Photos From Islamabad


For those of you who may not know, Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan.  It's a new capital built for a new country, which was carved out of British India just 59 years ago. Founded on bushland the foot of the Margalla Hills around the year 1960, Islamabad has since evolved into a modern, sprawling and dynamic metropolis of around one million inhabitants.

I have lived in Islamabad for around thirteen years, spread over three phases. I first came to live in Islamabad with my parents in 1975. We stayed four years before returning to London, so that I may get a good school education. The time I lived in Islamabad in the 1970s was rather uneventful. I visited the Islamabad College for Boys, played hide and seek with my friends in the evening in the houses then under construction in our road, and just killed time or played the usual mischevious pranks, given the lack of other distractions for kids like myself in those days.

In 1991, after spending the 1980s in London and Germany, I returned to Islamabad with a Diplom in Business Administration from a German university in my pocket - but no job. Islamabad was kind to me in this regard and anyway, qualified people are even today in short supply in the city so finding a good job really did not require so much effort. You can read in detail about my professional exploits in the section my professional careeer. I lived here until 1998, by which time I had decided to return to Germany to pursue my doctoral degree. Since 2005, and after being offered my dream job as an Assistant Professor, I am residing in Islamabad again. Let's see how long I stay this time!

Since I first got acquainted with it in the mid-1970s, Islamabad has changed in some respects, while in others it hasn't changed much. Designed by a Greek architectural firm, Pakistan's capital city has been laid out in an orderly fashion, comprising of several residential sectors and subsectors, each having their own markets and facilities. Apart from the residential areas, there are several commercial districts, the largest being the "blue area", which runs through the city and terminates at Constitution Avenue, where many pompous public buildings, including the President's House, Federal Secretariat, Federal Parliament, Prime Minister's Secretariat, Supreme Court, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are located. Off Constiution Avenue lies the Diplomatic Enclave, which houses many large foreign and western embassies.

Islamabad boasts many nice shops and resteraunts, bakeries, the famous Lok Virsa Museum, and a large sports stadium. Many international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, US-AID, CIDA, and GTZ have their offices in Islamabad, as do several Pakistani and foreign non-governmental organizations. There are a number of universities, including my own COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, and research institutes and libraries. There is also a small zoo and several parks which are marvellous in Spring or Autumn.

Off course, despite having emerged from bushland in just 40 years, Islamabad has its share of problems, particularly the tremendous growth in traffic and pollution. It takes me on average 20-25 minutes to reach my office which is just 6 kilometers from my residence! Often the traffic lights are switched off for the convenience of foreign state guests and the Pakistani high brass, resulting in enormous inconvenience to motorists who sometimes have to wait upto an hour before continuing to their destination. Driving is also something of an adventure here as it is in the rest of Pakistan as you'll see when you visit here. You won't find ruder and more reckless motorists anywhere in the world, seriously! Rents and property prices in Islamabad are atrocious, putting the city in the higher cost bracket in international comparison. And residents are plagued by the occasional power outage and water shortfall, particularly in the uncomfortable summer season.

Considered one of the world's more "boring capitals" (a joke about Islamabad states that it's half as big as Arlington Cemetary in the US and twice as dead), there is actually plenty to do if you're here for a while, even if this means on a few years assignment. For a start, join the Asian Study Group. If you're an outdoor, exploring sort, you'll never regret this decision! The Group organizes diverse activities over the September to June months, ranging from one day hikes in the scenic hills north of Islamabad, to excursions to places of historical and cultural interest in the region (be assured, the region within a 200-kilometer radius of the city is a veritable cultural, archeological, historical and geographic treasure trove!), cultural evenings and trips to neighbouring countries. Most of the photos you'll find in my Pakistani galleries were taken on my many outings with the Asian Study Group. Apart from this Group, there are other associations you can join, such as the Adventure Foundation of Pakistan and the Islamabad Camera Club.

The photos below were taken at various times, some on my visit to Islamabad in 1988, others after my resettlement here in 1991. I have many more photos of Islamabad which I shall add gradually. Detailed information on Islamabad and interesting links can be found at the websites of the Capital Development Authority and the free on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia






Five photos of Islamabad's main landmark, the Shah Faisal Mosque. The photos were taken by me sometime about 1990. The beautiful light and silhouette effect caused by the sun gives these photos a romantic charm.



These four photos were taken at "Shakarparian" which is an elevation point overlooking Islamabad. It is a popular place for picnics and walks and offers splendid views of the city.


These constructions were made, I suppose, as part of the annual military parade in Islamabad. They symbolize one of the four provinces of Pakistan and are meant really to promote a sense of national unity in a country which, today, is increasingly plagued by political and social divisions  
    The three photos were taken on March 23rd (Pakistan Day) in the 1990s sometime. On this day every year a military parade is held in Islamabad. Starting near the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, tanks, artillery, rocket launchers, columns of infantry etc. roll down Jinnah Avenue towards the Presidency, where Pakistan's political and bureacratic elite, invited foreign statesman and the brass of the diplomatic corp are assembled, while military helicopters and combat aircraft fly overhead.    
The three photos on the right were taken at the Rawal Lake at the edge of Islamabad. This man-made lake supplies water to the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi. It is a nice place for boating and walks along the lake shore.    
    The photos were talken at the Sunday open-air market or "Sunday Bazaar" in Islamabad's G-9 sector. At the market you can get fresh vegetables, fruits, clothing, kitchen utensils and all sorts of other stuff. I used to drive my mother there almost every week years back. She rarely goes there now. You can see her in the third photo from the left inspecting vegetables. Our former cook, Shafiq, is crouching to her right.
  The two photos on the left were taken from the balcony of two different houses I lived in. Both are in the same street. The photo on the right is of our neighbours house. I took it because of the gorgeous tree standing in front of it.
  Yours truly posing on his balcony for a photo which was taken around 1994. The second photo, from about the same time, is of my parents' former watchman Hanif. He passed away some years ago. The photo on the right shows a handyman chopping away branches in my neighbours garden. Most of the branches fell on our side and our neighbour was furious when she discovered that so much of her tree was cut away. "Idiots" she screamed several times at the two hired hands! 



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