Recently, Jalopnik picked up a trip documented by Baber Kaleem Khan (Why Pakistan is the greatest tourist country in the world.) to great effect. There are several aspects to this story that compel me to write these lines.
Firstly, this was no company or government sponsored trip, with pre-arranged media coverage and press releases that nobody pays attention to, usually. This was just a bunch of Pakwheelers out to explore their lovely land and to have a good time. And in doing so, they were able to show just how great this “other” Pakistan truly can be, only if given a half a chance.
Secondly, it did not require fancy vehicle or gear, just a a few old (but well-maintained) SUVs and basic gear. That is what camping is all about, with the real value being in the camaraderie of good friendships.
Thirdly, this simple trip did more to help Pakistan’s image internationally than all the efforts over the last several years by officially blessed media sources. I had feedback from a large number of people who not only read this story, but asked many questions that indicated their interest in knowing more about the country and its people, rather than relying on just the media’s steady drumbeat of bad news that seems to emanate from this region on a continuous basis.
What’s more is that stories like this are found all over Pakwheels. The passion of PakWheelers for exploring and travelling within their beautiful and varied lands simply rises above all adversities like fuel prices and law and order issues. Just look at this great photograph:
Not much you say? This rider was going from Karachi to Cholistan to attend the recently held TDCP Rally. It may not be a Harley-Davidson out on the Interstate, but this rider is as much an “iron-butt” as any grizzly rider in the world for doing that. To me that says a lot!
It is not just the passion or the landscapes that drives Pakwheelers to travel within Pakistan. The people of this country are a loving and hospitable people, and despite poverty do not hesitate to share their happiness with visitors. For examples, just look at this bunch of kids photographed in Kalam by the Islamabad Jeep Club during their recent winter trip to this region:
So why write these lines? I think it is important for all of use to realize that each one of us, whether living in Paksitan, or born there and now living elsewhere, are more powerful goodwill ambassadors than we might realize. It is by following our passion for life as the stories above show that we can help improve Pakistan’s image far better that our mainstream media.
We owe it to Pakistan to show the world we love life with a joy that needs to be experienced to be believed!