Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Baba Waite

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A simple man and a confirmed bachelor, Waite had served as the chief of police in Jhelum besides several other districts and had fallen in love with the Salt Range. After retirement though he lived largely in Kalabagh, he spent a great deal of time in these parts where he became a legend. Men in their forties remember receiving gifts of toys from him as young boys. Others recall his giving away a bicycle to a man who in the course of a conversation had said that his son walked ten kilometres to school and back daily. There is also the story of Waite lending some money to an acquaintance who failed to return it as promised. Until the day he died, Waite steadfastly refused to see his debtor again, even turning his face away when driving past the man’s village.

An eccentric and a misogynist to the soles of his boots, Waite is reputed to have never entered a rest house if a lady was known to be present – even when he might have arrived after a long journey at a late hour. It is also said that at the beginning of every winter he gave all three of his servants either overcoats or achkans according to their preferences. And that one time he even gifted a block of land to one servant to build his house. Upon inspecting the newly constructed house Waite found that the only thing lacking was the traditional wall-mounted crockery rack and gave an additional sum for that fixture as well.

His funeral, it is reported, was attended by more than a thousand people. ‘He who had never married,’ says one who knew Waite intimately, ‘Left behind innumerable sons and daughters in the Salt Range.’ To all of them he is still Baba Waite.


1. Hard by the highroad from Kallar Kahar to the Soon Valley there lies outside the village of Bhalial a solitary grave inside a simple compound next to the domed mausoleum of Lal Shah. The marble plaque above the entrance tells visitors that there lies in eternal repose Herbert William Waite, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police who died in 1967 and was buried ‘in accordance with Islamic rites.’

2. The ruinous Sardi Rest House not far from Bhalial village was Waite’s favourite retreat.

Excerpt from  The Salt Range and Potohar Plateau 

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 5 March 2014 at 08:59, Blogger Faisal said...


At 5 March 2014 at 19:17, Blogger Komal Faiz said...

So this is what the visit to Soon valley brought! It was interesting to read about someone I would have never known otherwise. Love it

At 6 March 2014 at 13:56, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Hey Komal! No, this did not come out of the last visit. This is from 1995 when I wrote The Salt Range and the Potohar Plateau.

At 27 May 2014 at 14:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this fascinating piece!
Baba Waite was my great uncle! I knew very little about him however until I read your amazing blog entry (oh the wonders of the internet!)
I would very much like to find out more about Herbert William Waite and the area where he lived but apparently your book The Salt Range and the Potohar Plateau is not currently available in the U.K.(?)

At 27 May 2014 at 15:01, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Great to meet you Anonymous. Even if you find my book on Amazon, it'll be preposterously priced. I could make a deal with you: email me your address and I'll have it sent out whenever someone heads that way. You can then send me the money. All ten pounds of it!

At 28 May 2014 at 18:44, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your deal sounds very fair to me. Thank you!
I'll e-mail you at

At 11 December 2015 at 21:07, Blogger Omar Khan said...

wow.. Salman.. just am back from Soon (or is it Soan vallay?) valley after visiting Kalabagh, Sakesar and Kunhati gardens. And missed this Bab Waite and ll have to go again. Amazing to find a nephew of Baba Waite + you have costed me another journey to the valley:) Best and see you soon. Omar Mukhtar

At 19 December 2015 at 10:17, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Omar, it's Soon (as in English vala jaldi). That idiot Rina Saeed Khan is responsible for turning it into Soan. Soan is the river rising in the Murree hills, flowing past 'Pindi and joining the Indus midway between Makhad and Kalabagh. It has NOTHING to do with Soon Valley except that it skirts its north side.


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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

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