Sulman Ali

LAHORE

Pakistan as a country does not hold a positive image in the international community. People around the world know it because of terrorism and militancy. Foreigners mostly take it is a country full of guns and ‘burqas’ with no basic human rights. Even in international media this image of Pakistan is being propagated. However, there are few who are trying to change things and trying to show the real side of Pakistan. Moin Khan is one of the prominent names. Moin is a traveler and adventurer who is trying to highlight the positive image of Pakistan among the Westerners. While talking to him, I personally felt so proud knowing that there is someone who is doing a job much needed for Pakistan. Moin is running mission totally on his own without any government support. He invites foreigners to Pakistan and arranges tours for them around the country especially in the Northern Areas. “I am doing welfare for my homeland, without expecting a reward from the government,” he said.

“I don’t belong to any NGO or group. I am a common Pakistani who is fulfilling his duty to the state”

When asked how it all began, he said that it started in 2012 when he travelled to Northern Pakistan on his Vespa. “I have travelled to over 30 countries and believe there is no place with scenery like Pakistan,” he emphasized.  He shot the videos of his travels and uploaded them on his own Facebook page and other bikers’ pages. “After seeing those videos most of the foreigners were really shocked to see this side and beauty of Pakistan,” he told me. They have a completely opposite impression especially post 9/11, but after watching the videos many of them wanted to visit Pakistan,” he said.

His friends Michael and Kyle from the US were the first to visit Pakistan in 2012. “I conducted that trip on my own expenditures. They were awed by its beauty,” he said. After the incident of the Nanga Parbat killings in 2013, foreigners were again afraid to come to Pakistan. “I invited them and told them I would arrange all the tours,” he said. “After that, seven Europeans agreed to come to Pakistan in 2013 and interestingly they brought their family and friends along with them which made a group of 15.”  

When asked about their first image and experience regarding Pakistan, he Moin said, “They were afraid and I could sense that fear in them when they came out of Islamabad airport and it remained like this for first 3 to 4 days.” After the 14-day tour, he said that their perception changed altogether. “They remained surprised and somewhat positively shocked after seeing the serene beauty and hospitality of Pakistani people,” he said with pride in his voice. He recalled a story of the hospitality of the people. “There was one old shopkeeper who refused to take money from a foreigner because he was a guest. They both argued although they didn’t know each other’s language, even with my interference, the old man still refused to take money and he won. After that 15 bikers from US and Europe came to Pakistan in 2014 and fell in love with the place,” he added proudly.

“Most of them have tears when they are going back. They want to come back,” he said. One interest thing is that in these bikers, there are number of girls who changed their perception of Pakistan after the tour. “One of the girls, at the time of departure, told me that she wanted to come back and even wanted to get a job here and settle down,” he revealed proudly.

About his mission he stated that he knew it was a small effort but that it was constant. “Every year if 50 foreigners come to Pakistan, they will tell at least 10 friends about their experience in Pakistan and it will slowly spread,” he said.   “In 2012 there was only one tour; in 2013 it increased to two; in 2014 there were 4 tours; in 2015 we’ve had 6 tours and for 2016 - I haven’t even uploaded my schedule but I am receiving mails in bulk of the foreigners who want to tour Pakistan,” he said.

Moin mentioned the ongoing competition with the reward for the winner being taking the flag of his/her country to the North Pole - at the highest point of the world. He said last year a Mongolian girl won it and Mongolia is a country which has only 2.9 million population whereas Pakistan has a population of around 200 million. “Her government and state media supported her and she won with a mere 3,000 votes more than me,” he said. About this year’s competition, he revealed that there are two Estonian girls in the top positions and their President is appealing for the people to vote for them. “Even their media telecasts about them in prime time and news bulletins,” he said. “We can only win with the support of people which can be possible through the media,” he stated.

“It is a journey of 6 to 7 days on dog sledges in minus 40 to minus 50 degree Celsius,” he said. “I don’t like dogs and snow but I will do this just for Pakistan,” he said with a hint of emotion in his voice. “I want the support of my people to win this competition and I hope Pakistani people will help me to do so,” he said. Right now Moin is on a journey on a Sohrab cycle, “I have cycled for 970km from Khunjrab Pass to Islamabad just to promote a positive image of Pakistan,” he said.

Moin Khan needs the support and votes of the Pakistani people to win the competition in which he is contesting for his homeland, Pakistan.  Only 2 days are left for the voting to end so let’s vote for him. Vote for Moin Khan, Vote for Pakistan. The link for voting site has been given on his page-Moin Khan-A Different Agenda.