Pakistan is ‘Asia’s best kept secret’ – what will it take to reveal it globally?

“The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it” – Martin Parr. Pakistan, unfortunately, is a country that has been at the receiving end of such mythology and perception for a good while now, even as things on ground have changed quite drastically over the last few years. According to the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), terror-related incidents have declined 58%, from 2,060 incidents in 2010 to 681 in 2017. These figures are testament to the success of our Army during the massive military operations conducted in the northern areas of ...

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Siksa Valley: Turning Gilgit-Baltistan’s barren lands into green miracles

I had never been past Khaplu in the Ganche District of Baltistan, a lovely green valley encircled by towering mountains. I had stayed a few times at the picturesque Khaplu Fort Palace Hotel, which has painstakingly been restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Khaplu Fort Palace Hotel Hence, I was excited to actually drive past Khaplu and head further north towards our border area with India’s Ladakh region. This is a restricted area controlled by the Army and most tourists are turned back. Luckily, we had clearances as we were heading to a village ...

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Dear Imran Khan, I understand why Atif Mian had to go

Dear Khan sahib, I am a fan and have been for some time now. I was a fan when you played cricket, I even became a journalist defending you some 31 years ago. A letter was published where a lady named Parveen Akhtar criticised you for wearing a hat at the Ascot races. Being an idealistic teenager, I wrote back defending you, my letter got published and the rest, as they say, is history. But then again, nothing in life is happenstance. Hence, here I am writing a letter to you, not just on my behalf but also on the behalf of ...

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Reality check: Atif Mian did not need the post – the EAC and Pakistan needed him

Several days ago, when the controversy around Atif Mian’s appointment was beginning to erupt, a friend sent me a brief clip of Fawad Chaudhry’s press conference. In this clip, Chaudhry can be seen defending the government’s decision to appoint Mian as a member of the newly formed Economic Advisory Committee (EAC). My friend, who unlike me is an ardent supporter of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), shared that clip to prove that liberals – or fake liberals/ libtards/ pseudo-liberals as he calls them, which of course includes me – have been generally unfair to the PTI. To be honest, when ...

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A dark conversation in the city of lights: “If you don’t listen to your parents, you’ll end up like this (transgender)”

Wandering across the city of lights without a clue about your destination has a certain edge to it. When it comes to digging up possible stories hidden somewhere within this metropolitan, the best possible course of action is always to take a walk in this crowded coastal expanse. Carrying the burden of writer’s block, I decided to journey through this city in search of inspiration.   It took a significant part of the day for my restlessness to triumph over my determination, and with a sense of certain defeat, I paused for a cigarette at the nearest cabin I could ...

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Dear PTI, admit your mistake and apologise, rather than treating us as fools

Amidst all the austerity measures introduced by the current government, there have already emerged two controversies that indicated it may all be a façade. The first was when the Chief Minister of Punjab, Sardar Usman Buzdar, used a government jet to travel to Islamabad with his family. The second was when the Prime Minister of Pakistan was using a helicopter to travel to and from the Bani Gala. CM Pubjab Usman Buzdar giving lecture on austerity & simplicity to his children in "urran khatola"! Tabdeeli Aayi ReTabdeeli Aayi Re pic.twitter.com/GfdVuDPH2B — Kapil Dev (@KDSindhi) August 26, 2018 During the tenure of the ...

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Gilgit-Baltistan: A beauty incomparable

As the airplane taxied on the runway, I was nervous as well as excited. Nervous, because I was travelling by air after a good 17 years or so, and excited, because of this much- awaited trip to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). I, along with my family, set off to explore Hunza Valley, taking a detour through the Rakaposhi View Point and the Attabad Lake. The sight at the Rakaposhi View Point, amidst the loud but appeasing sound of water flowing directly from the melted glaciers of the Rakaposhi Mountain, was harbinger of the beauty that was to greet us throughout the trip. The ...

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Differently-abled, not disabled: A ramp may not solve all our problems, but it will make us feel ‘included’

With Naya Pakistan having officially dawned, and Prime Minister Imran Khan having taken oath, I am hopeful that the tabdeeli that was promised to us – the Naya Pakistan we have put our faith in – will also be an inclusive Pakistan. A Pakistan where we are all given the same opportunities; one where our identities are not confined to labels and stereotypes. A Pakistan where we, the differently-abled, will not be seen as ‘disabled’, but as persons with different capabilities. A Pakistan where we are not defined by our wheelchairs, but are instead recognised for the individuals we ...

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The dilemma for overseas Pakistanis: To invest more, or to return home?

Pakistan is a nation brimming with talent – talent that frequently shines, not just within the country, but on international forums as well. Pakistanis working abroad are rated highly by their employers in comparison to workers from other countries. These overseas Pakistanis are serving the nation in their own capacity, particularly by sending remittances back to Pakistan. One does not really need to wonder why these Pakistanis leave Pakistan. Many go abroad for higher education, seeking new opportunities due to the lack of avenues at home. Unfortunately, many a times, they end up staying for good, for there is no ...

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PML-Q may be an underdog in this game of politics but their contributions speak for themselves

The “king’s party” is back in mainstream politics after a hiatus of almost 10 years. They have done much to rid themselves of this tag since Pervez Musharraf’s downfall. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (PML-Q) performance in Pakistan’s largest and administratively difficult province, Punjab, has been exemplary during the Musharraf rule, after both supported each other for almost eight years. After losing strong candidates, PML-Q has seen many lows but remained steadfast and persevered to now make a coalition with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). With PTI’s support, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi was elected as Punjab Assembly’s speaker – the province he once governed as ...

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