Former Aramcon and frequent contributor to Aramco ExPats, Engr. Iqbal Ahmed Khan who now lives in Karachi, Pakistan and is one of the founding members of the Saudi Aramco Ex-employees Association (SAEEA) shares the story of the many sites and friends he visited on his tour of Islamabad, Wazirabad, and Lahore from March 30 through April 8, 2012 such as Saidpur village in the Margalla Hills, the Faisal and Badshahi Mosques and the Minar-e-Pakistan. "The purpose of my visit to Islamabad was to accompany my nephews as a guardian; who were scheduled for interviews with the British Embassy for issuance of British Passports. During my stay, I visited old friends from my college years. I also visited famous places in Islamabad along with my friend Engr. Khalid Mushtaq. Among the places I will remember are:
- Saidpur, a nice village on the slopes of the Margalla Hills where the multicultural heritage of the area has been well preserved.
- Margalla Hills, part of the lesser Himalayas, is a beautiful mountain range. The hill range offers beautiful gardens, play areas for children, restaurants, and observation points at the top where you may see all Islamabad and other developed as well as natural areas. The Pakistan Government maintains a small museum here where one can view old photographs starting from the early development and construction of Islamabad, to further planning of Islamabad. Viewers will also observe a Mosque and a Hindu Temple in close proximity.
- Lake View Park, a recreational area offering residents plenty of amusement and fun activities includes a Pony Club, mini train, ATV racing track, boating, horse riding, and much more. The landscaping is great and is very well maintained.
- A tour of Islamabad's prominent buildings often shown on television for their significance as architectural landmarks.
In the evening Engr. Khalid Mushtaq hosted a dinner for old friends and I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a few old officers from my University (NED) period as well.
The following day, our friend Engr. Syed Zafaruddin Ahmad arranged a lunch at his office and invited two more NEDian friends, Engr. MMM Jafri and Engr. Moinuddin Baig. Engr. Jafri came from the nearby city of Taxila to join us for lunch. All five NEDians had a lot of fun and exchanged sweet old memories of NED Government Engineering College and the career achievements of the past forty-five years. After lunch we visited Faisal Mosque and a few other places in Islamabad. In the evening, Engr. Khalid took me to Monal Restaurant which is situated about 20 KM up from the ground. The road to Monal Restaurant goes to Pir Sohawa and Daman-e-Koh. I enjoyed first the ride and second the food and every moment at the restaurant. Looking down from the top reminded me of the old days of Karachi City, “ROOSHNIO KA SHAHAR”.
I will never forget the hospitality shown by Khalid and Bhabi Shabnam. I enjoyed every moment of my stay with them. We did share a lot of sweet memories starting from Quetta down to Islamabad. We met last in Quetta when I was working in Khuzdar and Khalid was doing a course in Quetta. The next day, I thanked the family and Sheeraz Khan for their honorable hospitality and with this respect shown I left for Wazirabad. I took a local bus to enjoy the ride and the small villages in between Islamabad and Wazirabad. My friend, Mr. Mohammad Tariq Pervez who worked with me for 30 years with Saudi Aramco, welcomed me in Wazirabad. We enjoyed talking about the old days when we were together at Ras Abu Ali Offshore Oil Field - Saudi Aramco. The visit was very healthy and enjoyable. Although Mr. Pervez was not well for the last few months, he and his family showed considerable hospitality taking good care of me as long as I stayed with them. It was really fun visiting and to see life in a small town of Punjab.
The last stop of my trip was Lahore, the capital of Punjab Province. I reached Lahore after a two hour rail train journey from Wazirabad. My old friend Mr. Ziad Anwar Butt was there to welcome me. In Lahore, we visited:
- Badshahi Mosque, or the Royal Mosque. Begun during the Mughal era in 1671, the mosque is Lahore's most famous landmark. We enjoyed viewing the inside of the Mosque. In the Mosque, we visited TABURAKAT MUQADESA (preserved relics from 1400 – 1500 years back).
- Lahore Fort, citadel of the city of Lahore, from Mughal time. We visited inside the Fort and saw all the relics from that time.
- Hazuri Bagh, a beautiful garden built by Mughal rulers and really a great place to visit.
- Minar-e-Pakistan, a tall monument built in commemoration of the Lahore Resolution. The minaret marks the place where on 23rd March 1940 the resolution was passed to build Pakistan as a separate country for Muslims. This decision was implemented on 14th August 1947 and Pakistan came into existence. It is a very important and impressive monument in Pakistan.
- WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority), PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited), Lahore Railway Station, and Lahore Zoo - we visited all these plus a few other places in Lahore.
With many sweet memories, I had to leave for Karachi. I enjoyed the bus service from Lahore to Karachi via Okara, Khanewal, Bhawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Sukkar, Moro, and Hyderabad. I wish to thank all my friends from the bottom of my heart especially, Khalid, Tariq and Ziad for the honorable and respectable hospitality shown to me during my stay with them. It made my trip a great success."