2000 - Travel Pakistan

Kel Valley Azad Jammu Kashmir

Hunza Valley in Autumn

K-2 Siren of the Himalayas

Malam Jabba Swat Valley

Shangrilla Resort Skardu

Kohe Safed FATA

Passu Cones Gilgit-Baltistan

Oct 8, 2000

Tookla Village Stak Nala Skardu, Pakistan

Tookla is a small beautiful, spectacular and breath-taking village in-between two streams, i.e Tookalano Lungma and Chogo Lungma (Stak River)  in Stak Valley. The stream on the east side is known as Chogo Lungma and  the stream running from west to east is known as Tooklano. Along with the lush green pastures on the banks of the Chogo Lungma towards the eastern side turns this village into an organic village. It is also served as base camp to the researchers of forest, Kutia Lungma Glacier and adjoining mines of precious gemstones.

Kutia Lungma Glacier is at a distance of three to four kilometers from here and mines of gemstones are at a walking distance of half an hour. The people of the village are popular for hospitality towards the visitors. 
The gemstones of the Stak Nala has gained popularity at international level in the recent two three years. These mines are at walking distance of half an hour from this village.

Jul 31, 2000

Schools in Stak Valley (Stak Nala) Skardu Baltistan

Stak Valley or Stak Nala is a valley in Subdivision Roundu of Skardu District. In term of education this valley has always been  receded, although this is the largest valley in term of area and population. But with changing lifestyle this valley has also changed. Few primary schools and one high school is working for the betterment of the people. Along with few private schools are running which has somehow attracted the people towards the quality education. 
Following are the list of the schools in the valley.

May 18, 2000

History of urban planning in Pakistan | | Urban Planning: The ultimate panacea of climate change in Pakistan

Both, the term and profession, of urban planning is still new in Pakistan, although its history dates back to Paleolithic and Neolithic periods of the world’s history. In Pakistan, this term is still ambiguous; for people city and town planning is alike to family planning and urban planning doesn’t carry any weight. Urban planning has a vast history; it evolved at different times in different styles. In the pre-classical period, empires were found to have planned cities, mostly in a grid-iron pattern, having amenities at different scales. Cities of Minoan, Mesopotamian, Harrapan and Egyptian civilizations of the third millennium BC were the epitome of urban planning. Pakistan is home to one of the oldest and finest civilizations, Indus Valley Civilizations, which had one of the planned and managed cities of the time. The cities of the Indus Valley Civilizations included: Mehrgarh, Harappa, Mohenjodaro, and Lothal; among these Mohenjo Daro was, in fact, an epitome of urban planning in the classical era.    
During Classical and Medieval Europe, plans of cities were prepared for the first time and transformed into ground. Hippodamas (498-408 BC), who is considered the father of urban planning, introduced the orthogonal urban layout of the city of Piraeus (A city in the Greece), laid the foundation of the urban planning in history.  
Urban Planning went through a paradigm shift at the start of the 20th century. Centralization of the resources and agglomeration of cities in the 19th century had put the life of populace at risk. Excessive industrialization, overpopulation of cities and lack of planning had resulted in the issues like the spread of diseases, backlog of shelter and environmental degradation, etc.  Around 1900, theorists began developing urban planning models to mitigate the consequences of the industrial age, by providing citizens, especially factory workers, with healthier environments.
During the 20th centuryurban planners presented different theories and models for urban settlement some of them were implemented worldwide, but few remained confined to certain geographical localities. But these theories regardless of their outreach put the urban planning on new horizons. Some of the prominent theories and urban planning movements during the 19th century included:  Machines-Linear City Idea, City Beautiful Movement, Garden City Movement and New Communities’ Movement. Garden City Movement, presented by Ebenezer Howard, was widely adopted urban planning models around the world. Even present day Model Town of Lahore is based on the Garden City Movement model.
Although the world’s history regarding the urban planning is centuries old, but in Pakistanit is still in limbo. The first act regarding the urban planning in the UK was formulated in 1909, but in Pakistan hundred years later still there is not a state level legislation regarding the urban planning; except respective acts formulated by provincial governments and development authorities. After independencethe only legislation regarding the town planning in Pakistan was Municipal Administration Ordinance (MAO) 1960. Later acts were formulated at the provincial level by respective government and development authorities.  
In Punjabthe MAO 1960 was replaced by Provincial Local Government Ordinance (PLGO) 1979. Some of the laws in Punjab relevant to urban or town planning included: Land Acquisition (Housing) Act 1973; LDA Act 1975, Development of Cities Act, 1976, Punjab Local Government Ordinance PLGO 2001, Punjab Land use (Classification, Reclassificationand Redevelopment) Rules, 2009,  Punjab Local Government Act 2013 and LDA Land use Rules 2014 etc.  
In KPK, the North-West Frontier Province Urban Planning Ordinance, 1978 was formulated.
Others included: The North-West Frontier Province (Provincial Urban Development Board Validation Of Actions) Ordinance, 1980, The North-West Frontier Province Urban Planning (Amendment) Ordinance, 1980, The NWFP Urban Immovable Property Tax (Amendment) Act, 2005 etc.
In Pakistan urban planning has been regulated and controlled by Development Authorities; where there is any because not every region is that fortunate to have a development authority. But the problem is: not every Development Authority has been functional, although few were established long ago; KDA, CDAand LDA were established in 1957, 1960 and 1975 respectively. The reason for the failure of the Development authorities is; these bodies have never been free of politicization. These entities are not given the authority to drive the cities in the direction where it should go which results in the consequences like China cutting, slum formation, squatter settlements and above all; the environmental degradation. Secondly, Master Planning of the cities is merely limited to documentation instead of implementation, the reason is again the unavailability of legislation to exercise the power and implement the plan.
Some cities have reached the verge of failure from where it’s almost impossible to restore it in an organized form. Cities once settled; it is almost impossible to erase and built from the very beginning. Can one imagine of erasing the area of the Walled City area in Lahore, if yes, is it possible to do so? Likewise, there are dozens of areas in Karachi which is in worse form than the Walled city of Lahore. Ignore the facilities for these communities like Community Park, wide and planted roads, playgrounds, community halls, but what one would do if a fire erupts there or a high magnitude earthquake hits the area? Is there any way to carry out rescue operations there? Certainly no.  The Same situation was faced by the British government because of the uncontrolled urbanizations and unplanned growth of cities. It was first and second world wars which erased everything and they started from the very beginning. But in the case of Pakistan, my anticipation is that there would be no third world war to erase the slums of the country.  People mostly argue that cities like Karachi having twenty million population are not that easy to control; if it’s so, why not one finds heaps of garbages, open manholes, open sewage lines, hanging wires, and encroachment on streets in cities like Tokyo or New York? So, what matters is not the population; it’s planning. One of the biggest problems in the modern age is the environmental degradation due to urbanization; that too uncontrolled urbanization.
There are certain things which are fueling the environmental problems. One of which is the conversion of agricultural land into the urban area settlements. Statistics reveal that estate dealing has become one of the most profitable businesses and now the settlement of new housing schemes, the inclusion of rural area into an urban area is no more a wrong doing. Destroying the agricultural land and chopping the trees are a common phenomenon across the country.

