Pakistani city of Lahore listed on NYT’s ‘52 places to love in 2021’ list

A general view of the empty Iqbal Park is seen during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Lahore on April 10, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 12 January 2021

Pakistani city of Lahore listed on NYT’s ‘52 places to love in 2021’ list

  • The Times asked readers to pick spots that had “delighted, inspired and comforted” them in 2020, picked 52 out of 2,000 suggestions
  • The ancient city of Lahore is home to numerous tombs and mosques, palaces and fortresses, museums and gardens

ISLAMABAD: The central Pakistani city of Lahore, once an intellectual center of the Indian subcontinent and now considered the cultural heart of Pakistan, has been included in a list of ‘52 places to love in 2021’ by the international newspaper, The New York Times.
The Times asked readers to “tell us about spots that have delighted, inspired and comforted them in a dark year.”
Out of 2,000 suggestions, NYT picked 52, including Lahore, to “remind us that the world still awaits.”
The ancient city of Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest after Karachi, is home to numerous tombs and mosques, palaces and fortresses, museums and gardens.
“Especially in winter, this city nourishes you. It opens its arms to you, then feeds you and wraps you in a hug,” Haneen Iqbal, a 29-year-old freelance writer in Toronto, Canada, wrote. “Pakistan has a bad reputation, and is often overlooked by travelers who come to South Asia. But Lahoris are some of the kindest, most hospitable people. They love to take care of you and feed you. Lahore’s hot summers can feel oppressive, but in winter, in the cool dusk, lights twinkle in the fog.”
“Androon Lahore, the city’s historic core, is studded with monuments from the Mughal era. I love to watch the Punjab locals feasting on terraces of restaurants overlooking the grand Badshahi Mosque — they are just regular people living their regular lives, and they are so alive in the present, while always connected to their past,” Iqbal wrote.
Other places on the list include South Wales, Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, Kaliya Dhrow in India, Isfahan in Iran and Cordoba in Spain.


Pakistani man performs jaw-dropping stunts despite polio impairment

Updated 11 min 11 sec ago

Pakistani man performs jaw-dropping stunts despite polio impairment

  • Muhammad Usman was infected with polio when he was six years old which caused paralysis of his left leg
  • Not being able to walk properly has not deterred Usman from pursuing his dream of performing dangerous stunts at public festivals

QUETTA: Stuntman Muhammad Usman can jump over five cars on a motorcycle and pull a car with a chain tied to a sharp knife hung around his neck.
There are many showmen in Pakistan who can perform such stunts, but Usman, from Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, is special: his left leg was virtually paralyzed after he contracted polio aged six years. Now the 38-year-old leads an active life as a stuntman, saying he never allowed the crippling virus to keep him from pursuing his dreams.

Stuntman Muhammad Usman, a polio sufferer, pulls a car with a chain tied to a sharp knife hanging around his neck in Quetta, Pakistan, on January 17, 2021 (AN Photo by Saadullah Akhter)

“One day I went with my friends to the historic Sibi Mela where I saw various stuntmen performing in the festival,” Usman told Arab News in Quetta. “I asked a man whether I could perform these stunts but he looked at me and replied sarcastically: how can a disabled man become a stuntman.”
That day, Usman said, he resolved to prove his detractors wrong, joined the ‘Power Show Club’ in Quetta’s Nawa Killi neighborhood, and began training under stunt master Shaira Bangulzai.
Pakistan last week launched a nationwide vaccination campaign against polio amid tight security, hoping to eradicate the crippling children’s disease this year. Pakistan had hoped to eliminate polio back in 2018, when only 12 cases were reported. But in the years since there has been an uptick in new cases.
Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan are the only two remaining countries in the world where polio is endemic, after Nigeria was last year declared free of the wild polio virus.
Usman said he never received polio drops as a child because his illiterate parents were unaware of the dangers posed by the virus.
“But I have been vaccinating my six children with polio drops during every single anti-polio campaign in Quetta,” the stuntman said.

Stuntman Muhammad Usman, a polio sufferer, pictured with his son in Quetta, Pakistan, on January 17, 2021 (AN Photo by Saadullah Akhter)

Bangulzai, who has been Usman’s teacher for around five years, said he had more than 190 students across Balochistan but Usman was the most “loyal and keen” among them. 
“When Usman joined my club and asked me to teach him, I couldn’t refuse him because I didn’t want to break his hopes,” the instructor told Arab News.
In one memorable instance in 2015, Bangulzai said Usman had to replace him at the Sibi Mela after he had to pull out of the event at the last minute to take care of an ailing relative.
“My student [Usman] performed ... with immense confidence and accuracy in what was his first public performance,” the teacher said.
Stunts is not all Usman does.
He is also the driver of a passenger coach and a rickshaw, a performing artist for TV and theater shows, and a comedian.
“What else could I wish from my god?” he said, expressing gratitude for the “full” life he had led despite being a polio sufferer.
Usman is now training his eldest son who at the age of sixteen is already performing at small festivals.

Stuntman Muhammad Usman, a polio sufferer, poses with his son in Quetta, Pakistan, on January 17, 2021 (AN Photo by Saadullah Akhter)

“I want my son to become a famous stuntman in Pakistan,” Usman said. “Because after my death, people will know him by my name.”