10 reasons Islamabad isn’t lame

Published: January 15, 2011

The best think about living in Islamabad is that it is not Rawalpindi!

Islamabad, although valued highly by its long-term residents, is often criticized by people who have moved here for personal or professional reasons. It’s like a ghost town,” a recent arrival commented.

While a long-time resident remarked, “Islamabad is a place for retirees. Anyone younger would go crazy there.”

I have heard mixed reactions from tourists. I often hear acidic remarks like “Islamabad has a lame and depressing social scene and I prefer not to socialize here,” and “the nightlife is sleazy and full of shady old uncles.”

But there is much to love in this sleepy, young town. One visitor remarked:

“I was pleasantly surprised by my last trip here; I found art-house movies that you can’t find in Lahore, I had the entire National Gallery to myself because no one was there, and loved the romantic atmosphere of Saidpur village at night.”

Here are ten more reasons I have found Islamabad residents love the city by the hills:

10. It is less flashy. There is less conspicuous consumer consumption than Karachi and Lahore.

9.  It has a small community feel and it’s easy for friends to pop over.

8. The mountains are lovely and there are lots of outdoor activities, like climbing and hiking.

7. You can find a wider range of books in Islamabad, and a good range of non-Bollywood DVDs including foreign language films and historical TV series.

6. It’s not too polluted and you can breathe better.

5. There are always new people to meet, people are always coming and going.

4. It has all four seasons.

3. It’s more diverse and international than your average Pakistani city.

2. It’s less cliquish and materialistic than Karachi, and more intellectual and professional than Lahore.

1. It’s not Pindi!


Laaleen Khan

An international columnist and media consultant who Tweets @laaleen

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

  • faraz

    No. 2. Less cliched and more intellectual? Are you kidding me. Recommend

  • Shiraz Hassan

    It’s not Pindi!

    what doent it mean?.Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    Im not even from Lahore and i agree with faraZ, bte ISLAamabad also has the reputation of its upper middle class being the most snobbish and uptight, they make us Karachietes look like simple village folk. Recommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/usamakhilji Usama Khilji

    This should go on Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? blog.Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    okay every time anyone speaks or writes about this typical lame “my city is better than your city” topic, I’m going to go out and kill a bunny, a kitten, and a puppy. Starting now. I wasn’t going to be mean on this, because the writer has entertained me in the past, plus I agreed with the part about it being more peaceful, but by 7, she was clearly being defensive, 6-4, she was just desperate for more reasons to make it a ten things list, and by 3-1, she showed exactly how biased and unpatriotic she is. And yes, it is unpatriotic to slam a part of your own country. There’s always something to love, I live in the filth and noise and terror that is Karachi but I find reasons to like it every day. And I’m not even that patriotic. ET blogs used to have better content dude.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/2534/whose-country-is-this-anyway-not-the-tax-payers/ Syed Nadir El-Edroos

    for a city that is cross-subsidized by the rest of the country one would think that we would find 10 good things about Islamabad! Recommend

  • rukun

    islamabad does have the elite aunty culture for a big city.

    but on another note, i remember people in lahore saying that karachi is very voilent for everyday life, and then all those blasts started happening in lahore….with the current progress towards a politics vs religion vs society clash who knows, may be in a couple of years you’ll writing a blog about 10 reasons why suicide is better than trying to live another day because we couldnt do what tunisians didRecommend

  • Kiran

    The fact that the author thinks the number 1 reason Islamabad isn’t lame is because it isn’t Pindi demonstrates not just how lame Islamabad is but just how lame the post is.Recommend

  • Waleed khan

    Glad to see you are still stuck in the nineties Recommend

  • Rida Tahir

    When isloo residents have got all the facilities that are not found at any other metropolitan city of pak then it just has to be peaceful! No loadshedding, no gas shortage, no target killings, no processions against sum party..what else do you want? Unfortunately i’ll still term it as a dead city.Recommend

  • Saad Saleem

    This is crazyy

    It has a small community feel and it’s easy for friends to pop over.

    and then.

    There are always new people to meet, people are always coming and going.

    Isn’t this confusing?Recommend

  • Saad Saleem
  • http://brewingstorms.wordpress.com/ samaha

    hhahahahahahaha !! its not pindi… the best reason everr !!!Recommend

  • Armughan

    People who think Islamabad is lame and boring never left the 80’s or possibly 90’s. Recommend

  • Sidra

    I study in islamabad, i don’t like it,,,,,its just too much quietRecommend

  • Saad


  • isb-resident

    wow..i love Islamabad but you actually made it sound lame with your top 10.

    no10. less conspicuous consumption because there are no shopping malls

    no4. that might be true but the winters are too cold and the summer’s are too hot. that’s not fun.

    no3. how is islamabad diverse? because of the goras? haha yeah we love them goras don’t we.

    no2. just as materialistic as khi and less cultural than lahore.

