Planning your elective - Pakistan
Akil Fazal explains how to get around in the heart of southern Asia
Situated in the heart of southern Asia, Pakistan stands out as an interesting and enjoyable challenge for most visitors. Few Western people know much about Pakistan beyond media impressions of guns and drugs, communal violence and martial law, but it contains some of Asia's most mind blowing landscapes, a multitude of cultures, and very hospitable people. Pakistan was the site of one of the world's earliest human settlements, the great prehistoric Indus Valley civilisation, the crucible of ancient empires, religions, and cultures. The country is composed of towering peaks in the north, dry and scrubby mountains in the west, an inhospitable plateau in the south west, barren deserts in the south east, and alluvial plains everywhere else.
The pleasures of Pakistan are old: Islamic palaces, Hindu temples, Buddhist monuments, religious tombs, and widely spaced Anglo-Mogul Gothic mansions. Sculpture is dominated by ceramics, jewellery, silk goods, and engraved woodwork and metalwork.