Friday, February 23, 2024

Trek through Motherland to be Patriotic

Books and screens introduce only a little to the beauty of sites. Visits to parts of motherland generate different type of affiliations. Mind and sensations receive a different message. Every time you touch the bushes, stones, sand particles and water of blue lake, you feel affectionate towards these. When you meet and talk to people of areas far away from cities and schools / colleges, you understand that in so many ways they are more civilized and cultured than people of the cities. You come to know their comforts and hardships; still mostly they do not have complaints. Some of them might be poor but they never degrade their own dignity and self respect. They live together and really respect each other more than the neighbours in cities and towns. If they happen to entertain you they do it from the core of their hearts without greed of even slightest appreciation. In some areas you come across children, as young as 12 years of age, behaving in impressive civil manners. You will come across their teen agers risking their lives to save you from any approaching serious danger. While you leave their village or locality, as host they will appear to be embodiment of a very well behaved adult. You might never forget the angelic smiles on their faces. Coming across all these real and true behaviours you will certainly love your motherland far more than ever before. You will certainly become more patriotic for your motherland to become more honest, sincere and dedicated to all interests related to it.

I have the honour of visiting almost all areas of Pakistan. Brief accounts of a few of these are being recorded hereunder with sequence of north to south of the country:-

Skardu, June 2003: June and July are best months to visit this beautiful and charming paradise on earth. Waterfalls are continuously pouring down making musical mild noise. Hilltops are covered with snow. Satpara Lake, in its natural shape surrounded by hills, has been an engaging beauty with its pool of cold blue water. By now it has been engineered out to be a Dam. It is at 1.5 hour walk from the Municipality Offices of the city. It is situated at the foot of Deosai, the unique flat long hill. Deosai has its own exceptional beauty especially during June and July. There is fragrance all over there. But you’ll have to be careful of the particular specie of Pandas who may feel curious enough to attack you as any strange figure on the top of the hill. Every leaf of every bush and tree donates fragrance into the atmosphere. You might feel yourself in a totally different world. You might feel that your feet are a bit above the ground.

June / July nights in Skardu are very cold. A rest house maintained by the local government, has many rooms for the visitors. Room rent is very economical as compared to hotels in the bazar area.

A fellow engineer told me about the old rulers’ residences on top of a hill in outskirts of the city. He told me about the tank in which the queen used to have frequent bath of pure milk. These details were very interesting for me. On a Sunday we started for the particular hill. By midday we were on the top of it. Every site was very interesting. Other site of the foot of this hill is bank of river  Indus. Fellow engineer told me that the water requirement of the residents were managed from the river, through a tunnel special constructed up to the river bank. We reached back over to our residences after sunset. The entire journey was on foot.

River Indus flows at a distance of about 3 kilometres from the rest house. During 4 hours of stay at Skardu, I regularly had my evening walk to river bank where it makes a turn of exactly 90 degrees. Sitting at high bank and watching the calm flow of the river absorbs everybody and is an exceptional pleasure. I used to enjoy this site for about 45 minutes daily. Route of the evening walk was all filled with fragrance from flowers of various trees and plants, on left and right.

If you pass by anybody eating something, he will never spare you until you share his eating material. A gentleman of 35 came out of his house eating corn beads. He asked me to stop and coming close to me, offered me a handful of the material out of his pocket saying “Eat, eat, it is God’s gift.” On another day when I passed by a young man eating whitish cherries, he promptly approached me and asked me to share the fruit with him. City’s park covers a very large area and it includes perennial streams flowing through it. All necessary apparatus for children and adults has been installed in the park. Groups of ladies start entering the park at 10 AM. They remain there up to evening.

In spite of poverty and joblessness in the area, I did not see even a single beggar in and around the city. I attended 4 Juma prayers during the month but never saw a single beggar at mosque’s door.

When you visit Skardu don’t forget to see Mahatma Budh’s figure carved on exceptionally large solitary stone more than 10 feet high.

