Pakistan: Police corruption, Kot Diji Fort and picking up Faisal

7 October 2016

It wasn’t suppose to be all smooth. Travelling never is. You always see the beautiful and the ugly side of a country.  It was ironic to see a “Say No to Corruption” sign at the start of every highway when we became the witness of corruption. It wasn’t even subtle. It was blatantly open. It was a very transparent form of corruption…..it makes you wonder about it at a larger scale and its detrimental effects.

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A special Quick Response Force (QRF) force came to escort us as we headed towards Sindh. Unlike the policemen that we met yesterday during our time in Punjab who are honest and superb individuals, these QRFs are local bullies. Instead of using their title to serve the people, they intimidate locals through aggression and extremely unprofessional behaviour. If I’m a Minister, I would have fired them on the spot.

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It was terrible to see them waving sticks, shouting at locals and bullying others as we made our way down the highway. We were not pleased when they smashed two mirrors from the passing trucks. The drivers need those mirrors to ensure safety. Such awful behaviour!

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Then before the handover to the Sindh police, they asked for “lunch money.” With guns and sticks in their hands, we were not going to say “NO!”

What followed was a long and painful experience with the Sindh police who cannot even compare with the policemen that we met yesterday. Incompetent and lacking in organisation, management and integrity,  we had to wait for a good 40 minutes outside the Sindh police station for “escort”. Finally, a police chief came and sat in our car to”escort” us towards Khaipur. And…yep, you guessed it? He asked for money.  Im sorry but you used our car, your men did not act professionally so you get nothing. …come to think of it, you should pay us for the free ride.

Basically, with so many hours wasted on the road due to such clueless police, the day became unnecessarily long. Kot Diji Fort….will we get to see you?DSC04416            

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IMG_3401Located opposite of another historical heavy weight Mohenjo-daro, Kot Diji Fort formally known as Fort Ahmadabad in Khairpur District was built around 1790 by Talpur dynasty ruler Mir Suhrab.

Well preserved and unmissable due to the structure being on the ridge of a narrow hill, the defensive walls with bastions overlooks the surrounding towns and guards the once royal residences.

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We raced towards the fort.

But the gate was slammed shut.

IMG_3418However, since the gatekeeper was still there, our guide told him that we came all the way from Islamabad  to see the fort so we should be allowed in. 

Voila…he generously agreed and we were let inside the Fort.

There is only one main entrance towards the East. There is a good reason since that is most prone to enemy assault. As we made our way inside, what awaits are crumbling walls, courtyards and former residence halls now left in a dilapidated state.

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The spikes on the gates is one weapon to ensure that not even elephants could break open the gate. Kot Diji lives up to its name- during its entire history…..it has never been attacked. [Yep, and that is kind of the point]

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Apart from the various courtyards and passage or the impressive view that the bastion areas could offer, the most adorable places are the interiors of the former royal residence and the temple? which requires much repair. Like the state of many other historical sites and national heritage in Pakistan, much preservation and study is needed. Information pamphlets would be greatly appreciated instead of relying on one’s imagination and making guesses…but then on the bright side, that’s actually not a bad thing.

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Our time at Kot Diji Fort was far too short. One could easily linger for a day to admire the structure. If only we could stay longer……and if only more tourists can see what Kot Diji  has to offer! It was time to go and we were happy to be let in…to have the fort to ourselves. 

 Although that was short, at least it happened.

Darkness quickly engulfed over the town signalling the end of another day.

We still have a mission- time to pick up Kenneth’s friend Faisal.

“So, my friend Faisal has invited us to visit his village then Mohenjo-daro,” said Kenneth.

“Really? That is fantastic…sounds like such a great opportunity!” I replied.

Nothing kicks me more than having a chance to meet a local family and to visit a village. Like the charity in Islamabad and meeting Master Ayub, I don’t think other tourists would leave Pakistan with that same experience and insight. Honestly speaking….I can’t wait to meet this mysterious Faisal and to stuff some food in my tummy. After some drive, we saw Faisal standing outside an university – ok Larkana [ you are totally not on the list but hey…this is fun!].