Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Pakistan - a multi regional state

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The Great Asiatic Divide or the Great Asiatic Watershed formed by the line of the Himalayas and Karakorams divides the Indian subcontinent from Central Asia - the former being south of the line and the latter north of it. This line runs through K-2 to the west, sweeping northward to pass just south and west of Shuwert, the summer pasture in Shimshal. That is, Shuwert sits north of the Divide and therefore, geographically speaking, is located in Central Asia.

The windswept summer pasture of Shuwert has the unique distinction of being the only habitation in Pakistan that is actually in Central Asia

Shuwert can be reached the easy way (and you only know how easy (!) it is when you go) from Shimshal. Trek up the Shimshal River and if you are very fit you can get there in a single day's hike. If not, you overnight at Shuijerab and then climb up Shimshal Pass and reach Shuwert in about three hours.
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Agamkot of Sindh

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Read in Urdu about the ruins of Agamkot near Tando Allahyar Sindh. This article appeared in newspaper Roznama Pakistan [double click the image below to enlarge].
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Traffic Wardens

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Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has today (Dawn, 17 December 2016) promised to gift the entire province of Islam with the traffic warden system that currently works in about half a dozen district headquarters only. That’s great news. But let us look at what he Shehbaz Sharif himself did to a perfectly fine working system.

The grey-uniformed traffic wardens were a brainchild of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi when he was chief minister Punjab several years ago. They system came as a breath of fresh air. No longer the ‘Oye! Khlo ja oye, teri tay main etc etc.’ Suddenly road users were treated as humans for the first time since the 1960s. For the first time in many years, a traffic police officer would use his motorcycle to give chase to an errant driver.

Since the 1960s? you ask. That was when those white-clad British-trained traffic sergeants on white Harley-Davidson motorcycles (even tricycles) began to retire. Sadly, for some unknown reason, those well-trained and courteous officers failed to leave behind a legacy. We were left with uncouth yahoos instead.
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Tomb of Kamaro

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Back in 1987, in my freewheeling days in Sindh, I one day found myself in village Kamaro nearly midway between Mirpur Khas and Tando Allahyar. Otherwise unremarkable, the village was known for a shrine and its adjacent mosque. But not being a believer in miracles attributed to shrines, I was there only because I had heard of the beauty of both buildings.

I was not disappointed. Compared to those humongous buildings that we generally see, these two were tiny. But the splendour of the predominantly blue tile work was exquisite. So exquisite was it, that it will not be wrong to rank the two buildings of Kamaro among the most beautiful of Sindh, so far as tile work was concerned.

Both buildings measured about seven or eight metres square and, not taking the minarets of the mosque into account, were of equal height. So far as I remember, the mausoleum did not have a dome. If it did, the flow of the patterns in blue was so smooth that one simply did not notice the dome. One was only lost in the melody of the ornamentation.
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The great bird chase

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Back in the early 1980s when I lived in Karachi, I spent my weekends wandering about the wild places of Sindh. While old ruins where a favourite haunt, my other preference was the hundreds of small lakes and canals of Thatta and Badin districts. There were birds, birds and birds that I had never seen before. If truth be told, that was when I learned that the pariah kite is not the only hawk-like bird!


Referring only to wildlife, my ten years in Sindh until December 1988 took me to the Khirthar Mountains on one side and to the lakes of lower Sindh on the other. Those wonderful years form a kaleidoscope of heart-warming images: upward of five hundred flamingos in a lake barely off a road somewhere in Badin, a golden eagle on the prowl above the Khirthar crags, a male Pallas’s fish eagle bringing food to its mate on eggs, a desert cat near Naukot Fort and leopard pug marks in the lower Khirthar Mountains. There are also memories of virtually hordes of marsh harriers, Brahminy kites, jacarandas, and migratory ducks of a dozen different species almost within arm’s length.
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On the Apricot Road to Yarkand

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Rainbow above our camp near Thungal  [image from The Apricot Road to Yarkand]

Book is available at Sang e Meel (042-3722-0100), Lahore

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The Funny Side Of...

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In December 2013, I was in Karachi where I spent some time at the Herald office after a very long time. This was a favourite haunt many years ago, especially during the decade between 1997 and 2007 when I wrote a regular monthly travel piece for the magazine. At the office I met all the boys and girls and had a generally great time getting to know them.

About a fortnight after I returned home, I got a call from Faiza Shah on the Herald staff. She asked if I would be interested in writing a short humour piece for them. Now, this is the kind of thing where you can say stuff that bothers you but cannot make a regular newspaper piece. And you can say it in a way that the protagonist in the piece cannot even take you to court. Well, in most cases, at least. It helps the writer blow off steam. And so I said ‘Yessssss!’
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On Mintaka

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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand


Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days