It is worth mentioning that entire area and Gilgit and Baltistan had been defended against Indian army aggression exclusively by local armed confrontations. A professor of the area managed printing of a map which also gives extensive details of the successful armed confrontations. This map is available on Skardu book shops.

Mardan Areas, February 1992: We had to pass through Mardan city on way to our camp, after close of the site work. Our vehicle got out of order at a distance of about 1 kilometer from the city area. All our efforts failed to get the vehicle restarted. A very handsome young man of about 22 years of age stopped and asked us about our problem. It was Sunday evening and there was no workshop opened. The gentleman advised us to jointly push the vehicle for about a kilometer distance near a lane where owner of a workshop resided. Reaching the spot, he entered a narrow lane and after a few minutes returned with the mechanic, the owner of workshop himself, carrying his tools. Within half an hour the vehicle got started. The mechanic refused any charges. The climax of courtesies came when the helping young man came to us and apologetically said “May I leave now?”

A few weeks later, while traveling along Upper Swat Canal, our vehicle got out of order. It was midday. From his farm house opposite to the spot, a man saw us in trouble and he approached us. He advised us to leave the vehicle and have a break in his farm house. After about one hour, variety of dishes were placed before us for lunch. During the lunch all of us were worried about the vehicle. At last the driver spoke to the host about his worry. The gentleman informed us that the nearest available mechanic was at a distance of 23 kilometers and that his brother had already left with his tractor to bring him here. Our hearts bowed in respect for him. After another short while the mechanic arrived, repaired the vehicle and got it started. We paid our gratitude to the gentleman and asked permission to leave. He told us “According to our custom and tradition, we accompany the guest for at least 2 kilometers distance.

For the requirements of our project, we had to proceed cross country through agriculture fields. We had been working inside the farms at a distance of about 7 kilometers from Mardan city. At a distance of about 1 kilometer, we could see a few farm houses, all surrounded by lush green crops of various kinds. We saw a tall young man followed by a teenage boy treading through the fields. Both of them were carrying pots and pans in their hands. They had been coming towards us but still we could not guess anything about them. Reaching right at our spot they put everything carried by them on the ground and with a beautiful smile asked us by gesture to take meals. Both of them knew nothing accept Pashto. There was spinach cooked in meat, homemade breads, tea and drinking water. All of us had been stunned by their tradition of hospitality. We had our lunch and emphatically thanked them. With shinning smiles in answer to our thanks, they collected their pots and left for their farm house.

South Waziristan, July / August 1986: Waziristan is a paradise of greenery, perennial streams of transparent water and stony hills. It is Chalghoza producing area. The whole area is a treasure of minerals which only honest and patriotic top leadership can tap, after honest, plain and non strategic reconciliation with the residents of the area. No citizen of Pakistan and citizen of the world must forget that people of Waziristan joined the territory of Pakistan only for the name of Islamic State. An Islamic State does not mean population of people with Muslim names. Islamic State means a state providing atmosphere of Islamic way of life where female nakedness, flying loose hair, down slipping collars and open display of stench pocket armpits collected from the entire world.

People of Waziristan are invincible and they have never surrendered to force and suppression, in history. Only thing that can bring them around is truthful straight acceptance to their just demands. No fool will ever way that Islamic Jamhuriya Pakistan should not be Islamic exactly in accordance with the provisions of the constitution which have been lying idol since 1947.

Zhob, June / July / August 1979: It is Sherani Tribes’ domain. During all my visits to city bazar, I never saw a lady for any necessity. Sheranis are a bit harsh in behaviour. A few kilometers East of the city, they will proudly show you the details of ambush in which a white Colonel of British army had been shot dead by them, only months before the announcement of partition of India, resulting in Islami Jamhuriya Pakistan.

