Explore the beautiful & wonderful Pakistan!
Pakistan is an interesting country, very rich in cultural heritage and human resources. It offers a great variety of scenic beauty fairly high altitudes towards the west. The northern region offers wild rivers, wonderful valleys, deep and steep gorges, snow covered sky high peaks, wild wastelands and eternal glaciers. There are dissected uplands and fertile plains in the middle, desolate deserts and plateaus toward the south, sandy silver white coastal beaches, lagoons, mangrove swamps and sea in the extreme south. The landscape in the north is stunning. There are mountains almost touching the sky. In a radius of forty square kilometers seven of the highest-seventeen peaks of the world are located. These peaks are considered as the Mecca of mountaineers all over the world. There are more than forty mountain peaks, which are higher than 7000m (25000 feet), much higher than all the highest peaks of Europe, Australia, Africa, Japan, Middle East and most of the other Asian countries. Beside these high mountain peaks the area is known for the longest and dreadful glaciers found now here else except in the polar region. In addition to these glaciers there are scores of lakes, hundreds of streams and a wild web of mountain locked valleys. There are thick forests of pine, juniper and a vast variety of flora and fauna. The combination of all these natural gifts have turned several sports into tourists resorts which are admired, desired and loved by a great majority of people from almost all parts of the world.
Tourism to Pakistan started 4000 years ago with the arrival of the first tourist - the Aryans; they liked our land so much they never left. Next came the Persians, the Greeks, the Bactrians, the white Huns, the Turks, the Moghuls, and the British. But this country, which has been such an old tourist destination, is just now re-emerging on the tourist map. A late arrival but with a promising infrastructure, we can satisfy the most discerning travelers. Here, the tourist searching for the undiscovered, unspoiled gateway can find a vacation full of sublime vistas. Journey to the rugged Karakoram and Hindu Kush Mountains in the north to the historic fort-strewn deserts that sweep towards the south. Pakistan is a year- round destination, with new adventures developing each year. We have sophisticated cities that are modern and cosmopolitan, but still they preserve their age-old bazaars and ancient monuments that take days to explore. We have intriguing villages, with mysterious cultures that speak quietly of the past, clinging to old fashioned traditions that turn every visitor into a fascinated anthropologist. Everywhere in the cities, in the villages, on the roads that take you here to there - you will find a level of hospitality that is hard to forget.
Situated at the crossroads of history, Pakistan is a land of marvelous contrasts. From its southern desert plains to the terraced green fields of Askoli in the north (the last village before K-2), Pakistan drenches the senses with mountain majesty and exotic tribal cultures. Moving north, the endless white sandy beaches of the Arabian Sea give way to the Punjabi plains and vast agricultural lands, then the great gash of the Indus Gorge and countless snow-locked peaks along the border with China north, India east, Afghanistan west and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
Through the ages many civilizations settled along the banks of the mighty Indus River. The Indus, father of rivers, begins its journey in the remote peaks of the Subcontinent. Coursing in rolling fury through the Indus Gorge, the Indus is edged by the fragile ribbon of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). Today, the heirs of these ancient cultures, Baltis, Hunzakuts, Pushtuns and a host of others still practice their timeless ways of life along the KKH.
Each year millions flock to the European Alps and thousands visit Nepal. Only a few of the well-informed and adventurously curious are fortunate enough to experience the stunning "Roof of the World" that is Northern Pakistan. Here four great mountain ranges meet:
The Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindukush and Pamir Mountains. Embracing many of the planet's highest peaks, the Pamir Knot of Pakistan is the incredible confluence of these four great ranges. Of the fourteen highest peaks on earth, Pakistan has five, two of which are the sublime pyramid of K2 (at 8611 m) the second highest mountain on earth and the most dangerous mountain in the world, Nanga Parbat (8125m). In addition, the area contains some of the longest and largest glacier systems outside of the polar regions.
Pakistani hospitality and friendliness are legendary. Far from the civil unrest that occasionally plagues Karachi and many other Asian cities, the mountain people of Northern Pakistan look forward to welcoming you into their midst. Come join them in a world of unparalleled beauty and drama, learn and witness for yourself what so few others have experienced.
PEOPLE AND LANGUAGE.
Being mostly Muslims, the people of Pakistan are culturally homogenous. The other religious groups include the Christians, Buddhist, Hindus and Parsees. All are of composite racial stock although the majority is of Aryan extraction. While Urdu, the national language, is spoken throughout Pakistan, English is extensively used in official and commercial circle and in the cities. The regional languages are Sindhi in Sindh, Baluchi in Baluchistan, Punjabi in Punjab and Pushto in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
HOW TO COME TO PAKISTAN.
