Islamabad Hikers Club on Facebook

Here is a news alert. So all those hikers living in and around Islamabad, we now have a Facebook group to connect.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=75652559498

There are hundreds of Islamabadis who go hiking daily on numerous trails criss crossing the Margalla Hills. The most popular of them is Trail number 3 as highlighted by us in an earlier blog. Quite recently, Trail 5 seems to be attracting a lot of followers due to it being more beautiful and natural than other tracks.

One of the purposes of this group is to get these hikers to come together on one platform to discuss, plan and share insights about hiking in the vicinity of Islamabad. It may also be a great idea if we can get CDA (Capital Development Authority) to make some hiking friendly policies. And maybe, we can form a group together to go hiking on longer tracks beyond Islamabad.

So let’s spread the word and join in this group on Facebook.

Marriott Blast & Failing War on Terror

Bomb Blast at Marriott

Bomb Blast at Marriott


Make no mistake, the war on terror is a humongous failure. Those who continue to deny it are living in a fools paradise. Those who still believe that they can “smoke the enemy out” and “bomb them to stone ages” are nothing but disconnected from ground reality. This Saturday, the 1000 tonne bomb blast at Marriott Hotel Islamabad has once again proven that we are no safer today than we were in 2001. In fact, today, we are in a much worse condition than we were eight years ago.

The enemy is still out there and is far more stronger than it was at the beginning of the millennium. The irony of the situation is that it is the direct result of our failed policies on “war on terror” that has led to the strengthening of Al-Qaeda and the spread of Talibanism the world over. No place in the world is safe today from their reach.

Atrocities committed in Bagram and Guantanamo base have further worsened the situation. We call Alqaeda the bad guys. But if we begin to act like the enemy and commit atrocities at our own makeshift jails, we are no different from them. This unfortunate message has reached the wider audience diminishing our credibility to police the world.

On September 11, 2001, over three thousand innocent lives were lost. Today, the war on terror has caused disruption in the innocent lives of millions spread over various countries. Over 1.5 million Iraqis have emigrated out of the country since 2003. Over 200,000 Pakistanis have been forced out of their homes and made refugees in their own country by incessant Allied bombing on civilians. These people never supported AlQaeda, yet they are bearing the brunt of the war with little or no support from the rest of the world. These forgotten victims of war on terror are beginning to see the Allies as yet another untrustworthy tyrannical partner.

If we want to win the war on terror, we need to build bridges and not blow them away with so called “smart bombs”. We need to take steps to engage them into meaningful dialog and not beat the crap out of them in secret prisons spread all over the world. We need to make extra effort to understand the root cause of the problems and not just try to carpet bomb the whole Middle East.

Remember, everyone out there wants peace. No one wants war. But if we thrust it upon them, then we must be ready to face the consequences. The retaliations will be swift and brutal. And with each passing day when we fail to win the hearts and minds of the impoverished people of the region, we create new enemies and recruits for our enemies. Each day, our failed policies are breeding new Al-Qaeda members. And each day, the world is becoming more unsafe for us to live in.

Hiking up Margalla Hills

So you are visiting Islamabad (capital city of Pakistan) and not sure what to do? One activity that I recommend all to partake in is hiking up Margalla Hills. Hiking! Yes, surprisingly Islamabadis are a bit more prone to such adventures than their counterparts in Karachi and Lahore. And Margalla Hills provides a great uniqueness about a big city where one can just forget the worries of the day while climbing up the beautiful mountain.

You ask what is this hoopla about hiking? Well, you see those hills dotting the north-west of Islamabad city. They also host many hiking tracks that take you all the way up the mountain and beyond. Initially, these tracks were nothing but trails for the local village folks to travel up and down the hill. However, with the passage of time, they also become frequented by hikers who just wanted to enjoy a few hours. And one such track, called, Trail #3, (adjacent to Sector F-6/3) is one of the most popular among the hikers. It goes all the way to the top of the hill and meets up with the famous mountain top village, of Pir Sohawa.

A bit of stats about the track. It begins at 600meters above sea level and goes all the way to 1100meters. It is about 5 Kilometers long and it is all gradual moving up. So the round trip down is a good 10 Kilometers. And during the strenuously hot summer months, it seems like 100 Kilometers.

Well, Islamabad, like the rest of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent cities suffers from a very hot summer, where temperatures soar over 100 degrees Fahrenheit regularly. Hence, a typical climb becomes far difficult to achieve. But there is one great aspect of this summer heat. As you climb higher, you literally feel the temperature fall and become cooler around you and usually a light breeze constantly cools you down. It is one of the most wonderful feeling to have. However, I do recommend carrying a small bottle of water (or bigger if you like) all the time to hydrate yourself regularly.

There are numerous resting spots available where one can sit, rejuvenate and take in the atmosphere. The higher you go up, the more serene, beautiful, and calmer it becomes. On a clear day, you can see for miles literally. I, like many other fellow climbers, love to sit at the top and gaze the beautiful scenery in silence before heading back down.

The great thing is that it is not just guys, but lots of female Islamabadis also make it part of their regular routine to hike. Occasionally, one can spot a famous local personality including politicians and television stars. I have taken many foreigners and out of towners up the climb to let them enjoy Islamabad for what it really is. I recommend everyone to go up the track at least once during their visit to the capital city.