Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

To Makran

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The Frontier Works Organisation has done some remarkable work in Pakistan. One of them is the Makran Coastal Highway. Time was, and I speak from first hand personal experience, that getting from Karachi to Gwadar by road entailed a nearly forty-eight hour-long, bone-jarring, nerve-wracking journey. And if you were a finicky eater who wanted the lentils or vegetables properly stewed, you can add hunger to the foregoing discomfort.

There was no direct connection between Karachi and Gwadar. You travelled up north to Lasbela, thought the desiccated Jhao Pass to Awaran (oh, so beautiful and picturesque) and then across 250 km of the most anxiety-making desert to Turbat where you arrived with much of the desert deposited upon your person. In between you spent the night sleeping on the sandy floor of an inn fearing some scorpion or centipede will get into your ears or, worse, your pants.


From Turbat you trundled through more desert and clayey hills until you just wanted to die. And then suddenly Gwadar burst upon you like an oasis in the middle of a vast infertility. The journey since leaving the RCD Highway at Lasbela was entirely on dusty, unpaved roads and could only be made by 4x4 vehicles.

If the past was personal experience, I now speak from hearsay for I have never seen the Makran Coastal Highway. Now you get in your car at sunrise in Karachi, have lunch at Ormara and arrive at Gwadar in time for a late tea and scones (at the Pearl Continental). The highway leads through some fantastic scenery, so fantastic, in fact, that you scarcely believe your eyes.

The highway has put coastal communities like Ormara and Pasni in direct surface link with Karachi. Also, there were tiny fishing villages in between whose only link with the outside world was by boat. Now all these villages have direct access and the lives of the communities have undergone a sea change.

I have been commissioned by FWO to photograph for and write a coffee table book on the Makran Coastal Highway for which I am leaving for Karachi today [23 September] to begin a great journey into a country that I knew a quarter century ago.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:00 AM,

8 Comments:

At September 23, 2013 at 4:04 PM, Blogger Memoona Saqlain Rizvi said...

All the best.

 
At September 23, 2013 at 11:23 PM, Anonymous Saima Ashraf said...

Sitara e imtiaz (civil) granted to you from me.

 
At September 24, 2013 at 2:53 PM, Anonymous Mazhar Yar said...

Plz tell ..is it secure to travel from Karachi to Gawader. I want to travel but people told its not safe to travel in Baluchistan especially for Punjabi's. I am residing in Multan.

 
At September 25, 2013 at 8:31 AM, Blogger srikanth major said...

Sirji, few pics would have really helped.

 
At October 2, 2013 at 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is where there is the double action: Zalzala, BLA. Stay safe.

 
At October 4, 2013 at 8:35 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you, Memoona. Saima, Imtiaz will be very upset if you give me his sitara. Mazhar, if you are Punjabi, stay clear. We travelled with armed escort. Srikanth, please watch this space. Anonymous, we dodged both successfully.

 
At October 6, 2013 at 8:22 PM, Blogger Osama Ashfaq said...

Waiting for your post on the journey. Having huge family relation with FWO, I really aknowledged the great work FWO has done in the country to connect far flung communities. But as usual, no body knows and for the main stream media, such stories are not juicy enough. Great to see people like you bringing such things to life.

 
At October 6, 2013 at 8:23 PM, Blogger Osama Ashfaq said...

Waiting for your post on the journey. Having huge family relation with FWO, I really aknowledged the great work FWO has done in the country to connect far flung communities. But as usual, no body knows and for the main stream media, such stories are not juicy enough. Great to see people like you bringing such things to life.

 

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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