“Muzaffarabad is not only beautiful but it’s developed as well”
Syedah Mariha:
After entering Pakistan via Wagha border, I felt no difference between the two countries (India and Pakistan). The two countries have same air, people, and land however the gate separates them.
While in Pakistan, I along with my father stayed at Lahore Gymkhana Club. It was an elegant pace. I went to historical place like Mall Road. After that I saw the most important place of Lahore like the Assembly of Lahore, Lahore High Court, Punjab University (old and new campus), Azadi interchange, Lahore City Heritage, Qaid-i-Azam Library, and Dinga Singh building which was built in 1927 etc. I also went to see the historical market of Lahore namely Anarkali.
Every place I visited in Lahore filled my heart with joy. The city of Lahore and Old Delhi resemble a lot with each other in terms of culture, language, tradition etc.
The Lahore city is so clean, beautiful, and filled with greenery though Old part is as jumbled as in Delhi. Lahore is a developed city and most importantly the people are nice to everyone which touched my heart.
When we planned the trip to Pakistan, the first thoughts that came to my mind was that Pakistan would be a place that is underdeveloped, dirty, and filled with terrorism; but when I saw the city it cherished my heart. Though I didn’t get a chance to visit rural Pakistan.
After Lahore, we travelled to Islamabad on motorway. The motorways are also well maintained. Enroute we stopped at Gujarat and Gujranwalla to have tea. Everywhere we told people we are from this Kashmir, their faces would change and the warmth was visible. At many places we were offered tea.
The city of Islamabad is extra-ordinarily beautiful and a clean city. Islamabad being the capital city of Pakistan, there are many interesting things to see. We then saw Prime Minister House Pakistan, President House Pakistan Supreme Court of Pakistan, Parliament, Secretariat of Pakistan, Constitutional Avenue, President House of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Prime Minister House of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Embassy Road, and Imran Khan’s residence, Kashmir Chowk etc. The city of Islamabad and Chandigarh (India) have striking similarities. Islamabad was designed byGreek firm of Constantinos A. Doxiadis. The Srinagar City is only 300 kilometres away from Islamabad. The best part was to spent some time at Manol restaurant at Margalla hills that gives an overlooking feel of the city. Saidpora is like a heritage village in the capital city and a temple and gurdawara was very much maintained there. Serenity in that area is something that keeps you tied to the place. An of course our warm hosts made it extraordinary.
Our third destination in Pakistan was Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Muzaffarabad is surrounded by mountains and two rivers Jhelum and Neelam.
These two rivers flow to Muzaffarabad via our Kashmir. Muzaffarabad is not only beautiful but it’s developed and the macdamised roads and power supply is a reality even to a hilltop. In Muzaffarabad, we went to see the historical fort which was built by the Chak rulers in 1559. I was told that Mughal Emperor Akbar stayed here for a week after he annexed Kashmir in 1586 to his vast empire. There is also a historical hut namely Qaid-i-Azam memorial hut enrouteMuzaffarabad from Islamabad and that is located after Kohala where the territory of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir starts. Mohammad Ali Jinnah stayed in the same hut when he visited Muzaffarabad in 1944.
The distance between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar is only 179 kilometres. However, barriers again come in between the two. Here again, much is common between the people but the barrier dont not allow the reunion between the two.
Our fourth destination in Pakistan was Mirpur.
The story of Mirpur dates back to 1960s. As the British started to make Mangla Damn in 1964-65, the people of old Mirpur had to leave their homes. By moving out of Mirpur, the people Mirpur got an opportunity to live in United Kingdom and get jobs there.
However, Britishers not only built the Mangla Dam but developed the Mirpur city as well. By the time, work of Manlga Dam was completed in 1968, many people got settled in many parts of West and the rest lived in the new Mirpur. Because of the heavy influence of West in Mirpur, the city is known as ‘Part of West’.
The Pakistan-administered Kashmir and our Kashmir are very relatable as they are the same state but separated by barriers. The only thing left in my mind was that, will this issue (Kashmir issue) will ever be resolved and will the divided families be able to meet.
However, at the same time I thought that day-by-day this issue is getting more impossible to solve.
The impression I had first when I crossed the Wagha border was that Pakistan was not a safe place to visit but I had a thing in my mind – I should visit Pakistan myself to get first-hand account of the country and not to listen to others what they say.
My trip to Pakistan has changed my perception about the country. All should visit Pakistan so see the country.
The trip was a memorable one and I would like to thank my father for taking me to Pakistan. Above all it was possible to have this wonderful trip only because of gracious and warm hosts from Lahore to Islamabad, Muzaffarabad and Mirpur thanks to all.
Author is student of 9th class and can be mailed at bukharimariha@gmail.com

First published in Rising Kashmir

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