Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan. Contrary to some negative media depictions, it is a clean, beautiful and well-planned city nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. I was born and raised there. I left at the age of 20, when I immigrated to the US. Like all displaced people, my place of birth has a special place in my heart and I try to visit as often as I can.
The motivation to return has only gone up since I’ve picked up photography, because of the sheer magnitude of photo opportunities it offers. And while the landscape is beautiful, it is the pulsing-with-life, never-a-dull-moment street life that always attracts me and my camera. In this particular series, I feature – among other things – images of the some of the low-wage workers who toil behind the scenes to power the engine of this bureaucratic and diplomatic regional hub.
According to Wikipedia: Saidpur is a Mughal-era village on the slopes of the Margalla Hills and located off the Hill Road to the east of Daman-e-Koh in Islamabad. The village has the footprints of various civilizations, including Gandhara, Greek, Buddhist, Mughal, Ashoka and the colonial periods, and now serving as a popular recreational spot for both local and foreign visitors.
The narrow winding streets and alleys of Saidpur village are teeming with interesting scenes. The locals are friendly and did not appear to mind me & my big hulking dSLR:
Rawal Lake is a man-made reservoir that supplies water to the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Now part of the Lake View Park, it attracts visitors from neighboring areas, particularly the Khyber-pakhtun-khwa (Khyber, land of the Pakhtuns/Pashtuns) province. Lake side picnics, live music and boat rides are the favored activities.
Aabpara bazaar is another bustling market with narrow alleys and streets that offer a non-stop supply of photo ops.
Shah Faisal Masjid (King Faisal Mosque) is Islamabad’s most recognizable landmark and a huge draw for tourists. It is also one of the most photographed sites with most compositions being close-ups sans crowds preferably with a flaming sunset in the backdrop. There was no such possibility when I went so I decided to go showcase a more typical mid-day scene, tourists and all.
Pakistan has much to offer the world but tragically, due to political instability, it is yet to fulfill even a fraction of this potential. The local people are hard-working, hospitable and friendly. I hope through this series I have
been able to provide a minuscule window into that part of the world.
This guest post was contributed by Talha Najeeb. Please visit his website to see more of his work.
Thank you for sharing this Talha Najeeb and Nasim Mansurov. Enjoyed the images and the narrative.
I am from India and as you can imagine it isn’t “easy” to visit Pakistan for a number of geo-political reasons but I did in 2005 and here is a blog I would like to share www.suchitnanda.com/photo…/index.htm and there are more images on my website www.photonicyatra.com under the travel section.
Thank you for sharing, Talha.
Very nice captions. I would have enjoyed the one with the person that sharpens the knives if his face was in the picture. Since that is a hobby that I enjoy, and know how hard it is to develop the skill to do it well. I think if your country’s population focuses on developing there economy and human rights it will prosper. They should look within and not blame the great satan or India for their faults. Peace be with you and yours.
Since I am an American citizen, your comments about ‘your country’ are quite apt – I strongly think that US should be focused on the economy and human rights, especially considering recent events. But then, I don’t think that’s what you meant. Even then, I visit the country of my birth quite often and find the people to be very introspective (it’s big in the Sufi tradition) – sometimes, almost to a fault. They want nothing more than to better their condition. Some other facts that may interest you: Pakistan is a democracy. The stock exchange is at all time highs, ranks number one in Asia and fifth globally. GDP is > 4%.
There is the world that the local media portrays. And then there is the real world.
And unto you peace.
Pakistan has issues yes, but honestly, it’s just so hard to convey to someone that hasn’t had some sort of connection to the place that it’s – in general – pretty welcoming, generous, kind and safe. Yes, different from the headlines that you may see at times, but google any photo essays from people who have spent a few days in the different regions. Islamabad is a remarkable city in terms of design and location and administration – frankly speaking, it’s a bit boring in some ways because it is so planned out. Contrast the city to Lahore or to Karachi, and there you will find ridiculous amounts of history and culture and simply stunning photo opportunities of daily life. For someone just getting familiar with Pakistan, yes, Islamabad makes total sense – especially since the english language can get you around easily, but if you are a bit more adventurous – and feel comfortable getting around the country – I’d totally suggest visiting other regions – simply because the photo opportunities are tremendous. Google Lake Saiful Muluk for landscapes/scenics or google Punjab or Karachi for some vivid, rich, colourful, dynamic street photography. I’ve always thought a good amount of time spent at the shrines would be interesting to photograph – you’d be surprised at how welcoming and accepting many Pakistanis are.
My 2 cents anyhow.
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Amazing work to capture the place that is special to your heart.
Great photos and narrations – I really enjoyed reading this article. Thank you. Cheers, Adrian
I am a big fan of fast 85mm + 35mm lenses for city street photography. Also a 20mm and 180mm see occasional use, but the first two are the main choice.
My favorite combo as well, as you can see …
Talha , I felt a connection, a draw to every picture the tones, the BW, the sharpness , the colored prints. Thank you
“due to political instability” Hm, maybe if they did away with honor killings, treating women like farm animals, killing people based on religious opinions etc. in short, if they did away with the retrograde ideology of death they’re generally promoting then people would be more inclined to travel there. The idea of traveling there scare the crap out of me, and I’m a man; most western women would be terrified just with the idea of setting a foot there.
Martin, I am personally from Uzbekistan and I have visited a number of countries that the media would portray as “very unsafe” for the same reasons mentioned in your post. What you hear from the news is extreme over-exaggeration of very specific cases that happen usually in either very extreme or very uneducated parts of the Muslim world. In every nation, culture, race and religion, you will find a good number of idiots that negatively represent them. There is no such thing as honor killings or treating women as farm animals among the majority of Muslim nations or countries where Muslims represent the majority, such as Uzbekistan. What you see on the news, is a few idiots like ISIS or the Taliban, who have as much to do with Muslims as KKK has to do with Christianity, or FLDS with the Mormons. Nobody wants to associate themselves with such savages.
When you have a chance, I encourage you to visit countries like Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Jordan and Malaysia. You will come back a changed person with a very different perspective, I can promise you that.
Strongly second that sentiment Nasim.
This blog is about art and politics should be kept out of it but I’ll say one thing: it’s a complicated world out there and we could all benefit from is greater understanding of each other’s perspectives and in a way, isn’t that what photography is all about? Every time we look at an image, we’re seeing a scene as someone else saw it. It is why we can photograph the same famous landmark again and again and yet end up with completely distinct results, each carrying the signature perspective of the person who captured it. What then could be a better metaphor for the plurality of viewpoints that exist in the world than the art of photography? So let’s continue to let this medium – like all art forms – be a force that brings us together rather than driving us apart.
Well Said Mr.Najeeb, this blog purely for photography not discussing the politics and racism .
By the way such a beautiful pictures you had posted based on daily life of common people, please shares some landscape photos of Northern Pakistan to show rest of the world that what God gifted to this Country, many thanks again
Thank you, Talha, for sharing a side of your country that breaks the unrepresentative stereotypes! And I agree with everything Nasim says here.
Let’s keep using photography as a force for tolerance, understanding and increased knowledge of the world!!
Thanks for sharing those beautiful photographs and experience.Myself,a third world person personally feels our Indian Subcontinent always survive better than first world with our pure heart.
Thank you (and concur)
Nice expression thru your pics and article…really enjoyed while reading and seeing.
All the best for your future endeavor..
– R K
Thank you Ranender