Have you been following @travelbeautifulpakistan on Instagram? It’s an account that shares brilliant images and stories about all aspects of Pakistan. On this account, you’ll see pictures of natural landscapes, mountains, colorful streets, simple yet amazing village life and portraits that represent the people of Pakistan.
Most of the people who follow this account are unaware of who runs this account. For those who want to know, here’s a bit about me. My name is Ghazan Inayat and I’m 22 years old. I belong to Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and I live in Lahore for my studies. I’m doing my Masters degree in Political Science from the prestigious Institute of Government College University Lahore.
Besides studies and Instagramming, I’m a travel addict who goes to find peace and solitude among the giant rocks and green forests.
Before TBP, honestly speaking, there was no platform that could truly represent Pakistan. There was no media platform that would shed light on the real Pakistan. All we had were our news channels who unfortunately function by repetitively sharing negative headlines which often leads to misunderstandings about the country. I felt the need to start something that would do the much-needed job of portraying the real Pakistan to the world. I started this account in 2015 by myself and I’m still the only person who manages it. I won’t be wrong to say that I am @travelbeautifulpakistan although it would be totally unfair not to mention my unofficial team of travelers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and friends whom advice I always take when needed.
TBP has projected to us the true power of social media and how it helps in changing narratives. It has helped many people from the world to come and interact with the peaceful people and explore the beautiful country of Pakistan. For this purpose, i usually encourage foreign travelers to use the page as a storytelling space so that they can share their traveling experiences with other fellow travelers around the world. Even those who don’t get to come here have seen Pakistan through TBP and are grateful for showing the real Pakistan to them which they never knew before.
I have had the privilege to know some amazing people who I would never have known without TBP especially the community of many talented photographers without whom this platform would have been nothing. Every photographer is a separate unit that enables TBP to do its job. They are all contributing to the real representation of Pakistan. I have massive respect for all of them.
Photographs are one of the most powerful ways to share stories as there are pictures which have the ability power of an entire movie or book. Through these pictures, TBP conveys messages regarding Pakistan’s diverse cultures, traditions, peaceful people and everyday life and these images have the power to shape narratives in a unique way.
Pakistan has been a victim of countless biases in the international media. Many people around the world actually used to believe that Pakistan is the most dangerous country on Earth because of the usual headlines regarding violence and terror. Because of all this negativity, it was necessary to create a platform that would be responsible for the positive representation of Pakistan, the positivity usually hidden beneath the news of what’s bad about Pakistan. In the contemporary time, it’s necessary for the Pakistani media to portray an image which is less fearful and as repetitive headlines about crimes and casualties usually dominate our news channels, it creates a very disturbing image about a country where millions of people are living their lives peacefully. To the international media, we need to show more of our country that’s built on love and colors.
Every day hundreds of images are shared with TBP by photographers out of which I choose the ones which best helps me to portray Pakistan. The hashtag #Travelbeautifulpakistan now has 233k posts while there are hundreds of thousands of other photos that have been shared through direct tags or messages.
Talking about what inspired me to start this account, well all these above-mentioned points about a representation of the true Pakistan motivated me to create this account but if I had to mention a specific page that inspired me in the beginning, it was Humans of New York. I was among the first few hundred people who liked the page of Humans of New York on Facebook and its growth made me realize what a powerful place the social media is to reach out important messages across the world. It portrayed the everyday life of average Americans whom we never got to know well before that. That was the point where I realized the real power of social media. Creating and running TBP for two years further proved social media’s strength to me.
Before creating TBP, I didn’t know most of the regions that I feature every day. It introduced me to many wonderful places which I later explored and witnessed but my bucket list still is full of places that I need to explore. After traveling for years, I still believe that I have only seen a tiny fraction of Pakistan as it is such a huge country with hundreds of valleys, mountains, forests, deserts, beaches, coastal areas and much more. I have dedicated the year 2018 to cross off as many places from my bucket list as possible for example Jag Banal in Swat, Shimshal and Chipursan valleys of Gilgit Baltistan.
One thing that has always inspired me about traveling in Pakistan is the matchless hospitality of the people. The hospitality of the people of Pakistan has is amazing and nobody who has traveled in Pakistan would disagree with this fact. Every traveler has a story of someone giving them motherly care during their journey. According to the famous explorer Mike Horn, people make Pakistan the most special place in the world.
But one thing that unfortunately nobody would disagree with as well as the increasing level of pollution. It’s something that has made a hell out of many heavenly places in Pakistan. Every Pakistani should take the responsibility of spreading awareness, creating startups and must do anything in their capacity to battle the dirty pollution that’s decaying the beauty of the country everywhere. Unlike the developed world where throwing garbage is equivalent to committing a crime, many Pakistanis cause pollution without thinking about it even for a second. TBP will do anything in its capacity to fight pollution and raise awareness about it and so should everyone else in Pakistan. It is a job of every citizen of Pakistan to create a better future for the upcoming generations.
In the next few years, i see TBP as a platform that would have expanded to include and cover everything related to Pakistan like to provide a facility of cheap and quality traveling all around Pakistan, to work more towards a media platform that creates content covering every aspect of life in Pakistan, to create a market that would provide the digital audience reach to goods and the ability to actually experience the different cultures in Pakistan and their food, clothes and accessories, also to create an online forum that would allow easy access to all the necessary information about any area of Pakistan where people want to travel and most importantly to push towards a cleaner and greener pollution free Pakistan.
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