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Old 30th July 2020, 18:41   #1
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Default An unexpected and surprising visit to Pakistan

A long awaited journey, unexpected but for the right reasons.

Disclaimer:- To begin with there will be some things, which I loved from a visit last year to our neighbor Pakistan, so if some of you easily get offended this might not be for you, as I truly believe in what Gandhi Ji used to say, "Even if you are in a minority of one, truth is truth".
I am a very proud and patriotic person, and my family has given servicemen and sportsmen to this country, so I do not need to prove it to any one, however I also believe that if there's anything we can learn from Pakistan we must.

April 2019, I finally get an opportunity to visit this country for a university (London) friend's wedding, for anyone not from Delhi or north India, it's difficult to imagine but most for most of us, our parents or grandparents were born in Pakistan and we've grown up hearing stories of what we had, how it was and what we left behind, so it's always been a fascination for me and many more to visit it, however because of the situation, its seldom possible for people to visit it.

Just after the horrific martyrdom of our brave hearts in Pulwama and the strong but well deserved reply by our warriors, was the worst time I could have chosen, but nonetheless I still proceeded to apply with the visa.
Coming further and formalities completed, I book a flight to Amritsar, cab to Wagah/Attari, clear immigration (Have Polio drops, yes they still haven;t eradicated it and voila I am across, it feels familiar but is different, I can see the Indian tri colour , but my Indian Phone isn't working, the Turbans of Amritsar have made way for a sea of skull caps, but the faces feem familiar, reality strikes in, I am in Lahore.
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As the Veer Zara Dialogue "Wo Kehte Hai Ye Mera Desh Nhi, Fir kyun mere Desh jaisa lagta hain"

My friend who was getting married sends her brother to pick me up at the immigration and drives me to the beautiful Lahore Gymkhana, first impressions on the approach road on GT road (Yes the same one), it's not like the one on our side, this feels like I am entering Dubai.

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The Hotel where the wedding was
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Lahore Gymkhana

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I have driven extensively across the globe, in the UK, Autobahns in Germany, on the american freeways, Great Ocean Drive in Australia, even Srilanka is beautiful but boy this is different, more so because I least expected it.


The approach road is beautifully paved, its 8 lanes, and more so everyone is driving in lanes. No, I tell myself, this is just a fluke.

But no I get to the inner city, the roads are spic and span, everyone again driving in lanes, trucks on the left.
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I tell myself, I am in the better part, lets go to old Town (Equivalent to our Chandni Chowk) and guess what people still following rules, it was something to see and learn.

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After a few days in Lahore, it's time to go north towards POK to Islamabad, well the highway is pretty to begin with, no it's pretty, beautifully paved, fast and laned all the way, further more people are following the lanes, and there's no honking, heck this must a Chinese gift, I tell myself, but I am told it's over 30 years old, doesn't feel like one though one bit. Or Maybe it's American, but whatever it was or whosoever made, they didn't teach the locals to drive sanely, to drive in lanes, to not honk and to not blink.
We reach Islamabad in good time but its well dark.

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My Grandmother's from Gujranwala and Grandfather from Sialkot respectively, so it was nostalgic to see these baords of names we've grown up listening, unfortunately my visa was only for Lahore and Islamabad so I could not visit my roots.

Gujranwala Exit

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Sialkot Exit

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The next morning I open my hotel window, and voilla there a lanes below, the Car Parking is very organised in a very European manner and its clean and green, it reminded me of my hometown Chandigarh.

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Last edited by np23 : 30th July 2020 at 18:43.
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Old 30th July 2020, 18:49   #2
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We go for a city tour with my friends mother, and boy how green is this city, she took me the Faisal Mosque which is beautiful, the view of the city from there reminded me erringly of Melbourne where I have studied for a bit and visit often for work.

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The lawyer in me wanted to check out their Supreme Court

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The (in) famous Marriott where I resided

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And some not so comoon signage in the washroom

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After the wedding reception in the evening, the next day around 9 am I leave for Waggah/Attari from Islamabad which is 400kms, and guess what I am there in about 3hours 45min hours flat, yes that's over 100kmph average speed, do the immigration formalities cross over.

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Finally, after 5 days finally use my phone, to inform my parents I have crossed back, inspite of the wonderful trip and beautiful people I met, there was a slight sense of relief when I crossed back, I attribute it to the scenario and situation in which I went there.

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On crossing over, it was time for the border ceremony, so I saw that, went to the city to Darbar Saab to take his blessings and off to the airport to get back to Delhi to end a wonderful trip with beautiful memories, with high doubt's if ever in life I'd be able to visit again.

Shri Harimindar Saab/ Golden Temple
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Another beautiful observation I made was, that there were not toll booths on the highway, they call them motorways, but instead on inquiring I was told and I saw they are after the exits, and its such a simple but effective idea, heck even on the new Yamuna expressway, there are so many tolls every one has to stop on, instead just put the tolls on the exits, after you get off, so the main traffic flows freely, you don't need rocket science to learn this.

The point of writing this thread is not to praise or glorify Pakistan, sure it's got it's share of problems and it's for the world to see what they are into but what we must learn from them, is that common sense doesn't require money or education. I hope we can learn so our future generations atleast can match upto the rest of the world driving sense.

It's sad to see to that even among our neighbors and poorer countries like Pak and Srilanka we seriously lag behind, I have never been to Bangladesh so cannot comment.

