitoes, flies and small pebbles falling like small bullets on my face. Whenever a lorry or a truck passed along the road moving parallel to me, throwing all such nasty stuffs on me, ever since then I lost my love for the two wheelers.

     But sometime when I see the youth plying on their bikes running in a zoom, I do envy them.

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     As we drove up from Salgiran, weather became cooler and our husband-wife skirmishes turned into smiles. This was the usual, full of thrill drive in the hills and the twists and turns on the road gave the hilarity of an F1 racer. I know people would say that road to Murree is not ‘that hard’ but for us, people of the plains, it is always a memorable experience.

     The blue cover and shroud of white greyish mist took my breath away; the serpent-like road was another attraction and it was hard to keep my eyes off from the beauty all around.

     It was also a time to do the mandatory shooting, some stills & a few videos, done by Hira (my daughter) and the scenic locales allowed us to take plenty.

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     As I stood on the side of the road and soaked everything in, the hills appeared sage-like, wanting to tell me about the deeper purposes of life. The depth of the valley appeared to be teaching about how to absorb the shocks of life.

     On — we moved forward to Tret. Tret used to be a small hamlet in the past, a beautiful waterfall was always there, and a big pipal or some similar tree hovering almost on that part of the road. But now Tret too is large and a fairly polluted town.

     In my student days, reaching Tret meant that we are approaching Murree, as weather started getting cooler by every mile we trekked on a lorry or in a car.. But now Tret is fairly warmer than those days, pity the environment getting polluted in these simple, small yet beautiful villages & towns around Murree.

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On way to Nathia Gali

     In those days, moving in Murree was impossible without warm clothing but now you frequently see visitors in Murree especially from our Punjab plains in thin, light lawn dresses. Then to think of electric fans was impossible but now you cannot sit in Murree summer without fans.

     Having crossed Tret we moved upwards to Murree and reached there almost in about 25 minutes or so.

     Murree was as usual full of hustle and bustle of peak summer season. Everywhere you could see fellows from all walks of life strolling on the Mall of Murree. The weather was fairly warm, therefore; one could see people in normal light weight cotton wear. Sun was quite hot and this made lot of people to carry umbrellas too.

Contd….

Next:  A short trip to Nathia Gali (2 of 3)

Title image, Rafi Mosque by Molvi Abdul Rahman, Rock Hudson & Gina Lolobrigida, Last two by Hira Hashmey

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Published in: on 14/07/2017 at 1:38 pm  Comments (4)  

Mountain of Forty Souls


Balochistan is a country rife with tales of hidden treasures left behind by passing hordes through the long and creative years of history. From the arid wastes of Makran through the juniper-scented valleys of Kalat to the sun-baked hills of the Marri-Bugti area, echo tales of hidden riches. Some, therefore, believe that the name refers to that untold and undiscovered wealth in Hazarganji.
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HAZARGANJI

THE POSSESSOR OF THOUSAND TREASURES

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by Salman Rashid

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Some 20 kilometres south of Quetta, past Dasht-e-Bedaulat (‘Wretched Plain” — a misnomer now because electricity and tube wells have turned this once barren land fertile) there rises an imposing purple loom west of the road. Rising to 3,308 metres (10,850 feet) above the sea, this, in common parlance, is Chiltan. Ask any Brahui who lives in its shadow and he will call it Chehel Tan — Forty Souls. He will also tell you that the valleys below are called Hazarganji — Possessor of a Thousand Treasures.

Aside: Balochistan is a country rife with tales of hidden treasures left behind by passing hordes through the long and creative years of history. From the arid wastes of Makran through the juniper-scented valleys of Kalat to the sun-baked hills of the Marri-Bugti area, echo tales of hidden riches. Some, therefore, believe that the name refers to that untold and undiscovered wealth in Hazarganji.

But the Brahui will tell you another story. Long years ago, there lived a poor Brahui shepherd and his good wife who remained childless despite years of wedlock. Then, Providence gave them not one nor two, but fully forty children. Worried how they would feed this brood, the couple resolved to keep one and abandon the others in the forests of Hazarganji. Days went by and reports filtered in of the mysterious ravines being inhabited by a bunch of elfin children who enticed travellers away. No one could catch them and anyone who pursued them was forever lost in the unknown folds of Hazarganji. (more…)

The World’s Most Dangerous Border – KASHMIR



According to a Rand Corp study, an Indo-Pakistani nuclear exchange would immediately kill two million living souls, injure or kill 100 million later, pollute the Indus River and send clouds of radioactive dust around the globe.
That is the excellent reason why we should keep a weather eye on Kashmir and press India and Pakistan to make a fair settlement of this exceptionally dangerous 66-year dispute. In other words, no military solution to the long standing dispute over Kashmir. Let diplomacy have its way over stupidity of war games in Kashmir.
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TO AVERT A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST,  WORLD MUST FIND A SOLUTION FOR KASHMIR 

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by Eric Margolis

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ISTANBUL –  Reports of fighting along Kashmir’s  cease-fire line don’t normally receive much attention in the western media.  Last week, for example, saw  a series of clashes on 8 and 10 January that killed both Pakistani and Indian troops.

