Friday, November 7, 2008

2-4 November – The Indus Plains, Pakistan

We drove south to Shikarpur before turning north. We followed the western side of the Indus river up to Dera Ghazi Khan where we crossed over to the eastern side. Then our route was Muzaffargarh, Jhang, Faisalabad and Islamabad.

The traffic in Pakistan is a real spectacle. A minibus (with 20 people inside and 10 on the roof) is overtaking a motorcycle (with 3 adults, 2 children and a goat) who is overtaking a donkey (with a ton of bricks on a rickety cart) who is trying to overtake a camel (with a nomadic family on its cart). A colorful truck (with 10 sheep tied on top of the load and 2 men hanging by the windscreen wipers) is honking its impressive horn, wanting to overtake all of them. And from the opposite direction, we are looking at the spectacle, while our police escort (behind us) is being pushed halfway into the ditch by a bling bling bus (with as many people on the roof as inside) coming at full speed, intent on plowing through the mess in front of it.

We drive slowly, stopping often to take pictures of the fantastic scenery and the beautiful people. Pakistan is really so lively and full of colors. And there are people everywhere. The population has exploded, rising from 30 million at independence in 1947 to perhaps 160 million today.

Our police escort (you have to have one because of the security situation… they say) stays behind us and we do not let them bother us too much. The policemen (normally four armed men on a Toyota pickup) are very friendly and they work very professionally when arranging the escort. A new escort is waiting at the border of each police district (every 20-50 km). We never have to wait. And when it is getting dark, we camp outside a police station, with armed guards watching us the whole night. So we are safe, even by the sometimes paranoid standards of the police authorities.

No comments: