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Himalaya

Day 23: Islamabad

Concordia, Pakistan 
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My first taste of the high life. Dropping off at Concordia where great glaciers meet K2 at three miles above sea level.
Michael Palin - HimalayaThe mountains where we've spent the last two weeks seem a distant memory. Everything is so different down here on the plain. And Islamabad is different again. Nothing stood here 45 years ago, when it was chosen to be Pakistan's new capital, replacing the original capital Karachi, which, 1550 miles (2480 km) away to the south, was considered to be too remote from the heart of the country. Now nearly a million people live here.

The crowds and turbulence we experienced in Peshawar's densely packed bazaars are absent. Islamabad is formal, with long wide avenues and comfortable residential houses laid out in numbered sectors. Instead of Storyteller Street, a typical address in Islamabad might be House 3, Street 18, H-8.

This experiment in New World orderliness has been remarkably successful. Its position certainly helps, on the border between the North-West Frontier and the Punjab, as does the presence of the ministries. Each with their competing landmark buildings, the grandiose Prime Minister's Secretariat in Neo-Mughal style, the Revenue Buildings in American Modern, and the Supreme Court in a mixture of both, they give Islamabad a sort of official liveliness.

It isn't a city to tempt you out for a stroll. That's not how it works. If you're staying in the Marriot the city comes to you, and our lobby is full of delegations, advisers, journalists, educationalists, air-con salesmen, arms dealers and anyone else wanting the ear of the government.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 23: Islamabad
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Islamabad
  • Book page no: 47

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