We’ve all been lied to! A complete atrocity really seeing as they deserve so much more. If you read the news and most of western media you will have been conditioned to think that Pakistan is a place that is far too dangerous to visit. This is simply not true. I’m currently sitting in my room, having had an amazing day exploring Lahore, the second biggest city in Pakistan.
Here the people are so very genuine and love to see outsiders coming into their country. There is no hostility, they hate extremism and as one gentleman knowledgeably informed me, they have lost 150 billion in trade over the last 10 years and tourism has hit the floor since the September 11 attacks even though it had nothing to do with their country.
They’ve been blasted time and time again by media but having roamed the streets, you will have people thanking you for visiting, inviting you into their shop for tea and everyone wondering why your wife isn’t with you. It’s a place that leaves you smiling from ear to ear and having travelled for almost a year around Asia, I have yet to meet hospitality quite like it!
What did I do when I first arrived?
I went to the border between India and Pakistan. Notoriously hostile with each side flaunting it’s best, they have had three wars in total. Each side is very patriotic. Without going into the history, Pakistan was a state created by the islamic population of India after liberation. India wanted control of it and they fought back. Since then tensions and attacks have been seen.
However, peace is now among us! They have a ceremony to celebrate this peace every night at sun down where they lower the flags. It’s flamboyant and ridiculous all at the same time.
Giving a muslim prayer sitting a go!
You approach 6 heavily armed police checks and are patted down each time. The reason for this was a suicide bombing there two years ago. As we walked towards the border gate, it was lavishly decorated by a large fort and music was blaring. It felt as though we were approaching a concert.
People were waving huge Pakistan flags and in high spirits. Pakistanis come here regularly and especially on the weekend to celebrate! The rangers are vigilant but the people are all smiling and sitting happily.
Crowd boosters are there to get everyone clapping and roaring. Meanwhile on the Indian side they are doing very much the same. Drummers come out, more large flags. It’s essentially a pea-cocking fight! Each side trying to come off more impressive that the other.
It was at this point that the gentleman to my right was declaring his hate for India and that if they kept pushing them around, that the button would get very hot. “What button?” I asked. “The nuclear one”, he says as both countries have nuclear weapons. Every day is a school day.
The largest men I’ve ever seen who can kick above their heads with the utmost ease make the most ridiculous marching sequence whaling into a microphone. They march to the gate and come to a halt. Everyone roars. Not long after, the gates open and a soldier marched up in rigorous fashion before shaking the indian soldiers hand furiously before immediately turning away in disgust and marching back into Pakistan!
About 20 minutes of marching and posed of flexing muscles, the flags come down, the music stops and everyone walks home towards the sun setting over the horizon in Pakistan. This happens 365 times a year! Absolute madness.
Come here and see how wonderfully confusing the place is for yourself and see something more than the beaches of Thailand (love them too, believe me).