Getting high in Pakistan

Published: October 29, 2014

Before seeing what the world out there has to offer, one should appreciate what our country has so that we truly know where it is we are from. PHOTO: HASAN ALI SHARIF

I believe words do not suffice when it comes to describing the emotions that run through you when you’re standing at the foot of a mountain. The raw beauty and power of these mighty mountains make you realise how small we really are. No matter how many times I see them, those mountains, valleys, glaciers or plains of multiple coloured flowers changing after every few feet, I am always left speechless.

Maybe it’s just me, but somehow, just being there instils this faith that there truly is a higher power out there.

To truly understand these mountainous areas and northern valleys, one must be witness to it. Pictures and stories are merely a depiction of what it means to be surrounded by them. I feel somehow that out there is where the real world is and here, among thousands of people in this metropolitan city, is just a bubble that we believe to be our reality.

Can you imagine what it would be like to look up at the night sky and have an argument over which star is the brightest of them all? The mind cannot comprehend the beauty but the eyes see what we only dream of seeing. I could stare at the night sky for hours, praying for it to never come to an end. The mountain peaks and valleys around you light up at night in a natural form. Man has changed so much of this world’s beauty that our generations to come will not know of what existed here once upon a time.

Here are a few photos from the many trips I’ve taken to the northern mountains. This might help people understand what true beauty Pakistan has to offer.

Maula ki basti (70kms from Naran). Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula ki basti (70kms from Naran). Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula ki basti (70kms from Naran). Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula ki basti (70kms from Naran). Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Basil. Photo Hasan Ali Sharif

Diran and Rakaposhi. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Meer Peak at Hoper Valley. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Meer Glacier at Minapin. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula Ki Basti Base Camp. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula Ki Basti Base Camp. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Basil. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Basil River. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula Ki Basti. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula Ki Basti Base Camp. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula Ki Basti Base Camp. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula Ki Basti. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula Ki Basti. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula Ki Basti. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Basil. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

Maula Ki Basti. Photo: Hasan Ali Sharif

People lead the simplest of lives in these vast mountains and valleys. They find happiness in the smallest of matters; whether it rains or not can become a matter of life and death for them. This may sound extreme but that is because the importance they give to things there could mean absolutely nothing to those living in the fast tracks of city life. They perceive life differently.

Age has no limits to the way they live. From a child to an old woman, everyone works for their household and livelihood, albeit to carry lots of wood or herd their cattle. A minor gesture from us means the world to them. We have so much to learn from them as to how simple life really is, rather than being a part of this worldly rat race we all are a part of.

Pakistan is a country with all seasons and natural beauty. It’s a pity that our country was not able to nourish the true potential it had in tourism. This country would have been more than what it is today. We talk about countries in Europe and the rest of the world but have not taken a step forward to understanding and seeing where we live.

The Swiss Alps for example, is a beautiful sight to the human eye; however, it is nothing compared to the kind of majestic sights we have in the northern parts of Pakistan. The second highest mountain, K2, is in our very own backyard. Before seeing what the world out there has to offer, one should appreciate what our country has so that we truly know where it is we are from.

People say we should leave a better world for our children; perhaps it’s time we leave better children for our world.

Hasan Ali Sharif

Hasan Ali Sharif

He is passionate for sports and the mountains. A Banker by profession, he tweets as @hasanalisharif (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Hammad Mian

    In America I have seen that even in remote areas, you find Good Quality restaurants, hotels and Lodging easily which attract, motivate and compel the people to visit those places. Pakistan needs to work on these factors in order to attract the local and foreign tourists. No doubt that Pakistan has the lot of tourism potential.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    very beautiful. I have been to some of these places and they truly are breathtaking.
    I really like it when blogs like this are posted which show a beautiful face of Pakistan which is not marred by conflict. Thank you for writing this.Recommend

  • alwayshigh

    The title of this blog was kinda misleading….Recommend

  • Saeed

    The title is misleading. It made me think the article was about recreational drug use in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Filli Ismaili