More than 5 airlines fly to Pakistan from over 40 countries. Most of the flights arrive at Karachi, but PIA, British Airways, Emirates, Saudi and China Xinjiang Airlines fly direct to the twin cities of Rawalpindi/ Islamabad. PIA, Indian Airlines, Saudi and Thai Airways fly direct to Lahore. Pakistan International (PIA) has direct flights from the main Mediterranian and European cities, as well as from New York, Toronto and Nairobi. It also runs a Far East Network from Tokyo, Beijing, Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. PIA have also flights to Tashkent and Almaty from Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, and Karachi while another Pakistan Airlines, Aero Asia has a weekly flight between Karachi, Bishkek and Dubai.
From China; The Khunjerab Pass is open from 1st May to 31st October for groups and to 15th November for individual tourists. Customs, Immigration post shall remain open daily from 08:30 to 11:00 for outgoing travellers and upto 16:00 (Pakistan Standard Time) for incoming tourists. Travel Time from Sost to Tashkurgan (China) is 05 hours (20 kms). The Chinese border post, Tashkurgan is open 12:00 noon to 14:00 (Beijing Time) for outgoing tourists and upto 19:00 for incoming travellers. PTDC nad NATCO (Northern Areas Transport Corporation) run daily buses, vans and jeeps from Sost to Tashkurgan and one-way fare is fixed at US $ 40 per person or equivalent in Pak. rupees (subject to change without notice).
Wagha is the only land border open between Pakistan and India (Lahore-Amritsar route). The Wagha bordser post is open daily for foreigners; summer (16 April to 15 October) 08:30 to 14:30 hrs and winter (16 October to 15 April) 09:00 to 15 hrs.
TRAIN AND BUS SERVICE TO AND FROM INDIA.
In addition to Lahore -Delhi Samjhota Train service on Mondays and Thursdays, Pakistan Tourist Development Corporation (PTDC) and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) has started a luxury direct bus service between Lahore and Delhi. The air conditioned bus service leaves simultaneously from Falteti's hotel, Edgerton Road, Lahore and New Delhi on every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
LAND ROUTE FROM IRAN.
Pak- Iran border crossing is only possible through Taftan - Zahidan. Several buses and coaches daily leave from Taftan to Quetta (634 kms and 18 hours drive). Train service is also available for the sector Quetta-Zahidan -Quetta.
TRAVEL WITHIN PAKISTAN.
PIA serves 38 domestic airports with schedule connections, including multiple daily flights between major cities of Karachi, Quetta, Multan, Lahore, Islamabad, and Peshawar. Two private airlines, Aero Asia and Shaheen Airline, also serve Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. PIA has daily flights linking the northern tourist towns of Gilgit, Skardu and Saidu Sharif with Islamabad and Chitral with Peshawar. All flights to the northern region are subject to good weather.
Pakistan has an extensive network of roads and highways, linking every big and small town. There are several highways like the Grand Trunk road (G.T. Road) between Lahore and Peshawar, Supewr Highway and National Highway linking Karachi with Interior of Sindh and Punjab, Indus Highway linking Peshawar with the Southern Punjab, RCD Highway linking Karachi and Qetta and onto Taftan (Pak-Iran border) and the Karakoram Highway joining Islamabad with kashgar (China) through abbottabad, Gilgit Hunza and Khunjerab Pass. A landmark has been achieved with the completion of Lahore-Islamabad Motorway (M2), and Faislabad-Pindi Bhatian Motorway (M3), which have opened some of the remote areas of Pakistan for visitors. Another project of Motorway i.e; Islamabad- Peshawar (M1) will be completed in near future.
Pakistan has over 12,700 kilometers of railways, including 8,500 kms inherited from the British. Main line runs from Karachi to Peshawar connecting important tourist places like Moenjodaro, Sukkur, Bahawalpur, Multan, Lahore, Rawalpindi/ Islamabad, Taxila and Peshawar. Another main line link Quetta with the rest of the country. There are several daily trains running on these lines, however, the faster trains like Shalimar Express (Lahore-Karachi) and Railcar (Lahore-Rawalpindi) have more comfortable air-conditioned compartments for travelers. Pakistan Railways allows a 25% concession in all classes, to foreign tourists and 50% discount for foreign students (both for groups and individuals). This concession is allowed on production of a recommendation certificate issued by any PTDC Tourist Information Center and original passport, to the Divisional Superintendent of Pakistan Railways (at Karachi, Quetta, lahore, Sukkur, Multan, Peshawar and Rawalpindi or Station Masters of other principal Stations.
WHERE TO STAY.