When you go to city bazar never forget to enjoy special goat meat dish without chillies, so well known to Iraqis. Baloch and Pashtoons came from Iraq some 5000 years before, according to book written by Ex-Vice Chancellor of Gomal University. (Probably printed during 1980s)

At a point about 25 kilometers East of Zhob city, our driver, a resident of the locality, stopped the vehicle, turned it off and looked into my face. He said “One of the Mujahids who continued fighting the colonial army units, lives exactly on left of us. Would you like to meet him?” I said “It will be Kufar not to gain the honour of a visit to the Mujahid”. It is not possible to express the exalted pleasure and knowledge gained from this meeting with the great Gazi. That Gazi married in old age only after independent Islamic State had been decided upon. To pray for him and for his fellow Mujahedeen will remain to be my life practice, by the Grace of Almighty. It was in this meeting that this Gazi and a great personality also told me that our fighters persuaded by poets and poetry did not prove to be as courageous as those fighting straight against colonial interferences in the tribal areas.

Mangla Dam, Terbela Dam, October 1992: You will be overwhelmingly pleased to see these sites. But after only moments you will, as a patriotic, get melancholy. The reservoirs are not enough to feed the requirements of the nation. Construction of new Dams, are only promises by the politicians. Years before ground breaking ceremonies involving expenditure of sizeable amounts out of public money, have been carried out to pat the public desires for more and more small and large Dams in the country. Dams are meeting the same fate as that of the enormous treasures of the lands to be made use of.

Chakwal, 1987 to 1990: Hilly areas bounded by Choa Sedan Shah to Kalar Kahar (East / West) and Peer Khara to village Sumbal, is one of the most attractive landscapes of Pakistan. It is scarcely populated with sizeable number of spotted Deer and Urial (hilly goat). People told me that cricket Captain Mr. Imran Khan regular comes here for hunting. It is also locally mentioned that Babar, the ruler of India used to stay in hills above Kalar Kahar Lake during summer season. These hills are comparatively cooler during hot weather.

There are intriguing natural depressions by the side of Chakwal city. These display horrible beauty for the viewers. One can sit at the edge of the depression and view the complex inside for hours together with pleasure. Depressions and Ravines start from Kashmir border in East and intermittently go towards West for hundreds of kilometers. These must be possessing treasures of minerals. Oil and gas have already been discovered in parts of these depressions near Chak Belli, on the way to Dhodial.

Milk of cows surviving on variety of bushes and herbs in the undulated areas, is effective natural cure for so many diseases. It is my personal belief that anybody suffering from body weight loss due to any simple or complex reason may stay in one of the villages, for 4 to 6 months, to resume normal health. People of the area are courteous and cooperative and their solemn temperament adds to the process of such curing treatment.

Moving from Chakwal to Choa Sedan Shah, don’t forget to visit tomb of Ghazi Shaheed Murad Ali Shah. Details of his adventures, in glass frame, hangs by the side of South wall of the tomb.

Underground water in Chakwal is very deep and still not in abundance. But whatever the quantity, it is real mineral water, very perfect for good health and digestion.

If you happen to visit Ziarat Peer Khara, don’t miss the perennial spring at the foot of high cliff. It is at walking distance from the tomb. It bears every indication of being a wonder of the world. Its water at the outlet point is sweet with high mineral value. People drinking its water opposite to the tomb take it for granted that it is salty from the very source. So many stories and wishful expectations have been locally attached to saline part of the flowing water. It is considered cure of many diseases. People come from hundreds of miles for this so called curing water. Most of the visitors never even think of the nearby source of delicious sweet cold water.

Kehwra Salt Mine Mosque

Kehwra Salt Mine Mosque

Khewra, October 2014: Salt mines are worth seeing. A mini train has been provided by the mines’ management, for getting deep into the tunnels. It is a wonderful interior to see. A guide accompanies the visitor among whom generally there are groups of foreigners. After the mini train stops, everybody gathers around the guide. He shows the transparent salt, coloured salt and various strange varieties of salt. First time visitors are momentarily stunned when the guide points to the salt room hospital for patients of breathing problems. He explains that patients are simply admitted to the hospital for days of continuous stay. The salty atmosphere of the rooms and the entire environment works the cure. No medicines are needed. The treatment is effective. The guide explains that the natural stock of mines is enough for thousands of years. There are stalls inside the mine. They sell salt decoration pieces and toys which are quite wonderful. You can also have tea and snacks inside the mine tunnels. There is also a platform mosque all made up of salt of various colours and kinds. There are deep water ponds in which nobody ever drowns. To cross a bigger pond, there are bridges of salt slabs as firm and as load bearing as any reliable small bridge. Some uncivil fellows throw empty cans and plastic bags into the ponds. This gives a very bad picture to foreigners about Muslims and Pakistanis. Everybody must avoid such practice.

