Pakistani-American to Fellow Overseas Pakistanis: Go Back and Visit

Guest Post by Rashid Ahmad

You should go back and visit. You would be surprised!

Pakistan in your mind may be frozen in time, but real Pakistan has moved on. Everything has changed.

Pakistani Capital Islamabad

You will find both familiarity and alienness there. It would appear to you like a dream. Or perhaps like being on Star Trek Holodeck, where things are familiar but there are new actors on the deck, and you are bit of a stranger.

First thing that would hit you would be the increase in population. Too many people every where, compared to the time you left Pakistan. Some areas that were farms and free spaces when you were there would now be occupied by new housing developments.

The physical appearances would have changed. There would not be any complete transformation to prosperity, but new buildings replacing the old ones, and new motorways, would change the physical reality.

You would find distances have shrunk. The places that seemed far away because you walked to them or went on bicycle, would appear to be so near because now you would travel by car.

Something would sting your heart a bit. Your home where you grew up, would now belong to someone else. When you were growing there, everybody knew it as your father's home, your home, but now if you were to ask directions to your home in your own Mohalla, they will refer to it as some strange family's home! It is your home only in your childhood memories.

You would meet someone, with white beard, bald head, missing teeth, and perhaps walking with a cane, who be introduced to you as your classmate. You would be blown away by the ravages of time, and be grateful for your own health.

A middle aged woman with young children would come to visit you. And she will turn out to be the daughter of a cousin or a friend, who was just an infant at the time you left Pakistan.

Almost anybody you meet would be younger than you!

And finally, as you relive the memories of your childhood, you may find a reason to visit again and again.

Author Rashid Ahmad is a Pakistani-American civil engineer with a Master's degree from UC Davis. Ahmad came to the United States in 1970 and has since been living in Sacramento-Davis area in California. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani Diaspora in America

Pakistan's Modern Infrastructure

Rising College Enrollment Rate in Pakistan

Pakistan Population Bomb

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

The Rise of Gated Communities in Pakistan

Rising Standards of Living in Pakistan

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#Tourism thrives in #Pakistan as number of foreign tourists triples and domestic tourism up 30% since 2013. #travel

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-27/as-terror-attacks-recede-tourism-in-pakistan-starts-to-thrive

As security improves, annual tourist arrivals to Pakistan has more than tripled since 2013 to 1.75 million last year, while domestic travelers rose 30 percent to 38.3 million, according to the state-owned Pakistan Tourism Development Corp. Over the same period, foreign tourist arrivals in the country’s larger neighbor, India, jumped from 6.97 million in 2013 to 8.8 million in 2016, government figures show.

The World Travel and Tourism Council puts the total contribution of tourism to Pakistan’s economy at $19.4 billion last year or 6.9 percent of gross domestic product. In a decade, the WTTC expects that to rise to $36.1 billion.

Still, security challenges remain. While casualties from attacks fell 43 percent last year, major cities, such as Lahore, are occasionally hit by bombings.

Jonny Bealby, the managing director of Wild Frontiers Adventure Travel Ltd., a London-based operator that has run trips to Pakistan for two decades, said his tours to the South Asian nation are up 60 percent from last year.

Along with security, Bealby said the main improvement in Pakistan has been infrastructure. “The roads have improved immeasurably reducing journey times.’’



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Annual tourist arrivals have more than tripled since 2013

Military campaign has boosted safety, infrastructure improved

After a bone-jarring mountain journey, Alan Cameron surveys the snow-capped peaks of Pakistan’s north near the Saiful Maluk lake. “It’s beautiful -- well worth the effort,” said the 34-year-old Canadian holidaying in a country better known for terrorism than tourism.

Taking a break from his job as an analyst at Jefferies in London, Cameron’s vacation last month underscores the rekindling of Pakistan’s tourism industry after a sustained military security crack-down, with annual arrivals more than tripling since 2013.

Keen to shed the image that it’s unsafe for visitors, Pakistan has begun a nascent tourism drive and this summer placed adverts across the sides of London’s iconic red buses. Road infrastructure has also been boosted across key holiday regions.

Since the 2014 massacre of more than 100 children at a military school, the army has neutered some insurgent groups and political militias. Tourists are now returning to areas such as the Swat Valley, a northern region known as the Switzerland of Pakistan that was controlled by the Taliban between 2007 and 2009 and where Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai was shot in 2012.

Riaz Haq said…
#Lahore based #Pakistani #American founder of #AI #unicorn Afiniti takes investors helicopter skiing in #Pakistan. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-02/tycoon-takes-investors-heli-skiing-to-show-them-pakistan-s-safe

AI firm Afiniti employs three-quarter of employees in Pakistan
Company may list next year with more than $2 billion valuation
In the northern snow-capped peaks of Pakistan, Zia Chishti disembarked off a helicopter and skied downhill on a mission to convince investors, clients and company executives that the nation once called by The Economist “the world’s most dangerous place” is now safe for business.

Chishti, who grew up in Lahore, gathered a group from more than a dozen countries including Alessandro Benetton, a heir to the billionaire family that owns the iconic namesake Italian clothing company, and Huawei Technologies Co. rotating Chief Executive Officer Guo Ping earlier this year to Pakistan, the back-end base for some of his businesses. Last month, his artificial intelligence company signed a deal with Huawei, which will help its push into Eastern markets including China, Japan and Australia.

For Chishti, ensuring his clients understand that Pakistan, which has struggled against internal militant groups, has changed since The Economist report a decade ago is critical because many of his employees who provide customer solutions, sales support and marketing to clients including Sprint Corp. and Caesars Entertainment Corp. are based in the South Asian nation. Chishti has added more people in Pakistan, a move that will also help him keep costs under control as his AI unit prepares for an initial public offering in the U.S.

“Pakistan by any reasonable and adaptive measure is an extremely safe place to do business,” said Chishti, whose office oversees the White House, said in an interview by phone. “All in all it’s a very favorable place to do business and the world perception just has to catch up.”

Despite a widespread negative perception over the country’s security record, multiple military operations have curbed domestic insurgents after a Pakistani Taliban massacre at a school three years ago shocked the nation. Last year, civilian deaths from terrorism dropped to the lowest in more than a decade.

The army’s drive has boosted the confidence of companies, including TRG, and foreign investment is up 155 percent to $457 million in the first two months of the business year started July. Chishti’s company has moved into a larger building this year that will fit 3,000 staff in the previously tumultuous port city of Karachi, which has been secured by paramilitary forces against gangsters, militants and political militias since 2013.

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