Pakistan offers a wide range of accomodation. Modern, well equipped chain hotels like Sheraton and Avari (at Karachi & Lahore), Pearl Continental Hotels (at Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Bhurban and Abbottabad), Marriott (Karachi & Islamabad), Holiday Inn(Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Islamabad), Serena Hotels (Faisalabad, Quetta, Gilgit, Hunza and Saidu Sharif), Pine Park Hotels (Naran, Khannian & Shogran), Green Hotels (Nathiagali, Abbottabad, Peshawar), Shangrilla Resorts & Hotels (Naran, Chilas & Skardu) offers good services and facilities. Pakistan Tourist Development Corporation (PTDC) also operates 2 hotels and 29 motels located throughout Pakistan. A government tax/ duty up to 17.5% is added to the rent at most places. There are official Dak Bungalows and Rest Houses at most of the stations and valleys, maintained by either Provincial Forest Department, Public Works Department (PWD) or by the local administration. Advance booking is recommended.
Pakistan Youth Hostels Association (PYHA) was founded in 1951 which now runs a chain of 6 Youth Hostels is available to the members of organistaions. For more details and reservation, email us firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT TO BUY.
Pakistan is a treasure house of exquisite handicrafts, made by people who grew up to weave, to pot, to work metals, wood and stone, to decorate, to build things small and great. Pottery here is a living history, a traditional craft that became an art, with its origins going back to 3,000 years B.C. Today, each region of Pakistan claims its own special jars and jugs, from sturdy terra - cotta to paper thin ceramics, in vivid colours of mustard yellow, deep green, brick red and sky blue. For those keen on shopping, the prices are still quite reasonable. You will find yourself still returning home with hand woven carpets, marble pieces, copper and brass items, woodwork, embroidered "Kurtas" and "Khussas" and countless objects d'art.
WHAT TO EAT.
Having inherited the culinary traditions of the Moghuls, the Turks, the Central Asians and the Iranian, eating out in Pakistan is a rich and unique experience. Most local restaurants serve authentic Pakistan dishes straight from the oven, with the sights and sounds of a bazaar in the background. Meat, fish and vegetable dishes are seasoned with spices. Particularly palatable are the grills barbecues; Seekh-Kabab (minced meat grilled on skewer), Shami-Kabab (minced meat), Tikka (barbecued mutton, beef or chicken) and Saji (Barbecued leg of lamb). Pakistani mutton and chicken curries and the oriental rice dish called pullao, are also popular with natives and foreigners alike.
WHAT TO WEAR.
Lightweight, cotton clothes suffice except in north in winter. Men wear suits for business meetings, social events. Casual shalwar suits are worn by all women and most men in public. Women should dress modestly.
WHAT TO SEE.
Pakistan is a special interest destination. Its main attraction include adventure tourism in the Northern Areas, cultural and archeological tourism as found in Taxila, Moenjodaro, Harappa, and Swat and early Muslim & Mughal Heritage of Multan, Lahore, Thatta and Peshawar. From the mighty Karakorams in the North to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus River in the South, Pakistan remains a land of high adventure and nature. Trekking, mountaineering, white water rafting, wild boar hunting, mountain and desert jeep safaris, Camel and Yak safaris, trout fishing and bird watching, are a few activities which entice adventure and nature lovers to Pakistan.
THE ULTIMATE TOURIST DESTINATION.
The "first tourist group" arrived in Pakistan some 4000 years ago. They were the Aryans. They liked the land so much that they never went back. In their search, came the Persians followed by the Greeks, Bactrian's, Huns, Arabs, Dravidians, Turks, Mongols, Tibetans & many others, but all preferred to stay here. The obvious reason was the incomparable beauty, grandeur & tranquility of this region. Pakistan possesses all ingredients for a Booming Tourist Destination. Its "extremely rich heritage" is enough to quench the aesthetics from all walks of life. Unfortunately, however, Pakistan's tourism potential is little known to the western world & its rich & multicolored heritage is lying untapped.
THE INCOMPARABLE HISTORY.
10 million years ago, the common ancestors of the man & ape roamed around ISLAMABAD - the gleaming new capital of Pakistan. The Stone Age tools of the Homo sapiens species of 50,000 B.C are found along the So'Aan River. We happen to be the proud inheritors of the regions that remained "centers" of the ancient civilizations of the World. Not just one out of dozens, but "ONE" out of the "TWO" ancient civilizations on this Earth. Yes..! the developed civilizations of the Indus, at Harrappa & Mohenjodaro are Contemporary to the Egyptian civilizations of the Nile & the Mesopotamian civilizations of Euphrates. The developed city of Mehrgarh was "3000 years old" when Alexander the great invaded this region in 326 B.C. The region that forms Pakistan has always been on the crossroads of history. All the ancient routes and great passes happen to be in Pakistan, which made this region a favorite play ground for the conquerors, traders, travelers, historian, preachers & tourists.
THE UNUSUAL GEOGRAPHY.
