Pakistan and Stereotypes – پاکستان‎‎

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” – Mark Twain

In 2009 I left Canada to teach at an international school in Pakistan. Before leaving I went for a medical check-up. Everything was fine, but my doctor did his best to convince me not to go because he felt that it would be too dangerous.

I appreciate his concern for my welfare, but I wish I could go back to tell him about my time in Pakistan now.

I wish I could tell him that Pakistan has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. I wish I could tell him that the Pakistani people are among the friendliest and most hospitable I have ever met. I wish I could tell him that Pakistan is the only country I have ever traveled to where I have sat down in a restaurant and a complete stranger has paid for my meal. In fact, this happened to me there on three separate occasions. I wish I could tell him that when I got my car stuck in the snow friendly strangers appeared and pushed me out.

Winter 120

It never fails to amaze me how much travelling can shatter stereotypes. All of us have a mental map of the world and things that we expect. But that map changes radically when we see other parts of the world first hand.

The photos above are from Murree in Northern Pakistan. The photos below are from the Astore valley even further north. Whenever I tell people about these places in Pakistan, I get met with comments such as “It snows there?!!” or “I thought it was a desert…”

If geography can surprise us this much, surely we have an even greater need for our stereotypes about people and cultures to be challenged. In my experience, Pakistan is a country of incredible natural beauty and warm, friendly and hospitable people. I hope that many others will be able to see this side of the country too.

46 thoughts on “Pakistan and Stereotypes – پاکستان‎‎

  1. Great post! I’m speechless.. I’m from India and I totally understand what you want to express. I wish to visit Pakistan too, someday 🙂 thanks for the lovely read.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post! So true about stereotypes! The very worst people are those who have travelled and still persist with their prejudices…perhaps because they haven’t really left a resort…?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice post. When my daughter, a photojournalist, lived in Islamabad, I fantasized about visiting Pakistan. Work did not permit that, but if it had, I would have gone to Muree. The hill towns of the Raj fascinate me. Glad to hear of your positive experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Watch The Jewel in the Crown, or, better, read Paul Scott’s books, if you haven’t already. I think that I watched the TV adaptation years ago, an over the air broadcast from CBC Toronto, maybe the North American premiere. Keep writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My wife and I have lived in another “stan” country not too far from yours. Even though 98% of people have never heard of this country before, just the fact that it’s got “stan” in its name seems to generate no end of negative connotations. Our experience here on the ground, however, has been radically different. These people are hospitable to a fault and will spend hours making you a meal when you come over. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I totally agree.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s amazing how many great things I hear from tourists visiting Pakistan. It’s even topped the British Backpacker Society’s best travel destination of 2018. But somehow the media has an amazing way to showcase only the worst parts of any society. *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved this post, and I absolutely agree. As a South African, I constantly find myself amused and disturbed about the stereotypes people have about my country! I have met people in Australia who seemed genuinely amazed that we don’t have lions roaming the streets of our cities. (Palm meet face). And as an occasional traveler myself, I am constantly having to reflect on my own (obviously mistaken) preconceived ideas about a place. Thanks for the post and for stopping by my blog 🙂 Happy travels

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent post, full of love and sentiment. We are planning a trip around the world this year ( and will be in Kashmir for a few days. Would love to make a border crossing into Pakistan, but I don’t know that we will have the time. You’re writing has me redoubling my efforts to do so, however.

    Cheers and safe travels!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Proud to be a Pakistani. Really glad by what you’ve written and felt for our country, not only ours but of everyone out there who considers it home. Hope more posts like this from people who visit, help correcting the biased views of foreigners. Its an honour for us to host people like you. Thanks for this beautiful summary of our country.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on nomad4now and commented:
    It is a brilliant way to present a country by regions. I enjoyed Afghanistan and now Pakistan. You give the facts and then a personal memory…powerful! Thank you for continuing to share your experiences in this misunderstood part of the world. L.

    Liked by 1 person

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