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Archive for May, 2013

Historic elections have just taken place in Pakistan and the question on most peoples minds is how this is likely to impact on the burning issues that Pakistan faces.

It was clear that in the last five years, the people had become fed up with crippling power shortages, a nosediving economy and internal terrorism. The new government comes in on a wave of euphoria and hope but it has got its work cut out.

What we know is that the incoming prime minister has been prime minister twice before so in theory has the experience and know how. He’s also a billionaire industrialist and so likely to drive and lend support to policies that will revive the economy and Pakistan’s exports. Ultimately this can only happen hand in hand with increasing power generation.

Whilst the big focus will be on the traditional exports that have a proven track record – such as textiles and rice, it remains to be seen whether or not the potential of tourism will be realised. Probably not.

For that to happen, the security and safety issues have not only to be tackled but resolved in some way. The perception of safety and security for foreign and to a lesser extent domestic visitors needs to change only by 10% for it to have a knock on effect on increasing visitors to Pakistan income derived from tourism related activity.

In this regard, the new government is a centre right leaning one and has openly stated that they are prepared to talk and negotiate peace with the Taliban. However, in the past, they have been accused of being too soft and even providing safe havens to known members of outlawed groups in exchange for support and votes. So again, it remains to be seen whether or not they can lead some serious negotiations without caving into unacceptable demands. Time is also not on their side they will  have to act fast due to the withdrawal of US and UK troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

What is also different this time is that there was a 60% turnout in the elections. The people want democracy and they will vote out those who do not serve them well. The incumbents got such a thrashing that the incoming government can’t afford to get things wrong or they will face the same fate.

Another difference this time was the emergence of the PTI party, lead by ex-cricketer Imran Khan. From having just one seat in the last elections they contested to now 30, they have proved that the two party era is over and there is a third alternative. Credited with energising the youth with their campaigning, PTI secured enough votes in the KP province to form a provincial government. All eyes will be on how PTI now run and manage KP as they have promised a model and progressive province. Many see KP as a poisoned chalice given the troubled borders with Afghanistan and the Tribal Agencies.

Either way, hope remains for a brighter future for Pakistan.

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Rama Lake, Gilgit Baltistan. Pakistan

Rama Lake, Gilgit Baltistan. Pakistan

IMG_9578Rama Valley:

Few places which I wish to visit again and again; Rama Valley in Astore District of Gilgit-Baltistan is one of those. At 3300 meters this valley is blessed with one of the most beautifully preserved, natural forest of Pine, Fir, Spruce and Birch. Freshwater mountain springs gushing through the vast lush green meadows, dazzling flower beds and immense birdlife makes this place a heaven. The perfume of wild flowers, a typical refreshing scent of pine forest, deep blue sky with soothing daylight and cool breeze made me to forget every little worry of this world and sing with the song of nature.

I can feel the whistles of wind passing through the deep shady forest. It’s not just beautiful rather a feeling for which I can use this word to start with.IMG_0107

Rama-lake

During my brief stay at Rama Lake, I witnessed so much natural beauty that there is hardly any other place in Pakistan that matches the diversity of this place.

This is a place where you can enjoy your morning coffee with chirpy Yellow-Wagtails and enjoy the song of nature. Every bush unfolds its exuberant colours and every flower opens its petals, welcoming the eyes to see and nectar feeders to enjoy the sweet juices in the bright daylight.
The deep red, maroon, yellow and orange colours of the wild bushes and plants creating extreme contrast against snow peaked mountains and rich blue sky when combines with the musical sound of flowing water create a spell binding atmosphere.

Fainting sounds of cattle bells echoing with the melodious songs of shepherds transform the whole scene into a majestic plot of some love story.

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