Enveloped in the extremes of 04 distinct weathers, the contrasting Geography of Pakistan is the nature's great gift. Spread over an area of 8,68,591 Sq Kms, this magnificent land contains galaxies of towering snow capped mountains, gigantic creeping glaciers, lush green alpine meadows, rushing white rivers, tumbling waterfalls, quiet lakes, blossoming fruit orchards in the "North" & fertile plateaus, rich alluvial plains, meandering yellow rivers, glowing deserts & sandy beaches in the "South". The "CONTINENTAL COLLISION" of the three mighty mountain ranges of the world the Himalayas, the Karakorams & the Hindukush in the North gave birth to the "thickest cluster" of the Highest Peaks & Largest Glaciers on Earth. The statistics are simply baffling. "05" of the world's "14" peaks above 8000 meters are in Pakistan. "101" peaks are above 7000 meters & whereas peaks from 6999 to 3000 meters are countless. "50" of the world's "100" highest peaks are in Pakistan. "K-2" 8626 M is the second highest on Earth. Alone in Baltistan & Hunza, there are more than "100" peaks above 18,000 ft. literally; most of their base camps are higher than the Summits of all the peaks in Europe. Pakistan's glaciated region covers 12000 Sq/Kms. The "06" longest valley glaciers of the world, are also in Pakistan & their total length exceed 350 Km. the Biafo-Hispar glacial corridor of 116 Km is the longest on Earth. No mention of over 300 small glaciers & their tributaries. The Hundreds of miles of rushing torrents surging out from the snouts of these glaciers mingle to form the 3200 Km long Indus river which quenches the entire length of the country & merges with the Arabian Sea which banks a sandy beach of over 1000 Km. This incomparable contrast will be completed only but with a brief mention of the 470,000 Sq Km deserts located in Baluchistan, Sind & Southern Punjab with a rich multicolored culture of their own.
THE MATCHLESS PEOPLE.
Pakistan is an eternal abode of 120 Million people of over "30 Ethnic Groups" speaking over "40 Languages & Dialects" (excluding immigrants). They all differ from each other in every respect. Here live the people in caves, straw abodes, mud houses & boats quite aloof from the privileges of modern life & in the same country dwell the people in palatial living quarters & skyscrapers well acquainted to the space-age. Pakistan, is perhaps, the only country which exhibits an amazing contrast of color, creeds, races, inheritance, customs, languages, dresses & religions after every 25 miles in any direction. Whether they are the Fierce Pathans or the Upright Baluchi; the Submissive Baltis or the Amiable Hunzakurts; the Primitive Kafirs or the Versatile Punjabis - all wear different cultures, but are fastened with just one common character - the "TRADITIONAL HOSPITALITY".
THE WEARERS OF THE BLACK ROBES.
Pakistan's population, as you know is derived from a variety of races bearing distinct languages, culture, & dresses. Out of many interesting & lively cultures we have in Pakistan, I would like to highlight the colorful culture of Kalash. The Kalash valleys are inhabited by a primitive people known as Kafir Kalash, which means the wearers of the black robes. Their origin is cloaked in controversy. Since the sign of the Macedonian period are still to be found among these people. They are said to be the decedents of the Greek soldiers who entered this valley in 327 B.C. The Kalash people live in centuries old houses multi storied on steep mountain slopes along the river beds. The cluster of these small houses look like bee-hives. The odd rituals, primitive customs and peculiar habits of friendly and peaceful Kalash bewitch and enthrall the tourists from all over the world. Kalash women still wear black woolen homespun garments, red beaded necklaces by the dozens and exceptional headpiece that flows down their backs embroidered with cowry shells, beads and trinkets. Unlike the Pakistani Muslim women, the Kalash women do not observe "veil" (purdah) and possess frank manners. Their instruments are flutes and drums. They worship wooden idols and have strange habits. The woman carries their make up & hair dressing at the river, as they are not allowed to bring combs and cosmetics to their homes as they bring evils. Another peculiar habit is the separation of women during their menstruation periods. The ceremonies accompanying death are the queerest of all. Every death is celebrated with dance & music by the elders & mourned upon by the young who are not yet fully aware of the Kalash philosophy which says "the dead are passed on to a better world" The body is then placed in a wooden coffin with its personal belongings and jewelry etc and left above the ground to decay.
CULTURAL HERITAGE OF PAKISTAN:
The land where the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is situated today had been a seat of world’s leading Civilizations from the time immemorial. There is plenty of evidence from the pre-historic and historic period to support this argument, e.g. fossil jaws of apes, circa 14 millions years old found from Pothohar. They belong to a species named “Sivapithecus Pakininsis”, said to be the ancestor of Man. A 2 million years old earliest stone hand axe. Now on display in Islamabad Museum, Islamabad. The legacy of our predecessors at the time of our independence, on August 14, 1947, came to us as a treasure which may be called as Pakistan’s national heritage. So rich and diversified is this heritage that Pakistani nation can be proud of its glorious past, be Islamic, Post Islamic or pre-Islamic period as far back as pre-historic times. No other country of the world can produce the treasure of by gone days as can be found in Pakistan. It is now incumbent upon us to treasure our national heritage and save it from further. The Cultural Heritage of Pakistan is spread over the centuries, starting from pre-historic times to the present day and which may be summarized in the following periods:
The land where the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is situated today had been a seat of world’s leading Civilizations from the time immemorial. There is plenty of evidence from the pre-historic and historic period to support this argument, e.g. fossil jaws of apes, circa 14 millions years old found from Pothohar. They belong to a species named “Sivapithecus Pakininsis”, said to be the ancestor of Man. A 2 million years old earliest stone hand axe. Now on display in Islamabad Museum, Islamabad.