Urban Planning in Gilgit-Baltistan
As Gilgit-Baltistan is one of the environmentally sensitive areas of the Pakistan and it needs a special emphasis on urban planning.  About 15,000 square kilometers of the region have already been declared National Parks by the government; which accounts for about one-fifth of the total area of the region. But the mere declaration would not work, planning and management are more important than a declaration. Lack of proper urban planning would not only affect the area, but the whole Pakistan would suffer. The region is home to one of the biggest glacier ranges outside the polar region and the biggest and longest river of the Pakistan, Indus River, flows downstream intersecting the region. Climate change has already engulfed Pakistan, but more carelessness would result in the consequences like the flood of 2010 when one-fifth of the area of the country was inundated. Glacial lake outburst, the recession of glaciers and eruption of avalanches have become a common phenomenon in the region due to climate change.  
As yet, there is no proper urban planning and management system in the region. As mentioned earlier, urban planning is regulated and managed by the development authorities in Pakistan, there is not any functional authority; although according to some sources there are Gilgit and Skardu development authorities as well. Cities are sprawling in a un-haphazard manner. For now, the cities are almost in an unaltered form which can be molded into any desired form. But if any planning is not insured, then at the current pace of the city expansion; in the coming decade, both the cities would be converted into slums.

So far, about fifty percent of the land in Gilgit city is covered, it would have been consumed by clusters of unplanned houses, but the peace issue gifted by Zia’s regime has saved the city from population and migration boom.  Skardu city, on the other hand, has more potential for planning because the area is large and the population is comparatively less. But the problem is, the city has recently attracted a large number of outsiders, almost people from all the regions of GB have settled over there, even people from Punjab and other provinces have permanently settled in the city. In this contextthe city is melting point of the GB, if not Pakistan’s.

Gilgit City

As development authorities are not functional, lack of legislation, delay in the preparation of the master plan is fueling in deterioration of the city environment. Planning of the cities in the region has to be carried out beyond traditional planning. As it is a fact that with expansion and growth of the city different industries emerge to fulfill the need of the city, but rapid industrialization and giving free hand to them would yield fatal outcomes. Industrialization and discharge of the effluents into the river without any treatment would not only affect the region, but polluted Indus would threaten the aquatic life of the Indus, livelihoods of people, agricultural production and drinking water treatments across Pakistan.

