Stories about Margalla Hills

Why working with the Austrian Mission in Pakistan was more than just another job

A few years ago, I was distractedly skimming through a pile of newspapers when suddenly my cup of tea fell over the classifieds section. It was there that I saw a job vacancy at the Austrian Embassy in Islamabad, and my life changed for the better. Seeing the ad took me back to my childhood, when my father was transferred to Frankfurt during the 90s. At the time, I was enrolled in a German school. Surviving on the streets of Germany without knowing the German language was a difficult task, especially during the early years of German reunification. But I ...

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The stone crushers of Taxila: Are we ready to lose pieces of our history and heritage?

Taxila valley, which lies just beyond the Margalla Hills bordering Islamabad, is a picturesque, rural place with sleepy villages nestled below its green hills. Located less than an hour’s drive from Islamabad, the area is famous for Khanpur Dam and a series of archaeological remains which were declared as world heritage sites by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) back in 1980. Ideally, Taxila should be preserved as a tourist destination steeped in history, but over the years, stone crushers (a machine used to break down large rocks into smaller rocks, gravel or rock dust) have been ...

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How shrinking freedom of press in Turkey brought me closer to Pakistan

In Pakistan, during my second year as a news correspondent for Turkey, four of my Turkish friends and I decided to take a vacation to Istanbul, via Islamabad. The scorching Karachi sun could do nothing to subdue the excitement I was feeling since I was going back to my country after quite some time. Planning was underway and we converted all the money we owned to dollars, except for Rs1000 each, in case of an emergency. Since we had decided to travel by train, we booked a six person compartment on the Tezgam Express. The sixth person in our compartment was a ...

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Islamabad, as never seen before

Here I take you through a visual journey of Islamabad never seen before. For some of these photos I have had to go to Margalla hills and then hike just to capture the sunrise. On a clear day with some clouds the views of sunrise and sunset are stunning. Colorful sunrise view from Loh-e-Dandi / Photo: Sher Ali Photography View Towards Faizabad interchange from Zero point, Islamabad after rain / Photo: Sher Ali Photography Witnessing the sunrise from Margalla hills / Photo: Sher Ali Photography View towards ...

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A lesson in entrepreneurship: From the Khoka at LUMS to Monal in Islamabad

Luqman Afzal is a graduate from the BSc class of 2002. He graduated with a major in Economics and minor in Social Sciences. During his time at LUMS, his entrepreneurial spirit was nurtured and to date he has continued to cultivate his zest for entrepreneurship. He is fast paving his way up the hospitality industry in Islamabad. Here he talks about his journey, from managing a cafe at LUMS to establishing a fine dining restaurant. “It still seems like yesterday, though it has been 14 years, when I asked my father for money to buy the LUMS Khokha Inc shares. Buying ...

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Unveiling Pakistan, chapter by chapter, page by page

Fear, it’s both a vital gift housed by human nature and an insidious enemy of the human race. On one hand, it whispers warnings and protects us from danger. On the other hand, it has the tendency to dramatise risk, rationalise rumours, glorify assumptions, and conjure terrifying truths in order to fill gaps in knowledge and experience. In this regard, fear often places two hands over our eyes and blinds us from hidden opportunities. It closes the gate on enlightening international relationships, thrilling life experiences and character-building adventures. I recently stared fear in the face and told it to take a ...

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GermanWings crash: Blame the pilot or blame the industry?

Since the inception of free electronic media and social media, aviation accidents have become subject of great interest amongst the masses. For Pakistan, it was the Airblue Flight crash which took place in Margalla Hills, Islamabad five years ago. It was the worst aviation disaster in Pakistan aviation history followed by the Bhoja Air crash in 2012, which killed all 127 passengers on board. The first recorded accident in commercial aviation history was on August 2, 1919, when a Caproni Ca48 type aircraft crashed near Verona, killing all passengers aboard. Since then a number of aviation accidents have taken place, killing hundreds of people on board and on ...

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Can Pakistanis rise to the occasion?

It’s been a while since I last visited Pakistan; long enough that the kids I knew have now grown up to become functional, responsible adults. The friends I made are descending into the middle-age bracket. Many of the relations I had have either passed or are in the late stages of their lives. In a nutshell, a tremendous amount of transition and transformation has taken place as far as my personal life, as well as those I left behind, is concerned. I keep a close eye on a regular basis, thanks to the great tools of technology, on how the Pakistani ...

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And so it is

This piece is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. “Hi love! Care to meet me today?” Rayaan, on the other end of the line, teasingly asked his long time sweetheart. “Ray, you do realise this is the tenth time you have called me. How can I work if you keep distracting me like this?” Ariana responded, loving the attention he was showering upon her. “You know my day is not complete until I see your lovely face. How about I pick you at 7pm?” “Sounds great! But where are we going today?” Rayaan smiled and said, “It’s a surprise. I will ...

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Why my champa tree reminded me of the sect-free mosque

More than six months ago, I bought a small champa tree, supposedly because my husband wanted one, but really, I love champa myself. It’s ‘frangipani’ in English, but it is the name ‘champa’ that means for me this short tree with a most definite idea of self. Its branches twist this way and that most tree-ishly, its leaves a rich deep green, veined and elongated. And then the flowers, so many varieties, but all champa: the pale pink ones edged with a blush of slightly darker pink with the signature yellow in the centre…  Champa flowers all have this yellow right there. ...

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