Water Pond inside Khewra Salt Mine

Water Pond inside Khewra Salt Mine

From the roof of the tunnels water drops fall continuously. On the floor these drops make beautiful artistic crystallised structures. Mines management have fixed different poetic names to these figures. When the guide quotes the names of these shapes, there are smiles on the faces of visitors. Groups of foreigners bring their own guides with them who explain everything in particular languages.

Now there is one thing very important to mention here. There is a canteen type restaurant close to the starting station of the mini train. It is advised to take cold drinks and biscuits only. Ordering for meals might upset the digestion system as the dishes are not prepared fresh. These might have been frozen weeks ago.

Dera Ismael Khan, 1993 to 1998: For outsiders, people are simple and courteous. You must taste and carry back two items from the bazar. Delicious dates of Dhakki, called Dhakki Khajoor and Sohan Halwa of D.I.Khan. These two items are not available in any other city in same form and taste. Then do visit right bank of River Indus. There are restaurants where fresh dishes are prepared and served. Site of the river is attractive especially during July and August.

Kamalia, November 2012: It is a city of tremendous variety of foods and snacks. It is horribly cheaper as compared to Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, etc. Shopkeepers are least greedy for unjustified profits. There is regard for the customers.

Bahawal Nagar, 1988: Small town at north edge of Cholistan Desert. During the day you cannot sleep without AC in month of February. Still the sands south of the town have their own charms and beauty. You need specific eye and mind to appreciate this charm. If you are a honest patriotic engineer, you will plan, even without assuming relevant data, to divert parts of July and August floods from Higher Mean Sea Level down to lower Sea Levels of Cholistan to make the area partly firm and green as well as to store sufficient water for the coming dry months. People and the cattle of the area will both be benefited. This will also save the down steam villages from devastations of high floods. Honesty, sincerity and grey matter that constructed BRB Canal could perform this miracle, without foreign aid and without foreign debts. After 1970 rulers in the country did not have time to serve the motherland because their vote bank and party success worries engaged them beyond all measures. This country has everything needed by citizens and generations. We only need a leader like Mahateer Muhammad who used to find time to check the maintenance of infrastructures including sewerage gutters.


Precious Gems of Noukundi - Photo By Author

Precious Gems of Noukundi – Photo By Author

Noukundi, 1970: People respect their guests. In case of any danger to their guest, they will be all out for risking their own lives. You present them with the cheapest and simplest kind of gift, they will be very grateful to you for ever. Noukundi area up to Iran border in west and Afghan border in North-west is full of minerals, gems and quards. Sendak copper deposits are part of the same area. Mughal period kilns for processing copper can be seen at various locations. Gold deposits adjoin this area. Walking through plain areas, you will find rare stones if you have a bit of knowledge about these. Fossils are abundantly available in the area.

Photo By Author

Photo By Author

Tharparkar, 1962, 63: Western narrow strip consisting of small towns is only a part of the big desert. Tharparkar extends from southern most edge of Cholistan straight over to northern edge of Ran of Cutch. Nagar Parkar close to Indian border is part of this very desert. The whole of the desert from north to south and east to west is populated. But when any calamity falls on the area, they only talk about 5% of the population. Tharparkar has coal deposits. Chhat Bhit has one of the largest oil deposits in the world.

There are mixed settlements of Muslims and Hindus in the entire area. Hindu villages are best organised and disciplined. When a guest leaves a Hindu village, one of their representatives walks with him up to a sizable distance, as gesture of respect.

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Category: Travel

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