One of the Indian soldiers was decapitated, provoking fury across India and calls from its extremist Shiv Sena Hindu party for a nuclear attack on Pakistan.

Gunfire is common on the 1947 cease-fire line known as the Line of Control that divided the beautiful mountain kingdom of Kashmir into Indian and Pakistani-controlled portions. Fighting in that tense region always has the potential to quickly escalate into a  major war – or even nuclear conflict.

Having been under fire numerous times on the LOC, I used the experience in my first book, “War at the Top of the World” to illustrate just how dangerous the simmering Kashmir dispute remains. 

A dispute that went from bad to critical after India and then Pakistan acquired and deployed nuclear weapons.  This, I wrote, was the most dangerous strategic threat facing the globe.

India and Pakistan have fought three  wars and some very large battles over Kashmir. Both claim the entire mountain state.  Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI, has waged a long covert campaign to insert guerillas into Indian Kashmir to aid a series of spontaneous rebellions  against Indian rule by the state’s Muslim majority.

This writer has joined mujihadin fighting their way across the lethal Line of Control which is defended by Israeli-constructed fences, electronic sensors, minefields and Israeli-supplied drones. Losses  run very high among those trying to cross the line.

Muslim Kashmiris have been in almost constant revolt against Indian rule since 1947 when the British divided India. Today,  500,000 Indian troops and paramilitary police garrison rebellious Kashmir.  Some 40,000-50,000 Kashmiris are believed to have died over the past decade in uprising.

India blames the violence in Kashmir on “cross-border terrorism” engineered by Pakistani intelligence. Human rights groups accuse Indian forces of executions, torture, and reprisals against civilians.  Large numbers of Hindus and Sikhs have fled strife-torn Kashmir after attacks by Muslim Kashmiri guerillas.  It’s a very bloody, dirty war.

The Kashmir conflict poses multiple dangers.  First is the very likely chance that local skirmishing can quickly surge into major fighting involving air power and heavy artillery.  In 1999, a surprise attack by Pakistani commandos into the Indian-ruled Kargil region provoked heavy fighting.  The two nations, with more than one million troops facing one another, came very close to an all-out war.  I have on good authority that both sides put their tactical nuclear weapons on red alert.  Angry Indian generals called on Delhi to use its powerful armored corps to cut Pakistan in half.  India’s cautious civilian leadership said no.

Second,  the Kashmir conflict also involves India’s strategic rival, China.  Beijing claims the entire eastern end of the Himalayan border separating India and China, which Chinese troops occupied in a brief 1963 war.  China also occupied, with Pakistan’s help, a high strategic plateau on the western end of the Himalayas known as Aksai Chin that was part of historic Tibet.

China is Pakistan’s closest political and military ally.  Any major Indian attack on Pakistan would risk intervention by Chinese air, ground and missiles forces in neighboring Tibet.

Third, in the midst of all these serious tensions, India and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons – delivered by air and missile – are on hair-trigger alert.  This means that during a severe crisis, both sides are faced with “use it, or lose” decision in minutes to use their nuclear arsenals.

The strategic command and control systems of India and Pakistan are said to be riddled with problems and often unreliable,  though much improvement has been made in recent years.

A false report, a flight of birds, and off-course aircraft could provoke a nuclear exchange.  By the time Islamabad could call Delhi, war might be on.  A US Rand Corp study estimated an Indo-Pakistani  nuclear exchange would  kill two million immediately, injure or kill 100 million later, pollute the Indus River and send clouds of radioactive dust around the globe.

That is the excellent reason why we should keep a weather eye on Kashmir and press India and Pakistan to make a fair settlement of this exceptionally dangerous 66-year dispute.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2012

More from Eric Margolis on Wonders of Pakistan

1. Dangerous war games in Syria 2. Egypt headed for an explosion 3. Facing the Writing on the Wall in Kabul  4. Nuclear missile Viagra for India 5 Obama does the right thing in Afghanistan 6. Will the US back real democracy in Egypt? 7.The man  who prevented World War III
Eric Margolis is an American born journalist and writer. He is contributing editor to the Toronto Sun chain of newspapers, writing mainly about the Middle East, South Asia and Islam. He contributes also to the HuffPost & appears frequently on North American tv channels.

