Pakistan: People in Search of Peace

k2 mountain

K2, the 2nd highest mountain on Earth, on the Pakistan's northern border. © reurinkjan_flickr

Although we never lived in Pakistan, we spent several stretches of two months at a time working at the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Islamabad. Contrary to what one might expect, Islamabad is a beautiful small city with modern houses, good hotels, and welcoming shopping areas.

Refined, Well-educated and Hospitable

As it is impossible to describe the political situation briefly, we would hope only to make one important suggestion.  Although many westerners envision Pakistan as a land of Islamic extremists, we gained the opposite impression.   The Pakistanis we worked with through our Embassy jobs, or met in our regular daily life, were without exception polite, kind, well-spoken and educated.  By nature, Pakistanis are welcoming and hospitable to foreigners, and greet travelers with genuine interest and enthusiasm.  We never experienced the hustle and pushing you sometimes run into, for example, traveling in India.

A People Wanting Peace

pakistani school girls

Pakistani school girls celebrating Independence day at the Tomb of Quaid. © Kash_if_flickr

The great majority of Pakistanis are not terrorists, but just want to be successful and happy in their daily lives.  Their government often seems indifferent to their struggles, and they perceive some hostility from the outside world.  The more the extremists bomb public places and religious shrines in Pakistan, the more the average Pakistani wants to get rid of them.

A July 2010 interview  in National Geographic magazine with a Pakistani intellectual said that he was hopeful for his country: “I think it’s getting more liberal here.  People are talking about politics, sexuality, all kinds of issues.  It was not like this ten years ago.” (by John Lancaster.)

Pakistan’s Vibrant Rug Industry

Pakistani has become one of the world’s best and largest exporters of hand-made “Oriental” carpets.  Many women in rural areas can work weaving in their homes, and the industry now supports the employment of more than 1.5 million people, primarily in poor areas of the country.  The Pakistani government has been smart in encouraging this important source of foreign exchange and strongly supports the export of carpets.

chobi rug carpet pakistan vegetable dyes

"Chobi" rug woven in Pakistan

Many Pakistani carpet weavers are now quite skilled and work with good wool and dyes; for this reason, and the fact that wages remain low, their quality is now very competitive on the world market.  Often  tourists in Turkey purchase “Turkish” carpets that were actually imported there from Pakistan.

High Mountain Adventures for Tourists

The name Pakistan comes from the Urdu, “Pak” (pure) and “stan” (country).  It is almost twice the size of California and borders Iran, Afghanistan, India and the Arabian Sea on the south.  Tourists would enjoy the great Pamir and Karakoram mountain ranges, which include some of the highest peaks in the world.   Pakistan offers great adventures along the Karakoram mountain highway, visiting the beautiful historical capital Lahore, shopping in the incredible crowded bazaars of Quetta or Peshawar, and even seeing the more cosmopolitan side in Islamabad or Karachi.

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