Controlled city growth is dire need of the time.  More emphasis needs to be put on environment-friendly livelihood resources like tourism industry, livestock industry, mining and indigenous fruit production etc. rather than pure industrialization. For this provision of the basic facilities to the peri-urban areas and other rural areas are necessary, otherwise, people cannot be stopped from migration to cities. Also, these industries need to be practiced as a profitable livelihood source and necessities whatever needed to boost the industry should be provided at their door sill. Most important of all, awareness regarding the urban planning and impact of environmental degradation on life needs to be conveyed to common masses.

Apr 26, 2000

Stak valley (Stak Nala) Skardu Baltistan

Stak valley or Stak Nala, located to the north of Nanga Parbat (8,125 m), is a beautiful, spectacular and a breathtaking valley. This valley is located in the mid of the Skardu and Gilgit city on the Gilgit-Skardu road and right bank of Indus River. The valley is the largest valley in the "Subdivision Roundu" with an approximate population of 15,000. It takes about two and half hours to reach here either from Gilgit and Skardu city.
There is a PTDC motel, "PTDC Motel Stak Nala" in case one wants to stay for a night. Also, there are few local hotels too.

Places to Visit in Stak Nala:
The " Broq of Stak Nala", in local language high altitude area which is used for grazing of sheep, goats and other animals, is one of the picturesque and panoramic places to visit. At a single spot, one can find a hundred meters high natural waterfalls, lush green forest with species of alpine, conifer and junipers, vast and lush green plains and vast area covered by the glacier known as "Kutia Lungma Glacier". 

Favorable Season to Visit:
The best favorable season to visit Stak Valley is June to the end of August. In winter this valley is covered by the snow. The top of the peaks remains covered by the snow up to the mid of June.
From Stak Valley, one can visit Tormik Valley and Haramosh Valley via the mountain passes up to the end of July. One can visit the Shigar Valley as well via mountain pass from this valley.

Mountains to Climb

Stak Valley is also served as base camp for some of the towering mountains in the Karakoram Range having heights of more than 6000 meters. Some includes:
1- Haramosh-I         (7406 m)
2- Haramosh-II        (6666 m)
3- Parabar                (6321 m)

Stak Khar (also Staq Khar)

There is a remnant of a fort which was constructed by digging the earth. The interesting thing about this fort is, no any other materials like stone, wood or marble etc was not used during construction. It was wholly built by mud. It was constructed for defensive purpose as invasions were common in those days. The fort was on a raised ground at the Bank of the Stak River and there was an underground stair from the fort to the Stak River to bring water for drinking purpose and also for animals like horses etc. At the time when Stak would be invaded, people would gather in this fort. As there was a single door of the fort that was used to be locked and local army personals were deployed for duty at the door. The walls, made of mud, were so wide and thick that even bullets could not pass through it.

But later on, once the Stak River was blocked by a landslide for several days and the water level was reached to the fort. Before any breach appeared and the debris washed away by the temporary lake the whole fort was destroyed by the water except one wall towards the north. This wall standing like a giant until now surprise the people i.e how such a fort without any other supporting material was constructed. 

The area is also blessed with different kind of gemstones. The kinds of gemstones are tourmaline, aquamarine, topaz, apatite, sphene, morganite and quartz. It is also expected that there are mines of iron too, but it is under survey. 

Apr 20, 2000

Public Transit | | Public transport in Gilgi-Baltistan | | How to hire a Taxi in Gilgit-Baltistan


Normally in other cities of Pakistan, there are other modes of public transport too, like Chingqui and Rickshaws etc. But in Gilgit-Baltistan, there are no such kinds of vehicles and Taxis are commonly used here. It is used for intra-city transport but sometimes it is used for inter-city transport as well, normally it is useful to hire a taxi at the time of hurry. For long trips, other modes of transportation are used.
Taxis are plentiful, clean, safe, and inexpensive in Gilgit-Baltistan. They can be found at taxi stands, airports, in markets and in front of hotels etc. The fares of the taxis are not fixed, it changes from time to time and region to region.  Note this in mind and make sure to have some cash ( in PKR) because there is no any system of credit cards or pre-paid public transportation cards system.

Suzuki's and Vans

The Suzuki and vans (locally known as wagons) have fixed stands and follow the fixed routes. These connect different parts of the city. These are the cheapest means of transportation and carries to long distances in very less amount of fare i.e it takes only 20 PKR to cover 5 or 6 kilometers. But it is somewhat time-consuming in some areas because it does not move to the destination until all the seats are taken by the passengers.

Buses in Gilgit-Baltistan

Buses operate among Islamabad, Gilgit, and Skardu. It takes about 20 hours to reach Gilgit and 24 hours for Skardu from Islamabad.
There are a lot of transport agencies which operate between these cities. Prominent bus service which is operated by the government is NATCO " Northern Areas Transport Corporation" The buses travel on KKH "Karakorum Highway" For detail about timing of the departure and how buses make stops on the way visit " By Road" section of this website.