Pakistan! You’re going where?

Pakistan,Hunza,Karakoram,MusicForTheEyes

The Road to Hunza. © JamesTworow@flickr

Yes, Pakistan.  Actually, the far northern part was our goal.  Our May trip was planned to see a number of good friends and business colleagues in a country that is mentioned every day in our newspapers…and not in a good way.

Pakistan,Islamabad,Security,MusicForTheEyes

Security is Everywhere. © BennyLin@flickr

We have both visited Pakistan on a number of occasions during our diplomatic careers–Fred, first in the 1980’s, and Sharon, last in 2004.

Frankly, in our era it has long been a troubled place.  It has been ranked the 20th most climate-vulnerable country, because of many serious floods, earthquakes and avalanches on mountain roads.

Pakistan,Floods,MusicForTheEyes

Flooding in Pakistani town in 2010. © DvidShub@flickr

Also, terrorism and extremist activity have caused dangers not only to foreigners, but to Pakistanis too. Most recently, the U.S. unilaterally killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.   Even in earlier decades, there was danger; a mob sacked the U.S. Embassy and killed diplomats in the late 1970’s.

99.9 percent of the population is peaceful and pro-western, but that other .01 percent has caused a lot of trouble.   Can you imagine the stress of trying to live a normal life in Pakistan?  A school girl is shot in the head for advocating education for girls!  Wow.

Pakistan,Islamabad,MusicForTheEyes

Pretty Girls in Pakistan. © Sharon Lundahl

A recent Gallup poll asked nationals of over 100 countries how happy they were, and the results showed Pakistan as just about the most unhappy country in the world.

Still, we have a number of close friends in Pakistan, and we buy the majority of the rugs in our shop from there.  Pakistanis weave amazing carpets and are good business partners.  We thought it was time to visit them…however carefully.

Our goal was to visit the wonderful Ismaili weavers in the Hunza valley of far northern Pakistan.  We will be writing several blogs about our trip but, with all honesty, must admit that we didn’t reach our goal.   We curtailed our trip early and cannot recommend Pakistan–as the situation now stands–as a destination for even an intrepid traveler.

Hunza,Pakistan,MusicForTheEyes

Making Rugs in Hunza. © Our friend Deedar Ali

Pakistan is a big country ranging from hot tropical coastal plains and deserts in the south to very high mountains, the Hindu Kush, in the far north.  In between Karachi (yes, the airport attacks) in the south, and the capitol of Islamabad, (yes, the bombings), are fascinating ancient civilizations dating back thousands of years.

But, our destination was Hunza, a 12,000-foot valley in a region containing eight of the 20 highest  peaks in the world.  This includes K-2, also known as the “Savage Mountain” because of the second-highest fatality rate of its climbers.  It is the second-highest mountain on earth, after Mount Everest, at 28,251 feet.

K-2,Pakistan,MusicForTheEyes

K-2, the “Savage Mountain”. © AamirChoudry@flickr

Our plan was to fly to Islamabad and then skip over the dangerous Waziristan bits by flying up to the far north.  Unfortunately, the global bad weather brought by this year’s El Nino not only has caused bad floods in England and Bosnia, but has resulted in unseasonal torrential rains in Afganistan and Pakistan and messed up our plans to fly to Hunza.

Stay tuned for later blogs on Islamabad and Hunza.

Pakistan,MusicForTheEyes

There is a Train Beneath. © Lucio Virzi@flickr

4 Responses to “Pakistan! You’re going where?”

  1. yain

    A good start. expect more and wish to read a lot about ur observations on current Pakistan.
    i may comment when u complete.
    u are both wonderful

    Reply
  2. Sharon

    Thank you for your news on Pakistan. I enjoy some information “spun” by artists and fans of the people there vs. the stuff on the TV, network news.

    Reply
  3. Peer Nazar

    Dear fred and shron
    great trip and I hope you ,ight injoied allot But I am claiming that you did not visit us neither I have not been informed that you come Pakistan.
    I hope you visit us sometime
    thank you
    PEER NAZAR

    Reply
  4. laura taylor

    The people of Pakistan are so beautiful. Those young women are stunning. It looks like such an amazing place. It’s sad for the people who live there that things are so tense. Thank you for sharing your adventures.

    Reply

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