Archive for the ‘Abbottabad’ Category

And this time around it was just not a hike. What spiced up all the fun was what followed shortly. On our way back to Abbottabad from Nathiagali we took the new partially completed alternate road being laid. On its winding course it leads to a lovely water fall locally known as ‘Aab Shaar’.

Aab Shaar ( The Waterfall )

 The narrow road bisects the thick heavens of pine jungles unveiling the idyllic beauty of the mountains, villages and lush green fields. Permeating raw beauty and purity that suffused the environs reminded me of the childhood trips on now much developed and commercialized Nathiagali Abbottabad road being brutally stripped of its natural treasures.

Guess what! The best part is yet to come. Upon his insistence, we decided to stop at the native village of one of our mates near Bagnotar who was accompanying us on the trip. As it turned out, the lovely mountain village perched on top of a hill sat romantically across a hundreds of meters wide and at least one thousand feet deep ravine. The only alternate access, other then crossing the stream on foot, is rendered by means of an innovative generator operated cable car look-alike installed by one of the domestic investors.

‘Galiyaat Cable Car’

 Just like the sighting of the Eid crescent ,the instantaneous sighting of the queer conveyance gadget without appropriate warning triggered a couple of immediate in volunteered reactions. As expected, I went berserk with thrill and excitement, adrenaline pumping high. To an equal or even greater disappointment, the mates refused to take the risk of the ride. It took the best of my negotiations and motivational skills, some oratory, eloquence and rhetoric, rich incentives and good emphatic fifteen minutes of coaxing to finally win all the votes if not hearts.

The ride, eventually proved to be much fun. No less thrilling than the cable car ride to Santusa islands from Mount Faber in Singapore or a long delightful ride to Genting heights near Kaulalampur. The village was a blend of colours , revealing a glimpse of gay rustic lifestyle and culture with increasing infiltration of modernization and urbanization. Adobe houses are paving way for concrete construction, the slanting tin and asbestos roofs being ruthlessly replaced by flat roofs. The arenas are getting bigger and wider whereas the households are shrinking to smaller numbers progressively diminishing the sense of sharing in all probability. The simplicity and naivety is losing its irresistible spontaneity, although the exemplary hospitality, warmth and open heartedness prevails and I sincerely hope it lasts as it steadily has for centuries.

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Osama Bin Laden is dead and the world is celebrating. Why not? The biggest terrorist on the planet and most wanted and spiteful scalp in this Holy Global War Against Terror has been claimed and consigned to where he belonged. That spells an end to a dark era and extinction of all the misery and terrorism from the face of the globe. World abruptly turns into a much safer & peaceful heaven to live in. Congrats!

The condemned soul or his ghost has dissolved into thin air or depth of oceans where it was dumped in much haste. Why? For the reasons best known to the captives but that is perhaps not important and pointless.

What is important is to know that the myth or creation had approached its imminent shelf life. Nothing lasts for ever and every product is launched with an expiry date. As Robert Fisk sagely asserts, following the wave of insurgence and awakening in the Middle East and Arab world, Bin Laden had lost all relevance.

A ghost or a pawn that was created on the global chess board during the American war in Afghanistan by the agencies in the eighties continued to play according to a game plan. The puppet took the centre stage and limelight and entertained the audience world over as long as it was effective and meaningful. Invisible hands kept pulling the strings smartly and the absorbing show and act carried on until the dynamics began to change.  In business terms, the product had completed its total useful life and was on its way to turning obsolete.  

And that’s exactly how we deal with an obsolete object. It is ultimately dumped and gotten rid of upon its expiry. The man who had eluded the entire global intelligentsia laced with endless resources and information tools, equipped with surveillance systems that can penetrate and hunt down a needle or even its shadow or impression miles beneath the crest of the earth, for some unknown reason, took ten years to be traced and killed. But why the hell of all the places in the world in Abbottabad?

If it had to be Pakistan, perhaps it would’ve made some sense had he been dug out of some rocky caves in deserted Baluchistan or tribal belt; Or if he was captured from the stony expanse of Kohistan or even for that matter from the shadow or base of some of sky rocketing peaks in Gilgit or Baltistan. But as the luck would have it, it happened to be a most peaceful, serene, blooming, progressive and developing hill station; And above all home to the Pakistan Military Academy_ the training school of all the under commissioned army officers_ and a cantonment having significant military presence in the form FF and Baluch regimental centers. Is that just a mere coincidence!?

Like the rest of the world, as the fast paced events quickly unfolded, our government and foreign office was completely dumbfounded caught in utter shock and disbelief. For hours there came no official statement and when eventually it was issued, it was highly vague as expected. What is even more notable is that US president, Obama, in his statement specifically congratulated American forces and people without even slightest of mention of Pakistan or its co_operation. What is being regarded as a major diplomatic setback and failure, with a bit of cynicism, can be seen in a different light. Does that allude to a major policy shift on behalf of US in a new paradigm where Pakistan is being conveniently dumped or worse portrayed as a villain in the game? I sincerely hope not!