    These mountains have the best rasberries. Have you had them? Rasberries.Recommend

  • Malveros

    Brilliant article although initially when I looked at the heading of this article I was thinking something else :)Recommend

  • necromancer

    Misleading topic it should be titled getting way too low in pakistanRecommend

  • Alina

    It’s so heartening to be reminded of Pakistan’s beauty in a time when so many seem to be fixated on its flaws. Thank you for this, Hasan. May you never lose the wonder and excitement with which you approach your travels in our country. Keep sharing your stories! Recommend

  • ALI

    the moment you realize that this article was about mountain climbing and not about smoking grass!!Recommend

  • Queen

    Wow, nice pictures :) Our country has definitely a lot to offer when it comes to beautiful mountains and landscapes. Nice one!Recommend

  • imran

    I wanna know about getting stoned high not just high.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    …….once the terrorism is out, inshallah. Recommend

  • Feroz

    Getting high at these heights would surely heighten the picture.Recommend

  • Anoop

    Once. What is the timeframe? And, how much are you willing to bet that it’ll disappear or reduce to a tolerable extent within that timeframe?
    ’cause, I’d want to take you up on that one. Lets say 2 years and $5000? What do you say?Recommend

  • AdamZZZ

    High in Pakistan and high in Colorado increasingly mean the same thing.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Betting with money is strongly discouraged in my religion.

    My army is in the ground and they are doing their job, inshallah all with turn out well, for whenever it has been written. Recommend

  • Anoop

    Its not really a bet, is it? You are confident of this happening, aren’t you? Gambling involves taking chances, but chances of what I say happening are really slim, aren’t they?
    I am basically giving away money to you. Its like a contract – if this doesnt happen by this time, the penalty will be this.

    Gifting is allowed in Islam, isn’t it?

    What do you say? I don’t have a chance of winning, do I, so its not a bet. I am gifting money to you.

    If you want, we can take out the clause of me giving money to you so it won’t be gambling anymore.

    I really want to earn some money by predicting the future of Pakistan. Or, make others money.Recommend

  • L.

    I may be confident, yes. But knowing how pakistan has treated God’s creation, and knowing what God has done to those who have gone against his commandments, i cannot put anything on the board right now. 2 Ahmadis were martyred in Afghanistan in 1903 and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad AS addressing the land of Kabul, stated: “You are most unfortunate. In the eyes if God, you have been degraded”. The day after the martyrdom, a dust storm, more furious than any had been witnessed in the past occurred, so much so that the whole population of Kabul began to say that the storm was sure a sign of Allahs wrath. That’s not all; the day following the martyrdom, cholera spread like an epidemic. Not only was each and every person that was involved in the act killed miserably, but also their children faced direct consequences. Those were 2 people. Now how many Ahmadis have been killed in pak?

    What I’m trying to say is: Pakistan, my Pakistan, has been involved in the murders of so many innocents I can’t do anything but pray for the land. In Islam, we believe that getting punished on earth is better than getting punished in the hereafter and I hope that pak is just serving it’s due punishment.

    Now the reason I am confident: I pray. Simple as that. The Gracious, the Merciful, is looking on and so is everyone else. When a single leaf cannot fall from a branch without His permission, then how will my country fall apart? Only if He wants. And Islam always comes before Pakistan- Ask any of the 190 million.

    And no, I don’t need your money, thanks.

    ET please post, nothing against the constitution here. Recommend

  • Shahid Sandhu

    Looking at the title made me get “HIGH”.
    But then reading article made get a little lower.Recommend

  • Junaid

    The title got me interested. I was disappointed by what it really meant.Recommend

  • Maulana Maulvi

    Chitral, Gilgit, Swat, Dir, Shangla and Buner are indeed very beautiful places. When the Swat Expressway is built, people will have easy access to these beautful places, In sha AllahRecommend


    After seeing these pictures, I can’t wait to visit some of these places.

    Ali Khan
    Digital Engagement Team, USCENTCOMRecommend

  • Saman

    Five stars! Lovely pictures and thought provoking commentary. Loved it’Recommend