The legacy of our predecessors at the time of our independence, on August 14, 1947, came to us as a treasure which may be called as Pakistan’s national heritage. So rich and diversified is this heritage that Pakistani nation can be proud of its glorious past, be Islamic, Post Islamic or pre-Islamic period as far back as pre-historic times. No other country of the world can produce the treasure of by gone days as can be found in Pakistan. It is now incumbent upon us to treasure our national heritage and save it from further. The Cultural Heritage of Pakistan is spread over the centuries, starting from pre-historic times to the present day and which may be summarized in the following periods:
This land also witnessed the glorious era of Indus civilization about 8000 years B.C when the first village was found at Mehargarh in the Sibi District of Balochistan comparable with the earliest villages of Jericho in Palestine and Jarmo in Iraq. Here, during the last decade i.e., 1980’s, the French and Pakistani archaeologists have excavated mud built houses of the Mehargarh people and their agricultural land known for the cultivation of maize and wheat, together with polished stone tools, beads and other ornaments, painted jars and bowls, drinking glasses, dishes and plates. The archaeologists believe that by 7000 B.C., the Mehargarh people learnt to use the metal for the first time. From the first revolution of agricultural life the man moved to another great revolution in his social, cultural and economic life. He established trade relations with the people of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and the Arab world. He not only specialized in painting different designs of pottery, made varieties of pots and used cotton and wool but also made terracotta figurines and imported precious stones from Afghanistan and Central Asia. This early bronze age Culture spread out in the countryside of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. This early beginning led to the concentration of population into the small towns, such as Kot Diji in Sindh and Rahman Dheri in Dera Ismail Khan district. It is this social and cultural exchange that led to the rise of the famous cities of Moenjodaro and Harappa, with largest concentration of population including artisans, craftsmen, businessmen and rulers.This culminated in the peak of the Indus Civilization which was primarily based on intensively irrigated agricultural land and overseas trade and contact with Iran, Gulf States, Mesopotamia and Egypt. Dames were built for storing river water, land was cultivated by means of bullock-harnessed plough - a system which still prevails in Pakistan, granaries for food storage were built, furnace was used for controlling temperature for making red pottery and various kinds of ornaments, beads of carnelian, agate, and terracotta were pierced through and above all they traded their finished goods with Central Asia and Arab world. It is these trade dividends that enriched the urban populace who developed a new sense of moral honesty, discipline and cleanliness combined with a social stratification in which the priests and the mercantile class dominated the society. The picture of high civilization can be gathered only by looking at the city of Moenjodaro, the First Planned City in the World, in which the streets are aligned straight, parallel to each other with cross streets cutting at right angles. It is through these wide streets that wheeled carriages, drawn by bulls or asses, moved about, carrying well-adorned persons seated on them appreciating the closely aligned houses made of pucca-bricks, all running straight along the streets. And then through the middle of the streets ran stone dressed drains covered with stone slabs - a practice of keeping the streets clean from polluted water, seen for the first time in the world. The legacy of our predecessors at the time of our independence, on August 14, 1947, came to us as a treasure which may be called as Pakistan’s national heritage. So rich and diversified is this heritage that Pakistani nation can be proud of its glorious past, be Islamic, Post Islamic or pre-Islamic period as far back as pre-historic times. No other country of the world can produce the treasure of by gone days as can be found in Pakistan. It is now incumbent upon us to treasure our national heritage and save it from further.
