Since I had decided to discontinue my job in Saudi Arabia so I returned to Pakistan in March 2002 soon after attending ITB, the largest Tourism mart in Berlin where I discussed the opportunity of running tours in Afghanistan with several European and American tour operators. Most of them showed interest in the idea as many of them had traveled to Afghanistan during the time when it became popular on the Hippy trail mainly during the 60s and 70s. People traveled overland from Europe and the US through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. They stayed in cheap hotels and Chai khanas all along the trail to extend their stay away from home. They mixed up with the masses to be able to interact more with the local people to study Culture and Heritage.
In the meantime, one of my colleagues “Yousaf Akhtar” in “Oriental Links – Pakistan” had already traveled to Kabul with a Japanese member of the Provincial Parliament and a retired wrestler Onita San who visited Kabul for 2 days. This short tour of Kabul developed an urge to further explore the country. His background from Peshawar and the advantage of Pushto language made it easy to travel in Afghanistan. During the month of April 2002, we had another opportunity to travel to Kabul with a group of nine Japanese Philanthropists who wanted to distribute food and medicine among the people who had suffered during the war. This time Yousaf could bring them back to Peshawar by road through Torkham
In the month of May I went to attend ATM, the Arabin Travel Mart in Dubai with Javed Awan our Managing director at Oriental Links, Yousaf traveled to Kabul and then to Bamiyan with Waseem Ahmed another colleague of ours. Azmat Awan flew to Tokyo for promotional purposes and met a tour operator from Hokkaido in the North of Japan who intended to visit Afghanistan particularly Bamiyan and Band e Ameer… (to be continued)
Blog by: Amir Khalid