    ok too lazy to write anymore. bye.Recommend

  • Zubair

    Who cares ?
    Lahore Lahore ayeeee !!
    I recently was in Isloo again and the place is just so damn boring with nothing much to do :(Recommend

  • Jehan Naseem

    spot on!
    @The author: how can you compare cities when the national culture in them is completely different? Its like saying potatoe potatoh! Effort was good though.Recommend

  • Shifa Khan

    Sorry Laaleen, but this article was an absolute waste of space. Theres more to this city than meets the eye – maybe if you had shed more light on your reasons, the title would be justified. Everyone knows about the trails, art galleries and Saidpur – give us some more food for thought! And FYI we lost all four seasons years ago. Its only summer and winter now. Recommend

  • Fatima Salm

    @Usama Khilji:
    good one khilji!Recommend

  • Pakistani

    a biased article..clearly the writer had nothing better to do so came up with stuff which doesnt make sense..i am a lahori to the core but i love pakistan, each and every city..i have spent time in karachi, lahore,peshawar and islamabad..each city has its own charm but this article proved that the writer couldnt think of points and just for the sake of writing a “10 things” article, she came up with a lot of stuff which was unnecessary..

    in times of turmoil you could have come up with an article on 10 things i love about PAKISTAN! (yes there are more than 10 reasons!)Recommend

  • Osama Mansoor

    2.” It’s less cliquish and materialistic than Karachi, and more intellectual and professional than Lahore ”
    ….Seriously !!! I mean what is your definition (read: standard) of ‘intellectual’ and professionalism ?

    And if Islamabad isn’t ‘cliquish’ then what on earth is??

    @ nadir el- edroos…..totally agree with you. Cities such as Khi and Lhr would have been much better if resources weren’t diverted for snobs living in Islamabad.Recommend

  • Choco Chip

    Lahore is vivacious while Islamabad is mysterious. Both are unique in their own way. I personally love Isloo. <3Recommend

  • parvez

    This was pretty lame. By the time I got to your No:1 reason, I realised that the comments are going to be more fun than the blog and Ghausia’s comment was a treat. Recommend

  • Farhan

    How can u say that Islamabad is less consumerism.. All the corrupt headquarters resides in Islamabad.. Its a dead city..Recommend

  • abdullah

    islamabad is toooo quite at nyt u wonder wether sum1 stays here or not..but lyk it 4 a reason that there is no target killing no blakouts and no load shedding ..its basically a place where more riches reside and ppl who r abroad mostly thos in the gulf regionRecommend

  • Jun

    what do you mean by ” its not pindi “Recommend

  • Raqib Ali

    I am from Lahore and I love Islamabad for its being well developed infrastructure and calmness. But Lahore Lahore aye!!!Recommend

  • ravi malik

    well…i totally agree the biggest reason is same..that its not pindi or shuld i say its not an other average city of pakistan….its reality dat islamabad is best in pakistan inmost cases,….Recommend

  • Asif

    dislike! comon intellectuals, u gotta be kiding me.Recommend

  • ali khalid

    about the 3rd point that the (dvds and foreign films comes) all these stuff comes from pindi(raja bazar) at a price of 35rs and u people are so arrogant that u havent been outside islamabad so u dont know anything……..Recommend

  • Laila Noor

    mimicks it’s not pindi (and you were talking about loving a city which isnt materialistic…but surely you have materialitic perspectives if you think pindi is to be scowled at :/ i have been living back and forth Rawalpindi-Islamabad since forever and both have their own charms and the two cities are much closer to eachother then many people give it a credit for…the residents know that rawalpindi and islamabad are more like a one big city presenting all the beautiful colors on the spectrum of life….Recommend

  • Ali

    Haters gonna hate… I love Islamabad !!!Recommend

  • Sajid

    Its not Pindi! try to run islamabad for one day without pindi. funny thing is your arrogance!
    i recommend move yourself from islamabad and see how beautiful our whole country really is. Believe me there are huge mountains up in north really bigger than margalla. and yeah you can find dvds and books in all the major cities now, infact they are cheaper.

    i like my ‘average’ pakistani city more because they are true to our culture.

    i dnt even know why iam writing this but yeah your article really made me feel bad and also exposed your narrowmindRecommend

  • Ramisha

    needs more substance! Recommend

  • Atif

    “If you have nothing better to write, Read something! ” – FJRecommend

  • http://www.pakspectatogooutr.com Sana Saleem

    I also live in Islamabad but seriously I don’t have an hearty feelings for it. Its a really bore place. Instead i think Pindi is much lively :)Recommend

  • isloo lover

    i love isloo! the air smells crisp and clean. trees and hills are more prominent than sky scrapers. I dpn’t mind that it is a sleepy town – i LOVE that it is relaxed – what’s so great about partying at 3pm in an empty plot on the highway?

    Khi and Lahore are great too but I honestly have no idea about any other city in the country..