Pakistan is the land which attracted Alexander the great from Macedonia in 326 B.C., with whom the influence of Greek culture came to this part of the world. During the 2nd century B.C., it was here that Buddhism was adopted as the state religion which flourished and prevailed here for over 1000 years, starting from 2nd century B.C., until 10th century A.D. During this time Taxila, Swat and Charsaddah (old Pushkalavati) became three important centres for culture, trade and learning. Hundreds of monasteries and stupas were built together with Greek and Kushan towns such as Sirkap and Sirsukh both in Taxila. It was from these centres that a unique art of sculpture originated which is known as Gandhara Art all over the world. Today the Gandhara Sculptures occupy a prominent place in the museums of England, France, Germany, USA, Japan, Korea, China, India and Afghanistan together with many private collections world over, as well as in the museums of Pakistan. Nevertheless, the zenith of this Gandhara Art is one and only "Fasting Buddha" now on display in Lahore Museum, Lahore. Finally, the light of Islam penetrated in this part of the world as early as 7th century AD. from the west with the Arabs and during the 10th century AD from the north with the Turks. Islam replaced the early way of life of worshipping idols and introduced new philosophy of faith in one God. With Islam in came a new culture in this land from Arabia and Central Asia. Hence, a new type of architecture, hitherto unknown in this area, was introduced. Tens of thousands of Mosques, Madrassahs, tombs and gardens were created by the Muslim rulers all over the Sub-Continent. The new style of Islamic architecture prevailed and matured in this land for over a thousand years. The most important contribution of the Muslim rulers to this land, however, is a new language ‘Urdu’ which became the national language of Pakistan since its independence in 1947. The legacy of our predecessors at the time of our independence, on August 14, 1947, came to us as a treasure which may be called as Pakistan’s national heritage. So rich and diversified is this heritage that Pakistani nation can be proud of its glorious past, be Islamic, Post Islamic or pre-Islamic period as far back as pre-historic times. It is hard to find another country which can produce the treasure of by gone days as can be found in Pakistan.
The light of Islam penetrated in this part of the world as early as 712 A.D from the west with the Arab General Muhammad bin Qasim and during the 10th century A.D from the north with the Turk Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznah (better known as Mahmud Ghaznavi). Islam replaced the early way of life of worshipping idols and introduced new philosophy of faith in one God. With Islam in came a new culture in this land from Arabia and Central Asia. Hence, a new type of architecture, hitherto unknown in this area, was introduced. Tens of thousands of Mosques, Madrasahs, tombs and gardens were created by the Muslim rulers all over the Sub-Continent. The new style of Islamic architecture prevailed and matured in this land for over a thousand years. The direct influence of the Muslim Rulers was not only confined to the architecture; their food added a variety of new dishes in the Sub-Continental cuisine. The national dress of Pakistan, “ Shalwar Qamiz” is also a direct gift of the Muslim Turks. Since the mother tongue of the Muslim Rulers was Arabic, Turkish and Farsi, it was only natural that the local languages of the Sub-Continent were greatly influenced and new language was introduced. Thus the most important contribution of the Muslim rulers to this land is a new language ‘Urdu’ which became the national language of Pakistan since its independence in 1947. The legacy of our predecessors at the time of our independence, on August 14, 1947, came to us as a treasure which may be called as Pakistan’s national heritage. So rich and diversified is this heritage that Pakistani nation can be proud of its glorious past, be Islamic, Post Islamic or pre-Islamic period as far back as pre-historic times. No other country of the world can produce the treasure of by gone days as can be found in Pakistan.
The Sikhs established their Empire in the Punjab after the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir in 1707. With the death of Aurangzeb the country saw a series of rapid governmental changes that stressed it in to the depths of anarchy. Taking advantage of this certain Charat Singh, who was the head of one of the Sikh Clans, established his stronghold in Gujranwala in 1763. Charat Singh died in 1774 and was succeeded by his son, Mahan Singh, who in turn fathered the most brilliant leader in the history of the Punjab: Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It was this remarkable leader who united the whole Punjab under one flag. His rule stretched from the banks of the Jamuna to the Khyber and from Kashmir to Multan. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the most powerful of all the Sikh Rulers and ruled over for complete 40 years. After his death in 1840 the Sikh Empire was divided into small principalities looked after by several Sikh Jagirdars. This weak situation provided a good opportunity to the British of East India Company to put an end to the Sikh strong hold in the Punjab in 1849. Sikhs are the followers of Baba Guru Nanak Sahib. He was the son of Mehta Kalu Chand and Tripta Devi, both of them Khatris by caste. He was born at Nankana Sahib in 1464. Sikhism was born as a direct reaction against rigid, cruel and inhuman practices of Brahamanism and its rigid caste system. But another important factor which influenced the mind of the people who contributed to the growth of Sikhism, was the impact of Islam which had spread from Arabia to Iraq, Turkistan, Persia and Afghanistan and came in to contact with Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. The Sikh religion is in fact a product of the Sufi and Bhakti school of thought. Guru Nanak was greatly influenced by Kabir and Shaikh Ibrahim Farid (1450 - 1535) a descendent of the famous Sufi saint Shaikh Farid uddin Shakar ganj of Pak Pattan whose works were incorporated in the Garanth Sahib. Guru Nanak studied books of Hindu and Muslims religions and it was only after deep study of both the religions that he evolved his own school of thought. The basic principles of the Sikhism are much closer to Islam than to Hinduism. A study of the life, events of the Gurus and the large numbers of the monuments sacred to them will, however, reveal how deeply all the Sikh Gurus in general and Guru Nanak, Ajen Dev and Har Go bind Singh in particular are associated with Pakistan. Sikh Shrines: The Gurdwaras are more than a place of worship. They serve as Schools, meeting place and a rest house for the travelers in addition to enshrining the Garanth Sahib. The Gurdwaras are, as such, integral part of the Sikh religious and social life. Since the Sikh Rule lasted for almost a century in the sub-continent there are hundreds of Gurdawaras all over Pakistan but mostly in the Punjab, some of which are very famous such as Nankana Sahib and Punja Sahib. These Gurdwaras are looked after by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) which is under the control of the Ministry of Culture, Islamabad. The legacy of our predecessors at the time of our independence, on August 14, 1947, came to us as a treasure which may be called as Pakistan’s national heritage. So rich and diversified is this heritage that Pakistani nation can be proud of its glorious past, be Islamic, Post Islamic or pre-Islamic period as far back as pre-historic times. No other country of the world can produce the treasure of by gone days as can be found in Pakistan. It is now incumbent upon us to treasure our national heritage and save it from further deterioration and loss.