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Why British Pakistanis should visit their motherland


We may not be a nation that abides by rules but there are some unwritten laws that we Pakistanis never break; such as running down our country every chance we get. Wherever you see four or more of our countrymen together you can be sure to find some Paki bashing going on.
Whether it`s politics or society, fashion shows or TV dramas, absent servants or ever-present in-laws, heck, even the person next to us, as long as he is out of earshot. And so, on as we gather to snitch and moan about how the country has gone to the dogs, let`s take a break and think of those who are no longer there to join in the bonding…I mean complaining.
Yes, those very same ex-countrymen who escaped to greener pastures….green being the colour of longing for a time when they too were Pakistani.
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DIL DIL PAKISTAN, JAN JAN PAKISTAN

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by Zab Mustefa

 ·   

Back home, the vast majority of second generation British nationals of Pakistani origin wouldn’t dream about visiting their parent’s homeland – unless it was for shopping, or a wedding of course. 

Unfortunately, the topic of Pakistan is followed by mockery, ridicule and stereotypes, which consist of uneducated, toothless villagers driving rickshaws and eating paan.

People in Britain don’t realise that Pakistan is a country full of colour, culture and a talented young generation that is truly aiming for change. I don’t understand why so few of my young generation would like to visit the country of their parent’s origin. Of course, there is a big cultural difference, but in a way it’s refreshing to truly go back to your roots.

The majority of our parents immigrated to the UK back in the 1950’s. My father arrived as a fresh-faced teenager to Glasgow. Similarly, my mother came to London when she was 22. Unashamedly simple to this day, both are patriotic towards Pakistan and love their homeland.

Before leaving for Pakistan, I was given several perplexed looks; everybody was confused as to why I was going there with family and relatives. They were bemused at the fact that I wasn’t going shopping nor was I going to a wedding.

 

If I were to tell cousins in the UK that the street art along the walls of Garhi Shahu in Lahore is more impressive than that of an east London wall, I would be met with shock and awe.

If I were to describe the intellectual students coming in and out of universities here, rather than sleazy Pakistani guys with bad haircuts, it would be beyond belief.

This close-minded attitude towards ones own heritage is sort of like a love-hate relationship with Pakistan.

It’s interesting how most second generation British-Pakistanis speak Urdu and/or Punjabi fluently. They also love their curries and shalwar kameez, yet you mention Pakistan and an uncomfortable silence will linger.

Personally, hearing the sabzi walaa (vegetable seller) push his cart through the narrow side streets makes me smile. Watching flat-bread coming out of the tandoor is a million times better than waiting at the bakers section of your local Tesco supermarket to get chewy, artificial dough that is supposed to resemble “fresh” bread.

In some ways, being born and bred in a British society with Pakistani culture does equate to an identity crisis.  However you take the best from both. There is nothing wrong with embracing the western lifestyle, after all you become accustomed to the society you live in. However, problems arise when you forget your heritage and everything about your origin becomes ridiculed.

Yes, we all like to imitate our parents and joke about things our auntie jees (aunts) do. Like the time an aunt refused to pay £1 for a cup of tea, insisting that she would wait till she went home and make it herself.

However, there is a difference between humour and the ignorance that many young British Pakistanis have towards their land of origin. I can tell you that not many know who the current prime minister is or are aware that some of the most prestigious designers participated in Pakistan Fashion Week last month.

Unfortunately, for many, though not all, Pakistan is all about beards, buffaloes and extremism.

We should make more of an effort to know our history and background. Without sounding condescending to those already here, I am sure that you are already aware that Pakistan is indeed a beautiful country; there is so much to see and so much to do.

There is nothing wrong with being British and proudly admitting that you love Pakistan.

 Zab Mustefa is a British journalist who specialises in women’s rights and culture. Read more by Zab here, or follow her on Twitter @zabadabadoo

Related Posts:

1. My beautiful Pakistan: Gilgit-Baltistan, 2. The Wonders of Deosai Plains 3. My beautiful Pakistan, the land of Balochistan, 4. Traveling through Pakistan – The Katas Raj Temple, 5. Pakistan, A Treasure Trove of Wonders. But do we care! 6. Do We Understand Tourism? Asks the Industry Guru, 7. Tourism: A Vista of Opportunities for Our Ailing Economy
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Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

We at Wonders of Pakistan uses copyrighted material the use of which may not have always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” only. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.



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