    I’d take islamabad any day of the week (minus the sleazy uncles)Recommend

  • http://www.attockonians.com/about Usman Altaf

    Islamabad is for people who like to live lonely, quietly without meeting anyone and without caring for anyone.Recommend

  • Maria

    Islamabad has grown considerably as a city and in many ways, it’s the most liveable city in Pakistan. It may not have the culture, excitement and charm of Lahore or the mega size of Karachi with its variety of every Pakistani ethnicity but Islamabad is clearly the number one choice for expatriates who wish to return to live in Pakistan. The streets are well organized and relatively clean, the air is fresh and life proceeds in an orderly fashion. Most of the folks who I know who moved back to Pakistan, chose to settle in Islamabad for these reasons.Recommend

  • Fizza Hassan

    I’ve never visited Isb and after reading the title I thought it’s time I’d learn more about Isb and reasons its just FAB but Laleen it was too boring like people say Isb is. I’d rather not go to Isloo ever after reading this post!!
    Now, have the National Gallery to yourself and enjoy the over-rated DVDs.Recommend

  • http://www.bonfriends.org/2011/01/12/top-5-comparisons-of-life/ Aisha Khan

    Islamabad is LAME!! ask any karachiite or lahoriRecommend

  • http://islamabad abc

    u missed one reason…it doesnt have noisy rikshawz n qinqui over here

    i love islamabad…
    the fresh clean air, the green mountains….. everything abt it is awesum…

    n YEAH…its not pindi :)Recommend

  • kalim

    More I meet people,the more I love my dog.Recommend

  • http://www.fattaurus.com Ahmed Ilyas

    keep dreamingRecommend

  • Laaleen

    This blog entry contains comments that were quoted by various residents of Islamabad, not the writer. I’ve only lived here for a few years. lahore’s my city. appreciated all of your commentsRecommend

  • Jehan Naseem

    would be wise to mention a fact like that next timeRecommend

  • Amer

    @ Laaleen: So this was a compilation of all the jokes that people told you about Islamabad? LOL
    Just kidding here…. don’t take it too hard on yourself. All of us have nothing better to do anyways…we might as well read something you wrote in your dreams :) Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/mmhemani Moosa Hemani

    @Waleed khan:

    Awesome man i was about to say the same!!Recommend

  • Ibrahim Shakeel

    LOL @ #1 !
    Long Live Islamabad!! *rushes off to kool spot”Recommend

  • muneeb

    the best thing about rawalpindi is that it is not islamabad…Recommend

  • Farhan

    I’m wondering, how fast tribune is going down the drain, what can be more lame than this piece!Recommend

  • Laaleen

    Not jokes, actual opinionsRecommend

  • mary

    #4 are you kidding me. There is literally no monsoon in islamabad or at least the sights and sounds desis (both Indians and Pakistanis) associate with monsoon. The heady, intoxicating smell of the earth that I associated with the season having lived in Lahore all my life is entirely absent here. As is the chirping of birds, the smell of trees and croaking of frogs in chorus (a monsoon hallmark). Hell I have yet to see a single sparrow or a parrot in the copious trees that makeup the green belt surrounding our house. The vegetation is actually much like the people who live here; hollow and non indigenous.Recommend

  • lilith

    OK, so I understand that this is in the lifestyle section, but at least it should leave a positive effect. You’ve mainly slandered. Recommend

  • haroon

    im fron lahore and islamabad ROCKS!!!Recommend

  • Knubbyah

    Isloo, as we lovingly call it; is the biggest Small Town in the worldRecommend

  • Mahru

    oh.. an explanation from the writer.. content is quoted from various residents of Islamabad.. So apparently, Laaleen is not the only one who is arrogant enough to write the no. 1 comment..

    I mean, seriously, now I’m sure the people in Islamabad have their heads up in space..

    And yes, I AM from Pindi.. !Recommend

  • Khunshan

    Ahh! the only thing i remember about Islambad is wide lane, low padestals, well constructed.. 7th avenue wh…cloud nine for drivers :D Recommend

  • Khunshan

    it doesnt mean its better than lahore… its dry.. no rush.. u dont even know about ur neighbours.. one ov ma friend lived there met me after 5 month stay.. he was living in my back street.. :DRecommend

  • amber

    i have been to many international cities…but to be honest islamabad is the best place to live with its best atmosphere and educated crowd…the author of this article gave extremely childish reasons but i believe if a person is interested in more peaceful and more civilized sort of environment and not much crowded, a person should definitely go for islamabad……every city has its own importance but i believe islamabad is a abeautiful city and way more developed and clean with natural beauty dripping from it…i love this city and i believe if any one give it a chance, you will love it too…=)Recommend

  • amber

    @Rida Tahir:
    NO loadshedding..?? no target killing..?? no gas shortages..???..Islamabad a dead city?? girl get your facts right!! if you are not well aware of the facts then dont state any crap..dont misguide people. Recommend

  • keen observer

    what grade are you in again? because this looks like an essay my 8 year old sister would write! At first I thought it’s ridiculous but as I finished reading I actually found it funny because all this poor author needs is to very clearly ‘grow up!’Recommend