British Period: 1857 - 1947:
Just before the independence of Pakistan this land remained a part of the British Empire for almost a century. Hence the British culture also left an impact on the life of the people of Pakistan. Amongst the British legacy a new form of architecture which is a blend of Islamic and the Western Architecture emerged. This colonial architecture in the form of Residential Bungalows, Educational Institutions, Churches and Railway Stations is still very attrative and in a good condition. Examples of the British Architecture can be seen in all the major cities of Pakistan. The British patronage towards introducing Railways in the Sub-Continent is indeed a great gift and the operational railroad and railway stations in Pakistan today are the same laid and built by the British before 1947. Old Presidency in Rawalpindi, Rest house in Ziarat, Empress Market Karachi, Punjab University’s old Campus, Islamia College Peshawar, and Cathedrals in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar are just few examples of the British Heritage. The British Empire, however, ceased to exist in this part of the world after 14 August 1947. The legacy of our predecessors at the time of our independence, on August 14, 1947, came to us as a treasure which may be called as Pakistan’s national heritage. So rich and diversified is this heritage that Pakistani nation can be proud of its glorious past, be Islamic, Post Islamic or pre-Islamic period as far back as pre-historic times. No other country of the world can produce the treasure of by gone days as can be found in Pakistan.
WILDLIFE IN PAKISTAN:
Section 1: Existing Wildlife in Pakistan The mountainous areas embracing the Himalayan, Karakorum and Hindukush Ranges are rich in fauna and flora, as compared to other parts of the country. These areas provide an excellent habitat for wildlife in the form of alpine grazing lands, sub-alpine scrub and temperate forests. These habitats support a variety of wild animals. The areas are difficult for human beings to access, hence, most wildlife is present in reasonable numbers though some are endangered for other reasons. Some of the main wildlife species are the snow leopard, the black and the brown bears, otter, wolf, lynx, Himalayan ibex, markhor, bharal, Marco Polo's sheep, shapu, musk deer, marmots, tragopan and monal pheasants. The snow partridge and snowcock reside at higher elevations. The Rhesus monkey, common langur, red fox, black bear, common leopard, a variety of cats, musk deer (over a limited area), goral, several species of flying squirrels, chakor, partridge and pheasants (koklass, kaleej and cheer) live in the lower elevations. Amongst these the snow leopard, musk deer, Marco Polo's sheep, and the brown bear are endangered. The Tibetan wild ass and the blue sheep populations have been reduced drastically. The cheer pheasant is reported to be extinct from within Pakistan's boundaries, and is included in the IUCN Red Data Book. The western horned tragopan was reported to have disappeared from within Pakistani territory, but has now been relocated to Indus Kohistan, although its numbers are low. The main threats to the population of wild animals in the northern mountainous regions include, the competition with domestic livestock for existing natural forage, increasing human interference in the form of cultivation, the construction of roads, and hunting. The Himalayan foothills and the Potohar region, including the Salt Range and Kala Chitta Range, are covered with scrub forests, which have been reduced to scanty growth in most places. Medium-sized animals like the Punjab urial, barking deer, goral, chinkara, partridges (grey and black), seesee and chakor are supported in these habitats. A variety of songbird fauna also occurs in these areas. Vast Indus flood plains have been cleared of natural vegetation to grow crops. Very little wildlife habitat has been left untouched. Only animals like the jackal, mongoose, jungle cat, civet cat, scaly anteater, desert cat and the wild hare occur in these areas. Hog deer is found in riverine tracts. The crop residues and wild growth support reasonable populations of black and grey partridges. Little vegetative cover, severity of climatic conditions and the great thrust of grazing animals on the deserts have left wild animals in a precarious position. Parts of Thall and Cholistan are now being irrigated, with the situation almost identical to that of the flood plains. Chinkara is the only animal, which can still be found in average numbers in Cholistan, but rarely in Thall. The blackbuck, once plentiful in Cholistan has now been eliminated. However, efforts are being made to reintroduce them back into the country. A small number of blue bulls are found along the Pak-Indian border, and some parts of Cholistan. Grey partridge, species of sand grouse and the Indian courser are the main birds of the area. Peafowl occur in some areas in Cholistan. The Thar Desert supports a fair population of the Chinkara