Last edited by np23 : 30th July 2020 at 18:54.
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Old 30th July 2020, 19:16   #3
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Nice and interesting travelogue. Was always curious on how this country's topography and road scene would be. Good to read a first hand information. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 30th July 2020, 19:30   #4
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Beautiful part of Pakistan.
Heard of a very good infrastructure of Roadworks. Islamabad is in line with Chandigarh yet more beautiful because of Geographical location. Would have loved seeing more of it.
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Old 30th July 2020, 19:42   #5
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Wow, this is something very different Iíve come across. Iíve heard many stories from my grandparents about Pakistan and always wanted to visit the places they had mentioned. However, never in my wildest dreams I had imagined it like this. I really wish to visit Kartarpur Sahib someday. Thank you for sharing
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Old 30th July 2020, 19:47   #6
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Thank you for sharing. Never knew they had beautiful cities with good infrastructure and road discipline. I idea of Pakistan I had in mind was more like our congested cities.
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Old 30th July 2020, 19:52   #7
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Default Re: An unexpected and surprising visit to Pakistan

My family also traces its roots back to what was once united Punjab, but is now Pakistan. It is very very surprising, but good for them if they have better civic sense and lane discipline than us. The kind of average speed you achieved on your return journey, we have that only in the rhetoric laden announcements made by our transport minister.
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Old 30th July 2020, 20:20   #8
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Default Re: An unexpected and surprising visit to Pakistan

You are so lucky to visit Pakistan. Since both nations got freedom around same time, i have always wondered how developed they are comparing to India. I am surprised to see how clean and well organised their roads are. Though they dont have variety of car models like we Indians have but i think they have got better roads and better road manners. I heard that Pakistanis are extremely good in the hospitality. Have you experienced the same?
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Old 30th July 2020, 20:32   #9
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Default Re: An unexpected and surprising visit to Pakistan

Great thread! I had assumed that visiting Pakistan was practically impossible for Indians. Maybe I'm wrong about this. Could you write more about the visa process?

It's really good to hear that they drive in a disciplined way and follow the rules. Our driving standards have a very long way to go and as you point out, it's not about infrastructure. It is basic civic sense and consideration for others that is missing in our society and driving is one area where this lacuna is on full display.
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Old 30th July 2020, 21:03   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McLaren Rulez View Post
Great thread! I had assumed that visiting Pakistan was practically impossible for Indians. Maybe I'm wrong about this. Could you write more about the visa process?
Indians are only eligible for business, pilgrim or Visitor Visas to Pakistan. ...
The Visitor Visa is granted if you have close family members or friends in Pakistan and you can only visit a maximum of 5 cities for 3 months
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Old 30th July 2020, 21:17   #11
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Wow, this is an unique travelogue. Loved reading it.

I always wanted to see Pakistan by visiting there. As an Indian that curiousity to visit Pakistan is always there. I once googled for visa rules, found out Indians are not allowed. But this has certainly given hope that it is not completely impossible. So yes, someday I may have opportunity to pack bags for Pakistan!

Was surprised on road discipline part. Did not expect it at all. Loved the cleanliness of the roads.

Have met a few Pakistani people while I was in UAE a few years ago for a short duration. They were extremely nice with a fun-loving attitude.

While what media shows is not all wrong, but then not all of that is right either. And may be what is right is not shown at all!
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Old 31st July 2020, 02:32   #12
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A unique travelogue, thanks for sharing your perspective. Keeping the differences aside, I really wish for a day when we can do again overlanding to Europe like the good old days.

Last edited by Thermodynamics : 31st July 2020 at 02:36.
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Old 31st July 2020, 04:38   #13
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There's a Toyota straddling two lanes right in front of you and you still think they drive in lanes??
BTW, I think you visited the well-maintained parts only. See this video for example -

Looks as chaotic as any of our neighborhoods!
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Old 31st July 2020, 07:13   #14
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Default Re: An unexpected and surprising visit to Pakistan

Interesting thread. And quite an eye opener, I'd admit. Despite our two countries' obvious differences in perceptions, they are known to be very good people at heart. They would always treat another with respect and warmth. Thanks a lot for sharing.

I'm reminded of an incident where an Indian Navy ship berthed in a Pakistan harbour during a joint survey operation of Sir Creek. One day, a Pakistan Navy personnel approaches the Indian ship and requests permission to hand over something to the ship's crew. The Officer on Deck was perplexed and was soon running from pillar to post trying to make ends meet of this request. Many phone calls, considerations and discussions ensued. At the end, with clearance from the embassy, the request from Pakistan side was granted.

The delighted Pakistani Officer, calls in someone on radio; and in comes a three huge containers. Aloo Paratha, Lassi and other accompaniments!!!
For the ship's crew, who had been away from home for the last two months by then, this was real blessings from heaven.

After all, though there's a border in between us due to various political decisions in the past, we are all of the same breed; with same values and culture.
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Old 31st July 2020, 08:40   #15
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Brilliant thread - thank you for sharing the images and the context. I seriously wish we had more such threads like these. If not getting too much into personal /private aspects, would it be possible to share more about the wedding celebrations and associated activities (w/ images).

There definitely seems to be some aspects we can always learn from our neighbors on our road habits, it seems. Whether it's Pakistan, or Sri Lanka or Bhutan or Nepal, there seems to be a bit more patience and order that we can definitely get used to more on our roads; not only observed in threads like these and many more, but also in my own personal travels.

Looking forward to more such threads like these!
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