As one of my respected and wise friend most aptly puts it

“After successful screening for ten years internationally, the curtains on the greatest show on the earth “The Phantom of the Osama” have been drawn. The world waits with abated breaths for the next big international block buster. The hunt for the next big Charlton underway all over the Muslim world”  

Isn’t it so true and sums it all up so befittingly?

Whatever happened, we should be pleased about Osama’s elimination as it terminated and permanently closed a bleak and deplorable chapter from the books of history. But wait a moment. What did the Saddam’s extermination lead Iraq into? If I think upon the similar lines, is that what is apparently visible just a twist in the fairy tale, a sinister beginning or a tip of the ice berg?

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    Picture Sourced from internet

It was a cold day in early December. There was a biting chill in the air with familiar over cast conditions. I was returning to the town after a lapse of nearly six years. The overwhelming aura of the place and its enchanting environment had preserved the childhood memories not letting the tide of time wipe or wash them off. I could vividly remember a similar damp day, years ago, during early summer when we had departed and left the town one late afternoon.

The car was moving up a gentle steady ascent along the road that tore through the profusely green environs. Winter and cold had sucked the life out of rich grassy patches rendering them lifeless and fiery amber. Trees were abundant but no longer bore the burden of fresh leaves that wilted and dried away only to be scattered in irregular patterns here and there. A deserted trail of straight, tall and bare poplar trees filed like a continous row of defeated soldiers on either side of the road. An array of fields, spread everywhere in a delightful terraced arrangement stretching as far as the vision ensued, waiting for the days when the whole landscape would be daubed in an undulating vibrant coat of mustard.

As the journey progressed and the kaleidoscope of colour accompanied, the wide vista bounded by rising hills narrowed gradually. The road crossed over occasional streams of splashing water rendered brownish and muddy by the drizzle. Atmosphere was calm and the world was serene all around.

The mountains seemed to advance and step closer, their skylines jagged and jutting out at places, covered partially with snow; the higher ones veiled in a shroud of mist and clouds_their slopes rocky and steep at places blending with thickly clustered growth at others.

Once we crossed the bridge over Haro following the cantonment, POF and town of Hawailian, we were greeted by a series of spiraling ascents. The meandering curls led to elevated passage with steep curved face of the hills marking the boundary of the narrow road on one side and a precipice terminating into a deep ravine and stream on the other. The freezing cold breeze was getting heavier now. We could literally inhale the fragrance and freshness with every breath. A drape of green seemed to curtain and shield everything. Rampant clusters of trees sprawled across while occasional patches were dominated by sturdy pines swishing and dancing merrily in the wind flowing along the shelving slopes.  

There were orchards and fields and a series of graves dominating those fields wherever there were signs of settlement along the outskirts of the town. Wooden huts with gabled and corrugated glittering aluminum or asbestos roofs stood obliquely across the road. Their delightful colours and simple yet attractive designs and outlines together with eye catching placement on the ridges and slopes presented a splendid view. Thick timber doors hinged in the middle and painted in a variety of colours, braced and nailed with slanting cross bars added further to the beauty and simplicity of the glimpse of life. Mud and block construction diversified and augmented the captivating charm of the scenic beauty.

Amidst the draught of scented damp breeze, the road took a couple of sharp turns and entered a broad spectacular valley. Lovely multistoried buildings followed by a market and a fuelling station came into the view. A huge arena displaying a fleet of Bed Ford buses and wagons approached next. This was the crowded general bus stand and soon we took a busy road that passed before a variety of motels and hotels, Eid gah ground, Army Burn Hall School and the DHQ hospital as we drove through the heart of Abbottabad. Soon we drove before the lady garden and headed towards Mansehra road which is the start of the silk route leading to China. The maple leaves had died and fallen, their red glow making the world appear as if on virtual fire.  Verdant training grounds of Baluch and FF centre presented an absorbing view. Governor house perched up high, visible as a dot on the contours of pine covered Shimla hill stamped its mark like it always did. Road rose and depressed passing by the CMH and later we took the divergence leading towards Kakul.

The long boulevard bisected the scattered residential pockets, picketed fields, stone masonry walls and hedge bounded bungalows. We drove passed the dairy farm and polo ground as the road rose along a gradual grade on its way to PMA.

It was getting dusky and extremely cold after a splash of rain when we reached our destination. The weather was getting unbearably cold and dislodging our luggage, we retired to our room in the mess raving about our first dawn in the city of Abbottabad after many years.

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