gazelle. Peacocks are only found in the wild, mainly because of the protection they enjoy in Hindu communities. The wild ass migrates from the Indian part of the Rann of Kutch to the Pakistani part in search of food. The Houbara bustard is a regular winter visitor to the desert. Visiting diplomats have hunted and reduced their numbers. The great Indian bustard is sporadically sighted. The imperial sandgrouse is another migrant visiting these areas. Grey partridges are frequently sighted. The python is also threatened with extinction. The Sulaiman and Kirthar Ranges present habitats manifesting unique characteristics. The former supports the straight-horned markhor, chinkara and urial, whereas Sindh ibex, urial, chinkara and common leopard occupy the latter. The straight-horned markhor, which is almost extinct from within settled boundaries of Pakistan, occurs in somewhat fair numbers in the Tribal Areas. The chakor, seesee and grey partridge are birds commonly found in the tracts. The reed beds and tamarisk bushes along the rivers support hog deer and black partridge populations. However, due to occasional heavy floods their numbers have also been reduced. The Indus dolphin, fishing cat, and smooth otter are found in the Indus River waters below the Chashma Barrage. The gavial has become extinct in Pakistan. The crocodile is found in small numbers in lower Sindh. Wild boar numbers have increased because of the immunity they enjoy in a Muslim society that forbids its consumption by humans. The animals found in the south-western mountains of Balochistan are: Sindh ibex, Chiltan markhor, straight horned markhor, wild sheep, leopard, marbled pole cat, Blandford's fox, chinkara, goitered gazelle and the marsh crocodile. The cheetah, is believed to be extinct and the Makran (baluchistan) bear critically endangered. The Houbara bustard (migratory), sandgrouse, black and grey partridges, and the chakor and see see partridges are also found here. Irrigated forest plantations have emerged as the prevailing land use practice for the last 100 years. These ideally provide excellent habitat for chinkara, hog deer and blue bull. Forest management does not cater to the needs of these wild animals. This, coupled with the poor implementation of laws has resulted in the extinction of species in the irrigated plantations. Due to habitat disturbances, the ungulates have failed to establish themselves, whereas the partridges have flourished well. The striped hyena and the wolf are widely distributed in the sparsely populated parts of the country. However, information about them is scanty. Information about carnivores in general is difficult to obtain because of their nocturnal mode of life and high mobility. The black bear and brown bear populations are also not understood completely. Birds of prey like the peregrine, cherrug or saker falcons, tawny eagle, imperial and greater spotted eagles, osprey, shikra, and the black-winged kite occur throughout Pakistan but their population statuses are unknown. Pakistan's coastline of 1,050 km consists of a variety of habitat types, supporting a wide range of animals, of which over 1000 are fish species. Pakistan's marine flora and fauna have not been studied properly. Hence, detailed information on these species is deficient. Along the shores, there are four species of marine turtles: the ridley, green, leather back and hawksbill turtle, which are of high economic importance. Due to loss of habitat and human disturbances, their population is also decreasing.
About eight species of freshwater turtles are found in Pakistan. Sand lizards, monitors, geckos, agamas, diamond snakes, sand snakes, vipers, cobras, kraits and the famous Indian python constitute the other reptilian fauna. Large water bodies in the country support a variety of waterfowl both resident and migratory. The extent of wetlands is constantly being changed. On one hand, swamps and marshes are being drained to reclaim land, whereas on the other hand, new dams (large water bodies) have been created for irrigation purposes. Canal irrigation through seepage has also contributed towards increasing the land area under water in the form of water logging. Such areas support a great number of waterfowl by providing them with an excellent habitat. The wetlands are one of the most important wintering areas and "green routes" of Asia. The important waterfowl in Pakistan are the ducks (mallard, pintail, shoveler, pochard, gargeny, ruddy shellduck, teals, tufted and gadwall), geese (grey lag, bar-headed), coots, flamingoes, pelicans, spoon bills, storks, ibises, plovers, curlews, sand pipers, snipes, and herons. The marbled teal and white-headed duck have decreased in number and now visit the wetlands infrequently. Among the waterfowl are (resident) gallinules, moorhens and rails, gulls, terns, water cock, grebes, cormorants, egrets, bitterns, and jakanas. The spot-billed lesser whistling teal and the cotton teal are resident ducks. A rich wader fauna visits the coastline during the winter.