13th November 2010 – 110 miles
Islamic Relief must have worked tirelessly through the night to obtain our clearance and as we headed for the border, the scene could have come straight out of a Bollywood movie!
Picture this … we rock up at high sun and meet the Chief of Police in his courtyard, in a string vest and lunghi, dying his beard!
To cut a long story short, following a cup of tea and massaging the chief’s ego, we were granted permission to travel on to Punjab and DG Khan (phew!).
And believe me our next hour’s drive was the scariest and yet most picturesque drive of the whole trip. This long, winding and barren passage skirting the edge of mountains is called Fort Munro, a hill station formed by the British and is truely a breathtaking drive.
Unfortunately, we were unable to stop (aside from the countless and obligatory checkpoints) as we were escorted by the police (and at one point commandos!). We were told that this was for our own protection but we were given the distinct impression that they wanted to move us on from the area. Aside from being flagged down by Khawar Saeed, the District Co-Ordinator of Islamic Relief, we were practically frog marched straight to Multan. As a consequence, we were unable to visit Islamic Relief’s projects at Muzzaffargarh and surrounding flood affected areas.
When we arrived at Islamic Relief’s offices in Multan, food was prepared for us and we were greeted by their team. Syed Mudassar Shah outlined the effect of flooding in the area and that aid requirements have moved from the need for food to now shelter before winter sets in.
Following dinner, Islamic Relief staff drove our car through the cantonment [military quarters] to our guesthouse, with us following in their car, which was a rather surreal moment.
I slept well that night in one of their penthouse suites whilst Johur and Nasir’s room was positioned next to the kitchen, quite literally.